Sunday, July 29, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In, and More Cuteness Concerns

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 230.5
Change this week: -1.5

Total change: -9.5

So I’m talking this week to the guy who is vacating the job that I’ll be taking in a few weeks. This job, which I don’t think I’ve described in any detail thus far, involves doing outreach for and therapy with soldiers who have recently returned from the war in Iraq. Quite a bit of it will involve representing my organization to them and trying to get them to come in for treatment when they need it.

Anyway, this guy—the one currently holding my new job. As we talk, he’s going on and on about having to meet with congresspeople and the media and stuff in the course of doing this job, and I get a sudden, big pit in my stomach about how visible I’m going to have to be. How polished I’ll have to be, how articulate, how in-the-know…all things that will come with time, I know, once I’ve gotten myself familiar with the drill. But of course, the biggest worry for me is the appearance thing. It’s silly. I know it’s silly. It’s not like anyone’s going to walk out of a meeting with me, thinking “Well, gosh. That big ol’ gal sure knew her stuff, but it’s a pity that she’s just so darn BIG.” So I do some talking to myself and (sort of) get a handle on the anxiety. Then, the next day, one of my new supervisors calls and asks me to make an appointment to get some headshots made for the posters that are going to go up around the hospital of the team that I’m on.

Headshots, people.

For posters that are GOING UP AROUND THE HOSPITAL.

Shit. This feels like some kind of high school anxiety dream.

OK, at least this is a poster that will have a bunch of folks on it, so my mug is not the only one that you’ll see. Nobody will be zeroing in on my cheery, chubby smiling face. I get that. But this is such an adjustment to make in terms of how public or private my day-to-day life is going to be. One of the things I’ve always liked about doing psychotherapy for a living is that it’s pretty private. You generally sit in your office all day and talk to people one-on-one. Plenty of therapists do group therapy or give educational presentations, and I have done both of those things from time to time and like them just fine.

It’s just that I’ve never felt this much pressure to be presentable before. I don’t know what to wear for my picture, and I’m afraid it’ll be like getting a drivers’ license, where you look like you’re suffering from a nasty case of untreated malaria, and then when you went to get help the doctors beat you up. And that’s what you have to live with for the next ten years every time you open your wallet.

I mean, I’m sure if I call the folks who do the picture-taking, they’ll have some suggestions about what to wear and what colors look good, etc. They can’t help me lose 100 lbs and get plastic surgery and somehow have fabulous hair in time for my sitting, though, and that’s what I find myself dreaming of. This writing about it, though…this is helping. I sound so nutty, even to myself, that I seem to be magically gaining a little perspective as I type.

I’m just anxious about this change in my life, and about going from being a trainee to being someone who is expected to have her shit together. There’s such comfort in being able to plead ignorance or inexperience, which is always an out for you when you’re a trainee. The thing is that I never used that out. I don’t need it, and I know that. But it’s much more fun to be the intern or the post-doc who’s so advanced for her training, and gosh isn’t she talented, than the staff psychologist who is simply expected not to make a fool of herself or the institution she represents.

Here is Adult Luna speaking: I know it’ll be OK. I am so thankful for this job, and for the chance to stretch myself by learning to do something new and different. The anxiety is appropriate to the newness of the experience, and it signals the opportunity for growth and development.

Here’s Perpetual Adolescent Luna, who also wants her turn to speak: Holy shit. I’m scared. I want to be left alone, I want to just keep doing what I know how to do. These people will hate me. What people? I don’t even know, but I’m sure that they’re going to think I’m a total dumbass with rumply hair and no fashion sense.

I think for the next few months, it’s going to be anybody’s guess who’s in charge at any given time.

And while they duke it out inside my head, if anyone has any advice about how not to be crushingly, tragically fugly for the camera when I go to get my pic snapped, I’d be more than happy to hear it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In, and Cuteness Concerns

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 232
Change this week: -1

Total change: -8

Whoo-hoo! I lost a pound despite having eaten out all week and not watched my intake at all. I ate loads (crabcakes, anyone?—when you’re on the East Coast, how can you not?), but I also walked all over the place. It was crazy hot, and humid enough that I think I was a bit dehydrated the whole time I was there. The walking made me super-crabby, but I can’t complain, as I came back slightly less lardy than I went.

The conference was interesting, I guess…I work for a governmental agency, and this was the first national mental health conference I’d ever been to. Lots of talking about big new programs and things getting rolled out across the country, but it all just seemed so heavy on words and light on action.

There were a few people from my particular hospital there, but I traveled and stayed with a friend and fellow post-doc. We were together the whole time, and we did lots of exploring and shopping during our off hours. She is much younger than I am, and tiny, and GORGEOUS. We wandered in to one little boutique during our wandering, and she tried on a dress that was just impossibly lovely. She glowed like the moon in it—it set off her hair, her big blue-green eyes and her skin tone in a way that was just amazing. I was so, so jealous. She was debating about buying it, and I told her that if I looked that good in anything, I’d pay whatever it cost to have it. And I wasn’t kidding.

I thought a lot about appearance this week. Being in a room with 600 mental health people, you realize that we’re not generally the most gorgeous group of folks around. I was remembering feeling nervous about starting graduate school, and I had nerves about everything from not being smart enough to not being cute enough. I confessed this last fear to my then-therapist, who started to laugh and said “Have you ever been in a room full of psychologists??” So, yeah, the bar is not that high.

But something about my new job is making me feel like I have to get it together a little, appearance-wise. My organization is generally not especially formal, but the psychologists do dress up a little more than others. I’m having that old feeling of not being polished enough, or cute enough…and I so wish that I could find an outfit that makes me jaw-droppingly, glowingly gorgeous like my friend did. I wish to just be that gorgeous, outfit or no.

I mean, realistically, I’m OK. I do a fine job at work, and my size/appearance is no barrier to doing the work that I do. I’m aware of this. I’m just wistful, I guess, about wanting to be the pretty girl I really never have been. Having a new job, and one that’s a little higher-profile than your average therapist gig, heightens those feelings for me.

While I'm thinking about it, let me say thank you to you guys who left sweet messages of congratulations for me. I'm so happy about landing a job that allows me to stay where I am, and I was excited to let you all know. Thanks for sharing it with me!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In, and The 11th Hour Job Offer

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 233
Change this week: -1

Total change: -7

This will be a quickie, as I’m trying to get myself packed to go to a conference for the rest of the week. So, I lost a pound, which is probably due to some combination of my period being over and having done my pilates video a few times this week.

Oh, and here’s some Really Good News: I got hired permanently today! It’s a great position at the hospital where I currently work and where my postdoc is getting ready to end. I could not be happier. The process was unbelievably fast, particularly for this institution, where progress is usually glacial. I was summoned to our mental health director’s office today, interviewed with him at 1pm, with another manager at 4pm and had an offer by 4:30. This was all for a position that I didn’t even know was available until last Friday. Unbelievable. I feel so, so relieved.

Well, I’ll post more over the weekend. For anyone who’s emailed me in the last week or so, I apologize for the delay in responding…I’m up to my ears in stuff.

Happy week, all!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Rainy Days and Mondays

What a wonderful day it turned out to be. I had a visit from a long-ago client, who popped in for a tune-up and some comfort. He was one of my all-time favorite clients, a sweet, sweet man who nearly wrecked his life with his addiction but who decided at the ripe old age of 50 to put down the heroin and crack and pick up his life again. He has done so very well, and he is now facing some terrible pain and loss in his life, but he’s handling it. I sat with him today and watched him cry, watched the tears run down his face and drip off his chin, and I ached for him and for my inability to do much for him. But I also felt so inspired by his strength and by the fact that he is facing some of the worst emotional pain a person can feel, and he’s living through it.

And then, Monday evening is the night I have dinner at the halfway house. Residents usually take turns cooking for the whole group, but today it was the staff’s turn to make dinner. The case manager and I decided to take the guys out for a surprise picnic, despite the fact that it rained most of the afternoon. We got all the stuff, stowed it in the vans we checked out and then showed up at the house as if we had forgotten it was our turn to cook and we were just expecting to be fed, like any other Monday night. Then we hustled them all into the vans and down to the lakefront for a picnic and walk by the lake. Fun! These are men who have mostly been alcoholics or drug addicts for their adult lives, and they don’t always have the best social skills, having spent most of their time drunk or high. It’s wonderful to watch them come out of their shells and start figuring that it can be fun to socialize.

I do so love my job. And as I wrote about here a few weeks ago, there continues to be a bit of uncertainty as to where I’ll be come the end of my postdoctoral year. It seems most likely that I’ll end up at a clinic a couple of hours north of here, which will necessitate a move away from my beloved current worksite, my friends, etc. I remain grateful for good days like today, but it makes saying goodbye all the harder.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In, and New Body Experiences

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 234
Change this week: +0

Total change: -6

Another week of no change. As I’ve said before, I’m more than satisfied with this, as I’ve not been trying at all to control my eating. The thing that is saving me from weight gain, I think, is that most of the big eating I’ve been doing has been fresh berries lately, and it’s hard to get yourself in too much trouble with fruit.

I had my first-ever massage today. I’ve always felt weird about getting one for all the predictable reasons—the massage therapist is going to be repelled by my tubby body, I don’t deserve one because I’m not physically active, I’ll be embarrassed to be seen naked, the table won’t be strong enough to hold me, etc. etc. etc. But I’ve been thinking about all the ways that I’ve neglected my body over the years and all the ways that I can work to repair that relationship now. Eating better and losing weight is certainly part of that goal—goodness knows I’ve treated myself badly by not eating right. But I’ve also treated myself badly by ignoring my body and withholding things that it would like or that would make it look pretty. In the last few years I’ve started to turn that around in small ways, by getting pedicures now and again, or getting my eyebrows waxed. Lord, I remember that first pedicure—I felt unbelievably uncomfortable, as if the person doing my feet and all the other people in the salon were thinking “Who’s the fat slob over there who thinks she’s fancy enough to be getting a pedicure??” And I didn’t start having my eyebrows groomed until I’d lost quite a bit of weight.

The truth is, as long as I was fat I was convinced that nobody would even notice if my toenails were painted or my eyebrows were shapely. I was convinced that people would look at me, trying to be pretty, and they’d shake their heads and laugh at what a losing battle I was fighting. It took losing a bunch of weight during the Great Flab-Blasting Adventure of 2000-2001 to help me take a risk and start experimenting with these kinds of things. And I’ve pretty much kept them up, even as my weight has climbed back up.

But a massage. Wow. Me, naked, with someone kneading and touching and rubbing All That Flesh. I still don’t know if I would’ve ever done it, except for that my most excellent friends pooled their money and got me a massage gift certificate for my birthday last month. And gang, let me tell you, it was lovely. I did have to do some cognitive work with myself before I went this morning, telling myself that they see all kinds of bodies, and any massage therapist worth her salt would be happy to see me doing something healthy for myself, whether I’m a size 6 or 26. I reminded myself what it’s like for me to sit down with someone whose mind has kind of gotten out of whack, and that there’s very little someone can tell me that would make me feel judgmental.

So I did it. I went in, checked in and met my massage therapist, Katy. I went into the little room with her and thought “Wow. That’s not much of a table. What if it’s not sturdy?” But it was. She left me and I got undressed and slipped under the sheet. Then she came back and dimmed the lights so low that I could hardly see her…which meant that she could hardly see me. So far, so good. The massage itself was wonderful. I challenged myself to focus entirely on the physical sensations and to let all of the cognitive stuff just melt away. Mostly, I could do that. There were times when I became aware of what felt like a lot of fat sliding around on me, but I then just returned my focus to the physical and quit worrying about it.

This experience has me thinking about the many things that make up our relationship with our bodies, and the many ways that those relationships can change. I am currently not in such a great place to control my eating, and so I’m not losing weight. I would like to change that, and eventually I will. But I also resolve to be mindful of the other ways that I can stop ignoring my body. This massage is one of those ways, and it was nice enough that I’ll try to make it a semi-regular habit.

Goals for the week:
The old regulars:

  • Take the stairs at work
  • Bring my lunch

A new one:

  • Have a new body experience. I bought a Pilates DVD some time ago, and it’s time to give it a try.

Have a good week, all!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 234
Change this week: +2

Total change: -6

Sigh. Well, I’d love to tell myself that my two pound gain this week is attributable to the fact that my period is due soon, but I think it’s more likely due to the completely uncontrolled way I’ve been eating. Oh, and the not exercising. That too.

The small bit of good news is that I continue to be able to keep my weekly resolutions about taking my lunch to work and taking the stairs. This feels like it means relatively little in the grand scheme of things, but it’s something.

It’s been a very pretty weekend here, and I’ve spent quite a bit of it outside. I was in a crowd of people at an outdoor music event on Friday night, and I found myself looking around to see if I was the biggest one in the immediate vicinity. Here’s the weird thing: I often do that—check around to see if I stand out as the largest one around—but I am pretty much unable to compare myself to others with any accuracy. I mean, I am aware of certain facts about myself: I have brown, wavy hair, brown eyes and pale skin, I am 5’8” tall, I wear size 18-20 tops and 20-22 pants, size 10 shoes…I have the numbers down. But if you lined up 10 overweight women, I’d have no idea who was closest to me in size, whose body shape was similar to mine, etc. It’s a strange deficit.

I think the hope and fear tension I wrote about yesterday is in play here as well. I am so afraid that the first impression I give people is “Fat Girl,” and that my fat is the most immediately remarkable thing about my appearance. But I simultaneously hold out hope that the whole situation is really somehow much less dire than I fear it is…that I’m going to suddenly realize one day that I’m being much too hard on myself, and really I’m just a wee bit above average in size. I think I’m held hostage in the tension between those two opposites, and the result is that I’m just completely confused about what I really look like.

I found, during my lard-busting adventures of a few years ago, that I got to be a little bit better about actually being able to see myself as I lost weight. I got so that I could appreciate when certain things looked good on me, and that was nice. Even so, though, the easiest way for me to tell that I’d lost weight was by touch. I got so that, laying in bed before a weekly weigh in, I could put my hand on my belly flab and tell whether it had gone down or not. The visual thing has just never worked for me.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’ve read on many of your blogs about how your internal body-image is a smaller person, and you’re shocked to see pictures or videos that make it obvious what you really look like. I’ve certainly had that experience as well. And yet I’ve had the opposite experience too. I took some digital pics of my body to use as a baseline so I could track my progress visually (in the event that there’s some progress to record…). I looked at them and thought “Really? That’s all?” It wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. I mean, not great, but not as tragic as I’d thought.

Confusing. I’d really like to just have a realistic visual representation of my body in my head. I think it would motivate me to stick to this weight-loss adventure, and maybe it would also help me at times when I’m convinced that I’m too fugly to leave the house ever again.