Saturday, March 12, 2011

March 12: Reasons to binge... or not

Why I was entitled to eat emotionally today

1.      Planned morning exercise was trumped by mandatory parent meeting.

2.       Driver at the head of the line hadn't bought tokens and couldn't exit the lot, blocking us all in.

3.      Thinking about earthquakes while driving over the innerbelt bridge.

4.       Broken van door.

5.       Wrong turn.

6.       Restaurant got the kids' orders wrong – to our disadvantage, but kids were already halfway through their food and wouldn't let me get it fixed.

7.       Cars not stopping at stop signs, causing me to worry they're going to crash into my side door.

8.       Van filled with Girl Scout cookies.

9.       Person who not only locked the public locker room at the gym, but refused requests to unlock the door, thereby denying everyone else access to their own belongings.

Why I chose not to eat emotionally today

1.       Want to see a smaller number at the scale.

2.       Didn't want to undo my hard work at the gym.


        Especially after the gym incident, I was sorely tempted to soothe myself by consuming calories.  Before I left the parking lot, I phoned a friend to vent; no luck, she wasn't home.  So instead I seethed and fumed in the privacy of my own van, spitting out every mean and angry insult I could think of about the person who was the straw that broke the camel's back.  I tried to give the benefit of the doubt, but was too mad to do that in a generous way.


                When I got home and my kids wanted Girl Scout cookies (they knew I'd be picking 'em up), I told them somewhat calmly and rather goofily about the gym incident.  It made me feel better to speak in a manner appropriate to kids, telling them how frustrated I was.  I didn't yell (though I did growl & groan), I didn't have a tantrum, and I didn't turn to calories.  Instead I did what I needed to do: I took a shower.


                What did I learn?  Maybe, just maybe, I'm getting stronger in my pursuit of health.  And that two good reasons for doing things well is more motivating than nine stupid reasons to mess up.  Food is for hunger and physical nourishment.  Other tools – talking, deep breathing, showering – are for emotional nourishment.  I wouldn't use a hammer to unscrew a faceplate; I'm learning to not use food to fix my emotions.

Friday, March 11, 2011

March 11: Ordinary Miracles

      The following list of little physical changes I've noticed as I've been dropping weight and building muscle is inspired by Streisand's "Ordinary Miracles." 


*    My hand fits inside all the glasses I wash.

*    I unconsciously cross my legs at my knees when I sit.

*    I've scooted the driver's seat forward in the van.

*    My engagement ring spins freely around my finger, and my wedding ring is more comfortable.

*    I haven't had a back spasm in months.

*    I can feel my ribs and other bones.  They're not protruding, but it's nice to know they're there.

*    My knee only aches for one day after I jog. 


      With luck there are other physical changes, but as my friend Mike pointed out, losing weight is like watching grass grow.  I'm grateful to see any change at all, and I'm hoping that there are all sorts of healthy physical improvements inside, too.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March 10

It's been a good week as far as food and exercise go, and in general.  I have to admit that after seeing that pleasing number on the scale at doctor's office, I checked out my home scale and was less-than-pleased.  No more scale for me till Sunday or Monday at Weight Watchers.
When my to-do list threatened to knock me down and tap dance on my head, I called in the troops for help.  The result: I fought off panic, felt stronger, and haven't binged.  Talk about progress!
This morning's WOW class left me with pecs of jelly.  I worked hard, laughed a lot, and enjoyed the entire session of torture, so it was time well spent.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March 9: Ash Wednesday for Dieters

            With bellies full of yesterday's paczki, pancakes, and sausage, many Christians will begin Lent today by giving up chocolate, candy, and ice cream.  Ever since I began my fat war in 2007, I've had to think differently about Lent because crossing the wires between Weight Watchers and church seems silly and redundant: same actions, different sponsor.  So my recent resolutions for Lent have included praying more often, listening better, and being less critical.  These are worthy intentions, but they're so vague and un-measurable that just like their January 1 cousins, they were soon forgotten. 

            After spin class early this morning, I got in my car, turned on the radio, and ran through my usual pre-set stations, futilely searching for something to listen to.  Then I realized: here is something I can do to strengthen my spirit.  After my morning workouts, rather than listen to music I already know or news I don't want to hear, I'm going to spend those several minutes in my car listening for God. 

            It's exciting to dedicate a time for listening to God.  Several minutes doesn't look like much, but that's okay.  It's more than I'm doing now.  And who knows – maybe like my elliptical machine experience, I'll work my way towards longer and more productive prayer.  We never know where the next miracle will come from, but if we're open, we may find ourselves in the middle of it.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 8: T.G.I.T or Look, a Fuzzy Tiger

                My husband likes to tease me sometimes, bemoaning the fact that having a conversation with me can be challenging.  I tend to switch topics quite a bit, flitting along like a bee in a wildflower garden.  In his book Parenthood, Paul Reiser writes that the ability to distract is of great benefit to new parents.  "If [babies] get bored, or scared, or cry for any reason, you just pull a sleight-of-hand and misdirect their simple little minds elsewhere."  Reiser goes through a charming imaginary conversation with his infant son, about a fuzzy tiger, a water bottle cap, and keys.   My advice to those of you brave enough to read till the end of today's blog: hold on tight – we've got some flitting to do.

                First of all, today was WOW (Women On Weights) day, and today's class was FUN!  We started out at the dreaded leg extension machine (where I'm at nearly 100 lbs now, about 25 pounds more than when I started in Nov.), but David ribbed us enough that it was tolerable.  My very favorite exercise today went like this.  We got on the floor in crunch position.  At the top of the crunch, David (who was standing) tossed a medicine ball to us; we crunched holding the ball, then at the top again tossed it back to him.  It was so much fun!  As I anticipated him tossing the ball to me, I felt like our beloved retriever mix Max (who died a couple summers ago).  In his younger days, we'd toss a ball for him, and he'd go tearing off at a hundred miles an hour, snag the ball, run a few laps around the yard holding the ball, then return to us with shining eyes, lolling tongue, and a canine smile, ready to go again.  That, sans doggie breath, was pretty much me today.

                Second:  For the past several days I've been reading Mark Summers's book, Everything In Its Place: My Trials and Triumphs with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  I've never sought diagnosis and I'm certainly not a doctor and have absolutely no authority on OCD, and I don't claim to suffer full-blown OCD.  That said, in reading Summers's book, I've recognized anxiety traits that I've had all the way back to childhood, which I'd always considered to be a result of my serious nature and general nerdiness.  Ever since childhood, I've naturally panicked when people haven't shown up as expected.  Especially as an adult, I find myself fighting an internal battle against heightened panic which is triggered by  stress (for example, last week's episode of coming unglued in anticipation of Sunday's paper).  The list goes on, but so does the blog.

                Third: Another book I'm reading (I usually read more than one a time) is Shrink Yourself: Break Free From Emotional Eating Forever by Roger Gould, M.D.  From this book I'm learning how to deal with insecurity and other profound challenges. 

                Now – hold on, there's a flower over there I want you to see – for the past few months I've had a couple quilting projects for friends that I've wanted to undertake.  I've wanted to, but I'd been held motionless by fear and dread.  Literally, when I thought about cutting the fabric I'd end up snacking on something.  And then something else would come up, and before I knew it, another day had come to an end, and I hadn't so much as touched a piece of fabric.

                Reading the books by Summers and Gould has freed and empowered me, and I'm only halfway through the books.  Now that I know my emotions and behaviors aren't in my imagination, I can see that I'm not broken – I just need to teach myself how to manage my feelings.  How often had I heard at Weight Watchers that if hunger's not the problem, food isn't the solution?  Yet I hadn't been able to see what I was doing.  I was eating my anxiety. 

                Yesterday afternoon, I decided I was going to get quilting.  I really like quilting: the fabric, the creativity, making something my kids might treasure in years ahead.  What had caused anxiety was that these projects were for other people; loved ones who are appreciative and supportive, yes, but still I put special pressure on myself. 

                Before I started, I emailed a couple friends, including the recipient, and said that I'd be bravely cutting some fabric soon.  I meant it.  To cut that fabric was a huge deal to me.  What if I cut it crooked, or with a little wiggle in the middle?  I didn't want to waste fabric or my time by having to do it again.

                So I went through the process.  I coached myself through it.  When I felt the urge to run and nibble on something (after all, I'm learning it's easier to beat myself up for eating than for being a novice), I instead left the environment entirely: folded laundry, hopped online, anything which would help relieve the sense of panic.  I got through and cut the fabric strips. 

                Then I decided that since I was the evening's PSR chaperone, I'd bring the strips with me and pin them together.  No big deal, just pinning strips: a way to kill time while I waited.  When I got home, I decided to just sew those first strips together. 

                Step by step.

                Before I knew it, I'd overcome a broken sewing machine needle, changed presser feet, sewed those strips together, AND fixed my son's coat!  Sure, I can name five of my friends who could have done it better, but I did it. 

                I.  did.  it. 

                My imperfection wasn't the end of the world.

                Every day is an adventure with times of ease and challenges.  At my doctor's office today I couldn't resist peaking at the scale.  When I saw the number, I smiled reflexively – especially since I was wearing shoes at the time.  But I was quick to remind myself that every scale is different, and to instruct myself that I was not going to weigh myself at home.  Compulsive weighing, I realize now, is one of my behaviors – not just something I do – which gets me into trouble.  When I don't weigh myself or follow the lure of comparing myself to others, I am calmer and more successful in all parts of my life.

                If you're still with me, thanks and congratulations for making it to the end.  In honor of Fat Tuesday, I invite you to have a paczki on my behalf.  In honor of Shrove Tuesday, I'm making pancakes for dinner.  They'll be buckwheat pancakes, but if I distract my family with bacon, maybe they won't even notice.  And tonight I'll celebrate Mardi Gras by watching my favorite show with my kidlets – something which brings me joy and empowers me.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Part Two

Post workout, I'd like to thank Chumbawamba for the good vibes.  This weekend on the radio, and the first song on my workout playlist, and the first song on the radio on the way home: Tubthumping!  For those of you unfamiliar, "I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never gonna keep me down."
Just the lift I needed.

March 7: This weekend's accomplishments

        To any other Lighten Uppers who may read this: CONGRATULATIONS on the first month!  Everyone's worked so hard; though our results are different, we're all doing great and should be proud.


        This weekend was a turning point for me.  On Friday I was still throwing myself down the stairs, so to speak; Saturday I started pulling myself together; and on Sunday the fates conspired to get me to an early WW meeting -- the one led by Carole, who is so good at getting in my head.  It was worth it.


        Following the lead of my favorite blogger, Sheryl in NY, below is a list of my accomplishments from this past weekend.

*      filled 3 bags of clothes, books, etc. for donation

*      cleaned out the tupperware shelf

*      planned & shopped for not only the week's dinners, but also for my breakfasts and snacks; I even went back to basics and packaged my snacks

*      painted my middlest's nails

*      insulated myself from things which cause me anxiety

*      heard an inspiring homily from our awesome new pastor


        I'm still feeling a little shaky, but that's okay though.  The easy times are great, but strength comes from working through challenges.  I've gotten really good at the physical challenges; now I'm working on a mental challenge.  So I'd better get to the gym for my daily dose of endorphins to help me through.



Sunday, March 6, 2011

March 6: I'm learning

            Ever since last week's Lighten Up weigh-in, I've been a basket case.  Not only was I unhappy with my weight loss compared to everyone else's (although I'm glad to be losing), but at a loss as to why I was so undone.  As a result, although I kept up my exercise, my eating got out of whack and I slipped into the blues.  I'm proud that I didn't get stuck there; I kept my commitments and searched for a way back to wholeness.

            Yesterday during a kid-free trip to Euclid Library, I filled up my bag with about 20 pounds of books from the 613s and the 616s (one of my favorite jobs was shelving books at EPL, so I know where to look for books by number).  I just knew there was something in all those books which I was meant to read. 

            Last night while watching a movie with my middlest one, I skimmed through most of the books.  There were food plans and rationales, but all they did was fuel my anxiety.  So much for the 613s; I packed up those books for prompt return.

            At bedtime and this morning I delved into two 616 books.  There it was: exactly how I was feeling not only this week but more broadly in my life for years.  The authors' emotions and experiences matched my own incredibly well.

            I'm relieved to be able to identify what's been going on.  Now that I've dragged it out into the light, I'll be able to deal with it, cope with it, and be better for it.