I can’t wait to tell you what I’ve been up to lately. Aside from dropping in to experience the shopping event known as Lilly for Target — just for kicks — I’ve been working on cleaning and organizing bits of my house. No pressure, just small bits. Well, I started with a biggish bit; tackling some bothersome issues like dirty toilets, litter boxes and my kitchen sink (which by-the-way looks brand new again now that I scrubbed it.)
I guess this sounds pretty ordinary and maybe not any bit impressive to most people. That’s okay. When I’m depressed and bathed in anxiety I have no will to care about most things. I drop out of life, lose focus, and hunker down in some deep part of my brain. The mere fact that I not only care, but that I’m acting, well…that’s a really good thing.
I’m not entirely open with people about how deeply affected I am by mental illness. I share articles on Facebook, but I never say, “I loved someone who suffered. I am someone who suffered. It’s been around me my entire life.” I told you that I’m getting help. Finally. Really aggressively, seriously trying to recover. My mental illness and shame has manifested in several ways. One way was drinking. I no longer drink. I’ve also struggled with disordered eating and an eating disorder since I was a young girl. Those behaviors are proving challenging to change. But, the progress I’m making with my depression and anxiety is helping and giving me hope that I can recover. I am working with a counselor, an MD, and a registered dietitian. They are good people and I feel safe with them.
I tell you, I was so resistant to medication for so long. It frightened me. Dependency, bottles on bottles on bottles, false hope. I tried medication after medication when I was in high school. It was terrible. I watched my mom try medication after medication. It was terrible. But I decided to try again at 33 and 11/12ths. I was getting worse. I could see the cycle happening. And the thing is, it’s working. It’s helping. But it’s not just the medication. It’s the help too. Anyway, I’m feeling good.
Also, on Saturday I went for a consultation for the tattoo I talked about a couple years ago. It’s going to be a little bit different than what I described that day, but I’m finally taking action. I’m exited but also kind of scared and anxious. I’m supposed to go on May 7th to get it inked on my right forearm. I’ll show you when it’s done.
So, I guess that’s it for now. I just wanted to say hi, see how you’re doing and let you know what’s new.
I have a habit of buying notebooks. I don’t know what it is, but I love a new notebook – all those blank pages ready for thoughts, scribbles, lists, dreams, drawings and plots. Tonight, I opened one of the several that was sitting on my desk at home. My plan was to draw out ideas for my wrist/arm tattoo on the blank pages. The tattoo is meant to remind me of a few things: my mom, my spirit of hope and fire in my soul, my connection to nature, the connection between body, spirit, thought, and emotion. It’s a lot to for a few lines of ink on skin. But I know I can do it.
Anyway, I grabbed a green composition book with a pen clipped to a page with a mundane note about a wireless key. As I walked back downstairs I scanned the pages and noticed pages and pages of words I’d written about myself while doing exercises from “What Color is Your Parachute.” This was a notebook from the end of 2011. This was from a transformational period where I was job hunting after leaving my job of 6 years. This was a notebook from the last few months my mom was still alive. (A side effect of my mom’s passing is that I tend to measure time in “when Mom was alive” and “after Mom died.”)
The words are quite different from what appears in my current journal. There’s a page with values. Those are the same. There are lists of goals. Boy, I have a tendency to expect a lot of myself. There is a list of commandments I wrote after rereading “The Happiness Project.” Still relevant.
I have deep ruts created by the repetition of negative thinking and habits born from shame and unmet needs. In January, I reached out for help. While I’ve written privately, finding out how to share more publicly has challenged me. Embarrassment, shame, and fear have kept me from being open about my life over the last couple of years. I’ve known for a long time that something about how I feel isn’t quite “right.” Though, right and wrong isn’t really a good way to view feelings. I’ve worried that people will treat me differently. I’ve worried that people will worry. I’ve worried that I will feel worse. I’ve worried that it will impact my work, though my anxiety and depression already have. These are only the beginning of the worries.
The truth is, I’ve lived with anxiety and depression, self-harming behaviors and thoughts for a long time. Cycles and patterns, I could make a quilt.
I am still me. That has not changed. I still cherish animals, adore my nephew, believe in kindness and truth, compassion and love. I still love jokes, smiles, and laughter. These other voices inside of me are tricky and persuasive. They offer comfort in their harm. But I am finding the other voices. The voice that wrote the values. The voice that wrote my talents. The voice that’s warm as sunshine (trite, but work with me here), and playful.
Impish, spritely, gentle, and strong. Silly, caring, serious, and funny. Inquisitive, thoughtful, spiritual.
I’m working on a new internal infrastructure to fill the ruts and build new roads. (Do NOT insert overused Robert Frost quote here.)
I am still me.
[Did anyone read this and think I was about to come out as a lesbian? Because when I proofed it I could totally see that. But, I’m not; just plain old mixed mood disorder, terrible body image and disordered eating- though girls smell better and have nice hair and shoes.]
I officially hit 31 days of working out IN A ROW on Friday, May 3rd. Saturday I was on my feet a lot hosting a baby shower for my sister-in-law (BABYHENRYBABYHENRYBABYHENRY! Come out come out and play!) but I really took yesterday off.
Completion of those 31 days also means I won The Bet! Hello, I was so not in the mood to fail. There were a few days I’m sure I wouldn’t have worked out if not for the bet, and I’m better for having pushed myself and gotten myself back on track. In addition, I also finished my no sugar April, though a bit less successfully as I had sugar the weekend of Rock the Parkway. I also apparently learned nothing from the no sugar challenge because I ate sugary things all weekend (not in obscene amounts or anything, but definitely not a good level for me.)
Oh well. I lost a bit of weight and my clothes are definitely looser and I felt fitness gains in my running and with pilates and yoga — so April was a good month for me.
As I was nearing the end of the month, I decided I needed to do another challenge for May. You see, I love peanut butter. So creamy! So salty! So satisfying in oatmeal, on bananas, on apples, off a spoon, straight out of the jar! And the problem is I was enjoying too many of those experiences each day. I wasn’t eating sugar, but sure was eating extra peanut butter. Sigh.
So, with this self-knowledge, I knew what I needed to do for May: reduce my reliance on peanut butter. But, I can’t have just one thing! I must be obsessive! I give you my list of May challenges and goals:
Reduce my reliance on peanut butter. This means limit myself to one serving per day, at most. I ended up running out of peanut butter a few days before the end of the month so I made my own nut butter (which ended up really being nut paste.) So far, I’ve only used it a few times in my oatmeal and never more than 1 tablespoon at a time. It’s a proprietary blend of plain old peanuts, almonds and a teaspoon/tablespoon of coconut oil.
Because I obviously didn’t change my habits, continue with my sugar challenge. This time, I’m not going 100% no sugar, but I’m putting boundaries on my “treat” consumption. No more than one treat per week. I’m also still going to avoid foods with added sugar (except for an occasional Chobani because those are delicious or protein bar.) I generally feel gross if I eat foods that are packaged or processed and oh, I’m in major budget mode, so I need to limit my food spending and processed foods are spendy.
Decided yesterday: I’m going to do a plank a day. I think I should work on building up the time. I had to do 3 this morning as part of my workout and I should have asked how long the holds were. Probably a minute. When I started they were 15 seconds. I know I can hold longer than a minute, but I should set a numeric goal to hit by the end of a month.
And the funnest of the fun, a group challenge! Cheryl and Jason decided to do 45 minutes of cardio 6 days per week for 4 weeks and if I succeed at this also, I get a free session! Most of my workouts in April were at least an hour, so I have a good base.
Since it’s already May 6th I’m going to keep this challenging going right up to the day before Baby Henry’s due date*: June 6th.
Something I should clarify about last night’s post. (other than the fact that I was drugged when I wrote it – so please, consider that when critiquing.) Actually, this came up when I was working out with Cheryl this morning.
[SHAMELESS PLUG: Cheryl is awesome. I would NOT be where I am today without her help. Not just the exercises she makes me do. (Sometimes I am enjoying chatting so much that I have to stop myself when I’m working out and remember I’m working out. Anyway.) The guidance, the accountability, the nutrition help, the encouragement, the ideas for just every day healthful living. If you can’t workout with Cheryl in KC you can sign up for her daily emails. You’ve seen me blog about them before. The extra cool thing about the emails is this: they aren’t just emails. You get interaction with Cheryl. And with that, we are back on track for the topic of this post…]
I ate a lot of M&Ms. I sought out and purchased the medium size bag of peanut butter M&Ms and plain M&Ms. (I didn’t share that particular piece of information. It wasn’t just one bag y’all – it was TWO.) I also thought it would be a great idea to have tortilla chips and salsa for lunch on Sunday. I love love love (oh mi amore!) chips and salsa. I didn’t write last night’s post to celebrate my foray into binging. That’s what it was. It was a binge. It should not be celebrated. It was different from an indulgence or a treat.
One of the hardest things about overcoming an addictive relationship with food is understanding what is happening when it is happening and before it happens and finding a way to alter the behavior and the thinking. I didn’t want to alter the thinking on Sunday. I just wanted to eat my chips and salsa and my M&Ms dammit! It was a slip.
Having someone to talk to about it can remind you of things that need to run through your brain: Have a plan. Think about it before it happens. Have alternatives. Think about how you feel after. It isn’t easy. Sometimes you will give in. (Like I did.) But most of the time you won’t. And the feelings you will get about not giving in will bolster you. And it builds up.
Figuring out why you want to turn to comfort foods helps too. I was feeling bad about a decision I made and bad about my run. I’ve also been feeling uncertain and scared about my progress. This is the point where I usually fail. And I so badly want to succeed. I so badly want to be proud. I’m humbled every time someone says something nice to me or about me. But it also puts pressure on me. I feel like I have to be great not just for me, but for other people. But that is a powerful thing. I want to help people. (I’m also a total glory hound – HA! not really) I want to help me. It’s all just one small decision at a time.
After opening up about my tryst and acknowledging the feelings and thoughts that were driving the desire, I felt so much better. It allowed me to wake up today full of joy and hope. It made me feel lighter.
FACE IT. Plan for it. It’s not going to go away. If you are an emotional eater, that part of you isn’t going to go away overnight. You are going to have to work on the thoughts and behaviors. You are going to have to face it. Slay it. Pick it up and hug it close. Look it in the eye.
First, the humble side of me needs to tell you that I stole the title of this post from an email. (This now reminds me too much of Ana’s “inner goddess” from Fifty Shades of Grey. Why did I just admit to knowing anything about that book?)
Essentially, I need to focus on the awesome that I’ve achieved. This was not my idea, but Cheryl’s. Just talking about it made me feel better. So, I’m forcing myself to focus on positive things. Good things. Things which I have achieved.
I’ve lost 64 pounds through healthy methods.
I’ve inspired others to make healthy changes in their lives by adding exercise or working toward a fitness goal.
I’ve completed three 5k runs and I’m going to train for a half marathon.
I can run a mile for the first time in my life. (and not feel like I’m dying)
There are no longer X’s preceding the size in my shirts.
I can lift heavy things.
I can carry big things of water bottles up stairs.
I am sticking to my gluten free/soy free dietary needs and not “cheating.”
I’m trying to be a better person by doing nice things for people.
I eat a balanced diet, including lots of fruits and vegetables.
I try to cook most of my own food.
People always comment on the freshness and yumminess of my food at work and that makes me proud and (shyly) smiley.
I chose walking instead of driving.
I’m challenging myself.
I’ve tried new things instead of running away. (and if you read above, you know that I can now run, so…)
I come back from any dalliances (I make myself get back on track if I have a bad day or week or so)
I didn’t let some major life events demolish me; instead I let them strengthen me.
That’s all I have right now. You should all watch this video that was left in the comments of my anxiety/fear-laden last post: Look, I can be a sark!
Oh, little food processor, how you sit in your box. Kittens tried to wrest you free…but apparently, they gave up. (probably to nap on the box)
I was still 202 this morning, but who cares? YES, I still want to get to 199 (and lower and lower and lower) but let’s not forgot all the awesome stuff that is AWESOME and get caught up in boo-woo land.
I stopped counting pushups when I do them during training time. When I started working out with Cheryl in December I was doing sets of 8. Today I was informed I’m doing sets of 20. Hello muscles! Bam.
What else? Oh yes, I can run without my lungs and heart feeling like they want to explode. I ran a mile without stopping, more than once which I could NEVER do. Bam.
I’m back on the monthly challenges wagon so I’m back to at least 30 minutes of cardio a day in addition to whatever else (so if I train in the morning, I still need to do 30+ min of cardio). So, I did C25K tonight. TWO workouts today. Bam.
Before: nervous, happy, delusional but gonna do it!
After: sweaty, happy, sweaty, glad I did it!
[Also, if anyone has any good recommendations on workout tank tops that do not ride up when running, I’d love to hear them. Tonight’s tank (even though it is exactly the same as one of my favorites for cardio) would not stay put. It kept rolling up to just under my bust. Distracting.]
So, Dear Food Processor (and your little friend too!), You will be mine. I have big plans for you. You’re going to make me some almond butter. And you’re going to shred some zucchini. And you’re going to do the onion chopping from now on. Oh yes. Rest now, Food Processor. For soon we go into battle.
…and I’m Still Going…because this is more than my story. But this is my story.
Pictures are powerful truth tellers. The frequency with which we take our own pictures these days is incredible.
Mobile technology, web cams, and digital cameras have made it easy to primp, pose, and snap – hundreds of times until we get just that right angle, lighting (heck that doesn’t matter that much if you can use an app or software to edit the picture), and expression. We make ourselves pouty, amused, mysterious, and innocent.
But the fatter you get, the harder it is to find that angle. And the fatter you get, the harder it is to hide when someone else is snapping the pictures.
I’m not new to the ups and downs of weight loss. My trouble didn’t start in early childhood. I was not a child of fast food, restaurant dining, or permissive parenting. My mom didn’t allow sugary cereal, but did allow pop. She didn’t allow candy or regular ice cream. She cooked healthy meals, showed her kids how to cook healthy meals, and didn’t overload the house with junk food.
But I was industrious, a picky eater, and shy. After moving from Kansas to Alabama to Georgia to Oregon to Missouri within the first 6 years of my life and attending as many schools by 2nd grade, I wasn’t very good at attaching to people and places. As a natural introvert, it was easy for me to withdraw into solitary activities indoors: reading (oh books how I love you!), television, and eating. I hoarded and gorged on treats whenever they were available. Maybe it was a combination of being a picky eater, not knowing how to express myself, and well, I don’t have a third. It was probably simply that. Sweets and fatty foods made me feel good. I ate too much of things that are perfectly fine and healthy – in moderation. I’d say a good 10 lbs of the fat I put on in my double digit years was from cheese. If there was a candy selling fundraiser at school I ate the product…covertly. Shamefully.
After attempting an all girls Catholic high school for I don’t know what reason, something in me broke. I couldn’t take the adjustment. I couldn’t do “new” again. I was a sophomore and cliques were already in place. I was already overweight and to top it off, I’d cut off my hair that summer so I probably looked like a lesbian. (no offense) I transferred back to my old school and after a few months, I confronted my weight by joining Weight Watchers. I started eating healthier portions and thinking about nutrition. I started exercising. I lost 26 lbs in a summer and went to registration feeling like a new person. High school was finally going be like it was on TV and the movies.
I was wrong.
I was still awkward. I was still me. I was just thinner. And hungrier.
Late that year (ahh 1997 I do not miss ye) I deflated and ballooned and landed in a terrible, life altering depression. As a perfectionist and nerd, I always did well in school. Sure, I procrastinated (because I could) but I still cared to get the work done. My junior and senior years of high school were very different. I routinely fell asleep in class. I didn’t do assignments or papers and I failed tests. I ate nothing but sugar and junk all day. In short, I was an adolescent mess.
Life was totally NOT like television. Also, stalking boys you like who don’t like you? Totally not as cool as it was in Felicity. Very different results.
So, by the time I turned 18 I was really pretty. But college really changed things: I got to start using alcohol to feel better and be more social. I gained more weight. Then I lost some. Then I gained some.
And then I graduated. Oh the Five Year Plan. I got an extra one just for all the Captain Morgan, well rum, and Busch Light I consumed. But I was finally learning how to be social.
Home from college, newly minted as a qualified adult, I started job searching (and I got a cat!) I was so big by now that I didn’t have a lot of clothes, let alone interview clothes. I felt like an old lady as I donned by “nice” outfit for interviews. And then one night while I was eating M&Ms on the loveseat I realized I had to change.
I joined the North Kansas City Community Center with a friend. She’d also struggled with her weight and was seeing success. As a perfectionist I’m also somewhat competitive. If she could do it, so could I! Slowly, I started exercising. I noticed changes in my legs. But I wasn’t losing weight. I had to start eating differently. No more Junior Mints and M&Ms.
All-in-all, I lost about 70lbs. I went from a size 24 to a size 14. Sadly, very few pictures exist of this achievement. Except for some stupid webcam pictures and these weird pictures of my legs in cheap, strappy shoes. And a close-up of my face.
Anyhow, life happened. I got a full-time job. I got friends. I got lots of drunk. And I ate, became a workaholic, and stopped exercising. I devoted myself to my job. I was going to be a career woman! Love wasn’t happening, so why not? Why not establish myself as a strong, intelligent, independent woman? See also: perfectionist, over-achiever.
I gained the weight back. Bit by bit. Bad habit, by bad habit. And then suddenly I was the age I thought I’d be when I got married and had a baby. How had that happened? How could I still be fat and single at 28? Oh by God that was practically 30 and oh dear God my chances were going to be even lower. And I still couldn’t even talk to cute boys. What about my eggs? What about that thing called actually having a life? I’d somehow put aside all of the goals I had for myself. All of the things I hold truest in my heart. And I tried exercising. And I got hurt and depressed and stressed.
And then I was turning 30 in an airport on the way to see the most warped client ever. I wasn’t with family and friends. I wasn’t celebrating. I was in a chain bar and grill in Florida – with co-workers. And then I was truly desperate.
At that point, I’d already been writing on this blog, chronically my feelings and actions. I pursued lap-band surgery, but it felt like quitting.
And so now at 31, the last year and 4 months I’ve been trying. I think about what I put in my mouth. I drink water. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol. I exercise. I try. A lot. And sometimes I want to quit – I want to lie in bed. I want to not have to think about “is there enough protein, can I pronounce the ingredients, are there enough vegetables?”
But here I am in June 2010 when I proclaimed June to be a Fat Month:
And here I am the next month (July 2010), trying to learn how not to be afraid of something:
My top weight (that I even know of) at that time was 252 pounds. I was wearing a size 22. I am 5’3″ and some change with a medium build. I am about 100 lbs overweight. Technically obese. Never able to find clothes that make me feel good. Chores are hard to do – especially if there are stairs involved. I’m tired a lot. I’m sad a lot. I’ve lost hope that I will have a normal life.
And here I am last week. The dress is an XL from Target. I wear a size 16 right now. I weigh 205 lbs. (lost a couple extra last week thanks to my awesome stomach!)
And here I am tonight, with no make-up in my pajamas and excited to see that I’m starting to have more of an hourglass figure. God help me I might just reach my goals. (And I’ve stayed up entirely too late writing this which will make my 5am wake-up and 6:15am workout extra fun.)
Thanks for reading this long post (or just scanning the pictures.) For more pictures of me from fat to fatter to fattest to less fat and less fatter check my Progress and Pictures page. It’s taken a lot for me to feel like I could share these pictures and these thoughts and feelings with the Internet. But it’s not just the Internet: it’s people I’ve worked with, gone to school with, grown up with. Family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances – this place is about finding a way to express who I am because sometimes I’m just that awkward girl over there who can craft a good one-liner and who likes animals too much. But I’m so much more. (and so much less.)