Saturday, December 31, 2011

NaBloPoMo Finale: Resolution Edition

I can't help it, I really do want to make some resolutions: Weight Loss: The ubiquitous resolution, but it is becoming clear to me that this is important to my physical and mental health. I am tired of feeling unhappy, and I believe in the "love it or change it" philosophy. I will use the healthy habits outlined earlier to work on this. Self-care: I need to have a habit of self-care, to treat myself well and do things that are in my best interests. This includes planning meals and my time, keeping things tidy around the house, and being kind to myself. Frequent blogging: Maybe not every day, but almost every day. I like the time for reflection and the community that frequent blogging creates. Smart exercise: my latest injuries have reminded me (again) that exercise is about self-care, not about proving myself. Happy new year! Numerologically, 2012 is an "8" year for me, so here is hoping for a lot of wishes fulfilled for all of my readers, too. Thanks for being there for me!

Friday, December 30, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 30: Medical Day

I hit two medical offices today, one of them twice:


I finally got in to an opthamologist to examine my eyes, instead of an optometrist. She confirmed my suspicion that this is allergy-related and said I need to blink more (maybe cutting back on recreational computer use would help), use a different allergy eye drop, and do twice-daily eyelid scrubs. I have a follow-up in a month to see how it's going.

Nuclear scan:

I had to get an injection of radioactive dye and return a few hours later to get scanned. It took about an hour total. I should have results early next week.

I'm trying to think of a big, exciting topic for my last 2011 post. Come back tomorrow to see if I succeeded!

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 29: The Twitter Diet

I stumbled across The Twitter Diet tonight: #twitterdiet

Seems like a fun way to get support. I just downloaded the book, too.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 28: Some Thoughts on Advice, and Punditry

Many of my favorite podcasts have been on hiatus. I just can't listen to the radio anymore because there are so many commercials, and NPR is doing some end-of-year fundraising. I've been listening to back episodes of the Dr. Joy Browne show while I drive.

It's somewhat interesting to hear the questions people have and eavesdrop on people's problems. The interesting thing to me is that most of them seem to be calling more to have someone listen to their question or story, but Dr. Browne inevitably cuts them off. I know that a radio show can't allow people to ramble on endlessly, but she seems determined to jump to advice before really hearing them out.  I find this frustrating, since hearing people's questions is a lot more interesting than hearing her answers. The show is almost the opposite of real therapy, where the shrink listens to you while you figure out your own problems.

I have developed a sort of typology of people's questions. A fairly large percentage of people's questions could be rephrased as Category 1: "Tell me how I can stick my nose into something that is none of my business." To her credit, Dr. Browne tells them they can't.  Another hefty chunk fall into Category 2: "Tell me it's OK to do the thing I am doing even though I know I shouldn't." Again, they get no love from Dr. Joy.  There are also the Category 3: "Tell me I'm right in this argument I'm having with my friend/family member." Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren't, but usually being right doesn't matter because it's really a Category 1 question.

It's hard to tell how many people actually find the advice and answers useful, since Dr. Browne likes to wrap up her calls by repeating her advice two or three more times, verbatim, instead of checking in with the caller to see what they think of it.  I know the show is more for entertainment value than to really help people, but sometimes people call in with very serious problems.  I hope there is a way to keep those callers on the line for referral to real resources. I also wonder if there is ever any attempt made to see how the advice worked, they way they do on "Car Talk" with Stump the Chumps.

My guess is no, because it's probably better to think of people like this as pundits than as serious professionals.  They are judged by their audience according to their entertainment value, not their accuracy.  A recent study found that most pundits are less accurate at predicting the future than a coin flip, and that the more popular the pundit, the less accurate they were:
You show up, you say a bunch of stuff, and you never worry that you'll ever be held accountable for whatever you get wrong. That's why if you choose that path in life, you may as well be bold and make a bunch of insane predictions, because you're just as liable to accrue renown for being crazy as you are for being correct.
That explains Ann Coulter. And Judge Judy, and Dr. Laura. Actually, that explains a lot.

I'm looking forward to my podcasts going back to their regular schedules. In the meantime, have a good podcast to suggest?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 27: New Habits for the New Year?

I don't really like the term "resolutions" because of all the baggage associated with it about setting a lofty, impressive goal in December, only to abandon it in the first week of January. I am thinking about it this way instead: "What new habits would I like to bring in to the new year with me?" If it is something I really want to do, rather than something I think I should want to do, I can start doing it now.

Here are the habits I'm starting to work on now so that I can have a happier new year:
  • Logging food and exercise every day, no excuses.
  • Planning ahead for exercise and meals. It always makes a huge difference for me when I take the time to actually do it.
  • Interrupting my negative self-talk, both out loud and inside my head.
I'm sticking to three because another thing I am working on is knowing my limits.  My recent injury problems have me thinking that I expect too much out of myself sometimes.

Monday, December 26, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 26: I May Need a Sephora Intervention

My drugs of choice: Skincare products, makeup, hair care products, diet books, and exercise equipment. Clothes too, when I'm willing to go near a dressing room.

My neuroses are pretty transparent.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 25: Puttin' on the Glitz

I get pedicures fairly regularly, but this week I decided to also get a manicure. Instead of my usual pale pink to hide chips, I decided to glitz it up a little this year with some glitter polish:

The color is called " " and it's part of the Katy Perry OPI collection. For once I picked this by color and not for the fun OPI name. I liked the color because it was subtle and still fit into my pale pink comfort zone and was sparkly enough to be festive.  It looked great for a night out or for a party, but I even like just looking at my sparkly fingers as I type.

Do you have a special way you like to add sparkle to your holiday look? Feel free to share it in the comments section of the latest BlogHer Life Well Lived post. While you're there, you can enter to win a Kindle Fire and a $50 Amazon gift card in the Life Well Lived sweepstakes.

I had a lot of fun, but I'm pretty tired after this holiday. I'm glad at least my fingers have a little sparkle left in them.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 24: Happy Holidays

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Friday, December 23, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 23: Radioactive!

I am scheduled for a nuclear bone scan on December 30.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 22: Update

I may have a stress fracture. That's good news and bad news.

Good news: Stress fractures heal, if given rest and time.

Bad news: All my physical therapy probably did nothing to help, and my attempts to keep running were definitely not helpful.

Nothing showed up on the X-ray, so I need a nuclear bone scan to confirm the diagnosis.

As a bonus, we got to chat about my "bunion deformity" and how that may need surgery someday.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bonus Post: Some of the Things I Have Tried to Use to Fix my Running Problems

Here are some of the (many) things I have tried to amend my running injury problems:

  • Getting fitted for shoes: At least 5 times, different fitters, different advice, always resulted in $100+ disappointing shoes
  • Buying anti-pronation shoes
  • Buying shoes that claim to support healthy pronation
  • Buying minimalist shoes
  • Buying shoes a size larger
  • Buying shoes a size wider
  • Buying shoes a size wider and a size larger
  • Vibrams: Only for short runs, they were very uncomfortable
  • Running in flip-flops: Yes, I did try it, very dumb idea
  • Actually going barefoot a la Chris McDougall: Cold and not super-comfy
  • Eating chia seeds: Well, it couldn't hurt, but it didn't help either
  • Physical therapy: Several times
  • Strength training
  • Yoga
  • Seeing a podiatrist: Seeing another one today
  • Orthotics
  • Off-the-shelf inserts
  • Various different training programs designed to ease me painlessly into some distance
  • Running only on soft trails
  • Forefoot running
  • Running only every other day
  • Running only a couple of days a week
  • Running even more infrequently than that
  • Taking time off running and then trying to start again very slowly
  • Running slower
  • Walk-run intervals
  • Cross-training
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Ice
  • Crying: Well, not a strategy, more of a result of the above not helping

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 21:Born (Not) to Run?

I often think of myself as "not a real runner," because I'm not fast enough, don't do enough mileage, enjoy other activities as much as I like running, etc., running has been a part of my life for the past 20 years or so, on and off.

I have had a dysfunctional relationship with running for most of those years. Running has gotten wrapped up in my quest for thinness, beauty, and unconditional acceptance and has suffered as a result.  I have always, in some way, bought in to the idea that if I could just train enough and in the right way, I would be effortlessly thin.  This has led to some very bad behaviors.  Sometimes I have overtrained to the point of being sick. Other times, I have refused to lace up my shoes because I wouldn't be fast enough or good enough.

The other day my physical therapist said that he wasn't sure I would ever be able to run without injury, that maybe I should consider other activities. He knows that running means a lot to me but also thinks that I'm causing problems for myself by continuing to run. I was dressed to run that day, but went to the park and walked instead, trying to consider what a life without running would mean to me.

The first thing, of course, is that I whipped myself into a frenzy of fear. I am already heavier than I want to be and I have the deep fear that if I don't run, I will gain more weight and end up back in the 200s.  This is a very unhappy story, but logically I know that it doesn't have to be true.  Every reputable source seems to indicate that dietary management is the key to weight management, not activity.  Even if I need to burn calories, there are a lot of other things I can do: Spinning classes, swimming, weight lifting, hiking, yoga, incline walking, sports.

It takes a while to get past that huge fear and consider the loss of the activity itself. The way that I can lace up my shoes and go to the park to meditate on my feet, to outrun anxiety, to just enjoy watching the scenery change with the seasons.  I know I could walk instead, but it isn't the same.

I would also lose part of my identity, the part that is a runner and a triathlete. I have never been a superstar at either of these activities. I came to them both late in life and at first, was just happy to be able to participate.  I still have that part of me that is surprised and delighted to be an athlete of any sort.  I'm not quite ready to give that up. Even when my races are disappointing, as they have been lately, they still mean a lot to me.  I have a t-shirt that declares "I run therefore I am." I bought it as sort of a joke, because I thought it was an arrogant, annoying sentiment, but a part of me believes that it is true. The times I have not been able to run have been unhappy times for me. It's especially hard because my husband is a runner, and we would lose something we have in common.

I am still hoping that the physical therapist is wrong, that I can find a way to run again. Maybe it's the excess weight that is causing the injury, and not so much the running, and if I could find a way to lose it, I could get back to running. Maybe I need to run differently, or wear different shoes, or inserts, or something.  I have an appointment with a podiatrist today and I am still hoping she will have some good news.

If the worst happens and I can't run, I have to find a way to make a non-running life work.  Lots of people do it.

I just don't want to be one of them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Days 19 and 20: Daily Blogging in December is Unrealistic

Daily blogging in December is hard. I had a friend "drop in" yesterday -- from Florida. It was a nice surprise but I still don't understand why, when a 24-hour car trip is involved, that it wouldn't be possible to call or text from the road somewhere. Still, I shuffled around my schedule and it all worked out okay.

I had planned to finally schedule in some "me time" to work on a vision board for the new year and maybe get a pedicure. Instead I tried to finish up some last-minute Christmas shopping. I still have a few more presents left to buy, and nothing is wrapped yet. Today isn't looking good for "me time" either.

This end-of-year craziness is just exhausting. I think I have to apologize for my "Christmas is not a test" post, because it's beginning to feel that way to me, that I am just not going to be able to fit everything in.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 18: Gearing Up for the New Year

I don't really believe in new year's resolutions, but I do like the whole sense of a fresh start that the new year brings. Once you are past the holidays, it is a little easier to focus on fitness goals.  I am fortunate enough to have a few extra days off in January before classes start, so I intend to get some extra activity in and really focus on eating clean and getting things organized. Of course, I'm not waiting for the new year to get started. I'm using December to start planning and working toward that healthy fresh start.

I had six or seven exercise classes that were going to expire at a fitness studio where I usually take Pilates. I decided to spend them all rather than trying to extend them into the New Year. I thought this would give me a bit of a fitness head start. I'm taking classes that I don't usually take to shake things up and figure out what classes I like. I will be working on a new workout schedule that incorporates more strength training and also hits each of the three disciplines (running, biking, swimming) at least once a week.

My husband and I also have agreed that we need to do a better job of planning our meals.  I bought a little dry-erase board for the fridge that was intended as a family schedule. We are going to use the big space to write in meals and the smaller spaces to put important events. The goal is to sit down and plan out meals and a shopping list each week together.

I bought book (in Kindle format) for my iPad and am going to pick up a copy of the  for recipe ideas.  I don't plan to follow the diet exactly (no 1200-calorie jump start for me, thanks), but I do think the philosophy fits the foods we both like very well and the recipes seem like things we would like. We both would like to lose weight, especially in the belly area, and if eating things like nuts, avocados, olive oil, and dark chocolate would help, then that's terrific.   The plan also emphasizes healthy, whole foods, which is another plus in my book.  The meals seem sized well for my appetite and having some leftovers that my husband could take in his lunches would be a nice bonus.  I also have  on pre-order to help me get my head together.

The final thing I need to work on is stress management. I need to have systems in place for keeping the house organized, because when it's a mess I feel like a mess. These systems need to involve both human members of the family (cannot get the cats to pick up after themselves no matter how much I lecture them) and need to be simple.  I also need to plan in time for relaxation instead of overscheduling myself so much.

Does that sound like a lot? It is, but I have the rest of December to work out the details.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 17: Firing a Doctor

Jillian Michaels's latest podcast had a segment on how to know when it's time to find a new doctor. It's funny because I just had to switch.  It was (and is) sad to me that I had to do it, but I hope it works out for the best.

I have been having recurrent issues with redness and irritation in my eyes, mostly the left. I have been back and forth to the doctor for six months or more, once with a corneal ulcer. Every time I have a problem, he prescribes a different antibiotic eyedrop and/or steroid, suggests artificial tears, and sends me on my way.  This latest time, I asked if he could tell me why I kept having this problem. He couldn't. I asked if he could refer me to an opthamologist (he's an optician).  He said no, that this is something he could handle and that only an "unethical" opthamologist would see me unless I was having eye surgery. He gave me a combination antibiotic and steroid and sent me on my way.

I liked my eye doctor. I had been seeing him for almost twenty years. However, the fact that he was unwilling to consider that the problem I was having was outside his area of expertise, even though he had no diagnosis for the problem, frustrates me.  Continually taking antibiotic drops for something that may or may not have been a bacterial infection also concerned me.  My veterinarian sends out samples from my cats to a lab when an infection is suspected, so why, when dealing with a human eye, would a doctor try to treat without knowing the cause? What if there is a very serious issue that is not getting addressed because of the "here, try this?" approach?

I tried to figure out the motive for this attitude. I know that since I have vision insurance, I am a valuable customer and he might not have wanted to lose me. If I had been able to get a referral, though, I probably would have stayed with him for my glasses and contact lenses. This situation has made me want to change doctors completely, for everything. I have an appointment with an opthamologist in a couple of weeks. Until then, I will probably just wear my glasses.

Friday, December 16, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Days 15 and 16: "Are You Ready for Christmas?"

Obviously this daily blogging thing is harder in December than November. I will remember that for next year.

I have been feeling frazzled and full of dread because of the end of the semester. But I find that many seemingly normal people hear the word "Christmas" and think, "ohmygodihavesomuchtodoanditsimpossible." I don't know if people who celebrate other winter holidays feel so much pressure and insanity, but Christians sure managed to turn a celebration of "comfort and joy" into a fear that they didn't decorate right, didn't buy the right gifts, etc. it's supposed to be a nice time with family, not a test, isn't it?

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bonus Post: Invisible Christmas Tree

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NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 13: School's Out

I have been having some trouble finding my mojo lately, though I had a very nice birthday that extended through the weekend. Yesterday and today were packed with end-of-the-term grading and meetings.  I guess it's not surprising that I've been feeling tired and overwhelmed. The nature of teaching is that I work very, very hard during the terms, get a break, try to catch my breath and spend some of the time productively, and then start all over again. It's even harder because I feel very lucky to have landed a "dream job" and ungrateful whenever I complain.

The problem is that it's so easy to get caught up in the daily grind that I don't make progress toward bigger goals. I spend a lot of time on things that are important and urgent, and even unimportant and urgent, but very little time on things that are important but not urgent. And let's be honest, the goofing around on facebook and Pinterest is both unimportant and not urgent, and yet still takes up a lot of time. 

I really need to do an updated vision board. I played with the idea of doing one on Pinterest, but I think the actual physical activity of cutting and pasting and thinking is an important part of the process.  I bought all of the supplies and they are just sitting around, taking up space. I should have time this week.  

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 12: Pinterest Hijacking

I missed blogging yesterday again. In the morning, I had an excuse, but last night I had plenty of time to spend on .

Sunday, December 11, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 11: On the Way Up, or On the Way Down?

Vickie once posted (I tried hard but could not find the post) that she wished she could tell by looking at someone if they were on their way up the scale or on their way down. When I read the post, I thought it was pretty insightful, as most people will look at someone and judge, based on their current weight, whether they are "healthy" or "unhealthy," not knowing what their lifestyle is.  As my yoga teacher says, our bodies are our history. Whatever changes we are working toward, positive or negative, will not show up immediately on our bodies. But I still think it's more complicated than that.

When I lost weight the last time, I thought I had it all figured out.  I believed in the idea of "flip the switch," that once I had mastered weight loss, that I could not un-master it.  I was ready to tell the world what I knew and I had no doubt I would be able to maintain forever. I even thought about writing a weight-loss memoir. I am so glad that I did not do that, even assuming the lottery-win chances of getting a book contract.  Because now when I think back to all of that "information" I thought I had, I have no insight I can use to get back into that flipped-switch mindset.  I exercised then, I exercise now. I avoided fast food restaurants like the plague then and I still do. I only very rarely drank soda, fancy coffee drinks, and juice then and now. I had very little alcohol then and now. I ate a lot of fruits and vegetables and I still do.

I have been trying so hard to "get back" to the way I was, to flip that switch again. But I think the reason that I didn't stay at my goal weight is that the lifestyle I used to create it was unsustainable in many ways.  I exercised more then than I do now, and did it to the point of near-obsessiveness and eventual injury. I kept a much tighter control over my food but it was a sheer act of will that is hard to duplicate, and sometimes depressing to even think about.

There are a few lessons I wish I could bring forward. I happened to pass string cheese at the grocery store, and it reminded me of how I always was careful to pack snacks when I was going to be at work for long stretches of time. I took care of myself so I wouldn't be stuck hungry when tempting food is around. I planned my meals and used new recipes more often so I could keep lower-calorie food more interesting. I keep telling myself I will do these things again but I always fall off in a few days. I have gotten out of the habit of self-care.

I am beginning to believe that there is no switch to flip. Every day, each choice takes us a tiny step closer to our goals or a tiny step further away, though we can build habits so we don't have to make each of those choices individually, especially in moments of weakness or hunger. We can take the time to prepare for success so that we're not unintentionally setting ourselves up to fail. It's that "success scaffolding" that makes the difference between the way up and the way down.  I need to rebuild it, and stronger.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 10: Super Spam

Latest weird-logic spammer post:
You should care more about superficial luxuries then your own health. I hate pointing this out because it's negative. Ultimately though there is nothing more important then your health. There really isn't any excuse not to take care of yourself.
They are getting closer to making sense, though.

Friday, December 09, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 9: Happy Birthday to Me

I'm on my way to my birthday dinner. See you tomorrow!


Thursday, December 08, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 8: Wordless Wednesday

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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 7: Creative Uses for my Phone's Camera

Temporary food diary:

To record mileage for reimbursement reports:

To explain why I'm late:

To remind my husband to buy the one kind of dryer sheet that doesn't make me itch:

Or the brand of food our cats like:

To remind someone to vote:

And these are just ones I had in my photo stream. I also have:

Shown the mechanic what the funny puddle under my car looked like
Remembered where I parked by taking a picture of the row/section sign
Taken a photo of something before taking it apart
Used it to show a hardware store employee what part I needed

Remember when you used to take pictures and not know whether they turned out for at least a week? Who would have thought it would be so cheap and easy to take pictures that snapping a picture would be the fastest way to record and share information?

Now try to imagine what technology we will be using in 15 years that will be equally revolutionary! I can't either.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 6: Favorite Skincare Products?

I'm taking another little break from the Motivation Makeover. Days 6 and 7 are a little more intense and I want to give myself a little extra thinking time.  Jenna at Eat, Live, Run posted today about her favorite skin care products. I am having a bad skin flareup right now and am frustrated with beauty products. I have a tendency to spend a lot of money on them, hoping that they will fix whatever is wrong with me, and they never live up to that promise. Worse yet, I have dozens of little bottles of things (I like to buy sample sets) and have very little consistency in what I'm using so it's hard to know what caused the latest flareup. I have both sensitive acne-prone skin and dry patches. And I'm also starting to get fine lines. Unfair! If I'm going to have pimples like a teenager, I want my skin to be plump and healthy like a teenager's.

I looked at that  kit that seems to be advertised everywhere, but it seems expensive and the main ingredient is just salicylic acid, which is in everything.  I bought an  with the same active ingredient, along with its companion products, but it didn't seem to clear up my skin that much.  I had some luck with the . Maybe I will go back to that, unless anyone has any other recommendations.

 Last year around my birthday, I went to a dermatologist, but all they did was recommend very harsh prescription treatments that made my skin flare up even worse. When I said one product made my skin peel, they gave me another product with even more of the active ingredient. I stopped going back after that.

Any recommendations for me?

Monday, December 05, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 5: Imagining the Future 2

1. What do you want? Remind yourself by writing it here. 

I want to reach and maintain a healthy, slim weight. I want to live a lifestyle that allows this to feel natural for me.  I also want to get more organized in my financial and work life so that I feel less stressed.

2. What are the benefits and consequences, both direct and indirect, of getting what you want?

I think I would enjoy life more without the constant worry over how people might be judging me. I would probably spend less on clothes if I could trust that anything I wore would look good.  I would definitely spend less on beauty products. If I were more organized, I would make better use of my time, resulting in both more productivity and less stress. This might free up time and energy for chasing new goals.

  • How specifically do these benefits and consequences increase in a year’s time? I think if I could reach and maintain this lifestyle for a while, I might be more empowered to start following bigger dreams, like writing.
  • In two year’s time? I think after two years, I would have the benefit of feeling like this was my new "normal." Maybe I could submit a manuscript or a book proposal by then.
  • In five and 10 years? In this timeframe, I will be eligible to apply for promotion, so I need to make sure that I am laser-beam focused on my work goals. I might consider looking for a job at a public university after attaining a higher rank if I thought I would be a good candidate, which is another incentive to work hard. Writing projects could supplement my income or just give me another way to express my creativity.. Hopefully by then, healthy living will just be what I do so and I will have my routines in place. I imagine that this will make a big difference in my overall health. In 10 years I will be getting ready to turn 51, so good health habits could make a big difference in how I feel.
3. What is stopping you from beginning right now to create the life of your dreams? In your digital or paper journal, take your time writing and really imagine your future. Make it motivating and amazing!

Nothing is stopping me except me. I think I could achieve these goals if I make them a priority and am patient with myself.  I need to take a "growth mindset" and stop thinking that it is risky to try for the things I want. I need to think about how I can help myself be successful instead of just hoping that something will happen to magically take me to my goals. I can only fail if I don't try.

I want to stay fit long into old age. I may or may not be doing triathlons, but I hope I am still swimming and biking and doing yoga, at least. Or maybe I will find a whole new level of fitness.

As for the writing, I need to do it for its own sake and not in hopes of being "rich and famous." I have managed to do that with painting and drawing, so I need to have the same attitude of fun and exploration with writing, both academic writing and "fun" writing.

I have lots of dreams for other parts of my life too. I want to travel. I have been taking French lessons just in case anyone wants to sweep me off to Europe.  I want to go back with my husband several times, to different countries, and really take our time and enjoy things.  I want to visit the developing world, too. I think it would be life-changing to see how people manage to survive and even thrive with much less material possessions than we have here.

Mostly I just want to have more fun and be less self-conscious.  I want to loosen up a lot more and feel that there are many possibilities for where I can go from here.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 4: Reactive vs. Creative

I'm taking a little break from all the Motivation Makeover stuff, but I will get back to it. I am also going to have an interview with author Reneé Stephens about her book, Full-Filled soon.

I was sitting through a presentation the other day on different kinds of motivation and it reminded me of Reneé's "towards" and "away-from" motivation. The presenter first described a reactive motivation, which is moving away from pain.  The results of this kind of motivation look like this:

Why is that? Because when we are failing, we feel bad about it. But once we start succeeding, we can make other people around us uncomfortable, and that can make us lose motivation or sabotage ourselves.  The only place that feels safe for a person in reactive mode is when they aren't being noticed at all.

It really struck me how much this felt like my weight loss motivation.  When I am feeling conspicuously heavy, I tend to feel motivated to make changes, but once I start getting too many comments from people around me on my weight loss, I can become uncomfortable and then I feel myself losing motivation. I know that I've talked about this before, so the real revelation in this talk was what to do instead.

What to do instead is to move toward a compelling vision. Similar to Reneé's "towards" motivation. We also need to shift our reactive motivations to a more creative kind of motivation. So if we are focused on fitting in, we should work toward building healthier relationships. If we are motivated by a need to control ourselves and others, we need to work toward a healthier achievement-oriented mindset.  If we are motivated by a need to protect ourserlves (this felt like me), we need to move toward authenticity and self-awareness.  This can produce results more like this:

The move from protection to authenticity reminded me of Breneé Brown's discussion of shame and vulnerability.  And it also reminded me of another book I'm reading, Mindset by Carol Dweck, which discusses the benefits of the growth mindset (people can work to improve their basic ability level in areas like intelligence and athletics through hard work and learning) vs. the fixed mindset (people have a certain amount of ability, and performance is an opportunity to show that ability).  People in a fixed mindset would oscillate too, because when they inevitably hit a hard patch or a failure, they would decide that they weren't really meant to succeed and would give up.  They might get motivated again when they started to fear that others would think they were untalented and unworthy, but they would never achieve the kind of success that comes from facing challenges.

I really think it's amazing how the same messages keep coming back to me from so many sources. It helps reinforce their value.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 3: Imagining the Future

Here are my responses to Day Four of the Motivation Makeover

1. What results do you want?
I want to be relaxed and comfortable around food. I want to make good choices for myself and my long-term health. I want to maintain a healthy, slim weight. I want to continue to improve my fitness and health. I want to be more conscious of the choices I am making in every area of my life and feel confident that I am making good ones. I want to be more organized at work and start using my time better. I want to get my finances in order and get out of debt.

2. Imagine for a moment not getting what you want. Imagine continuing on the path you are on now. Think of health, relationships, self esteem, finances, career, fulfillment when answering:

  • The consequences are that I might continue to gain weight or at least not manage to lose weight. I will continue to have a stressful relationship to food and fitness. I will still feel overwhelmed, stressed and frazzled at work. I would probably be deeper in debt.
  • In two years' time? I would definitely stay at the same level or more likely, decline in health and happiness if I don't start working on building a healthier lifestyle. I would be starting to see negative consequences in my finances and at work.
  • In five and 10 years? I could potentially start to see serious health consequences in this timeframe if I don't take control of my weight. I would continue to feel unfulfilled at work if I don't start organizing my time better and might not be promoted. I would have doubts about being able to have a good lifestyle in retirement.
Notice that this is the future you are now creating if you don’t change course. Is this what you want? Um, no.

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 2: Another Slip

I have every intention of blogging daily through December, but I already dropped the ball yesterday, December 2.  It's not easy, this daily blogging thing!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 1: Motivating my Way to a Better New Year

I am continuing daily blog posting through December. This may be more of a challenge because of the holidays.  I thought I'd start back up the Motivation Makeover for the new month. It would be nice to take a few less bad habits (and pounds) into the new year. Today I'm talking about "Away From" Motivation,which Reneé Stephens also calls "pain-based motivation."
  1. What unwanted behaviors do you have? I often eat out of habit or out of feelings instead of hunger. I have trouble controlling the amount I eat of certain foods.  I wouldn't say that I binge, but I sometimes eat to the point of being uncomfortably full.
  2. What symptoms do you have? I don't like the way my body looks. I feel like I need to cover certain flaws and problem areas.  I sometimes feel defensive and think other people are judging me because of my extra weight.
  3. What are the consequences of those behaviors and symptoms? I don't have confidence in my relationships. I feel like my clothing choices are limited because of my need to cover flaws. I have a closet and drawers full of clothes in different sizes, but I keep wearing the same things over and over.  I feel scared that I might never feel young and pretty again.
  4. What other people are affected by your problem? How are they affected? I don't think my friends and spouse can be honest about what they think about the way I look. I think sometimes it's harder for my husband to work toward his own weight and fitness goals because I haven't made much progress on mine.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 30: The End, or Just the Beginning

I learned a lot from blogging daily for 30 days. Some of the lessons:

  • Blogging more often brings more visitors and comments and increases the sense of community. Staying connected inspires me.
  • is a great adjunct to a blog and allows for more spontaneous content.
  • Not every post has to be profound. Blogging more often has allowed me to experiment and play with different formats and different ideas. I'm having more fun.
  • I can't always predict which posts will resonate for readers. Sometimes a quick post is all it takes to generate discussion.
  • Photos are fun and I should take more and use them more in my posts.
  • Link-love posts are fun but they are also a lot of work.
  • Scheduling posts and blogging early are lifesavers on busy days.
  • I like daily blogging enough to keep it going for another month!

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 29: Wordless Tuesday

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Monday, November 28, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 28: My Triggers

This exercise is also part of Reneé Stephens's"Motivation Makeover." I am supposed to list my trigger situations and foods in order of importance:

  1. Being unsure of when I will be able to eat a real meal next, especially when there is snack food around, is a big trigger for me. If I am hungry and nervous that I won't be eating for a while, I can feel the need to eat whatever is around, especially if it's tempting. Then I eat the meal too and feel stuffed.
  2. Snack foods, including most prepackaged salty snacks (chips, Bugles, everything from the -itos family) and candy, are big triggers for me. The more variety, the more of it I will want to eat.
  3. Social situations with food, especially, again, when there is a lot of variety.  If I am nervous about my potential interactions with the people there, the buffet table has a special allure.
  4. Grading papers or trying to write makes me think I need a snack.
  5. Being around foods I don't normally have available, like homemade desserts or other special treats, makes me want to "get it while I can."
  6. Feeling headachy, lightheaded, or dizzy.
  7. Feeling like I've "blown it" by eating too much, especially when I am following Weight Watchers or any other diet where I have a certain food allotment.  Once I am over limit, I seem to think it's a good idea to keep going.
  8. Being around other people who seem to be enjoying eating.
  9. Sharing food with someone, especially if that someone eats fast.
  10. Getting too hungry makes me have trouble controlling my food intake.
I have a lot of triggers.  I will be curious to see how to overcome these. Logic alone doesn't always seem to work.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 27: What Do I Want?

I pre-ordered Reneé Stephens's book, Full-Filled and went to her site to check out the supplemental materials. I thought it might be useful to do the "Motivation Makeover" exercises here. I have done some similar things here before, so please forgive me if this seems repetitive.

Day One: What Do You Want?

I want to feel calm and relaxed around food, no matter what the situation.

I especially want to relax when at family events instead of feeling compelled to eat.

I want to eat healthy food that makes my body feel good.

I want to enjoy fitness activities but not feel compulsive about my workouts.

I want to be able to wear tank tops and shorts to the gym and feel good about the way my arms and legs look.

I want to have a trim waist.

I want to be able to slip on clothes for any occasion and feel confident.

I want to learn how to deflect unwanted attention gracefully.

I want to have a great wardrobe of stylish, classic clothes that fit perfectly.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, November 26, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 26: Believing in My Program

My husband wouldn't really look at the Up & Running training plans when I was doing the program. After the race, I asked him about it. "I thought I would probably disagree with some of it, and that might have made you doubt it. The most important thing you can do when you're training is to believe in your program."

I keep thinking about that because I have not good at believing in my program, no matter what the program was, whether it was Weight Watchers (after the first time, at least), working on my dissertation, or training for most of my races. I have a glorious honeymoon period where everything seems terrific. Then I start thinking I am going to fail, and I start "managing expectations" by talking about how flawed the program is or explaining why it won't work. Then I start looking around for something else to do.

When I was working on my dissertation, I thought about quitting and getting certified to teach yoga instead, after more than five years of expensive coursework. The way I finally finished was to put myself on a structured program of writing for a certain amount of time every day, first thing in the morning in my pajamas. Before I could shower, brush my teeth, or get dressed, I had to put in my time.

I am still trying to find a program I can believe in for weight loss.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 25: Far From the Madding Crowd

I used to do the whole Black Friday shopping thing with my mom and my sisters. We always went to the mall, not to big-box stores. It was long enough ago that discount shopping was considered uncool, which means my last real Black Friday experience was sometime in the early '90s. We would hit the stores that had big giveaways and even go in and out different doors if the coupons were good enough.

Even then I never liked the crowds and the press of people, and most of the deals weren't that great. I never remember buying much. It was more about the experience of being out on the biggest shopping day of the year.

I worked an opening shift at a Target store one Black Friday. The shoppers pressed up against the doors almost didn't let me in. I seem to remember showing my red apron -- that memory is the only reason I think that I wore an apron sometimes when working there, maybe before they instituted the red-shirt-khakis "uniform."

I glanced at the sale papers yesterday but nothing really spoke to me. I played with my nephews, went out to lunch with my family, and then tried to go for a run. All the holiday food did not appreciate being jostled around and forced me to stop and walk instead. I saw a lot of happy-looking people and dogs at the park. No one seemed to be in the mood to pepper-spray anyone. It was a beautiful day not to be shopping.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 24: Thankful

If I hadn't goofed up yesterday, today would mark my 24th daily blog post in November. I have been enjoying blogging as a daily practice, and have also enjoyed the increase in traffic and comments generated by the flurry of activity stirred up by NaBloPoMo. When I started this blog, I never expected much traffic. I certainly didn't realize the feeling of community I would enjoy. I am very grateful to everyone who reads.

I have so many things to be grateful for this year. I have a wonderful family. My two furry friends are doing well despite the health problems earlier this year. My health has been mostly good. I have all of my basic needs met with a little left over for fun and for giving back. I have work I enjoy. I have learned a lot in the last year and hope to keep learning and growing.

Thanks again for reading!

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NaBloPoMo Day 23: Missed It

Totally forgot about blogging yesterday. I was doing so well, too.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 22: Happy Links

I'm late to blogging again tonight, so I thought I would share a few links that made me smile:


"I definitely had higher offers, but I accepted the one with the most promise," Diedrick said, adding that the sale "got everyone in town talking about the National, and did something we often forget: help someone realize a dream."

Ryan at NoMoreBacon decided to give up his shiny new iPhone 4S because his virtual life was interfering with his real life:

I use my voice and my eyes and my ears more now because instead of saying “uh huh, uh huh, uh huh” while refreshing my screen for the 98th time in the last 4 minutes, I’m actually looking at people and talking to them and you know what? People are pretty awesome. It’s the craziest thing!

Finally, with no quote since it's a comic, Basic Instructions explains how to overlook flaws.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 21: A Simple Run

Today I got to run outside with no agenda, no training plan. It was a good day!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 20: Three Wishes

I an getting very sleepy but haven't blogged for today.

If you could have three wishes for you and you alone (with no "The Monkey's Paw" funny business), what would they be?

Mine would be:

1. To reach and maintain my goal weight through a healthy and enjoyable process and stay fit and healthy well into old age.

2. To get a "What Not to Wear"-style makeover.

3. To find a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in my life.

Yes, choosing #1 and #2 before #3 probably makes me shallow.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 19: A Great Race

I signed up for a "5K race" by the conference I just attended. It wasn't actually a race or a 5K. It was a roughly 3-mile run through city streets, completely untimed. I didn't even have a watch with me. I had fun, felt great, and got to run and talk with someone whose company I enjoyed.

That's my kind of race! Everyone wins.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 18: Good Luck and a Speedy Recovery

Jen at A Prior Fat Girl is having surgery today to remove excess loose skin from her incredible weight loss. She has posted pre-surgery photos(May be NSFW) in case you want to see why.

I have never met Jen but I have been reading her blog for quite some time. I just wanted to post a wish for a safe surgery and a speedy recovery. Good luck, Jen!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 17: Travel

I am leaving early this morning for a conference, so this post was actually written late Wednesday night. Scheduling is such a wonderful blog feature!

I was thinking about how so many fitness gurus do tips on coping with travel when you are trying to follow a healthy eating and exercise plan. That's rarely a big concern of mine. Sure, sometimes I miss a workout or have a big restaurant dinner. Let's be honest, though, those things can just as easily happen at home.

Here's my strategy: I pack workout clothes and plan to get in at least one workout in the hotel gym (in this case I'm actually running a 5K). I get in lots of walking when I'm traveling in a city because I hate paying for cabs. I don't use being out of town as a cue to totally abandon everything I've ever learned about healthy eating.

More often than not, I find it easier to stay on track away from home, because I don't have a fridge and pantry filled with food, do boredom eating is not an option.

I also try to remember that conference cookies never are as good as they look. Seriously, they are usually terrible.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 16: Living in the Now

I had a long talk with my husband about my "Never Good Enough" feelings.  I read something (sorry, not published, so no link) talking about consumerism in relationships and it made me realize that this is where my fears come from.  I have this belief system that if you somehow fail to live up to someone's expectations for you, they can just replace you, like they would a lamp that didn't work or a mobile phone that had just been made obsolete by a newer and shinier model.

Just talking about it out loud made me realize how crazy it sounded, but at the same time, there is a lot of cultural support for consumerism. When I looked for links on "Consumerism and Relationships," I found an article explaining how Boomers' values are changing from a consumerist mentality to a focus on relationships.  Nice, I thought. Then I clicked on a link and it was an article about how certain retailers could market to this new group of values-conscious boomers:
“This study unveiled that baby boomers feel vulnerable as significant events have emotionally affected their lives, due to aging, home equity and investments disappearing, and global competition. These values shifts have created a new consumer niche that can provide business opportunities for some.” 
Health spas and real estate opportunities were some of the industries that could capitalize on this new "values trend."  It probably isn't surprising that this mentality has leaked into my psyche if even a return to more relationship-centered thinking is a marketing opportunity.

So how to combat my self-doubts? A couple of things. Talking about it helped, as did posting and getting such great, supportive, and empathetic comments.  I also remembered Geneen Roth's recommendation to focus on inhabiting the body instead of looking critically at it as if from outside.  

Karen's post on anxiety today also helps, because it reminds me that I shouldn't focus on trying to eradicate these feelings like a weed so that I never feel them again, as if I could "fix" a deeply-rooted and irrational fears by rational means.
“Never again” is not possible.
It is possible to acknowledge the feelings and move through them, as Shauna suggested:
,,,when that kind of defensiveness pops up, I can observe it in a bemused I see what're you doing there kind of way, then move on.
Getting outside, getting work done, getting on with it is really the only way to go. The more I am actually out doing things and the less I'm sitting home worrying about them, the better I seem to feel.  Just because I have bad feelings once in a while does not mean I have to set up my home inside them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 15: One Interesting Result

I got the printed copy of my test results yesterday and there was one interesting thing after all: My estrogen levels were low. I looked up the symptoms of low estrogen and they are some of the things that have been bugging me: Hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and even weight gain.

About two or three years ago, a doctor switched me from Demulen, the Pill I had been using for years to Loestrin. I don't know why. But the other pill was a little higher in estrogen, so I am curious to see if switching back might make a difference, at least with the hot flashes and night sweats. I sent my doctor a message asking if we could try. I hope she says yes.

I'm still going to do what I can on my end, but if changing something small like that could help, it's worth a shot.

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 14: Never Good Enough

Remember how I said I put down all the self-criticism and worry and fear during my race on Sunday? Well, the thing that I didn't tell you yesterday is that it's pretty easy to pick it all back up again. I went to the Up & Running forums and saw that everyone else had run their race faster than me. Sure, someone has to be last, but I didn't want it to be me. "Never Good Enough" is so much a part of me that I can't seem to let go of it for long. It's like a Velcro boomerang, always coming back and sticking to me again.

There are a lot of reasons this could be. I could blame my parents' high expectations for me. I could blame my husband, who has a tendency to be critical of himself and others and has said some unintentionally (I hope) cruel things to me over our many years together. I could blame the girl at the race yesterday who handed me a large men's t-shirt and looked doubtful when I said I wanted a women's sized shirt, which I could see right behind her. I really think that this feeling is part of the human condition, and I may be a little more prone to it than others, or I just don't know what other people are thinking all of the time and unfortunately, it's hard to escape my own thoughts. I also feel like other people expect it from me, that they are silently agreeing with me even as they say, "You shouldn't be so hard on yourself."

One thing, though, is that I am really tired of it.  I am almost 41 years old and I don't feel like I've ever stopped wishing I could change almost everything about me. Every race I do is a letdown because I should have done better. Every time I weigh myself the number on the scale is too high. All my attempts to "fix" myself are wearing me out.  But short of having a stroke, I'm not sure how to make that nagging voice in my head shut up.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 13: Finished my 10K

This definitely was not one of the best or most fun races I ever did, but it's over. I did the Wellness in the Woods: Battelle-Darby Creek 10K and finished in 1:22:56.  The course was hilly and was mostly on rough limestone-gravel paths, and it felt a little long to me, but maybe because it was so weirdly marked. I passed two "Mile 1" markers, two "Mile 2" markers, two "Mile 3" markers, a 5K turnaround, a "Mile 4," "Mile 5," and "Mile 6" marker.  If you count all those, the course was just over 9 miles, and that's about how it felt.

When I saw the "Mile 4" marker, I realized that I was actually much further from the finish than I thought, and I felt a bit demoralized.  I had already taken a couple of walk breaks (up some of the bigger hills) and I was losing steam. I had not remembered to start my stopwatch, but it was already 50 minutes after the race was supposed to have started and I knew I was going to do the next 2.2 slower than I did the last 4 miles.

Then I heard my own voice in my head saying, "I don't have to carry that stuff anymore." By that stuff, I meant the miles I had already run that felt slow and lousy, the miles coming up that were also probably going to be slow, my expectations for the race, my disappointment in my weight gain... I had a lot of baggage in my head.  I decided to drop it all and just treat it like I was going for a run in the park. I had no one in sight ahead of me or behind me (this was a very small race and most of the field was much faster than me) so I really was just on a run by myself. I focused on running straighter and taller and lighter on my feet. I still ended up taking a lot of walk breaks, especially on the hills.

I did accomplish one major goal: I finished this race without my toe pain flaring up even once while I was running. I am glad I did all that physical therapy, too, because the rough stones required a lot of ankle flexibility. I think I just didn't have enough endurance for this challenging course. I had much more fun training for it with the Up & Running program than I did actually running it.

The one major regret I have is that at Mile 5, I put down my Glider Gloves, planning to go back for them. I ended up being too tired to go get them.  I loved those gloves and wish I had not worn them for this race since I had no pockets to put them in when I got too warm.  My review of those gloves is still one of my most-visited posts, and when I Google "glider gloves review" my post is the first one that turns up.  The upside to losing them is that I now have an excuse to buy some purple ones. When I wear them with the new green jacket (with pockets) that I bought today on the way home, I'll match my blog.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 12: What Next?

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday, and we talked about how crummy I have been feeling lately. I have been tired and feeling down, and even had a couple of what felt like hot flashes. I thought maybe my thyroid levels were off, since I'm taking Synthroid for Hashimoto's.

She ran a bunch of tests. I got a thyroid panel, including T3, an iron test, and a test to see if I'm starting menopause early. Everything was normal.

I should feel relieved but I'm stuck on this question: What now? How can I start moving toward feeling better and losing weight again?

Friday, November 11, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 11: 11 Links for 11/11/11

I thought I'd celebrate today's date (11/11/11) by sharing 11 links. Some made me think, some helped me to learn something new, and some just plain made me happy (see #1)

1. "" by The Flickr Blog. 
Amazing pictures. If you only pick one link to click in this post, click this one.
2. "The Last Twenty Pounds" by Refuse to Regain:
What I've learned is that the biggest problem with weight loss is the perception that it's somehow done when the scale registers a certain number.  As this blog has reiterated ad nauseum, initial weight loss is simply the price we pay for admission to the rest of a newly designed life with food.  Once your body has stopped losing, it may well be time to start working on maintenance.  Since you are going to vastly change the way you eat and move around, and since this is going to be a lifelong project, there is no hurry.  Many people continue to lose as they learn to maintain.  Perhaps that will be the better way to go.  I know that this is anathema to those who want to be done...and for whom done means a particular number on the scale.  To them I gently say, "What's the hurry? You've done wonderfully well and you have a lifetime to figure out your final equilibration."
3. "" by The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl:
 One side-effect of regained poundage has been the occasional return of paranoia that instructors will think larger = rubbish. But at least these days when that kind of defensiveness pops up, I can observe it in a bemused I see what're you doing there kind of way, then move on. And channel it into a good abdominal workout!
4. "Embracing Imperfection" by  Weightless:
I assumed that if I were model-thin, I’d be popular, successful, happy and no one would ever want to hurt me or criticize me. Why would they? I’d be perfect.
But in reality, striving for perfection creates empty shells of ourselves. And what would the world look like if that were the case?
 5. "Does the HAES Approach Mean I'm Giving Up?" by healthateverysizeblog
In a world of “get everything you ever wanted by following my ten easy steps, five point plan or three rules” the Health At Every Size approach offers subtlety and complexity.  The HAES approach means that people have to honor their own bodies and seek to find their own rules.   And the markers for success aren’t as clear-cut.  There’s no “after” picture.  There’s no goal weight victory party.  And for a culture that is obsessed with winning at all costs, this is also a sacrifice.
6.   "" by Lynn's Weigh
Comfort food – when used in moderation, and particularly when it’s shared with people we love (Thanksgiving and mashed potatoes, anyone?) – is OK. Dump the guilt! God knows I spent years during my weight loss/maintenance feeling guilty for eating food that soothed my soul. I’m so over that.  
 7.   "New Low (By a Teeny Bit)" by Helly's Belly
I have been shopping a few times the past few weeks -- determined to buy things that don't just fit, but look good on me too. It has been hard -- I am used to buying something if it fits and I like the color or style regardless of how it looks on ME. I have now gotten three new dresses that fit those criteria and have started wearing my older smaller work clothes again (so they feel like new) and I feel pretty this week. Feeling pretty feels good. My mood is fantastic. :-)
8.  "Thoughts v. Actions" by A Place in the Family of Things
Have you ever looked around at your life and been suddenly struck by the fact that it doesn’t match up at all with your priorities?
Okay, maybe “at all” is an exaggeration. But this much is true: what I value isn’t reflected by the choices I make every day. 
9. "Safe at this Size" by Life of L
 I don't feel obese anymore.  Size 12 is average.  I am still overweight, but I can run and lift weights and hold my body weight in pilates.  I'm not eating sugar or processed foods as my main meals (although my nights are still a problem as far as that goes).  My husband likes the way I look.  And I feel good. 
But all that combined isn't the true, deep down reason for staying this weight.  The real reason is that I feel SAFE at this size. 
Nobody comments on my body or my clothes.  Nobody asks if I've lost weight.  Nobody asks me about diets or exercise or "what's your secret?" 
At this size, I'm still invisible. 
10. "The Dawn Breaks" by Knit. Run. Reap. Eat.
I love my house early in the morning. Actually I love my house anytime, but at this hour of the day, when the sun is creeping up over the eastern mountains and the western ones are still dark silhouettes against the sky, it's just dreamy and lovely and still and quiet and perfect. And I love it.

There's so much promise in the dawn. Anything could happen today – I could even predict some of the events which will certainly break this early-morning stillness – but right now it's calm and peaceful and pretty.
 11. "Inspired to Write About Inspiration" by I Face the Sun
You can be inspired, but stories do take cultivation, and I know I’m not the best gardener. In a real garden, if you get annoyed with maintaining the plants, you can choose to just let them run wild and it might look wonderful. With stories, if you don’t maintain them and care for them, they don’t do anything. They don’t die, but they don’t bloom either....stories are everywhere. Anything that settles in your heart and won’t leave is a potential story.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 10: Fat People Know They're Fat

Tricia's "I'm Hurting For You" post yesterday really made me stop and think. Judging from the 64 comments (and counting) on that post, it touched a nerve for a lot of people.  She asks why, when she was 278 pounds, none of her family and friends talked to her about her weight:
Did I know I was fat? Absolutely yes! 
Did I need someone to tell me? Emphatically yes!
Oh sure, it wasn't going to be new information for me. I KNEW I was obese. I knew exactly how much I needed to lose to be considered only "overweight" and I knew to the pound how much I needed to lose to be considered "healthy". With a past in healthcare I knew all the co-morbidity's.
I had all the text book information but dammit I needed someone who LOVED me to tell me I was out of control. To show they cared, to acknowledge the issue, to do SOMETHING. Every bite was a cry for help, help I never received. 
My first thought was how lucky she was.  When I was in my twenties and at my highest weight, the number one thing on my mind at all times was my weight.  Not only was I depressed and demoralized by how large I had gotten, I was constantly worried that someone would say something to me about it yet again, and that I would have to explain that I was trying to lose weight, it just wasn't working very well.  I could count on at least one lecture from my father every time I saw him about how "if I were young, I would never let myself get fat," and almost every time I saw one of my sisters, I would get hints that Weight Watchers had worked really well for them. At the time I was resentful and panicky at the thought of these conversations.

Tricia's post aside, fat people know that they are fat.  They may be in denial, which is a constant effort to surpress that knowledge and try to do whatever they can to keep other people from noticing, but they know it. All the tips on "dressing slim," suggesting that if you wear the right size earrings, no one will notice the size of your butt, are an attempt to hide from the kinds of conversations that Tricia seems to be saying that she needed.

Later in the post, though, I think she gets to the heart of the issue. She didn't want someone to acknowledge that she was fat, she wanted someone to acknowledge that she was hurting inside.
The dirty little secret behind being morbidly obese is you don’t get that way simply because you like food, you get that way because you're hurting over something. You aren't feeding your body, lord knows you don't actually need that much food, you're feeding your hurt. I know that better than most. So while weight is a symptom, I’m really addressing the hurt. ...I see you, I acknowledge there is a problem. I'm hurting because I know you're hurting. I love you and I'm here to help you in any way I can. 
I can relate to that.  I remember in those hopeless days the feelings that if I could only fix my weight problem, everything else would be better.  I would berate myself for ever letting myself get so big, and I felt helpless to change the situation.  When I look back on that time in my life, though, food was the only way I knew how to cope with some pretty big problems that I didn't have the skills to handle.  If someone could have reached out to me then with a willing ear and maybe some ideas on how to work on the bigger picture, I might have felt gratitude.

Instead, they talked about diets and exercise, and all I felt was resentment.

I would like to tell the readers who saw Tricia's post and felt empowered to confront the fat people in their lives that if they do, they should be ready to help with big, hairy, ugly issues.  And I'm not talking about the person in question's thighs.  The problems they have are probably directly proportional to the amount of excess weight they are carrying, and unless you're ready to really hear and help them handle those bigger issues, you should probably just forget it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 9: Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 8: Why Can't I Love Beets (or Squash)?

One of the things about joining a Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) is you get what you get. In the middle of summer, you tend to get exciting things like blueberries, tomatoes, sweet corn, and green onions.  Toward the end of the season, though, it's mostly squash and beets, with a few potatoes and greens.

I was a picky eater as a kid, and as a young adult, the vegetables I would eat could be counted on my fingers: Tomatoes, corn, carrots, celery, lettuce, and the occasional pepper or cucumber.  That was pretty much it. My first attempt at a real, actual diet was (God help me) Richard Simmons's Food Mover program, which I bought from an infomercial at a very weak moment.  I am still a little ashamed and no, I don't think I have it anymore.  To be honest, I kind of wish I did.  The hardest thing about that diet for me was that it required eating so many vegetables. If you look at my list of acceptable veggies, you can see why this was such a problem.

Later in life I learned to like more veggies. I thank Chef Kathleen, Weight Watchers, and CSAs for opening my eyes to the wider world of produce. However, I still sometimes have a visceral "yuck" reaction to certain veggies, even if I actually like the food in question.

Exhibit A: Beets.  Just last week I made a gorgeous salad with roasted beets marinated in balsamic vinegarette.  They were delicious and the salad was delicious. I had a lot of beets leftover, so I put them in a jar that my friend had given me the week before filled with stewed apples. My husband wouldn't eat them (even though he liked the salad too).  I somehow couldn't make myself eat any more of them, so I gave the jar full of beets back to my friend.  She loved them.  I then made beets to take to her potluck (along with homemade hummus, which was a hit).  I left the leftover beets there.  I don't think it was too much of a secret that I was dumping the beets. I don't really understand it, because I did like them, but there was some sort of a mental block for me in the idea of eating them again.

I feel the same way, though to a much lesser extent, about squash. I still have several pounds of squash left from my CSA, and though I have found many squash recipes I like, including Roasted Acorn Squash (I like to put pecans in mine), this gorgeous gnocchi recipe (pictured here with salmon and a spinach salad) and pumpkin bread (substituting roasted mashed squash for the canned pumpkin), I just don't feel excited about cooking a bunch more squash.

The problem could be any of a number of things. Both of these veggies take substantial prep time even before I can use them in recipes. They are messy. With squash, there is the matter of hacking them apart and scraping out the seeds (though I love them roasted) With beets, there is the bleeding, even after they are roasted.

I think mostly, though, that as much as the new part of me wants to be SuperFitHealthyWoman, the older part of me is still the kid in the big coke-bottle glasses looking at the veggies and thinking "yuck." Maybe instead I could have a plate of plain spaghetti with butter (in the early days I would not eat tomato sauce).  Squash and beets may be nutritious, they may even be delicious, but for me they're still not comfort food.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07