Sunday, June 19, 2011
As a recovering alcoholic I have to be very careful of resentment. Resentment is one of the most common triggers for a relapse. Resentment has a way of taking over - it takes over one's thoughts, and influences actions, and spoils moods, and ruins relationships. Resentment relies very little on facts, but draws heavily on opinion and perception. It is frighteningly easy to grow a resentment - it is the morning glory of emotions: one little sprout of anger, left untended, becomes a series of reaching tendrils of resentment which wraps itself around any and everything in its' reach. I know how to deal with resentment, though I sometimes forget this fact. I learned something decades ago that changed my life. It influenced me to stop thinking of myself as a victim in unhappy, unhealthy relationships, and encouraged me to view myself as a volunteer. I participate in most relationships by choice. Some, obviously, are a little more complicated: when joined by DNA, or marriage vows, or paycheck, rather than by attraction or proximity or habit, there is more at stake. I have to be very honest with myself about the resentments I carry. I have to be willing to let them go before they grow and take over. Even resentments I think have been eradicated have a tendency to come back when I am not vigilant. The best cure for resentments: prayer for the person I resent, that they will be blessed with everything that I pray for in my own life. Usually, when I have (gently) shared this advice to someone in the grips of what feels like a very justified resentment, I take a couple steps back because I know their first response is likely to be anger at me. They don't want to be preached at, they just want someone to affirm how the other person has "done them wrong". I know this is true because I have experienced it many time myself. There are people whose motives are evil, or close to evil. People whose mental health, including addictions, makes them impossible to carry on a healthy relationship with, or people whose company we simply endure and will probably never come to enjoy. There are people I am related to that I do not have a relationship with, and, based on serious soul searching, I know this is the healthiest choice at this point in my life. Steering clear of them, not giving them an opportunity to harm me or be a harmful prescence around my children, is a difficult but appropriate choice. This does not, however have to be accompanied by active resentment. "Resentment is like drinking poison, hoping your enemy will die." I can't remember where I read this quote (it's probably Shakespeare, and I can feel dumb for not checking or knowing ;), and it is extreme, but it makes the point, well. I have been on both sides of this. I have written in the past about my eldest son, whose resentment towards me, after four years of estrangement, shows no signs of abating. He does not object to his wife or children visiting me on occasion, which I am truly grateful for, but he does not wish to speak to me or see me. My resentment of his resentment is something I need to be mindful of. I pray that he is healthy, that his marriage is loving and joyful, that his beautiful children are safe and healthy, that he have the material gifts that will keep him and his family comfortable, and that he enjoys the pleasure of good friends and supportive family. I have others for whom I offer up similar prayers, when thoughts of them come to mind and I realize that I am hanging on to grudges. I just caught myself resenting my husband, on Father's Day no less, because he allowed our 7 year old to watch a movie I found inappropriate. This is a long-standing conflict between us. He doesn't see the harm, and I do - it's as simple, and as divided, as that. So, guess who gets to play "bad cop"? I told him that I have been the bad cop with our kids for so long, I want to hang up my badge and gun, and get a gold watch and retire. That won't be happening anytime soon, since I am on the "50 year plan" of mothering. I need to refine my method of delivery - my message is valid, but my delivery (think snapping comments delivered in a less than pleasant tone of voice) needs a little work. Sometimes, I hate being a mature adult. I want to whine, pout, cry, fuss, plot revenge, gossip, complain, kvetch, nag, yell, scream, and stomp my feet at all those who are not treating me the way I want to be treated (and most days I do at least one of the above and somedays I engage in a few of them - yikes). However, I am committed to continuing to grow up, spiritually and emotionally speaking, so I have to rein myself in. I know the antidote to the poison of resentment and when I get tired of the ill-effects of sipping on the cocktail of resentment and anger, I can begin to pray.
Friday, June 17, 2011
I met Melissa four years ago. It was the first day of Boot Camp. She and I and another woman were the only chubby people in the room. Melissa and I exchanged terrified glances and, when people had to split into groups of three for the fitness test, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who gravitated where. I did exactly 0 proper crunches that day, and one half of a push-up. Since that scary day, Melissa and I have become good friends, despite the fact that she is 20 years younger than me. We did many boot camp sessions together after than initial one, and we have sweated through countless crunches, push-ups, runs, strength training sessions, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and any and every other kind of exercise our (now beloved) boot camp instructor could dream up to torment us with. I no longer attend regular boot camp, though I do supplemental strength training there two days a week. Melissa and I have cheered and encouraged each other through injuries, weight gains, weight losses, issues with kids, frustrations with husbands, and any and every kind of challenge life throws our way. We are friends, we are exercise partners, and we are "cleaning buddies". Once a week, we meet up for a hike either near her home or mine, and after hiking for an hour or so, we go back to her home or mine, and we team up to clean. It is magical - while I am cleaning downstairs, she is upstairs sweeping, vacuuming, mopping (I detest doing floors, she does not mind) and just generally making my life easier. We do most of our chatting on our hike so that when we are cleaning, we are focused. While I may detest doing floors at my house, I enjoy cleaning her cute house. At her house, she focuses on the upstairs bedrooms and folding and putting away laundry, and it gives me great pleasure that when she comes downstairs, her dishes are done, her kitchen is clean, her living room is freshly vacuumed and dusted, and basically, for that moment, you would never know two busy kids and a trail-leaving husband live there. We do this on Friday so we go into the weekend with a clean slate, and re-energized from spending time with a good friend, and in the fresh air.
It was with Melissa, that my Sparkjourney was launched. I had dabbled in SP before but I allowed myself to be whiny and wimpy about tracking my food and/or making any real nutritional improvements, and selfish by focusing more on my struggles than on encouraging others (thus also depriving myself of encouragement in the process). But this past January, at my lifetime highest weight, feeling SO hopeless and desperate, while cleaning Melissa's downstairs bathroom, I stepped on the scale. I had been avoiding the scale, as if not looking at the scary fact would alter it somehow. I saw 200 looming - I was in the neighborhood, just an ice cream binge or three away from crossing that border. I never dreamed I would weigh 200 lbs. I am short and petite and have a very small frame - 200 lbs is unacceptable, unhealthy, unthinkable, but there it was. I called Melissa in and asked her to look at the number on the scale, so that my denial was officially over, and there was a witness to the crime I had committed against my body by stuffing it day after day, night after night, with items that barely qualify as food. My journey began that moment. No one has been more thrilled about my progress than Melissa. She has her own weight issues and has lost a significant amount of weight since that first boot camp. Our relationship required we set aside false pride from the very beginning. When you sweat together, and struggle together, and clean each other's toilets and dust bunnies, there is not a lot of room for pretense. I have overcome another struggle lately (it deserves it's own blog) by beginning to work in my yard again, and one of the plants I will be planting is "sweet Melissa". I will happily water and nuture and encourage its' growth, just as my friend, sweet Melissa, has done for me.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Thankfully, no, my husband and I did not part due to fat, but I thought about it at different times. When I was gaining weight, and feeling hopeless, and feeling isolated and alone with my problem, and wishing for support and wanting someone to help me, I thought that maybe I would do better on my own, living on my own. I thought I could start fresh and live in a house without junk food or fast food, and that I would not be disappointed that I wasn't receiving support from the person I was supposed to be able to turn to for support, if I wasn't sitting right next to him. Food, and fat, have long been an issue in our marriage. I gained 60 lbs over the 20+ years we have been together. He has gained about half that amount. I have blogged in the past about the failed attempts, and the pleas for change that fell on deaf ears, but the bottom line is this: I wanted HIM to change so that I would get better. Life, being life, doesn't work that way, of course. The biggest turning point in my struggle with weight and overeating was when I truly accepted that it was up to me to change my ways, regardless of what my husband, or anyone else in my family, chose to do. I accepted that it would be uncomfortable, and that it would be a struggle, but that it was MY struggle. Once my husband saw that it wasn't just talk, that I was actually taking action and changing my ways, he began to offer support. When I stopped asking him to bring me sugary foods, when I turned down offers to bring home pizza so I didn't have to fix dinner, when I cheerfully turned down invitations to go to lunch at fast food restaurants but did not try to stop him from going, he began to take notice. He has always been very accepting of my body and in 20 years I only remember him criticizing my weight one time. For all the hundreds of thousands of calories and fat grams he has brought home, he never once forced one morsel of food in my mouth - that was all me. While it would certainly be easier if he were nutritionally aware, and as committed to an active, healthier lifestyle as I am, the reality is that it is not as much of a priority to him. However, he has become more aware, more supportive, and much less likely to bring home bags of sugary temptations, and I have thanked him for this. If I had continued with my stubborn insistence that he change to make me healthier, I would, at this point, be faced with needing to lose 60 or 70 lbs, rather than the 23 lbs I have left to meet my 50 lb committment. If I had continued to entertain the fantasy that my life would be easier without him next to me, I would have robbed my children of an intact home, and myself of a marriage that goes through ups and downs but contains many blessings. People are like the weather, they do change, sometimes for the worse, often for the better, but never at my behest. I was looking to him to provide me with something he couldn't - support and encouragement from someone who is on the same path. This is where Sparkfriends are so invaluable. Even my dear friends who have known me for years, and felt badly about my struggles, were not able to give me this kind of support. I was led to SP and I am grateful beyond words (though I keep trying to find the words). As I sit here today, next to my husband, and not tempted at this moment to eat unnecessary foods, 27 lbs of excess weight no longer dragging me down, I am content and thankful. Today is our wedding anniversary. We spent the day together, on the beach, going out to lunch, going for a drive, even zooming around a go-kart track. At one point I looked over at him, standing on the beach, and I thought (as I often do) how attractive he is, and how glad I am we are married. Even the days I am not happily married, I am happy to BE married. I am happy we stuck it out through the hard times, through thick (literally) and thin. For better and for worse, we have not given up on each other. The loneliness has dissapated for the most part, and I no longer feel isolated with my food and weight struggles. My husband did not make me fat, and he cannot make me fit and healthy. He can make it easier on me, and I am thankful he has made great strides in that area. While I have a long way to go, more good habits to add, and bad habits to crowd out with the good, I am glad to have my husband at my side, and on my side.
Monday, June 06, 2011
Being obese was a bit like being in jail. Loss of freedom, loss of dignity, embarrassment at my predicament, wishing I had made other choices, an inability to wear cute clothes (let's face it, though I am a fan of orange, those jammie looking jail outfits do not flatter a figure), and the realization that getting out was not going to be nearly as easy as getting in. So, to further torture this analogy, I am imagining morbid obesity would be like prison: even less freedom, even scarier, and in some cases, a death penalty hanging over one's head. I never became morbidly obese and I do not believe I ever will become morbidly obese. However, I never thought I would become obese, or even overweight. I was very thin for years and did not work at it and I took it for granted. I did not come from an overweight family and I simply thought the rules did not apply to me. I ate junk food and had only a casual relationship with exercise for years, and I was enviably slender, until I wasn't, and without even realizing it, my sentence had begun. So, here I am, 1/2 way to my goal (I am committed to losing 50 lbs and, as of several days ago, I had lost over 25). Basically, I am in a half-way house, no longer in jail, but not yet paroled. So, which way I am going to go? Am I going to engage in the behaviors that took me to obesity in the first place, or am I going to make better choices on a DAILY basis, rather than sneaking bad choices, hoping I don't get caught?
I do a lot of things right in terms of my current lifestyle. I generally go to bed at a decent hour, and get up about 7 hours later. I exercise nearly every day, and I drink a lot of water. I don't drink alcohol which helps, and I gave up soda pop (regular and diet) so that has not been the issue. Fast food, thankfully, is not a temptation for me. I don't eat huge meals and I don't tend to go for seconds. What I DO do, however, is behave like a lunatic around sugar, especially at parties. I am going to a lot of parties these days because it is graduation season, and I have a son who is going to graduate. Macaroni salad, potato salad, burgers and hot dogs, even potato chips, are safe when I am around. I won't throw an elbow trying to grab the last of the ranch dip and big pots of chili don't make me want to swoon. Cupcakes, though? Let's just say I need a Sparkbuddy to follow me to parties and when I approach the desserts table, they need to make like a SWAT team member with a megaphone "BACK AWAY FROM THE CUPCAKES" - "STEP AWAY FROM THE COOKIES" "PUT YOUR HANDS UP WHERE WE CAN SEE THEM (and they better not be holding slabs of cake)".
After behaving like a lunatic around sugar on Saturday, and then doing better (but still not very well) on Sunday, today I was moping around, hearing all the old excuses starting up, blah blah blah and I found myself avoiding the things I need to do that are causing me anxiety by avoiding them until finally, the voice of reason, said "ENOUGH ALREADY". Get up, get busy, get moving. So, I did. I ate some food my body needed, I drank a lot of water, I did some organizing, I did some housework, I did some laundry, and I went for a run. I made sure my 7 y.o. and my dog got some exercise and fresh air, as well. And, guess what, the excuses melted away. I read a couple good blogs (thank you bloggers and those of you who comment on blogs - it really helps), I read a great e-mail from a dear Sparkfriend. I began to do the things that got me to the "half-way house" in the first place, and that will get me paroled - I have done my time, I have spent enough time being punished by fat, and feeling punished for being fat, and for getting fat, and for staying fat. I can choose which direction I am heading. Thanks to the wonderful SParkfriends who blog so honestly and eloquently about their battle out of the morbid obesity prison, I have a better understanding of what it is like to spend time there and I am not tough enough to handle it. For me to be morbidly obese, I would need to weigh about 250 lbs, basically. Everyone who weighs 250 lbs spent time at 167, or 193, on their way up. They got there pretty much the same way I got to my highest weight - one bite at a time, one choice at a time, hour by hour, day by day. I understand the temptations and the pitfalls, the pain and the anxiety - I feel compassion for anyone who struggles with food and weight. Change is not easy but it can be very freeing.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I am committed to losing 50 pounds. As of several days ago, I reached my half-way mark. Coincidentally (or serendipitously, as I prefer to look at it) the same weight that brought me to the half-way point also officially brought me out of the "obese" category and into the less frightening "overweight" status. I am not spending too much energy celebrating my milestones because I do not want to become overly pleased with this, lest I be tempted to settle in here. Losing 50 pounds (as if I have to tell all of you) requires commitment and energy and determination. With this in mind, I have recently decided against pursuing other things that would require a lot out of me - running a Ragnar relay (200 miles split among 12 team members, requiring each runner to do three legs over approximately 30 hours, which means running one leg in the middle of the night and one on very little sleep). I am the captain of the team, which means a lot of time spent organizing runners, supplies, money, food, and logistics in general. I did this last year so at least I have some valuable experience to use this year. Last year I determined I wanted to run this year, not be on the sidelines. I set three goals for myself before I would allow myself to commit to being a runner: 1. lose 20 lbs (done) 2. run a 5k in 31 minutes so I knew I could do consistent 10 minutes miles (done) 3. recreate the race conditions by doing the equivalent of three 5-ks in a 30 hour time span (did not do). The first of my three trial runs went very well. The second is where I gained the clarity (which is often the best side-effect of running) to know it would not be prudent for me to commit to running in the race. I have a lot going on in my life, I am already struggling with fatigue and feeling overwhelmed, and, the deciding factor: the aforementioned commitment to losing the rest of this 50 lbs. I do not want to drain off my energy and dedication, already in short supply some days, to pursue a lesser goal at the expense of the greater goal. If it is meant to be, I can hand the captaining off to someone else next year, and just focus on being a runner. Shedding the burden of obesity and figuring out how to live at my "God-intended" size, has been at the forefront of my hopes and prayers for well over a decade. I need to do whatever it takes to see this through. I am very grateful to be half-way. When I began this journey in January of this year, I was coming off a period of increased depression and anxiety which made everything, especially losing weight and gaining some distance from binge-eating, seem hopeless. I feel so much better, I look better, and I move more easily. I don't get a lot of comments about the fact that I have lost weight, and it is a relief to me to realize I don't need a lot of comments (though I certainly enjoy those that I do receive). I still struggle with my disorderly eating, with my avoidance of things like making dinner and shopping for food, with eating too many processed foods, with over-eating at times, and on rare occasions, an outright binge. This is where I remember "progress, not perfection". I have a long way to go - this is an area of anxiety and deeply entrenched habits and I am getting better slowly. This is not the same journey as when I put down alcohol and cigarettes on the same day and have never relapsed. That was a miracle I am still grateful for on a daily basis. Improving my health via weight loss and better eating habits is a series of tiny miracles and incremental successes. I eat less poorly, I take in more nutrients, I consume less calories, and I put food in my mouth less often. As I venture in to the second half of the journey, I know I will need to find the willingness to make more changes. I am so appreciative of SParkfriends who are always willing to offer a suggestion, or encouragement, or share their own experience. I would not have come this far without you, and I cannot imagine going the rest of the way by myself. While I am responsible for all my choices and ultimately have to answer to myself, I don't operate well in isolation and I am very grateful I don't have to.
Get An Email Alert Each Time CANNIE50 Posts