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.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Three things - this is the phrase I repeat to myself when I am overwhelmed and under-motivated. I blogged in the past about using timers, telling myself just clean for 10 minutes, or just run for 30 minutes, etc. "Three things" is what I tell myself so that I can get started in the first place. Today, one of the "three things" mantras I told myself: "get dressed, make the bed, eat something". I experienced a rough day yesterday, food and mood wise. I don't spend a lot of time figuring out the why of it all anymore - I spent/wasted too much time on that in the past. I shared with a Sparkler friend I am now spending more energy on the "GET OVER IT AND GET ON WITH IT!" part. So, getting on with it means just that. Get off the couch, shut off the t.v., log on to Spark to blog and track my food, eat something nutritious, go exercise, run errands, return phones calls. The opposite of getting on with it is being overly concerned with taking my emotional temperature, not eating anything today because I overate yesterday, not going near SP because I don't want to face up, or 'fess up. I can turn my attention to others rather than just thinking about myself. The fact is I am very tired, for a variety of reasons, so I am not feeling productive, or energetic or motivated. The nice thing about committing, whether it be to losing 50 lbs, or being married, or raising children, is that feelings are not the main driver. I need to step back and take a look at the bigger picture, rather than focusing on one bad day. If the bad days begin to add up, I will need to reassess. Overall, however, I have made good changes over the past months that I have been committed to SP. I will never approach perfection in my eating habits, or any of my habits. I have always been a struggler so there are few things I do that are smooth or easy. Even if I am struggling, I can struggle forward so that I can gain some momentum. For today, for now, I will focus on the next three things: exercise, errands, and eating nutritiously afterwards. I don't feel like doing any of these things, but I am committed so that will drive me to do these three things, and then three more, in the hopes of re-gaining some energy and momentum to move forward a little more quickly. For now, I will just move forward.
Monday, May 23, 2011
I recently had an encounter at an end-of-year picnic that my youngest son and I attended to mark the end (yippee) of one of his sports. There were a number of families there that I had never met because this is a sport (rugby) that has a number of teams of all different age groups. We had no sooner arrived than I practically bumped into a man who was screaming obscenities in the face of his young son, who looked to be about 11 years old. My own 7 y.o. happily ran off to play with some teammates and was oblivious to the ugly encounter, but I stood frozen for a second, shocked at what I was witnessing. The father was a burly guy with a shaved head and a beard - he had a menacing look but that could have been because he was enraged. Most people look a bit intimidating (and, honestly, often foolish) when they are engulfed in anger. The child's crime? He was not participating in a skills drill. I will be the first to admit, I get frustrated with my children on a daily basis. I have sworn around my children. I have spoken to them harshly, and thusly, have apologized many times when I have let my temper and impatience get the better of me. I have great empathy for parents who are having a bad day with their kids and I have reminded myself, at times, when I am tempted to judge someone for speaking harshly to a a child, "I have no idea what they have been going through". This was beyond frustration. This was bullying, plain and simple. I very quietly, so the child, whose back was to me, would not hear, said to the father "please stop that". He immediately turned on me, which enabled his son to make a quick getaway which was the whole point of me butting into the tirade. He screamed at me to mind my own business (a valid point) to which I reminded him that it became my business when it occurred inches from me. It isn't as if I broke down their door (though, if I had heard what he was screaming coming from behind closed doors, it would have been tempting to do something, anything - it was awful). He told me "I say whatever I want" to which I replied "well, clearly, you do" and, as you can tell, this was not a confrontation that would turn into a useful conversation, and so, it ended - him glaring at me, me glaring back - but no more words exchanged. Believe me, it occurs to me that he may have then taken it out on his wife (who was there but showed no sign of responding) or the son, but I have no control over that and bullies count on people remaining too fearful to act. I pray it never goes beyond screaming, and that they seek help, especially for the children so they know that it is not normal be treated like that. I have no idea what others' were thinking, or observing. For that one awful moment it was just he and I and, for a split second I braced myself for a blow because he was furious and I was now the object of his fury and I was within striking distance. I escaped an abusive marriage when I was a teenager. It was long ago, long forgiven, and taught me many useful lessons, once I had some safe distance. It was interesting to me that such a long forgotten response would come roaring back inside my body. He knew, though, that hitting me would be an instant "do not pass go, proceed straight to jail" card for him. Not too much time passed (with us at opposite ends of the picnic grounds) that I was in front of the buffet table. I chose spinach salad, no chips, no brats, and three tiny desserts. I was aware, when I was eating those petite little sugar-bombs, that I was taking them in much like, many years ago, I would inhale deeply from a cigarette, or take a pull off a bottle of liquor. They offered momentary pleasure, and then, minutes later, I felt like Dorothy in the poppy field on her way to OZ - I was so tired, I just wanted to lie down and sleep. I spoke to a friend later in the day, about what had gone on earlier. She (who is far smarter and better educated than I) said "oh, of course - you had a fight or flight response, and when the body has an acute episode of this the liver dumps glucose and goes looking for more, so the sugar is exactly what your body and brain were searching for". Well, hello, you just described much of my life, especially the past few years. I have had a lot of "fight or flight" for reasons I won't go into here (though I have touched on some of it in previous blogs). My liver has been on a glucose dumping mission for many years and I have accomodated it by being a very accomplished glucose replenisher. This was a lightbulb moment for me. I had known this to some degree, but the incident yesterday put it in stark relief. In order to truly overhaul my eating habits, and restore my body to it's God-intended size, I have to be diligent about examining and treating stressors, both small and large. This has never been more obvious to me. I have some tools that are very useful - prayer, exercise, reading, more exercise, friends, Sparkfriends, blogging, tv (a great diversion if not overused), family (when they aren't providing me new sources of stress, that is). However, I am always looking for new suggestions and willing to learn lessons from my wise Sparklers: what is your most helpful tool for reducing stress? Please share it with me - I will be grateful to lean on your experience and wisdom. Bless you.
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