Monday, April 16, 2012
I have hated my body since puberty.
It has never been what it was "supposed" to be. It was slow. It was behind. Certain things showed up late (or, in some cases, barely at all). It was too chubby HERE and too flat THERE. I remember being maybe 14, and how my best friend and I would grab our lower belly "flab" and say "if only we could just move it UP or BEHIND..."
I think I was 12 the first time I went on a diet. I lost 10 pounds in about two weeks. My parents promised me a pair of roller blades if I lost 10 pounds, so I did.
I gained it back, of course. And then some. But at least I had roller blades.
I can't lose 10 pounds in two weeks anymore (not being 12 will do that to you). But I also no longer grab my tummy flab and wish I could turn it into larger breasts or a more impressive tush. I'm happy with my small breasts (hey, I'll be perky long after others have sagged...), and I have quite a nice rear end now, thank you very much.
I'm also slowly finding that the tummy flab itself doesn't bother me so much anymore. In fact, the things that I used to hate... well... it hardly seems worth it.
Don't get me wrong. I still have so many days that I wish my body could be different. But slowly, as I age, the idea of hating my body just seems self defeating. I only get the one. I only get maybe a century in which to use it. I've wasted almost 3 decades in self loathing, and nobody is guaranteed their full century anyway.
I am learning to focus on my strengths instead. The lean muscle of my legs. The way my abdomen is starting to curve in instead of out. How solid my arms have become. How far my feet can carry me in a day, how my lungs are learning to expand to hold the oxygen they need to run, to climb, to hike, and to really live.
I cannot sustain a diet. I have tried. I cannot sustain a "fitness regime." I have tried. But I think I can sustain a healthful, positive approach to my body; one that focuses more on what my body CAN do and what can help it optimize potential, rather than one that focuses on weaknesses, failures, pain, and deprivation. I hate to exercise, but I love to do activities that make me feel powerful and alive. Both burn calories, but only one is going to actually get done on a regular basis, and only one is really going to make me happy.
It's funny. I got my monthly issue of Cooking Light magazine a few days ago. I flipped through it, and all of the talk of calories, restrictions, and diets just turned me off. I ended up tossing it in the recycling bin without pulling out recipes as I usually do. I'm tired of the negativity and the internal put-downs. I want better for myself.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
So, this was week 1 of my more relaxed, do what feels good for my body approach.
I focused on eating natural, home-cooked foods. I switched my calendar food stickers to a sticker for staying within my calories to a sticker for eating only (or mostly) home-prepared, natural foods. I still get an exercise sticker for working out, but I decided to make the sticker for any substantial physical activity, not just an organized workout situation, so I counted long walks with the dog, etc, to encourage myself to get up off the couch and go outside.
On the one hand, the one real workout I tried this week, on Wednesday, I felt really strong and solid in my body, and really in control. I've been much less depressed this week and less overall exhausted.
I haven't lost any weight on the scale, but my body feels less bloated.
On the other hand, my workout on Wednesday lasted about 10 minutes because I had a horrible stomach ache, and by the time I went to sleep Wednesday night I was fighting off a sore throat. I don't even know if I really have a cold, but all day Thursday I felt like crap (achey, feverish, weak, sore/swollen throat). I felt a little better Friday, and a little better but still not 100% today. I'm a little nervous because I have my second session with the rock climbing trainer in 2 hours, and I'm hoping I can hold up to it.
I'm sure I can't blame my sickness on eating fresher food, but it's annoying. My stomach has also been super duper sensitive for the last couple of weeks - about around the time I started switching from sugar to splenda - so I'm going to try cutting out the splenda and artificial sweeteners and see if it helps. Doesn't help me cut the sugar though.
In other news, we finally booked our April vacation. We're taking our first beach-free vacation together and going to a national park for hiking, rock climbing, and outdoorsy goodness. I'm excited, but also really nervous. My family used to take national park vacations all the time when I was a kid, but it's been years (decades, even), and I'm hoping my body can hold up to all that physical activity. Not to mention my anxiety and fear when it comes to things like ziplining and climbing real, natural cliffs...
Either way, we're bringing the dog, we've rented a cabin, and we have a nice, long (12+ hours each way) drive to contend with. I'm trying to decide if I have the guts to sign up for ziplining (2-3 hours of hanging from a cable high up in the air above the gorges... sounds both exciting and extremely terrifying/dangerous)... it's expensive at $90 per person, but it also sounds like an experience you'd never forget.
I hope I can be in good enough shape and have the endurance and courage to make the most out of this trip!
Sunday, March 18, 2012
I am feeling a little better today.
We spent the last two days pretty much entirely outside, walking, hiking, climbing, even just sitting and chatting/reading. Lots of time with the puppy, with my husband, and even with my mom.
I think sometimes I just feel so alone in dealing with everything, and I reach out into the great abyss of the internet to try to find solace and comfort and connection. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it doesn't.
I'm trying to re-vamp my approach to eating and exercising. I think I've just been trying to hard at all the wrong things, and I end up frustrated and miserable.
I'm going to focus on things that make me feel good. Running in the sunshine makes me feel good. A good climb makes me feel good. Some quiet, soothing yoga makes me feel good. Healthy, fresh foods like smoothies, whole grains, fruits, and fresh veggies make me feel good - like I'm doing something good for myself.
I'm going to avoid things that make me feel down or sad or guilty. A fresh, home-baked cookie that I made myself doesn't make me feel bad, especially when the rest are shared with friends, but a box of oreos or a processed sugar-filled snack or piles and piles of fatty, greasy pizza and take-out all make me feel bad. Fresh mozzarella on a home-baked whole wheat pizza crust don't make me feel bad. Eating half of a dominos pizza in one sitting does.
I do things that make me feel like crap afterwards because in the moment, they feel like pleasure. Cheesy fries, huge steaks, pizza, ice cream, cake... it gives me pleasure in the moment, but later I feel terrible, both mentally and physically. So, I'm going to focus on the things that make me feel good, and try to avoid the things I know make me feel crappy afterwards.
Maybe if I can shift my thinking it will help me shift my eating, and if I can do that, then maybe I really will feel better, have more energy, have fewer energy crashes, and be more motivated to get up and out and live my life.
I don't know. It's a theory. I'm giving it a try. We'll see what happens.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
I have always had a hard time admitting that I struggle with depression. I'll call it "feeling down" or "feeling unmotivated" or "I'm fine... just tired," but I'm learning that when I get that feeling of being weighed down, like I can't move, like there are rocks in my stomach, like nothing is worthwhile, like all I want to do is cry but I don't quite know what I'm crying about (other than life in general), I need to call it like it is: it's depression.
I saw a therapist for a while. That helped, but I reached a point where we just weren't getting anywhere anymore. I'm not in a place where it's bad enough that I'd try psychotropic drugs of any kind. It's not frequent or debilitating enough for that. Still, it sucks, and it can be hard to push through. I've thought about going back to therapy, but... I don't know. I'm not really ready for that yet. It's expensive, it's time consuming, and I've already exhausted the one therapist within a reasonable driving distance that is covered by my insurance, and I really don't want to go back to her - I never really quite felt comfortable with her.
That's where I'm at right now. I'm having trouble pushing through. I'm stuck in a moment of self-hatred, sadness, and feeling weighed down. The uncried tears are giving me sinus headaches. I just feel miserable, and I'm not quite sure what's making me feel that way this time.
Oh, there are plenty of things I could think of that could be contributing. I'm struggling with my parents' divorce. I'm struggling with the fact that I feel totally alone in dealing with my parents' divorce. I'm struggling with the fact that I feel like I don't know what the right thing is for me to do, like I'm stuck between my dad and mom - both of whom say all the right things, but I can see that even as my mom is telling me that she thinks I should get to know my dad's girlfriend, the idea of it causes her inexpressible pain. How am I supposed to feel okay getting know (or even liking!) this new woman, knowing how much it hurts my mom? She won't blame me. She won't be angry at me. She encouraged me to get to know her. But it hurts her. It feels like I am hurting her by doing it. It's not her fault. It's not my fault. But I can't bear the thought that I could be hurting her when she is already hurting so much - how can I add to that, even unintentionally?
My sister and brother are coming home in a few weeks for a visit - the first time since the divorce (and at least a year before that too) that we've all three been together in the same place at the same time. I can kind of take or leave my brother, but the thought of having my sister here, even for just a few days... just thinking about it... I started to cry driving to work the other day just thinking about having her here, about finally having someone to share this with, having someone to take some of the weight off of me. I'm drowning under it, and nobody can share it with me, not even my husband, because it's not theirs to take. They love me, they try to be there for me, but it's not theirs, and it's not the same, and it's not enough. Talking to my sister on the phone helps, but it's not the same because she's not here and she doesn't have to look my mom in the face or actually interact with the new woman or do anything that I have to do all the time just by virtue of the fact that I live right next to them. I'm way more in the middle of this than she is, and we both know it.
I'm being crushed under the weight of all of it. It makes me incapable of digging myself up and out. I can't get myself off the couch. I go to work, I walk like a zombie through my day, try to keep it from coloring my interactions with my students, and then come home and hide under a blanket on the couch until it's late enough to go to bed.
I promised myself a year ago that I wouldn't do that again - let my life pass me by, be that person who is existing but not living - and now it's happening and I'm trying so hard to stop it, but it's like trying to stand in front of a moving train and stop it with my bare hands. I don't know what to do.
It's turning into misery and self loathing. I've gained back a couple of inches and it makes me so angry at myself. I can't muster up the motivation to cook all the time, to stop the rounds of pizza and take-out, or to force myself up off the couch to much of anything at all. I'm trying. I know it's about baby steps. Still, I feel fat and ugly. All the crying seems to have caused premature wrinkles under and around my eyes, as well as big, dark bags, and when you combine that with the breakouts I'm getting from all the stress and crappy food, I feel like a monster when I look in the mirror. I'm 28 years old. My cheeks are sagging over my jawbone. I have deep creases and purple circles under my eyes. I keep breaking out. My skin gets dry and flaky and broken out all at once. I feel horribly, horribly ugly all the time. I feel chubby and bloated and weak and pathetic.
I try so hard not to hate myself, but sometimes I do anyway. I want so badly to be the strong, capable person that I know that I can be, that I felt myself to be six months ago, but right now I just feel broken and sad and pathetic, and I don't know how to dig myself out of it. It's so darn easy to just say "oh, you can do it! Just one step at a time! Set goals! Baby steps! Find your motivation!" and whatever other bs floats around here all the time, but the reality of actually doing that is a lot harder than people make it sound.
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
So, my parents announced their divorce a little over a year ago.
They were married 38 years. I have relied on their solidarity and support as a pair for 28 of those years.
This Passover will be our first holiday not as a family. It took a while for my mom to get settled into a new house, so we had our holidays together through New Year's. Now that my mom has moved out and my dad's girlfriend (I hate using that world in this context...) has moved in, we need to find a way to balance all of this. For the first time in a while, my sister AND my brother will be here for the holiday at the same time.
It's strange, because it's the first time since all this happened that we'll all be here together... but we also won't really be together.
We've decided to have two separate seders. My mom's family is coming from out of town for Saturday night. I'm hoping that some day soon we'll all be able to have holidays together and have it be okay, but it's clearly too soon for that, so my dad is not invited to my mom's seder. My dad's side of the family did not take the news of his infidelity well, and as a result, he isn't really speaking to his brother now unless it's an absolute necessity. His mother is one step above delirious most of the time and still doesn't know that my mom has moved out or that any of this is happening. So, a big dinner on that side is probably not happening, and honestly, spending any significant amount of time with that side of the family is generally a bit on the unpleasant side. I'd pretty much rather poke at my eyes with a spork than have Passover with them.
Basically, short version, my dad desperately wants some sort of holiday together. His new girlfriend isn't Jewish. She offered to make a seder, but she's really clueless on that, and honestly, I feel weird going over there for a seder in what I still think of as my mom's house and my mom's dining room when my mom won't be there. So, I offered to host a small dinner - just my dad and HER, my siblings, my husband, and me.
My feelings on this are undefined. I'd rather have it here. I freely admit that I'm a control freak, and this way I'm on my home territory and I'm in charge, which I'm more comfortable with. I love to cook, and I host Thanksgiving annually with great pleasure, so I'm not worried, although it complicates things that SHE is a vegetarian (and you can't really do pasta and such at passover, so...). Mostly it's just weird to think about having this holiday dinner without my mom. I think my misgivings are mostly that I really just wish all this wasn't happening and that maybe I'll wake up and find that it was all a dream and then the happy music will sound and this terrible movie will end, but I'm also old enough to know better than to rely on that. So, I'm stuck with a situation of choosing the least of evils, and I think that my personal preference indicates that the least of the evils is to have dinner here.
If nothing else, having to clean up my house and cook dinner will keep me from spending too much time thinking about actually having to go through the dinner itself, and I don't have to sit and awkwardly mingle with everyone and can instead hide behind a cloud of cooking steam.
I'd be lying if I said that wasn't a major benefit of hosting pretty much any gathering, as I am not a skilled small-talker.
So far I have met HER once. She seems okay. She was pretty quiet. I want to like her. I need to like her. This will all be much easier if I like her. But I also will feel guilty if we all like her and have a good time without my mom there. Is that betrayal? I don't know. I hope not. I know my mom understands that we need to form a relationship and she supports us doing that.
Wouldn't all of this be simpler if I was just a little kid and a court could decide on custody and set up the rules and nobody expected me to be responsible for it?
I guess divorce sucks no matter how old you are.
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