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Realizations

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.

  


experimentation

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!

  


Ups and Downs

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.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AHUVAK1 3/19/2012 10:20AM

    Listen - I don't know you, but I know that you deserve the best. The best is eating healthy, delicious food, and avoiding those things that provide transitory pleasure. Treat yourself like a queen! emoticon

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Struggling

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.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DRAGONCHILDE 3/19/2012 9:06AM

    You know what broke through my depression?

Exercise.

I've been struggling for years, with a chronically ill husband (who a few weeks ago was hospitalized for psychotic depression!) and two small children, as the sole provider for our family. Post-partum depression turned into regular depression... and if you want my honest, un-medical opinion? What you're struggling with doesn't sound like "mild" depression. IT's tough to see the other end when we're in the middle of it, but you're struggling at a level that's a bit higher than just mild depression, you know?

Try getting up and moving. There's a lot of research out there that suggests that exercise can be just as effective at treating mild to moderate depression as medication can be, for some people. It's not a cure-all, I still have occasional bad days, but I've found that a regular exercise routine has really helped me de-stress and fill my body with feel-good hormones. Group classes give me a social boost, and I"ve made friends at my gym.

There's no easy fix, regardless... it's a struggle, and remember one thing: You're depressed. That means you probably can't fix it on your own, any more than a surgeon can operate on himself. It's like telling a heart patient to do his own bypass! It's okay to ask for help, and drugs aren't the devil (though many people, including myself, do not like them.) My husband has gone from completely dysfunctional to psychotically depressed, to downright awesome in two weeks because of his medications. They're not a cure-all either, but they can help you deal with the ups and downs so you can get to the hard work of dealing with what's at the source.

Either way, know you're not alone. I know all too well how tough it is to deal with this stuff. IT sucks. A lot.

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LUCKYNUMBER25 3/19/2012 1:11AM

    I don't believe therapy is always the best option, but right now I think you need a boost. It's nearly impossible to mesh with a stranger so well the first try. Finding another therapist may not be your preference because of cost, but what is it really costing you to keep this to yourself, to be so upset that you lay in bed as soon as you get home?

This blog entry could've been my own right now if I hadn't changed my life a year ago. I finally gave up on trying to do everything for everyone. Do you know what I realize in hindsight? It wasn't my fault to begin with, and all I was doing was wasting my life for things that I couldn't change anyway.

You mention you don't want to expose your husband to this. If these were *his* issues, would you want him to bottle it up? How would you feel if he were wasting away and not letting you help him?

People in your life who love you want to help.

As for food, weight loss (or more specifically weight gain) is really a small issue right now. Keep it simple, eating real food in healthy portions, and focus more on mental health.
By the time that is sorted enough that you have energy to 'actively' loose weight, you'll have a few weeks (months?) of healthy habits to jump start your refreshed efforts.

Best of Luck. It gets better.

Comment edited on: 3/19/2012 1:14:26 AM

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ARCHIMEDESII 3/18/2012 6:26PM

    I'm sorry you're having a hard time, but consider trying another therapist. Just because you hit a wall with one, doesn't mean you won't have a break through with another. There are many good therapists out there and they really are very different. Don't be afraid to try another therapist because like everyone else, some are better than others.

If you don't want to go to a therapist, consider a support group. Check your local area for support groups of people with depression. Some groups are led by a therapist. Some times, it can be really helpful having support of those with similar issues.

As far as weight loss, self images, etc... you can't look at weight loss and good health with an all or nothing mentality. If you do, you are doomed to failure. As the old song goes,"accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative". Give yourself credit for the positive things you do for yourself and don't beat yourself up if you think you've blown in.

NO ONE ever really blows it. If the only healthy thing you were to do were to drink 8 glasses of water today, that's still a step in the right direction. Today, you drink 8 glasses of water. Tomorrow, you drink 8 glasses of water and taking a 30 minute walk.

You set simple goals. You make small changes. You don't try to do everything at once or you will end up frustrated. No one is perfect. You don't have to be perfect to be healthy.

emoticon

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CHEPRBYTHEDOZN 3/17/2012 9:45PM

    I have nothing more to add since these other people have given great advice. Work on the vitamins/nutrition,too-I know you don't feel like it,but try and see if it helps. HUGS!

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FITSMALLCLOTHES 3/17/2012 7:37PM

    You do not have to be depressed. Read the happiness diet and stop eating processed foods.
I have been eating this way a couple weeks and never felt better.
emoticon
Irish blessings to you today, friend.
Dayle

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HDHAWK 3/17/2012 7:18PM

    I went through a depression and finally did go on meds, just for a few months. I've been through a divorce and my ex married his mistress. My kids have to spend time with them. My daughter told me she would never take my place, and of course, no one could. Your mom will be hurt and will have to sort things out for herself whether you get to know this woman or not. If you can talk to her about it, that may help. It's natural to feel stuck in the middle, especially when you live right there.

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ROOSTER72 3/17/2012 5:14PM

    I was the same - just mild depression. Feeling like life was passing me by, and getting little enjoyment from things.
I found a book that changed my life 'The Feel Good Factor' by Patrick Holford. Borrowed from the library - you might be able to find it without buying!!
He is a celebrated UK nutritionist.

He says there is a strong link between diet and depression. I always thought I had a pretty good diet - he talks about how some of us need nutritional supplements to right the imbalance that caused the depression.

You say it is seasonal - which indicates a vitamin D deficiency could be a contributor. I am taking a multivitamin and fish oil daily as a result of reading this book - and by eating less cakes etc I think I am controlling my blood sugar swings a bit.

I hope this helps.

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CONQUERGRAVITY 3/17/2012 1:24PM

    Thanks everyone. When I was seeing a therapist (I stopped in November), she agreed that I wasn't really a candidate for medication. It's definitely at least partially seasonal, as I'm always the worst from about December - March. We've finally started to get some really great weather here (60 degrees and sunny today, and headed out for a hike!), which usually helps.

As I said, I've thought about going back to a therapist, but I wasn't crazy about the one that I was seeing, and there isn't anybody else close by who is covered by my insurance (and paying out of pocket isn't going to work for me). So, I'm trying to muddle through alone.

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PRIMALMICHAEL 3/17/2012 1:12PM

    Under that sort of stress, anyone could feel pressure, depression, could gain weight, etc. Stress is awful on our bodies.

Eat well. Be gentle with yourself. Get whatever support you can. We are behind you 100% here, but you need in person support as much as you can get.

Wishing you the best,
Michael

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SENZ2001 3/17/2012 10:54AM

    Medication and therapy best proven way for treatment. My DH has depression and I've struggled with anxiety. We both have taken medication and go to therapy.

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FIONNUALLA 3/17/2012 10:42AM

    You talk about your depression not being frequent or debilitating. It sounds like it is fairly debilitating right now. You also talk about being fine 6 months ago. Is it possible that it is seasonal?

My sister was involved in a scientific study of vitamin D. They tested a variety of people in the Rocky Mountains. At the end of the winter 100% of them were at least mildly deficient in vitamin D. Symptoms of mild Vitamin D deficiency include depression and obesity.

http://www.vitaminddeficiencyguide.
com/

I don't know where you live, but if you live somewhere with a real winter (and its attending lack of sunshine) you could benefit a lot from taking some vitamin D. A sunlight box helps a lot too.

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GARDENCHRIS 3/17/2012 9:57AM

    Please Please go get some help.... find someone to talk to. I know how hard it is, is is exhausting work.... I know 7.5 YEARS of therapy later I am so GLAD I did it. There is a reason and it is not your parents divorce.... take care of yourself..... YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!!!

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KANOE10 3/17/2012 9:48AM

    You are in such a difficult situation. I think you should think about getting some support. I am glad you are going to have your sister come to talk to.
My son did feel much better after he went on anti-depressants, They might help you get through this difficult time.

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Or am I standing still with the scenery flying by?

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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