Thursday, March 22, 2012
No, not from me, but from this awesome blog (also great recipes on here):
"The Anti-Diet Post" from The Londoner: A Lifestyle Blog
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
I had a little scare today.
The university is mostly shut down this week, so I am working from home with no immediate deadlines, no grant applications due, no family-visit pressure. It's the most laid-back holiday season I've had in several years. So naturally I lounged around in my jammies until around 4pm, when I decided it might be nice to have a hot shower. But when I got out and dried off, I felt shaky. Really shaky, like if I didn't eat something I might be in trouble. Low-blood-sugar shaky, or at least what I imagine it must feel like.
I went to the freezer and pulled out the quickest insta-food I could find, but it was a little bit of a challenge just to dump it on a plate, cover it with plastic wrap, and get it into the microwave for 2 minutes. While it was in there, I decided to give myself a sugar jolt with a couple sips of eggnog, right from the carton. It wasn't until several minutes after I finished off the insta-food that I started to feel like myself again.
As the shakiness passed and my head cleared, I sat and pondered my situation. I have gained a stunning amount of weight over the past 20 months, and I am now the heaviest I've ever been. My father is diabetic and both my parents have high blood pressure. If I'm not pre-diabetic yet, I surely will be, before too long. My options are now limited.
When I lost weight before, I said that one of my reasons was that I wanted to be healthy. That was certainly true; although I have never had any serious health problems, I was certainly a lot healthier after losing 70 pounds. But my real health concerns were way off in the future. I knew my family history, but figured I had a nice long time to take care of myself before I developed anything serious.
I don't think that any more.
Now my health is my main worry - much more so than looks, self-confidence, or even feeling "normal" rather than obese. I am *gulp* middle-aged. I am seriously overweight. I am toying with health problems that could, very quickly, change my life forever. I could wake up tomorrow, or next week, with full-blown diabetes. Or I could have a heart attack at 43. No doctor on earth would be surprised to see it happen.
So I opened up my computer and began tracking all my food for the day. (It turns out that because I ate my leisurely - and nutrient-poor - breakfast late in the morning, I had skipped lunch, and it hadn't occurred to me that I had taken in far fewer calories by 4pm than my body was used to having.) I changed my dinner plans from a high-fat Paula Deen wild rice bake (butter and heavy cream, anyone?) to a much healthier wild rice pilaf with chicken sausage. And I went back to the beginning, setting very simple exercise and nutrition goals for myself.
Here I go again. It isn't easy, but this time the alternatives seem much scarier.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Yeah, what a cliche. I was doing So Well, and then, well, I wasn't. A couple of injuries, a different job schedule, a busier life, a lot of stress. And after declaring that I had changed my lifestyle forever, I now weigh exactly 10 pounds more than when I started my weight loss journey. My body, true to cliche, has succeeded in returning to its former cushy state, with a little extra cushy just to be safe.
And, not to be overly simplistic about separating my mind and my body - my mind succeeded too, in its own way. As annoyed as I am about the extra weight, it really is nice and cushy. It really is safe. I don't ever, ever have to worry about drawing unwanted male attention. I am again invisible as a body, leaving my nice overachieving brain to shine all on its own. I've been here before and it's very safe.
But I've also been more alive than I feel now. More confident. More energetic. Less concerned about my health as I get older and this weight takes its toll on my knees, my feet, my heart, my kidneys. And so the question is, am I willing to sacrifice this shielded comfort for that energetic aliveness? Am I willing to inhabit my body more fully again, for the promise of a longer and more independent future?
Yes - with caveats. I made a few promises to myself in the past year, and I intend to keep them.
One is that I have promised myself I will never subject me to another diet again. Ever. And with all due respect to my former weight-loss-success self, counting every single calorie every day is not a "lifestyle," it's a diet. It just is. That's how I lost 70 pounds before, and it was very empowering and educational to live through that process. But I won't be doing that again.
I have also promised myself that I will actually deal with my issues rather than bolting from them - with food, with exercise, with distractions of any kind. There is something very dysfunctional going on when a person (that's me) consistently eats in response to emotional overload. That's why I am where I am today, and why no temporarily imposed structure of calories in/calories out will fix it. Perhaps there are people out there who are willing to count every calorie, every day, for the rest of their lives. I am not one of them.
And finally, I have promised myself that I will listen closely to my body and give it what it needs. I will learn its language more fully, so that I can tell the difference between "I'm anxious" and "I'm hungry." I will feed it when it's hungry and stop feeding it when it is satisfied. And when it is crying out for something else that food won't truly satisfy, I will keep listening until I figure out what that something else is.
This is not going to happen quickly. I am not going to lose 50 pounds in 6 months, like I did 4 years ago. I am not going to set any weight loss goal at all, actually. I haven't thrown away all those nice clothes I bought when I lost weight, and I'd love to be able to wear them again. But when and if it happens, it will happen in its own time. The goal this time is to be a whole person, healthy of mind and spirit and body. I don't know yet what she will look like, but she's calling to me.
Monday, August 09, 2010
Here's my honest, embarrassing, but necessary confession: I have gained a good deal of weight in the last six months. Probably about half of the 70 pounds I originally lost with the help of Sparkpeople - frankly, I'm not quite ready to look at the numbers. It happened slowly at first, then at a pace that was frighteningly rapid. Obviously, it's time to reevaluate my life as it relates to food and health.
So I've been reading some Geneen Roth, and it seems I'm a compulsive eater. I never thought of myself as a compulsive eater - those are the people who go to meetings, for goodness sake. But defined broadly (no pun intended), anyone who habitually eats when they're not hungry is a compulsive eater. That would be me, clearly, since if I ate only when hungry and stopped when I was satisfied, I would not be overweight at all, much less gaining weight like crazy.
I have searched for the answer to this issue of "emotional eating" ever since I adopted a healthier lifestyle almost 3 years ago, with no real success. The solution most people, including Sparkpeople experts, give is essentially distraction: when you feel upset or anxious or mad, do something else besides eat. Go get some exercise. Talk to a friend. Take a relaxing bath. As long as you don't eat to mask the feelings, it's OK to mask them in any other way you can invent.
But then there are still those pesky feelings. I'm discovering that pushing them away by eating, by escaping into a book or a computer game, by doing anything besides facing them, doesn't really solve the problem, does it? They are still there. They come back over and over, and I have to fight the same battle of distraction over and over ... and eventually, inevitably, I lose.
Geneen Roth's solution is unbelievably simple - and very scary. Face them, she says. Just sit with your feelings. Don't allow yourself to run away, don't numb them with food or anything else. Examine them, without trying to change them or make them go away. Just notice their color, their shape, their weight, how old you feel when you experience them directly. Give them space to be felt. At the same time, hear the stories you have told yourself about them, and recognize that the stories are not the same thing as the feelings. No, you will not fall to pieces if you let yourself feel that sadness. No, that anger will not consume you and burn you up if you don't bury it. Yes, you are strong enough to feel that grief, and yes, it will pass.
I have spent so many years keeping feelings at bay that this "solution" seems exponentially more difficult than the "problem" of eating when I'm not hungry. But in the end, I think, the eating is a symptom rather than the problem itself. Geneen Roth says that eating is so fundamental to our identities that it is a doorway through which we can discover amazing truths about ourselves. It's not a "problem" - it's a clue and an opportunity to figure out what drives us.
So I'm embarking on this journey again, at the moment without counting calories or making elaborate meal plans. I know what a healthy diet looks like, and I know what healthy habits help my body be its best. Right now I'm just going to listen to my body and my emotions and work on learning to distinguish between their very different wants and needs. It feels like flying without a net. But if I can't learn to trust myself, I'll never fly at all.
Friday, July 09, 2010
Thanks to posting my goal to walk this morning, I forced myself to do it, even though I got to sleep too late, was awakened in the night by a huge thunderstorm, and then hit the snooze button twice this morning. I walked 20 minutes, showered, fixed my fruit and yogurt for breakfast, and still made it to work 5 minutes early. :-)
So - tomorrow I plan to get up and walk early, before it gets too unbearable out there. A longer walk, since I don't have to be at work: at least 45 minutes. After that, we'll see how hot it is. Thanks to my Sparkbuddies for posting encouragement and holding me accountable for sticking to my goals!
The wonderful treat will be that after the walk and a shower, I get to go hang out at the pool with a friend. Ahhhh.
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