Sunday, December 28, 2014

Replacements

Today was so low key in my house, which was so perfect for a Sunday.  I slept in, hung out with my younger son (who is always the first one to wake on my the weekends), did a little housework, then did whatever I felt like.  Today, that meant a lot of reading and a little time on my phone.  It is so nice to have a break from the usual chaos of feeling like there is so much to get done for the week.  
I didn't stress out about eating.  I was craving green veggies for once, so I ate broccoli and asparagus with a vegan sausage patty for breakfast.  Eating those healthy things because I genuinely wanted them had a much different effect than when I was eating them because I was restricting certain carbs, or trying to change my body.  Over the holidays, and for some time leading into them, I eat my fair share of completely nutritionally-void junk. At least, when I'm not restricting I do, so by the time the holidays are over, my body is screaming for real food with nutritional value.  When I'm restricting during the holidays, I eat tiny portions of the things I want, but my mind knows I am restricting so as soon as I'm alone, I'm plowing through the plate of cookies and candies with no end in sight.  Neither one makes me feel very good, because both include eating copious amounts of sugars, fats and salt.  At least when I'm not restricting I can eat all that and move on, restricting sends me through torturous mental drama that takes much longer to get past. 
At any rate, I ate a lot more veggies today than I have in a while.  And it made me feel like I was making smart choices and that I was healing my body and brain.
I read some more of Geneen Roth's book "When Food is Love" today, and again I had to stop and re-read some parts because it was almost eerie how she sheds light on questions I have had for so many years, questions why I self-sabotage myself in not just diets but in relationships as well.  Ugh.  It just makes me wish everyone could read this book.  I know so many people who have lost weight and gained it, know what to do but still put food they want to restrict right into their mouth, and can't seem to get back on track, and wonder why.  This book answers the why, but you can't just read it, you have to take it in, sift your own experience through the words and hold the gem up to the light to see it gleaming.  
As I was reading tonight I saw what I did to my relationship with my sister, someone I used to feel protected me and cared for me at times.  And I saw what I did to my relationship with my dad.  I'm still working on looking at the relationship with my mom, it's a little tougher to look at for me, has some sharp edges with a blinding gleam and I don't have the strength to look at it right now.  But I will. Soon.  
One of the things I read that I will be thinking about more as I go to bed and over the next few days is the point she makes about chasing after someone that is (at least in part) unavailable.  I know I'm not the only one who went through this, but maybe I was the only one who went through it at the age I was, and for so long, and so very awkwardly.  When I was in college, I worked at a convenience store.  It was some of the best times I've ever had, we had such an awesome team of people working there.  I fell very quickly for a man named Tim.  He was about 9 years older than me, had the quickest wit I've ever known, and is the best story teller ever.  He was sarcastic and could  be moody, and people picked on him at times because he did his own thing.  I lost myself over him.  We hung out, sometimes every weekend, sometimes not for months, but we worked together and we always kept each other in stitches.  We kept in touch after he stopped working there, and though I would write long letters explaining my feelings for him, we never really got around to taking that step beyond friendship.  We came close, a few times but we were both so awkward and suffering from fear of rejection that neither one of us made a move.  He once wrote me a letter to tell me he wanted to kiss me and see where we could take it, and still we didn't move.  We were frozen in maybe for so long, assuming the other was out of our league.  I kept thinking that if I just stuck to a diet and lost weight, he wouldn't be able to resist me. And when I failed at each diet I tried (while working full time and going to college full time not to mention) I felt like a total failure and didn't want to see him.  I would think to myself, no wonder he doesn't want me, I'm a total loser slob who can't take care of myself and I believed it for so long, that my worth was wrapped up in my jeans size and that no man worth my time would ever look at me until I lost weight.  I pushed Tim away because he didn't dote on me.  But it took me eight long years of chasing him to finally start looking out for myself for once.  And when I moved away and stopped acting so starry-eyed over him, he still wanted to know me.  But then I met the man I eventually married.  I still think about Tim a lot, I realize our personalities would have been too big together and it would have been a disaster in the end.  But I wonder what the significance of it was, why I craved his approval and acceptance more than anyone I've met before or since.  And toniggt, Geneen gave me that answer.  It's not the Tims or the workaholics or the emotionally-unavailable people that we want, what we are really chasing after is that which we feel we didn't get from our parents.  Positive attention, protection (emotionally or physically), approval, validation, praise.  Warm, unconditional love.  We fantasize certain features into those we wish could fill all the holes we have from our past.  It's a dangerous game, but it keeps us from having to look at the painful stuff we had to face when we were too little to know how to handle it or let our needs be known.  I didn't want Tim because he was an amazing man who I knew could make me happy, in fact, there were plenty of times when he hurt my feelings or treated me rough.  I wanted his approval more than anything, I told myself it was because he was so choosy about his friends, but now I realize it wasn't about him at all.  His mood was just as unpredictable as my mother's, I never knew which version I was going to get, but when I got the tiniest morsel of acceptance or approval from either one of them, I soared on it for days!  I wanted Tim to save me from myself, to make me feel loved and worthy and smart and pretty.  But really, I wanted those things from my mother first.  Being fat protected me from rejection in a way, my self esteem was so low that I simply took myself out of other people's equation, stepped away before I could be rejected.  With my mom, I closed myself off as a way to protect a place that was more vulnerable to her than anyone else in my whole world.  With Tim, I made a powerful decision to stop compromising my dignity for someone that never quite made sense to chase in the first place.  I met my husband 2 months later.  I am so lucky Tim never had the balls to make a move, it could have made a mess of my life.  Until today, Tim still had power over me, not because I am pining after him (trust me, if you met both him and my husband you would understand why I don't pine after Tim), but because I would like to see him again, to laugh and reminisc about the good old days, but I am also nervous about how easily he can make me feel bad.  But I realize now that he doesn't have that power, I give him that power, and I can just as easily take it away.  Just like I have to do with my mom.  I'm not a defenseless child anymore and she's not a scared teenage mom, married to an alcohol she may or may not have ever loved, she was just looking to fill the holes her own parents left behind.  
We women are a mess!  No wonder men are always saying there's no way to understand us!  Lol.  
I'm taking baby steps and it's feeling a little easier all the time.  Sorry for the novel, if I don't get this stuff down right away I lose my train of thought, and it is helping tremendously.  

Friday, December 26, 2014

New Eyes

Today I stress-ate myself through my 10 and 11-and-a-half year old boys being home alone the entire day while my husband and I worked.  It was the first time my younger son was alone that long and he was worried and so was I.  They got through it just fine, but I ended up trying to calm the stress with food, and making myself physically uncomfortable in the process.  I still ate pizza for dinner despite not being hungry, and now I'm still more full than I want to be, hours later.  If overeating makes me feel so aweful, why does my brain keep telling me to eat?!
I discovered Goodwillbooks.com a few weeks ago and got two used books I'd been looking for for 99 cents a piece, score!  They are both Geneen Roth books.  One is a workbook called Why Weight, and the other is one I've read before called When Food is Love.  I've been working on the exercises in the workbook on occasion, so I decided to read the other tonight and I'm really glad I did.  I really absorbed the words tonight instead of simply reading lifeless words on a page.  She writes so hauntingly knowingly, like she has the keys to your secrets.  
This passage struck me hard.  This is me.  I learned early in life to tiptoe around others, to be helpful or to get out of the way. I learned to lower my expectations so as not to be so disappointed.  I learned to put my efforts in making my mother happy and avoiding what made her angry because I never knew which side of her I'd get, and I wanted to feel like if I was good, she'd be the warm, loving mom and shower me with affection and praise.  When nothing I'd do seemed good enough I turned to food    for comfort.   
Another passage that grabbed my attention is this:
Yes.  I couldn't control my mom's moods or how ignored I felt, how needy I felt for her love and attention, but at an early age I could control the food I ate, and I could put my focus on my weight so I wouldn't have to think about how desperately I'd failed at being a good enough girl who'd make my mom find me lovable and a treasure.  What I didn't realize is that, all along, is that it was never about me.  I thought I could make her love me more by being better-behaved, by being obedient and helpful, by being invisible when the situation called for it.  I lowered my expectations and took what I could get instead of asking for what I wanted.  
Another passage:
She goes on to say that we begin to feel that only the in-control person is lovable, and if this is so, then who we really are when no one is looking, is not lovable.  
There is a part where she says her mother, when she was angry, told her she was selfish, and that equated to being bad.  Being bad, in a kids mind (especially a fragile kid) means being unlovable.  So if being selfish means you think of your needs above others, and if being selfish means you are bad, and if being bad means you are unlovable, then putting your needs above others makes you unlovable.  This put a huge lump in my throat.  Her mom was my mom in so many ways.  I totally get this philosophy and I have lived it for so so many years.  
I am full of emotion, but it is joyful breakthrough-type emotion, as if I have just discovered a secret that is bittersweet, but liberating all the same.
I am looking forward to re-reading this book with new eyes.  It really has hit the vital nerve, and I think this is exactly where I need to be right now.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

To Nurture

I don't celebrate Christmas.  The family I grew up in did, but I don't now.  It is partly because of my husband, when I met him he was Rastafarian and we just naturally took our own path away from the Christian tradition, and it is partly because I have taken my own, genuine interest in Buddhism which does not celebrate this holiday.  I am not offended when people wish me  a Merry Christmas or ask if I am "all set" for Christmas.  I have great memories of family gatherings and holiday traditions with my family.  Still, we get together with my husband's families every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for the standard feasts and gifts.  We have begged our families not to get us gifts because it is awkward for us, we either feel obligated to give gifts as well, thus forcing us into their holiday, or we don't give gifts and feel really uncomfortable because they insist on getting us some.  I would much rather spend time as a family without all the extra gift chaos.  To my kids, the gifts (and all the crazy foods) are all they care about on Christmas.  Autism or not, by the time we hit the door to go home, the kids and I are usually in a full-on sprint to the car from all the sensory overload!  Noise makes me nauseous sometimes, it crawls under my skin and kicks me in the brain and gut.  I have had my share of noise pollution the past two days.  
So tonight after things were settled a little, I decided to quiet my mind and do a little meditation.  I had spent a long time looking at Buddhist things on Amazon tonight, and my mind felt open despite the chaos.  I tried a breathing technique I'd heard of recently, where you inhale for four counts, then hold your breath until you feel you can't hold it any longer, and let it out.  After doing it 4 times, my head started to drain (sinuses, etc).  As I felt the draining, I sat quietly and let my mind feel/see myself sitting under a tree meditating, just as the Buddha originally did, but before I went inside myself in my meditation within meditation, the Stars twinkled and shot a bright glowing energy into me.  In waking, I don't think about the stars much, though I have read that we are made of the dust from stars.  I was going to end my meditation there, but I decided I needed to know more.  Why was I given this energy, what am I to do with it?  The answer came in pictures, first I thought it was showing me teaching or guiding, and I knew that wasn't the whole picture then as if a voice said it out loud, the words TO NURTURE came across so clear.  The images I was getting during this were of the people I would encounter at the job I'm going to school for (to help people with special needs learn life skills), and I think the reason teaching/guiding didn't fit right in my meditation is because I am aware that some people with cognitive delay or damage may never learn.  My job will be to teach those that can learn, but to nurture all of them.  
So that was an interesting twist on my standard why-am-I-so-fat meditation.  The spirit of meditation can be very self-serving, but the Buddhist goal is to meditate on how my actions can help or hurt others.   
I haven't been thinking about my body lately, meaning I am not engaging in the typical self-hate or obsessing over how not to eat my weight in carbs, or how to fit into a size 2 dress by New Year's Eve. I see it all around me, "I can't" "I shouldn't" "How can you?"  And food is making people act like they are about to do something totally taboo or horrible.  I can see how those thoughts can ruin special times for folks.  Time we should be enjoying with people that won't be around as long as we want them to be.   Time we should be happy.  We deserve to be happy, no matter what size pants we wear.  Not because of our size, but despite it, because we are not a mistake.  
I hope my readers enjoyed time with loved ones and had a peaceful holiday.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Healing Process

It I took a whole week off work last week, just for some time to myself, to get things done, rejuvenate and refocus.  I had a lot on my plate, sick kids, missed busses, final exams/papers to write, more car repairs, etc!  But I did take some time to just lay on the couch watching documentaries and morning news.  It felt good to have time to do things and it felt really good when I handed in the last of the papers and wrapped up my semester for a month long break.  I thrive on free time.  I wish I had more of it.  
And that got me thinking about ways I can make my morning feel less rushed.  I typically get up at 5:30 am and have less than 2 hours to get myself and my 2 sons ready and out the door.  What transpires between those two hours is pure chaos and disorder!  Clothes that fit last week suddenly don't fit, boots feel wierd or wet, gloves suddenly missing their mates while the bus is pulling up, early meetings and slippery roads, by the time I get to work, I am usually feeling exhausted and look a fright!  I know it doesn't have to be this way, so I've decided to trial a new schedule for myself to give me a little more time to get prepared for the day. One of my major projects I did during my time off was to overhaul my bedroom.  This truly is my own personal space, and over time it somehow became the dumping spot of the house, where those items we didn't want to get rid of but didn't know what to do with ended up.  So I totally changed it, cleaned out every nook and cranny, even redecorated.  Now it truly is a retreat for my overstimulated senses at the end of the day.  And I feel much more calm when I go in there.  It feels therapeutic.  
And I need therapy in all sorts of ways right now.  My body has developed so many new aches, seemingly overnight, and I am feeling really stiff and swollen and dry this winter, even though the snow hasn't been a factor yet. It doesn't help that I misjudged the edge of a chair I was standing on and fell to the ground last week too.  But even before that happened I have had a new stiff and swollen middle finger on one side and an extremely sore elbow/arm on the other.  It stinks getting old!
So I've decided that I need to get back into stretching.  My new morning schedule now has me up at 4:30am so I can do some yoga and have a  hot cup of tea while waking up.  I've chosen 12 beginner poses I found online (one is not a beginner pose and will take me a long time to master but I'm willing to try).  As I do these more I will be able to tell which ones are useful and which I need to swap out.  Today was my first day of sincere effort and it made me aware of a few things.  First, my balance is atrocious!  Second, certain parts of me are pretty flexible despite all the extra weight I carry, but my back is going to take some work to loosen up again.  And, holding a strech for 30 seconds really is hard work, especially when you are also trying not to topple over!
As usual, a work in progress.  I liked the fact that I felt less rushed and got to see my husband for a little bit (he leaves for work at 5:30).  The stretching didn't make me feel too much better physically today, but there are other factors involved.  I am choosing to look at my self care as healing.  I am healing myself, one small step at a time.  And that's as good a place to start as any.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Mind's Mysteries

Some people equate their weight loss journey to climbing a mountain, but never reaching the top.  The yo-yoing back and forth is like climbing the same ten feet of a mountain and never get past that spot. For me, I feel like I'm in a narrow hallway and I'm bouncing off walls.  One wall is discipline, healthy eating, working out.  When I'm on that wall, I feel good, I'm proud of myself for doing "the right thing". But after a little while I get bored of feeling like I HAVE to stay on that wall so I force myself off and I hurl at the opposite wall with reckless abandon thinking, I will eat when and what I want and I make plans to get on the other wall again someday and I keep eating and sleeping and then I get to a point where it is harder to do simple tasks without breathing heavier and I panic or get disgusted by how I look and I hurl myself at the other wall.  I am bouncing off the walls and my mind feels as crazy as the mental image that conjurs up.  I am never just walking the hallway in control, food always has the power over me, it wait her makes me feel better than everyone else or worse than everyone else.  
I focused on that tonight for my meditation, and asked why I am always bouncing between such extremes.  My usual guides were all mumbling over one another but the face of a wise sage came to me and answered that I could not find balance because I did not have stability when I was young.  Before I could ask more, the sage told me that it is up to me to make my own stability, to open up the middle path as an option to myself, and find my own way to steady my foundation.  I was a little puzzled, I thought that is what I was doing by all this meditation work.  I am still very new to all this, but I take everything I can from it because I know I won't have peace until I figure some things out.  And, figuring things out is kind of fun.
Here's to unlocking the mysteries of your own mind!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Intensions

Monday is supposed to be the day I get to go in late to work, typically I go in anywhere from 10-noon because I get done late.  So, in considering getting up early for a workout, I usually pass, assuming I'll have time once the kids are on the bus. But the last two Mondays it hasn't worked out for me.  Last week I got called into work, and today my son had a sick tummy and I kept him home.  I didn't want to leave him when he wasn't feeling good (we have a cardio room right across the parking lot) and once he fell asleep I didn't want to wake him, so I got one of my final exam essay papers done.  It was a great use of time, even though I wanted to be doing fun stuff instead.  
I was able to meditate for a short period tonight.  At first I saw the most adorable image of a baby elephant who'd accidentally flipped on its back, but it wasn't sad or scared, it was actually joyful.  It is joyful to be different I thought, but maybe a more fitting sentiment is that it was happy with who it was and the position it was in.  
I didn't want to get stuck in that one image, it showed up to tell me something and I took the point and turned my attention to my guides.  When I dropped in on them, they were all just waiting around, waiting for me to ask a question I guess.  So I asked.  Why do I want to eat foods that damage my body?  They all tried to speak at once, and I heard a stew of sounds and then the big guy broke through the noise and said (in a sad-but-fed-up manner) "Because you don't see your own worth.  You think you don't matter."  And unlike my conscious mind, that would have denied that comment, my subconscious question back was how do I know my own worth?and the answer once again was "give yourself to others, and you will know your worth.  
I know it is face value and hidden value, I have been wanting to volunteer at my local Cerebral Palsy center, and do some charity work that I could involve my kids in.  But I let things get in my way.  And we all know what they say about good intentions.  So maybe this is a message about intentions, and how they don't turn into actions on their own.  I caught the message, it was hidden in a bunch of other stuff, but I caught it.  

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Identifying Characters

I am able to get a little clearer picture of the four figures I have been meditating on, and their meaning.  
The large black man is someone I don't want to focus on, he is aware of my emotions and is so empathetic that I can tell it is going to hurt both of us when I get down to asking him questions.  I don't feel ready yet.  I have a feeling it will be really beneficial when I do.  
The short girl who is confident:( I really need to ask them their names), I don't get much from her just yet, but I asked why she is hiding and she said that she is always here, giving me what I need when I need it, she isn't hiding, she just doesn't have anything to prove.
The tough looking guy, I really started getting a warm feeling from him.  His job is to protect me, plain and simple, and I can tell that he cares about me.  In many ways he is like a father figure.  I am most drawn to him, he seems easiest to approach though he seems not to be the one with many answers for me. 
As I was envisioning the most feminine figure, the woman with Carmel-brown, flowing hair in earthy pastel green dress, I was stricken again by how cold she is, her logic and reasoning allows for so little emotion and warmth.  In this way, she felt like a mother figure.  Not that my mom was always cold, but she does definitely have that side to her.   To some extent, these people represent the family I grew up in, to some extent they represent my own family, and to some extent every one of them is me.  It makes sense that I'm not ready to ask the big dude questions and that I'm afraid it'll hurt when I do.  But then, I can't change my ideas and beliefs if I don't know what they are.  
All of this stuff may sound absurd to some, it is the way that works for me, to get beyond the filter my conscious mind puts up.  I never would have imagined my journey would take this little side trip through meditation, but it seems to be a lucky thing it did!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A little catch up

My kids have had a five day weekend, and it has been so noisy at my house that it is difficult to concentrate or keep my focus for meditation.  But I still try, almost every night, because it does help me with my emotional eating work and my overall mood and tolerance of everyday irritations.  
Thursday was a low day for me.  I was not in the mood to go anywhere, I just wanted to lounge at home in my goucho pants and t-shirt, my usual comfy gear, especially since the Thanksgiving meal was at my mother-in-law's and my husband ended up getting forced to work,which meant he arrived 2 hours after my kids and I did.  I get along pretty well with my in-laws, but my husband and I have always had a sort of unwritten rule that we go to family functions together.  With our sons' autism, we end up being the weird family that ends up hiding in the basement while everyone else is upstairs, NOISY.  But before we ever went to the dinner, I had to get dressed.  And that is where the blow to my self esteem came in.  Shirt after shirt went on, and came off with a "yech" as I focused on how short the shirt was, how tight, how unflattering.  I desperately wanted to wear a skirt, which is so much more feminine and flattering, but it is full-fledged winter here, complete with snow, ice and freezing temperatures, so it's going to be a good 6 months until I can handle wearing skirts.  So back to unflattering jeans and a strange-fitting shirt that was at least a festive orange color. As I looked it over in the mirror, I allowed the low self-image to travel upward to my face, how did I get so many wrinkles so fast?  And is my hair really that gray?  I was aware of these judgments as I was making them, and I could visually point to why I was acting that way, as if I were passing judgment on someone I didn't know or care about, and it made me feel really low.  Despite all that, Thankgiving was OK.  My mother-in-law is a great cook and was thoughtful in preparing more than one vegetable dish for us vegetarian weirdos. My kids had a blast playing with their step-cousins and the spirit was happy.  After taking it all in, I felt lame for being concerned with how I look.  When these people pass from our lives, the last thing on earth that is going to matter to anyone is what I looked like.  
Friday was better for me, despite the roads being stupidly icy, which raised my anxiety, I found a shirt that I'd gotten late on the summer that actually flatters me which does wonders for the self-esteem and mood.  I wasn't able to get anywhere in meditation last night, but I still tried on more than one occasion.  
Today was a fun day with my kids and husband, we went to dinner with my father-in-law and played games together. Tonight I was able to see two more images of "guides" if you will.  One is a very large black man, who is very emotional/in tune with the emotional input from my journey.  The other one is not altogether clear, because it is partially hidden/hiding behind the black guy.  I can't tell if it is male or female, child/teen or petite, compact female.  This person represents confidence and energy which makes it very interesting that they ( I keep wanting to call it she so it must be a female entity) is hidden.  Maybe not hidden but overshadowed, like it is so crowded that she can't be seen in the image. I haven't had a chance to ask them any more questions, because of the noisy chaos in my house, but I will work with them more as noise levels allow.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Logic and Reason

I realized after my post last night that it might be strange or uncomfortable to talk about "having a conversation" with my "spirit guides".  Depending on what each reader believes, it may or may not be something that makes sense.  Or maybe it would make more sense to refer to these as driving forces.  Whatever you want to call it, I have been trying to focus more generally on my habits and the emotions causing them. 
Tonight's meditation introduced me to a female image, which I thought would be a softer, warmer personality but she ended up being less compassionate than the scarey looking male I met last night.  In contrast she was serious, and represented logic and reason.  I asked why it is that I am always worried about "having enough" whether it's food, money, intelligence, patience, health, you name it.  The answer was that there were too many times as a child that no one bothered to tell me that I would be OK in times of stress.  In those times I had to rely on myself, my intuition and my childlike perception of the situation, which only made me worry more.  She also said I have abandonment issues, I'm afraid if I don't have another slice of pizza, it won't be there when I go back, I'll have missed out on having my fair share.  It is the same as my need to buy three sets of headphones because they are on sale this week but they won't be next.  There won't be enough of this good thing.  It will leave and I'll be sad, disappointed, empty.  Alone without it.  Her directive was to get rid of what I don't need in life, de-clutter, and give some of my abundance away. 
When I asked this female presence why I act irresponsible and selfish she said it is because I am still trying to fix everything for everyone, still waiting for some perfection instead of seeing how perfect our flaws make life.  
Pretty heavy stuff I am getting, I am tempted to attribute it to my new bracelet helping me focus deeper, but it could also be because I have a chosen focus to start my meditation, I am leaving the answers in someone else's hands.  Of course, I realize these answers are really coming from my own subconscious, and I appreciate having a method to remove the filters I have up in conscious life.  
I may not be actively working on my physical body, but my mind is getting stronger.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Delving Unfinished

I have been seeing this little beauty in my Facebook feed for a few weeks now, and keep passing it up, despite really liking how it looks, partly because of the price, and partly because it is made of Yak bone.  The company that sells them, Sivana, not only guarantees that the bones are only collected after an animal has passed, but also assures the villagers who hand carve these and inlay them with coal and turquoise are paid fair trade.  In Buddhism, it is believed that life is cyclical, beginning anew and continuing on after death.  The use of the bones is a way that the spirit of the yak continues on, to be useful and healing.  
Before I ordered this bracelet I had a feeling that it would be a useful tool in meditation, not just because it is from Tibet or because it is pretty to look at, but it felt like an object that would keep me mentally grounded.  Last night I did not notice much difference, but I was simply wearing it.  Tonight I got more information than I could handle all at once!
I already knew what I was seeking when I began, I wanted to know who was guiding me.  As I held the bracelet in my hand I spun the beads around and immediately an oversized wheel came into my mind, industrial sized, cogwheel, the menacing type that could crush a human body without skipping a beat.  Next to the wheel, a dark figure stepped out of the shadows, at first it was frightening because it looked like a demon, with horns and intense eyes.  But before I spoke, it said to me, "how can I protect you if I am soft and weak?" And I felt a sudden relief and realization that the rebel with a little fire was the influence of this entity.  I asked why I am fat and he said because I am searching instead of looking, that he sees me but I don't see me.  I asked how to do that and he told me that I'll never see myself until I stop trying so hard.  I asked what I can do to help myself and he told me to stop trying to make everything perfect for everyone and to stop trying to take on everyone else's work, and to focus on the right things and stop killing myself over the unimportant things.  
I didn't think deeply on these things yet I wanted to get this recorded before I forgot what happened.  And now my house is noisy so I have to save this work for a quieter moment.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What Defines Beauty?

My blog is a mess right now! The posts are getting mixed up and there's tons of typos due to blogging from my iPhone.  But I'm not entirely sure anyone's reading, it is more just to get my own thoughts out in print, before they evaporate.  
Over the weekend a male friend of mine posted a link on Facebook, it was for a website honoring big girls.  I looked at a bunch of the photos of these self-proclaimed "chubby" girls, and I couldn't help thinking that they are gorgeous.  Some photos looked like pin up girls, some they we're helping others, some were just candid face shots, all were tasteful and classy.  And I expected to see some negativity in the comments, but I found myself pleasantly surprised to find that all of the comments I saw were positive, even some men saying they were beautiful and sexy.  It got me thinking, what defines beauty?  All of these girls had pretty faces, and their makeup was done really well, accentuating their best features, and their clothes were stylish.  But how is it, when I look in the mirror, my fat blinds me to my own beauty, but when I look at them, their fat is an afterthought to me.  Is it the makeup?  The clothes?  (I do wonder where they get stylish clothes at this size)?  Their hairstyles or the camera angles?  
My guess is that their beauty comes from the fact that they accept their body without apologies.  They don't look meek or disappointed in themselves, they look confident, radiant.  And it made me wonder what makes me feel confident.  I had a lot of confidence when I was losing weight, but looking back now, it wasn't because I was a smaller size or had better hair or clothes.  My confidence came from my morning workouts.  I remember dragging myself to the gym at 4:45am, dreading walking in and seeing everyone, but by the drive home, I was feeling so alive and unstoppable!  Getting the blood flowing feels good, and beyond that warm wonderful feeling, it also makes me less interested in food that is counter-productive.  If that can make met struggle with food easier, it's worth a try.  Yes, it sucks getting up at 4:30am but it's only an hour earlier than I normally wake up.  
Friday when I was lifting groceries into my car, I was painfully aware of how weak my muscles have become from not being challenged.  I don't like feeling weak, it makes me think I am old and becoming frail.  
Since my semester will be wrapping up in less than a month I will have a little more down time to focus on all this stuff more, but for now, I think getting active will be an important connection to my body that will be very positive.  As for food, I am going to continue eating freely, being aware of when I am eating when I am not hungry, and trying to figure out what is driving that, and I am continuing to meditate.  And of course, blogging to help me organize my thoughts about what is working and what is not.  I am planning to read "When Food is Love" by Geneen Roth again because that was a book that really made sense to me, after years of trying to search out reasons on my own and getting nowhere. It sounds crazy to me to jump back into activity after being inactive after so long, but I am looking at it as an experiment.  I will challenge myself to get some sort of activity each day, at least a half hour, but there will not be any restrictions on my food (other than the fact that I don't eat meat). I'm interested to see what will happen, I've tried dieting without exercise before, but I've never tried it the other way around.  The funny thing is, I feel more confident and happy just thinking about working out, but the thought of starting a diet NEVER makes me feel that way.  That is a fairly big sign.  And this is something new, and new is interesting if nothing else!  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sister Stuff

I don't know why, but meditation has been difficult lately, almost as if the well has gone dry.  I keep thinking that maybe it is because I am happy enough right now, I don't have as much stress as usual, I am even a few days ahead on my homework this week.  My mood has improved so much since the end of October and I'm back to the warm, friendly optician my customers expect me to be.  I am not on a diet or any specific eating plan, I'm not thinking about it at all.  Diets don't work for me because sooner or later the restrictions feel like a noose around my neck and I rebel way too hard.  I can only be disciplined for so long before I 'lose it'and binge on crap.  I lost 10 pounds last month on South Beach Diet and started feeling really good.  Then excuses came via needing to be on steroids and my period starting at the same time.  Oh, and the dreaded snow and slippery roads.  I made a conscious decision to stop watching (read:caring) what I ate while I got my wits about me.  It's like I'm waiting to care enough about myself.  Then I thought to myself, maybe how much we care about ourselves is directly linked to how WE THINK our mother felt about us.  For me, it fits the puzzle, my mother cared about me sometimes, loved me deeply sometimes, but didn't want to think about or be bothered by me others.  That's how I feel about me, sometimes I feel so great about myself and sometimes I don't want to think about me.  In weight-loss/gain world it equates to the flux of being committed to making my body a healthy place for calm and wisdom to live, and not giving a f#%} about myself or my weight.  
I wasn't able to come up with any good parent stuff from meditation so I focused on my sister.  She's my only sibling, about 1 1/2 years older.  We are not particularly close.  Tonight I got the image of us as young girls, having a sister was like having a built-in friend.  Sure, we fought awefully, and have the scars to prove it, but we did have a lot of fun too. As I was flipping through some memories of her and I, my mind went to the time when she started making friends and going off to see them without me.  Sure, sometimes my parents forced her to bring me, but she didn't want to.  And sometimes shed ride her bike so fast that I couldn't keep up and I'd arrive at her friend's house in tears.  She didn't want me, and the more times she tried to make me feel bad for wanting to tag along, the less I wanted to.  So eventually I gave up and she went everywhere without me.  And my parents had stuff to do too.  And my meditative mind cried, "She didn't want me, she left me behind with them, trapped."  In my mind it felt like my mother abandoned me.  I never would have connected these thoughts together without meditation.  My sister and I are not close, as I've said, but it hasn't always been like that.  I always attributed it the the fact that she is a know-it-all who always offers unsolicited advice when sometimes I just want to vent without being offered advice.  But little things that get under our skin don't add up to an awkward relationship we have even though she only lives 100 miles away, I've never met her two year old daughter and only seen her other two kids a handful of times.  I know I need to fix my relationship with her and maybe this meditation is a really good inspiration for doing that.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rocking the Specs

I work in a health clinic that prides itself on giving outstanding customer service.  These little cards are a way that customers can reach out and let us know they liked our service.  I grant you, it's a little cheesy, especially when employees from other departments give me one, kind of feels like an obligation, even though it's not.  At any rate, I like to hear from the customers, it is my most valuable measure that I am doing a good job.  
This one is particularly meaningful because of the last line "I look great!"  The woman who wrote this card out came to me in glasses that do not flatter her.  She is a heavy gal, probably 60-80 pounds overweight, and the glasses she had on really drew attention to how round her face is, and how heavy a brow line she has.  Part of my job as an optician is to recognize how the shape, color and design of a certain frame highlights certain parts of my customers' facial features, and help to find the perfect frame that suits the look the customer  is going for while highlighting their positive features and downplaying the features they are not fond of.  This gal had low self esteem, in part, perhaps, due to being overweight.  She seemed overwhelmed by all the frame choices and when I asked if I could suggest a few styles, she looked at my bold Cateye frames and nervously agreed to let me chose a few for her.  I had so much fun showing her how a simple change in shape and style could make her look flirty, hip and still feminine.  She was really easy to talk to, we talked for nearly a half hour after the sale was done, and she confided in me that this was the first time she was excited to get glasses, and could hardly wait for them to come in.  This all took place despite the fact that we don't take her insurance.  And she paid a lot for these new glasses.  
I have told by many of my customers that I chose frames for them that they never would have chosen themselves, and most of them follow by telling me how many compliments they've gotten on them.  I love that I can do this for people. It is really rewarding.  
But this one feels more rewarding.  Maybe I am unfairly assuming that she has low self-esteem just because she is overweight, but after talking to her for a while, I don't think I'm far off the mark.  What is important is not that others compliment her (though I will admit it feels good when it happens) what truly matters is how she feels in those glasses.  It's not just the glasses that look good, she looks good.  And not just good, but great!  That is priceless!!! I may not love my job some days, but being a part of making someone feel good about their look when so much around us conspires against us feeling good about our looks, that is the greatest reward one could ask for!  When I got this card I silently said to myself, yes!  Go look great, girl!  But I wanted to run down the streets shouting, "she looks great!  She feels great!! I did that!"  
Well at least one more person feels like a rockstar out there.  My work here is done!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Some Days Just Overwhelm all my Senses

11/12/14
Today was a day full of real or suggested emotion as I finished reading the book "Body Outlaws". There are so many mixed signals going through my head right now about body image and self respect and diets and society.  My mind was swimming, I ate junk food unapologetically and it made me feel bloated and AWEFUL as I tried to figure out why I was doing it.  I tried to meditate on it tonight and my eyes, ears and brain are so overstimulated and irritable I couldn't get anywhere.  My mediation only brought up real thoughts about my responsibilities and vague images of my mom as a broken victim of her aweful childhood.  I don't linger in meditation, either I will be successful early into it, or it feels forced and not genuine.  
I am developing a whopping headache from tired eyes and ears, so I'll leave you with two pictures.  The first is the cover of the book I read, I highly recommend it to anyone who has or does struggle with body image.  The second is a body image Mad Libs from the book, a few questions to jot down for yourself, and tomorrow I'll post the mad lib. 
If anything, I know today has taught me a lesson, I just haven't discovered what that is just yet.  
Hope you are taking life in stride and riding out the waves as they come.

Maddening Habits and Mad Libs

I am finding myself shirking responsible eating again today.  It is a slippery slope once you get started!  I am massively hormonal, and I had some candy left from yesterday that was screaming eat me, I'm lonely in this cupboard!  At least I can laugh at it!  Even as I was nibbling it throughout the day I was thinking of how much better my stomach will feel once I stop eating this crap (again).  I find there are days when I really care, and days when I really don't, and the days I don't aren't necessarily days when I'm in a bad mood, not always, but something in me just wants to not think about food or rights or wrongs on those days.  I am aware of what's really going on, I'm numbing myself or babying myself or just plain food-lazy.  I'm making the conscious choice to be unconscious about food for that time period.  So it goes right now.  I wasn't craving sweet stuff today, but as soon as I got to work, I pulled it out of the cupboard and started chowing on it.  I think sometimes it's the taboo of eating "bad" stuff that I like, it makes me a rebel in my own mind.  And I KNOW I have issues with the word and feelings surrounding "special".  Just yesterday I made good on a promise to make my kids pancakes for breakfast and as we were eating them I said, "Mmmmm!  This makes Wednesday feel special doesn't it?!"  And my kids agreed, but I wondered what I was really telling them.  Certain foods make days special.  Maybe I overthink things, I don't know.  What I do know is that I often feel that way about foods or even drinks.  It is a need I have, to buy something in order to feel special, whether it is food or a new watch or a magazine.  Why don't I feel special without these things?  
Well, I have some more work to do in my brain for sure, but I promised to post the Mad Libs for the Body Image Fairy Tale questions I posted yesterday so I'll just get on with it now.
So there you have it, a little cheesy, but who cares?!  Hope you had fun doing body image mad Libs (from the book "Body Outlaws")

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

So Many Hills

My school work has been consuming my time again, as we reach the only-four-more-weeks-to-cram-it-all-in phase.  Paper after paper to write, and hundreds of pages of reading each week.  Luckily I like the stuff I have to read for my course in working with different cultures in a healthcare setting.  Right now we are reading a book called "Body Outlaws " that is a series of short essays about body image.  It's hard to put down.  I've been chuckling, choked up and inspired while reading it, and it brings the focus back around to owning your body and feeling good inside of it.  I've had those feelings more and more over the past few years that I've been blogging, and the longer this journey is, and the more twists and turns it takes, I am learning so much about what I perceived would make me happy (being thin) and what actually does.  There are too many to mention.
Toward the end of the last week I began to feel really run-down, had a runny nose and sore throat, then an itchy bump appeared on my leg.  I figured it was a mosquito bite because I'd seen one flying around my office a few times during the week.  By Friday morning there were  couple dozen on my thighs and lower stomach, huge itchy bumps filled with fluid.  My husband admitted that he had some tiny, pimple-type bumps on his arms, but they were nothing like my monstrous disease.  He has an immune system made of iron.  I thanked him very much for kissing me on the mouth and giving me his disease.  So Saturday I ended up going to the Urgent Care to see what it was.  I wanted to prevent my kids from catching it, they've already missed enough school for stomach stuff. The male nurse practitioner was of average level of attractiveness, young.  It was so clearly evident that he did not want to look at my rash or come anywhere near it.  Despite telling him all the details about my husband's bumps, my runny nose, sore throat and that a coworker's son had recently been diagnosed with Hand,Foot, and Mouth disease, he did not look in my mouth or ears or nose, he didn't have me take off any of my clothes (not that I was looking forward to it), it was fortunate that I was wearing some massively oversized gauchos that I could easily hike up to expose the ugly rash.  He looked at it, without touching me, and asked if I'd slept anywhere different lately and I said no, I knew he was hinting at bedbugs, gross!  Any new detergents etc, no.  He made a quick decision that it must be hives, and put me on a 5 day round of steroids.  I left the office not knowing whether to feel relieved that I didn't get the standard answer of "It's viral, let it run its course", or to feel offended that he was so grossed out by me that he lowered his standard of care, or to laugh that the big ugly fat woman with a mysterious rash on her oversized belly made the 6-ft-something male nurse recoil!  Mostly I felt misdiagnosed.  My husband has since gotten more of these bumps but his have stayed smaller, and thankfully I think my kids have avoided it thus far.  The pharmacist was chuckling that the steroids can make you want to eat more than usual and I wasn't chuckling with him.  I was already feeling oh so sorry for myself and irritated about my visit to the nurse, but I vowed not to take it to any extreme.  I did OK on the weekend, though I had a few carb-heavy meals like spaghetti fresca and a Thai dish at a restaurant, spicy drunken noodles, noodles about 3 inches wide in yummy spices with fresh basil.  I was surprised at how little I could eat before I felt full, and stopped as soon as I noticed I was.  I allowed some off plan snacks like tortilla chips and popcorn too, and I realized what I was doing, feeling sorry for myself and allowing myself to go on autopilot again.  
But all things are coming back together right now.  Even though I'm still on steroids for another day, even though I still have the rash, even though I will be welcoming my least favorite monthly visitor later this week.  I feel stronger when I'm awake to what's going on in and around me.  And that means not trying to numb out or block life with food.  That doesn't mean I plan to be uber strict and restrict myself to the point of feeling deprived or bored by food, I am just finding myself noticing when I am not aware of my habits, where in the past I would have brushed it off and told myself I'd get back on track some other day.  I'm finding it easier to self-regulate, even outside the boundaries of a diet or a book or someone else's ideals.  It feels liberating.  
Today on my way to work, the morning rain turned to freezing ice pelting my car, and I started thinking about all the wicked winter weather about to be unloaded on us.  If you've read my blog before you will know to what extent I loathe and fear driving in snow and ice.  I have a significantly steep hill to drive up on my way to work, and it gives me so much anxiety wondering if I'm going to make it up that hill when the roads are slippery.  And then I realized that the only times I truly felt confident in that situation were the mornings that I tackled that hill right after a solid workout.  I feel so much better when I work out, I have to fix my brain to get over the pouting about getting up early to do it.  I'll get there.  I'm feeling good mentally and the itching is slowly subsiding, so I'm going to spring into action one of these days.  And then, once again, I will be unstoppable.  Even on the snowy hills of life.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Food Nostalgia

I finally got my car back from the repair shop last night and it made me think of the luxury of having things and how that sort of builds on itself.  For example, not having my vehicle for 4 days meant that the idea of making a quick stop at the store became a luxury, something that would have to be planned well in advance and would require a decent amount of effort and energy.  It is at times like those when I make decisions about what is actually needed and what I just want because I have the means to have it.  Let's just say, I didn't go to the store at all those 4 days.  
But this morning I did.  My son's backpack was stolen last night, so I had to quick stop at the store for school supplies and some new hats and gloves for the slushy snow we are expecting over night.  I went to Walmart because they were the only ones open that early.  I used to shop there all the time, both when I lived in Vegas and now here in Wisconsin, but since we've been eating more organic foods, we had to switch to a high quality grocery store.  Back when I shopped there though, almost all my trips involved junk food of some sort.  Chips or candy or donuts or pizza or ice cream, you name it.  So today as I was cruising through Walmart, less than an hour after eating my breakfast, I was very nostalgic about those days of carefree eating.  It didn't torture me to the point of wishing I could go back to that way of eating, I just had that warm, nostalgic feeling wash over me, kind of how it feels when you are outside on a blustery day, then you come in and get warm under a big fluffy blanket.  I've never thought of food nostalgia as an entity unto itself, I always attached it to the desire to eat mindlessly, but today I recognized that it is separate and not a bad thing if your mind is strong.  As I checked out, rushing so as not to be late to work, the smell of Subway's bread baking wafted into me and I could almost taste the tuna on honey oat bead with extra pickles.  And I thought about how good that would taste, despite the fact that I don't eat meat.  I glamorized the tuna sub for about 15 seconds in my mind and then I thought about a whole tuna fish, how ugly the fish actually looks, and I imagined smelling and seeing that fish, how disgusting it is once it's removed from its natural habitat.  That was the end of the tuna glamorizations I tell ya!  As much as I love food I am also completely disgusted by a lot of foods as well.  I do so love the smell of Subway, the mix of baking bread and onion aroma.  I eat veggie subs there on occasion and am always astounded at how awesome they can make a bunch of veggies on some bread taste.  But with the food nostalgia I learned today, that you have to realize what emotions belong to which parts.  I got a happy feeling thinking about food I used to eat, and remembering carefree times, but in reality, I wasn't happy eating like that.  The chocolate bag always ran out before I was satisfied, and I'd have to go out of my way to go to different Subways or McDonalds out of shame of the employees knowing how much and how often I was eating there.  I ate in my car, I hid wrappers from my family, I used food like a druggie, barely tasting it but feeling like I needed it to get by.  And feeling miserable when i realized that instead of fixing things, it made me feel worse.  That is where awareness comes in.  If I just coast on emotions, the desire to eat to relieve or numb that storm will overwhelm me.  I have to be aware of what is going on. 
At work I have been trying to do just that.  There is a female supervisor who oversees the adjacent department to mine, and because her team is big and my department consists of only 3, she tried to step in and boss me around.  Typically we get along ok, but she tends to get really wound tight when she feels something is interfering with her team.  Long story short, there was a snafus in their schedule and I was used as a pawn between her and her staff and she addressed me and I explained my side of the story and she reported to middle management that she felt I was shoty and defensive.  It went on my review and I had a chance to explain myself.  As usual this supervisor was reacting emotionally to something she perceived as something it wasn't.  Even though the rest of my review was sparkling and my own supervisor and all adjacent teammates said they love working with me, I was hung up on the whole issue about that one backhanded comment.  And then, I became aware of the situation, aware of how I was allowing my own emotions about something I won't even think about in a year to completely hijack my brain.  I wanted comfort food, I wanted to binge and I wanted to justify it with my famous line I used to alway use on myself, I'll have one good binge, get it out of my system, then get back on track tomorrow.  But when I became aware I realized that self-sabotage was not necessary and not smart.  I reminded myself that I have a choice: continue to let emotions trap me into an uncomfortable corner, and use destructive ways of trying to quiet them, or just let it go.  I chose to let it go.  I focused on something enjoyable like daydreaming about my trip to California.  That was Monday, and when the issue resurfaced today, I noticed myself tensing up and I was able to blow it off.  It is her self esteem issue, not my deficit.  I am used to beating myself up to not put anyone out but that is not helpful to me.  I will not take on the problems of someone else who means so little to me. I deserve to treat myself better.  
I did end up my day with some pretty crazy cravings for sweets, maybe because of the SBD bar that I had, it is a little heavy on the carbs.  But it is more likely due to shifting hormones.  The best week or so I will be fighting cravings.  I had read that giving into sugar cravings during PMS only makes them stronger, so I decided to get some healthy fats via some guacamole.  The fats help stabilize the blood sugar, which tends to fluctuate during PMS, causing cravings for sweets.  It worked like a charm!  Guac to the rescue!
This blog is long already, but I just want to go over my meditation tonight.  I don't do it nearly as often as I should.  I was struggling at first, then I saw a vivid image that I have from my childhood.  I was so little, maybe 4 years, and I was supposed to be taking a nap.  My mother had me on her bed next to her, and she quickly fell asleep.  It was a hot summer day and the window was open.  Beyond blue and white checkered curtains I could see a blue sky, freckled with white puffy clouds.  The sound of the trees blowing in the wind was so soothing that I struggled to keep my eyes open, and an extremely euphoric feeling washed over me.  The naps and sleep issues I had as a child must have been maddening to my mother.  I remember sleeping in the hallway outside the bathroom, even up to the age where I should have had things figured out for myself. I'd sleep there when I was supposed to be napping, and later on when I was supposed to be in my bed at night.  I liked the way the moonlight spilled through that bathroom window and fell in that hallway.  It was the epicenter of the house, where all smells and sounds converged.  It made me feel less alone and less scared.  These memories are real memories from my childhood, but I see them with so much more clarity in meditation. In that space I can question myself as to what was happening because my adult mind has so much more clarity and experience to draw from than the child who lived it.  Where my memory becomes vague, I can fill it in.  Tonight my memory became vague at a point where upon waking in the night, my mother stumbled into me lying on the floor outside the bathroom and became very mad that I wasn't in my bed.  She started to degrade me, telling me I was too old to be "pulling this shit".  And I know, in reality it made me cry and cower from the expected slap to the back of the head.  But my adult self had the balls to scream, "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!!"  And her answer is, for you to be good, to act normal, do what I tell you, stop pissing me off.  The child me, the meek one who always feels in the way and not good enough, would cry and assume that I ruined her life because I am a bad child.  But tonight, for the first time ever, through meditation I was able to clarify by saying to her I don't ruin your life, your parents did, and your drunk husband whose never around did, and YOU did, by having sex out of wedlock, getting pregnant at 16 and feeling like you had to marry someone that you may or may not have ever loved.  This was huge for me, I did not ruin my mom's life; I WILL NOT accept responsibility for someone else's trip anymore. My mother has her sweet, generous, regretful moments, but her childhood messed her up, and while I sympathize for her, I can't shoulder any of that blame anymore.  I never knew I was so confined by these thoughts until tonight, and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of me!  This is the real kind of progress that being aware brings.  I allowed that feeling I accepted for truth about my mom (that I am to blame for her unhappiness and problems) to carry over into every other aspect of my life; my marriage, my kids, and especially my work.  I try to accommodate everyone because I feel somehow responsible for others' issues or problems.  
I have to end this, it's becoming a book!  Just needed to vent that stuff while its fresh.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In a Groove

Today was the second day in a row that I walked to work due to my car being in the shop.  It is 2.9 miles and there is a huge hill to climb up.  When I made the decision to walk it Monday, it was based on the fact that I didn't start until noon and could leave the house as early as I wanted in order to get there on time. Mapquest estimated it to take about 65 minutes.  It was a beautiful day yesterday (for autumn at least) and I felt really great to know I was healthy enough to make that walk with no issues.  It took me 55 minutes.  The car shop told me they wouldn't have it done yet until today sometime, and I was debating whether to walk or take a cab, but the weather was nice so I went for it.  My son's bus came at 7:18 and I am supposed to punch in by 8:10, so I knew I'd have to make better time than yesterday.  I made it in 50 minutes!! I am a little stiff and sore, but I TOTALLY OWNED THAT!!  It feels good to be so awake at work!  And because once I made the decision to walk, it turned into something that I couldn't back out of, the goal was to get to work on time, the bonus was that I was also getting a major workout in!  As fun as it was to prove to myself I could rise to the challenge, I won't do it tomorrow no matter what my car situation is.  I think I'll be too sore!  I can't believe I used to run that far!  
Another thing that drove me to walk is my new Pebble.  It is still a novelty to me.  Last night when I got home from work it showed I had taken more than 26,000 steps since activatingv it Saturday morning.  That equates to 13 miles logged, plus today will be another 3 miles +.  If we log 100,00 steps in a month, we $20 refund from our company.  I think I'll have no problem getting there, but I may have to implement a little treadmill action.  I like a challenge, and I'm so happy my iron issue is resolved so I can challenge myself again.  
I learned over the weekend that my dad recently had a stent put in his heart for several blocked arteries.  I knew he had high cholesterol, but he was a pretty healthy guy, only 60 and still very active.  It is scary to think what could have happened had he not had warning signs.  One of his arteries was 90% blocked.  I'm really grateful he's ok.  I knew cancer runs in his side of the family and my mom confirmed that heart disease does too.  That means it is prevelant on both sides of my family.  It is not something I want to mess around with.  It has been a bit of a wake up call, and has made staying on track easier for me.  I look better, I feel better and my mood is better than when I was just eating whatever my heart desired.  I need to pay more attention to that next time I want to binge on junk.  
I am open to hearing the lessons my body has been trying to tell me but were ignored because my mind was screaming overtop of the message.  Time to fix what's broken.  Time to heal and rock on!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Little Pebble

I certainly don't want to jinx anything, but I think my son is finally getting better.  Aside from some stuffy noses, my family is snapping back.  
It was an interesting weekend.  Friday night, when I was done with work, I headed out to my mother-in-law's house to meet up with my husband and sons.  There was an entire kitchen full of food, and miscellaneous piles of candy all over.  Step-nieces and nephews all happily playing and shouting happily, all sugared up!  I ate some macaroni and cheese, a few chips and some fresh veggies.  It happened to also be my step-sister-in-law's birthday so there was a DQ ice cream cake, and I had a slice.  I told myself it was a special treat for the occasion.  It was OK, nothing to write home about.  But letting myself have freedoms like that usually ends up being a slippery slope, and knowing that, I opted to have a salad when I got home.  It has been a while since I've had one , and it tasted good.  And I felt good knowing I was making a positive, proactive choice.  
Saturday I woke up with vertigo again ( stuffy ears mess me up) and had to get my car to the shop for an estimate.  It was a challenge, at least the repair shop is ot a couple blocks away.  I walked back home and rested.  I ate pretty normal, on track except for 2 rollo candies and a Starburst.  When evening hit and I still didn't have my car, we made the impromptu decision to order pizza.  I ate a little past satisfied, because ther was one piece of feta spinach bread left and I just knew it wasn't going to taste good reheated.  I knew I was justifying and that it is like treating my body like a trash bin, but it tasted good.  
All on track eating today, and the medicine I took to help clear my ears gave me Wonder Woman energy so I got the garage cleaned out.  It was a ton of lifting, bending and walking, but it was so gratifying to have it done.  We got rid of 4 bikes, a scooter, and a heap of seldom-used toys.  I almost ended up going out to dinner tonight, but one of my sons didn't feel like going out, so I stayed home and ate my normal meals and snacks, and it didn't bother me at all.  I'm happy to be feeling well enough to eat my normal foods again.
I got a Pebble on Friday, sponsored through my work.  It is basically a fancy pedometer that talks to my computer in order to track my steps.  I can set goals and something called adventures. I have to explore the capabilities and settings better, but it seems pretty cool.  And because I am goal-oriented I think it will help keep me more active.  I'll see how long the novelty lasts.  If the weather is nice, I may walk to work tomorrow because my car is still in the shop.  It is a 2.9 mile walk according to Mapquest.  I used to run more than that so I am not stressed out about it unless the weather stinks, then I'll catch a cab.  
So this is where I am right now, coming out of the darkness of stomach-hell-week and starting to feel good.  I'm thinking ahead to cold winter nights with nothing going on and imagining myself working up a sweat at the treadmill.  And may I'll get around to checking out that new gym I joined.  All in due time.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Used to be my Favorite Month

This week has marked the third round of stomach flu through our house in the month of October.  I am really tired of dealing with other people's bodily fluids and I feel like I want scream at the bleachy smell in my house and the cracked hands from scrubbing my hands like a surgeon and the non-stop hand sanitizer dousing.  I'm sick of worrying and not sleeping well and trying to figure out how to swing things so I can be home and still help at work.  I'm sick of begging favors and sick of feeling slightly sick.  To be fair, I have not caught the stomach stuff yet, knock on wood, but there have been plenty of days when I can only eat a few crackers or peanuts or yogurt, just enough to see if the feeling in my gut is hunger or sickness.  It feels strange to eat carbs, but right now I just need to get my family back on track.  I am coming down with a head cold and I hope it goes quickly.  I'd rather have a cold than stomach stuff any day.  My poor kids have been through their paces this month, I really hope it ends soon.  To put a cherry on top of it all, my car started running bad this week and the engine light is on, so I have to bring it to the shop this weekend.  
That is my sob story.  I just want a span of "normal" days.  I can't focus on a diet when I don't feel good.  
That being said, I haven't gone off the rails, and I could have.  The extra carbs came in the form of candied ginger for my upset stomach and cough drops because I was desperate for relief and couldn't get to the store because my son had to be dropped off at his grandma's house at the last minute, when I was preparing him for school.  There has been candy and cake all around and it doesn't phase me.  So I'm hoping that I can get right back on track once everyone's stomachs settle down.  My own stomach is very sympathetic, if someone around me has an upset stomach, mine feels bad too.  
Anyway, that's why I haven't been blogging.  I have noticed that crossing my legs is getting easier, I can do it with no hands now, something I missed when I gained the weight back.  That's my positive in the midst of a crazy month.   I have to find the silver lining in times like these or I'll go bOnKeRs!  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Smooth Sailing

I feel really good.  And that feels really good to say!  My sons are finally getting over their viruses, work has been a much more manageable pace, and I am not tortured over this diet.  In fact, with all the veggies I've been eating, my skin looks more radiant and I feel...healthier.  My joints hurt less too, I'm not sure if that is from losing weight or nixing the sugars, but I am moving like a normal 40-something instead of looking like I'm a step away from needing a walker.  I can feel the slack in some of my clothes, and my mood is still much better than it was a couple weeks ago.  
Last night my husband was eating mac and cheese right next to me and my typical reaction would have been wishing I could eat it too, but I'd just eaten a taco salad I made myself, and his carbfest didn't even appeal to me.  Win for me!  This is getting easier, slowly.  I am starting to reap the rewards of not caving.  I think what will be my tricky part is keeping things sane on the weekends when my family tends to eat out a lot.  Last weekend we ended up at Chipotle and I ate a bowl of beans, veggies, greens and guacamole with their softritas, which is seasoned tofu.  It was OK, not the biggest fan of how al-dente they cook their beans and the softritas mix is not something I love, but my family likes it there and I was happy I could eat something at a restaurant.  
It has been more than a year since I've been in South Beach Diet, but every time I do, I am painfully reminded of how much I dislike protein!  Meat or meat substitutes, tofu (unless it's deep fried like the Chinese restaurants do), textured vegetable protein (that even sounds disgusting right?), I just don't like it!  I just ate a taco salad (using soy crumbles) and I almost couldn't even eat it I was so not enjoying the crumbles.  I'm going to switch to seitan (wheat protein) for a few meals and see how that goes, if not, I'm giving up and relying on dairy, nuts and protein shakes (beans on occasion).  One of the reasons I continue to fail on SBD is because of this whole protein issue.  This is my first time trying it vegetarian and egg-free.  I am weird about food, especially textures. I can't force my way through something I don't like (my husband can do that and it amazes me), so at least I'm learning even after starting and restarting this diet so many times.  I feel positive that if I can keep learning what doesn't work, eventually I'll figure out what does, and then I'll run with it long-term.  I feel like I am closer than ever to solving this food and emotions thing.  That will be a lifesaver for sure.  Literally.  It's true what they say, the first steps are the hardest.  Now that I'm past those first steps, I see smooth sailing ahead!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cracks in the Foundation

I can see how easily a tiny crack can compromise a strong foundation, and how several repeated blasts can make that foundation quiver.  
The weekend was where I started to see some cracks in my own "diet" mentality, and the reason behind my subjecting myself to yet another diet.  The ridiculous way my mind works sometimes, makes me feel like I am simultaneously a child and my own mother.  When I'm not dieting, going grocery shopping is a refreshing adventure, and it usually inspires me to choose healthy foods to eat for the week.  It's a little strange that my positive mindset about food begins in a place where there are far more foods that take me from good health than toward it.  But the psychology behind that is, when I know I can eat whatever I want, I am inspired to choose healthy food.  Grocery shopping on a diet, especially such a restrictive diet as the ketogenic phase of South Beach, especially doing it vegetarian, is...well, it is a head trip.  While I was shopping over the weekend I was hyper-focused on all the things I couldn't have.  And I kept looking for vegetarian proteins that I can tolerate and the smell of the pizza being baked for samples and the rice and bread all swirled around me and I got so irritable that all I wanted to do was get out of there and go end my diet with a binge.  But I didn't.  I did question why I am doing this (like, a million times I asked myself that question over the weekend) but I just stayed on track.  I am doing this to heal my gut and my mind, and jumping right back into mindless eating would be throwing myself back into the fire of mental agony and physical hell.  I thought about the bloated feeling that was normal to me, but not comfortable.  I thought about where going back on the other road would play out, and I knew it would lead to an out-of-control place, which means I am not ready to add that kind of freedom back into my diet.  But I questioned and requestioned myself on the whole deprivation facet of dieting., which goes against the philosophy of freeing myself from emotional eating, as Geneen Roth teaches.  The reason her work resonates with me is because she explains how to explore those deep places where I am broken, so I can get over the habits of using food inappropriately.  It makes me think of my mind-food connection and promotes awareness as the key to overcoming my obstacles with food.  But when I began this, a little more than a week ago, I realized that both the South Beach Diet and the internal work and awareness are tools I can use to further myself toward normalcy.  I know that weighing less won't make my other problems away.  I also know that my weight is not the important part of my reconnecting with myself.  
So I have stayed on track, even though part of me has been pouting and wants to rebel.  My son has been sick with stomach flu the past two days, and my sympathetic stomach was feeling so off yesterday that I was fighting with myself over having some candied ginger that I have in the house, or taking some Tums. Both are loaded with sugar, so I told myself if I truly felt aweful I could have some, and instead are very light yesterday.  For the entire day I only ate dry-roasted peanuts and Greek yogurt.  Thankfully I woke up hungry and got some better nutrition this morning, I was actually craving steamed broccoli and asparagus, that's a change from this weekend when I would've about chopped a toe off for a slice of pizza.  
I hopped on the scale this morning, and it showed a 7 pound loss, which I will admit, felt good, but I was already quite aware of how much better I was feeling and how much a difference there is in the way my clothes fit.  Next Monday I will begin phase 2, adding in some carbs with one grain and one fruit each day, then the next two weeks I can increase it by one grain and one fruit. So in the third week, and pretty much from there on, I can eat three grains and 3 fruits per day.  My challenge has always been protein.  I may have to implement protein shakes at some point.  
I feel better. That was the point of this, and it is working.  I don't know what else will come.  I do know that I can face stress and feelings of deprivation with logic and I can live through it without  trying to numb myself with food.  I hope I can continue to fight for my own health using my mind instead of mindless eating.  I know I'm human and don't expect perfection of myself but at least I'm more aware.  No one ever said this journey is easy, but the lessons learned are priceless.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Handling it

 Usually when I don't blog for a bit, there's a pretty good chance it means I've gone off the rails, but I'm happy to say that is not the case this time.  I have been dealing with normal life-stuff, kids not doing well in school, changes in schedules, homework etc. 
 So as far as South Beach goes, I am doing great.  I feel better, physically, than I have in a long time.  I weighed in the first couple days and lost some weight, water weight, as I was so thirsty and flushed a lot of stuff out.  One of the main reasons I started this diet again is because I was feeling so miserable, bloated, constant heartburn, achy, no energy, sucking wind after climbing a flight of stairs.,, those things are getting much better.  So when I think longingly about the times when I ate whatever I wanted, I remind myself of how uncomfortable my stomach feels when I eat all those carbs all day.  Being vegetarian makes food tougher, I am not a huge fan of most vegetarian forms of protein like tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers etc.  and I am not an egg eater.  So I'm 
going to have to be a lot more creative in my food choices.  It didn't help that I started this diet so abruptly that I didn't plan well enough at the grocery store.  I'm making progress though.  
The best side effect of this for me, right now?  My mood is so improved!  I don't remember that from the last time.  Or, maybe I attributed it to the weight loss instead of the nutritional aspect.  It's interesting, I have been prone to scoffing at all the fad diets like Paleo, Caveman/Primal because I could eat sugars and gluten and not notice any changes in how I felt.  Now I know why, because that is how I have been used to feeling, that was my normal.  It feels better to feel lighter on my feet, less stuffed and stuffed-in.  So I am hoping that realizing this will help me stay in control.  My ideal is to be able to eat whatever I want, but to choose this healthier food most of the time, and the times I do have something less healthy I can try savor a little bit of it as a treat, not try to use food as a way to avoid certain emotions or feelings.  That's the goal.  And I think that is kinda what Geneen Roth is talking about.  I have been able to talk myself out of eating when I'm not hungry on a few occasions this week, by asking myself if I was truly hungry or if something else was going on.  Honesty, due to my "monthly disaster" about to begin, there were times that I honestly wasn't certain, then I followed the 'when in doubt, don't' rule, and ate again when I was sure it was hunger.  It holds me accountable and makes me live in the moment, aware of what is driving me to eat.  That's where reading Geneen Roth and meditating have helped me tremendously, even though dieting goes against Geneen's philosophy.  In combination, I think these techniques all compliment each other really well.  
Another thing I like about this phase of the diet is that, because I'm truly hungry when I eat, and because I am so restricted, everything feels like a treat.  One night I had a ginger rootbeer Zevia soda (stevia sweetened) and usually I don't like that flavor, but because the rest of my food for the day was veggies or soy protein or low fat dairy, that soda felt like a dessert!  
That isn't to say that I'm not looking forward to adding carbs back in, especially rice and apples, but I know I'm in control, and I know that keeping this balance will help to keep me feeling better, especially my gut and my mood.  I'm not as easily overwhelmed and stressed out as I was on autopilot.  
It is interesting that this whole thing began as a meditation experiment for school, and is blossoming into a whole different journey.  Sometimes the universe speaks in whispers, we just have to turn into the wind in order to hear it.  
Happy Friday friends!  Hope you have an amazing weekend!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Meditation and Day 2

 I have been pretty consistent with meditating and like everything in life, some days are easier to settle my mind and get inside than others.  I don't pretend to spend long periods of time doing it, usually 10 minutes or less, then my mind starts wandering.
My husband is a huge fan of chanting or resonating (Om), but I've always felt like it distracts me from getting past my external universe and going inside.  
Tonight was a rare night when there were a few quiet moments in my house, so I jumped on the opportunity.  Usually when I begin meditating, I focus on a subject I want to get inside of to solve.  Usually that is a question that pertains to my weight, and usually my question I am asking leads me to some dark places.  I am a very visual thinker, so I find that I can rarely get anywhere with meditation if an image doesn't come to mind fairly quickly in the process.  In a way, it is like the feeling of being in a dream, but knowing you are dreaming.  Most of the images I see are like dreams too, or maybe déjà vu where I feel like the images are real memories from my past, but I'm not sure.  They could just be a visual reputation of my emotions.  In most of the food/"Mommy" ones, I see the same image many times I blog, myself as a little girl about 5 years old.  I am sitting on the stairs in the house where I grew up, sad.  It is in that imagined state that I can easily ask questions and usually get answers.  
The last two days, when I've been on South Beach Diet, I don't feel bad or sad or hopeless about my weight, so my mind was blank when I tried to imagine that little girl.  Last night I actually had some happy images about my dad.  I used to think it was his alcoholism that made me feel so distant from him, but seeing those happy images of time he spent with me made me realize, my dad made me feel special.  The sad part for me was that I felt like it didn't happen often enough for me, and here again I attributed his lack of attention to his alcoholism (which I am not dismissing) but the meditation helped me see through that belief.  My dad was gone so much because he worked two jobs.  He worked two jobs so my mom could be home with us.  As a parent, I wish that was a possibility for me to be home with my kids.  What a sacrifice he made for us.
Tonight my session started with an image of me being trapped in a sewer, lake water all around me, and a homeless person looked down on me, stuck in this place, and asked for food.  In the smallest, saddest meek voice I said, "I don't have enough."  This is a theme that keeps repeating since I've learned that the feeling of 'not enough' is hugely tied to my food issues.  I grew up in a financially-struggling household and the concept of not enough was something that made me feel shame so many times.  I'd be eating dinner and while heading to the kitchen I'd announce cheerfully how good it was and that I was going to have more.  Many times there wasn't any left, and I felt ashamed that I'd wanted too much.  I am not a very generous person today because of it.  Especially not with food.  Some of my coworkers bring a snack in and every time they will offer some to the whole office.  Not me, my snack is my snack.  Even if it is family sized.  
I digress.  So as I was stuck in my watery trap, someone came from a different place and found a way out (like coming out of a cave).  (It was about this time that I decided to try Om).  When I came out of the cave the most amazing thing happened.  The sun was so bright it was blinding, but it had this strange connection to me through the resonance my voice was making.  (Did you know that when we repeat the Om sound with resonance, we are actually copying the sound the energy from the sun makes?). In that moment, I felt like I was a part of the divine wholeness of the earth. That I am powerful, and am as much a part of the universe as it is a part of me.  It was so much bigger than dealing with questions about why I eat when I'm not hungry.  Not that that's not important, but in the scope of the universe, it's a little less sinificant.  
On the diet front, things went pretty smooth today.  I am finding that I didn't plan my groceries too well, and that left me eating some lentils that I burnt/underwatered but I was too hungry not to eat them.  Ick!  But I gave it a try.  My customer flow at work uncomfortably delayed some of my snacks today, and my stomach let me know!  I did have a craving today, for dry roasted peanuts and I had a couple servings throughout the day, but they have a little sugar so I am not going to make them an everyday treat.  They are too hard to stop eating once I start.  But they helped keep me fuller than I was yesterday.  
Tonight as I walked up the 26 stairs to leave work, it felt less cumbersome.  It may be mental tricks or loss of some water weight, but I noticed it and it made me happy.  I also felt like I could think more clearly.  It will be interesting to see if the clarity continues.
Whew!  Another long post!  It's a lot of day to get down in words, and I've never been good at word economy.  
Day two was pretty good!  I'll stop typing now. ;)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day One (yet again)

I made it through my first day back on South Beach Diet without much trouble.  I did end up feeling (hungry) all day.  Hungry is in parentheses because I am not truly sure if that's what it was all day.  My son had the stomach flu this weekend and was still sick last night, and I have a sympathetic stomach, whenever someone around me is sick I start feeling sick too.  I have been super gassy too, sorry for the TMI moment, but I am not sure if it's from eating all the veg or something else.  
What I did notice is that my stomach felt so much more comfortable not being stuffed full of unnecessary junk.  I could go about 2 1/2 hours between meals and them my stomach was growling.  It is strange to admit how strange it feels to be hungry.  I haven't given my stomach a chance to be this way in so long, is nearly forgotten what it felt like.  I must have been massively bloated- I know I was- because it feels like my stomach deflated.  I am amazed at how much of a difference one day can make!
I will say, this is way harder to do as a vegetarian as it was when I would eat Eggland's Best eggs and turkey bacon for breakfast everyday.  But I'm making things work, I'll just have to get a little more creative.  
I didn't really crave anything in particular today, which isn't typically how my first day of ketogenic diet goes.  Usually the first 2-3 days are torturous until my body detoxes from the sugar, but I think this time my body is just so tired of the abuse that it is going along for the ride without argument.  
I also noticed that, by the time 4PM rolled around, I'd only had 2 caffeinated drinks all day, which is about half what I normally have, and I didn't feel sluggish at all.  And I drank a ton of water, which I've been slacking on over the past year.  
The day was a huge success in that the only time I really craved anything is when a coworker said she was having taco soup for dinner.  I've never heard of it, but I was already so hungry when she said it, that it took a while for me to let it go.  I had a spicy black bean buger over fresh veggies with a dab of vegan flax mayo.  It was way better than I would have thought it was a week ago!  
I think I can make this work.  I need to ditch all the sugar.  A girl I graduated high school with was just talking about her symptoms of what sounds like (to my untrained eye) heart attack warning signs.  It made me worried for her, but it made me realize that some people only get the one chance, not everyone survives a heart attack.  
This blog is not the most exciting thing I've ever written but I just wanted to say, day one went well.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I'm Guess I'm Doing this

In my last post I mentioned that I have been thinking of going back to my roots and trying the South Beach Diet again.  I have been on an emotional roller coaster since considering it.  I am at polar opposite ends of the spectrum, on one end is the fear of failure in the face of removing my favorite comfort foods, especially when I am still really sucky at controlling my stress.  On the other end, I am ready to not feel this way.  
I had to decide before grocery shopping this morning.  And I finally decided that the desire to not feel this way is stronger than my fear.  I fought myself over it for so many reasons, not feeling strong/ready enough, Halloween with all its temptations is just around the corner, I even chewed over the fact that it is against the method Geneen Roth teaches, a method I didn't really give a fair shot, but one that I think could help me.  I think it comes down to the quote that says something about whether you are looking for a way to make it work or an excuse for it not to work, you will find what you are looking for.  
There have been a million reasons why I need to take another shot at this.  Every time I take a bath, I am disturbed by how much of my stomach sticks out of the water, even when it's filled to the fill line.  My knees and hips are screaming for me to show them some mercy.  I can't find anything that remotely resembles "flattering" clothes.  My brain is fogged and reeling.  I breathe heavy going up stairs or even talking.  I have a near-constant feeling of bloat in my gut.  My skin is dry and dull.  I'm exhausted all the time.  I feel really un-feminin, unattractive in general and it makes me feel like hiding more and more.  
I could go on.  Anyone who's been overweight knows these and millions more.  
So I am going to detox from the garbage carbs and see where it leads.  I usually do well on the ketogenic phase after the first two days.  I didn't give myself a very long time to prepare for this mentally, but at least I had more time for this than the unexpected gym membership I signed today.  My husband wanted to join a gym that has an affiliation with the health clinic I work for and they told him he would get about half price membership of I came along when he signed up.  When we got there today they told us we can only use the discount if I joined too.  My husband would have paid more for himself without the discount than we are paying for both of us to join with my discount.  Now that my kids are old enough to stay home alone for a few hours, we can work out together in the evenings, once their homework is done.  So that was a surprise that might work out nicely with my other impromptu decision to give South Beach another try.  
So I'm hopeful that the next few weeks will be a turn around that I've been needing for so long.  What's different this time is that I'm not focusing on the idea that I can look like a fitness model if really push myself.  This time, I am feeling the urgency of fixing my health, my heart, my joints, muscles, my gut and my mind.  I hate feeling this old and broken.  
So this weekend I am eating some last treats, pumpkin pie, pizza, Starbucks Frappiccinos, to reward myself ahead of time for the hard work I am about to put in.  And to comfort me from negative thoughts about how tough it's going to be.  But in the end I know the truly tough part is the first couple days.  It will be nice to free myself from the ball-and-chain addiction to sugar.  That I don't already have diabetes is a miracle, but I know I won't always be so lucky.  I have to do this.  And there's no better time.  I've got more knowledge and experience than the last time I tried this, I have meditation and deep focus in my toolbox, and I have lots of people that believe in me.  I want my next blood panel to come back sparkling.  
So Monday I will step out of my comfort zone and give this thing a go.  I can't succeed if I never try.