Monday, June 30, 2014

Going Back

Last night I gave meditation a fair shot.  I am not expecting to have some transcendental or cosmic experience, but I feel like the more I go deeper within, the more answers I'll get.  I did some breathing exercise and closed my eyes and tried to tune out the sounds around me.  In the type of exercise I was doing, you are to chose a focus, something you want to change about yourself that, in doing so, would be beneficial to others.  I suppose my weight/food issues would be an easy, general target.  But I wanted to go deeper than that.  I want to find my scars.  I want to heal from within, but I feel like it is going to take meditation to come up with what is really eating me, the ugly truth that hides beneath the surface, and I try to keep it hidden under layers of fat.  So for my first session, which was only about 5 minutes after the breathing, I tried to bring myself to the general focus of being hurt.  Since I began reading Geneen Roth's books and trying to find the hurtful moments that made me feel like food was all I had or all I was good enough for, I keep coming back to the same image.  It is of me, around the age of six, I'd wanted my mother's attention and she was irritated by my interruption of what she was doing.  She snapped at me and I apologized and backed away with tears in my eyes, and went to sit on the steps by myself.  In this image of myself, I want to cry but I know it will only irritate her more, so I pretend that I'm OK, and hum a little song to myself, thinking that maybe if I pretend I am happy, maybe she will be too.  I feel rejected and lonley, but most of all, I feel like I don't matter; I'm too much, too naughty, too loud, too energetic, too demanding, too in-the-way.  I feel abandoned and wrong in every way.  
I don't remember when I started comfort-eating, but I do remember comments, meant to help or control, my mother questioning how I could eat as much as I did, sometimes comparing my plate to my dad's, always making me feel guilty and greedy and insatiable.  On a surface level, I understand why she did it.  Her own family had been very poor, and we were not well off either.  She was probably thinking then, what I wonder about my two sons now, how are we going to afford to feed this family if these kids don't let up on the volume?!  Sometimes my 9 year old eats and eats until his stomach looks disdended and horifically uncomfortable, but he goes back to the fridge in search for more.  I worry about what that means because he is like me in so many ways.  I am keeping my eye on this, but I'm also sharing some of the things I'm learning, and I think he will benefit from it.  
Tonight's attempt at meditation was short-lived due to complete lack of focus.  My boys were being noisy on the other side of our shared wall, and people outsides were laughing and yelling at dogs and lighting off firecrackers.  All that came to me was that image of my sad, 6 year old self, sitting on the steps, covering up my hurt with a little song. 
I'm still learning what this all means, I know that hurt little girl has some answers for me and a few other images.  I may try to meditate again now that it's quieter.  I'm focusing on fixing the hurt, showing that little girl that sometimes being alone is uplifting.  Sometimes moms push us away without meaning it because they are dealing with something bigger than we can understand.  Sometimes moms don't have all the answers and sometimes we react emotionally when we wish we wouldn't.  
Sometimes we have to go back in time and be our own mom, reaching out to our hurt memories to show them that it doesn't mean what we think it means; that we are being loved in so many ways we don't recognize at that moment, that we are going to be OK despite that little incident.  That life will rush into us one day and when the time is right, and we are open to it, we will receive it with our entirety. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Figuring it Out

Yesterday was one of those remarkable days where I felt so awake and aware; felt like the universe was rushing into me. 
As luck would have it, there was a window of time where no one else in the house was using the TV (this is truly a rare situation) so I watched a documentary about The Dalai Lama.  I was thinking that, since I was already in such a good place, it might open me up even more.  I am puzzled at how The Dalai Lama can be simultaneously so enlightened and yet so earthly and humble.  Every time I see a photo of him or a video, he is SMILING or even laughing.  His mannerisms and expressions translate into grace, joy and inner peace.  Couldn't we all use a little of those in our lives?  I don't claim to be Buddhist, but I agree with the majority of the philosophy, and just thinking of higher things calms me.  
The documentary showed what a typical day is like for him, from his early morning run on the treadmill to a full day of meetings with dignitaries from across the globe and to evening tea, which helps him get through the second half of his day.  At tea, he turns on the TV, which I was surprised to see he even had/watched since there is such trash on there.  But it showed a very human side of him.  He is in touch with the world, that's why people come from all over the world to have a meeting with him, despite having no political power.  
I think I know why.  Everyone wants to discover the keys to inner peace.  Everyone wants to know how to fix what is broken.  We are drawn to success because we want it for ourselves.  It's why we FOLLOW.  We follow diets, we follow rich people ( celebrities especially), we follow enlightened people or churches or religions, we follow doctor's advice, we follow teachers' advice, we follow our bosses and managers where they lead, we follow our parents and friends and spouses.  We are complex and multi-layered and all of these things and more make up who we are and what we strive for, but ultimately, in our quest for inner peace, we need to find the way on our own, because you are the only one who knows what your experiences and exposures feel like or being into your life.  
I finished reading another Geneen Roth book yesterday "When you Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull up a Chair", and it said some of the same things, but as usual, I learned a few more things.  What I am finding frustrating about her books is that I never quite feel like she's giving me the "how".  For instance, when you want to eat something but you aren't hungry, she says to figure out what you are really wanting (attention, rest, stimulation etc). And I find myself feeling suspicious, assumimg she leaves just enough unanswered so people spend thousands of dollars on her programs and seminars.  It leaves me screaming in my head, "HOW?!"  How do I figure out what I'm really wanting??!  Why aren't you telling me the questions to ask myself in order to figure out what I really want?!  
I mentioned I bought groceries yesterday, I always buy a heap of chips because as a family, we usually like to eat a snack together instead of going to restaurants, and our snack usually revolve around chips.  Guacamole, salsa or hummus is usually involved.  And we always have chips left over.  Organic, non-GMO tortilla chips.  I usually munch on them mindlessly, and they have taken place of my sugar craving (not saying I don't still eat my fair share of sugars). So having chips around is hard for me, but rather than follow the laws of the diet universe, it won't help me to not have them around, because then when I do get my hands on some I will binge.  It is a form of deprivation that has a negative effect.  And moreover, it wouldn't give me the chance to learn anything or stop the cycle.  
So this morning I ate breakfast, and my stomach was as full as I wanted it to be, I was not hungry in the least and would have not liked how my stomach felt if I'd eaten something more, but the chia and quinoa tortilla chips were right next to where I was cleaning, and I was considering eating a few.  I fought with myself about it in my head.  It went a little like this:
What's a few chips? 
I am not hungry, why do I want them?
They will satisfy your taste buds
They will make me too full and uncomfortable.
You can eat anything
I can eat anything when I am hungry
You could grab a few while no one is looking 
My eating isn't about them
Well, if you don't have the chips, then have some cheese.
My mouth watered at the thought of cheese, but I knew I wasn't hungry, so I made myself a cup of tea instead, and decided to blog to see if it would help me figure out what was going on.  
And in a roundabout way, I do have a start.  I know now that Geneen Roth,or anyone else for that matter, can't tell me why I overeat, or why I want to eat chips when I'm not hungry any more than the Dalai Lama can tell me how to personify grace and peace when I'm dealing with a difficult customer at work. One reason I am drawn to Buddhism philosophy is that it is about looking within.  Our broken selves are crying out for it. My questions for myself may begin with eating but the answers will lead me much deeper.  And I trust that it's where I need to go in order to fix the things that are craving the sense-experiences of eating and emotional soothing that comes along with it.  
Still pensive, going deeper, digging in the dirt, to find the places we got hurt.  
It has been said much in the diet world: the only way out is through.  So here I go!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Turning Point

When I was in my early twenties, I used to LOVE going for drives in the country.  It was my time to cruise the hills, take in the green countryside, listen to music as loud as I wanted, and let my hand feel the rush of wind passing by as though it were a sail guiding me through the winding roads.  Going for a drive was a way to have some time just for me and think.  It was cleansing and in some ways, fulfilling.
Somewhere, sometime thereafter, I lost that thrill of driving.  I had too many responsibilities or too much to navigate inside my life to step outside it and connect with something bigger than me.  That's how life goes.  We get caught up in finding the perfect person to spend time with, then in finding careers and jobs and having kids and trying to be the best parent, employee, spouse, woman (or man).  It's what we know; how we do.  Nearly everyone I have met is this way, tangled in the 'have-to's' and torturing themselves over the 'can'ts' or 'should-have's'.  We purposely allow the struggle into our life because we know nothing else.
I have spent so much time dreaming of being a certain weight or looking a certain way because I was certain that if I could reach that goal, that everything in my life would be easier.  But even when I was thinner, able to shop in the "normal" clothing section (vs the big lady's section), moving easier and looking better, it didn't fulfill me.  I was still always wanting MORE; to lose more fat, put on  more muscle, buy more clothes, more attention from others...it was relentless.  Being thinner didn't bring me any closer to happiness, I have to admit it.  I was proud of myself for accomplishing a goal, but to be honest, a lot of times I didn't really even know what was driving me, so it didn't feel real.  And when things fell apart, they fell apart hard.  And I was a mess, mentally.  Each time I didn't do what I did when I was in the trance and losing weight, I beat myself up over it, telling myself it was wrong to derive pleasure from food, and it is 'wrong' to be overweight.  I will be a burden to others; I will get so fat and unhealthy that others will have to care for me.  When I am in that mode, of struggling to FORCE myself to do, or not do, specific things, I know it will only be temporary.  We are not wired to be able to be continually deprived of things we enjoy.  Pleasure should be a part of living.  It is part of our make up to seek it out, it is our innate right to have it.
But for so long I was caught up in the idea that everything that makes me fat is evil, and everything that helps me lose weight is all that matters.  Once things and ideas and acts were categorized as "good" or "bad" depending on what effect they would have on my physique, it made it really easy to associate "good" or "bad" to my own self, based on which things I ate, did, or thought.  What a circus we willingly participate in!
In Buddhism, one of the main teachings is that when we attach emotion to something that is ever-changing, we struggle and suffer.  When we let go of our emotional attachments to these things, we are freed.  I have been revisiting these things, and having heavy conversations with my husband about these concepts and how pleasure is allowed and it is freeing, and it is a way to acknowledge that you are, in yourself, divine and worthy of its presence in your life.  I deserve a piece of chocolate if it will bring me pleasure.  It is it's own end, not evil or good, but chocolate, and eating it doesn't make me evil or good or weak.
For a few weeks after reading some of Geneen Roth's work, I was feeling like I wasn't really getting the eating-exactly-what-you-want concept.  I was eating all kinds of stuff, and still feeling too ashamed to eat it in front of my husband.  I felt like he would lose respect and withdraw from me if I ate that way in front of him.  But he's actually going through a very spiritual journey of deep acceptance of others and we are agreeing on so much about the way life should be.  I feel like I am blossoming into a new chapter of my life.  And I am as heavy as when I began trying to lose weight 3 years ago.  And I am much happier; even than when I lost the weight.  I am realizing that my joy, my contentment has so little to do with the weight, and so much to do with self-nurturing and freeing myself from the constraints of my own self judgments.
Today I ate a cream-filled doughnut with thick chocolate frosting on my way to the grocery store, and I drove with my windows open, blasting music and letting my hand feel like my guiding sail through the warm wind on the highway.  I felt the wonder of summer, complete in it simplicity, and somehow every little thing inside me connected with the outside and I felt a contentment unmatched.
In that moment, I really didn't care what the scale said or what size shirt I am wearing.  I was free from the shackles of obsessing over the fact that I just ate a doughnut and now I won't be able to fit into my size 14 jeans for a long time.  The stuff that truly makes us content, deep down where no one can touch it, is the things that bring you joy, and allowing yourself to have that.  The doughnut didn't bring me joy, it filled me and was sweet, but it was the wind and the sun and the fact that I'm not surrounded by snow, and listening to a song that I love, and not having pain or struggle as I walked through the grocery store, and coming home to a house full of love and acceptance.  And mostly, knowing that I deserve every morsel of it.
I'm not saying I have this all figured out yet, but things are coming together slowly.  The "fix" is internal, not external.  I can't be happy if I listen to all the noise all around me, I have to go internal, find what makes me feel alive, and seek out that frequency externally.  It is happening.  It is going to take some time, but finally at the age of almost-42, I am figuring out that I deserve to be happy, and that blaming all my lack of happiness on my weight is a farce I learned long ago, that has kept me trapped and struggling nearly my entire life.  I am open to exploring a deeper kind of peace, one that has nothing to do with how I look and everything to do with how I feel.  I think this may be my turning point.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Little Lost

I haven't had much quiet time with which to blog lately.  I read another book by Geneen Roth last week, called "Appetites: On the Search for True Nutrition".  I have a bizarre emotional response to this author.  I believe what she says because some of the things she says feel like she was reading my mind.  And then my dieter-for-life mentality thinks, 'what the #*%+???!! One paragraph she's telling me to eat chocolate because it is what I truly want, in another she's telling me that I need to really want to eat healthy because to honestly want the chocolate means I want food instead of health.'  Sounds like a diet to me.  But I really like how she writes; how she describes the tortures we subject ourselves to and in some of her books (Breaking Free from Emotional Eating) she explains ways to work through some of those things.  I am still struggling with eating mindfully.  I do try to figure out exactly what I want; to smell it, feel it's texture in my mouth, really taste it, enjoy it and be satisfied.  And then I dive in and eat it until I can't taste it anymore.  I have discovered that I am particularly vaulnerable to the "not enough" syndrome.  Yesterday is a prime example.  One of the drug company reps catered in a lunch for our office, exotic pastas, salad and a gigantic (and I mean 4 servings per) cookies and rice crispy treats.  I ate some pasta and salad and I was satisfied, but another girl from my office came in and grabbed a rice crispy treat and said something to the effect that they were phenomenal and I needed to try one.  So I did.  And a quarter of the way through it, I had had enough, my jaws were even getting tired, but I kept eating, losing more and more interest all along, but eating until it was gone.  My gut was so full, but still I was plotting to take two of those big cookies ( I was the last one to eat and there was quite a bit of leftovers).  I didn't immediately take them, but as the afternoon went on, I noticed the cookies were starting to disappear.  So I grabbed two, telling myself they were for my kids.  My kids were acting bad last night so I didn't give them the cookies.  I inhaled one last night while my husband was at the gym and my kids were distracted playing games.  I didn't enjoy it, I was too worried about getting caught.  I ended up feeling overfull, sweeted-out and full but still empty.  If there were a bunch of cookies left over, I probably would have just passed them up, but because I saw them starting to dwindle, I had this sense of urgency to act.  Silly little mind games. But, discovering the triggers we are sensitive to is a huge step toward breaking the behaviors.
I will leave with a few excepts from "Appetites" by Geneen Roth.  These were parts that had a lot of meaning and depth for me.  Hope you're finding your way through your own personal jungle, or getting lost in it if that's your journey!


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Gift

*Dramatization alert!*.
I feel like I got a little piece of my life back!  I went for a walk again today, and my knee handled it just fine.  I feel a little uncoordinated yet, there is definitely some muscle imbalance and weakness, but I can walk, which is a huge deal!  This is a basic human function and it was frustrating me that I couldn't do it without pain for about 2 years now.  So now, *sigh* I can get back to moving on.  I'm not stuck anymore!
It gives me new hope and puts me in a better place altogether.  I feel like, for the first time in a more than a year, I can start to plan again.  And more importantly, MOVE again!  It's a gift, and I plan to make the most of it before the cold weather creeps in.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Point Taken!

I had a light bulb go off yesterday, while I was busy complaining to a coworker that I can't lose weight because everything I do hurts my knee.  She is all of about 100 pounds, and she started running when she saw me running my first 5K for a company fun run.  She claims there is no way she can run an entire 5K, but I told her that the only reason I can is because I am actually running at an even slower pace than I walk.  It definitely feels different, walking vs running, and although I still have mental issues to get over about not being ABLE to run without extreme risk of reinjury, I've come to the conclusion that the running isn't worth the extra effort and risk.  I did what I did for me.  Now, I'd be happy just to be able to go for the interval walks I used to love this time of the year.  Then it hit me, once my knee was damaged, I was still walking some mornings, but I always had it protected a bit; either wrapped in an ace bandage or with the "sleeve" I got when they thought it was "just bursitis".  That was when the light bulb went on.  Since I have less pain now than when the cartilage was torn, maybe that old sleeve would give me some relief.  Last night, just hanging out, there was a gigantic snapping/cracking sound in my knee (all I was doing was walking a few steps across the room to get something) and before I straightened up and put my foot back down again, I was dreading what I was about to feel.  I really thought I somehow re-injured my knee and was preparing for pain.  Then, nothing.  I felt nearly nothing when I put my weight on the leg.  No pain, no stress, no pulling or grinding.  Just a normal, pain-free knee.  And this morning, when I routinely compared the size of my two knees, I was delighted to see that, for the first time in about a month, they were the same size, no swelling in the "bad" knee.  I wanted to shout out loud.
After taking a few steps around my room, I was seriously thinking about going for my walk without the sleeve, but I ended up deciding that its best to be safe.  I don't want to aggravate my knee or push it just because it is better for one day.
I walked about 35 minutes, and it felt pretty normal.  I tried to focus on my leg muscles, and switch up my stride every once in a while.  I did feel some strain on the opposite hip, more so in the buttocks area, there is a pulling and tension, the tendon is catching on my sit bone, but once I got it to snap, it was fine.  I even got to a moment when I felt something I haven't felt in so so very long.  It starts as a fleeting fluttering in my gut, that radiates to my chest.  It is hard to describe.  Pride? Belief in me? Drive?  Joy at the fact that I can control the outcome of the story?  Whatever it is that originally pushed me to keep going; to puff up my chest and move on despite everything whirling around me, to extend my middle finger to the things that try to keep me down, that was what that little flutter was.  And that moment was big.  I don't feel helpless anymore.  I know I can own this body and it's challenges and reverse some of the damage I've done while making excuses and complaining, and (the most damaging) believing that I COULDN'T change this, that I didn't have the tools or strength or drive.
But the important message is here:  I never would have gotten that feeling from my bed or from slowly waking up with coffee and a stretch.  I have to move in order to realize that I CAN.  Point taken, universe!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Good Start

It's amazing, when you're going through the struggle, how much of a triumph it seems that I did a workout.  Not a grueling, dig-down-deep, make-you-want-to-cry workout, just a workout.  For me, at this point, that is a triumph.  It's the doing when I don't want to that gives me my take THAT fire.  
I basically did my beginning physical therapy exercises with some body-weight-only deadlifts to try and balance out my quads and hams.  It felt OK, but I ended up spending nearly all day on my feet in flat sandals so by the time I left work, everything was sore.  But I didn't expect one workout to fix my issue, like everything, it's about consistency.  I made an effort today, that is more than I can say of most days.  It also made me naturally not crave junk food, even though I reminded myself I could eat whatever I want.  If anything, it was a good reminder of what is most important.  Being fat sucks, but being barely able to walk around without pain, in part because I make no effort to fix the situation?  Unacceptable and sad.  
I'm not bashing, just realizing how keeping my health poor is another way I was trying to get attention.  It's pathetic and counter-productive.  And to be honest, makes me feel worse about myself. 
Not going to drone on and on.  Just figuring a few things out.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Losing Balance

I lost my balance a little bit this weekend, stumbled over myself.  I allowed my stress at work to keep me angry much longer than I should have.  It was the most stress I've felt in a long time; so much so that it made my stomach feel ill, and answered my question as to what it feels like to be someone who turns away from food instead of toward it, when they are stressed out.  My stress made me feel ill.  And it was such a bad feeling that I couldn't even comfort eat, or eat at all, until I left work and got home.  
I don't like letting my stress get me so off balance, I had been in such a good place until Friday, doing good internal work, and feeling strong.  But it happens to all of us.  My reaction was out-of-character, I was so busy trying to catch up with stuff that needed to get done by the end of the day, and still fuming over the blow that made me aware of the entire stressful situation I've been unwilling placed in due to someone else's horrifically poor timing/planning, I didn't want the only comfort food I had left with me, Doritos, and my stomach was too flooded with emotions to eat them anyway.  As absurd as it was, the fact that I couldn't comfort-eat made me feel even more stress.  
Saturday was an odd day for me.  I became really self-conscious about myself.  I had that old familiar feeling of wishing I could just hide.  Driving around town with my windows down, blasting the Bouncing Souls should have made me feel young and cool, but it made me feel like a fake.  Punk music has energy, I don't.  Punk is loud and confident, I am not. I feel old and tired and really really FAT.  And those are raw, defeated ways to feel.  I hated that I felt that way, and that it was so hard to shake.  Even when my kids talked me into taking them to the cardio room so they could banish some of their own boredom, I half-heartedly did some work on the bike, treadmill and eliptical.  The bike made me feel good, the treadmill was OK, but bothered my knee some, the eliptical hurt my knee the most.  I got frustrated about the whole situation again.  Then I decided that frustration doesn't fix my body, it eats away at it, damaging it from the inside.  I have fixed my hip issue before, I can do it again.  Now, if I can stop tripping over every little crack in the sidewalk, maybe I can heal.  
I have been increasingly aware of my growing stomach, and how unhappy I am to be this weight, mentally and physically.  I felt the focus shifting away from fixing the inside, to making peace with the outside.  These patterns are so hard to break, especially when you have been dieting for nearly 30 years.  I don't know where to turn.  Yes, I need to fix my mind and how I see/use food, I need to start giving myself what I need to get through the tough situations without senselessly eating food.  But to say I am never going to restrict myself...it is like living life on a high-wire with no safety net.  The trick is supposed to be that, you have to trust your own body to decide what it needs.  But, how realistic is it to run out for food every time you want to eat something?  In my world, not realistic and sometimes not even possible.  So I have modified it to eating what sounds the best of the things I have on hand.  Maybe that isn't the way this program is supposed to work, but it is what works for me.  I haven't been doing enough work on thinking before eating.  I have been very easily swayed simply by having certain food around me.  I will try to work harder on waiting to eat until I am hungry.  It is just about having a few things available to me at all times, so I can choose what it is that I want.  
I don't feel like I really have too much new or important to say.  I am still working on this whole thing.  I have noticed, when I focus on the inside, the outside hurts me less, and I felt the balance I was enjoying, start to shift and it affected me emotionally and I didn't like that.  Tomorrow is a new day; a new week, a fresh chance to work through some stress, because I am guaranteed to find it waiting for me the instant I punch in to start my shift.  I can't control the fact that I will encounter things that stress me out, but I can try to maintain some balance while walking over the speed bumps.  I am not going to let one uninspired weekend kick me in the teeth; I've been through much harder stuff than this.