If you are what you eat, I’m a Chocolate Croissant!

A Pain au chocolat from a Belgian Bakery.
Image via Wikipedia

“You are what you eat.” If that is true, I am a Chocolate Croissant.

I’ve felt righteously sorry for myself lately, it’s true!  And have eaten badly as a result.  I don’t exactly know why.

And my foot is hurting and has been for about ten days.  Everything I do makes it ache and sometimes it is much worse.  Finally, I saw the doctor today.  Her diagnosis “potentially” (waiting for blood work) is a form of arthritis.  Yeah, the A-word at 44.

If that’s not depressing enough, I called my mom afterward for our family history, because I didn’t know when she asked if this was in my history.  It turns out that arthritis runs willy nilly through her family.  She has it and it goes all the way back to Grandpa who was stooped over from arthritis by the time he died.  Several cousins and both of her sisters.  Even one of my sisters (younger than I am) has it in her lower back “prematurely for her age.”  Yikes!  You know all of this is arguably a part of aging, but I firmly believe even in your forties (or any time) you can resist entropy and apathy.

Isn’t it true that we are so easily distracted from our goals?

And really in this age of drive-thru-fast-everything, we want magical results — When they don’t come, we give up!  Quickly!  And if over time, like me, you’ve experienced the creep of weight gain, then you’re probably at least in your forties and you want it gone.  (In my thirties and twenties I could eat and drink whatever I wanted and I never exercised at least not on purpose. Oh, if only people knew that when they are young!  Your body responds so much more quickly to reform.)

Oh well.  That knowledge won’t help me now.   But I am competitive and motivated by it, so when I read a challenge from a fellow blogger that seems doable, I determined that no matter my pains (and they are many) I have to keep moving and working on weight loss. Slowly but surely.

So, October 1 to November 1, I will:

1. Set a weight loss (or  gain, or maintenance) goal.

2. Commit to writing a food diary every day of the challenge.

3. Commit to a regular exercise program for every day of the challenge.

Would you do this with me?

Even if you are in the peak of shape (lucky you, if you are) exercise is so good for the body, mind and soul.  If you decide to, be brave and let me know by “registering” for the challenge, write your goal and details of your exercise program in the comments section of today’s post.  Then, for the duration of the challenge, write down for yourself your daily efforts, eating, etc.  If weight isn’t your issue, pick something else and commit to working on it between October 1st and November 1st.

There are other goals you might aspire to, anything in the area of personal challenge.

  • To write for 15 minutes every day.

  • To read a certain book.

  • To spend quality time with someone.

  • To be a person of Grace (I’m working on this.)

  • To stop negative back talk (I’m also working on this!)

Whatever it is, I think there is value in a community of people knowing your heart and in having what you do matter to others.

Plus, I’m awful curious who my readers are.  I know I have them, yes I know you are there because I have the stats.  And occasionally people write me privately to say they “lurk” —  totally cool. But if you’re feeling brave, tell “Us” a personal goal you have for the next month.

To summarize: I’m 35 pounds overweight and out of shape. 5’6″, 44 years old, 170 lbs.  I will:

  • walk six days a week. My foot is hurt/ing so I’m not sure what that will do to my walking but I can’t keep making excuses for pain, perhaps just no incline  for now, which exacerbates it.

  • find Yoga to practice three times a week to manage stress and sciatic/back issue.

  • do PT stretches every other day.

  • eat three meals a day focusing on natural (not processed) food. I will write everything down that I consume.

My goal: 2 pounds a week for month of October. I think that is doable.  What about you?

Many thanks to the_next_hundred_pounds for her challenge and inspiration!

Do you run from your shame?

Fetus at 8 weeks after fertilization 3D Pregna...
Image via Wikipedia

I have avoided words for a while.

I mean my own — on the page — telling me things I may not want to acknowledge.  I find out about myself as I write.  What have I been afraid of knowing, I wonder, as I put off writing day after day?

I am uncomfortable with how narcissistic blogging is and yet I can’t seem to write any more without knowing others are reading.  Except what is in my prayer journal, I am completely out there — laid open, exposed.  And by choice.  I don’t know what I think about this.

For a month now I have exercised six times a week.

Taking vigorous walk/run on the treadmill downstairs.  I am up to three miles a day.  I’ve lost about four pounds.  I reassure myself that this pace is the healthy way to lose weight and that this rate is one that can actually be maintained.

I find myself angry and discouraged, when I think of all the weight loss programs that promise miracles and sometimes provide them.  I once lost 17 pounds in about five weeks.  It was years ago.  My body was younger. I did it without exercise.  But I was told that I looked ill.  And inevitably it all returned.  Those pounds brought friends to the party I call my thighs and double chin.  I remind myself that wasn’t on an antidepressant then and weight gain is one of the top side effects of this medication.

But I hate the weight — It’s visceral.  I am ashamed of being fat and more so of being ashamed.  But how I loath being fat.  It is complicated by my mother’s yo-yo dieting my entire life.  And in God’s irony I married a yo-yo dieter as well.

In my mind being fat equals failure. Although intellectually I challenge this idea, it seems to be winning.  I have to challenge it over and over again, because of people I love and respect working their whole adult lives on this issue and “failing?”

Up until a few years ago weight wasn’t an issue for me.  Now I judge myself for my “failure” and I assume others are judging me too.  I realize suddenly how I have utterly bought into the idea that “thin = beautiful, intelligent and successful.”  Imagine the judgmental thoughts I have then.  The shame.

And so I run, longer and harder each day, hoping the weight of my shame will be lost with the physical pounds.

I’ve thought a lot recently about time passing.

I suppose because we’ve come full circle with Molly moving back home after four years on her own.  And a new school year for the other three kids. Around the time that my father was ill my depression was at its worst.   I was trying to decide if I should go on an antidepressant to help manage it.  For Tom and I, going on an antidepressant was a sobering choice that we thought and prayed and researched ad nauseam.  It was one  that we struggled with for months, so when I decided to go ahead I had to take a prerequisite pregnancy test.  No-one could have been more shocked to find out I was pregnant, it was just too much.  Dad was sick with cancer – basically dieing.  Mother was caring for him, in Colorado alone, and was at the height of her drinking.

Being pregnant was the worst news possible.  Mostly because there was no research on the impact o this medication on the fetus.  And I was desperate for help coping.managing.surviving the depression.

A few weeks later I miscarried seven weeks into the pregnancy.

As I look back on those days now, with distance and perspective, I am filled with longing for that child.  She would have started kindergarten this year and as I watch the tiny children walking hand in hand to school, their seemingly enormous backpacks on their tiny shoulders, lunch box dragging, their new white tennis shoes, I am crushed with the sight of it.

And wonder will I mark the passing of every year with this lost child?

I had a dream about her.

I was in a busy train station.  People were flowing in and out of trains and it was difficult to figure out which way to go.  I felt confused about my direction, overwhelmed.  Then a tall blond college-age young woman turned her head toward me.  She was beautiful, angelic, and strikingly similar in looks to my daughter Emma and she had downs syndrome.  I knew she was my daughter.  She looked me and said, ‘They wouldn’t let me come.”  She smiled. This was my daughter that I had lost when she was just seven weeks old in my womb.

I woke up with the knowledge that she wanted to come to me and that she was at peace.

I am six years into the battle of dealing with depression.

There is so much learned.  Many things I have lost or given up.  Much grief and more joy that I could have imagined.  Depression has made me the person that I am now — stronger, genuinely in love with Jesus, disciplined spiritually, more and more at peace with myself in the world.  Twenty pounds heavier and hating that.  But knowing that this depression is a conduit to a better life for me.

I exercise because I know that it helps me manage my depression and my goal is to be off medication.  And it makes me feel good.   I exercise because it means I am willfully thumbing my finger at the Sink Hole of depression.

Keeping balance, along with the wrong attitudes I have about fitness and weight, well, that’s another story.

When I’m thin, I’ll …

This is me in Honolulu, about five years ago or six or seven …  With my good soul mate and friend Junko and her son.  I put it here, because I was probably 25 pounds thinner and I thought at that time I was fat.  Just goes to show….

I just found myself writing on Facebook: “I am feeling dissatisfied and out of sorts.”  I know this is true — it has been so for days.  It put me in such a funk last week I thought I was coming down with the Black Dog (you know, depression.)

But I wonder why.  Examining ourselves is hard.  And I get the feeling that I do it a lot.  But I can easily not engage with things emotionally and stay on the surface of life.

On the level of superficial, surface things, I know why I’m grumpy:

  1. There are piles of laundry that are never “done.”
  2. The stuff, everywhere! And I can’t keep up.  My kids are clueless, and useless!  No matter how many reminders, of the stuff they leave  around the house and yard — practically dropping it anywhere they finish with it — it is everywhere.
  3. There is no open surface in my life – except the kitchen – after I clean it – daily, sometimes twice depending on things in the evening.
  4. my garage is driving me nuts.  my basement is driving me nuts. my bedroom is driving me nuts.
  5. I can never keep food in the house.  My preteens are eating everything that isn’t nailed down.  and what we have is never what they want.  Now I’m not one to really care about that, them getting what they “like”  but it starts to rub me wrong, after a while.

That’s the surface and it’s bad, but then if I go below the surface:

I never see my friends.  Rarely have deep conversations with people.  Just living on the surface of my friend’s lives and I feel lonely.  Did I just write that.  I think I’m not sure.  Do I feel lonely?  I mean, I could choose to pick up the phone.  I like isolation I think.  But then, internally, I know accountability in friendship is good and deep connections are so life-giving. Yes, connection is important to me and I don’t have it.  There is no where in my life, not church, not my kids schools, where else do I go – not the grocery store, that I connect with people.  Okay, at Trader Joe’s they are really nice and I always leave there feeling good, because they are quite happy to be talking to you.   That is so pathetic.

Another thing. I decided last year, to not buy clothes for myself, for a year.  Mostly, cause I’m fairly stupid about spending money and I was wasting away the fortune we did not have on this and that.  I mean how many hats does a girl need?  And to be honest, since early October I haven’t spent a dime, on myself.  I did find myself buying a lot more clothing for Emma.  That had to stop cause it definitely defeats the purpose and she’s swimming in clothes.  Really though, I haven’t missed shopping.

I worried about what ideas I was giving my daughter about looks. (I blogged about all this in October of last year.)

The other reason that I stopped was because I was tired of thinking and caring so much about image.  But that bit hasn’t changed (much) and frankly I’ve let myself go over the last six months.  I feel shabby, and dumpy and what was that word that my friend in college used to call me?  Frumpy.  What a word.  I’ve lived up to that of late and I hate myself.  And we won’t even go into the weight thing.  No, not today.  When I say hate I’m talking about the suicide kind of self-hatred, or harming yourself, or anything tragic like an eating disorder.  I’m just referring to simple self-esteem.  Body image.  Naked in the mirror stuff.  Can’t find an outfit that feels good to me kind of days.

And then this trip to the Bahamas comes (two and a half weeks and counting) and I start freaking out.  For some reason, I have this crazy need to impress and  seem cultured and look urban and eclectic and interesting.  It matters to me (and that’s a long story from being an MK that I think I’ve written about here before.)  So I wasn’t going to buy anything.   And then I started obsessing about this awards night banquet that everyone gets all spiffy for and I couldn’t let -it -go.

I looked at my clothes, of which I have an abundance, in sizes 10, 12 and 14 and I don’t have anything  for an evening dinner in the Bahamas, not fancy but not too casual. So, I “don’t have anything” and yet I know that if I was saving money for my kid’s transplant or something I could find something to wear in my closet.  So it wouldn’t be Tommy Bahama   or nicely starched from newness.  But it would be just fineOne night.  One outfit. Perhaps three total hours of my life.   But there’s no transplant needed, and Tom doesn’t care if I buy a dress, he’s getting a new shirt.

So dammit I bought one, online, it probably won’t even look good.  Which is okay cause I can return it but every time I think about that stupid trip I get all anxious.  Like what’s on the outside is what matters.   Tho I don’t believe that, already I’ve fallen back into that kind of thinking.  …. If I have a new dress, I will also need new shoes, a necklace, earrings,and a decent bag. Oh, and can’t forget the very important cover up for the cool nights and to cover the flabby size 14 arms…..  so I spend the evening last night (while watching Idol among other things) tooling the internet looking for the perfect dress.  And even this morning ….

No wonder I feel dissatisfied and grumpy.   As a friend just said, (on Facebook not in person, I told you I have no face-to-face friendships any more.) I need to check this more closely.

Identity.  Self-esteem.  Body image.  Eureka!  I have ignored the root of my problems with shopping.  Wow!  I can’t believe I’ve been able to stick my head in the proverbial sand about this!

We all do it.  I know we do.  Except for those few say 20% of exercising folk, most of us ignore our bodies a good part of the time.  Just living with regret, or wishing it were different, or saying when I lose those ten pounds, I will  …

Absolutely what I’ve done!

“I will like myself when I’m thin.  I know I’m thin inside there somewhere.  I was thin(ner) for most of my life and that person is still in there.  When I’m thin, I’ll … pursue showing my photography.  And take more risks like searching for a publisher for my poetry.  And ….blah, blah frikin’ blah…”

Well, isn’t that interesting.

P.S.  If you’re one of those actually thin people or in your early thirties (or younger) and you don’t know what I’m talking about — related to your body, just wait.  Call me when it hits.  I will so be there for you to cry on my shoulder.  By then, I’ll be thin.  Surely.

This Strange Desire: On Materialism and Image: How it all started, the year without new clothes.