My Relationship with Food

Yesterday I found myself in a place I never thought I’d be.

Over the summer I was on track to “writing myself right” and I was walking my way to health.

But then something shifted, and I lost my way again. A few weeks ago I found myself in my doctor’s office, looking at a number on the scale that was higher than its ever been before. My doctor terrified me with the words that, “if you’ve gone this high it will be not time before your weight doubles.”

I didn’t agree with her words. I’ve gained and lost my whole life. I know, deep in my bones, that I can beat this. However she convinced me to sign up for a Bariatric Surgery consultation. “You don’t have to have the surgery,” she said. “It’s really a program to help you deal with your weight.”

“I know what I have to do,” I said. “I know what I have to eat,” It’s just that my head knows but my body responds in its own way.

I went home and cried.

Yesterday I found myself in an introductory meeting, surrounded by people who (for the most part) had more severe weight issues than I do. I listened to the explanation about the program, the expectations before surgery, the different types of surgery. All the while my mind was screaming “How did I get here?!” and I fought back tears. I learned that I wouldn’t even really be a candidate for bariatric surgery, or at least for a surgery covered by insurance, because my BMI is not high enough. I felt relieved, but I still wondered how I’d even gotten so close to needing the surgery. Throughout the presentation I thought, do I want to follow this program in a non-surgical track? Is this program right for me?

At the end of the presentation a group of patients who had the surgery done went up and shared their stories. They all said how it was life changing, and hard work, and took commitment. They’d all lost (or were on their way to losing) well over a hundred pounds of weight. The all seemed happy, but . . .

They all admitted that they couldn’t see their thinner selves in the mirror. They still saw their overweight selves.

One of  them had admitted that she also had a tummy tuck, plastic surgery to remove the excess skin that came after her bariatric surgery. She was still in pain two years later.

A few of them said, “the excess skin isn’t beautiful, but it wasn’t beautiful before when we were fat.”

Why not? I asked. Why can’t fat be beautiful?

Now, granted, there are many health reasons to lose weight, and extreme obesity is a dangerous condition. But it doesn’t mean people who carry extra pounds are not beautiful.

I felt like I was at a sales presentation, marketing procedures that will make you beautiful and, in that way, make your world perfect.

It doesn’t work like that.

I left thinking, this program isn’t right for me. While they do include psychological help, as well as nutrition and physical therapy, it just didn’t feel like a match for me. Maybe I’m making excuses, but I have to go with my gut here.

But then again, my gut has been leading me wrong for a long time, or I wouldn’t have been there in the first place, would I?

This morning I woke up with a new determination. I am getting back on track. I’m going to find my way back to a healthy weight, by eating with awareness and exercising. I will go back to the plan to “write myself right”. I will believe in myself and my ability to do this. I will confront the issues that lead me to seek comfort in food.  I started today, eating a healthy breakfast and then doing a 1 mile power walk with weights (a video exercise program)

While I’m doing this, however, I’m going to get up every morning, look into the mirror and say to myself, “You are beautiful just the way you are.”

Lisa the fairy queen



Battling the Bulge During Birthday Month (A Write Myself Right Update)

I have always known that February is the longest month. The combination of cold weather and (usually) snow-filled streets lends to the desire to hibernate until spring blows in; cuddling with a good book, a blanket, and rich, fattening foods.

Now, however, my February’s have become hectic months. Nathan’s birthday is February 12th, Valentine’s Day (which Nathan and I have usually avoided) becomes a bigger challenge every year as Sarah gets older, Sarah’s birthday is February 15th.

Add onto that, “Uncle” Norman, who lives with my sister, celebrates his birthday on February 11th. However, he and Deb are visiting his family in Ireland so we won’t be celebrating all of the birthdays as a family until February 25th.

In between we have February break in Massachusetts, a week-long public school vacation that starts on February 20th this year. A week-long possibility of food temptations like going to the movies with equivalent movie fare.

This Friday is the school sponsored Daddy-Daughter dance, and Saturday we will hold Sarah’s birthday bash for friends. Of course, we have to celebrate her actual birthday by sending cupcakes to school.

That’s a lot of cake.

This year there was also the additional food fiesta of the Superbowl. Since I now live in Massachusetts, I couldn’t really avoid it. Usually, it’s a good excuse to stay at home and watch movies.

Suddenly I am faced with a long month full of festivities and food, and I chose this month to begin “writing myself ‘right'”?! Am I crazy, or simply setting myself up for failure with good excuses?

The Horror!

I’m here to tell you that it is, indeed, possible. Last week, after my first full week of writing myself right, I lost two pounds. Now, that may not sound like a lot, but it is actually ahead of the game, because the program in the book suggest a 1 lb. loss a week. Think about it, two pounds a week would mean 104 lbs. in one year.

I don’t have that much to lose. I actually need to lose the equivalent of one  Sarah.

(Photo by Uncle Mom "Taochild"). No, I don't want to lose her, just the equivalent of her weight. 😉

It hasn’t been easy. I’m not going to lie. Each time I write my Morning Pages or in my journal I discover something about myself that I don’t really like, or that seems too hard to fix. Every time I log my food into (which I am using to help me keep track of the nutritional value of my food) and my day isn’t perfect, I feel frustrated with myself. Every time I don’t exercise when I should, I feel hopeless. I am definitely having emotional ups and downs.

But, and this is a big BUT (as opposed to my own butt which is hopefully getting smaller) I feel really good. I have exercised almost every day, including a 70 minute hike through rocky, hilly terrain with the family yesterday (including dogs) to celebrate Nathan’s birthday.

Nathan got to choose how he wanted to spend his day. We surprised him with breakfast in bed (Sarah’s idea) and then he wanted to go on this hike, even though it was extremely cold outside. After that, he wanted to make some of his fabulous chicken wings and watch the Lord of the Ring’s trilogy while playing games for the rest of the day. (Have I mentioned Nation is a little geeky–but I love him for that). Now, his chicken wings are killer. Seriously, they could even tempt a vegetarian. But, I managed to only eat two. That’s right

Not 10-20 as I probably used to do. It felt good. I actually ended the day without having eaten all of my calories, even including the small piece of cheese cake that I ate to celebrate (supposedly only 180 calories). I usually try to eat all of them, but it didn’t happen yesterday. That’s okay too.

Today, I start another part of my journey. I mentioned that I had signed up for a writing course. Well, the course materials came this weekend, so now I’m really beginning. I’m terrified to be completely honest. What if my talk of writing a book is all talk? What if I don’t really have a story in me? What if, like my other book, I write it and it just gathers dust in a corner somewhere? What if I fail?

It is scary enough to want to eat myself stupid. But I’m not going to. I’m sticking to the plan and I’m truly going to write myself right.

So bring it on February, the longest month of they year. Bring on your chocolate hearts, birthday cakes, and other decadent treats. I will not let you defeat me!  Now I need to go do my walking tape before I start writing!

“Write it ‘Right'” and Other Reasons to Write

“From the front of the classroom, the transformation that Morning Pages causes is almost startling. Even after two and a half decades as a teacher, I am still struck with wonder as people seem to change right before my eyes. I call the process ‘spiritual chiropractic’ as changes are made in exactly the direction that they are needed. Overeaters curb their binges. Undereaters begin to eat more regularly. From the front of the room, the increased health is readily evident. And ‘all’ they are doing is writing.” (Julia Cameron, The Writing Diet: Write Yourself  Right-Size”

I am changing my life. One word at a time, one creative project at a time, one moment at a time–I am manifesting a life that fills me with joy. That is difficult and sometimes scary, but it feels right.

However, in order to really live the life I envision I have to get control of several (inevitably linked) things, my weight, my health and my self-confidence. I don’t need to be a size two or anything, I just want to be a healthy weight so that I can hike comfortably with my daughter (at my own short-legged pace, of course) or travel to other countries without worrying that somehow I hold others back or might end up in the hospital. I don’t want to worry about my heart stopping at a strange moment, or future manifestations of diseases that I could prevent by simply taking better care of myself.

I know how to eat healthy, and I have had some successes without actually dieting. If I use the word diet, even in my mind, I am doomed to failure so it has been banned from my consciousness. However, in typical fashion something always happens to reverse my success. No, not something! The only thing that gets in my way is:

Me, Myself, and I

I come up with excuse for not exercising, or for eating one more cookie, or for choosing something unhealthy rather than healthy.

In the same way, I am an expert at making excuses for why I am not progressing in whatever creative project has caught my attention.

I can’t do this to myself anymore!

So I am taking on a challenge, inspired by Julia Cameron, author of The Writer’s Way  and The Writing Diet. I am going to write myself right.

But not just my weight, and not just through writing.

I am going to:

  • write myself right
  • create myself calm
  • dance myself delighted
  • walk myself wonderful
  • sing myself sensuous
  • paint myself pretty
  • journal myself joyous

I am going to do all these things and more. I know it won’t be easy and sometimes it will feel impossible. I know that life will have its ups and downs. I know I can’t do it alone.

But I believe in myself and my ability to “write myself right.”

Anyone need or want to join me?

Too Much on My Plate, But Not Enough Decadent Treats

fancy chocolate bar, cracked

Image via Wikipedia

As with many people, the New Year brings with it a new attempt at getting healthy. I refuse to say that I am dieting, because I am not. I am merely trying to stay focused on living a healthy lifestyle and taking better care of myself. If I think of this as a diet, then it is harder to follow to follow my first resolution of  Resolving to Forgive because I become obsessed with every time I break the diet and then cannot forgive myself.

So this is really about not eating in depression. Not eating in boredom. When I do snack, making healthy choices rather than empty calories full of sugar. Eating smaller portions. And becoming more active, which I realize is the key to my feeling better overall.

Easy right?

Yesterday I was doing well. I ate a healthy breakfast. I exercised. I prepared a big thermos of tea to help stave off the munchies. I ate small portions of healthy snacks.

And I worked. I worked at preparing syllabi. I worked at paying lots and lots of bills. I worked and worked and worked.

I like being busy. I like the challenge of having tasks that need to be completed. But yesterday, as I poured hours of thought into two classes (and I still have two more to go) deep inside I was resenting it. I resented the fact that I work as hard, if not harder, than many people I know, and yet when it comes down to pay I feel like I’m getting 2 cents an hour. I resented the fact that I have spent my life working, and that I am really good at what I do, but life has taken unexpected and somewhat unpleasant twists and turns. I resented the fact that, with all the work I was doing, I didn’t have time to write.

All of this boiled underneath my work until a friend saw that my Facebook was up (I forgot to close the tab) and started chatting. This friend seems to always bring me back to my senses. She was talking about her new dieting attempt and how it was hard to resist temptation.  I told her that she shouldn’t completely deprive herself. As I said this, bells began ringing in my head. Maybe my bad mood had a little to do with depriving myself.

I went to the hidden stash of chocolate and got two small squares of chocolate. I savored them. I ate slowly. I acknowledged the taste and the decadent sweetness.

And then I felt better.

Maybe it was simply low blood sugar, but I don’t think it was that alone. By allowing myself a little taste of decadence, I also allowed myself to honor myself. I don’t mean that I need to binge on junk; but I do need to treat myself with moments of pure bliss. In this case, bliss came in chocolate form.

So, what do I conclude from all of this? I know that I still need to work on forgiving myself for my perceived failures. I know that I need to listen carefully to my body and not deprive it completely. I know that I have to ration my work so that I don’t feel like I am pouring heart and soul into something where I then feel under-appreciated. I know that I have to allow time each day to exercise, and to do projects that are special to me.

And I know that sometimes it takes just a little bit of chocolate.

Resolving to Forgive

Happy New Year World (2010)

The New Year is right around the corner. As usual I have put in the back of my mind the resolution to lose weight, to get healthy, to exercise more, to write more, etc. However, those are promises I’ve been making and breaking too often now, and I just recently recognized that there is one resolution that I must stick to before I can accomplish any of the others.

I am resolving to forgive.

This resolution runs deep, and underlies my ability to succeed in any other resolution I could possible make. This is not just about forgiving others for any perceived wrongs on their, part. This is about forgiving myself for the abuse I have given myself over the years, both mentally and physically.

Thus, my New Year’s Resolution for 2011 is to Forgive.

I forgive myself for the weakness that made me make some poor choices in the past, especially when it came to friends.

I forgive myself for not becoming the person I thought I wanted to be. After all, I may still be wondering what I want to be when I grow up, but the person I am right now is pretty interesting.

I forgive myself for gaining weight and not taking care of myself physically. I can only change that if I can forgive myself for doing it.

I forgive myself for my failures as a daughter, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend. I know that I have many failings in these ares, but I also have many successes.

I forgive myself for my inability to completely forgive those who have hurt me. At the same time, however, I think I am very close to honestly forgiving if not forgetting.

I also must include in this resolution forgiving myself for the mistakes I have yet to make. I’m finally learning that I dwell too much on mistakes and not enough on achievements. So perhaps part of this New Year’s Resolution is to not just Forgive but to Honor.

That’s it! I hereby resolve to Honor myself  and others throughout the year 2011 as well as the coming years. I also resolve to continue to forgive.

I honor you, my readers. I hope you forgive me for this post.

Later in the day . . .

I spent much of the day reading The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. It’s a beautiful and intriguing book overall, but the following passage gave me chills as the universe sent me a message:

“All forgiveness is self-forgiveness. . . . But I do not yet know how to forgive. Or who, in the end, really needs to be forgiven. ” (Barry 383)

New Glasses+New Underwear=New World

I’ve been making a lot of changes over the past few weeks (or months). That’s not to say that I have completely overcome my depression or frustration. I’m still in the waiting game with the unknown. We still don’t know quite where we will be at the end of the summer (although we have some hopes). But, I’ve made some major and minor changes that seem really symbolic, and I believe indicate something excellent on the horizon.  Here are some of them:

  • I’ve lost about 20 lbs since Thanksgiving (or, to be more accurate since my brother’s heart attack before Thanksgiving). I’m not dieting;I refuse to diet. But, I am making healthy changes and choices which seem to, slowly but surely, had an effect on my weight.
  • As a result of weight loss, I actually bought myself some new clothes (that, in itself, is quite a miracle for me). Included in those purchases was sassy new underwear (not my traditional, boring, cotton), new bras, and a sexy new bathing suit. My body is far from where I want to see it (I have at least 40 more lbs to lose) but something inside me decided it was time to start feeling good about myself no matter what.
  • I started this blog, which has been very fun and helpful in many ways. I even started a second one yesterday, for less personal stuff and more fun writing practice. (Check it out Perhaps this is avoiding some things, but I’m really enjoying writing again.
  • I started searching for my family history, just because it is something I’ve always wanted to do.
  • I walk or exercise in some form at least 5 days a week. I don’t think I need to write how helpful that is.
  • And, I finally decided to give up on contacts. They haven’t been working for me for a while (too dry, too tired). So I have ordered new glasses with transition lenses and have accepted that I can grow old gracefully. The glasses haven’t come in yet, but I really feel that they too will service my new attitude.

What other things do I need to do to keep improving my new world?  What have you done recently to improve yours?

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