Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oh, snap!

So, my weight is down 2 pounds today and I'm thrilled about it.  I know I need to quit weighing myself every day, but my weight had been stalling at the same damn stubborn weight for so many days that I was determined to see it go down.  Last night I got my exercise in, cooked a healthy dinner, did everything perfect, and by god I was gonna see that fucking number on that scale go down today, lol!  And I got what I wanted :)  So now I'm at a total of 15 pounds lost.

I sent a text to one of my best friends this morning to tell him about this because I was so thrilled. He replied, "I'm sure it's not actual weight, but that means you're eating less which is still good."  This pissed me off.  I was like, "Um, wtf do you mean, not actual weight?"  He was like, well, your body weight fluctuates from day to day..blahblahblah.  I'm thinking, what the fuck?  Does he think I don't know that? LOL Does he not know how hard I've been working?  So I sent him a text telling him he rained on my parade and that it IS actual weight and that I worked my ass off to get those two pounds off so screw him, lol.  Then he replied that I was getting offended and that he didn't know what I'd been doing.  I realized I've been so consumed in this wellness project of mine that I don't even think I've taken the time to update him or any of my other friends on what I've been doing lately (except for the ones who are also trying to lose weight).  So then I felt bad, apologized for going off on him, lol, and gave him a quick update on how hard I've been working for the past month.  He's at work so he hasn't had time to respond yet...I hope he isn't too mad.  But if he is, oh well.  This is the kind of thing that I would normally let depress me and mess up my day.  I hate having arguments or  using harsh words with people.  But I'm just gonna take a deep breath and let it go.  It was no big deal at all, I am sure he will understand better now that he knows I've been at this for a month, and if he chooses to be pissy, then I can't worry about that.  

I'm so pleased with this two pound loss.  I know it ain't much--a tiny little two pounds--but to see all my hard work paying off feels amazing.  My weight had gone up after this weekend's festivities (probably mostly water), and so for the past two days I was determined to get myself back in order and work really hard.  I feel more motivated than ever.

Also, I've started a group on Facebook for Wellness and it seems to be taking off!  27 members so far and we've already started a challenge for September.  Lose 10 pounds by September 30th!  I'm thrilled because I love the idea of having others who are working toward the exact same goal I am.  

I am pretty much amazed and ecstatic at how much better I feel than I did when I wrote that letter to myself on this blog not even a month ago.  And the best part is that I know I'm feeling better for the RIGHT reasons.  I'm not masking anything, not avoiding any feelings.  I have brought my demons into the light and I am fighting those bitches.  :)  I feel full of hope and desire for a full, joyous life.


Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Breakin' out of these self-imposed shackles.

When most people think of me, I can guarantee you they don't think of an athletic person.  I'm just not.  I've always been the kid who was holed up in my bedroom, staring at my computer screen, typing furiously for hours (days), while the other kids were outside kicking a ball around.  I was into reading and writing long before the internet came around.  I never cared about anything else as much.

However, I do remember a time when strangers would mistake me for an athletic kid.  Despite being overweight even as a child, I have numerous memories of people asking me if I played softball or basketball.  I have wished a million times that I would have gotten involved in some kind of sport as a kid, so maybe I would have been more active, and never let my weight soar this far out of control.

But, things happened the way they did, and I find myself here today with age 30 looming around the corner, morbidly obese with high blood pressure, fragile self-esteem and only two pairs of jeans that actually fit.  And no one in their right mind would mistake me for being an athlete anymore, lol.

However, I'm going to write about something here that I have never written about before.  Sometimes (often, actually), when I am home alone, I often notice certain things about my body when I walk past a mirror.  As crazy as it may sound, sometimes when I move a certain way I catch tiny glimpses of athleticism in my body.  I see strength in my legs and shoulders and back.  I see a nice healthy curve in my hips. Usually I only notice these things for a fleeting moment and then I go back to seeing the pudgy, tired, overweight body in which I dwell.  But I see physical strength in my reflection enough to know that it's inside of me.  My body is young and stronger than I give myself credit for.  There may very well be an athlete inside of me, and it's time I started recognizing that instead of resigning myself to always being a fat clumsy kid.  I'm not a fat clumsy kid.  I may be fat but I think my body is capable of things I have never imagined I could ever do.

I'm really excited about the path I am on now.  And the best part about it is that all I have to do is keep taking baby steps.  Hundreds of baby steps add up to a few really huge steps. :D  I feel like nothing is gonna stop me now.

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. - Will Rogers

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday blues.

Well I'm sitting here at work and really don't have anything to do at the moment which is kinda weird for 9am on a Monday morning.  All that's on my mind is the fact that my weight was up this morning.  SO FRUSTRATING.  While I know that I did veer off course a bit here and there over the weekend, overall I really don't think I did that bad, in fact I was kind of pleased with myself for exercising some degree of restraint throughout the weekend's activities.

So I'm thinking about Shell's comment on my last blog and trying to apply it to how I feel this morning.  She said that the scale is a tool and that I should not obsess about the number it displays from day to day.  However, she also said that when the number is higher than it should be, I should take that opportunity to look back over the past week and think about what I could have done better.  And of course I can write a whole list.  So let me take a deep breath and here we go....

After I got off work Friday night, my food journal sorta got tossed to the side for the remainder of the week.  I ate Mexican with my parents that evening.  I forgot to take my blood pressure medicine on Saturday (that was one of my action goals last week, to take my meds daily).  Saturday, I went on a day trip to Dolly Sods near Seneca Rock, WV (about a four hour drive one way) with two of my friends.  I ate a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit early that morning from Tudor's, drank lots of diet soda all day, ate a slim jim for a snack around lunch time, and then we went to do a bit of hiking on the rocks at the Sods.  However, I didn't break a sweat.  A bad storm was rolling in so we really just sorta climbed around on the rocks a bit and hung out and then got back in the car.  By this time we were getting hungry for dinner but were in such a remote location that it was going to be quite awhile before we found a restaurant.  I ate a small handful of Cheez-its and 3 fudge-striped cookies that my friend had packed with her.  We also stopped at a gas station at one point and I drank a veggie/fruit juice drink.  It seemed like a healthy choice at the time but after looking at the nutrition info I noticed it was well over 300 calories and loaded with sugar.  We finally located a restaurant.  It was a steakhouse/buffet type of place.  I think in the future I am going to need to just stay completely away from any type of buffet style restaurant, lol.  I did pretty good though, I felt that I ate less than the people I was with.  I tried to choose meat and vegetables instead of a bunch of carby stuff, but I did eat pasta salad and ice cream.  On Sunday, I ate another biscuit from Tudor's that morning, a granola bar around lunch time, and then my mom made dinner at 5pm so I ate bbq chicken, corn, green beans, creamed potatoes, and black raspberry pie.  After that I ate nothing else the rest of the night except for some more green beans.

Okay, so obviously (lol) I now realize why my weight was up this morning.  I honestly didn't think I had done that bad over the weekend until I wrote it all out here.  Trust me, I could have done WAY WAY WAY more damage than I did, but that does not change the fact that I still did some damage.

I should also confess that I didn't go to the grocery store last night, although I did compile a grocery list and write a menu for the week.  I have enough food to get me through the day today, so my plan is to stop at the store after work tonight and get stocked up.  This is a big part of how I fail over and over--not keeping my kitchen stocked with healthy food.  So I have to go tonight no matter what!!!

This is why blogging is so good for me.  I learned a lesson today.  That lesson is that sometimes my general feeling about something (like how well I've done) may not be entirely accurate and that it's useful to write things out so I can see things I wasn't seeing before.  Lesson learned.  There are also some other lessons I learned over the past few days, which I wanted to write blogs about yesterday but never got around to it.  I've got to start being more committed to writing.  I wanted to write about how since I started this blog and my food journal that I catch myself being far more mindful about what I eat than I used to be.  But there is still a long way to go.

I have decided that since I slacked off on keeping my food journal over the weekend, and since I missed Saturday on my blood pressure meds, OH and I also missed one walk with my dog (I had set a goal to walk my dog three times--I was intending to take her on a nice long walk yesterday but it never happened), that I am going to keep the same action goals this week as I had last week.  The only new ones I am adding are keeping my food logged not just in my journal but also in my phone app (so I know how many calories, carbs, sodium, etc that I am taking in) and drinking more water.  I want to get these habits mastered before I add new ones.  Otherwise it'll be too much, overwhelm me, and I'll ditch this shit and run straight for the nearest Burger King.

Wish me luck this week, I sure need it.  But I'm not giving up.  I will say that I'm feeling pretty proud of myself for persevering even though this shit is making me feel so defeated right now.  I'm starting to learn that the key to this whole deal is having the strength to push through the days when I feel like giving up.

"In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins, not through strength but by perseverance."  - H. Jackson Brown

Friday, August 26, 2011

Emotions are potent.

Today I feel somewhat discouraged because of a pound and a half increase on the scales this morning.  Okay, I'll be honest, that's not the only reason I feel like this.  It's also because I ate too much last night and so I'm feeling like the weight increase is because of my own inability to control myself.  However, since a pound is about 3,500 calories, there's obviously no way in hell I actually caused myself to gain a pound and a half just by eating a bowl of shredded wheat at 11pm, but I don't suppose my emotions have ever been particularly rational. I decided to come to my blog and write about how I'm feeling today instead of just trying to ignore it.  I don't want this blog to turn into mundane daily updates of "I feel good today" or "I ate too much yesterday, I suck".  That's how my weight loss journals always looked before and let's be honest, not even Jillian Michaels wants to read that shit.  It's boring.  I want this blog to read from start to finish like a beautiful story about a young woman approaching her thirties who is learning how to abandon old poisonous ways and fill herself to the brim with love and enlightenment.  A woman who is finally taking the time to fix what's broken inside and to feel comfortable and happy in her skin.

But alas, even the most profound stories have mundane bits.  So get over it and read the damn blog anyway ;p

I'm writing about my feelings of discouragement so I can get them out of me and move on.  I've learned that if I avoid the feeling or just try to ignore it or brush it away that it lingers, even if I think it's gone.  And as long as it lingers, it's affecting me.  I will not let an irrational feeling about a normal weight fluctuation stop me.  That would be the dumbest shit anyone ever did.  What I will do instead is remember how far I have already come, and analyze what's really making me feel like this.  Then I can figure out what to do to stop this from happening repeatedly.

Weighing myself daily is a bad idea.  Weighing myself weekly might even be a bad idea.  What if I weigh myself a week from today and for some reason my water weight is up 4 pounds 7 days from now?  Then for an entire week, I'm feeling like I feel right now, discouraged and upset and like a failure?  That's not good.  Rationally I know weight is just one somewhat inaccurate way to measure my progress.  I should be looking at measurements, pictures of myself, etc.  I need to take a picture of myself this weekend and buy a measuring tape as well.

Also it may serve me well to create a rule that I cannot eat after, say, 9pm on weeknights.  This would give me about a 3 hour window from the time I get home from work.  This may be an action goal I set for myself next week.  Eventually I need to set the goal of going to bed by 11pm on weeknights, too.  Healthy people get more sleep than I do.

Okay, so I've talked out my bad feelings, and now I'm going to let them go.  Today is a new day and it will be a success.  I have a ton of stuff to get done this weekend, including a couple more blogs I really want to write soon.  Thanks for reading as always. <3

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Baby steps, baby.

The title of this post is a quote I have used often in life.  I think I had it on my Facebook profile at one point.  It's because I believe in the enormous power of baby steps.  But now more than ever, I am realizing and learning this all over again.  It's funny how you think you understand a concept fully and then you get older and progress further in life and begin to understand it in a whole new way.  When I started realizing the power of baby steps, it was when I was planning my move to California.  At first, the notion of moving 2,500 miles away seemed so absurd and fantastical that I did not believe I would ever do it.  At that time, I was becoming very close with a friend of mine I'd met on the internet (still a very dear friend to me) who lived in Sacramento and with whom I was hoping to start a relationship.  I had expressed my desire to move to Sacramento, not just to be with him but because I really wanted to go somewhere liberal, sunny, and with an ocean nearby.  Soon, I changed from expressing a desire to expressing an intent to move there.  After the first few weeks of moving-to-Cali talk, and as we became closer, I began to feel very guilty for leading him to believe that I was actually going to do something as crazy as move to California and started thinking that I was going to have to tell him that I wasn't doing it.  But somewhere along the line, as I continued discussing the nuts and bolts and planning it out with him, I began to realize that this was not an impossible task, and that I really, really wanted to actually do it.  That was a very scary realization.  However, what got me through it was reminding myself constantly that all I had to do was take baby steps until I made it.  I broke the planning process down into manageable chunks and I did not let the big picture overwhelm me.  Six months later, I drove past the Welcome to California sign around noon on a sunny Friday as tears of joy streamed down my face.  Best moment of my life.  Was it better than graduating college, or getting my driver's license?  Damn straight it was.  Of course, college was four years of hard work as well, and I was very proud of my degree.  However, lots of people go to college, including most of my friends and family.  People graduate college every day who would never have the guts to move across the country.  The fact that I was able to pull my plan together and actually execute that move was a feeling of accomplishment that I cannot describe with mere words.  And without baby steps, it never would have happened.

It's hard not to get overwhelmed by the big picture right now, as well.  The big picture for me currently is that I have a lot of work ahead of me.  I have a shitload of weight to lose, and a lot of muscle to build.  I have a lot of research to do.  Lots of blogs to write.  Lots of clothes to buy as my weight continues to change.  Lots of food to learn how to cook.  Lots of habits to break.  Lots of new habits to form.  And aside from my weight loss and my mental health, I have other issues that need dealt with.  I need to buy a new car at some point in the next year or so.  I need to work on cleaning up my credit.  Lots of ducks to straighten into rows before I can even begin putting together a plan to move back to California (which by the way, I recently decided I am most definitely doing--I'll write more on that in a separate blog later).  Ahhh, it's so much, just thinking about it all makes me want to run straight for Dairy Queen and never look back.

I've spent so many years battling my weight that I am probably the most educated person in the room at any given time on things like nutrition and exercise.  I know which foods are best and worst, I know how often I should eat, I know which workouts will be most effective, I know it all.  So I'm always thinking about how well I'm doing in comparison to what I know I should be doing.  It's hard not to beat myself up about it.  For example I just ate a grilled chicken sandwich from Wendy's.  Ultimately I would prefer to be eating no fast food at all.  I would prefer to bring my lunch every single day and only eat wholesome foods, nothing processed, and definitely no white bread.  I would prefer to go home today and work out for an hour and then cook a delicious healthy dinner and then clean up my kitchen and then walk my dog and then get eight hours of sleep tonight.

However, I keep reminding myself that these changes will not happen overnight.  If I push myself too hard to be perfect, I will find myself so desperate to avoid the feelings of failure that I will drown myself in junk food and forget the whole thing.  I know this because I've done it about a zillion times before.  In my mind I always think, "but I don't want to slowly make changes, I want to do everything perfect now, so I can lose the most weight possible in the shortest amount of time".  That has got to be the stupidest damn thing I have ever thought in my entire life.  It seems even stupider now that I've typed it out, lol.  I have carried this weight around for 29 years (except for the few years in my early 20s when I lost 90 pounds, before I gained it back).    I don't think it's unreasonable to take a few extra months to work on changing my habits slowly and sustainably.  What could it possibly hurt?  And what makes that thought process even more ridiculous is that I am in fact losing weight, even as I take these baby steps.  I have lost about 12 pounds so far.

So maybe I did eat a grilled chicken sandwich from Wendy's.  But it's better than a double bacon burger with mayo and fries and god knows what else plus another similar meal for dinner.  It's worlds better.  I have already made so many significant changes that I should be praising myself, not beating myself up.

What I'm trying to do is add a couple of new goals each week.  This week my goals were pretty simple.  Take my dog on a long brisk walk at least three times, and make sure to take my blood pressure medicine every day.  Oh, and keep a food journal so I can identify triggers and emotional eating.  I have kept my commitment to myself so far and I will meet these goals by the end of the week, rest assured.  I have also done a lot more good than just this.  It may be beneficial to write a blog about what else I've done this week that was good that went above and beyond what I set out to do for the week.

I got the Biggest Loser 30 Day Jumpstart DVD last night.  I'm pretty excited to check it out.  I have been looking for some type of workout regimen and this may be what works for me.  We'll see.

Still mulling over what goals I want to set for next week.  I'm trying to only think about next week right now, and not next month or next year.  I reset my goal weight in my weight loss phone app to only 10 pounds less than my current weight, so that I have something to work toward that is within reach in the near future.  If I lose two pounds per week, I should be there by October 2nd at which point I'll set a new goal. :)

I have so much more I want to write, but this will do for now.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A quick check in.

Been productive today.  Got some laundry done, got the house cleaned up, even grocery shopped and planned my menu for the week.  I still need to decide what my plan is for exercise, and decide what action goals I want to start working on.  A (male sexy) friend of mine wants to come over tonight.  I would love to see him, but I really do not feel like being social tonight.  Or shaving my legs. :P

Be faithful in the small things, because it's in them that our strength lies. - Mother Teresa 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How does self-esteem relate to selfishness?

I need to write more on the subject of being selfish.  How does being selfish relate to having high self esteem?  I think they must be related.

I need to respect myself enough to stop breaking promises I make to myself.  It seems like it's easier to flake out on commitments I make to myself because it feels like there is no consequence (whereas, if I let someone else down, I'd feel guilty).  However, what I need to keep reminding myself a million times over is that there are consequences, and they are severe.  I've never had such a pervasive feeling before that I've lost my grip on life.  I've stopped feeling like being social most of the time.  I've stopped caring about hobbies and plans.  I get tired easily when I go out.  It mentally exhausts me to be around other people for prolonged periods of time.  And this is not normal for me -- this is not who I am.  I am a fun-loving, social person who wants to soak up every last bit of joy in life.  The weight and the self-esteem issues are smothering my true spirit.  And it sucks to have to think about this stuff every single day, but I have to keep reminding myself of it so I will take my personal commitments seriously enough to turn my life around.

I guess your mind (or your spirit) is like a muscle.  The more you use it the healthier it is and stronger.  I am feeling stronger inside.  I have so many issues needing dealt with, so many habits to break, so many new habits to form, so much crap to get done.  It feels overwhelming at times but I try not to let it.  I try to remember the old Chinese proverb, "The man who moved the mountain started by carrying away stones".  I can either do nothing at all and continue to watch my life fall like grains of sand through my fingers, or I can keep on trying and working hard and get my life back.  Every single decision I make moves me either backward or forward.  Just gotta keep making more good decisions than bad ones.

Still struggling with saying no to people.  My friend RL recently texted me at 10:30pm at night and wanted to hang out.  I didn't reply to his text, since I had to wake up at 6:30 the next morning for work.  The next morning he IMed me on Facebook and gave me a little bit of hell for ignoring his text the previous night.  I explained to him that it was too late for me to hang out on a work night, that I'm trying to be healthier and get more sleep and not party and stay out late on weeknights.  He said to quit acting like a granny and that I don't need 10 hours of sleep per night and accused me of making excuses.  He was just teasing, but it sucks to have to explain myself to people.  I do care for him and don't want him to think that I'm just flaking on him or whatever, but what the hell am I supposed to do when I explain myself and still catch shit for it?  Bottom line is, I need to not feel bad or guilty or compelled to try to "fix things" with him over this sort of thing.  I have to do what I'm setting out to do for myself first, and every single day, before I even so much as consider meeting another person's needs.  This is hard and I have to keep reminding myself.  Even though I did the right thing by telling RL no and being honest about why, I still worry about that sort of thing happening with him again and with my other friends.  I need to just try to let those emotions go and care about myself enough to stand my ground on this.

I have spent the entire weekend at home for the most part.  I often find myself wanting to take an entire weekend off from social activities just so I can get my house in order and do whatever I need to do to get ready for the next week.  I guess I'm thinking that after a few months I'll start feeling more together and I'll be able to have more social time.  I dunno.

I haven't really gotten a hell of a lot done this weekend, though.  As far as my eating goes, I've done fairly well (but could have done a lot better--however, I'm not trying to be perfect all at once...and I do feel I've improved things a lot so far).  I however have not done any exercise this weekend.  I am hoping to get some guidance from my friend Shell on this because I need to start doing some type of routine from week to week.

My goals for tomorrow are finish housework, plan a menu and grocery shop, and clean out my car.  And probably write another blog.  This one was kind of boring so I probably won't notify everyone that I wrote it, lol.

I'm thinking about action goals.  So another goal for tomorrow is to figure out which action goals I want to work on this coming week.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chasing sunsets.

So, I love sunsets.  Lately, I have been making a point to get outside every night to watch the sky turn pink and purple.  The thing about the sky is, it helps me feel connected to California.  I know that sounds kinda lame, but I miss my home so much.  And yes, home to me is California and always will be.  In California, I spent a lot of time gazing out over the ocean and the sky.  I would often go to a quiet beach north of the Bay and stay for hours alone, scribbling furiously in my journal or just watching the waves roll in.  I distinctly remember watching many sunsets over the Pacific.  There was always a lot of activity on the beach: people walking their dogs, couples sharing a blanket on the sand, children playing.  When the sun starts to glow a deeper orange and drops down closer to the water, the movement on the shore slows down.  As if a movie has begun to play, everyone becomes quiet and still and turns their gaze skyward while the sun slowly sinks below the horizon.  When dusk settles in, movement creeps back across the beach as everyone slowly gathers their things and meanders their way off the beach to discover whatever the night has in store.  It is a tranquil, mesmerizing, and glorious experience.  It is during moments like these that I truly feel high on life.

I'm not in California right now, and since I don't believe in regret, I do try to make the best of being here in West Virginia even though my heart is aching.  One thing that saves me is the abundant natural beauty that surrounds me here.  There is no ocean to escape to as I so wish there was, but we do have rolling hills and forests teeming with life and color.  And we have the very same glowing ball of orange that rises in the morning and sets in the evening.  It is in these sunrises and sunsets that my hope resides.

Since I have been trying to learn new coping mechanisms to replace eating (and being an overall depressive, lazy waste of space), I spend more time enjoying nature than I used to.  When I gaze at the pink dusky sky, I think about how if I had to choose between eating whatever I want and never seeing a sunset again, I would of course choose my sunsets.  Tonight I found myself thinking about how if I could just keep that glowing ball of orange within my range of vision all day, it would help me stay focused and grounded and I wouldn't "stray" toward bad habits like emotional eating.  

This seems like crazy stuff to think about.  I guess I'm just trying to hone in on how much I appreciate beauty in nature and use that to cope with my emotions instead of eating to avoid feeling (which I now realize I have been doing).  I figure I gotta learn how to just let the emotions burn until they burn out.  And maybe it would ease the discomfort of that to put myself in a place where I can feel in tune with nature and the Universe.  

I'm trying to think a lot about why I eat and pay attention to any cues or triggers that may exist.  This is hard to do.  It's hard to see the raw, unedited version of my own emotions and how I react to them, because even to myself I'm constantly trying to justify what I do, or to gloss it over.  It is hard for me to see myself reaching for a bite of food as a direct result of an emotion.  But for the first time I did consciously notice myself do this last night.  I was sitting here at the computer and had half a Subway sandwich leftover that I'd wrapped back up but had not put in the fridge yet.  I was then creeping around on Facebook and saw something that made me feel emotionally uncomfortable, having to do with an ex and jealous feelings.  I immediately reached for the sandwich and began to unwrap it.  Within seconds I would have started taking bites without even paying attention to what I was doing.  But this time, for some reason, I was able to realize that the reaching for the food occurred directly after the start of an uncomfortable emotion.  That's big progress for me.  

As a child I was always the kind of student that needed to understand the "why" of everything.  I distinctly remember feeling very frustrated with my 7th grade mathematics teacher because when I asked her to explain why a certain formula worked, she told me there was no explanation and for me to just memorize it because it worked.  That was never good enough for me and inhibited my ability to learn math while in her class.  I am no different now.  I used to feel very frustrated with religion because I could not understand the "how"s and "why"s of Jesus rising from the dead, the existence of a Heaven and a Hell, or God letting bad stuff happen.  Atheism for me was a coming of age, an enlightening period in my life, realizing how much more sense things made to me when I sought out truth and understanding instead of instruction.  I believe with regard to my issues with weight, food, and self-esteem in general, understanding why things are the way they are for me is crucial in understanding how to change.

I need to start setting concrete goals and meeting them on a weekly basis, but I want to be reasonable with what I set so I won't guarantee failure.  Tiny successes are still successes and they build my confidence.  There is no rush here.  Slow and steady will win this race.  

I haven't been as motivated this week; still feel focused on my goals, and been very mindful all week of what I'm eating and why I'm eating it, but I've lost a bit of steam from the week before, when I exercised more and cooked more.  This weekend I need to put my ducks back in their nice little row and reignite that enthusiasm.

Below are some snippets from my day; a picture of tonight's breathtaking West Virginia sunset, and a quote I saw in my Facebook news feed that resonated with me.

As soon as you trust yourself, 
you will know how to live
 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Weekends and other challenges.

So, time to confess my weekend sins.  It's actually Tuesday now but I still I feel I need to commit some stuff to this blog before I bury it into my repressed memory bank lol.

So, a lot of stuff has happened since the last time I wrote.  I don't feel very focused at the moment, so this won't be the most composed or well-written entry I ever make.  However, I do feel it is necessary to write, as it's been several days since I posted anything.  This blog keeps my goals fresh in my mind and heart but only if I use it consistently.

Friday night: went to Shamrock's, a little pub in Huntington, WV.  I had only been there one prior time, but knew I liked it.  I went this particular evening to check out two bands which are comprised of friends of mine.  Anyway, to make a long story short, I had a great time there.  Lots of good people and music and booze.  Yeah, I said booze.  So there's challenge number one of the weekend.  And honestly I paid zero mind to calorie content or anything else while I chugged away.  I think I drank about two pitchers' worth or so of draft PBR.  The last thing on my mind was my diet.

And maybe not in general, but for that particular evening, I'm okay with that.  I know I have talked in a previous blog about the importance of learning how to say "no" to social events so that I have the time and focus to meet my goals, but I think it may also be important to say "yes" once in awhile.  Friday night was a good choice for a "yes".  I had a wonderful time and it really made me feel good inside.  I think this in small doses is good for my self-esteem and overall feeling of contentment, because regardless of how hermit-like living on the farm in Milton by myself has made me, at the end of the day I am a social person.  It's good for me to be around smiling people who are happy to have me around.

In moderation, of course.  Too much of it and I end up doing what I did later that Friday night, which was stop drunkenly at Taco Bell and shovel a burrito and a taco into my pie hole without even so much as a single thought about my health.  In fact it did not even occur to me until the next morning that I had committed this cheesy, spicy sin, lol.

But here's where I have something good to report.  Although I did not make choices on Saturday and Sunday that were as healthy as I would have preferred, I did show restraint and control throughout the remainder of the weekend and since.  I ate reasonable portions at each meal and I did not throw caution to the wind and eat whatever I wanted because I had already screwed up Friday, as I normally would have done in the past.  So this to me is definitely a big step in the right direction.  In my mind I picture a stick that represents the habit of throwing my diet out the window for days (weeks? months?) each time I eat something "bad", and then I picture myself snapping it in two.  Habit-busting.  This weekend, I busted the habit of completely demolishing any chances of eating like a normal, healthy person just because of one mistake.  I stayed in control of myself.  Knowing I have the ability to conquer my own thinking and do this is a milestone for me.

I must also confess, however, that I didn't get much exercise this weekend.  I did take my dog out on a nice walk Sunday evening, but it wasn't fast paced and I didn't break a sweat.  And I didn't exercise yesterday.

Not that excuses are worth anything, but in my defense, something pretty upsetting happened on Sunday night.  An old friend, a girl who was my best friend for many years growing up, but with whom I had somewhat of a falling out a few years ago, suddenly started having bad headaches and ended up in ICU late Sunday night with fluid around her brain or something like that.  She had a massive seizure, her heart stopped at one point for several seconds, and I honestly did not know if she was going to survive.  I felt a wide spectrum of feelings about this and so I did not sleep hardly at all on Sunday night.  So, yesterday I was exhausted.  No exercise, no real effort to eat healthy, but I did not go overboard and didn't snack on anything bad.

My old friend is doing a little better today, and I had a talk with her girlfriend and have resolved to write her a letter once she gets a bit better and settled back in at home (she's currently still staying at the hospital).  So those feelings are a bit calmer now, and I know I need to get myself re-committed to my goals.  I have been monitoring my weight and it actually went down 0.8 today, but I know I need to not weigh myself daily.  I'm going to start doing it once a week on Sunday morning and see how that works out for me.

Another notable event from this weekend was a (productive) fight with my mother on Sunday.  It started out awful, but I believe progress was made by the end of it.  This is a rare feeling as far as fights with my mother go.  Basically, my mother and I have had tension my entire life on one particular subject: I feel that she doesn't accept me for who I am.  As a teenager, it was about things like dying my hair pink or getting some random body part pierced.  As an adult, it's about things like not believing in God or saying abrasive things in my Facebook status, or feeling like a misfit in West Virginia and wishing I was in California.  When I arrived at my mother's house on Sunday, she made a comment about how she noticed I had blocked her from viewing my Facebook wall and she'd been waiting on me to remove the block or mention it.  I told her the block was not being removed and that she asked for it by telling my I looked "trashy and uneducated" after reading a status update of mine she didn't like about a week ago (it had the word "fuck" in it).  At first she started making vague implications about how she may retract offers she'd extended of financial help (offers, mind you--I never asked for anything) if I don't remove the block.  However, removing the block means conforming to her idea of who I should be because unless I have her blocked, there is going to be repeated drama every time I write something she doesn't like.

This is where it gets important: for the first time in my life, I stood up to her completely and totally.  I told her I was drawing a line in the sand, that if she wants to have me in her life she needs to learn how to tolerate the parts of me that she doesn't like.  That I would rather be poor and live in a cardboard box than sell out who I am for financial assistance from her or anyone else.  That I'm 29 years old, independent, have gainful employment, and don't need anyone's help.  That I have moved to California once on my own and will not hesitate to do so again tomorrow if she wants to press this issue.  I told her I moved back to WV primarily to support my family and that I felt severe feelings of resentment each and every time we had this argument.  So the choice is hers; accept me and learn to bite her tongue when she feels like telling me something I do is trashy and uneducated, or watch me shrink into the distance as I go back to California and sever my relationship with her.  It's my mother, and I certainly don't want to cut ties with her.  But she has got to learn how to treat me like an adult, and with respect for who I am and my choices, or else the relationship isn't doing either of us any favors.  My self-esteem is too fragile, and it's too important for me to strengthen it.  Nothing else comes before that, not even my mother.  I think once she realized I was serious, she was willing to give a little.

I also made it clear that at some point once I get my ducks in a row, I am going back to California.  I told her I'm a misfit here and always will be and I want to go back to my home on the west coast.  She did not have a coronary.  So I felt good about the argument by the end of it, for one of the first times in my life.  Maybe the first time ever, with her.

I noticed this once before with Jon recently, as well: I can't believe how much more respect I get for speaking my mind loud and clearly, even when I'm saying something that the other person may not want to hear.  I said some pretty harshly honest things to Jon during our last big talk, and I honestly feel like I gained respect for it, even though the only reason I'd refrained from speaking my mind for so long was precisely because I was terrified that I'd push him away or lose his friendship.  And again with my mother, I refrained from speaking my mind because I didn't want to create even more drama with her, piss her off worse, make things more difficult for both of us.  Actually though she seemed to respect me for standing firm and not budging.

This is an amazing lesson to learn.  It's helping me feel more confident in saying what I really think and in standing up for what I want for myself and what I feel I deserve.

I want to write a blog soon about 30-day challenges.  I saw a TED talk on this recently, and it's both a good way to try something new, as well as to break old habits.  A few 30-day challenges I'm interested in trying are: wear makeup every day, eat 5 helpings of vegetables every day, go without Facebook, exercise for 30 minutes, take a picture of something I enjoy other than food, etc.  If you have any ideas for challenges, let's hear em.

Someone said something to me recently that has resonated in my mind.  On the subject of feeling hopeless or lacking confidence that I will meet my goals, this friend told me that he believes I will meet my goals because I'm different than most people.  I scoffed at this and asked him how am I different?  He said: you keep trying. You never give up.  This made me feel good and renewed my confidence in myself just a little bit.  That's right, I'm not giving up! If I fail 99 times just so I can succeed the 100th then it was all worth it.

Thanks for reading.  There are only a select few of you that have access to this blog and I love and appreciate each one of you so much for caring enough about me to follow me on the Road to Well.


Friday, August 12, 2011

The difference 8 days can make.

8 days seems like such a tiny, insignificant amount of time when compared to the years upon years I have spent feeling angst-ridden, lost, hopeless, overwhelmed, and most often, numb.  And while I know the Road to Well still stretches out far into the distance before me, these 8 days have brought with them many good changes already, mostly having to do with how I feel inside.

First and most importantly, I don't feel hopeless.  I also don't feel overwhelmed anymore.  It's amazing how things can get so bad that even an optimistic, generally happy person like me can become so beaten down and depressed, so consumed with my own feelings of failure and grief, that digging out of that hole seems impossible. With each failed attempt to get myself well, the notion that I will never be vibrant again becomes more cemented in my mind.  These reinforced feelings are very hard to overcome.  (There is a lot of science behind why we repeat bad behaviors over and over without much ability to refrain or change direction, and there's also helpful science on how to turn things around--I have been doing research, discovered some fascinating information, and will be writing a dedicated blog on that soon.)  

So, what has changed in these 8 days to give me so much renewed hope and energy?  Several things.

1. Honesty
Making the decision to be brutally honest with myself, to stop wading in self-delusion, and to commit those truths to this blog so they can't be hidden again was absolutely monumental for me.  It's funny, the way life works; I have faced so many fears in the past few years, and I know as well as anyone that when you step out of your comfort zone, you often find it's not nearly as uncomfortable as you expected it to be.  For example, I never in a million years dreamed that I would, at age 25, move to California completely by myself. But I did.  And it was the most incredible and gratifying experience of my life.  Hell, I am more proud of that than I am of my college degree.  And every aspect of that move, from leaving my family and friends behind in West Virginia, to acquiring employment in California, to sharing a house with strangers from whom I rented a room, to going out places downtown by myself to make new friends, to navigating through San Francisco--it all taught me how to be independent, confident, and comfortable alone.  So while many of my fears in life had already been faced, I began this blog by facing the worst fear of all: looking deep within myself and acknowledging everything I saw.  And just like California, I discovered that fear grows in the dark, and shrinks in the light.  :)

2. Learning
Aside from everything I have learned about myself during this period of intense honesty, I have also learned a lot about health.  I'm studying everything I can get my hands on that has to do with how to retrain your brain to think more positively, to stop resorting over and over to unhealthy behaviors, and how to quiet my mind so I can stay focused on my goals better.  There's a lot to learn about self-esteem and spirituality, as well.  For years, ever since I left Ohio and my abusive ex-fiance behind, I have felt that I could benefit greatly from some type of counseling or therapy.  However, since along with Ohio I left behind the last job I ever had that offered good medical insurance, I have not had the financial means to seek a therapist.  So for nearly four years I have wished I could go to therapy, knowing how fucked up I am, and feeling desperate for help, but having no idea where to turn.  I don't feel hopeless about that anymore.  Thanks to the guidance of some very close friends, I have begun to understand enough about what is going on inside of me to know where to look for additional resources.  So, I feel like I'm in therapy now even though I'm not spending thousands on a psychiatrist.  That coupled with what I have learned and will continue to learn about the basic science of how my brain works and what I can do to get it to work in my favor is a recipe for success.

3. Mindfulness
For the first time in my life I have had success at forcing myself to stop and think through what I am doing, and thinking about, before proceeding down whatever path I start on.  Yes, I still have lots of self-loathing thoughts but I am getting a lot better at batting them away as soon as they approach, whereas before I would dwell on them, because I did not believe it was possible for me to learn how to think any other way, so I didn't bother trying.  Ever.  I know it sounds ridiculous but I guess that just illustrates how rock bottom I have been.  Now that I have made an honest effort to reign in my mind and control my focus, I feel very happy to report that it can be done.  And much like a muscle, it just takes repetition and practice to strengthen this ability.

4. Alternative rewards
Food, for me, is a reward.  This ties into the emotional eating blog I wrote earlier in the week: the human brain  operates based on a system of rewards for completing tasks that are exhausting or not enjoyable.  (I will get into this in a lot more detail in another blog--fascinating stuff, so don't miss it.)  For me, food is usually the reward I choose, but this week I have made a huge effort to reward myself in other ways, like taking a stroll at sunset with my dog, enjoying spending time in nature, giving myself a pedicure, writing, etc.  Soon I will be signing up for a pottery class as well, which I'm very excited about.  The key here is to give myself plenty of things that I enjoy that make me happy--and guess what starts to happen?  The cravings for food cease as the brain starts to feel rewarded by activities other than eating.  Meditation is a big reward for me.  I could not begin to describe to you how calm, in control, and at peace I feel after I meditate.  There is nothing more refreshing in this Universe.

5. Exercise
Although this is last on my list for today's blog, it's certainly not least.  I have exercised every day so far except for Wednesday this week, and I can already feel my body building endurance.  My energy levels have also increased, my breathing is easier with each session (I have asthma so breathing is always a concern), and soon I will be ready to start transitioning into a harder and more disciplined regimen.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Emotional eating.

This is a concept I personally never took seriously.  I never thought I was an emotional eater.  I just thought it was as simple as this: I fucking love to eat.

When I think of emotional eating, I picture a fat girl with a tear-streaked face whose boyfriend just broke up with her, positioned strategically on the couch and armed with a ladle and a gallon of triple fudge cookie dough ice cream, shoveling it in as fast as she can.

This is a disgusting image to me, and not one I consciously liken myself to.  I can't remember ever crying while eating.  Something about tears and food doesn't go together for me.  And if I'm digging deep, being real honest, it's probably because I never wanted to be the girl I described above.  So the idea of coupling food with sadness was something I didn't want to ever do.

As it turns out, eating for any reason other than physical hunger falls under the umbrella of emotional eating.  So people eat not just because they're sad or heartbroken, but because they're happy!  Or bored.  Or stressed out.  Or anxious.  Or depressed.  Or numb.  Or a variety of other emotions.  No emotion is exempt from this.

As anyone who knows me knows, I am a very emotional person.  I like to say that I was emo before it was cool. :)   So, needless to say, it's kind of ridiculous for me to delude myself into thinking I'm not an emotional eater.  I did not get morbidly obese eating only when I'm hungry.  In fact, most articles I've read on this topic report that 75% of overweight people are emotional eaters.

The thing about food is, it's reliable.  It's always available, and it's always going to taste good.  Regardless of what the fickle boyfriend does today, or that boss who makes you want to rip your hair out, or how many times the car breaks down, food will never abandon you and will never be anything less than what you expect it to be.  And no one can take it away from you.  These very qualities are what make it so addicting to folks like me.  But they're also what makes losing weight so difficult.  Nobody can stop me from emotional eating but me.

So, the key seems to be, as with everything else: mindfulness.  Before I eat, I try to stop and think about why I want to eat.  Am I hungry?  Do I honestly feel a physical rumbling in my stomach, or am I just bored?  Or do I just want it because it tastes good?  Or is there some emotion I'm feeling that I'm trying to avoid or soothe by eating?  Am I craving something specific (which is a sign this is probably emotional hunger), or am I open to options?  If I can answer honestly that I am physically hungry, I will go ahead and eat.  If I do not feel the physical hunger in my belly, I have made a strong effort these past couple of days to decline to eat whatever I was intending to eat.  So far it is helping tremendously.

I don't think I have ever dug this deep within me before to try to get to the root of this weight problem.  Before I always just thought of weight loss as simply eating less, having sheer will power, etc.  But no amount of will power in the world is going to help me succeed in losing weight, if I haven't figured out what is causing me to have those cravings in the first place (as evidenced by my repeated failed attempts in recent years).

So now I know that my weight problem is not just a result of my love of food (although I am sure that plays a big part in it); I know that it is also because I have somehow along the line learned to use food as my number one coping mechanism for any and all emotion I feel.  So, it becomes central to my success to figure out some new and effective ways of coping.  And I think I've done a little bit of that so far.  Taking the dog outside for a nice brisk walk around the farm is helpful.  Any kind of exercise, really, but especially exercise that I enjoy.  Sitting still in the center of a room and quieting my mind is helpful.  Writing in this blog, too.  Calling a friend I haven't connected with in awhile.  Cleaning my house.  Painting my toe nails.  Even sitting on my back steps, watching the deer graze in the meadow while the sun sets.  Take a long bubble bath.  And most important of all, meditate.  (This one I'll write a dedicated blog about later.)  While all of these things may sound like they are simply distractions from eating, that's not exactly true.  These are activities that can help me process ways that I am feeling without shoveling junk food in my mouth.  I need to learn how to let an emotion burn without feeling like I have to smother it with food.  I never realized I was doing this, so now that I have realized it, and now that I have some ideas for alternative coping methods, all I have to do is stay mindful and keep practicing these new skills until I have formed healthier habits.

I never really understood just how important it is and crucial to my mental health and happiness to be able to practice mindfulness.  To be able to control each thought as it approaches, and decide whether its worthy of thinking or discarding, is the key to everything I want to do in my life.

This story is about a lot more than weight loss.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sunsets and Silko.

Tonight I not only exercised for 20 minutes after I got home from work, but I also took my dog on an invigorating walk/mild hike around the farm at sunset.  As much as I despise living in this state, I feel blessed to live in such a beautiful setting.  I think I shall make a habit of going out at sunset with my dog. :)

Dreaming big!

There are several things that I want to do after I get some of this weight off my mind and body--things like travel more, fly out to California for a visit (right now I'm not comfortable with the notion of being squished up against somebody on a sardine can (I mean, plane).  I also have plans for a few tattoos but want to wait until I feel more confident with my body.  I also want to go to grad school one of these days, but I'm going to need a lot more energy than I have right now to be able to work and go to school full-time.  I know that there is no way I could pull it off right now as I did when I was 18-21.  I just don't have the energy.  Also I'm looking forward to being more comfortable in my clothes, caring more about my personal style, etc.  These are all pretty straightforward goals that I have had for a long time and look forward to carrying out in due time.

However, I've been thinking about other goals, "lofty goals", if you will (yes, I have used that phrase three times since I started this blog--I like it, dammit).  Goals like hiking up to the top of Bear Rock Preserve in the Dolly Sods Wilderness of West Virginia.  Maybe going rafting or hell, I don't know, jumping off the New River Gorge Bridge.  Or hiking to the bottom of the mountain below the bridge.  Skiing.  Snowboarding.  Things I'm missing out on because I'm too tired, too out of shape.  Hell, even walking the hilly streets of San Francisco wears my ass out.  I want to be able to plan a full day of physically exerting activities and not be terrified that I'll be the loser fat kid who couldn't keep up and messed up everyone else's day.  Maybe someday I will ride a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge.

There is so much life to be lived and I want to live it.

I have never really had goals of hiking or anything else "athletic".  I always limited myself thinking I'm just not that kind of person and that will never be me.  Well, that's fucking stupid.  I can do whatever I want.  It's my life.  And I want some adventure.  Maybe I'll set the goal of running some marathon or something one of these days.  The sky's the limit, man.  And that's a beautiful thing.

Tonight maybe I'll take my dog out on a hike around the farm.  Something I've never done before since I've lived on the farm, hiking out into the woods, but it's time to start pushing the limits of my comfort zone.  Pretty soon hiking will be well within my comfort zone, and it'll be time to push for something else.  :)

Monday, August 8, 2011


Just Fucking Do it
Don't Fucking Do it

JFDI works pretty well.  It motivated me to get up this morning, to exercise after work, and to get lots of stuff done over the weekend.

DFDI needs more work.  This will be, of course, for times when I need to refrain from something (eating).  Tonight I ate too much...but at least I chose healthy foods.  Cooked at home.  Exercised.  We're taking today as a win.  I should get to bed early tonight and greet tomorrow with even more enthusiasm.

I have stuck post-it notes in all my common areas.  On my monitor and desk.  On the fridge and pantry.  Even in my car.  Things like "Be your own best friend" and "Do or do not, there is no try" which of course came from the great Yoda.

I'm tired and don't feel like composing more than this tonight.  Still have a few topics I want to flesh out in dedicated posts soon.

I think in the big picture of learning to love myself, today I made some breakthroughs.  I stopped to think about what I was doing in some cases, I walked my dog around the yard and spent some quiet time watching deer in the meadow during sunset, and I plowed through doing some things I didn't feel like doing.

Ima gonna keep on keepin on.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Learning to say no.

By "say no", I don't mean say no to food, although that's important too. :P  What I'm referring to is saying no to people.  I am by nature a pretty social person.  I'm fortunate to have a lot of friends.  I also have a lot of acquaintances, some of them men I have spent time talking to or hanging out with.  So this weekend, I cancelled two plans with guys I'd been talking to.  I also said no to a couple of other people who checked in with me over the weekend and wanted to hang out.  Hanging out just wasn't on the agenda this weekend; I had too much to do.  My house was a total wreck, my car was disgusting, and my fridge was in bad need of being stocked with healthy food.  So on Friday, I cancelled all my plans for the weekend and resolved to get shit done.  Within two hours of waking up on Saturday, I was already being productive.  I made a playlist of music that I felt was upbeat and enjoyable, called it my JFDI (just fucking do it) playlist, and got to work.  I did load after load of laundry and cleaned nearly my entire house.  Each time I got a text or IM from someone wanting to hang out, I was firm and short with my answers: can't, sorry, I'm busy gettin shit done.

This is especially significant because typically on the weekend, I have all sorts of lofty goals for taking care of stuff but I usually let anything and everything distract me.  If my friends call and want to come over and drink, I will probably end up doing that.  Then on Sunday I'm too hung over to bother with cleaning and on Monday I feel unprepared.  Another week wasted.  Learning how to say no and take time for me is absolutely crucial at this point.

It was surprisingly difficult to say no to my friends this weekend.  I have always had this issue, I guess.  I don't want my friends to think I don't want to hang out.  I don't want them to stop trying to talk to me or be around me because they think I'm gonna decline.  And quite simply, I don't enjoy the uncomfortable feeling of telling someone no.  This actually reminds me of a lesson I once learned, a very useful lesson, when I worked in the customer service call center for the local electric company.  They told us that when we had to tell the customer something they didn't want to hear, such as it would be days before their electricity was restored, to say it, be firm, own it, and stop talking--don't feel the urge to ramble on to fill the awkward silence.  State the facts and stop talking.  That is a helpful skill in my social life as well, turns out.  

My friend at work, Haley, who lost 90 pounds and knows all about the many emotional facets of weight loss, talks about how you have to learn to be selfish to lose weight.  This is something I'm not sure what to think about with regard to myself, because I guess I already think of myself as a somewhat selfish person.  But honestly what I've been doing is less about being selfish and more about trying to fix pain.  What I've created a pattern of doing is reaching out to people, drawing them in close to me, and then letting them down over and over when I repeatedly flake on plans.  So I end up looking and feeling like a very inconsiderate selfish person.  But what I think really has been going on is I've been wavering back and forth between reaching out to people in an effort to soothe the pain I have inside of me, and drawing back away from people during feelings of low confidence or intimidation.  Or just plain fatigue and depression.  So the shift I'm making here is from this cycle of reaching out to and shutting out people in my life as a method of coping, to clearing space in my life by saying "no" anytime I need to so I can take the time to get my shit straightened out.  I need to learn how to be selfish.  A person with high self-esteem doesn't feel guilty for taking time, even lots of time, for herself.  I have no kids, I have no one who is dependent on me, and I need this time for myself, and I'm gonna take it. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Shining lights on the dark.

This is going to be a difficult post to write, especially since I know it's not completely private.  There are a few of you who will read this.  And I am going to write about something I have never written about before, not even in private journals.  This is truly shining light into the dark areas of my life.  My weight has been a problem my entire life, but only in recent years has it started to feel increasingly like its infecting every facet of my life.  And contributing to that are behaviors I repeat over and over, but never talk about.  Never write about.  Never acknowledge.  Other people have addictions to things like alcohol, drugs.  I wonder if those people feel embarrassed about their addictions like a fat girl does about her addiction to food.  It's fucking shameful as fuck. A person who is addicted to food seems to be regarded by others as an even weaker, sloppier, and more disgusting person than an alcoholic or drug addict.  This is why it's hard to write about.  But until I commit it to "paper", I can continue to hide from it, avoid it, pretend it isn't true, or isn't a pervasive problem in my life.  So guess what.  Let the spotlight shine.  I suffer from an addiction to food.  And I will not let it destroy me.

As a prideful person it is hard for me to recognize this is an issue in my life.  Being really honest in my writing is very difficult.  The human mind has an enormous capacity for self-delusion.  I've always been adamantly against this sort of thing, often criticizing it when I discuss religious delusion.  But the truth is that I've got my own delusions.  It's delusional for me to believe I don't eat for comfort.  It's delusional for me to think that weight loss is the only problem, and that it's not a symptom of a bigger problem.  It's delusional for me to think that I don't have low self esteem.

Earlier tonight I ate some fast food.  Every time I eat I feel guilty.  Eating has become such a shameful and secret thing for me.  I eat in my car pretty often, usually on the way to or from work.  That is when I am alone and can eat whatever I want and don't have to worry about anyone being around.  So one thing I want to do is make a new rule for myself: no eating in my car.

While I was eating I tried to quiet my mind and be still and think about how I felt.  That is an important part of meditating, it's what I've been trying to learn, calming down and just existing and really paying attention to how I feel.  Am I getting pleasure from eating this french fry? I asked myself.  The answer is honestly no at this point.  I'm noticing my back feels tired even though I'm sitting down.  I feel bloated and tired.  I tried to make myself think about the connection between these feelings, obviously a result of weight gain, with eating the food.  Being mindful is helpful I think.

My plan for this weekend is to get my house clean, get my car clean, plan a menu for the week, and go grocery shopping.  I cancelled two plans I had for social stuff this weekend because I cannot put things off for another week.  This weekend is my opportunity to get my shit together and start heading down the path to recovery.  I don't even want to refer to this as weight loss, because it truly is recovery.  I need to get myself back.  Felt good to write about this stuff.  In a way it kind of felt like facing a fear; what I've been ashamed of doesn't seem so awful now that I have published it.  Demon faced.  Time to fight.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The letter.

Well, I've been thinking a lot today about what it means to be my own best friend.  So I started thinking about what sorts of things I would say to my own best friend Peggy, or any of my other best good friends, if they were suffering like I am right now.  And I was quite surprised to find that it is very difficult for me to get in the frame of mind to write a complimentary and motivating letter to myself.  That's not good.  I'm gonna give it my best effort here though.

Dear Linz,

The first thing you need to do is forgive yourself.  Let it go.  Everything, all of it.  All the feelings of misery, of failure, of not having the life you dreamed as a child of having, of making decisions that got you to where you're at today.  Forgive yourself.  Pause and think about what it means to forgive.  You are so forgiving of the people in your life.  You have forgiven your brother for being an utter terror for the first 18 years of your life.  You have forgiven your ex-lovers for breaking your heart.  You have forgiven friends for betrayals.  You forgive others easily and with love.  And why?  Because you know they are good people.  Because you know they love you.  Because they are human and you know humans make mistakes.  Because it's the right thing to do.  Forgive yourself.  That is the first step.  Get it through your skull.  Meditate on it.  Write about it.  Read about it.  Dream about it.  Do whatever you have to do until you fully understand and forgive all the feelings of failure that poison your mind. Let go of the abuse.  Let go of the bitterness about what he did to you.  Let go of how much it bothers you that he leads a happy life after he ruined yours.  Let go of the shame of letting him destroy your spirit.  Be proud of yourself that you got out after three years.  Be proud that you went to California all by yourself.  Be proud that you have been able to hold gainful employment throughout all of your struggles and hardships.  Be proud of your college degree.  You have accomplished so much and are still so young.  FORGIVE YOURSELF.  You can move not one step further until you do this.

I want you to truly understand is what a spectacular person you are.  You are vibrant, beautiful, and you care about the people around you very much.  You are kind and loyal.  You have been this way your entire life.  Yes, there may be a time when you were younger that you can remember being selfish, and yes, there are plenty of times now when you do things that are selfish, but you're human and that's what humans do.  The bottom line is that you are a good person, a unique person, and you deserve the best life you can possibly dream up during your brief time in the sun on planet Earth.  There is no reason for you to feel so down on yourself, so defeated, or so helpless.  You are not helpless.  You are one of the strongest women I have ever known.  You have it within you to be whatever you set out to be.  You are more capable than 95% of humanity.  You just need to find a way to harness that strength and focus it on what you want.

I know that you think that seems like a lofty goal.  I know it seems like a lot of work and not very much fun.  And the cold hard truth is that it is a lot of work.  But what things are valuable that didn't require hard work?  Do you honestly believe you deserve to have everything you dream of without hard work?  Stephen Hawking said that you should always work because it gives you purpose.  Humans like to feel productive.  You will find that even though the work is hard, the feeling that grows within you is better than any drug, any beer, any food, any man.  All of the things that you have been reaching for to make you feel that feeling are leaving you empty.  Hard work will not leave you empty.  It will fill you to the brim with a sense of accomplishment, worth, and hope.

In order to find the motivation to start on the work you have ahead of you, you must love yourself enough to believe you are worth it.  I know it seems offensive to tell you that you do not love yourself.  But get deep, Linz.  Think hard.  You don't treat yourself in a way that reflects self-love.  Rather, you act in a way that reflects self-loathing.  You continue repeating actions that only bring more sorrow, more feelings of failure and negativity.  A buildup of inner self-hatred is a very high price to pay for instant gratification.  Too high of a price to pay.  So high in fact that you are now bankrupt.  And you have no choice but to cut your losses and start over.

I know there is enough love for yourself within you to realize the beauty of this fresh start.  There is wonderful news for you, Linz, and it is that you are still young and strong and you can turn this around starting right now. There is no reason to feel hopeless.  You are not 60 years old weighing 400 pounds with a host of medical problems.  You are 29, have virtually no pain, no serious medical problems to speak of.  You have family who makes sure to provide whatever medical treatment you need, you have a job that provides you with enough money to buy healthy food, you have a house which you don't have to share with anyone with plenty of room to move around, exercise, meditate, do whatever you need to do.  You have every tool in the whole world you could ever possibly need or want to get this done.  All that's left now is to just do it.

I know you are hurting inside.  I know the tears seem like they are constantly filling you up until intermittently you have to let them spill out.  This process will be like therapy for you.  With each few pounds you are peeling off layers of pain that you have piled on with every bite of cake, every french fry.  You will have to look inside yourself deeply and find the courage and love to continue every single day.  You will have to make a commitment to yourself and respect yourself enough to keep it.  Would you tell your best friend you're going to do something that is really important to her, and then continually let her down over and over?  You wouldn't dream of it.  You love her so much and you don't want to let her down.  Stop letting yourself down.

One thing you must realize is that you are going to have to stop focusing on things that are creating obstacles on your path.  The path needs to be clear.  One of the major obstacles in your life has always been men.  They are your weakness.  You want so badly to feel loved.  You want someone to care how your day went and appreciate the beauty inside of you.  But Linz, how do you ever expect anyone to love you like you want, when you don't even love yourself like you want?  Are you the kind of person that the man you're looking for is looking for?  The unfortunate and tough answer is no.  You're not.  But the good news is, you can be.  And it's as simple as making the decision to start living your life in a way that moves you farther down the path rather than out into some tangled ravine.

The thing is, dating all of these men is not helping you in any way achieve any of your goals right now, not even the goal of eventually finding a partner.  What happens instead? You end up thinking constantly about whether you're good enough, pretty enough, smart enough.  You worry that you're too overweight to be attractive.  You worry that all they want is sex, which makes you feel like you're not good enough to attract a man who wants more than that.  Dating is not healthy for you right now.  You need to fully understand that and embrace it and make the decision to stop dating altogether until you get all of this straightened out.  The last thing you need is to have something in your life that is causing you to have all of these negative doubts about yourself constantly.  Stop.  Let it go.  Allow yourself to feel the relief of not having to worry about any of these things ever again.  Who cares what any man thinks of you?  Worry about that later, after you've learned to care about what you think of yourself.

If I may offer a piece of advice, is it to start controlling your environment in a healthy way.  Stop listening to music that makes you cry tears of shame or sorrow.  Stop hanging around people who influence you to do things that are not conducive to your goals.  If they truly value your friendship they will find ways to be around you without creating obstacles on your path.  Stop entertaining self-loathing thoughts.  When you start to feel down about yourself or sad, force yourself to change direction and start having positive thoughts.  If you have to, put sticky notes all over your house reminding you of positive things.  Meditate often and strengthen your ability to focus and control the thoughts that enter your mind.

What I guess I'm getting at here is that you need to realize that grossly successful people immerse themselves in their goals.  You need to live, breathe, sleep, eat, and dream about what you want.  Every move you make needs to be a step forward on your path.  It is okay to obsess about this.  You are worth it.  You are more than worth it.  As Buddha put it, there is no one on the planet more deserving of your love than yourself.  Love yourself enough to put 100% of your energy into YOU right now.  Because you're not going to get there any other way.  Stop worrying about what your friends want you to do, or what your co-workers want to order for lunch.  Stop feeling obligated to go places you know will put obstacles on your path.  And get rid of your old habits, the ones that are only feeding your sorrow and pain.  Even if some of those habits are people in your life.  Those who truly love you and want you to be happy will give you the space you need and be there for you anytime you need support.  And they will be cheering and jumping for joy along with you when you look back on the next few months and rejoice in how far you've come.


Writing in a new way.

Well, here we are again.  Me, myself, I, and all of my demons, starting a new blog.  This has gotta be the 10,000th time I've resolved to start a writing project to help me lose weight.  But there are going to be some significant differences this time.  First and foremost, this isn't a blog about losing weight.  This is a blog about taking the tiny shred of my soul that's left and growing it back into a healthy vibrant shining star.  That's who I am, buried beneath years and years of pain and angst and failure and hopelessness.

I'm not going to write aimlessly.  This is not a free flowing stream of consciousness as I typically tend to do with things like this.  This is not just an outlet where I type whatever words are in my head.  I've realized how utterly non-useful that is for me.  Learning how to quiet my mind, control my thoughts, stay focused, these are the things I need to do in order to lose weight, feel happier, and be more productive.  So it makes sense that I should write about it  in a focused, meaningful way as well.

I named this blog Letters To My Best Friend because this blog is going to be all about self-love.  It may sound like a cheesy concept, one a prideful person like me has never spent much time thinking about until now.  It seems ridiculous to me on the surface to suggest that I don't love myself.  Looking back over my behavior and decisions though tells me that I could love myself a whole lot more than I do.  A person who feels a high sense of self worth would not have made many of the choices I have made or acted in many of the ways I have acted.

So, I'm not writing to a best friend.  I'm writing to myself.  But I'm writing to myself the way I would write to my best friend.  I'm going to start being my own best friend and it begins with this blog.

Another difference between my previous writings about weight loss and this blog is that it will not be private.  I think by owning my fears, insecurities, embarrassments, etc, it will help me to shine light on the dark parts of me that have kept me down for so long.

That's it for now.