You've got to be carefully taught....

Or so the song goes that children are formed by the world around them, and so be careful in what you teach.

My dad called me this morning at the oh-so-not-early time of 9:45 for a little chat about my grandpa's health (not good).  We eventually got on the subject of his own health and well-being.  He's relating all these new lessons he's learned, namely the importance of self-love and self-esteem in a pure and sincere way. 

You know, I wrote about how sad I was that my mom never was able to attain this inner peace of knowing who you are, but I never expected to write a post about being happy that my father is on that path.  The more sure he is of himself, the more stock I can put in our relationship.  We are on stable ground.

I was very luck that growing up I had a very strong sense of myself, or at least a very strong sense of who I wasn't.  It kept me out of trouble and it gave me the courage to strike out on my own.  It pissed my parents off a bit too, but I can look back and understand that my challenging them was too far outside their comfort zone and they didn't know how to respond or push back.

Sometimes this feeling of knowing myself was confidence, sometimes it was bravado, but it always came from a sense of knowing that no matter what, I had myself to depend on.

Well.. here goes...

Talk about journalistic integrity.....


(and yes, I'm trying to strut... much better than looking mortified)

Itty Bitty Teenie Weenie

Well it's not yellow or polka dots, but it is a bikini.

Well let me take a step back and assuage your fears.  I bought a tankini and matching bottoms.  But as there was a sale...and nothing will make a woman spend more than she intends than a sale, I also bought a bikini top.

Even as a cute little girl I wasn't a fan of bikinis (a sense of modesty, perhaps?), instead opting for a full bathing suit, or even better -- covered by a t-shirt.

Back before my accident, I actually bought a bikini with the hopes of debuting it when I was thin and svelte.  That was before all my progress was sidelined.  I look at that bikini now with a feeling of regret.  So I just wanted to start over.

I haven't decided whether I'm going to post photos of me in the bikini or not (soooo revealing) but I do hope that I will get to wear it sometime soon and not feel mortified.  Until then I will stick to the tankini or my one-piece suit.

“The first farmer was the first man. All historic nobility rests on the possession and use of land.” --Ralph Waldo Emerson





If you want to know all that is good (and bad) with the world, ask a farmer.
If you're lucky enough, he will share his bounty with you.

[I might just have to go back] I went back to the farmer's market to take some photos for you -- but oh my word, the produce never looked sexier.  The tomatoes were luscious.  The strawberries were perfectly scandalous with how succulent they were (as if to say "you know you want to eat me!")  The baby squashes, the leafy greens, the meats, eggs, cheeses.

I am reminded of the comments about the Oreos.   It seems wrong to me, now, to feel the same desire for something completely unnatural as I do for these beautiful foods that are straight from the ground.  It would be a slander to the apples and dandelion greens to say an Oreo is just as good as those things.  It is hardly the case and I should remember that more.

The spring chickens are still waiting to debut.  When they do, I will be in absolute heaven.


To thine own self be true...

Okay, so I might be a little delusional when it comes to how I see myself, but I'd rather envision how I feel on the inside than admit all the things I find wrong on the outside.

For starters:

1.  Stomach/abdomen.  People get upset when they can "pinch an inch"  -- how about a handful? It's the part of me that I stress about the most.

2.  Thighs.  I fantasize about what it would be like for them to not rub against each other or have to use Body Glide so I don't get a rash.

3.  Skin.  I wish I had flawless skin, no blackheads, no pimples, and no desire to pick at my skin.

4.  Butt.  For the most part I like it, but it's pretty damn flat.

5.  Nose.  I've never really admitted this aloud, but I think my nose is a bit too big for my face.  I don't think I'd ever have surgery but it is something I take a critical eye to.

6. My Boob Bridge.  Between my breasts and over my sternum there is extra flesh.  It prevents me from having pretty awesome cleavage.

7. My wings.  I remember being horrified by my Nana's arms and how much they flapped.

BUT... there are some parts of me I love.

1. My feet.  They might be a big (size 9.5/10) but I have long toes and beautiful arches.

2. My eyes.  While I might be blind, they've never failed to attract.

3. My lips.  I've been told they're the perfect kissing lips.  I'll take that.

4. My legs.  Long and strong.  Eat your heart out.

5. My boobs.  I think I'd like a breast lift (especially if I were to ever have kids) but for the most part, I love my buddies.

6.  My clavicles.  I know lots of people who lose their collar bones when they get fat.  Mine have always been with me.  They're an important reminder to have good posture.

Going the Distance

I remember having to do the mile run in elementary school every year as part of the Presidential Fitness Challenge.   Mile run, pull ups, sit ups, sit & reach.  I never did any good on it.  I always encountered this problem of my lungs not being able to keep up with me.  I'd run an eighth of a mile and my lungs would start to burn and get tight.  I was never tested for asthma.  Chances are that I was just really out of shape and my lungs (like any other muscle) just weren't fit.

I remember as I got older that I just stopped trying.  I knew I could walk the mile in 15 minutes and that was good enough for me.  Some people would run 12 minute miles, and I was just 3 minutes behind while putting out far less effort.  In other words, I gave up and settled with mediocrity.

By the time I started going to the gym, I was convinced that my body was holding me back.  I must have had asthma.  I was convinced I was fat because I had PCOS.  As it turns out, my lungs were just underused and weak, but I could exercise and condition them.  And I didn't have PCOS.  My excuses couldn't excuse me anymore.

So I went to the gym.  I let someone else expect more from me than I did of myself.  Lemme tell you, that first kilometer on the elliptical was absolute murder and I thought I was going to die.  But in a few weeks, I was able to work myself up to a 10k in 52 minutes.  The big surprise was that my lungs did not fail me -- they actually liked the work out.  As I would get going, my lungs would relax and take in more air.  The fatigue in my muscles would go away because my body was dealing with the lactic acid build up.  I was compensating!

Certain exercises were still hard for me (as I'd later find out, my back injury was more serious than just not having strong core muscles, but having bulging discs that affected the nerves in my back).

But I learned that the most important part of changing your life is to expect more from yourself than you thought you were capable of.  And if you're not up to the challenge, fake it.  If you don't have the strength, borrow some.  The bottom line is that you'll never know just how strong you are until you push yourself to your limit and then some.

I don't believe in the phrase "No pain, no gain" (because pain sometimes tells you something is wrong) but I understand what it's getting at -- there's a difference between mental pain and actual physical pain.  Push past the mental construct of what you think your limits are.

Favorite quotes

I'll make no bones about it, I love the show The Biggest Loser.

One of my favorite moments was not a dramatic weigh in or an excited utterance.  It was during an interview with Season 10's Pink Team:  Ashley and Sherry.  Ashley turns to her mother and says "What happens if I go in there and I can't do it?"  Sherry turns to her daughter and says "But what if you go in there and you can?"

They've shown this clip a few times, but each and every time I get chills over this quiet confidence of a mother (who is suffering her own battles) trying to do right by her child.

It's become one of my new mantras -- "but what if I can?"

Tare

Remember in science class (probably chemistry) when we are introduced to scientific scales that need to be re-zeroed before they can be used?  You hit the tare button. 

I think in the very same way I need to hit the tare button on my ability to drink.  Last night I behaved myself all through the post-softball caloric train wreck:  I didn't drink beer (I did have coke, which is unusual for me, but also had lots of water) and didn't eat all the fried foods that were available (I did have one chicken tender and made sure I savored it).  Then the party got moved from the dining room of the restaurant, to the bar. 

3 beers and a shot of tequila = 700-750 calories.  Ugh.  But not too bad b/c I burned 2800+ calories on the day.

I woke up this morning thinking (1) it was Friday (which it was not) and (2) that having your yearly physical/blood tests while you're hungover probably doesn't make a good impression on your doctor.  But luckily it is Thursday, and the appointment is tomorrow. 

To get my stomach properly oriented (as I rarely get headachey hangovers anymore, it's all digestive hangovers/proof that I shouldn't drink b/c my body doesn't like it) I ate an everything bagel with egg and sausage, a Naked Red Machine, and a banana.  I'm estimating this was all around 1000 calories.

Ugh again!!

I think the lesson I really need to learn is that it's truly not worth drinking in terms of calories, how I feel, and the recovery involved.  If I'm going to drink, it better be high quality and for a special occasion.

The Fruits of Labor

It is so nice when people notice that you look different (i.e. better).

For the most part I don't see the changes.  I guess that's part of my own special version of body dysmorphic disorder.  When I look in the mirror I always see:
Dita Von Teese

Kate Winslet, Vanity Fair
or



I don't see the fat person. I can already see what's underneath.  It's just kinda nice that she's making an appearance for other people as well.

Getting back on the horse

So I've been sick for almost a week.  My next step is crucial:  getting back on the horse.

I haven't been logging my meals, reaching my step counts, or drinking enough water.
So how do I go from utter self-pity to getting back on the horse, back in the groove, and back in the right direction? 

Well I guess the answer is simple -- take a deep breath and get back to doing what I need to do.  There's no need to catch up to what I should have been doing or to compensate.  Just stick with the plan -- eat mindfully, move liberally, sleep well.  Rinse, repeat.

I ordered the bridesmaid gown in a size 16 as it fits my biggest measurement right now (chest) and got it in the extra long length (+5 inches).  I can only imagine how much that will have to change.  Thank goodness I know a great tailor.

I've made tentative plans to do some tennis and water aerobics with a friend (with option to recruit ball boy/cabana boy later) and softball season is picking up.  If I can manage to stay healthy, I think I'll be in good shape.

One moment in time, when I'm less than I thought I could be....

And.... in that one moment in time... I will feel.... I will feel..... **HORK** **SNIFFLE** eternity.

Being sick SUCKS.  But seriously, for three days there I was under 200 lbs.

I wanted being under 200 to feel really good.  I imagined leading a parade down mainstreet that said "No longer an obese fattie!" I would wave to the crowds and they'd cheer for me.  I might be on the cover of magazines, and all the gossip blogs would be like "Who is that svelte girl? Where has she been all our lives?"  Men would fawn over me, women would want to be me, and children would think I'm a real-life princess.

But no.  Three days of horking my lungs out and barely being able to eat and/or move. 
Sooo not what I had imagined.

Support

I just wanted to plug two very important support systems I have in place:

My softball team/softball girlfriends:  I've been playing softball with my work colleagues for the past five years, and the girls on the team have become some of my closest girlfriends.  They support me in ways that I can't even begin to express -- from the unspoken support to the very verbal, I feel them rally around me every time I've expressed frustration with my body and my weight.  Not only do they support me, but they support each other and their own goals.  I'm very lucky to have girlfriends who will share my veggie plate or not give me crap for not drinking beer.

Secondly, I was going to post about my Victoria's Secret sports bras, but it seems like they're not making them any more (the VSX Underwire mesh sports bra).  Either way, I love them and glad that I have like 5 of them.  They breath really well and support my 38Ds.  Without them, I'd injure myself while jogging.

"So....you know you're fat?"

A few years ago I went to a new internist for my first physical in a very long time.  After the nurse did all the measurements and blood draw (I'm still not good with needles) the doctor walked in while reading my chart, looked at me and said, "So....you know you're fat?"  I'm not sure how much I weighed at that physical, but those words echoed in my head.  She didn't say "overweight' or "obese" (which technically I was).  Just fat.  As in "you don't need a doctor to tell you this."

I go back to her next week for a physical.  However, today I had two appointments -- one to look at my knee (I get weird pains in it -- I just wanted to make sure it was mechanical (because of my back and the way I compensate for the pain) versus physical).  The x-ray looked fine--my patella is shifted a little medially (towards the mid-line of my body) but nothing too bad.

My second appointment was for the lady parts.  Now here's where things get exciting -- my nurse practitioner that I've been seeing for years walks in and she says.  "Oh. My. God.  Almost 17lbs? Go you!"  In other words, since my physical last year, I've lost 16.7lbs.  We talked about what I've been doing (the GoWear Fit, the nutritionist, etc.) and the implications it might have on my ovarian issues (the dysmenorrhea). 

I'm so excited to go to my yearly physical next week and have my internist see the weight loss.  I'm really really excited.  It seems so real when a doctor says "hey, good job... you're taking good care of yourself."

((however, my taking care of myself today might just be getting back into bed -- i picked up a chest cold on tuesday/wednesday and have been coughing up some yellowish-green gunk.  my body aches all over.  So while I haven't walked much/burned many calories today, my body is telling me to take a break and get well first.  It's okay.  I burned lots of calories yesterday...))

Always look on the bright side of life...

Today marks what would have been my mother's 60th birthday.  Unfortunately, she died at the young age of 44 from something that couldn't have been predicted or prevented--a cerebral aneurysm.

Since this blog is about food & body, I just thought I'd focus on that part of the emotions I feel today.  My mom had her issues and battles with food:  she grew up as a chubby child; lost some of it in college; gained while being medicated for panic attacks; went up and down with children; and then towards the end of her life seemed to be content with a diet of coffee, cigarettes, and dinner.  

She projected her weight and body issues on to me.  When I was a baby, she didn't even try to nurse me (apparently she didn't have much success/comfort with breasfteeding my older brother and became paranoid about that).  When I was in the fourth grade, I needed to be fitted for a bra.  She wouldn't let me get a cute pink bra with a bow in the middle.  I was allowed to pick out a sports bra that flattened my chest only.  She vocally resented the shape of my legs and hips. 

The food she did make for my brother and I wasn't always the best, vastly underrepresented fresh fruits and vegetables, and bordered on the torture of meat products (her porkchops often turned out grey).

But for as sad as all these memories are, I just focus on the few good ones.  When my father was getting ready to sell the house, he pulled back the kitchen curtains and found white, crusty food attached to them.  I knew exactly what it was -- before my mom had died, we had little bit of a fake-potato food fight.  I remember making tomato sauce with her (from the garden to the pot).  I looked forward to each holiday season where we'd bake hundreds of cookies--just her and I. 

Ultimately what I'm left with is a profound compassion for my mother.  I wish I could go back in time and share with her what I've learned about how to be gentle, forgiving, and understanding with myself and my own shortcomings.  I wonder what her life would have been like if she had been at peace with her body, not resigned to an outcome.

Rotating the Tires

So, part of The Plan is to take better care of myself.  That being said, I've made a bunch of doctors appointments.  I've already had my dental appointment (and have the next one scheduled for before the wedding so I can get my teeth whitened).  I booked my gynecologist appointment and yearly physical appointment (have you?).  I also am going to an orthopedist on Thursday to take a look at my right knee (if it's in one position for too long it locks up and hurts quite a bit). 

I've also had a little bit of a setback.  I thought I could handle having a container of Double Stuf Oreos in my house, but it's not the case.  I had 5 with/after dinner.  It's one of my trigger foods -- where once I get the taste of it in my mouth, I have trouble sticking to what I know is a perfectly acceptable portion (2).  For some people it's potato chips, for some people it's alcohol.  For me it's sweets.  I even put a note on the package that reads "you are stronger than the cookies" and that didn't help.  My next step is duct taping the package closed.   When you're trying to pry apart layers of duct tape (1) you have to really want it and (2) it's a good mindfulness practice (yes, this is purely me trying to justify it...).

The thing is that I had a pretty healthy breakfast/am snack (strawberries, cherries, fiber one, cheese, and a little bit of ceviche to see how it was coming along), a healthy lunch (salad with low cal dressing (a la Chop't)), planned two Oreos for my afternoon snack, and had a dinner of ceviche, broccoli and rice.  I had planned for those two Oreos as a snack, and also made the choice to include them.  When I got home and went into the freezer for the third, that wasn't mindful. That wasn't a choice.  That was impulse.  But even then I was okay.  It wasn't until Oreo number five (350 calories of sugar and chemicals) that I started to beat myself up.  Oreo number six for the day was kind of like a "fuck it, I'm screwed already" move.  I regret Oreo nos. 4-6.

If you watch The Biggest Loser, it was almost comforting to hear a contestant who was in the final 4 admit that they sabotaged themselves and their chances at winning by slipping into old patterns.  We're all human.  We all make mistakes.  It's about whether we add the second arrow and sulk/punish ourselves or whether we identify what was going on, let it have its moment and get back to what we know. 

So while I regret Oreo No. 4, No. 5, and No. 6, there's nothing I can do about it other than let it go, learn from it, and work towards having a healthy relationship with these cookies.

The Center for Mindful Eating

Thanks to my dietitian for turning me on to this Web site (okay AP style guide... website is acceptable but it just doesn't feel right quite yet):

The Center for Mindful Eating has lots of great reading material.  It appeals to my already-present interest in Buddhism but focuses on the act of eating itself as an activity that needs our attention and care, something I am not particularly good at (I'm more vacuum than bodisattva).

Which brings me to a joke that I love telling....

What does the Buddha say when he enjoys what he is eating?
Aum (om/ohm) nom nom.  Aum nom nom.  Aum nom nom.

Yes, I know it's cheesy -- but you know, whatever works.

A letter to my future self -- at my goal weight of 165

Robby:

Savor this moment and remember it always. 

Stand in front of a mirror and look at yourself.  Keep on looking until you recognize yourself.  This is the Robby you've been waiting to meet all of your life.  Be kind to her.  Honor her. 

Also honor the Roberta that did all the hard work. She had to learn not only how to nourish her body, but her whole self.  She learned that taking care of herself wasn't an act of selfishness or vanity, but deep and abiding respect for herself. She has delivered you to this wonderful time in your life.

Remember standing on the scale when you weighed 240? Remember weighing 202?  Remember the shame of weighing so much, the relief in being 38 lbs lighter?  Remember this feeling--this pride. The pride of being the person you always knew you were will ensure that you will never go back to the sad, shameful place you lived in for so long.

You can and will maintain this healthy lifestyle because you love the freedom it gives you.  Your relationship with food now is about the taste, the nutrients, the experience of it with family and friends.  It is no longer about what you are not saying, or the feelings you are swallowing.

You will have good days and bad ones -- you'll want to eat apple pie for breakfast.  It's okay.  You know what your body wants and needs, and that even includes not following a food pyramid some meals.  There was no path for you to find this healthy place, but you blazed a trail.  You know this place within you and you know how to find it time and time again.  Have confidence in that.  You know who you are and what you're made of.  No one can shake that feeling.

So stand in front of the mirror.  Greet yourself every day with the kindness and love you deserve. 

-Robby (at 203.5)

PS:  I hope you enjoyed shopping for new clothing.  A letter of apology to your wallet is forthcoming.

Disproportionate

I love food.  I seriously love food.
I will never apologize for loving food.

That being said, I am very upset when I order food and it's not what I was expecting.
My bosses often buy my lunch under the "You fly, I buy" theory (if I go and get it, they're willing to pay for it) because they're usually stuck on conference calls or at their desks. 

Today we ordered Bertucci's -- instead of pizza I tried to opt for something healthier -- Rigatoni with shrimp and broccoli in a white wine sauce.  What I got was a container full of pasta, 5 shrimp (okay) and like 5 pieces of broccoli. 

It's a broccoli injustice. 

Broccoli > Pasta on any day of the week.

Social Eating

You know the scenario:
A group of friends go out to a bar for no occasion in particular.  The intent is to have a few drinks. 
By the end of the night 10 pitchers of beer have been demolished.  Nachos, wings, burgers....

In other words, a caloric minefield.

In the past you might have been the one encouraging people to drink, ordering more appetizers... but oh no... this time you order nachos with chicken to share and stick to 3 bottles of a beer you like instead of the generic lite beer from a pitcher into an refillable pint glass.

In other words, a social eating victory.

When someone teased you about how you're not drinking as fast as everyone else, you did not respond by ordering another beer.  You just enjoyed the one you had.  When you heard it was half-price burger night, instead of thinking "Oh what a great deal!" you asked yourself instead "Well, am I actually hungry?"

In other words, being mindful.

Sometimes these changes are really subtle, but changes they are.

Archives, more advice to myself:

Who knew I was full of such wisdom and insight?  Sometimes I just need to trust that deep down I know this stuff.  Okay, so I might have gone on a tangent for a bit -- but everything is directing my compass in one direction right now.

From June 29, 2005:

Robby's way to better health, inside and out:

1. You are what you eat, what you think, what you breathe, etc. Don't put toxic food in your body, toxic thoughts in your mind and don't expose yourself to toxic environments. You have to set yourself up for success instead of seeing how strong your willpower is at every turn.

2. Find inspiration and motivation from within yourself and from your environment. Have friends that support and encourage your goals, and will even take a lap with you. If it's a nice day, go out for a walk. If it's a crappy day, stay in and do some weights. If it's the middle of the night and you just want some exercise, nudge the beefcake next to you. As for the internal motivation, just remind yourself that you have to treat yourself well, or no one else will.

3. Be consistent. Your goal must be the sum of all your actions. Actions contrary to the goal will set you back mentally and physically. So set a goal that's realistic, and then make a plan that's realistic for your needs and abilities.


Okay, this is advice from a fattie, but you know what... that's all changing, biznatches.

Archives

I found this in my (other, private) blog -- and it spoke to me (I posted it August 26, 2006):

A great quote from Megan Mullally in Self magazine:

I started thinking there were so many other things I'd rather be doing than obsessing over what I was going to eat or forcing myself to work out.  There is something wrong with that:  You should never force yourself not to eat when you're hungry or to exercise when you're not feeling it.  It's destructive.  I'd put all this pressure on myself, thinking if I looked a certain way I'd get more acting jobs.  It was sucking all the creative energy out of me.

...I don't spend time anymore worrying whether I'm skinny or look young.  Sure, I feel good when I take a shower and put on makeup and my hair looks cute and I buy a new pair of jeans. But those are different things.  The key to self-esteem is knowing who you are.  Chasing an ideal is like being in one of those wave pools where you swim and swim and never get anywhere.  Beauty is a wonderful thing, but there's beauty in imperfection, in relaxing and spending time with your family.  You have to train yourself to think differently, not to beat yourself up and realize you've got better things to think about than having a fat day.  Put on a bigger pair of pants and get out there.

A letter to my youth

Dear Roberta, aged 7 or so (as you won't be called Robby for many years to come):

First of all, I want to assuage your fears -- there will be some bumps in the road ahead, but no matter what life throws at you, you will always find a reservoir of strength in some way or another to get you through.  So don't find this letter as cause for alarm--you will be okay. 

The thing is this:  your parents aren't perfect and aren't necessarily going to know everything about how to raise you correctly.   This is because they, themselves, had parents that didn't know everything about how to raise them correctly.  They are also too afraid to admit this to themselves and to you.  As a kid, you really have no choice but to follow their lead.   Don't worry about this--their reign over you is a finite span of time.  After this, you will be able to make your own choices and determine the paths you take in life.

It's not all rainbows and butterflies, though.  You will experience the loss of people very close to you and deal with it in unhealthy ways.  Again, don't worry--you do not become a drug addict, a college drop-out, or give in to the despair.  You find a way through it.  It might be messy and imperfect, but the chutzpah and resourcefulness you have will get you through it. 

I wish I could go back in time and guide you through what's going to happen to you over the next couple of years, but the only reason I am who I am right now is because of all that happens -- good and bad.  So for now, I can just hold you in my heart a little while and feel compassion that you will have to go it alone for the most part.

I'm still cleaning up the aftermath of all that, but I'm doing this for you and me.  I'm doing this for us.  I'm doing this because you deserved to be taken care of better.  You deserved to have someone notice how much pain you were in and how much grief you were hiding.  You deserved to have proper meals, and more family activities that didn't involve the warmth of a television.  You deserved to have parents who loved you and the body they created.   You deserved to have parents who could place your needs over their insecurities.  It might be a little late, but you know this now.

It's 10:30 and past your bedtime, and approaching mine.  But if you could reach out into the future and send me some of your dreams, I'll try my best to live them.

-Robby

Life the life you love; love the life you live. (Attributed to Bob Marley)

I have a bumper sticker hanging from a magnet on my front door:


When I first got it (at a Green Festival booth) it so simply spoke to me that I was not living a life I loved -- I was half-living a life I took for granted.  I'm working on improving my status, but I just wanted to share this little tidbit.  I think the sooner you
live a live you love and love the life you live,
 the sooner you can actually savor all that is going on
-- experiences, friendships, and even food.

Haven't you heard the word of your body?

Our bodies are pretty impressive machines -- full of bells, whistles, and alarms.  Sadly this machine doesn't come with an instruction manual.  We just have to get a feel for it while making some mistakes along the way. 

I once read in a book (I believe it was Real Food by Nina Planck) that kids are born intuitive eaters.  Left to their own devices they pick the foods their bodies need (such as when they're deficient in a mineral), and they don't overeat/undereat (kids are naturally slow eaters).  Somewhere along the way we're told to eat this or that, that we eat too much or don't eat enough.  "Society's played us a terrible trick, und sociologically we're sick."  Okay, so maybe not sociologically, but we're definitely sick when it comes to our own nutrition.

And yes, we allow society to dictate too much when it comes to how we feel about our own bodies (I've talked about this before)  -- leading to body dysmorphic disorders, eating disorders, depression, as well as a multi-billion dollar industry that either compounds those issues or helps to solve them.  Basically we let the outside world be a louder voice than our own -- what we want for ourselves, for our own bodies, for our health, for our futures.  Our own voice has been silenced.

I am just thinking about this today because my body sends me some very clear signals when I'm about to get my period (and even some subliminal ones) -- mainly that I don't drink much water or eat the day before/the first day of my period (and subliminally I tend to wear red more...).  My period came a week early and I was caught off guard because I didn't listen to what my body was trying to tell me.  Ever since I first got my period, it has been abnormal.  However, my mom was so ill-informed about menstruation that all she could do was tell me "it's normal, drink some tea."  It took going to college for me to finally ask a doctor, and no, my symptoms (hot flashes, chills, nausea, vomiting, severe cramping) were not normal (especially because they occurred on a frequent basis). 

I should have listened to what my body was trying to tell me about my back -- that the pain I was feeling wasn't because I was weak, it was because I was injured.

So I'm going to make a promise to myself, and I hope you'll do the same:  I'm going to trust my instincts when it comes to my body.  I will be my body's caretaker and advocate.  I will learn to trust and honor my body and listen to what it tries to tell me.

Rules of Engagement

For many years I've advised friends who asked that it's never fair in a fight to throw the kitchen sink at someone.  In other words, deal with the fight at hand, not issues and events long past.  Nothing can be done about those things.  Instead of a constructive environment where you're dealing with the present moment, you open the door to destruction, chaos, and mayhem where you dredge up everything and anything someone has done to you. 

Last night I let the kitchen sink fly.

I called dad for the first time in a month.  I prefaced the conversation that what I was about to say were facts and perceptions, not judgments or blame.  I was not throwing the kitchen sink at him. Rather, I was telling him there was a kitchen sink.  A gorilla in my emotional room.  I apologized that my mom wasn't around to share the weight of the sink, but that I could no longer carry it and move forward.

My big fear in doing this is that he would react as if it were blame or that he owed me explanations or penance, or that it would be a setback in his recovery from alcoholism.  I just needed understanding.  I needed him to know that I wasn't going to let those things hold me back anymore.  Lots of it had to do with my childhood and how my parents weren't in a good place themselves to be able to teach, nurture, and guide me.  I was overweight/obese as a child, and they knew when it started, why it started and didn't do anything about it except berate me and make me feel ashamed.  I needed him to know that, on behalf of my childhood self, that I was mad, disappointed, and no longer accepting that failing as my own.  I needed him to know that as a parent he failed me in ways that made me unhealthy both physically and psychologically.

I told him that I was able to go back into those memories and have compassion not only for myself as the child who was fearful, felt neglected, and needed guidance but for both him and my mom for not knowing any better.  I expressed regret that because of their own emotional issues that there were barriers that were in place (that I constructed, or just seemed to be there) that prevented us from having a healthy relationship with each other. 

I also told him that going forward that I would no longer worry about him more than I worry about myself in ways that were unhealthy.  I would recognize when his emotions were eclipsing my own.

To my surprise, he took lots of what I said on board.   I think over the years he's not just changed the lens with which he views me, but has switched cameras.  For a long time he saw me through my mother's eyes -- an angry child that wouldn't follow orders and would lash out.  When put in context of having a mother who was a psychological terrorist, he began to see that my actions and attitude as a child was just what I needed to do in order to survive.  Because no one was able to be a good example, I had to do a lot of trial and error on my own.  It made me stubborn as hell, but also tough as nails.  Despite being rather stoic, there were lots of things that were never said.  I should have said them when they came up, but I just didn't have the confidence that my parents would respond in a healthy way or a trust that I could speak my mind without repercussion. 

I asked him to think about what I said before replying (i.e., not trying to emotionally defend himself but to be able to calmly respond).

But I woke up today feeling great relief.  That I said what I needed to say in order to let the past be the past.

Totem

Ever just forget a word?  I was searching for the word "totem" the other day and just couldn't think of it.  So yeah... from a sexual totem to an exercise totem.  That's what I meant to say.

The exercise of putting together photos left me rather spent emotionally.  I got to one photo of me in the 8th grade and then the record stopped, picked up with my senior photo from HS and then because I was in the office, the only other photos I had were from my cruise with my BFF in 1Q 2006.  Things turned disastrous when I arrived at the photos from Jamaica.

This wasn't the same photo. In the photo I was looking at, I'm standing next to my gorgeous BFF in her bikini, and I look like I'm trying to cover myself.  I can even see the discomfort in my face here.  It's as if I'm saying "get it over with." 

A few years ago I bought myself a bikini, hoping it would motivate me to exercise.  It did until I injured my back.  By the time summer came around, I was back to my old weight (a combination of inactivity and depression).  Another friend asked me to go to her family's beach house for the weekend with her.  I packed the bikini.   Who the hell knows why, but I actually wore it on the beach, stomach and all.  It was my grand "And what?" to life.  I spent most of the time in the water just thinking to myself, hey I'm lucky to walk. 

This is how I got the nickname Lambfish -- because while all my friends were tanning on the shore, I was in the cool water, floating and swimming, the nerves in my back numb, the muscles relaxed.  I was very happy.

Correlation

I took some time today to pull out some photos to make a timeline of my body-- and I was/was not surprised to see how strongly they correlated to some traumatic events in my life.  My instant, gutteral reaction was just utter sympathy.  I wished with all my heart that I could go back to 1986 and tell my parents something was looming on the horizon and that they'd have to watch out for me.

Juxtapositions

I'm fascinated with this British tv show, SuperSize vs. SuperSkinny.  (Click here for some clips)
People's brains are wired so differently, producing such visible, dramatic results.  How much of it is nature, how much is nurture.  Is a person born anorexic or an overeater, or are they created?

(I personally love the quote from one of the obese americans they profile when she says "You have to believe that the voice telling you that you will start your diet tomorrow, that that person is out to kill you.")

Morbid Obesity



Morbid obesity is anything over a BMI of 40 (between 30 and 40 is just regular obesity).

I have such great empathy for people who do this to themselves, for the people that enable this, and the great changes people have to undergo to be able to understand what they're doing.  Almost all people (from what I've seen/read) that are morbidly obese have emotional attachments to food.  To be able to break the cycle, you have to be able to almost detach your feeling towards the food (ie, feeling emotionally satiated).  I empathize with this greatly.   It's a horrible cycle of eating to make yourself feel better, feeling depressed because you just ate and then eating to relieve that distress.

What I really don't get are the parents that see their children go down this route and do nothing. I wonder how broken they are, or how much denial they are in to allow this to go on.  On a message board I belong to, we were discussing whether parents should be criminally liable for their obese children.  What are your thought?

Nike: Goddess of Strength, Speed, and Victory

For the record, I wear Saucony sneakers -- so this isn't about Nike sneakers.

First, a tangent:  A few years I bought a book on a whim, and it turned out to mean much more to me than I would have expected.  I've had three copies of the book, and none of them remain with me.  They've all gone on to friends, and hopefully beyond.  It was called The Good Girl's Guide to Bad Girl Sex, and it was written by a psychologist who used to be a sexual surrogate.  This wasn't a guide of positions and toys, rather 2/3 of the book was self-analysis.  One of the first exercises was to go back in your past and write a list of every time you wanted to express your sexual self, but some external force (a person, society, a sense of morals) told you that was wrong.  Other exercises had to do with looking at how you present yourself from an objective point of view.   One of my favorite suggestions in that book was to have in your house something that reminded you of your sexuality and connection with your sexual self.  For me it as a painting by Pierre-Auguste Cot.

So... back to Nike.  It doesn't surprise me a bit that the Greeks chose a woman to represent strength.  My mom once told me that the word female is Fe (the chemical symbol for iron) + male.  There's something innate within all of us that makes us able to endure, persevere, and triumph.  I think more and more that I need to find something to remind me of that more often.  My reminders around the house are my balance ball, balance disc, yoga mat, and Wii/Wii Fit. There's nothing really that reminds me that no matter the setback (such as my lumbar discs being inflamed), that I can overcome.

I am thinking of getting my MRI blown up into an 8x10 photo as a reminder that every day I am able to walk (even if I'm not feeling great) is a victory in and of itself.  I think Nike would approve.

Mindfulness

After my mother died, there was almost an immediate panic that all of the "junk" my father had been putting up with would just vanish.  By junk, I mean trunks full of my grandparent's treasures.  For the most part it wasn't junk, just volume: two sets of demitasse china, three or four sets of silverware, and things they picked up while living in Austria and Japan.

By the time he moved in 1999 from a house to an apartment, my father had gotten rid of many things.  However, I had squirreled away a few things that I thought were beautiful, or had meaning to me.  Among those things were two Japanese incense burners in the shape of the Buddha.  Now, I had never met my maternal grandfather (he died in 1966), and my mom died (in 1994) before I could find out more about these two statues, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they were my grandfathers (that he bought them or was presented with them).

Siddartha sits with his eyes closed and a slight smile on his lips.  This was my first introduction to Buddhism.  It wasn't an epiphany, it wasn't a charismatic sales pitch:  it was the relationship I had with these statues.  They weren't idols and I wouldn't pray to them.  It started with the simple question of "what does he know that I don't?"  Like the Mona Lisa, I could read his face a thousand different ways -- some days contemplative, some days joyful, some mournful.  I realized that I saw in him what I was feeling myself.

This question and realization began an investigation not only into Buddhism, but into myself.  I read the writings of the Dalai Lama, Jack Kornfield, Thich Nhat Hanh and many others.  I began listening to dharma talks, eventually landing on a few people that I really enjoyed listening to, like Tara Brach.  I liked the message:  you have the ability entirely within yourself to handle whatever life throws at you.  The same word kept coming up over and over again--mindfulness.

About two years ago I got the guts to attend a Learnapalooza event--Introduction to Meditation.  And well, I wasn't prepared for what happened.  I had listened to the dharma talks and the meditations, but it wasn't the same as being in the room with someone telling you it was okay to feel whatever you were feeling.  And I couldn't help but cry.  I don't know why I was crying, but I knew at that moment that it was okay, no one was judging me, I wasn't judging myself.  I had touched a place of vulnerability within myself that I hadn't discovered before.  I was being mindful by sitting there with my self without even noticing it.  In the second sitting, they lead the beginners through a compassion meditation (metta practice).  With the suggestion that we start small and not deal with the large issues looming in our lives, we began to be kind to ourselves, kind to someone who might have hurt us, and kind to a nameless, faceless person in the future.  Again, I cried because I couldn't help but jump into the deep end.  Whether I did or did not forgive those people, I recognized the shift to wanting to forgive them rather than bearing a grudge.

So wow, this post took a tangent far from what I wanted to get on about..... which were the 14 Mindfulness Trainings.

Last night I had 4 glasses of wine.  That was enough to get me drunk, frisky, and ultimately dealt me a nice hangover.  I woke up feeling just a little groggy, a little foggy.  And all I could really think to myself was that all drinking does is lead me further from who I am.  I looked in the mirror and my face was puffy, my eyes had remnants of eyeliner gunked into the corner of my eyes, and my body was shaking from the intestines outward.

I walked to the kitchen to feed the cats and saw my white board where it says "no alcohol" and reminded myself of why I put it up there.  It undermines my goals.  I can be social and bubbly without it.  I cannot, however, be healthy with it.

from Mindfulness Training #5: Simple, Healthy Living
 I will practise mindful consuming, not using alcohol, drugs or any other products that bring toxins into my own and the collective body and consciousness.

Deep down I truly believe that my fat is a battle wound, and that under all of it is a person I will recognize as my true self, someone whose intentions and actions are the same.