Validation

Business first:
Hello to the Blog Hoppers!





I know we all say that we're doing it for ourselves.  Really we have to.  If we don't say it's for our very own self, our chances of making life-long changes diminish.  Our chance of failure increases. We have to value our own life (and living), our own body, our own emotions.  We have to put in the work.

HOWEVER, I just wanted to at least admit to myself and you all, that hearing other people notice the work and the results is sooooo delicious.  People used to say to me "Oh you look like you've lost weight" and I knew I hadn't.  Now when they say it,  I can say "Yeah, 13 pounds. Can you believe it?" 

I'm really proud of what I'm doing here. Having people notice it is like adding a gust of wind to a sail that is already full.  Just pushes me that little much more.

I hope in a little way it can inspire the people around me who says they can't do it, or that they don't want to do it, or that say they're doing it but don't know what they're doing.  I'm hoping I can encourage my dad to commit to the process. 

You know, someone said to me today that they don't want to give up their junk food.  And you'd be amazed...once you start putting in the work and seeing results, the junk food isn't on your radar, and if it is, it's the tiniest little blip.

Something about it just feels different...

So business first:

I absolutely hate it when I'm in a groove running on the elliptical, 50 minutes in, and someone comes to the gym, and BLASTS the volume on the TVs such that I can't even hear my own music.  I will not go deaf in the pursuit of my own health.  It cheeses me even more that people don't ask "hey, is it okay if I increase the volume" or "can you still hear your music?"  What makes their workout more important than mine? It completely derails me.  I spent the last 10 minutes just so unfocused because I had the news being pumped into my brain.  I was so upset that when the hour was over, I went into the ladies room, washed my face, and went back to the elliptical to "re-do" the last 10 minutes.

Okay... so the point of this post.  Before my run I jumped on the scale at the gym--it's one of those old fashioned Doctor's scales -- nothing fancy or digital about it.

Normally I just slide the big weight over to 200 and then have it.  This morning I slid it over to 200 and... it was too heavy...even with my sneakers on!

I blinked my eyes (as it was before 6 a.m. and wanted to make sure i was doing it correctly).  Yep. Doing it all correctly.... and I had to slide the big weight down to 150 and work up from there.

It felt so differently than when I stand on a digital scale.  It was almost like a validation that I am indeed under 200, and have been for 3 weeks, because that scale said so.

Gift Wrap

First things first -- **waves hello to all her new followers** ((yes, people reading my blog makes me insanely happy and mad with power... j/k on that last bit there))

Secondly, yes... I know it's 4:30 am EST (when I started writing this). Someone took a nap after work and didn't wake up.

Thirdly, someone didn't go to the gym 2 days in a row because of a nasty sunburn on her stomach and her busy day at work.


So my little chickadees (and the few roosters hanging around here all silent like...) I wanted to talk about gift wrap today.

I kinda mentioned in my post the other day about how I used to dress.  Growing up, I was a bit of a tomboy, but I'd always look adorable in a dress.  But after my Nana and mom died, something happened.  Part of it was the weight, as even when my mom was alive, we had a hard time finding age-appropriate clothing for me (I was mortified when we had to go to a plus-size store to buy clothing right before I started the seventh grade (I believe)).  But moreso, any last bit of desire I might have had to look cute went out the window.

Part of it was my mom.  She'd make lots of disparaging comments about my body.  Looking back, I can clearly see that she was jealous that I received the womanly frame she claimed to not have.  She was curvy and gorgeous when she was in college ((was even the Spring Queen at her college)), but because of her eating issues and other issues (her panic attack medicine made her gain weight), she lost too much weight and her curves along with that weight.  I think she just chose to forget that she was once a plus-sized girl with breasts, hips, and legs.

My first bra fitting was when I was in the 4th grade (9-years old) and i wasn't allowed to get a cute training bra with a bow in the middle -- partly because I didn't fit any of the training bras.  I went from nothing to a 34B.  My mom made me get a sports bra that would squish my breasts down and I'd have to wear that all the time. She was a 34/36 A/B depending on the bra.  She'd poke me in the breasts and say things like "why couldn't I have gotten these?" or "figures it skipped a generation."  I think my mom has always had issues with her breasts -- she didn't enjoy breastfeeding my older brother (notes in his baby book suggest this) and per my father's recollection, she didn't even try breastfeeding me.

My mom was also jealous of my hips/legs.  She bought her jeans at a mens' store because womens' jeans never fit her narrowly enough in the hips.  On the other hand, I've always had wider hips and knees that are good friends.  In other words, I had the hourglass shape.

Mom tried to keep my body under wraps.  After she died, I didn't really speak up for myself and say "Hi, I'd like to be a pretty young girl."  I pretty much hid.  The clothing that my mom bought before the start of 7th grade was all I had for the start of 8th (Mom got sick right as school began in 8th grade and we didn't get the chance to shop for new clothing).  Dad didn't particularly understand the right of passage that is shopping for new school clothes, so I didn't get much new clothing until the old stuff was in disrepair.   I wound up wearing lots of my mom's old clothing, which was rather bittersweet and odd at the same time.

One of the first times I mentioned that I needed new clothing, dad wanted to make me look like a catholic school girl of sorts -- with plaid wool skirts and stuff, but I didn't want that at all.  One day my dad had taken my brother to get some new clothing (I think it was underwear/undershirts) at a Bob's Store, and i found myself wandering through not the women's section, but the boy's/men's section (I wasn't allowed to stray very far).  I picked out a pair of pants for myself (boy's skater jeans with ginormous leg holes) and asked my dad if I could have them.  I don't think he really looked at them or realized they were boy's pants, but as it was the first time I really asked for clothing, he complied.

That was in the 10th grade. For tops I wore his hand-me-down flannel shirts and some of of my mom's old turtleneck shirts.  I looked like a lumberjack.

So that's the backstory.  What I wanted to write about was gift wrap.  You know when you get someone a gift that you're especially proud of (b/c you know they'll love it and it's just perfect)?  You don't just hand it to them in the bag it came in, but you take the proper time and effort to wrap it nicely, in beautiful paper and maybe a few ribbons.

Well that's exactly how I feel about myself now.  I find myself wearing less black.  I find myself getting frustrated with pants that are too big.  I am wearing more color.  I am buying myself pretty, delicate things with flowers printed on them.  I'm showing off a little here and there (especially my arms).  I'm not skimping on buying things of low quality, or that hide my body in a tent.  I make sure i get pedicures and that my skin is moisturized.  I have almost stopped my obsessive skin picking (or at least greatly reduced it--and that's another mom vs. my body story to tell another day).

In Hamlet, Polonius says "For the apparel oft proclaims the man."  I hope the world is taking notice of what I'm proclaiming.  I hope it translates to "I take good care of myself.  I won't let you treat me badly."


I am gift wrapping myself for the world. And yes, it's because I love myself and I'm my own imperfect perfection.

Short post b/c I don't have much time

ugh... crazy day at work + tomato-like sunburn + ridiculous weather system overhead = GAAAH

so here's a link on why you need sun and the healthy ways to get it and a photo from 1991 of me and my dad (and a lobster tail)

Just how far I've come....

This is me in 1994 (school photo that Chris Roth drew a heart around in my yearbook as a way to mock me)....

The photo was taken shortly after my mom died.  Please note the gigantic plastic glasses, the braces, the too-dark lipstick, the boyhaircut (my hair was long--when my mom died I told the hairdresser to cut it all off), and morbidly black clothing.  Also notice the double chin?

Yeah, that had been there before my mother died.  I didn't know how to deal with my mother's mother dying (while I was in the room) and so I ate.  Lump having unhealthy parents on top of it (it's peculiar to think about, but my parents rarely played games with me as a kid) and this is what you get.  I was 5'9" and the dress I'm wearing in that photo was a size 20.

Within two years of this photo being taken (I'll have to hunt for the subsequent yearbook photos) I was at my heaviest -- 5'9" and 240 lbs.  I was in 10th grade, wearing boy's skater pants, my dad's old flannels and completely oblivious to just how unhappy I was.

I was chatting with a HS classmate (who runs a modeling agency now) about how most people in my life now will never know the person in the photo you see.  Part of that girl is still with me, but for the most part I've let her go.  I've let go all of her pain, all of her grief, and all of her confusion.

It took being in front of a camera once again (a webcam, self-portraits with digital cameras) in order to see myself as beautiful, sexy, worthy.... but most of all, healed.  Because I no longer looked like a goth Janet Reno, I allowed myself to no longer feel like her.  I gave myself a little credit.  I even lost a little bit of weight.

It's funny how that happens... you forgive yourself a little bit and a little weight comes off.  You spend less time ruminating on all the things in the past that held you back or beat you down and you move forward.  The weight comes off.  I don't think i know a single fat person that doesn't feel like their extra body weight is a burden.  But there comes a day when you choose to allow a little honesty/grace/compassion/forgiveness into your life and the burden says "it's okay, you don't have to carry me anymore."

Why thank you... don't mind if I do...

Celebrating the season...

There are many reasons I love the summer.  I'm a Leo (8/8), pool!, cute sundresses, and wonderful, beautiful fresh fruits and veggies at the Farmer's Market. I let the local foodshed dictate what I'm going to eat, rather than go to a grocery store and be supplied with whatever I might want from who knows where.

It's a form of adventure, comfort, and joy.

I love honoring ingredients by letting them play with each other raw.

One of my favorite things to eat is bruchetta.

I start by making the bread (I can do it from scratch, but in this case, I'm eating garlic-rosemary focaccia from a stand at the farmer's market).  I cut it into 2" strips then cut the bread down into thirds (melba toast thin).  I drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top (you can use an olive oil mister).  Use a high-quality extra virgin olive oil.  I'm using Interrupcion olive oil from Argentina.  Unlike many other olive oils I've had, this has a beautiful bright quality to it.   Here you have a few options-- Grill the bread, broil the bread, or just bake the bread.  The goal is having thinly-sliced bread with some crunch to it.

The top is diced fresh tomatoes, garlic (as much as you want), salt and pepper, and topped with a chiffonade of basil.

Then noms away.

Later?  This season's first peaches.  **swoons**

Going up hills...

So Emily and I were chatting the other day about a bike ride she took around New York City.  There was one part that had a very big hill.  And she felt a little unsure of it until she said to herself "your body can do anything for 45 seconds."

It got me thinking that it's not necessarily our bodies that provide the doubt -- it's our minds.  If we trust our bodies that we can do anything for a limited amount of time, we give our bodies permission to meet that goal and even surpass it.

When i first starting running on the elliptical there were times that I felt like I was going to die.  It was usually when the cross-ramp and the resistance were increased and my lungs just weren't ready.  But I'd urge my lungs to stick with it.  I'd will my body to move the oxygen to the extremities that were starting to feel fatigue. I told my body what it was capable of those days.

Same thing with doing plank exercises.  Even though I was injured (and didn't know it at the time), my body would give out on me.  My trainer would get down on the floor right next to me and say "you can do it... just focus."  It wasn't focusing my body, it was focusing my mind on a spot on the floor.  I would tell the floor that i wasn't ready to touch it.

Today I will go to the pool for 20 minutes in a bikini.  Yep, that's what I said.
Because seriously, I won't die from doing it.  My body needs the help with vitamin D.  And if anyone wants to get snarky with me, I have a very swift kick to the nuts in my arsenal.

Dinner Roll Model

So my brother and I think my mom had anorexia, and at the very least we know she had food issues.
And someone made me think of this tonight...

When I was young, I'd say something along the lines of "I'm hungry, what's for dinner?"
She'd say "food"
I'd reply "But what kind of food" in that whiney, naggy kid voice.
"Good food."
"But I'm hungry now."
"Suck air." Mom would end the conversation right then and there.

One thing that my dietician and I are trying to work on is (1) recognizing hunger (2) being okay with hunger (it's your body talking to you) and (3) honoring that hunger.

When I was younger, I could recognize that I was hungry, and the response was to basically deal with it, and I'd be fed when mom was good and ready.  Oh the irony of an anorexic controlling my food intake!  Mom greatly overestimated her ability to cook. It wasn't always "good" food.  Unless you call Hamburger Helper or Kid Cuisine Microwaveable meals "good" for you.

Our bodies as advertisement

So much of me wants to delete my previous post -- as it's a little embarrassing and the result of 4 Coronas. Embarrassing for two reasons:  the content; and I used to be a bartender (I'm trying not to drink/as much as it's wasteful calories while drinking and usually makes the next day a waste).

But about the content... for as much as I hate being a pity party, or try not to seek validation from anyone but myself, what I wrote was true to what I was feeling at the moment, so it stays.  That journalistic integrity strikes again!

I was thinking about it while I was showering (where all my best thinking happens) and I think one of the reasons why I'm so frustrated is that when a person sees you, they don't know your past or the future you're aiming for.  They see you in one moment of time and make a judgment based on that.  In other words, they don't know the journey.

When a guy sees me in a bar, he doesn't know I used to weigh 240 lbs, be an obsessive skin picker, and wear braces.  He just sees someone that's 198lbs, has okay skin, and okay teeth (that need to be whitened, as I'm not a fan of their color).

The second reason I think I am embarrassed is that I'm so guilty of it as well.  While I (rightly?) shoot down some men (like married ones, or ones in relationships) I often don't let guys get out the first sentence before I know whether I'm interested or not.  Case-in-point?  Old guys, bald guys, short guys, and blue collar guys seem to love me.  And I'm judging them b/c I like guys close to my age, with some hair, that are tall (aren't they fun to climb?) and that are wickedly smart (I want to be able to learn and grow with someone).

I really don't want to be known as self-centered, superficial, and/or judgmental.  That's not what I expect of myself.  So comes another "New Rule."

Let's first rehash the old ones:

1.  Leave No One Behind -- if someone asks for help, give it.
2.  I will do no harm to my body.
3.  I will not think badly when I look at myself in the mirror.
4.  I will not judge someone without recognizing the journey they are on first.

So that leads me to a question:  What do you want people to notice about you before they make up their minds?

Le Sigh....

Just once, once in my life a guy will see me from across the bar, think I'm cute, offer to buy me a drink and try to give me his phone number

Just once. That's all I want.

To not feel repulsive. To not feel like an outsider.
To not feel indebted to any attention from the opposite sex that I might get.
To feel desired.  To feel desirable.

Asking for Help

I'm just going to put this out there as I'm still absolutely beat from yesterdays' run+softball game+softball game and it seems to be timely: 

If you find yourself lacking motivation, willpower, or energy to get your butt to the gym/outside/in gear... ASK SOMEONE.  Like seriously people... we are all trying to get healthy.  That's a noble goal.  It's no time to let your ego get in the way. People will not judge your form, your outfit, your body, but they will applaud your effort.

Don't worry -- one day you'll be able to help someone else, but for now it's okay to ask for it.
So come on people... let's get the energy up, the passion lit, and our bodies in motion.

For the record...

I am beat ...
6 km on the elliptical and 2 softball games in 95 degree heat (one game I was in the outfield running around like a chicken with its head cut off).

3500 calorie burn for the day...
I haven't even put in my food yet, but I'd be surprised if I even cleared 1800 calories.

[Edit: 2137 -- the cheese in my turkey chili did me in]

One of my pieces of good news...

So you've often read me talk about my dad here as part of the reason why I'm fat.
I'm proud to announce that he's taking part of my getting healthy
1. he wanted a Body Media Fit for father's day
2. he wanted to pay for (3) sessions with my dietician
You know, it's really hard to be mad at him when he's starting to get out of his funk and be the father I always knew he was capable of being....

Fun quizzes!

National Institution of Health's Portion Distortion Quiz 1
National Institution of Health's Portion Distortion Quiz 2
Jillian Michael's Losing It Calorie Quiz

National Institution of Health's Serving Size reference guide...

It's the little things, really

One of my biggest complaints (that could easily be remedied on my part, but I preferred to complain) is that gym-provided towels are SO SMALL.  I can understand it in the case of hand/workout towels, but not shower towels (and I understand smaller towels = smaller expenses).  I mean, if you want bigger people to exercise, wouldn't you want to make them feel comfortable/less self-conscious when showering as well?

Well I made this point to someone on my company's Wellness committee either took my advice, I have a poor memory, or I'm the incredible shrinking woman.  Yesterday after my run, I took a shower and the towel fit around my torso.  That never happens. But I'm encouraged by this fact.  They should advertise it.

So how about you all -- what accommodations could a gym make to encourage you to go more often?

Unrelated thoughts... a/k/a the lightning round with Emily

1.  (Online) Dating as a fat chick sucks.  Guys read that I have a "little extra" and dismiss the entirety of who I am.  It's a little disheartening.  I'm not going to lie to them and tell them I'm some skinny bird, but at the same time, I wish they'd at least be courteous to me and reply "Sorry, your gravity is overwhelming."

2.  Body perception:  Yes, I classify myself as "a little extra" versus "overweight" (which I am) or "Obese" (which I am not) or "BBW" (which horrifies me a bit).  I am a size 14, the average size of a woman in America.  I am always shocking people with how much I weight because either they are polite or because I am muscular.  I am also athletic (I ran 6km on the elliptical today, and stopped only b/c I had to go back to work; softball tomorrow).  So what do you call yourself?  If there was a category for "Athletic with pudge" I'd totally sign up. 

3.  Comfort foods ChocolateChampagneToast/bruchetta?  Yesh please.  Comfort foods for an emotional eater are hard to classify because either food causes comfort or anxiety -- but there are foods that offer something between comfort and nothing.  Foods that, by themselves, offer comfort and nutrition.  Though I say this, I'd date Broccoli if it were personified as a man.  Tall, kinda lanky, wild hairdo, little bit of crunch to him. Tastes good a little salty, and also with a little butter...

4.  Have I mentioned lately that I'm nearing 1300 days without having sex?  Yeah, kinda driving me batty.

5. Okay, back to #3... I don't know about you, but there are just some foods that are just sexy and sensual.  I hate to bring up the image of two dogs slurping it up, but spaghetti from whole wheat to spaghetti squash is food begging to be played with, teased, slurped, pushed around and devoured.  Remember when you were young and you played with your food -- it was part adventure, part joy.  I never played with food that I didn't like.  I always played with the food that I adored and wanted to savor.  Gravy moat in my mashed potatoes? Why thank you.  Orange smiles?  Please.  Graham cracker sculptures?  You betcha.   Spaghetti artwork? Bring it on.

6. okay back to #1... why are guys so turned off by the idea of a girl that has 2 cats?

7. I have another dear friend (sorry Emily, you're not the only one) who is a ballerina, actress, and has a unwavering dedication to her lingerie collection.  I just gotta say that I'm in awe of that -- being able to spend $200+ on a bra and underwear set.  She has such a wonderful sense of who she is and just how well she should treat herself.  Not gonna lie, I kinda wanted to be less of a tomboy after hanging out with her for a while.

8.  I totally went to the gym the past two days, having not shaved since Saturday.  Eat that, convention!  The moral of the story is NO ONE CARED -- everyone was too busy paying to their own work out to notice the stubble.  I think if they did notice my hairy legs, they must have been too in awe of my grace, speed, and strength to say anything.

9.  I used to always say that my legs were my favorite body part.  I love how muscular and shapely they are.  Long too.  But i'm obsessed with my triceps now, thanks to Wii Boxing.  Part of this is because i never really had any definition there, the other part is that the wedding dress is strapless!  I want nice looking arms.

10.  The cheese is taunting me.... I love cheese-- most kinds except the stinky ones.  I can eat way more cheese than any one person needs.  I've recently found out a trick -- if I get the spicy cheeses -- like habeƱero cheddar, i can't eat more than an ounce or so before my mouth feels a little burny.  Problem solved! Sadly, this might justify my love of queso.

Phenomenal Woman/more inspiration

Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

My inspiration


I've written before that I have someone very close to me that is my inspiration.... I wrote once:
Had it not been for one of my closest friends making the huge change in her life, I wouldn't have found the courage to even believe I was capable of such change. She doesn't always realize it, but I'm her biggest fan. I'm in awe of her strength, her humor, her successes and even her losses. Because she's able to get back up on the horse, I know I can as well.
On my bad days she tells me she's been there too, that cheese is taunting me, and that one bad day will not and can not derail me.
It's not my place to tell her story, but hopefully one day she will guest blog and explain just how huge her change was, and what it takes to stay where she is.  

I just wanted to say (as I say over and over again to her) how thankful I am to have her in my life.  It's more than just the weight loss.  There are other ways our lives have run parallel to each other and intersected.  I know that no matter what ever happens to me, that there's someone in the world that would move heaven and earth to make sure I am happy.  I'd do the same for her a million times over.  Knowing that someone has your back AND your heart is invaluable, especially the times when your heart has shattered in a million pieces and when you're feeling beat down. 

She is the strongest woman I know, inside and out.  I am in awe of her.  And I am so absolutely blessed that not only do I get to call her a friend, but she calls me one as well.

It wasn't a fluke.

So while having a respiratory infection might've helped me break the barrier of 200lbs (because I barely couldn't eat anything for a week or so), staying under 200 has not been a fluke.

This morning I weighed in at 198 -- I've been fluctuating between 197 and 199 for a week now.  So I feel I can safely say adios to the 200s.

Man... where's my parade?
Oh that's right... I've still got work to do.

An Epiphany, of Sorts

So you all know my recent weekend caloric misadventures, as well as my on-going struggle against Oreos (little bastards that they are).

While I was running on the elliptical tonight I believe I had an epiphany:  Instead of being upset about what I did eat, I should be upset about what I didn't eat.  In other words, because I was chowing down on sugar-laden desserts (which I love, don't get me wrong) I didn't have the stomach space for the good fruits, veg, and protein that my body needs.

The familiar quote of not being allowed to have dessert until I finished dinner came to mind.  I'm not tied to the idea of cleaning a plate (especially if what's on the plate isn't necessarily healthy), but I think the notion behind this (that is, fulfill your dietary requirements before you see what caloric mischief you can get into) is relevant.

I should be trying to focus on my health requirements, but if I get all upset about how I've spoiled a diet, I really do take the eye off the prize.  Yes, we all slip and slide and eat something we shouldn't, but do we make amends with our bodies for giving it the wrong fuel? 

And then why the landslide?  Among addicts (alcohol, drugs) they say "One is too many and a thousand is never enough."  In other words, what you want to put in your body is not actually giving you what you really need, and in fact, is taking you further and further away from it.

I'm not saying abstain from the foods that are triggers, but one should really understand why it's a trigger.  I should really know why street vendors at parades make me salivate the way they do.  I should practice that sacred pause long enough to identify whose voice is speaking -- my stomach or my mind.  If I can't figure out where the voice is coming from, I should wait until it introduces itself.

I might just be crazy

I'm making plans to double up my exercise.
Go to the gym in the morning before work and after work (excepting when I have plans and then I'll go during lunch).

I think it's doable.

What am I waiting for? (/self pep talk)

138 days until the wedding.
Seriously, why isn't my butt in the gym every second possible?
Do I think that I'll magically drop 25lbs overnight?  Will some weight-loss faerie sneak into my bedroom in the middle of the night and perform liposuction with her magic little wand?

Highly fucking unlikely.
I just gotta get back to the plan, stick with what I know, and deal with it one day at a time.  138 days to fail or 138 days to succeed.  This is all up to me.

I know this isn't a sprint.  I know that the wedding isn't the end of this.  I am just fortunate to have a very good reason to do this right here, right now.

You take the good, You take the bad, you take them both....

So in my last post I spoke about being able to know when you're full.  I want to make it very clear that this is my ideal and by no means what I'm able to practice right now for myself.  I am absolutely horrible about knowing when I'm hungry, when I'm full, or otherwise.  I know when there is food and that's when I make up my mind as to whether I want it or not.

Not a single choice I've made for myself today has been based in actual nutrition, meal planning, or knowing where i stand calorically.

Let me explain a little bit -- I'm visiting my dad in NYC for father's day.  We went to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade (dad wanted to go to Luna Park (ever since he was a little kid, but it was a madhouse there).

My eating for the day is as such:
1. a slice of cinnamon raisin bread
2. sausage, 2-egg & cheese on a kaiser roll
3. a few of my dad's fries
4. a rainbow italian ice
5. a Mr. Softee ice cream cone
6. a grande iced tea lemonade with black tea and 1 packet of sugar in the raw
7. spinach salad with shrimp, cranberries, almonds, orange and raspberry vinaigrette
8. a Naturale 90 black cherry soda (almost 2-servings)
9. chocolate mousse cake

So yeah, there it is folks.  That's how you have 3 desserts in one day.
It's been an absolute abomination.  The only upside is that i walked 19,300 steps, burned 3159 calories and got in a little bit of sun.

But seriously... WHAT THE HELL???? I know better than this.

I was halfway through #9 and i said to my dad "You know, I was full after dinner.  I shouldn't have even ordered this and here I am, halfway through it."  And I talked with my brother and father a bit about the nature of emotional eating (I think my dad got it a little bit more than my brother) and then after that, I ate the 2nd half.  **headdesk**

I'm sure we all know better and we can even see ourselves undermining and sabotaging ourselves as we are doing it, but there is something stronger than the new habits we are trying to create - and that is the old habits we're trying to leave behind.

Dad's reply to the whole thing was "well, do better tomorrow" and while yes, I'll do better tomorrow, but I need to figure out why I keep on having so many todays.

How do you know when you're full?

This is an interesting article.
But the greatest challenge to any nutritional shift is, of course, changing your mind. "You should constantly check in with yourself while you're eating," advises Megrette Fletcher, a dietitian and executive director of the nonprofit Center for Mindful Eating. Fletcher uses a 20-point scale in which --10 is starving, 0 is neutral, and 10 is stuffed. "At zero, your focus becomes, How much more do I need to eat for a level of fullness that is nourishing to my whole being?" Fletcher says.
This is also another interesting scale for hunger:

1: Very hungry; starving; desperate. Your stomach is "screaming."
2: Moderately hungry; ready to eat. Your stomach is "talking."
3: Mildly hungry; beginning hunger. Your stomach is "whispering."
4: Neutral. You feel no sensations of hunger or fullness.
5: Mildly full. You feel satisfied.
6: Very full. Your stomach is beginning to feel a bit distended.
7: Much too full. Your stomach feels stuffed.

Awards!

Ms. KyotoCake gave me an award and compliments...

"Fatgirl vs world @ I go through life in inches and pounds - who always writes about interesting and awesome things! (plus you have to love her profile pic)"

Totally sweet, Right?  Btw, I'm wearing NY Giants jersey #72, Osi Umenyiora.  Not only is he an absolute beast on the field (if you're a quarterback, you will feel the pain he brings in the pass rush) but he is a pretty cool guy.  His full first name is Ositadimma and it means in his native dialect (Igbo) "from today things will be good."  I think that's pretty cool.
 
The rules are to tell 7 things you may not know about me and then pass it on to 7 others...and well, if I were to pass it on to 7 others, it would (1) be an endless feedback look of all the Fat 2 Fit Blog Hop participants and (2) a repition of my followers/blogs I read list (as seen on the side of my page).  So I'm opting to not pass it on to 7 others with the caveat of if you post a comment and tell me why you want an award (i.e. if you never get one) I will totally oblige and sing your praises.
 
As for the 7 things you might not know about me... well... I don't know if there's anything you do want to know about me that I haven't already written about -- so anyone have questions?  Bring it on.

Through the haze

Tequila.  You evil fiend. I could have gone the whole night drinking Corona Lite... but no... you had to come along.

**feels woozly**

Through the fog of my eyes refusing to open (and my glasses not being on) and the particular way the light came in my apartment, when I looked at myself in the mirror I was content with my body.  Lumps, bumps, bruises, scars and all.  I loved my body this morning, even when I didn't treat it so well last night.

Btw, I think the gift certificate I won is helping me justify keeping both pairs of shoes that I purchased in contemplation of the wedding....
 
(<-- more info)  

 (more info -->)

For all of you....

While I dedicate this to all of you, I'm thinking of someone in mind -- who is the sister I never had and a huge inspiration to me.   But to all of you, who are giving me the space and strength to figure out who I am and just who I want to be.   (for some reason the video doesn't want to show up on my main blog page, but if you click on "read more" you'll see the video)

Feminism

Today while I was at lunch, two girls from the Independent Women's Forum asked me what feminism means to me.  I have very mixed feelings about feminism -- because sometimes I think it created more problems (i.e. the whole sexual revolution making it hard for people in my generation to have relationships with someone before having sex with them). 

Eventually I rambled on some definition that I thought worked -- "Feminism is about kindness -- the kindness that women show each other and that men show women.  It's about the respect we not only show each other, but that we show ourselves." 

I am not sure if that's really feminism, or if that is my Buddhist background about equanimity, compassion, and mindfulness doing the talking. 

So what do you think feminism is?  How does it relate to your own struggles?

Who will save your soul if you won't save your own?

Some great quotes from Jewel in the July 2010 Shape Magazine cover story:

On being called "the chubby Renee Zellweger" in the media years ago:

"My feelings were so hurt by that story, I ended up bingeing on an entire cake. Afterward, I actually tried to throw it all up, but thankfully I couldn't do it. It made me think, 'I can't go down this road.' I had seen so many performers develop eating disorders or try to control their weight with drugs, and I decided I would do no harm to my body."

Her advice to women:
"We should be more like men, God bless 'em. They can take their shirts off and show their man boobs, and they don't give a hoot. But women are so critical of themselves. We can be gorgeous and hot and still be embarrassed to wear a tank top. So if you can't stop looking in the mirror, at least try to not think badly about yourself when you do."

So let's all promise two things to ourselves today...
1.  I will do no harm to my body.
2. I will not think badly about myself when I look in the mirror.
 
I'd love to see you all repost/link this to your blogs and/or to send me a comment that you'll do the same.

Let us rise up and be thankful,
for if we didn't learn a lot today,
at least we learned a little,
and if we didn't learn a little,
at least we didn't get sick,
and if we got sick,
at least we didn't die;
so let us all be thankful.  ~ Buddha

A challenge post a la Blake

My dear friend Blake challenged me to write this post... so here goes:

I quoted the other day from Crystal Renn's book, Hungry, about the "underlying promise of dieting" being that life won't start until we reach our goal weight, goal size, or just goals in general.

I have to admit that what I'm about to say is very personal, and kinda revealing, but again, it's that whole journalistic integrity thing.... I haven't had sex in 1277 days;  3 years and 128 days, roughly.  I broke up with my last actual boyfriend in August 2002.  I had a paramour for a few years, but that didn't end well.  I dabbled here and there, but nothing serious.

I think there are many reasons why I'm single/celibate:
1. a fear of loving someone and losing them (i.e. my mom)
2. the fear of being hurt (and not wanting to resort to emotional eating)
3. omg, have you read the STD statistics? (especially 1 in 4 women and 1 in 5 men have HSV-2)
4. people in DC my age don't date, they have casual, no-strings-attached, friends-with-benefits relationships which are not relationships at all
5. I didn't think I had anything to give
6. I am wary when guys find me attractive (i.e. what do they want from me?) so i come off as hard to get, oblivious, or cold
7. guys seem to have a thing against women who live with cats (though Spike and Jack are awesome)
8. I love answering only to myself
9. change is fucking scary
10. I tend to go for men that are "out of my league"
11. guys love to put me in the "just a friend" or "one of the guys" friendzone categories and it's impossible to escape

Part of me sees all the pretty girls and there's a pang of jealousy--that it's not that hard for them to find men who are attracted to them and who treat them kindly.  The more and more I talk to my friends, that's not the case.  Just because you're pretty doesn't preclude you from a world of hurt.  The pretty girls have boy issues, they're just a bit different. 

But still there's the thought (and I know you've all had it too) that if I weren't fat, or if I didn't look this way, guys would like me or at least they would want to be in a relationship with me, not just want to have lights-off, don't-tell-anyone sex.  I think the real statement behind all of those layers is that if I weren't fat, or if I didn't look this way, I would like myself.  I would think enough of myself to feel sexy and believe it, not just strut my stuff, full of bravado.  So I just don't put myself out there.  I don't allow men to get close to me in a way that they could hurt me or even know me.

And that leads to more pathetic observations/conclusions/realizations/epiphanies:  the other day I was having a session with my dietician and I offhandedly said that my refrigerator is my boyfriend.  And then she said something that made me get really emotional, "I know you don't like it when I say this, but you go to the refrigerator to soothe, to seek comfort."  (I have this weird habit of looking in the fridge even when I'm not hungry.  It's partially boredom, but sometimes I really do think (despite knowing the entire contents of my fridge at any given moment) that a birthday cake, or a watermelon will suddenly appear in there).  But in thinking back through my life, I would often go to the refrigerator when I was not just bored, but lonely (a word my dear Shakespeare coined).  The thing I was looking for that was never in the fridge or the freezer was someone to ask me how I was doing, to give me a hug, to pull me close. 

My dear readers, please do not think for a second that I think this is rational thought.  I am an emotional eater.  The source of my satisfaction has been what comes from the refrigerator.  It makes absolutely no sense to feel emotional relief just by opening the refrigerator door.  I know that.  I truly and sincerely do.  But well, my subconscious lags a little behind.

I know I have something to give at this very moment.  And more importantly, I know there's someone out there that wants to receive what I have to give and his name is not Maytag.

D is for Deficient.

So I had an appointment with my dietician today to discuss the results of my blood tests, among other things.  The biggest shock was how low my Vitamin D serum levels measured.  A good target (according to my dietician and other sources) is over 50 nMol/L.  Insufficient is between 20 and 50 nMol/L.  Deficient is under 20 nMol/L.  (High is between 150 and 225 nMol/L and toxic is over 225 nMol/L).

We all know that Vitamin D is important in terms of bone health (by itself and to help with the absorption of calcium--which is why you see "Vitamin D-fortified milk").  Vitamin D is also important in the prevention of some diseases such as MS, peripheral artery disease, cancer, and depression/Seasonal Affective DisorderSome studies are now drawing a link between Vitamin D deficiency and obesity.  It's not quite causal (i.e. more Vitamin D will not make you thin, as far as scientists know), but obesity and Vitamin D deficiency seem to coexist in the same overweight/obese spheres.

My Vitamin D level is a 14.8 nMol/L [[ng/mL]].  Worse even, I think, is that it's not even a test that my GP normally does.  I had to specially request this test (as well as a few others).  So I just wanted to put it on your radar (as it is now on mine) that you should request this test to at least see where you are.  You might have to pay for it out of pocket, but if you're deficient your body will be paying for it instead of your wallet.

I don't know if I'll be running out to the store so I can down some Cod Liver Oil (though I definitely need more fish in my diet (I love fish, but it's dangerous to prepare with 2 nimble cats)), but I am definitely going to work on this number.  Hopefully as my nMol/L [[ng/mL]] goes up, my lbs go down.

[[EDIT:  I was a silly girl and used the wrong measurements... my test was done in ng/mL.  So I'm on the higher end of a deficient scale, or on the low end of the insufficent scale.  But an ideal is greater than 40 and 50 ng/mL being a good goal.]]

Good advice comes from all places...

Remember I said I like to read from a variety of different sources?

In Veronica Monet's Sex Secrets of Escorts, she makes a great point:   
Women also make some assumptions about what men want in a woman, and a very popular assumption is that all men want women to be skinny.  Women's magazines are full of photos of starving pubescent girls passing as the ideal for adult women's bodies.  Over the past several decades, the female "ideal" has morphed into what more closely resembles a post-operative male to female transsexual than a genetic adult female.  Impossibly narrow hips supported by stick legs and topped off with huge breasts is not how the natural female body is constructed, except in the rarest of cases.  Women in their reproductive years are intended by nature to have some fat on their hips and thighs to support the development of a baby.  Too little body fat can shut down a woman's menstrual cycle entirely. 
Fortunately, in the interest of continuing the human species, men have been programmed by nature to respond favorably to a healthy natural female body.  Although most women feel that men's magazines promote idealized and unrealistic images of the female body, a noticeable difference exists between women's and men's magazines. 
The women's magazines have far more anorexic images than the men's magazines.  So although both men and women buy magazines with photos of their ideal female form, the pouplar men's magazines prefer women who look like they have enough meat on them that they could actually get pregnant.  Most fashion photos in women's magazines show females who look like they are about to collapse from hunger or too much heroin. 
There are also men's magazines that cater to specific tastes.  Some men love very hairy women.  Some men love tiny breasts.  Some men love huge breasts. Some men love blondes.  Some men love redheads.  Some men love brunettes.  Some men love fat.  There are men's magazines for all of these female attributes and then some.  
 ... The beauty a man sees in a woman is timeless unless, of course, he really is suffering from low self-esteem.  Then he will care too much about what other people think to stay true to himself and his desires. 
Okay, please don't judge me that I read books like this.  Keep in mind that I lost my mom when I was 13 and often wonder how much I act like a man.  I was reading through the beginning of the book at the bookstore and I ran across this quote on page 25.  I bought the book just for that quote.  

I wanted and needed to be reminded that I am perfect just the way I am, not just for myself, but also for some lucky bloke out there.

Opinions are like .... everyone's got one.

So last night I'm coming back from dropping friends off at the Metro.  I am wearing a sleeveless shirt, shorts, and flip flops.  To get back to my house, I have to walk past a few of the more popular clubs in Northwest DC where all the fabulous people congregate to consolidate their fabulousness.  As I'm walking by, one guy feigns throwing up in my face, sound effects and all, as if to say "You make me want to vomit."  I don't even turn to acknowledge it, I just keep on going.  Part of me wanted to say to him "If that's what you think, have the balls to put words to it."  But then the scenario goes south as I punt him right in the nuts.

This morning as I'm coming back from the farmer's market, wearing shorts, a tank, and sneakers, and schlepping a grocery bag with 10lbs of delicious spring chicken and other assorted goodies, this guy sitting on a park bench waits until I pass by and he whistles a soft wolf call.  Yeah, I heard you.

The difference between the two guys (other than a difference of gentility) was age.  Most guys under 25 see women as only being pretty in one way.  Some guys over 25 have evolved to see the beauty in all women, or at least to keep their disparaging comments to themselves.  That, and I seem to be a real hit with the homeless/drug-addicted crowd.

I'm used to guys treating me badly, and luckily I've grown a thick skin about it. But it still makes me wonder how we went from the ideal of the Courtier to men acting as buffoons. 

I was chatting about this with a friend the other day -- that women treat each other pretty badly, or at least the majority of judgment women feel is from other women.  If you look at the mastheads of many of the major fashion/beauty magazines, the high-ranking editors are mostly women.  They've set the standards and the content of what we read.

The result is that because women treat each other badly, somehow we've given men permission to do the same.  (Ah, feminism.... gotta love it.  Sure we get some equality, but at what cost?)  Women call each other bitches, they tear each other apart like hyenas to establish the pecking order.  We read the gossip rags and mags, eating up the stories over who has gained weight, who jiggles, who is starving themselves on liquid diets, who has "improved" themselves with plastic surgery.


Once upon a time, artists painted and sculpted beautiful women who had curves, muscles, fat, strength, and above all, grace.  I think it's beautiful to see artists (photographers, clothing designers, etc.) once again finding inspiration from this most womanly and feminine of forms.   I don't mean to disparage those who are naturally thin, but for a woman, evolutionarily speaking, rail thin is just as abnormal as obese.  We are meant to carry extra fat on our bodies to prepare us for the physical demands of motherhood.

Also intrinsic to our survival is the community of women around us.  Before there were ever obstetricians and gynecologists, there were your mothers, aunties, cousins, neighbors, grandmothers, etc.  They passed down the anecdotal knowledge we needed to make sense of ourselves, our roles, and our lives.  They told us that what we felt was normal.  They told us we could endure the pain.  They brushed aside the hair on each others' faces.  They supported each other.

There is so much richness in these female relationships.   There is so much strength in this unity.  I don't mean to be all "rah rah sis boom bah Girl Power" but I just don't know the exact words to express my desire for all of us to not only be kinder to ourselves, but to be kinder to the women in our lives.  Just because they're one thing or another that we wish we were doesn't mean they're any happier. 

In a perfect world, Mr. Vomit Face would have been walking down the street with his girlfriend.  He either wouldn't have done what he did, or when he did, she'dve punched him in the nuts for me.  That's doing a solid for a sister.

FGvW Reviews: Hungry, by Crystal Renn

I'm always interested in books on health, nutrition, and body studies.  I read everything from Dr. Huizenga's Where Did All the Fat Go? to Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food to The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten.  I stay away from fad diet books, and tend to go for exercise theory/diet theory books.  I also love cookbooks, but try not to collect them.

So anyways, I have heard lots of things about Hungry, by Crystal Renn.  I wasn't so much interested in hearing about the modeling industry, but what it could do to a beautiful girl to make her anorexic and then to push her away from the anorexia.

It's a very good read, with tons of great quotes.  The biggest thing I got from the book is that some of my obsessions about my body might be completely from left field.  I am jealous of girls whose thighs don't rub together.  The bottom line is that I could be very thin and my thighs could still rub together, because I have such a high angle of inclusion between my hips and knees.

Crystal Renn and I are the same height (5'9").  When she was awarded her first modeling contract, she weighed 95lbs.  When I read that, there was just such a guttural reaction -- that I needed to change the focus of all this work from weight loss to health and fit gain.  Deep down I know that I am slacking off when it comes to being an active and engaged person.  I need to come to peace with the idea of never losing a pound, so long as I'm eating healthily and engaging in life.

So I recommend reading this book.  It isn't the most mind-riveting read out there, but it's a sincere and heartfelt memoir with the simple point of "love yourself as you are, not as what you want to be, or what others want you to be."
The underlying promise of dieting -- a promise as powerful as any industrial strength foundation garment -- is that once we reach our goal weight, our lives will be perfect.  That's the fairy-tale ending glimmering after the credits of a weight-loss reality show.  It's the story written in invisible ink in the margins o the exercise stories in too many women's magazines.  Eating well isn't about offering our bodies nourishing food--it's about getting skinnier.  Exercise isn't about becoming strong, managing stress, or supporting heart health--it's about getting skinnier.  Getting skinnier means that life will start playing in Technicolor to the accompaniment of a glorious orchestra. 
The problem is that real life doesn't work that way.  Even if it were possible for everyone to be thin--and we've already proven that it isn't--thinness does not confer insta-happiness.  It's hard for so many of us (including me, for years) to wrap our brains around the fact.  We postpone living--taking beach vacations, buying the foxy dress that shows off our upper arms, asking out the cute guy--because we think that being daring is the province of the thin, and only after we've been "good" enough to get thin do we deserve life's prizes.
Weight is the most of egregious example of  "If I only achieve this one thing, my life will truly begin."

Can't see the forest for the trees...

One of the comments that I get from people is that I'm very honest and open on here.  With that in mind....

I think everyone has days when they just don't want to go to the gym -- we're tired, we're sore, we're too busy, etc.  But one of the things that has always kept me from going to the gym is the excuse of being too hairy.  Okay, I'm not hirsute, I'm not a bearded lady or anything.  I just happen to be Irish and German.  I have pale skin and dark hair.

I know girls who shave once a week and they don't get any stubble.  Even with a new razor, I get stubble the next day.  It's utterly unfair!

However, I think I was being a hypocrite when I told a friend to ignore anyone giving her crap for being a big girl going to a gym -- hey you're putting in the work.   I think I need to take my own advice and just not care if I haven't shaved in 2 days if that's preventing me from going to the gym.  That's what long pants are for.  It's also what some choice hand signals are for.

It's just some leg hair... what's the big deal?

“He is able who thinks he is able.” -- Buddha (Siddhartha Guatama)

This is a great article (from February) between Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) and Oprah.

A little background:  I grew up in a Catholic household with two very devout parents.  My father had even studied for a while to become a priest.  I was baptized, had my first communion, and even was confirmed and then sometime after my confirmation (and after my mom died), I just lost all interest in religion.  I was reciting the Nicene Creed one day and realized I felt no affinity with, held no belief in what I was saying.  The result was a not-so-slow withdrawal from the church that deeply pained my father (all he wanted for me was my happiness and my salvation).  I looked into other religions, as I had some faith, but no belief in the practices of humans of that faith.

I finally settled on being a secular humanist, atheist Buddhist (most Buddhist practitioners are agnostic).  In other words, my path was one who had a deep sense of morality and respect for the people and world around her drawn from that very world.  I did not believe in heaven or hell, I didn't believe in a creator or a destroyer, or someone who would judge my heart at the end of my life.  I didn't believe in a soul.  I believed in my impermanence in the world.  And to truly live this life in a meaningful way, I would practice mindfulness and compassion.

I had three introductions to Buddhism that culminated in it being where I sought refuge when I needed comfort:   (1) my maternal grandpa served in post-occupation Japan.  Though I never met him, one of the things he brought back was a set of incense burners in the shape of the Buddha.  It was one of the few things I squirreled away so my parents wouldn't throw them away.  I very much liked the Buddha's slight, knowing smile; (2) 9th grade social studies with Mr. Ponzi; and (3) my own investigation -- buying books written by the Dalai Lama -- especially one called Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying (I was impressed by his saying that Tibetan monks do not know why we dream, instead of theorizing).

So back to Thay.  A coworker (who is a Jewish Buddhist) asked if I had ever read Thich Nhat Hanh.  And I hadn't.  That very day I went to a bookstore and bought "Being Peace."  I bought more and more books by him.  The message was always simple:  All we have is right now -- so what are you going to do with it?  I learned that being a heinous bitch was really a waste of time and effort on my part.  I realized how much time and energy I was wasting on being angry or resentful.  And I was shown a path to let all of that go so I could start with a clean slate.

Thay introduced me to other teachers -- Jack Kornfield (The Art of Forgiveness was a transformative book in the relationship between my father and I), Noah Levine, Pema Chodron, and Tara Brach (you should try out her book Radical Acceptance), among others. 

The point of this whole post is this:  it doesn't matter what religion you are, you can learn a few of the Buddhist practices like the sacred pause, compassion and forgiveness for yourself as well as otherstrying to find joy in every moment, and learning to treat all of your emotions with care and love.

I know these tools will help me be successful in my weight loss/health gain process in a way I never have been before.

Big Girl, you are beautiful.

I want to be very clear about this: my blog title is Fat Girl vs. World.  I want to make it very clear that I am aware of how "fat" is used as a pejorative, as an insult, and as a way to make people feel less worthy of their bodies.  People over the years have tried to "own" the term "fat" by saying "phat" instead, or by labeling themselves as something other than fat -- BBW, Large & In Charge, or just plain Zaftig

I could go on and on about this (in a future post I probably will) but I just wanted to explain my blog title... In my mind I'm trying to (1) defend people who have weight issues as being something other than the stereotype of fat, lazy, unmotivated and unable and to do so, I have to take on the world at large (2) illustrate that most of us cannot address weight loss and our health in a vacuum, we must struggle to find ourselves in the real world and (3) explain that there's a difference between the mindfulness of an unhealthy fat person (as is my point of view) versus the mindfulness of a fit person.

Too often when someone tries to compliment me, I shrug it off or basically undermine the compliment with some comment about my fatness.  It has become almost a way of showing modesty.  When people used to complment a hundred of years ago, you'd hold a fan to your face, blush, or say "I do declare!" (or if you're Blanche Devereaux).  Somewhere along the line we (especially females) are taught this false modesty of when we are being complimented to point out our weaknesses. 

I'm going to work on that.  Even if I don't undermine the comment vocally, I'm going to stop doing it mentally.  So yeah, I might be a fat girl vs the world, but that's not the way I'll always be.


Fat 2 Fit Blog Hop...

Hello all of you glorious new friends!!  Welcome to my blog, Fat Girl vs. World.
Who knows, one day I might be Fit Girl vs. World.  I'll let you know when that happens!

The long of the short of it is that at my worst I was 5'9", 240 lbs, and 18 years old.
I'm currently 5'9", 199 lbs, and 28 years old.  I live in work in Washington, DC.

That's me and my buddy, Bernie Salazar, from The Biggest Loser # 5. 





nom nom nom. now i want an apple.

"I must"

In Ranier Maria Rilke's First Letter to a Young Poet, Rilke tells the young poet that he's come to the wrong person to ask whether his poems are good or not.  He goes on to say something that has touched me in a very personal and meaningful way:
You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you - no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must", then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.
I don't think I ever knew I was a writer until I had bad shit happen in my life.  And it wasn't that I was a writer because I enjoyed the craft of a sonnet or the flow of a novel.  It was because I felt that if I didn't write, that all the bad shit would suffocate me.  And I'm not talking about the things most kids feel are bad, I'm talking about being in the same room with death (my grandmother after having a bad stroke two years prior and living in a nursing home for 2 years).  I'm talking about losing my mother from a cerebral aneurysm that was misdiagnosed the month after I turned 13. 

I know there are people who have had worse stuff happen to them, but this was the worst thing that happened to me and I the only way I dealt with it was by eating.   When I learned to pick up the pen, I really learned how to put down the donut.  In writing, there was a cure for what really hurt me -- the desperate desire to have a mother in my life, the fear of my own mortality, the heartache of feeling disconnected.  

My first blog post was in 1999 on a site that is pretty much a piece of crap, called Diaryland.  In 2001, I moved over to Livejournal.  I started connecting with people in a way I had never connected before.  I was baring my soul, and people didn't turn away.  

When I was in college, I was blessed to have taken a class under the amazingly talented Suzannah Lessard.  She knew right away that I had things to say that were deeply personal, but had trouble finding the words to say it.  (In fact, I exhausted the creative writing department of their poetry and creative writing classes until I found the words to adequately describe my pain.  What I ended up with was simply "I hurt."  It was the simple way of conveying all of the complex and layered pain.  When I was able to write that without a metaphor, or iambic pentameter, my heart opened up to all the other words that supported that two-word phrase). 

I don't think I'd ever want to be paid for writing, but I very much follow what Rilke said about the imperative of the "I must" -- I write for myself because I would choke on the words and emotions.  That being said, I just have to tell you all thank you for being an audience for my confessions and treating me with kindness.  

Tonight I had the honor of being on the receiving end of a compliment from not just someone I know, but someone I work with and who just happens to be a guy.  The compliment he intentionally gave me was that I am one of the more sincere and honest people he has met.  The unintentional comment he gave me was that he took 45 minutes of his day to read what I had to say.  In my world, that's a lot of time.  Not only did he take the time to read, but he took the time to pull me aside and tell me his thoughts.  

I am truly in your debt, all of you.  Whether you comment or not, whether you read or not, you have created a place where I feel safe enough to be vulnerable with all the hurt and pain, and to share my mind and body with you.  That is not something I take lightly.  To those who return the favor by sharing their thoughts, dreams, and fears with me, I will never betray that trust.

BodyMedia Fit

Friend and fellow blogger, Crystal, asked me a few questions about the BodyMedia Fit.  I think the discussion is something that everyone could benefit from, so I'm going to make it a stand-alone post (as well as my first discussion of the device and my discussion of dieting in general).  Feel free to ask more questions.

How are you liking it?
I absolutely love it! It's part of my wardrobe now. I feel like I've forgotten something if I forget to put it on.

Is the arm band comfortable to wear?
Yes.  There are 3 sizes of armbands, so you don't have to worry about it being too big or too small.  It is secured with Velcro.

Does it stay put?
For the most part, yes.  The only time I really have trouble with it sliding down my arm is when I'm Wii Boxing.  But all I do is tighten it a little bit while i'm doing that particular exercise, and then loosen it for normal use.

Do you wear it all the time?
They recommend you wear it for 23 hours a day.  Also you shouldn't submerge it in water.  So I don't wear it when i'm in the shower, or when I'm swimming.  With the BodyMedia site, you can estimate activities done while the unit is not on your arm (yep, including shower and swimming).

Are you finding it helpful for staying on track and accountable?
The bottom line is that it cannot do the work for me, but it does make me more mindful of where I'm at (especially because I purchased the display unit.  The armband can work as a standalone, but with the display unit, I have to-the-minute information about how many steps I've taken and how many calories I've burned.  Oh, and it also has the time.)  It helps remind me that I have good days and bad, but it's the trend that I'm concerned about.  I can print out reports and see these trends and correllate them to how my body felt that day, when my period was, or even the weather.

When I notice I haven't burned enough calories or walked enough, I might scale back the portions of what I'm eating.  I might put down the cheese and pick up my sneakers.  It reminds me that this isn't guess work.  It's plain and simple.

Do you use the subscription program it talked about?
I do use the BodyMedia.com Activity Manager.  The first three months are free with purchase of the armband.  After that, the longer you subscribe the less it costs per month.  I have a 12-month subscription and it's a little under $7 a month.  That's some people's coffee for a day.

You upload the information to the armband to the site and then add in your nutrition information (food journal).  I hear they're working on a phone application to help people keep track.  Many foods are already listed in there, but some are not.  If it's something you eat on a regular basis, you can add foods and recipes.

Do you have to?
Yeah, sorry about that. 

Are you finding it to be helpful?
Yes! I love data.  It gives me lots of information about myself (such as my sleep patterns) and my choices.  I've even set it up to remind me to get up from my desk and walk around (at 1 pm). 

My dietitian uses it as part of her initial assessment into food and behavior.

I was going to suggest, maybe there's a way you can buy a used one, or if a nutritionist/gym allows you to rent one for a month or two...

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

I'll never hide it:  I love The Biggest Loser.  I've been watching it (on and off) ever since it began.  While I like Bob and his quiet intensity, I always felt drawn to Jillian.  I liked her tough-as-nails-ness.  I liked that she pushed people harder than they thought they could go.  I think I responded to her because I don't think I had anyone in my life pushing me to my limits.  I always stepped over the limits people gave me but after that I felt like I didn't have anywhere else to go.  I didn't know how to challenge myself. 

Last night on her show, Losing It with Jillian Michaels, she takes the Jones family under her wing.  They suffered the loss of their father 6 years prior, and ever since, his widow has been drowning in her life.  While I identify with the mother's weight struggles, I so very much identified with her daughter.  After her father died, her mother began to treat her like an adult/co-parent.  The daughter was resentful of this added burden put on her.  She was 12 years old and worrying more about her mother than about her own hopes and dreams.  And well, I got that. I got that loud and clear. 

When my mom died (I was 13), my father never said "well you need to grow up and take care of the house now" but when he fell to pieces, everything else did.  I did grow up, I did cook dinners, I did clean the house, I did mow the lawn.  I did whatever I could in the hopes of it helping him and relieving the stress of working long hours between an arduous 2 hour commute each way.  I did it in the hopes of having a dad that would do fun things with his kids. 

Carl Jung wrote “the greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of the parents.” I think all parents, but especially widows/widowers with children need to remember this.  My father's inability to pick himself up and be a parent resulted in my ballooning up to 240lbs at my highest.  Years later, I still feel hurt, angry, and a sense of betrayal for having lost my childhood so early because my father was unable to take care of himself let alone his kids.  But I really do feel compassion, because despite feeling the hurt, anger, and betrayal, I'm able to tend to them with a gentle heart.  I'm gave them their say, and each day those feelings grow more distant.

I sent him the link to this episode saying "you should watch this."  I'm so proud of him for doing the work he's doing, but there's so much more left to be done to get his health back.