August #GoTheDist

Normally I like to wrap up (or have a guest post) the previous month's #GoTheDist challenge, but well.... let's just look forward and not backwards, eh?  HEY!  I said no looking backwards!!

I always wondered why there were no national/major religious holidays in August -- then I realized that my birthday (August 8) should reason enough to celebrate (even on the years it didn't go quite so well).  And while I don't have the power to tell you all to take off on Monday, August 8, you have entrusted me with the power to suggest fun and zany ways to spend the month (mwuahahahah power!!).

So with tongue-in-cheek, that's this month's theme.  I think the past few months have been kind of serious with the whole self-love theme.  I'd love to see people keeping up the self love, but let's look at it from a more lighthearted place (other than staring at ourselves naked in front of a mirror and the subsequent panic):

Celebrate at least one thing every day.

I don't care if you're celebrating the availability of seasonal fruits, a PR, a great night's sleep, a fantastic date, or even a really good bowel movement.  I want August to be full of joy for you.  I want the thing you choose to celebrate to be genuine, heartfelt, and even silly if you must.  But really enjoy it.

We're coming up on one year of the #GoTheDist Challenge (if you recall, the first month I took it on alone before offering it up to Twitter.  For some of us this is old hat, and for others this is new and still a challenge.   But since it's my birthday, and I never ask for much, I'm going to ask that everyone dig in, participate, and CELBRATE YOURSELF EVERY DAY.  Put it on twitter. Put it on your spreadsheet. Put it in your blog.  I want this celebratory mood to be infectious.

How to Join:

1. Click on the SUMMARY PAGE (bookmarking it would be a good idea as you will be using it often).

2. Fill out the next available line on the "Summary" spreadsheet (do not use Columns F or G, J or K -- they will automatically calculate once link your sheet).

3. **CREATE YOUR INDIVIDUAL PAGE** (This is a NEW step. Duplicate the "Participant Sheet." If you're comfortable working in spreadsheets you can edit it where it should repeat your personal information. The formula line will look something like "=Summary!A2" -- replace the 2 with whatever line you are on the summary spreadsheet. For =Summary!B2 do the same, etc.).

4. Rename the tab "@[twitter name]" or if you don't have Twitter "[nickname]"  (If you want to link your page back to summary spreadsheet, go for it.  It's a huge help. Column F will look like this (minus the brackets):  ='[your tab name]'!D43  Column J will look like this (minus the brackets):  ='[your tab name]'!E43)

5. Fill out the sheet as you wish.

6. Update your own individual page as needed (if tracking is too hard, consider printing out your page and filling it out by hand and updating it online once a week). The total mileage will automatically be updated on the Summary tab as you report on your individual page.

7. Follow #GoTheDist on Twitter for support if you need it or to support others when they do, to announce achievements, and find new/old friends!

8. PLEASE DO NOT DELETE LINES OR TABS! Do not SORT.  If you want to add columns, please add them to the RIGHT of the page.  Please do NOT move your page around! You CAN bookmark your individual page using your browser to find it easily.

I'm also quite happy to see how #GoTheDist and #MeFirst can work hand-in-hand.  Consider taking the #MeFirst pledge!

So grab your #GoTheDist buttons, use the hash tags for each month, and get out there! We're all behind you!

At the end of the month consider answering these questions:
  • How do you think you did over the course of the month?  
  • Did you overestimate or underestimate your capabilities?  Why is this?  Is this representative of a larger trend in your life?
  • Did you learn anything about yourself while doing this? 
  • Can you apply what you've learned in ##GoTheDist somewhere else in your life? 
  • Did you make any new friends through #GoTheDist -- were you able to support each other?
  • What was the hardest part of the challenge?  (physical? mental/psychological?)
  • What do you think you did really well this month? (doesn't have to be about #GoTheDist)
  • What do you think you could improve on? (again, doesn't have to be about #GoTheDist)
  • No matter the numbers you already entered, are you going to finish strong, or taper off? 
  • Did you go the distance? And no, I don't mean did you hit 100% of your goal... did you put yourself out there and really try for it?  Is 80% still something you can be proud of?

Lesson Learned; Lesson Re-Learned

I am not ashamed to admit it:  I’m a bibliophile: I love books.  I love the feel of the paper as I turn each page and the musty old smell of you will never get from a Kindle.

Of all of my books, I have a few favorites.  Some books I love because they are classic and I find myself leafing through the pages over and over again (like my collected works of Shakespeare), some I love because they changed my life profoundly (for instance, my Buddhism collection).  And still there are some that I love because of who they brought into my life (such as the text books I have kept written by people who started as professors and left my life as mentors and role models). 

Among these favorites is my 1898 copy (it was published in 1897 in French) of Cyrano De Bergerac that was once in the Johns Hopkins Library (from the Lanier Collection) that I purchased at Bartleby’s Books in Georgetown with my then-boyfriend J who was one of the most passionate men and bibliophiles I’ve ever met.  He was also one of the most precocious and argumentative men I had ever met as well.  While he browsed the children’s literature, I let my eyes wander. 

At first I was taken by the beautiful binding of the book, and then the delicate illustrations, but ultimately it was the title of the book that won me over:  Cyrano de Bergerac. I was familiar with the story two ways -- the 1980s movie Roxanne with Steve Martin, and from the time in high school I was selected to act in a one-act excerpt/abridged version of the play (I was Le Bret, Cyrano’s friend).  For $25, the book had found a new home.

Cyrano was profound for me in that I learned the art of beating people to the punchline regarding my weight.  Cyrano’s wit was as sharp as his sword, and he would slash at anyone who took dull jabs at his nose.  Valvert tries his hand and only comes up with “Your nose is LARGE.”  Cyrano says “Ah, no, young man, that is not enough! You might have said, dear me, there are a thousand things ... varying the tone...For instance... here you are:  Aggressive:  I, monsieur, if I had such a nose nothing would serve but I must cut it off!  Amicable:  It must be in your way while drinking; you ought to have a special beaker made!  Descriptive  :It is a crag.... a peak... a promontory.... A promontory [or a cape], did I say?  It is a peninsula!....”  (My favorite, which I often changed to suit my purpose:  “Anxious:  Go with caution, I beseech, lest your head, dragged over by that weight, should drag you over!”)

But I am willing to admit that in all my years of loving the story of Cyrano, I finally understand the story much better, or at least the central figure.  What I thought was self-deprecating humor (perhaps this was the influence of Steve Martin’s delivery) was really a man with a very high self-worth, willing to admit his imperfection (especially as a barrier to winning the love of Roxanne) but not allow anyone else to take cheap shots at such imperfection.  After Cyrano schools the bawdy Valvert in how to properly insult someone, Valvert still doesn’t get the point and goes on to try and insult Cyrano (*gasps* he goes out in public without gloves!).  Valvert exhausts Cyrano’s patience when he calls Cyrano “refuse of the earth” and a “buffoon.”

Cyrano ups the ante by fencing with Valvert while composing a poem (a ballad in this case).

Tucked between the lesson on how to give an insult and the duel are these beautiful lines spoken by Cyrano:  “I walk with all upon me furnished bright.  I plume myself with independence and straightforwardness.  It is not a handsome figure, it is my soul I hold erect, as in a brace. I go decked with exploits in place of ribbon bows.  I taper to a point my wit like a moustache...”

In other words, the imperfection of his nose does not limit or define him as a man or as a soldier.  (He does let it limit him as a lover, assuming that Roxanne couldn’t love him because of his nose. But if you know the story, this turns out to to be a false assumption, as Roxanne loves Cyrano’s words and soul more than she does just the face/body of her young love, Christian). 

In June’s #GoTheDist challenge, people found it hard to look at themselves naked in the mirror.  People felt vulnerable and exposed.  Some people found it impossible to take a deep breath and settle in.  It was hard to not fight the imperfections, instead allowing them to coexist with our whole self (i.e. not separate from the things we love about ourselves).  So I asked that in July #GoTheDist we learn to at least not bully ourselves.

So I just wanted to remind you of the story of Cyrano and how I got the message wrong:  I thought Cyrano was the master of self-deprecating humor, having the first laugh at himself.  However, Cyrano was ready to defend not only himself, but his imperfection(s), to the point of a sword.  He was not laughing at himself, but holding himself in the highest regard because of his character, his courage (Cyrano introduced the English-speaking world to the word "panache") and his lack of pretense.

So I’m going to ask you now, and ask you time and time again, to (1) love your imperfections and (2) defend them, as they are a part of your whole self.  If you would not let someone make fun of your weakness(es), why should you be allowed to bully yourself?  Do not mistake self-deprecating humor as being humble or lighthearted about yourself.  If you treat yourself badly, you open the door to allow others to do the same.  Do as Cyrano and always hold yourself in the highest regard.

A Mile in Her Shoes

[[Updates & Annotations in brackets]]

Do not judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.

We've all heard versions of this proverb throughout our lives.  It is meant to say that empathy/sympathy should precede judgment.

Well, today I got this email:
Hi Robby,

I hate to be an ass, but I have come to terms with it over the years.
I followed you through [name redacted] over the past few months. I know you are going through some physical pain right now, but your tweets have really started to piss me off.

I hate the heat. I hate to sweat, which I do, profusely. Complaining about the weather doesn't change the fact that I sweat. Complaining about your back woes does nothing to change the fact that it hurts and isn't getting better. I am unfollowing you because man, your guy problems, cats, and shaving issues do nothing to enrich my life.  Good luck with your shingles and carple[sic] tunnel syndrome. From the way you are talking, they are sure to come next.  
A former fan,
[name redacted]
Whoa and hey now! I bet it made this person feel all big and important to write that email, but if someone doesn't want to read my blog or be an acquaintance, that's their choice.  I won't force anyone to read my blog or follow my tweets. 

However, I didn't know it was my job to enrich her life.  My mission statement has never been to help other people (that just seems to happen coincidentally as a result of my helping myself).  It has all about how I take on (1) the world and (2) people's perceptions of fat people as I "struggle for [my] body."

My back has been the biggest struggle on this journey.

To be perfectly clear, this is not a "take an aspirin, use a heating pad" kind of back problem.  I have degenerative disc disease ("DDD").  I have three confirmed bulging discs with annular tears [[in my lower back]].  They have not herniated, but they most likely will at some point  At that point I will require a multi-level (3 at the least) spinal fusion.  It will greatly limit my mobility and flexibility, and there's no guarantee that it will help with the pain.  This most recent neck thing might be another disc showing signs of breakdown.  I feel pain and numbness radiating down my neck, through my left shoulder and down my left arm. [Update--it was a herniated disc and another bulging disc.  Yay!!]

The easiest way to explain DDD is that my spine doesn't look like the spine of a healthy 29 year old [[now 33 year old]].  My spinal specialist (a spinal microsurgeon) [[I now go to a different doctor]] said it has more in common with that of someone who is 50-60.   DDD is genetic (my mother had 6 herniated discs-- 3 in her neck, 3 in her back; tendonitis and arthritis.  She dealt with it not through rehab or medication, but by drinking).  It's not just because I'm overweight (losing 50lbs helps a little, but does not cure my back).  I could have gone many years without experiencing symptoms, however I've experienced two traumas to my back that have exacerbated my DDD:   in 1997 a linebacker bodychecked me into a wall and in 2007 a concert goer pulled me to the ground and 7 people landed on me.  [[And in 2011, a boyfriend damn near broke my neck by being haphazardly playful.]]

But the name of the post is "walk a mile in her shoes" -- and as there is no Spoon Theory for back pain that I've seen here goes:

It hurts to do just about everything.

What we know:  I have 3 bulging discs in my lower back (L3-4, L4-5, L5-S1). [[An artificial disc at C5-6 and a bulge in C6-7]
Imagine your vertebra are bricks and instead of mortar between them, they have jelly doughnuts between them.  The doughnut normally lines up right underneath the brick.  A bulge is when the brick exerts pressure on the doughnut in such a way that the doughnut is pushed beyond the boundary of the brick.  In my case, the discs are pushed dorsally (i.e. away from my core, and toward the outside of my back). Herniation is when the jelly is pushed outside the doughnut and into your body and the pastry is flattened, thus providing no cushioning between the bricks.  I'm not quite there yet [[in my lower back]], but there are cracks in my jelly doughnuts.
Each of those discs/doughnuts have annular tears.  This means that not only are the walls of the discs (the annulus) misshapen and pressing on nerves they shouldn't, but the actual discs are breaking down and are prone to herniation (and having the nucleus pulposus/jelly squish out). The actual discs relay feelings of pain to my spine and then brain.

How this expresses itself is that I often lose feeling in my [[left]] leg[s] (sciatic nerve is a bitch) and sometimes that means I stumble/fall. Also, the actual discs can become inflamed and feel pain.  When the discs are inflamed, it hurts to even touch my back/neck (which is why I (sadly) cannot get massages).   Any type of exercise with torque/twisting or compression (jumping) is not advised.  Planks and pushups are hard because my stomach/back muscles aren't strong in the way they need to be, and the exercises that will make them strong usually put pressure on those discs.

I also have tendonitis in both hip joints (further adding instability to my core), but it is worse on my left side.  If you're ever around me, I'll pop my hip for you.  It's a gross party trick.   It makes exercises like leg lifts or scissor kicks very painful.

[[We now know... ]] Like I said above, we're not sure what's causing the cervical radiculitis, but it could be another disc issue (degeneration/bulge), but in my cervical spine. (Thoracic spinal injuries are more rare as there isn't much movement in that part of your spine, but it's not impossible, especially through trauma to the area).  How this expresses itself is that I can't really turn my neck to the left, and there is pain/numbness radiating down my left shoulder/arm. I have a limited range of movement in that arm, and I can't carry heavy things.

Each basic task of caring for yourself (god forbid you have to care for other people!) is broken down into its component and painful parts:

Going the bathroom was the hardest:  pulling down underwear, trying to sit down, twisting to reach toilet paper, bending to get up, and trying to get dressed.  There were times I was worried I'd be stranded in a bathroom unable to get up.  I found myself using the handicapped bathroom just so there was a bar I could use to pull myself up.   Often I urinated on myself when sneezing because when I sneezed the nerves that controlled my bladder were compressed.  Same goes for laughing.  I started keeping extra underwear and pants at work because of this.

Showering wasn't any easier -- I could basically clean the front of my torso, arms, neck, and face.  Everything else hurt in one way or another because of bending or twisting.  Shaving my legs was damn near impossible even on a good day.  On a few occasions I almost bit it in the shower because I was trying to shave my legs.   I couldn't even shave while sitting in the tub.  I just couldn't bend that way.

I couldn't sleep because almost every sleeping position was painful.  With pillows.  Without pillows.  With the ramp.  Without the ramp.  After a hot shower.  After icing.   With or without my knees tucked in a child's pose.  Thanks to narcotics, I'd average 3-4 hours of sleep a night.  But even that sleep wasn't enough and on top of being in pain I was irritable and exhausted.  [[And many times I find myself having to pull myself (with my arms) upright, because it hurts too much to twist my core.]]

Getting dressed was always an adventure as to how I'd have to figure out how to put on underwear, pants, socks, shoes, etc.  

I had two chairs at work because it hurt to sit in one position for too long.  The Nada Chair was one of my saving graces -- not just because I could stick an icepack between myself and the fabric, but because it helped me sit for more than 10 minutes at a time.

Cooking fell by the wayside for a few reasons -- mainly because I couldn't carry more than a few groceries at a time [[and I don't have a car]], the medications or the pain made me nauseated, and/or prepping food/cooking it was another instance of bending at the kitchen counter.  My diet was about what was easiest.  

Forget about taking care of my apartment--washing dishes was (and continues to be) painful, bent over a deep sink for even 5 minutes can make my leg go numb.  Each box of cat litter was 21-35 lbs of weight that I had to figure out how to carry (sometimes friends would help, but I'd still have to figure out how to get it in the litter box).  Laundry?  Ugh.  Vacuuming? Dusting?  All challenges I had to figure out.

Et cetera and so on.  Okay, so life wasn't as easy as it used to be.  So I won't be able to do the thing I used to be able to do and/or the things I wish I could do.  To a certain degree I can/could handle that.  I am strong, I am young.  I have a high pain tolerance and a positive attitude.  What became even harder than having a back problem was how people reacted to me saying I had a back problem.  So many people would be like "have you tried this drug?"  "A heating pad?" "this stretch" "that exercise" -- it was really hard to explain to people that this wasn't a sore muscle, this was a spine injury and it caused nerve pain.

It's not like I'm disabled in a wheelchair, or missing a limb.  It's not an obvious thing.  I could be sitting in front of you and you'd never know just how much pain it is for me to sit there.  I might bitch and complain on my blog, or on Facebook/Twitter, but it doesn't mean I've given up or given in to my injury.

For all intents and purposes, the amount that I complain about my back is minimal in comparison to each and every day I've had to live with this.  Even I feel guilty.  Before that snarky email arrived, I had posted to my Google+:
I really hate complaining when i know there are worse tragedies and misery in the world. that being said, i really hate being in pain (neck/shoulder), unable to exercise (boxing or gym), and basically stuck in bed (the pain meds make me sleepy/woozy). i just want a body that cooperates with me instead of constantly working against me for the past few years. i mean , my brain finally got the message regarding exercise and diet... I'd like to keep up that momentum without having to deal with injuries. /end rant
My friend JD reminded me that it is okay to complain/vent:  
JD:  Never make your misery relative. It sucks you gotta go through all this crap :(

Me: Well i feel it is relative. i know that for me to complain that something is really wrong. at the same time i think about soldiers in recovery/rehab at walter reed. i think about people in third world countries walking around dying from treatable diseases. i feel like my pain is so minor in this world, and that i have the benefit of doctors and medicine... and yet, i feel absolutely miserable.

JD:  That still does not negate what your going through. Everybody needs to vent. Everybody is entitled to feel like shit once in a while. 
Me:  It's the proximity we have to our own pain that makes it feel insurmountable sometimes.
And it does feel insurmountable sometimes.  I do read your blog entries and tweets about running races or great workouts with a pang of jealousy.   I am not jealous of you, per se, but I'm frustrated that when I finally started to understand how much I loved exercise that the ability to do it freely was taken from me.  I want to be part of your 5k herd. I want to do each and every rep at the gym with you.  I want to Zumba my little ass off.  But the truth of the matter is that my desire to do such things is not what dictates my ability to do so.

One of the things about DDD is the awareness that even the most innocuous of movements can cause irreparable damage.  For example, if I were in a yoga pose, and were to fall over, I might cause a disc to herniate, or a new disc bulge.   Does it prevent me from living?  No, but I'm cautious about which activities I engage in, and very mindful about the condition of my back.  On a good day I might be healthy enough to box.  On a bad day, getting out of bed might be inadvisable.

So there's the mental aspects of feeling restricted by my body and older than I am -- and those aspects contribute to how I feel about myself in general.  No where is this more evident than in my social/dating life.  How do you feel sexy when you're bent over and hobbling down the road like a 70 year old?  How do you expect someone to love a broken thing?

The 3-4 months in 2007 when my back was its worst were horrible for me because not only was I in pain, I felt isolated because of it.  It was before how I knew to ask for help, it was before I knew how to talk to people about back pain.  I'd go home from work and start shoving ice packs down my pants, take my vicodin, and generally be useless for a few hours.  I couldn't drink while I was on the narcotics/steroids, and I think people were unsure about whether to ask me to bars/events or not.  So basically take a hermit and give them a reason to isolate themselves and that's what you get.

I had to give up softball (my main social outlet) and kickball (but would often just go and sit on the sidelines).  I couldn't go to the movies because sitting down that long was painful.  I couldn't dance (and if I were near a dance floor invariably people would pull at me and try to get me to dance).  I couldn't even wander DC at night (I had a 20 minute time period before my back would start to become inflamed). 

So yeah, I might complain.  You try to deal with chronic pain 24/7 with a smile plastered on your face.
It's harder than you think.

So yeah, I might complain.  But venting my frustrations means that I'm not giving in to them.  It means there are things I'd rather be doing than sitting in bed twiddling my thumbs.

So yeah, I might complain.  But at least I'm not going the way of people who have become addicted to pain medication.

So yeah, I might complain.  You don't have to empathize.  But walk a mile in my shoes before you criticize.

You can't keep a good woman down....

but you can keep her out of the gym and no boxing. 

Orthopedist ordered 4 weeks of rehab, 1 week of steroids, reassessment in 10 days, pain meds, muscle relaxers (to make it so (1) I can sleep and (2) so I don't wake up in pain). 

This is so not the news I wanted to hear.  But it's not like I didn't expect it.
The diagnosis?  Cervical radiculitis

If in 10 days I'm not feeling better we're going to do an MRI to figure out if there's a bulging disc (we don't think there's a herniation b/c the MRI showed a good inter-vertebral space).

Right now the pain has me out of the gym (even running on the elliptical hurts).  So I'll need you all to run a mile or two for me until I'm all fixed.

The hardest part about all of this?  I wonder where I'd be if I didn't have to deal with a crappy spine.  Would I have reached my goals?  Will I get to continue on?


So a few posts ago, I posted a a poll in which I asked a few questions.  Here are the interesting results (but are by no means scientific or definitive) from the 96 people who answered the poll:

Question 1: 

Question 2:
(I find this particularly heartbreaking.  I'm one of the 57% of people who have been overweight/obese for 15 years just like me.  That's over half of my life.  What has taken me so long to turn this ship around??)

Question 3:

  Question 4:
(and since some of the titles are cut off, and the numbers are interesting, here's the data for the graph above)

There are a few things that do and don't surprise me here.  But I think the big takeaway from this is that we're amazingly cognizant about how we arrived at our weight.  We can apply the same awareness to removing it, no?

I guess the follow-up question is:  "Do you think you are restricted by your genetics?  Do you think that you are destined to be overweight/obese, and thus, powerless?" Your genotype (genes) doesn't always restrict your phenotype (outward expression of genes) but it can inform it.  It's up to you to determine whether you're going to let a few chromosomes dictate your health and happiness.

Depression—57% (especially tied with all the other ways mental health ties into this)
I'm not surprised at all by this -- but again, there's the follow-up:  "If depression was/is an issue for you, have you addressed the root of the problem?  Unless you address the root of the problem and/or mask it with food and quick fixes, you'll never experiene the victory that you deserve.

I grew up in / I live in an unhealthy environment with other overweight people—33% / Parents didn't teach me proper nutrition —33%

Re growing up/parentes -- that was the past.  What are you doing to forgive them for being imperfect and moving on to how you can change this not only in your life but the lives of people around you (especially if you have children)?
As an adult you have more power to dictate your environment (home, work) than you think.  Figure out what you need and then enlist help and support.  You do not have to remain in an environment that is unhealthy for you.  Do not feel powerless to change this. Just because you're making a change doesn't mean other people need to follow suit, but you may just find that you're the inspiration they need to live a healthier life.
Just eat too much—68% / Don't exercise enough—49%
Well this really gets to the heart of it all, doesn't it? What do you all do to measure both sides of the equation?  You all know I use the BodyMediaFit system, but for as much as I love it -- if you think it's too expensive and don't want to use it, there are other ways to measure not just your activity levels, but your intake levels.  Get familiar with measuring equipment (food scales, measuring cups/spoons, and eventually the ability to estimate) as well as portion sizes.  For activity, there are online calculators to determine your BMR + HBE (i.e. how many calories your body burns on average) + estimates for physical activity

So half of the equation is knowledge; the other half is motivation.  What are you waiting for?

And a last part of the question regarding eating too much:  ask yourself  "what's so scary about being hungry?" The answer might surprise you.

Eating healthy is too expensive—2% / Gyms are too expensive 3%

I'm so proud that you all recognize that the cost of bad health outweighs the preemptive costs of taking care of yourself both inside and out.  Good on you!

Yo-Yo Dieting Weight Gain—21%
Can we all just agree to stop with the fad diets and/or diets that try to change too much all in one fell swoop?  Make small changes that can last and that you can live with for the rest of your life. 

Now I said that the responses would be anonymous, and I will keep my word on that.  However, I did want to share and address the answers that people wrote in to the question of why you gained weight.

Answer:  Sitting on my ass in an office all day

Reply:  Oh my goodness, I feel you there.  But that's not really all day -- it's part of the day.  What do you do before/after work to get some movement exercise in?  Luckily there are lots of great resources (here's one) that have ideas for sneaking in a few burned calories here and there.

Answer:  (1) I use food to abuse myself because I was abused as a child and had to keep the cycle weight is a symptom of emotional abuse both at the hands of myself and others; (2) Traumatic childhood; (3) I eat to deal with how I feel instead of actually dealing with the feelings; and (4) food restriction as a child made me have an unhealthy attitude towards food, i.e. "good" foods vs. "bad" foods

Reply:  I greatly empathize with all of you.  I do not want to be an armchair psychologist (as I'm not licensed and don't want to do any further damage) and so I will preface this with saying "I hope you've found a healthy outlet to discuss these issues and find some healing."  I know it's not easy -- but the fact that you're aware of these causes is already a step in the right direction.  The one thing I have no hesitation in saying is that each one of you (each one of us) is worthy of having a healthy relationship with your own mind and body, and shame on the people that made you think you didn't.

Answer:  (1) Marriage; (2) Bad relationship; (3) First heartbreak (yes, really: lame, I know, especially 11 years later... ); and (4) Family members, grandma especially, believing that food = love.

Reply:  These answers really show the range that our emotions have on eating.  Both love and heartbreak causing us to take in extra calories and burn less.  Our relationships with other people often change how we see and treat ourselves (for better and for worse).  In a perfect world, how we see ourselves and how we treat ourselves wouldn't be affected by other people, but it's not a perfect world.  I can only hope that if you're in a healthy relationship, that you can enlist the help of those you love to make choices that reflect not only the love they have for you and the love you have for yourself.  If they cannot help you, maybe you need to reassess the relationship.

Answer:  I just stopped trying

Reply:  What do you think you need to start trying?  I mean, it doesn't need to be a complete overhaul, just one choice, one step in the right direction.

Answer:  Original weight gain was because I ate when I was bored when I hit puberty. Other reasons now why I stay fat.

Reply:  I hear you on the first part of the question.  I was a latch key kid from the age of 13 on.  Without a structured routine after school, I often found myself migrating to the kitchen.

Answer:  just want to be/act like my friends who can eat whatever they want without concern of gaining weight.

ReplyIf all your friends jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge.... Actually -- do you also follow them to the gym? Does your diet for all meals look like theirs?  Are you sure they're not concerned with gaining weight?  The thing is that what's good for the goose is not always good for the gander.  If you trying to eat like your friends makes you overweight/obese, then what good is it really doing you?  You can eat what they eat, just reduce the portions, find healthier variations, or just be your own person with your own needs.  Your friends won't desert you just because you don't eat everything you do.  And if they do give you crap about taking care of yourself, are they really your friends?


I've spoken quite a lot about degenerative disc disease as it relates to my back injuries.

But how about how it relates to my mother?  She had it too -- she had three herniated discs in her neck and three herniated discs in her lower back.  She didn't deal with it well (i.e., seeking therapeutic relief, trying to stretch or build strength, etc.).  I'd like to think that I've taken the high road by not drowning my pain in alcohol or pain medication as many people do.

However I live in constant fear of the progression of this disease.  My spine ages faster than most people's spines.  Not just my lower back, but all of my back.

For the past week I've been feeling pain in my neck and shoulder.  Sometimes my arm feels weak or numb.  I'm scared as hell that i have another bulging disc in my cervical or thoracic spine -- or worse, a herniation. 

Did boxing do it? Did running/compression do it? Did sleeping do it?  Any way you look at it, I'm scared to go through this all over again.  The months of rehab, the depression, the fear, the anxiety....

I mentioned that I would love to know what my body is supposed to look like -- i.e. what I'll look like at the end of this journey.  But really, my only wish is to have a healthy body.

Vanity -- Thy Name is Woman

Thirty days until my 30th birthday:  I can’t say I am where I expected to be in life at this point.  Saying you’re 29 and single (with two cats) just doesn’t seem as sad as saying you’re 30 and single (with two cats).  Thirty and single with two cats, and having never been in love.

I think this means I get to get a third cat as a consolation prize.  (I won’t, as the balance of cats-to-hands is perfect).

I just wanted to talk a little bit about rejection and validation.

As I suffer from my very own form of body dysmorphic disorder (where in my mind I’m Jessica Rabbit--sexpotliscious), I often find myself really aiming high when it comes to crushes and fixations.  In for most of my early life (i.e. first grade to twelfth grade) I had a crush on the gorgeous guy who eventually became quarterback of the football team, and who just happened to be in the Honor Society.  Oh and he was also one of the all-around nicest guys in the school. For a time I had crushes on the gorgeous exchange students (first from Tasmania and then from Poland) that came to my high school.

Of course these crushes were not fruitful, but I think it’s the source of one of my biggest problems.  Aiming high isn’t bad -- I like to say “high standards; low expectations” -- but treating myself as I I am on the “less than” side of any relationship equation is bad.  I work too hard at trying to get a guy’s attention or approval versus commanding his respect.  In high school this resulted in me making a jackass of myself on more than one occasion.

I know lots of this has to do with having been heavy since I was 8.  The pretty/thin girls didn’t need to make a fuss over a guys; guys made fusses over the pretty girls.  The rest of us had to find some other angle.  I was very lucky that my HS crush never took advantage of the situation for his own personal gain.  He was always very kind in rejecting me (and even kind in me turning to him after my mom died).  However, not all men have been so kind. 

As a 29 year old, I can honestly say that I’ve never been pursued by a man before.  No flowers, no stereos or proclamations.  I’ve been sincerely asked out less than five times in my life.  I don’t know if guys know how to woo anymore (romance, honesty, chivalry) or if since women stopped expecting it, men stopped doing it.  Or if men are just running casting a wide net/putting a lot of hooks in the (alcohol-laden) water and just seeing who bites.  (I also know that there are guys who are the complete opposite, and are decent human beings)

Now that I’m older, and the game has changed, so has the rejection.  Men aren’t as direct upfront; I find they’ll often use a woman (physically/sexually, emotionally) to stroke their own ego.  I know so many men that will use a woman up and discard her fully knowing he’s not even attracted to her, or doesn’t even want to be honorable to her. 

This is why so many (I believe) women think chivalry is dead.  To me, chivalry is wanting to prove that you are honorable, trustworthy, and good in the eyes of the one you love.  Too many men are dishonorable.  Sometimes we women learn this the hard way.  And sometimes we keep making the same mistakes.

As I am now coming into my own, and really loving my body, I find that little has changed.  Men will still reject me.  Men still use me. But having a man tell me I’m beautiful, or just doesn’t get old.  I have heard it more in the past year or two than in my whole life.  It strokes my ego.

I love how all my (taken) male friends keep on saying to me “I don’t know how you’re single.”  They should do me a huge favor and tell their compadres this.  “Hey see that girl over there that’s not dressed like a hooker, and isn’t falling over herself drunk... she’s pretty cool.”

Until then, I'm perfectly happy to look at the beautiful men and think they could be mine.
And while I'm wary-- I'm happy to hear men finally look at me more than just a friend, or a pity/easy lay.