“We always criticize the things in other people that we fear most in ourselves.”
“Every decision you make—every decision—is not a decision about what to do. It’s a decision about Who You Are. When you see this, when you understand it, everything changes. You begin to see life in a new way. All events, occurrences, and situations turn into opportunities to do what you came here to do.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch
My friend send me a meme that goes like this:
You can’t hate yourself happy.
You can’t criticize yourself thin.
You can’t shame yourself wealthy.
Real love begins with self love and self care.
I love this.
While cleaning out the medicine cabinet, I found the last 5 or 6 phentermine pills left over from a prescription I had gotten at least a year, possibly two years ago. In any event, I thought, why waste them, so I took them. I lost weight.
Now, a little back story. Back when Phen-fen first came out, I took them, and I lost weight. It was the only time in my life when I was not completely obsessed with food. In fact, the first day I took them, I was in bed around 10:30 at night, and I got the shakes and didn’t feel very well at all. As I sat there reflecting on the day, I realized that I had not eaten anything since a piece of toast at breakfast. That has never happened to me ever before or since. You know those people who are so stressed, or happy, or sad, or nervous, or busy that they forget to eat? This is so not me. My life revolves around what I am going to eat and when I am going to eat it, and there is no amount of pain, upset, stress, whatever that changes that. Food and eating are never out of my mind — Except when I was one those pills. Geez, I felt so normal not to be obsessively consumed by thoughts of food! But as with most things that are too good to be true, people misused it (and I include and mostly blame the doctors who misprescribed it.) Surprise, surprise, the pills caused potentially serious health problems.
Cut to now. You can’t get the phen-fen combination anymore, but you can still get phentermine by itself. The summer that I was taking it, I remember getting really depressed, so I stopped taking the pills, as that is one of the side effects. When I took the last of the pills over the last 10 days, I got many of the side effects listed — dizziness, dry mouth, insomnia, jitters, BUT, I was willing to put up with all of that to lose weight.
Desperate enough to willingly suffer all of those side effects, but NOT desperate enough to go take a 20 minute walk.
Let the insanity of that sink in for a minute.
Another cut to last night when I received this meme. As I was searching the internet for places to buy phentermine without going through my doctor, (yes, they exist, and yes, I know better), I was struck by these words. Here I am pursuing taking a product that has definite short- and long-term side effects. I already have high blood pressure, but I’m willing to put my health on the line in order to make weight loss “easy”. What kind of insanity is that? Seriously, the reason for wanting to lose weight in the first place is to not only look better, but feel better and to have better health. So, in order to achieve that goal, I’m willing to risk my health? What the heck kind of logic is that?
Basically, I’m looking for a short cut. I don’t want to do the work. I don’t want to plan healthy meals, take a walk, or use portion control. How sad is that? I have a good life. I have few health problems (and would have fewer if I would lose a bit of weight), and I live very comfortably. Comfortably enough that I have gotten to quit work ahead of usual retirement age. Are there things in my life that aren’t perfect? Sure. There are definitely things I would change, but the majority, I would leave just as they are. Okay, so with all the blessings I have, why can I not suck it up and do the one job I have to do? There are people who get up every morning and face pain and problems that are inconceivable to me. I get up and face having to take a walk. My “problems” consist of a slow internet connection that is aggravating; the cats all coming and going at different times making me crazy; and not being able to pick up a skill as quickly as I would like reducing me to tears.
Let’s just say I know how these “problems” would be perceived in the real world. I know how fortunate I am that the concept of real problems is alien to me.
Part of the problem is I keep waiting. For example, I need (and occasionally want) to go for a walk. I will ask my husband if he wants to go, too, and he will express interest, but he is still working, so he usually can’t drop everything and go with me. So, I will wait. Sometimes, he never does get a break in his schedule, so I wind up not walking. In my mind, I convince myself that this is rational and “real” excuse; however, I guess I’m wondering why I can’t go walk, and if he breaks free, go take a second walk.
Ah, there’s always a solution, and there’s always an excuse. It’s just a matter of which is going to be the path you take.
My girlfriend gave me a Fitbit last year for Christmas. I love it. I wear it all the time…. However.
Yeah, you knew there was a “but”. Once again, the switch over to the PC is being blamed. I fell out of the habit of logging into the Fitbit website several times a day. The Mac had an available port (or whatever you call those things on the side of the computer) where I could leave plugged in the dongle that uploaded info to the Fitbit website. It uploads every 20 minutes as long as you are within range and the dongle is plugged in. With the Mac, both of those were always true. The PC didn’t have an available slot because I’ve had too many peripherals plugged in. It took awhile to get things set up so that there was a spot available.
All that to say that a lot of time went by while I was getting organized. Anyway, long story shorter-ish, I got my emailed Fitbit report for last week. This thing is really cool. It gives you all kinds of stats, one of which is total number of steps taken for the week. It then converts that into miles, etc. Last week’s total? 11,107 steps. Yeah. That’s for the week. Note: Guidelines state that if you want to lose weight, you should take a minimum of 10,000 steps a day. 7,000 a day is the minimum to maintain current weight. Anybody else see the problem here? I am currently taking 1/7 the amount of daily steps I need to take. That’s 85% less than the recommended number of steps. Imagine my surprise when I weighed myself and saw I’ve gained a couple of pounds. (That’s a whole ‘nother blog post – how I keep saying, “This is the most I’ve ever weighed in my life” — right up until I weigh myself the next time!
Seriously, what is my problem? I have one job to do each day. One.
New plan of attack: I have now scheduled in the times of day that I will walk. 9 am. 1 pm, and a 3rd between 5 – 6 pm. (That one is conditional on my husband taking a break from work because he wants to walk that one with me.) With a definite “appointment” to walk, the idea is that I will more likely do it than if I just say, “Sometime this morning”. As I’ve repeatedly demonstrated, there is no “sometime” on my clock. Right now, I’m going to walk my street to the stop sign and back. That’s one mile. That’s 20 minutes or less. No sorry excuses for not going. Seriously, enough of this is enough.
In addition, I feel stupid doing it, but I have started a running dialogue with myself. I have several statements that I repeat that go along the lines of, “I am in control of this situation,” “Each positive choice is a positive step,” “I will not let others’ opinions define me,” etc.
I had a discussion with my sister the other day about the idea of incrementally making and maintaining small changes instead of the all or nothing approach that I usually take to doing things. As part of that conversation, we discussed how I zone out and spend hours in repetitively visiting certain webpages over and over again. I’m talking hours spent just staring at nothing or anything. I don’t really do anything, I don’t gain new insights or knowledge by looking up any specific topic, and there’s no decisive goal in mind other than — I don’t know, I guess looking busy or convincing myself that I am “doing something”. She suggested that type of behavior is indicative of depression. Depression is a topic about which, I know a lot, but also very little. I know the broad concepts, but I’m not as familiar with the various forms that the symptoms can take. Several people very close to me suffer from depression, so you would think I would be better informed about it. Obviously, I need to educate myself.
Anyway, I will also start taking St. John’s Wort daily to see if that improves the amount of “lost time” I’m currently experiencing. That all sounds positive, right?
I’m great at plans; Now, I just need to get great at execution.
I’ve been avoiding posting again. I’ve been on such a self-destructive bent lately, and since I don’t know why, what’s the point of writing? I was exploring my seven topics a month (two months?) ago, and I got side-tracked from doing that. I think what’s on my mind the last few days is the blatant-ness of the self abuse. What I mean is that usually, I’m subtle and somewhat sneaky about overeating, but the last month or so, it’s been just standing (literally) and eating one thing after another.
I woke up in the middle of the night a few days ago physically sick from over-eating. Wow, that’s embarrassing to say.
As I lay on the couch at 3 in the morning berating myself for the lack of control that had put me in that situation, I wondered why I can’t bottle that feeling. I was truly miserable. The next day, I was the model-of common sense eating as I allowed my body the opportunity to recover from the onslaught of the days before. For a couple of days, the common sense remained, but as the grip on those thoughts and feelings fades, I’m drifting away from it again.
I don’t get it.
As I wrote about, I had a counselor who said that if it caused physical pain to eat “wrong”, I wouldn’t do it. I definitely proved that, as if it really needed proving!
I know the over-eating makes my feelings of agoraphobia worse. Yesterday is a perfect example. It was my anniversary. For days leading up to it, I visualized myself at the Melting Pot or some other restaurant celebrating with my husband. The day comes, we look through the stack of gift cards that I have from students, and there’s one in there for Olive Garden. My husband suggests we go there. Much hemming and hawing later, we don’t go. And it’s all my choice. I know I will only have a couple of outfits that still fit in a closet that is too jammed to wedge another hanger in there, and even those outfits look horrible. Easier to just stay home in my stretchy pants and stained t-shirts.
It doesn’t help that in the last few days, I’ve filled three more black trash bags with clothes for Amvets. I found several sweaters that I used to wear all the time. They are minuscule. I swear, they wouldn’t fit my 18-year-old niece, and yet, I know I wore them. I have pictures of me in two of them, and I look at those pictures and clearly remember how fat I thought I was. I just want to shake myself and tell myself to wake up and smell the coffee! That was a nice body, a beautiful body. I didn’t recognize it then. Is it any wonder I don’t recognize it now? I’ve called myself fat since I was 8 years old. Any attempts to change that self conversation just feels contrived, and I drop it after a few days because of the evil voice in my head who complains that I am “lying” to myself when I say positive things.
Wow, I’m really in an ugly place. I am shutting myself off from all that life has to offer in exchange for my relationship with my refrigerator. Sounds as sick as it is.
The logical side of me knows who created this situation, who makes it better or worse, and who holds the key to permanently unlocking the trap I’ve put myself in. The emotional side is terrified that I might actually do it, might find the courage and determination and the self-worth to treat myself with love and kindness. The more I think about this subject, literally, the worse I get.
Today’s startling journaling insight: As I stopped for a proofreading break – I re-read the sentence “The logical side of me knows who created this situation”, and of course, I meant me, but as I re-read the whole piece together, is it really me who created the situation? Yes, I absolutely perpetuate it, but is an 8-year-old really capable of creating a situation where they label and belittle themselves? I don’t think so. I think I bought into what someone else was selling. I am fully committed to acting out someone else’s determination of who I am. The OCD control freak in me should be really pissed off and saying, “Oh hell, no! You don’t get to decide who I am.” I should be moving heaven and earth to control my own image in order to prove that “You can’t tell me what to do.” I say that (and mean it) often enough in pretty much every other situation.
What’s different about this one?
And this is why we journal, folks! Interesting revelation to mull over.
I’m sitting here stunned that almost a month has passed since I last wrote. I mean, I knew it had been “awhile” since I had written, but now that I’m logging for the first time since that last post and seeing how long it has actually been, I’m shaking my head.
That’s one of the most significant things I’ve noticed about this “retirement” thing: Time Flies. My expectation was that with full days at my disposal and no one else’s claims on my time, I would spend long, lazy days ambling from one project to the next. The reality is that I spend a lot of my days saying, “It’s 5:30 already?? Where did the day go?” On the one hand, for a person who used to move through the days on a carefully and rigidly timed schedule, there’s beauty and freedom in not knowing what time it is. (Shoot, I’m starting to put “Xs” on my calendar so that I have a chance of figuring out what day it is!) On the other hand, is the freedom being squandered? Maybe I’m just frittering away the time with nothing much to show for it. Is that a bad thing? Is it incumbent upon retired people to be productive?
The last month has been hectic. I finally had to take my work computer back to school and turn it in. I didn’t want to give the computer back, but really, it was running very slowly and had several issues that nobody seemed to be able to fix, so giving it back wasn’t that big of a problem: The real issue was that I did not want to walk back into that building. Weird. Luckily, the secretary I spoke to was obnoxious, so that made it much easier to zip in and get out quickly. Had she been civil and chatty, I might’ve wound up hanging around awkwardly looking for a way to escape.
So, once my stand-by Mac computer was gone, I had to switch everything back over to using a pc. Ten years ago, I only knew pcs, but the world of education is Mac-based. I used my pc less and less until finally, I was down to just checking email on the pc. Switching back has been a challenge. I’ve been spending time trying to get the pc cleaned up and the files organized with a standard naming convention. (Duplicates everywhere.)
Then, we were out of town for a funeral.
Then, we went on vacation.
Now I’m back and I have the pc up and running on every website but this one.
I thought about it, but for some reason, getting logged back into this site was going to be much more difficult than it was to get into all the others that I use.
Uh huh. Right.
I’ve been in a bad place as far as weight and dieting and lifestyle changes are concerned. I haven’t wanted to think about it. The funeral put me in two conflicting frames of mind: (1) Life’s too short to worry about weight, and (2) Life’s too short to give any of it up to weight-related hindrances.
So where does that leave me??
It leaves me on a Sunday thinking deep thoughts and pondering starting again.
Tomorrow, of course.
This morning, there are so many things to talk about! Competing for the top of the list are:
- The next item on the list
- The abrupt end to the last post
- The results of the 30 day challenge
- Progress for today
Okay, so let’s dispatch the “easy” one first. About 30 days ago, I challenged myself to write on the blog every day and to keep a food diary for 30 days. Although I’m quite embarrassed to admit the results, I can’t move forward until I do. The point of this blog is to be honest and to hold myself accountable, so here goes. I wrote 8 posts in 30 days. I kept a food diary less than that. Not too successful, right? Well, that’s definitely one way to look at it, but here’s what I learned from that: Every day may be too much pressure on the posts. I need to write when I have something to work through, something to explore, or something to celebrate – although I do need some sort of incentive or I would probably forget to write at all. The month of August, especially the middle weeks, is always a difficult time. I get stuck and I more or less do a lot of sitting, staring at the calendar, and waiting for those weeks to be over. Yes, I definitely need a better way to deal with grief! (Put that on the list.)
As for the food diary, what I discovered was that I was going along fine until I ate something for which, I didn’t have the nutritional information handy. I made a note so that I could look it up later, and I know this will shock you, but “later” never arrived! Once one item was missing, the attitude was, “Well, you’ve messed up today, so you might as well skip it.” Hoo boy. That all or nothing thinking will get ya every time. Also, my WW points calculator needed a new battery, so I was writing down all of the nutritional information for every food so that I could go back and fill it in on both my Fitbit food diary and then, calculate the WW points. What dawned on me later was that I kept doing that even after the battery was replaced. I don’t need to do that anymore, so logging food will be much easier.
On the plus side — Now that things are moving again, I have so much to write about! I guess I could do more than one post a day. At least that way, they’d be shorter! (haha – probably not!) Also, I’m on day three of the food diary. Moving in a positive direction on both of those items.
Progress for today: That’s easy, too. I got up this morning, got dressed right away, and immediately put on my sneaks. That is such a signal to me to get moving. I’m a barefoot girl. I hate wearing shoes. Even in the winter, I will put on a coat before I will put on shoes. The last week or so, I’ve noticed that when I wear my exercise shoes, I move more. Even when I’m just getting up to go to the bathroom or to let the cats in and out (and out and in and out and…..) I will do a series of squats or jog in place or pick up my weights and do a series of reps for my arms. Stuff I don’t do when I’m barefoot. Interesting, huh?
Anyway, this morning, I took care of the cats, and then, I went for a walk. By Myself. That’s really a bigger deal than it seems. Lately, I’ve convinced myself that something terrible will happen to me if I walk alone in the neighborhood that I have lived in for 34 years. What the heck? Last time I was walking and losing a significant amount of weight (like 15 years ago) I used to walk 3 and 4 miles around this neighborhood by myself at a time. Never thought twice about it, and in all honesty, never had any reason to. Who knows what the deal is there. Must be old age creeping up on me or my brain conspiring against me so that I don’t have to walk!!
This morning, I buzzed on out the door. I took my ipod with me, which I don’t usually do. I worry that since I love music so much, that I get too engrossed in it, and I’m less aware of my surroundings. That part, at least, is true, but this morning, I took it, turned it down a bit, and off I went. I put my cardio mix on, and I was loving hearing those songs so much, that I went the long way around the block, which added about .7 of a mile to my workout. I was so happy when I came home. Very jazzed up and giddy. Yea, me!
Next on the list, abruptly ending the last post. Okay, so I’ve thought a lot about that one. Yes, the counter in the bottom was definitely bothering me. (Side note: That counter also sparks the OCD in me. I can’t end the post unless I’m at an even number of words. My goal is to finish a post with a number that ends in “0” or “5”. Lots of tweaking and editing trying to get it there!! What is wrong with me?) Beyond the counter, though, was what I had just written. Recap, I was talking about my secret stash of self-help books. All of them great in their own way. All of them half-read. I realized that I had never finished a single one before I decided to move on to the next great solution. Each of them was offering me insights, but I never finished any of them.
I wrote a comment that was something along the lines of putting on a good show of effort, and I asked the question, “Who is the show for?” A couple of paragraphs later, I realized that the show is for me. I do it to convince myself that I am trying hard; so that I have something to point to should I ever need to tell someone what I’m doing to try to lose weight. Seems obvious, but it was quite startling at the time.
Years ago, I had a conversation with my counselor once that went like this:
“I am so depressed because I can’t lose weight.”
“Why do you want to lose weight?”
“Because I’m too fat.”
“Who says so? Has anyone that you love and respect told you that you need to lose weight?”
“Well, no, but I have to lose weight because none of my clothes fit.”
“Buy bigger clothes.”
“But, I don’t like the way I look, and I would like to be healthier.”
What she said next really stuck with me. She said that women in their forties are usually growing comfortable with who they are as people. They are no longer interested in trying to be something they are not just to conform to societal norms or reshape themselves due to peer pressure. She said that until I came up with a real reason that I wanted to lose weight that was strong enough and meant enough to me, I would never be able to lose weight. It couldn’t be some vague notion that “I need to be healthier” or “I need to be thinner”. In effect, she was saying that when I wanted it badly enough, I would do it.
I was ready to argue with her. I did want it badly enough. I was sad all the time, and I spent a lot of time loathing myself and calling myself names.
She asked, “If it physically pained you to eat certain foods, would you eat them?”
Probably not. I might sneak some now and again if it was a food I particularly loved, but no, I don’t think I would live in physical pain just to continue to eat a particular food.
She said that that’s what she was talking about — a motivation that there was no way I could say no to it.
I realized she’s right. I know I’m upset about my weight and the way I look all the time, but I love eating “wrong” more. If it’s not easy to lose weight and get in shape, I’m not willing to put the effort into it. Oh, I’ll start of a day great. Smart, conscious food choices, lots of water, listening to hunger and full signals, but by evening when I’m tired, frustrated, or stressed out, forget about it. It’s all about hoovering up everything in sight in an attempt to feel better.
So, the other post was a realization that I lie to myself. I should already know that, but apparently, I didn’t. Apparently, I had convinced myself that I really try when it comes to eating and my health. The truth of it is, the pretense is for me. Everyone else around me sees the truth but is too nice to point out the lies and denial going on. Discovering that was quite a shock.
And that’s the power of journaling.