I Am That Girl Now

Monday, August 29, 2005

I'm still alive

In short, I've been really, really sick. And had a guest in the apartment while being really, really sick.

I took an unprecidented four days off of exercise. Back on as of yesterday, and oh, my arms hurt today. Ran this morning. Not back up to snuff, but better than I ought to be after a week of being half-dead from a raging summer cold.

Oh, and now I have a big peeling rash around my nose from blowing my nose so much. And I have managed to perfect the fine art of falling asleep with a coughdrop in my mouth (because otherwise I could not sleep at all).

So. Did I miss anything exciting?

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Still sick, still sore

My Hub, upon watching me shuffle painfully between him and the TV last night: "You know, you look like your grandmother when you walk like that. Hey, why'd you hit me?"


He insisted on buying me coughdrops, though, which is a point in his favor. I had to be dragged into the pharmacy because we're very, very broke right now (having to budget for visitors will do that) and the idea of spending $5 on stupid coughdrops pained me. He finally told me that if it made me feel better about it, it was an investment in his emotional well-being, because every time I coughed like that it tore him up inside. He also warned me that, having experienced such a cold many times before, he expected that after a few days my diaphragm muscle would be sore from all the involuntary coughing, so I should take what relief I could get. (Granted, my first thought was "Ooh, abs!" before I remembered that this is crazy talk.) I accepted the coughdrops.

I am somewhat less sore, having stretched my legs a lot this morning. (If I'd done that Sunday, and again yesterday, I would probably be done with the DOMS by now. D'oh.) I intended to do yoga last night but absolutely could not face it. Too sore. I did my upper-body workout this morning but didn't get that rubbery feeling afterward, so probably no DOMS there. Possibly some in the boobage/armpit area; flyes are still kind of evil. I should shift some things around in the upper-body workout next, see what I can come up with.

We had people over for the PPV on Sunday, and now we have a guest staying with us for the next two nights, so this is kind of a wacky week. Financially, the amount of juggling we've been doing of late is just obscene. Health-wise, it is always a giant pain in the ass to have to work healthy eating around other people; on the up side, our current guest is a vegetarian so I've got an in. I'm trying to figure out what the hell to do about exercise tomorrow; it's supposed to be cardio, but the guest room is linked to the place o' the treadmill, so I may be screwed. Hell. I may have to sneak outside to run and hope my Hub doesn't lose his damn mind.

I find myself completely unmotivated to do anything when I'm sick. Mostly I just want to sleep. Yet another entertaining factor when having visitors.

Actually, I take that back. I want to watch movie-mysteries and TV-mysteries while snuggled up with my Hub or my cat, or both (provided the a/c is working). It's like a chocolate craving, only for media instead of food. L.A. Confidential is currently at the top of my list, followed by a glut of Veronica Mars (or, as Joss Whedon would say, "a Veronica Marsathon!"), followed by Out of Sight, and... hey, wait, I have Friday off. I could so totally do this. ::counts hours:: Granted, I would only get one movie and maybe four episodes of VM watched before my Hub got home from his half-day, but I might be able to impress upon him the need to stay out of my way and let me soak in the mystery goodness.

A big reading-pile of Ellery Queen and Sue Grafton and Dennis Lehane and S.J. Rozan would have to come after that. That, however, would take weeks.

I love love love mysteries. I love them. I love twisty good ones. They are the best. I seriously cannot WAIT to get Veronica Mars on DVD because that's going to be the only way I'll be able to watch and exercise at the same time.

Also, in a moment of pure geekspeak: Is Serenity out yet? ::checks watch:: Still August. Apparently not. Dammit. I must institute a countdown of some kind.

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Oh does

I don't think I've ever had a summer cold. I thought they were a myth. Bingo, I got one on Thursday and have had the inside of my head coated with cement ever since. I drain. I sneeze. I cough. I blow my nose. I occasionally get feverish. It's a three-ring circus in my head!

Mental note: just because I felt fine after I took meds on Saturday and got a good run in (although I did have some odd bits where I had to drop down to walking) does not mean that I would be able to do the same thing this morning. For one thing, I had a few hours to let the meds kick in on Saturday. Today I was on the treadmill five minutes after taking pills, which is not enough time for such miracles to occur. Optimistically, I warmed up and started running. Two minutes into this I discovered that I was having problems with getting enough oxygen through the ton of mucus in my head to power an actual run. Oho. Brought it back down to a walk, pronto. That was kind of scary.

Oh, and the kickass leg workout that I did yesterday has proven that it was, indeed, kickass. Quads and hamstrings and glutes started screaming at me yesterday around 9 PM, and this morning I nearly fell out of bed. Owwww. I'm so proud. I know, it's screwed up, but I'm so proud. I have an actual leg workout that a) I can get all the way through and b) makes my muscles work like crazy. These two things have rarely occurred at the same time. This is delightful. I'm particularly delighted about the hamstrings and glutes, since the only thing I changed up there was adding the Swiss-ball leg curls for the pump set, and going verrry slowly and carefully on the dead-lifts. Hooraaaaay!

But I hate being sick. ::sniffle:: I can't hear, I can't breathe, and I just want to be taken care of. Sadly, my Hub strained a muscle last week while doing some repair work so we're in competition for the title of Most Pitiful Spouse this week.

Speaking of my Hub, I was enthusing at him about my leg workout yesterday and telling him about what I still needed to work on so that I would have enough strength & flexibility to do a real squat (which, besides the exercise aspect, I want to have in my repertoire for future furniture moving and child-lifting). I said something about the tibialis anterior muscle and he got this odd look. "Say that again," he told me. I repeated it, this time pointing out the muscle in question because I figured it was a name he didn't know. He got this huge evil grin on his face and told me that it was terribly sexy when I talked like that. "When I say muscle names?" I asked. "Yes," he said, and grinned again.

Yet another reason to keep up on the weights. Bwahahahaha.

My Hub lifts no weights. He does, however, lift me. Originally this was a rehearsal thing for our wedding day, and back at the beginning I had to sit on a table so he could scoop me up without having to bend over. Lately he's been getting frighteningly good at sweeping me off my feet, though, and last night when I was too leg-sore and head-sick to get off the couch (well, I probably could have, but I was busy pouting) he pulled me to my feet and scooped me up and put me to bed. I would complain about him using this as a de facto way of winning arguments, but it's so cool.

Besides, who am I to complain about him getting some form of exercise? I've been making sure that any time he wants to do more walking, or lift things, or dance, or anything, that I'll go along with him. I am very much down with the idea of him getting incidental exercise.

Ohhhh, my head. Can I go home yet?

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Sunday, August 21, 2005


Okay, you guys completely rock. Everyone who offered pointers on what to do with my not-enough-weight/hamstring/quad/sucking-at-the-squats problem: I love you. I adore you. I am so happy right now and I CANNOT WALK and I'm soooo happy!

I have abandoned swiss-ball-assisted squats in favor of lunges for my quads. In retrospect, of course I was dying on the quads (and getting nothing for my hamstrings) when I was doing squats and lunges; I hadn't thought that with my weight shifted forward, all I was doing on the lunges was working my quads, and with the squats before then, I was working my quads twice and my hamstrings barely at all. D'oh!

So, now I'm doing lunges, with step-ups for the pump set at the end, and then dumbbell dead-lifts with swiss-ball leg curls at the end. My hamstrings get just enough incidental work out of the lunges that the dead-lifts become challenging, even without more weight (and oh, the leg-curls are KILLER, I love them!), and my quads have gotten a hell of a workout from the lunges. Best part about the lunges: I had to drop down to about half the weight per dumbbell of what I was using for squats, which makes sense since I'm using one leg at a time instead of both at once. Which means I have room to grow again! Hot damn!

I would bounce around the room in delight if my legs worked. Oh my God, they're going to hurt tomorrow. WOW. Thank you so much, folks!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Dammit, I need new weights

We need to figure out a way to either a) carry 50 lbs of weight home from the nearby Sears or b) carry 50 lbs of weight home from the Play It Again Sports store a few city-blocks south of us. Because seriously, this is ridiculous. I'm certainly not feeling like I'm just waving around when it comes to my arms (although I'm going to have to go back to flyes because dumbbell bench-presses with 17.5 lb weights just isn't enough challenge for my bazooba muscles anymore-- flyes, on the other hand, will probably kill me), but when it comes to my legs-- like this morning-- that's a whole 'nother thing. Ah, the wonderful world of female biology. I've heard all my life that we're stronger on the bottom half than on the top, but never have I seen it in action quite as blatantly as now. My legs scoff at these weights.

Besides, I seriously want a bar, as in barbell. My brother-in-law has a whole set-up at his place (in the kitchen-- the joys of being newly divorced, it seems, are very similar to the joys of being in college), and the last time we were over there I kept poking at it enviously. Once upon a time my Hub said that if I kept the exercise thing up for more than a year, we'd think about getting more equipment-- well, it's creeping up on two years now, so a bench and a barbell certainly seem like a good idea.

I am just going to have to bite the bullet and do real squats, starting Sunday, because the challenge of keeping my balance will probably engage my muscles enough to make things interesting for a while. The tibialis anterior muscles are still (just) sufficiently challenged by going slooooowly. I've got a problem about switching out exercises for my hamstrings, though; I've been doing straight-leg/straight-back deadlifts, which works 'em lovely, but the only other exercise on my list for hamstrings is lunges... which, according to both ExRx's website and my personal experience, seems to be much more a quad thing than a hamstring thing.

Possibly I should start doing lunges for my quads (which seems a perfectly kromulent mid-point between assisted squats and "real" squats) and keep on with the deadlifts; my theory being that since the hamstrings are involved in some way in the lunges, I'll get enough work on 'em that that'll be enough for the moment. I'll just go slooooow.

Sigh. Grr. I'd bitch more about not being able to afford a gym, except that in my latest perusal of Stumptuous I stumbled across the part where she explains that weight machines are built for the average man, not the average woman, and certainly not for the short women. I'm 5'2", and in retrospect my previous encounters with weight machines would bear this out-- even after adjusting the hell out of the things, I still didn't fit quite right. What the hell, freeweights know no height. I just need a bar, a bench, and more weight.

Adventures in running: it was actually a glorious race day and I concentrated on enjoying the race a lot more than I concentrated on going fast. I also (very stupidly) forgot about making sure that I moved my legs like a normal person instead of pogoing around like I used to (and, under stress, still do), so my calves have been screaming at me ever since. And I made the mistake of eating a very filling meal for lunch, which meant that I started getting odd and crampy in my tummy about five minutes into the race. Oh well. My time was just over 30 minutes, which was disappointing since that's about a minute and a half to two minutes over what I've been averaging this year... but I did have a good time. So there's that.

Several of my friends came to the race, which was... well, really weird. I'm still feeling fat and cranky when it comes to running (MUST get these 10 lbs off; I run much better without them), and these friends don't do the running thing or, really, any kind of exercise. There was a continual "Next year we'll be in shape and do this race with you!" refrain, but last year they said the same thing so, honestly, I didn't know what to say in return. I just kind of smiled vaguely. I appreciated the support, but it felt like I was supposed to do better because they were there, and I didn't. (My Hub, by the way, saw this coming and headed it off at the pass, pulling me aside before the race to cuddle me and inform me that he was so, so proud of me for doing this, not because of my time but because I was just doing it, and so I shouldn't feel pressure from him to do any more than I could. Really, words cannot express how much I love being married to this guy.) I felt like I shouldn't have been all sweaty and drained after it (although, you know, that's what races do) when I came in over 30 minutes. I don't know, I felt like I should have been more impressively athletic if there was an actual cheering section.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I am psyching myself out. I need to stop doing that.

I need to go back to the fun runs. I haven't been doing it since it started getting oppressively hot, but I miss running with other people on a regular basis. I'm still horribly jealous of my sister, whose boyfriend and buddies all run, so she has a ready-made passel of running partners (and a very good reason to get out and going in the first place). I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and/or beating myself up over not being what I think I should be, and just go find the fun in doing again.

We're starting to prep for changing apartments, come May. Initial research and exploration indicates that we're going to have to head up the Brown Line into Lincoln Square, since a) the apartments are slightly cheaper thataway, b) the Western stop on the El won't be closed at all during the BL renovation project (as opposed to our current stop and most other stops on the BL), and c) it wouldn't involve a really dramatic shift in neighborhood (we'd still have the same grocery store access, main drag o' restaurants, et al). I am praying that, having selected a neighborhood, we can find something available over there for less rent than we're paying now, more square footage, significantly better closet space, electrical wiring, plumbing, and windows, a good solid place to park my treadmill, and possibly, if the universe is randomly kind, central a/c and heat. We're going to explore the neighborhood further and with a more specific eye toward finding possible buildings; we're also going to start collecting boxes to pack our unnecessary items through the fall and winter. We have a houseguest coming in next week and I suspect that after that we're going to make the spare bedroom into an official packing zone. By spring I expect we'll be living out of suitcases. Really, the two of us are freakshows about this sort of thing, so it's a good thing we share the tendency.

Anybody out there know ASL? I'm poking around trying to find a good class so I can learn how to sign. It's for research. Seriously!

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Thursday, August 11, 2005


Believe it or not, I finally got back to yoga last night. By which I mean that in spite of the fact that there is no room to incorporate yoga into my very very packed pre-work schedule and in spite of the fact that I am a lazy ass after work, I put on my shorts and sports bra and unrolled the sticky mat and loaded up the DVD that I'd used back in the beginning.

I haven't done any yoga in over three months, so I wasn't terribly surprised that I'd lost some ground in the flexibility department. What did surprise me is that time spent doing real strength training (as opposed to waving my wee 5-lb weights around and wondering why I had no muscle) has made a whale of a difference in my ability to support myself in odd positions. HOLY SHIT. I can remember doing downward-facing dog and feeling the strain in my arms; last night, though, I supported my own weight on my arms easily and all my concentration was on improving the pose, not on avoiding falling on my face. (I even went one-armed briefly, using the free arm to try to get my delighted cat to stop rubbing up underneath me and sticking his ass in my face.) It's easier for me to sit straight upright with my legs out in front of me because the muscles that hold me there are much stronger than they used to be. And, as an extra bonus delight, when I tucked my toes underneath me and sat back on my heels for a toe stretch, my toes flipped under, no problems, no questions asked. Dude. DUDE. I shrieked in happiness and my Hub, thinking that my break from yoga had led me to injury on my first time back, came running. He was very confused about why I was so happy about my feet (much pointing and babbling didn't help), but happy that I wasn't hurt.

Weights, schmeights. Shifting up the amount of weight that I lift in the morning hadn't really given me a good picture of my improvement. Holding myself up and discovering that new strength, and the added balance that non-trembling muscles give me-- that gave me an instant picture of improvement. Just the way I shifted from pose to pose was so different, I can't explain. Wow, wow, wow.

This also is the first time that I've had a really good sense that I'm doing the right thing by strengthening my tibialis anterior muscles in order to correct the problems with my gait and stance that walking on my toes all those years gave me. It is the right thing to do, by God. I can't get over the sensation of my toes tucking obediently under me; it's the first time in my life that has ever happened. I may become a real live normal girl yet.

I'm also continuing my long struggle toward being able to do actual squats. Seriously, I can't tell you enough that my calves have historically been the only strong muscles in my legs, because they have been doing the work of every other leg muscle. It's not just the TAs; my quads, hamstrings, adductors, and hip flexors have been doing pretty much nothing for most of my life and so I'm having to build those up practically from scratch. It's made actually doing the exercises difficult in most cases. Squats are a big one; I'm only now to the point where I can get my thighs to parallel with the floor, never mind anything past that. I'm working on getting them past that, but my stupid heels still come up off the floor-- and, God help me, I'm still using an exercise ball to roll up and down the wall as I do that. I feel like such a weenie. Still, I'm a lot better than I used to be; on a whim I tried squatting (without weights) out in the middle of the floor, and even though I had to throw my arms forward to keep from falling backward, I actually almost managed to squat. My ass was still a long way from the floor, but it was closer to the floor than ever before, and I could stand up from that, too. Baby steps, yo.

Lunges I still suck at, but that's partly because they're one of the things I had to abandon briefly when I overdid it on my hip flexors last month. (Also, it's not surprising that I suck at them, since they use every muscle that's weak and none of the ones that are strong. Heh.) I'm working them back in and, like everything else, I'm better at them than I used to be. Not great, but better. I'll take what I can get. My main goal at this point is to be strong enough to perform the exercises properly, so that when an angel descends from heaven and gives me the money to have my own gym membership (and, while the angel is at it, a personal trainer) I won't die of shame when I try performing said exercises in public.

I think I need heavier weights. I'm going to postpone getting them, which means that in order to get good use out of the ones I have without stagnating, I'm going to have to shift to exercises that I'm weaker at. Must start making big hints for parents and Hub re: birthday and Christmas.

Incidentally, another cool thing about yoga yesterday was that it gave me a different angle's view of my arms and legs. And, hey, they may not be de-fatted (damn July), but they're certainly better-looking.

I have a race on Saturday. There may or may not be thunderstorms at that point. The heat and humidity will either a) be higher than ever because it's building up to a storm or b) briefly and blessedly lower than normal because a storm has just passed. These days, you never know what we'll get. It's an evening race, too, just to make things even more fun. Oh, and this is the route that gave me such a headache last year; too many runners and too many choke-points. I'm going to study the route map ahead of time and try to plan out what points I should go faster to make up for the unintended rest periods when everyone slows to a walk because the damn bridge only lets two people through abreast. (Not bitter, of course not, why do you ask?) On the up side, I do love this race. It's the Elvis Is Alive 5K, and I plan to load Mojo Nixon's "Elvis Is Everywhere" on my iPod in honor of the occasion, and possibly just put it on loop for the whole race; it's got a good beat and a good tempo for running, so what the hell. People run in full Elvis impersonation get-up, from the seriously done to the styrofoam hair-and-sideburns hat. Beer and peanut butter-and-banana sandwiches are served after, as well as the obligatory Gatorade and bananas and bagels and whatnot. An Elvis impersonator will be the MC and probably sing (my Hub, who was stuck listening to this guy while waiting on me to finish last year, says that he's horrible; I've never actually heard him, so who knows).

I mostly fear the heat. Then again, I've acclimatized to the heat and humidity over the past month and a half, so I suspect I'll do better this time than I did last time. Since I have a day off tomorrow, I'm going to do my run outside (if it's not raining) and see how that goes. I've got nothing else going on and a lot of tiem to myself, so what the hell.

Anyway. That's life at the moment. Food thing is mostly under control because my stupid sinuses are draining like mad and totally ruining my appetite. (So... yay?) And now I must go catch up reading everyone else's blogs.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

New tactics.

I'm bumping up "relax" on the list of my things to concentrate on. Or rather, "learn to relax". I spent a long time priding myself on my inability to sit still, to always need to be doing something, or possibly three things at once, but now that I look back at the past ten years, it occurs to me that I've really just given myself a short attention span and a desperate need to fill the quiet time with something, anything-- usually food. If I can learn to have quiet time, I think I'll be better off. Hell, I think I'll be able to concentrate better, which in turn means that I'll get more done. But that's secondary. First and foremost is the task of being able to turn my damn brain down from its constant boiling point.

Quiet time and an early bedtime are tops on the list right now. Everything else suffers when I ignore those two things, and I'm tired of everything suffering. I want to be able to let go.

I keep tricking myself when I'm running. "Oh, I'll just do LISS today," I assure my befuddled brain, and mysteriously end up doing HIIT. Mid-way through that I assure myself that we'll just go directly to the cool-down phase, no need for LISS... and then I hit the button controlling the incline and truck along at the steepest angle for 10 minutes. I literally, literally was arguing with myself after that point today, saying that there was no way I wanted to run the 7 mph intervals, I just wanted to cool down nicely at 3.5 mph, thank you. "I don't want to do this," I muttered, and something in my brain said "Oh, okay," just as my fingers reached up and slapped the speed control up to 7 mph and I had to run like hell. It's very strange.

I'm giving mental voices to my various "Take care of yourself!" sensations. My dry-aching head and scratchy throat inspired a melodramatic inner monologue that went something like, "Oh, God, give me water. Please. I'm dying here. Water water water water water. So cool and refreshing. So moist and delicious. Water water water. PLEEEEEEASE!" There was a nice prisoner-down-a-well echoey sound to the voice, like something out of Silence of the Lambs.

I gave similar voice to my stomach when it was time for my mid-morning snack, only going the other way: "No, no, please don't feed me. I can't. It's too much. Noooooo..." Mental images of evil force-feeding and screams of horror went with that one. I ate the snack like I was being forced to eat all my lima beans (the way my mom cooks them-- very badly-- and with me at age six): slowly, with a big production over how mean it was that I had to do this.

Yeah, it's sick. Look, I'm at the end of my rope here. I keep end up feeling like my body has been hijacked by some evil demon that wants to do horrible things to me (and, more often than not, does) when it comes to food, and I'm tired of only hearing the voice of the demon, I want to hear the voice of the prisoner, hear about all the horrible things that binging does. If this is what it takes, then so help me, this is what I'll do. I learned algebra by anthropomorphising the equations and turning them into little stories; it worked then, I see no reason it won't work now.

Work continues. The book is actually getting worked on, too. I run like a crazy thing and bumped up the weights on a few exercise (ow, by the way) yesterday. This is not "nothing". I have to remind myself of that. I'm okay.

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Friday, August 05, 2005

That'll teach me

Oy God, I'm so dumb. How long have I been doing this, again? Going on two years, and that's not counting all the "practice run" times before. I can still be remarkably stupid sometimes, and today is that day.

I got myself a happy little treat this morning when I went to the grocery store-- this being my day off, and all-- and didn't look at the nutritional information. I don't know why. It's usually a compulsion with me. For some reason I didn't look until after I'd already eaten what turned out to be four servings of a 300 cal/serving food.

That's right.

1200 calories.


Here is the good news: after flying around the house going "SHIT, SHIT, SHIT" for a few minutes, I have settle down, remembered that accidents happened, and killed off my original impulse to eat everything in the house to somehow disguise this accident in the middle of a huge(r) binge, and my secondary impulse to flop on the couch and use this as my day off of exercise (which would have undoubtedly cycled back into my first impulse, knowing me).

Instead, I went to my PDA, entered the (gulp) nutritional stats for my Snack Of Extreme Stupidity, put on my exercise gear, and hit the treadmill. 20 minutes of HIIT, 10 minutes of LISS, then a 10-minute cooldown in which, just for the hell of it, I busted out two one-minute 7 mph intervals. I think I'm going to start doing that more in the future; I really want to make friends with 7 mph so that I'll be able to make my next 5K goal: 27 minutes.

I am extremely sweaty, a bit sick to my stomach (I am so dumb) and don't feel like eating at all. Still, proud of myself for tracking my food even when I've fucked up; that's something I've never done before, really, and I think this might be another thing that will help crack the binge thing. What the hell, if I keep throwing new techniques at it, something's bound to stick.

Now, must clean up and get ready to go to the financial advisors, who will no doubt tell us that we are completely screwed and must go to the poor house immediately. Aieee!

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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Dove ads, an added bonus thought

You know what occurred to me after I wrote all that? The thing that really pisses me off is the fact that these guys feel that they have the perfect right to say this shit.

First of all, these ads are seriously not made for them. If they want to feel that nice happy tingle in their nether regions over an ad, they have plenty of places to look. Damn well everything advertised to men uses busty gumby-thin women as backdrops or accessories. Really, if they don't want to look at the Dove ads, they can do what they're obviously doing when it comes to the real women walking past them on the street or in their office (or, God help the poor gals, in their homes): avert their eyes and pretend they don't exist. There will be eye-candy on the next El stop, I guarantee it. These guys are not hurting for options, no matter what their puffed-up sense of entitlement demands. They have enough; we can have this scrap of the advertising world to call our own.

Second of all, I'm still staggered at the idea that they feel that these women should not be seen. I'm sorry, what? They seem to feel the need to scold the advertisers, to chastise them, to put these women back in their proper place-- amongst the unseen, ignorable masses. They don't want to see them posing and proud and sexy up on a billboard. Possibly the key word there is "proud"-- here we have it again, this sense that if a woman is not perfect, she needs to be shamed. That the only women who have the right to bring attention to themselves are the perfect women-- so defined as the ones who are desirable and hence can be dismissed as sex objects. Maybe I'm overanalyzing this, but there's a definite sense here that these guys want to put these women in their place. Knock them down. Shake a chiding finger at them. Shame them. Remind them of what their proper role in life is-- being invisible. Like a child. Or a servant.

Dude. Very bigoted.

Third, what the hell is up with this idea that billboards are to be reserved for unattainably perfect specimens that one can fantasize about-- and the corresponding, unspoken assumption that ordinary women are not fantasy material? My God, what did men ever do for fantasy before there was internet porn and sex-saturated advertising? They were stuck having to fantasize about women they saw in their normal lives. For some of them that would mean that they never saw a "really attractive" woman. Somehow I very much doubt that they felt they were missing out, or that their masturbatory activities suffered for it.

I'm envy those girls their confidence. I don't know if I'll ever be that confident-- I'm always vulnerable to jackasses like this, have been ever since the first "fatty, fatty, two-by-four" chant. I don't know if I could go on a billboard-- oh, I could pose for it, all right, and I'd toss my hair and have a whale of a time, but looking at the proofs? having to agree to have people see photographic evidence? Oh, man, that's where I'd lose it completely. I'd feel like I'd been caught pretending to be something I'm not.

I know, I know. Even after going-on-two-years, I still catch myself feeling like that-- like I'm faking it, like some great official judge is going to come by and say, "You're guilty of acting like a skinny girl; go home and don't come out until you're properly swathed in eight layers of drapy clothing." I know. I'm trying.

I do know that I'm sexy-- I know that that sort of thing isn't about what's on your ass, it's about what's in your eyes and what's lurking in your smile, it's about how you move and what you know. A friend of mine once told me that sexy is eye contact and a sly little smile when you're projecting the thought, "Why don't you take me home and fuck me?" Honestly, I've never seen anything to prove that wrong, male or female. That's why we have the phrase "bedroom eyes", not "bedroom ass". It's all in what you project. It's all in the attitude. The rest of the stuff is just an excuse.

I'm still so mad. There's nothing you can do with this sort of people except to hold your head high and live in spite of them, because the petty little shits will never be convinced to change their minds. That's how you can tell a prejudice from a thought-out opinion: a prejudice pulls out whatever excuse is handy and doesn't care if it makes sense, if it's proven to be complete bullshit, or even if goes along with the excuse used the day before; a well-thought-out opinion is constant, based in logic, and if it's proven wrong, the person holding it will adjust the opinion accordingly.

These are not thought-out opinions that these men are spouting. These are prejudices. Fuck 'em.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Dove ads. I'm pissed.

Okay. I haven't actually written about this one. I'm going to now. But first, Wendy of Pound said it better than I did.

There are advertisements around town of women in their underwear. This shocks nobody, since I'm already used to seeing naked women with a few inches of strategically positioned covering on magazine covers, billboards, and whatnot. What is shocking is that these women aren't skinny.

Okay, wait, I'm not going to call model-thin "skinny". That's an insult to skinny women everywhere. There needs to be a whole new adjective created to describe the air-brushed, sagless, wrinkle-less women who are taller than average, much thinner than average, and who are engaged in a career of renting out their bodies as hangers for clothing, an accessory to a car, or a backdrop for smaller non-clothing products.

The women in the Dove ads (which, insultingly enough, are for some sort of firming cream-- a fact that had completely passed me by) are not your typical models. They're gorgeous, all right-- smooth creamy skin, not a fold or sag anywhere, no cellulite, no stretch marks, great hair, great smiles, look to all be in great shape-- but they have muscles under their skin, something you never see in the usual models who appear to have been made of the same rubber they use to make Barbie legs. These women have hips. They have breasts. One has a tattoo. Some are tall, some are short, some are of medium height. Their proportions are all different and unique to themselves. And, by God, they are wearing underwear, baring most of their quite nice flesh to public scrutiny, and they appear to be quite proud of themselves and feeling happy and sexy and delighted. Good on 'em.

I have to admit, I almost walked into a building the first time I saw one of these. I'd read something about them ahead of time, but when I saw one in person my first thought was Good Christ, that model has chunky thighs! It took me a while to really look at these pictures instead of just having shock every time I saw one. It took me a while for my brain to stop judging these women based on what I was used to seeing on billboards, and start comparing them to women I see on the street, or in the office, or in the mirror. Which is when I noticed that really, they're all in great shape. These are not fat women. They're just not shaped the way we expect people to be shaped when they're wearing underwear and up on a billboard looking happy about that fact. We're looking at a cross-section of the shapes that women come in-- the differences in bone structure, the differences in where we pack on muscle, the difference in natural breast size and width of rib cages and length of torso and proportions.

The controversy going on seems to be ignoring one fact: this isn't about weight. These women are not fat. Let me repeat that: THESE WOMEN ARE NOT FAT. And yet, everyone is reacting as though they were fat. Myself, at first, included.

That's the part that's boggling me. I don't think I had really realized just how much my view of the world had been affected by models. Yes, I've always known that they weren't realistic, they were far from normal, but I somehow thought that this knowledge protected me from being affected by the constant bombardment. It didn't.

When I was heavier, when I was imagining what my body would look like when I lost X number of pounds, I had an image in my head. Granted, the image looked a lot like Drew Barrymore, who I am never going to resemble (although my Hub claims I do), but nonetheless, I looked at myself in the mirror and imagined that everything would change.

My body didn't change. Just my weight.

My Hub likes to say "I love the way you're made," particularly when he's kissing me and wrapping his arms around me. He's always said that. That phrase has never changed, not when I was 185 pounds, not when I was 123 and teetering on the edge of a serious eating disorder, not since I've started putting on muscle. I'm finally getting a feel for what he means by the way I'm made, because I'm starting to see what that is.

My torso is short. My ribcage is wide. My waist is always going to be bigger than jeans manufacturers expect based on my height and hip circumfrence, because my organs need space and I'm a short woman with a short torso so dammit, they have to go somewhere. My arms and legs are longer than "petite" and shorter than "normal", so I live in a constant search for the perfect length of sleeve and leg. My feet are wide (oh, my beloved tripods) with a high arch, partly due to genetics and partly due to more than twenty years of walking tipped forward onto my toes; the number of shoes that I can wear comfortably is, due to this, a bit limited. My calves will never, ever, ever allow me to wear long boots, because those years of walking funny also gave me calves of steel which have some quality bulk on 'em. I've got medium-wide hips and boobs which, although they're quite nice and have perked up a hell of a lot since the alarming post-weight-loss long & saggy period, don't quite match my hips proportion-wise. My top half wears a different size than my bottom half. I'm good at packing on muscle and fat. I am, in short, a miracle of low German (i.e., any closer to Holland and I'd be Dutch) peasant stock-- a body built to work like hell and make extremely efficient use of resources.

That's my body. That's how I'm made. I can put fat on it or take fat off of it, I can put muscle on it or lose that muscle (granted, as I'm finding with the calf thing, that's not easy), but essentially, that's what I've got. I'm almost thirty years old and for the first time in my life, I'm really getting a realistic view of my own bod.

You know, I think Dove has done us a great service. It's for their own ridiculous reasons, of course, but I'm grateful nonetheless. Fat is one thing; body shape is another. You can diet and exercise to get rid of fat, but you can't change the way you're made, and you shouldn't be expected to. You shouldn't want to. And in retrospect, I am even more pissed off at the clothing industry-- the way they size their clothes and the way they market them. Women are shaped a million different ways, and most of those differences have not a damn thing to do with fat.

I am so fucking mad. All the people out there who are reacting to these ads negatively-- some extremely negatively-- are unrealistic bastards. Have they looked at real women before? Are they aware that by judging all women based on a few of one particular body type, they're being bigots? JESUS CHRIST. Being built differently than a model is not a crime. It doesn't indicate someone is out of shape, or ugly (you FUCKHEADS), it just happens to be a different brand of humanity. Are we supposed to somehow be sorry that we don't conform to those proportions? Are we supposed to apologize for having different genetic stock? Fuck you, people. Just fuck off.

The worst part of it is, this is a judgement hurled at perfectly in-shape women. I can't even begin to imagine the horrible things these people think about anyone who dares to carry more weight than the all-holy Socially Acceptable Norm. Dove's ads aren't going out on a limb, they're still clinging to the trunk-- if they really wanted to show some gorgeous heavier women, I can't imagine the flack that would be hurled in their direction. It is infuriating. It's insane.

I keep thinking, this is just one "imperfection" of many that the majority of women have. They're just looking at shape, and height. They're not dealing with age; they're not dealing with weight; they're not dealing with skin differences like scars and stretch marks (I refer to mine as "battle scars") and wrinkles and pimples and freckles and differences in body hair growth. They're not dealing with the difference in tooth shade or straightness; they haven't wandered out of the box of "attractive" facial features or shape; they're not dealing with-- by a LONG shot-- any kind of surgical or accidental disfigurement. The women on these billboards are still so far from being a legitimate cross-section of gorgeous feminine humanity that it's not funny, and people are still freaking out because a single new variation was added. How do morons like this deal with reality? How do they bear the horror of walking down the street and having their eyeballs seared by the terrible awfulness of normal women? OH MY GOD, THE HORROR! THE HORROR!


I am so mad right now I can hardly see. The only light in this pit is the fact that my Hub's first reaction to those billboards was "Whoa-- gorgeous!" He's just built like that. He's been delighted the whole time that there are finally women on billboards that he thinks are hot. I love this man. God, I can't believe how lucky I got when I found him. And yet-- I'm pretty sure that there are more guys out there who like women who're built like the ones in the ads. Hell, I am positive of it.

You know why? MODELS ARE NOT THE ONLY WOMEN WHO FIND LOVE, ASSHOLES. In fact, the majority of women who find love are not models, or shaped remotely like them. Do the math. This sort of "eeew, I see women who are not up to my standards, why must they sully my breathing space" bullshit is the reason that I have friends who are convinced that no man could ever love them, the reason that I was convinced for the longest time that I would have to change in order to have a man, and that then I'd have to stay thin my whole life or the man would leave me. Because of assholes like this, and because they were backed up by the movies and television and the models, the relentless models. I believed them. Fuckers.

There are men out there who are loving this advertising campaign. My Hub is one of them, so I know. There are men who naturally think that women built in different ways than model-thin are fantastically sexy and totally their thing. Hell, I'd be willing to guess that there are as many men who find non-models sexy as there are non-models. As my little Swiss great-grandma used to say, "For every pot, there's a lid." You just gotta find the damn thing.

Kudos to Dove. More advertising needs to be like this. That's what they mean by "real women"-- yes, it's still not sampling the various weight ranges out there, but at least they're showing different body types. THANK YOU. It's about time. We need this step to get to the next one, and the next after that, and based on how this baby step is being received we're going to have to hunker down for a real fight.

Cut for length-- click to read more.


I know I have no fashion sense. But the thing is, I know I have no fashion sense, and so I have worked my ass off to figure out what things flatter me and what look god-awful, and I try very hard not to be sucked in by things that tickle my fancy but make me look like I was vomited up by a large cat.

I seriously have to wonder if that's just another part of the "in remission" fat girl thing, because I keep seeing clothes out there that make me lapse into Valley Girl speak-- they are, like, totally heinous. There is a young lady in our office (and I'm now so shocked that I'm talking like my mother, good God) who is short, possessed of some good quality womanly hips, and also possessed of some kind of crazy demon that indicates that she should wear black skirts decorated with fluorescent orange and yellow patterns, and little shoes covered in sequins. To the OFFICE. Sweet funky hottentot, what the hell is up with that?

And I do realize that the 80s seem to be swinging through again (much to my dismay-- and if anyone sees over-permed hair with ultra-high-sprayed bangs again, tell me and I'll get in the bomb shelter until it's over), but there's also a woman in her 40s who dresses as though they never left. She's got the blue eye shadow, she's got the ultra-pink lipstick (AND SHE WEARS THEM EVERY DAY), she's got the bleached blonde permed hair, she's got the shoulder pads, she's got the weird belts. She is not a young-looking 40-ish. She is suffering from neck droop, and the neck is taking her chin with it.

Everyone else in the office seems to understand the concept of office fashion, with the exception of the one guy who burned my brains out the other day by wearing a fluorescent-orange polo shirt. These two chicks are killing me. MAKE IT STOP.

Also, I spotted leg warmers yesterday. And someone was wearing them. Oh dear God.

My Hub put me to bed at 9 PM last night. I tossed and turned. I took pills at 9:45. They must have worked, because when I fell asleep, I went hard. I had one of those epic dreams that actually had a plotline that went all the way through to a lovely conclusion, all sorts of espionage and reunions between long-lost siblings and danger and heartbreak. I enjoyed it immensely.

I finally remembered that I have this problem every year right around now. It's like extra allergies. I take Claritin all summer, but August hits and I get stuffy and drippy and sneezy anyway. It also throws me for a loop with sleeping because I'm not breathing right. D'oh! I should throw in some cold medicine. Mental note: buy some tonight.

I'm down three pounds from Sunday. ::wipes brow:: Excellent. I'm going to wait until next week-- late next week-- to try on my linen pants again. Linen pants, by the way, are an excellent way of gauging puff, because there is just no forgiveness there. I need to get the weight back down so that I can go shopping for more pants, because I am low on pants but I am NOT going shopping when there's the possibility that I might buy a larger size. Not going there. No.

I totally binged on iTunes yesterday. Downloaded $30 worth of 90s dance tunes; uploaded them to my wee iPod Shuffle last night. AHHHHH. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's run. INXS! MC Hammer! Yay!

Incidentally, I am currently in love with Romanian disco music. If any of you feel like it, go find O-Zone: Dragostea Din Tei. It makes me bounce around like a madwoman. There's also a very funny homemade video of some teenaged kid lip-syncing to it floating about somewhere on the internet.

Good news: my Hub is poor this week, and can't countenance buying food or beer out of house to make himself feel better (he's also having a rough week; that is NOT the good news, poor boy). He is fending for himself, rather brilliantly. Apparently after he put me to bed last night, he baked brownies. Then he ate some. Then he hid the rest, as per our standing arrangement. I'm so proud of him I could pop.

I am out of Mike's Light. Boooo. However, I also have the day off tomorrow and can go grocery shopping. Yaaaay!

Okay. I promise I'll upload my recent recipes when I get home. Today is tuna noodle cassarole-- for both of us. My Hub packed lunch today and was determined to have both of us have the same thing, because having to choose between two different things at lunchtime makes him all perplexed.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

This sleep thing sucks.

I have slept like shit for three nights in a row now, and I'm officially sick of it. Grr. I really hate having "you're kidding, it's morning?" as the first thought of my day, over and over and over. I have had nothing caffinated since Sunday morning. I even took a sleeping pill last night, in desperation. I breathed slowly and did all the relaxation exercises I know. I still ended up having regular moments of perfect wakefulness, about five minutes out of every half hour. Strangely, I seem to crash in and out of them very swiftly and don't, to my knowledge, dream in between, so it's like I'm time-traveling. For instance, I was awake to see my Hub get out of bed to go to the bathroom, around midnight; I was not awake for his return, however, so from my point of view he magically reappeared a moment later when I rolled over.

No noticable REM sleep = bad. Apparently I fell asleep on the train hard yesterday, snoozing through a crowded, herky-jerky train trip in which (according to my Hub) a large and very smelly man was being smelly about a foot from my head. When I woke up, my right leg was sore. "I'm not surprised," my Hub told me, "it's been twitching like mad the whole time you were asleep." Weird. Very weird.

On the up side, things are going swimmingly on the diet front. Having discovered that I cannot be trusted to keep to correct portion sizes on BFL, and since even when I was doing the correct portion sizes I couldn't drop weight to save my life, I have followed the Hussman advice and am tracking calories along with the 40/40/20 protein/carb/fat ratios. I'm trying out this week at 1200 calories per day; if that works, I'll do the same next week and then try moving things up to 1300 for my third week. And in spite of sleeping like utter ass all week, I have still hauled myself out of bed and exercised every morning. (Exercise is an easier habit to maintain, for me, than eating well. I have no idea why.)

I almost gave up yesterday morning. I got up, put on my weight-lifting togs, then was so tired that I re-set the alarm clock and crawled back into bed. I was there for about a minute before I realized that a) I was definitely not going to get to sleep again very soon, b) I'd only manage to get another 40 minutes of sleep, tops, if I fell asleep RIGHT THAT MOMENT, and c) 40 minutes of sleep-- or, more likely, 20-- was not worth it to have to go through the whole agonizing wake-up process a second time. Got back up, put on my shoes, exercised. Sometimes old lessons come back to smack you upside the head, and that was one of those times: I figured out way back at the beginning of 2004 that the first five minutes of my waking day will always suck, so I might as well go through it at 5:20 AM and get it over with. The "I am NOT going through this twice in one morning!" thing is new, I'll admit; it's a rare day indeed that I crawl back into bed. It's a good addition, though, and another good thing to tell myself when I'm standing in the dark by the alarm clock going "oooooghhhh."

I continue to be a cooking phenomenon. Both the beef stew and chicken soup from Sunday came out fantastically (I mean, DAMN, they're good, DAMN) in spite of the fact that I futzed with both recipes to get the nutrition to balance right and to get the calorie total within acceptable levels. My Hub loves the beef stew. He also loves the chicken soup, but won't eat it again because he was still hungry after he ate it the first time. (Did he eat something with it? No. Have I explained in the past that he'll have to supplement his meals because he weighs 60 pounds more than I do? Yes. Does he listen? No. At least he's eating breakfast now.)

Last night, I made chicken salad with apples & mandarin oranges, and a batch of tuna cassarole (stovetop version, sadly; too hot to run the oven). Cleaned up after myself and made four sugar-free Jell-O cups, too. Not bad at all, considering that I had to scale down my original plan of going to the store to fetch things.

I am weaning myself off junk again. I have some of those 100-calorie packs, the Ritz snack mix kind, and a six-pack of Mike's Light (76 calories, 1 carb, thankyouverymuch), and I packed my candy calendar with mini Snickers bars. Since the last time I weaned myself off junk I then fell completely off the wagon and head-first into Vast Amounts Of Sugar, Carbs And Fat, I am not going cold turkey and don't plan on doing so any time soon. Apparently I must be regularly innoculated with small amounts of candy, snack mix, and alcohol in order to keep from completely losing my mind over it when I encounter it in the real world.

Yeah, this is so not traditional BFL, and I feel kind of bad about it. I've canned the free day idea; I abused it relentlessly and it just went haywire. I need to strive for moderation, because every single time I don't, the binge monster comes back and kicks my ass. Lack of moderation leaves me vulnerable to stress. Anyway, the point being that now I'm doing a combination of BFL and my traditional calorie-counting thing, in which I work in small amounts of bad-for-me stuff. I'm doing the weight-lifting and HIIT by the book, but I'm beefing up the HIIT with ten minutes of LISS afterward and, today at least, a 5-minute cooldown at 3.5 mph. I'm almost back up to 40 minutes on the ol' treadmill, without TV-- egad. Three months back I couldn't imagine such a thing was possible, but I do better with music. I think I need to download some more techno dance tunes; I do best with a good solid beat.

Actually, I'm finally weaned off the TV for both cardio and weights. That was one of the main problems (besides money, time, and transportation) about joining a gym... so hey, one less problem is good.

I have developed a plan regarding the gym. We're moving in May-- this is SO our last year in this drafty old closet-less apartment-- and I'm going to try my damndest to get a better apartment for less money. Hoping for at least $100 less per month. That would mean that I could have a gym membership without so much guilt. Granted, I will always think that there are better things to do with "extra" money than spend it on myself like that, but I'm trying to learn.

I'm eyeing our budget in many ways. I want to be able to throw more at debt; I want to be able to throw more into savings; I want to be able to spend more. Clearly, these three things do not go together unless I make a hell of a lot more money. Grrr. Going by little improvements in the meantime. Perhaps miracles will occur. There are really no words for how much I hate our finances; it's like being punished in spite of virtue. I must be doing something wrong. I'm kind of scared to go back to the financial advisors on Friday; I'm positive that they'll say, "You're doing it all wrong!" and scold us for our horrible ways. Ack.

Honestly, I think the thing we really need to cut down on is eating out. I'd like to get it back down to once a week, like it used to be. It's easier to do that when it's cool, though (and REALLY easy when it's cold out and we'd have to walk). I like to cook in batches so we don't have to cook at all during the week, but every time I do that my Hub starts turning up his nose at it. "It's not that it's not good," he says, "I'm just not in the mood for it right now." Frankly, neither am I. I'm in the mood for fresh bao and eight-vegetable salad, or roast duck and wilted greens, or some sort of decadent pasta dish. I don't have those, though, and I generally don't feel like cooking when I get home, so I will eat what we've got. Yeesh.

Some things are going right, at least. He's been eating breakfast when we get to work, every day, since Memorial Day. In that time his traditional "I'm so hungry but I don't want to go downstairs and buy a snack" midmorning gripe has disappeared. I asked him a few days ago if that meant that breakfast had become okay in his books, and he just shrugged; he hadn't thought about it. That's my boy; introspection is for other people.

We haven't purchased Lean Cuisine or any other microwaveable container lunches since May. Also very good. That means more balanced nutrition, a lot less sodium, and more room for real food in the grocery budget. I like it. I also like that I've been able to stick to it this long. I've slowly managed to get us set up with proper lunch-toting gear, too-- several of those cold-packs, an insulated bag that can fit two lunches, and of course the utter ton of 16-oz freezable/microwavable/dishwaswher safe containers-- which helps. We still have the grab-and-go thing going on, just grabbing containers of food out of the fridge and throwing 'em in. I think I just need to get some more of those little half-cup Gladware containers so I can make more than two days' worth of sugar-free Jell-O at a shot.

Still learning to balance. Yeesh, but it's a pain.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Thank God that July is over

Don't ask me why, but it looks like July sucked all over, for everyone. Personally, I blame the heat. Or rather, I blame the fact that our overevolved brains (which I first typed as "branes", proof positive that I've been thinking about zombies too much lately) seem to tell us that we're fine, that the weather doesn't affect us at all, thank you... which of course sets us up to fall flat on our faces and wonder what in the hell is going on.

At any rate, I seem to have been far from alone in my mid-summer malaise. As I check around my blog roll, more people than not have gotten spotty with their posts, or reported trouble walking the line (and yes, I have been listening to Johnny Cash lately, why haven't you?), or both. Some folks have completely disappeared. From the looks of it, like I said, July sucked all over. Hard.

And now it is August. Clean slate.

Currently, I'm tired. I know, I know, I've said it before, but I seriously need to admit at some point that I am no longer seventeen and can't bounce back from these late nights on the weekend. Giving up the late nights means giving up that decadent feeling of having the chance to be bad when I've been so good all week, in spite of the band of headache clamping around my skull and the woozy feeling and the dry eyes and the brain lapses. In short, it's the same problem that I have with binge eating: I know it's not good for me, I know it makes me feel lousy, but...

Actually, that's not quite true. I like the way it lines up and everything, sure, but the thing I'm getting from staying up late isn't what I get from binges. Any time I climb back on the wagon I have to spend some quality time figuring out what the hell I was trying to use the food for. (And it's always the food, too. The exercise always stays constant. I think it's the fact that I get it out of the way first thing in the morning-- when I'm still strong in my resolve, and before I've encountered the outside world, and when my Hub is still around and I'm held accountable by his presence.) Last time the thing I noticed the most was the fear clenched in my chest; this time, I noticed the tension clamped around my head, pushing at my temples.

I use this shit for so many reasons, I swear. Distraction from anxiety, activity to combat boredom, unrestrained overindulgence in answer to being boxed in and controlled by others (and, sometimes, by myself). In this case, I was using it to relax. I'd forgotten about the "learn to relax" thing on my goal sheet, and how very important it was. Every time I try to distract myself from food, I keep trying to use mindful tasks, not realizing that the very reason I wanted to eat an entire bag of chocolate-covered pretzels (FOILED, to my luck and/or deep frustration, by the fact that I could find them nowhere in the nearby stores) was because I wanted to drench my brain in mindless activity, to let go of that clamp around my head.

I need more relaxing activities. Things I don't have to think about or work at. It may be time for another quilt; I have the supplies, I just don't have the pattern traced out. It's a thought. I've noticed that I do well on outside walks or window shopping; I wander, my brain disconnects, tension evaporates, it's all good. It can't be an intert "activity"; soaking in a bathtub mostly makes me anxious about getting the book wet (because seriously, bathing without reading material would bore me to tears), sitting in front of the TV makes me jumpy and itchy. It can't be a brain-intensive activity, because then it really doesn't take the pressure off, so there's no relaxation, merely distraction.

I need dull, repetetive movement, changes in scenery and things I can browse through and look at, all that jazz. That's what relaxes me. Either that, or I need to learn how to relax my brain while I'm doing other activities... and that sort of adjustment is harder than finding a new activity. Gah.

In the meantime, I've crawled back up another step and am faithfully tracking my food once again. There we go. That, in and of itself, tends to make me more mindful of my eating... and there's that phrase again. Perhaps that's where the trouble is: I've traditionally used food as an escape hatch for my brain, and now it's just one more thing that means I have to think. Lord. I definitely need a harmless mindless activity.

Cut for length-- click to read more.