I Am That Girl Now

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Well, that explains it

My Hub, after complaining for two days straight about his poor overused legs, happened to mention at long last that he had been holding a 5-lb weight in each hand and had a 5-lb ankle weight strapped on each ankle when he did the 10-minute treadmill session that exhausted him so. I stopped rubbing his poor, overused legs when he said that and asked, "Are you crazy?"

I have now hidden the weights. He'll be pissed at me tomorrow morning, but I have no intention of letting him injure himself and screw up this extraordinary fitness streak he's got going.

In other news...

I'm sheepishly pleased with myself. I've just managed to spend about a quarter of our tax refund on kitchen appliances and DVD sets (Amazon has the Buffy and Angel DVD sets for about $30 apiece now, to which I said HOLY CRAP), while my Hub has spent twice as much on stuff to upgrade our computer. The remaining quarter will go toward a beginners' home gym, which has pretty good reviews and is cheaper than a gym membership for the both of us. Eventually we hope to get an elliptical trainer and a real home gym, but that'll have to wait until we stop migrating from one apartment to another and settle down in something resembling a house.

I'm pretty happy about the kitchen stuff. We've been without a food processor since ours went kaput back in November, and I found a good deal on a KitchenAid 12-cup food processor. I threw in a microwave rice/vegetable steamer, an immersion blender, and (okay, so this isn't kitchen gear) a heart rate monitor. Voila: now we're set for more healthy-cooking options, and we'll also have something other than me to convince my Hub that he doesn't have to kill himself while working out.

Now, I just have to wait for the stuff to show up. I am not so good with waiting.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Oh, my.

My Hub has just decided that at the very least, we need a weight bench, and probably a bar (weight-lifting bar, not drinkin' bar) and weights to go on it. That's if we can't find a weight machine that would suit us.

Apparently my Hub intends to put on muscle mass. I may have to get my ass back in gear regarding weight-lifting, too, if we buy something, because damned if I'm gonna let any piece of exercise equipment in our apartment gather dust. I'm still kind of boggled by the sudden turnabout from my Hub, but then again I remember that from his point of view, my leap into weight-loss was just as abrupt and out-of-nowhere. None of us know what's going on in anyone else's head, you know.

Still. Boggled.

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On the up side, this solves the food thing

My wisdom teeth are impacted and must come out. My teeth hurt, not horribly, but enough that I don't feel like chewing. It looks like sometime in February I'll have myself some oral surgery. Joy. It seems like we always have surgeries for our little family scheduled in February; both cats were neutered right around Valentine's Day, albeit in different years, and it looks like that's when I'll be rendered wisdom-toothless, too. One wonders what future years will bring.

The good thing, I guess, is that I have no interest in food. I have little normal interest in food that doesn't involve chewing, and now I feel like avoiding chewing, so that puts all the food on my munchy list off limits for about the next month. Lord only knows what that will do to my feelings toward food; possibly by the time I can chew again I will devour everything in sight just out of delight with eating, but then again, maybe I'll end up staying tenative about chewing on a long-term basis, just due to the memory of discomfort and pain. Hrm.

I had a lightbulb moment over the weekend, when I was getting a little too addicted to the granola (that didn't last long, since overdosing on granola led directly to getting bored with it). It wasn't so much that I was keen on the granola, although it was very tasty; the thing was that I was having a mild version of my old binge impulses. (I blame my period. I'm so weird one week a month when it comes to food.) It was one of those deals where my Hub was out of the room, and suddenly I had the freedom to wander into the kitchen and snitch whatever I wanted.

I've mentioned before that the binge impulse, when fulfilled, gives me a weird, snide, evil little satisfaction. I've never really grasped what the hell was going on there, why I feel such satisfaction in sneaking around and why I feel the need to cover my tracks, but somewhere down my train of thought while I was munching on granola, the following mental exchange popped up:

Hell, I got too much, Hub will notice.

Well, what if he does? He doesn't begrudge me the food and he doesn't judge me.

Yeah, but he'll know. He'll know I took more food than I should have, and technically it's his treat, not mine.

For pete's sake, he doesn't care what you eat. Stop freaking out.

I don't know how that's possible. That's what people do, they get irritated when I eat extra food, they judge and control and chide and...

...and at that moment, it occurred to me that this is where my food-sneaking thing comes from, both the impulse to do it and the impulse to cover it up. I feel like people don't think I deserve treats or extra food or whatever, and I resent that and so I act on it, as much as possible, when the opportunity comes up. I don't resent it enough or have a high enough opinion of my own needs to stand up for myself in a more public fashion, though, so I get nervous about being found out (and, the assumption goes after that, judged and/or punished) and I make sure that I am not seen, and I try to cover my tracks afterward so I'm not caught.

It goes right back to my dad's constant judging of whatever I put in my mouth, back in the day, and this being a way to take back control and assert my worth... except that I was never certain enough of my own worth to do so openly.

The question I had been concentrating on, this past year, is do I think I'm worth a treat? But that's not the question that drives me to do this stuff. The real question is, do I think that other people think I'm worth a treat? As long as the answer is no, as long as I let that corner of my brain remain convinced that other people wouldn't let me do this so I have to take it NOW and cover my tracks, then I'm going to have a problem. It's not enough to think that I'm worth it, I have to get over this paranoia that other people expect perfection from me and would be disappointed in anything less.

I know, I know. Second verse, same as the first. I keep running into this same issue, again and again and again, and I hope that repetition will eventually wear it down to a managable state. I do long for the day when food isn't an emotional issue for me.

I have been retaining water like mad this time through my period (and apparently today marks the end of that, because I've been running to the restroom every hour, on the hour, all day), and that was the last straw where my favorite jeans are concerned. I wore them yesterday and oh, man, that was not comfy. If I needed a good reason to push myself into better food choices and moderating my approach to treats, those jeans ought to do it. I dislike having jeans cut into my tender bits. Boooo.

In Hub vs. Tub news, he managed to hurt himself somehow on the treadmill by not stretching. I'm being very good about not saying, "But you were the one who scolded me when I didn't stretch and hurt myself." (Doesn't mean I'm not thinking it.) My poor Hub. He nonetheless lifted weights this morning, and plans to go back to the treadmill on Wednesday, since I have it claimed for tomorrow morning.

He's still cranky with himself that he doesn't have instant results, but... dude, today is the seventh day of a full week, and he's been doing very well not overdoing it or pushing himself too hard. He's exercised five out of the last seven days. It looks like he's on track for keeping this up through this week. He's talking about maybe buying some new exercise equipment. Egad. I am still so very proud of him. He's continuing to be cranky that he hasn't instantly improved his cardiovascular fitness, and that weights make him sore, and that his tummy has not instantly disappeared, but that's just the emotional part, not the mental part; he knows better, he's just irritated at the reality.

So, onward and upward. Here we go.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Just because it's simple doesn't mean it's easy

I returned from church this morning to find that my Hub had worked out this morning, both weights and on the treadmill. He is totally pissed off at himself; apparently he tried running this morning and could only make it for one minute, and the one minute exhausted him so much that he had to get off the treadmill around the 10-minute mark. I, on the other hand, am so proud of him that I could pop. Expressing this pride to him makes him feel terribly self-conscious, however, so I am trying to keep it down to a dull roar. I'm letting it out here, instead.

I'm just so proud. So very, very proud. Not that he's exercising. Not that he's going to try to lose weight. I'm proud that he's trying something that's hard for him, and that in spite of the fact that it's hard and thus he's not getting the "hey, this is fun and I'm good at it" rush, he's still not giving up.

I'm not impressed by people who are instantly good at things. I'm impressed by the stubborn bastards who claw their way into an ability, by the people who fall down and get back up, who just keep trying. It's like how courage means being scared shitless by something and doing it anyway-- fearless is one thing, courage is quite another.

There are always people out there who puzzle over why people don't just lose weight, 'cause it's so simple: eat less, move more. Simple, yes. Easy, no. I've ranted before that the myth of easy weight loss is one of the biggest stumbling blocks that we've got, and it's still true: if you buy into the idea that this is supposed to be easy, then it diminishes your view of your own success and magnifies your sense of failure when things don't go as they should. If you think that everyone should be able to do this, and it's a basic thing, then you spend a lot of time kicking yourself for not knowing things already, instead of congratulating yourself for learning them; you spend a lot of time cursing your body for not being fit instead of taking pride in the fact that you're doing a little bit better every time.

It's not easy. Every single one of us who even attempts this stuff is a major badass. Repeat after me: I AM A BADASS. We're operating outside our comfort zone, the way that explorers and inventors and scientists and mountain climbers do, people who push themselves into the unknown. Most people don't operate outside their comfort zone. We do. People don't look down on explorers and mountain climbers and scientists for not getting things right the first time, they don't roll their eyes at the stories of being caught in the Arctic when a blizzard came through and not being able to complete the journey because all the supplies were destroyed, they don't mock people who only made it halfway up Mount Everest. We honor those people. Those of us who turn our lives around, or even try, in this process, deserve the same recognition. We are badasses.

Er. Anyway. Got a little off-topic there.

My Hub has some advantages in the food department. The first is that he's less prone to emotional eating and boredom eating than I am. The second is that he's omnivorous, so as long as things are prepared in a tasty way, he'll try anything. I keep finding that when I suggest a dish to him he'll be instantly in favor of trying it.

Our slaws have marinated overnight, and have turned out very nicely. Not bad for what are essentially just grated veggies with some herbs and spices and vinegar and such tossed in. (I have recipes if anyone wants 'em, but really, just check the Food Network site for "Cooking Thin" recipes.) My Hub just spontaneously snagged some as his side dishes for lunch. Talk about an attractive way to make sure ya get vegetables in every meal; being served cold, they have that unique fresh-out-of-the-fridge thing going on so you don't have to imagine what the dish will be after the re-heat. Brilliant!

And now, I must go cook a chicken.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Question asked, question answered

Tonight's experiment: can we really get full off a dinner that's mostly vegetables?

To answer that question, I roasted a big batch of broccoli, roasted a little pack of cherry tomatoes, then tossed it all with about two ounces of penne for each of us, a little of the starchy pasta water, and a bit of shredded parmesan cheese. (If I had remembered to use one of the little cubes of frozen basil, and a little cube of garlic, it would have been completely awesome, but I forgot that we had them for a crutial half-hour.) For what looked like a sad amount of pasta, the amount of veggies along with it made for a gigantic bowl of food for each of us. Now I am so full that I may have to unbutton my pants, which I hadn't expected.


Happily, it was also a taste sensation: roasted broccoli is much, much, much better than broccoli any other way, I am now in love with the peeled and sliced broccoli stems, and roasting the tomatoes makes them all kinds of tasty. The problem is that now I am too full to continue cooking, which is what my original plan was. Oops.

Also, another first: I have used beets in an actual recipe! Apple-beet slaw, one of two slaws I've made today (the other is carrot). I was clever enough to realize that beets are dangerous creatures and so I wore latex gloves to avoid looking like I had odd birthmarks on my hands. I did not, however, realize that grating the beets would mean that there would there would be stainy juice flying everywhere. My Hub came in mid-way through the process and exclaimed, "Jesus Christ, it's like a murder scene! Look at this. I can just see the forensic people analyzing the spatter pattern."

Good thing I don't like this shirt.

Today was the first batch of groceries purchased since my Hub started eyeing the concept of eating right, so there's a truly astonishing amount of vegetables in our fridge right now. There are greens, and swiss chard, and carrots, and parsnips, and green beans, and scallions, and oh fuck I forgot to buy potatoes and now we're entirely out of them (hell, hell, hell), oh well. Also had the aforementioned beets and cherry tomatoes and broccoli. Yeowza. I'm sort of startled at the amount of glorious stuff I can afford when I don't have to worry about making sure he has treats around. It also helps that there was a huge sale going on for whole chickens and pork tenderloins, two of our favorite meats to work with at the moment.

Our poor fridgie is stuffed to the gills. So am I. I've still got some kitchen projects planned for the night, though, so I must get up and maneuver back in there. Later!

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Baby steps, Hub style

More Hub updates. I can't help it, this is the most interesting thing that's happened in this house regarding weight loss since the day I tried to weigh the cats.

The carrot episode last night led directly to my Hub deciding that for the immediate future, he's going to be doing a moderate amount of healthy eating, but the main concentration will be trying to add exercise and activity. Which is totally fine by me; I've talked about my theory of healthy living = juggling before.

So tonight, he was grumpy and wanted a calzone. Not a problem. In the meantime, however, I made a batch of Kathleen Daelemans' granola, and when he tasted the finished product, he said, "This is now the only thing I will eat from now on, ever. IT'S SO GOOOOOD!" Hee hee hee. It's not low-calorie, but it's lower-cal (and has better nutrition) than nachos and beer; whole grains, good fats from the walnuts, dried fruit.

Bless the man, he's a walking example of baby steps. A man cannot downshift from deep-fried calzones to carrot sticks in less than a week, but he can shift from chips to granola if the granola is tasty enough. I am delighted. I'm going to take about half the granola to work, so he can have it available for afternoon snacks and thus won't be starving when we leave work. If he isn't starving when we leave work, we'll have more leeway for what to do about dinner, and he'll be able to consider better food choices. Baby steps. Bit by bit by bit.

Next thing I need to work on: slaws. Veggies, dressing, can be eaten in large amounts. No problems. Possibly carrot slaws.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Days like this, I'm glad I'm on medication.

On the up side, my Hub exercised again this morning, while I jogged. That's three days in a row. Last night, he was hungry after dinner and asked my opinion on what he should eat "that won't make me a big fatty." I offered a few suggestions, but they weren't what he was in the mood for, and eventually he peeled himself a carrot and sat down and ate it, muttering, "I can't believe I'm eating a damn carrot for a snack."

Mental note: make sure the man eats more protein. We've been eating a bit on the vegetarian side this week, and that seems to have coincided with this new thing of his. So he's been hungry, and cranky, and has yet to figure out how this diet thing is supposed to work. I'm going to make a few batches of healthy snacks this weekend, and bulk out our meals with extra veggies, and make sure he has enough meat at dinner.

Apparently he has decided to lose weight. There's been no actual declaration of this, but for three days now he's been exercising and eating right, and evincing frustration that this sort of thing doesn't work immediately. I have refrained from mentioning that men tend to lose weight a lot faster than women, since that's probably of no comfort for him right now. Mostly, I'm just glad that he didn't start on this back when I was in my weight-loss days; he probably would have lost weight a lot faster than I did, and I would have been jealous and grumpy.

On the other hand, life is continuing to happen. We were supposed to get more help at work, and that's not happening, so the current crunch is going to continue indefinitely. There are really no adequate words to express how cranky I am about this. I'm going to talk with my boss later so that I feel at least that my views are on record, and then I'm going to figure out a way to automate some more shit. I do not like doing administrative crap and right now, my whole job is turning into administrative crap.

We have to wait to do our taxes until after we meet with our financial planner next week, but we did a test run online, and even without deductions for the student loan stuff and retirement plan credits, it's looking like we'll get $2K back. Which would look like a whole lot more money if it wasn't that my Hub's laptop computer went belly-up last month, so a new laptop will probably suck up most of that money.

Mostly I'm just cranky and wanting to be pampered. I had some sugar-free cocoa tucked away in my purse, which was nice, and I've got the office door shut and moody music on, which also helps. And, to be fair, the sensation of wanting to cry or possibly to murder the entire office went away after about an hour. It is possible to live through these things without chocolate, it seems.

I'm just... damn, I am tired of what I'm doing. The job I'm supposed to have, on paper, and the job I've got in practice are two different things. In between, I get really disappointed sometimes. Sigh.

Back to work.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Feeling better

One of the recurring themes in my therapy sessions (damn me, I kinda miss them, can you tell?) was comfort. Self-soothing. The main reasoning there was that food has been my traditional form of self-medication, my response to being sick, being tired, being sore, being sad, being overworked, being stressed, being angry, anything, really. Back in October, I had a light-bulb moment when I discovered that the definition I'd had in my head for "comfort" wasn't so much a lessening of the emotion as it was the idea of blotting the emotion out entirely so I didn't have to deal with it anymore. Which was, in its way, a huge disappointment: here I'd been hoping that my therapist would teach me some magical new way to make the bad stuff go away, and now it turns out that I not only don't get that, but that I had to learn to accept merely softening the blow!

It's taken a few months, but I'm slowly assimilating the idea into my view of the world. As of today, I've finally started to get my arms around the concept that not only do I need to figure out what's wrong with me, but I'm going to need to have a comfort option tailored to each of the varying problems.

Yeah, I know. But years of a one-size-(supersize!)-fits-all approach to self-soothing makes a person prone to forgetting things like this.

Nothing fixes everything. A good hard jog might be just the thing to deal with anger, but when I'm sad I should probably just curl up on my Hub's lap and tuck my face against his neck. If my head hurts, I should take some Advil and drink a cup of coffee and rub the bumpy bits at the back of my skull; if I'm tired, I should probably take a nap. Garnering attention is a fine thing if I'm feeling lonesome and neglected is an excellent solution, but if I'm feeling pressured and overbooked, I should probably just hide, and if my Hub is making noise I should put on my headphones and listen to my meditation CD. If I feel poor and broke and in need of being pampered, I ought to buy a pomegranate and make some broiled fennel, and give myself a pedicure; if I feel stressed, I should put on some calming music while I get stuff done (Unwind.com streams calming music, which actually does help me concentrate). If I am hungry, I should eat something that will fill me up. If I am bored, I should do something. If my back hurts, I should adjust my friggin' office chair so that it actually supports my lumbar area. If I am sick, I should go to the doctor. If my teeth hurt, I should call the dentist. If I am generally cranky, I should cuddle my cat, who thinks that I am wonderful and likes very much to be treated like a teddy bear.

There are many problems in life. There are likewise many solutions. I just need to apply the right ones at the right times, for pete's sake. Can you believe I need to learn this at the age of thirty?

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Self-esteem vs. diet-esteem

The more time I spend roaming around the weight-loss blogs, the more I see the same things coming out, over and over again. As a group, we seem to be more willing to dedicate ourselves to the idea of "fixing" ourselves than to the idea of loving ourselves. The diet becomes more important than we are. Which is fine as long as things cooperate, but bodies aren't predictable and life tends to happen in spite of our plans. We start to obsess about what we're doing wrong and what we could do better.

Once upon a time I tried to explain this to my therapist, tried to explain how, more than anything else, the weight-loss thing catapulted me into a place where I was very vulnerable to depression. I didn't really have the words, and she hasn't done the weight-loss thing herself and doesn't know the craziness that starts to happen, particularly in a group situation. When everyone acts the same way, you don't notice what's missing, and the problem with gathering together a whole hell of a lot of insecure women battling their bodies is that while we're working to re-enforce each others' positive habits and support each other through the "bad" spots, we're re-enforcing a big negative thing, too, without even noticing it.

Personally speaking, I got a big boost in self-esteem when I started losing weight. Well, I thought it was self-esteem. I felt better about my body, I felt more confident, proud of my accomplishments. I enjoyed the compliments, I enjoyed wearing the smaller sizes of clothes, I enjoyed being able to run. And it started to take over my life, because this was the part of my life that I felt best about, not because I enjoyed it the most, but because I felt the most confident in it. If there was a problem with the diet, or with the exercise, that became my top priority: nothing else could possibly matter as much as getting my weight to start going down again. And during my rough patches, I felt horrible because didn't have that diet-tied self-esteem, and I had no self-esteem about anything else.

I thought I'd developed self-esteem, but what I'd developed was diet-esteem. I was proud of myself within the diet, but when that got taken away, I had nothing else to fall back on. If you go back through the archives here, you can probably see the pattern-- once I got on maintenance, I lost that sense of accomplishment and diet-esteem and frantically cast around for something else that would get me back into that magical diet-esteem place. A new diet! A new cookbook! A new workout DVD! More steps on the pedometer! And eventually I couldn't keep pushing hard enough to achieve as much as I had during the first heady year of the diet, and I couldn't keep the diet-esteem going, and I had nothing. Total collapse.

What comes first, a lack of self-esteem or extra weight? Chicken or the egg? I think that there's an innate level of self-esteem that we all have, maybe from childhood, and depending on our body chemistry and our upbringing and personality, that innate level can be anywhere from 5 to 10 on a 1-10 scale. Add a "shame factor" like extra weight or abuse or disabilities or deviations from the community norm: that's like subtracting a point or two from your place on the scale. Strong support from friends and family can add back some of those points (sometimes even all of them), but seriously, if you're at a 5 or 6 to begin with, and you add a shame factor or two, it can just be devistating. The lower on the scale you go, the more you're in real danger for self-destructive and self-endangering behaviors like addiction and abusive relationships and so forth. Food can be a self-destructive behavior at the same time that it's a source of comfort, and the resulting weight becomes a shame factor... which subtracts more self-esteem points, which makes you more self-destructive and comfort-seeking, and voila! vicious cycle.

While losing weight can restore the points taken away by the fatness "shame factor", it doesn't change the underlying, innate self-esteem level, or restore points taken away by any other shame factor. Weight is not the whole story, for so, so many of us. Self-esteem is a much bigger part of it.

The problem with diet-esteem isn't just that it's totally dependent on keeping up your dedication to the diet, it's also that diet-esteem is like a drug that you start to get used to, and you start to need bigger doses to get the same high as before. It's like a shark, and if it doesn't keep moving forward, it dies, and if you don't have self-esteem-- real self-esteem-- built in behind it, you've got a problem.

Here's the test: if you are to the point where you shy away from things that would make you feel better about yourself because you fear that it would endanger your diet or your weight, then you're putting your diet before yourself. I did it, for two whole years, and I'm trying to get over it now. To be perfectly honest, it's not as fast or as obvious as the crazed diet and exercise things I was doing before, but it's a lot easier to handle the ups and downs of living healthy when I love myself gain or lose, rather than having it tied to my weight-control actions.

Love yourselves, darlings. Love yourselves fat or thin or in-between, active or lazy or in-between, dining out or dining in, on the treadmill or on the couch, sleeping and waking, sick or well, dirty or clean, accomplished or not. Be kind to yourselves, be compassionate, be sweet. Think of someone that you love. Think of all their faults. Examine the picture you have in your head of what they're like. Then transpose that onto yourself, as though you were someone else, whose faults are sometimes exasperating and sometimes endearing, who has many amazing things about them that make you wish you were them ('cause, hey, you are!).

For the longest time, I was trying to love myself by eradicating my faults to make myself qualify for love. Thing is, those faults are part of me. They're exasperating, for myself as well as for other people, but it doesn't mean that they can't love me and it doesn't mean that I can't love me, either. I'm a big bundle of contradictions, I may never be crazy successful or famous or look like a movie star or be a brilliant speaker or smarter than smart, I'll probably continue bumbling through life forgetting to dust for six months at a time and occasionally putting my foot in my mouth, I'll probably manage to fart in front of elected officials again, I'll continue to start things that never get finished and bite off more than I can chew, I'll forget to RSVP and give stupid excuses for avoiding social occasions that I don't really want to go to, I'll continue to blurt out evil little truths when I'm drunk, I'll neglect the catbox, I'll rant on politics even when I'm not sure what I'm talking about, I'll do my I-am-the-cosmos routine and piss people off, I'll spontaneously buy products that I don't need, I'll shamelessly exploit my cute-and-innocent reputation in order to get out of binds, I'll put off doing work until the last minute, and I'll undoubtedly continue to be easily distracted by details and sidebars and things that are shiny.

On the other hand, I laugh loud and often, I'm a big sucker for cats, I write pretty well, I do some pretty good meta analysis, I'm patient with kids, I love my husband like crazy, I'm (overly) ambitious, I'm usually pretty good-humored, I'm optimistic, I'm cute, I'm smart, I try hard, I'm interested in almost everything (the question is how long I can concentrate on it!), I write well, I have occasional bad-ass moments of insight, I try tons of new things in spite of my fears, I bounce back when I fall down, I'm brave, I'm occasionally witty, I can learn, I can change, I can adapt, I can admit that I'm wrong (when I am), I have vast stores of compassion available when I remember to use it, I know how to make homemade egg noodles, I'm stronger and stronger-willed than I often give myself credit for, I'm creative to the point of not only being outside the box, but having forgotten that a box ever existed, and for a woman with as little attention span as I have, I manage to be pretty organized nonetheless.

I am who I am, and there are good things and bad things about that. But hey, my Hub loves me, not bits and pieces of me, and so does my family and my friends, and y'all seem to generally like me okay, too. If I were someone else, I'd be friends with me, and love me for all the lovely wacky weirdness that I encompass, so what the hell, why not love myself that way?

Having that picture in my mind doesn't mean I am going to be nice to me by feeding myself an entire chocolate cake. Really, it just makes it so that I don't need to so much, 'cause I'm pretty good with just hanging out with myself. Ahhhh.

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My Hub vs. the treadmill

I wasn't sure what to expect this morning from my Hub, but I did, by golly, put on my yoga togs and roll out the yoga mat and start up the DVD. My Hub grumbled around for a few minutes, updated his mp3 player, pulled on a sweatsuit and sneakers, and headed into the sun room. The door closed. Thumping noises ensued, and noises of him talking to himself. Then the treadmill started.

I'm not sure, but from the noises the treadmill made it sounded like he was going too fast for his first day. Then again, his legs are quite a bit longer than mine, so if he was actually walking fast I can imagine he'd be going about .5 mph faster than I do. He went for about fifteen or twenty minutes (there's no clock in the room I was in, so I had no way of knowing), then he was done.

I told him I was terribly proud of him, which is true. He didn't want to do it but he did, which as far as I'm concerned is more impressive than if he'd wanted to do it and did it.

My Hub, however, is grouchy. He doesn't like doing things that he's not instantly good at, or at least okay at. It's not to say that he won't do them-- he's admirably stubborn that way-- but it does tend to curtail any enjoyment of the process for a while. He is pissed off and, as he put it, "in a deep state of loathing" regarding his athletic prowess at the moment, and this immediately turned into making disgusted comments about his abilities and his body and so forth.

The whole time I was lavishing support on him, I kept thinking Dear Lord, is this what I sounded like? It's one thing to say these things about yourself and to be able to brush off everyone else's support because they don't really KNOW, do they?, but it's another to hear it coming out of someone else's mouth, someone you love like crazy. He kept testing me in a half-serious, half-joking way, trying to trap me into agreeing with his bad opinion of himself, but I wasn't having any of it. He's the one who showed me how to love someone unconditionally and how to support them when they don't know how to support themselves, dammit, and I am a good learner. I'm giving it right back to him. He deserves it. He's such a good man, he's so good for me, he so very much deserves all the love and respect and support I could ever give him.

Seriously, if he doesn't ever get on the treadmill again, I'm still proud of him for today. If he does it again on Friday, I'll be proud of him for Friday. The reasons are encapsulated, the pride lasts forever. And you know what? That goes for all of us, too. I'm proud of us for each little thing, each day. Hats off!

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What is it with bars?

Seriously, what the hell? I gotta tell ya, one of the more surprising things that I have learned in the past few years is that the bars around here have some hella great healthy food. There's a pub in our neighborhood where I can get a seared tuna steak served on top of a pita, along with some pretty damn tasty grilled broccoli. I can name at least four bars in the area where I can get some truly amazing salads-- not just one of those measly house salads with iceburg lettuce and a few wedges of half-frozen tomato, but things like field greens with dried cranberries, walnuts, and blue cheese, or Mexican-themed salads with black beans and corn and avocado, or Oriental-themed salads with scallions and mandarin oranges and such. There's a lovely hummus-and-sprouts pita sandwich at one of our favorite bars.

Goose Island, a local brewery, has a microbrew pub in the Near North area. I discovered earlier this year that they have stunning salads, and in fact have a rotating special based on stuff from local growers. Tonight, however, I noticed that on the main menu-- under "pub specialties", in fact-- there was a roasted vegetables & couscous dish. Curious, I got it.

OH MY GOD. So good. So very good. Zucchini grilled over fire (you could smell a bit of lovely smoke clinging to it), roasted tomato wedges, roasted green pepper (I didn't eat those bits, though, 'cause green pepper and I do not get along), and-- best part-- lovely, buttery-soft portabello mushroom, ringing a shaped mound of couscous made with raisins and chopped vegetables. My Hub, who had the "legendary Stilton burger", was actually jealous of my dinner; he got a few tastes and then ate all my green peppers.

Dude. Pub grub has come a long way. Is this just a Chicago thing, or is this phenomenon found everywhere?

Cut for length-- click to read more.

I am unsure what response is good, here, but yay!

In a move that came out of bloody nowhere, my Hub started exercising today. Holy shit.

He'd told me to make sure he woke up when I got up, and refused to tell me why, except to tell me he had "plans" and "stuff to do". Very mysterious. He seemed puzzled this morning when he noticed that I had my jogging things on instead of my yoga togs, whereas I was puzzled that he was just now noticing what clothes went with each activity, since I've had the same basic outfits for years now.

"Aren't you doing yoga today?"

"No, I'm too tired. I need to wake myself the hell up and that requires jogging."


That was the end of that, until he showed up in the living room with the air of a man who's been forced to change his plans, hauled out the freeweight set, and started stretching.

The words "could have knocked me over with a feather" apply here. I just gaped at him.

"What?" he asked.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm exercising. What does it look like?"

"Oh." I couldn't think of what else to say, so I kissed him and went off to the treadmill in a daze. Midway through my jog, it belatedly occurred to me that he had meant to use the treadmill today, thinking that I'd be in the living room doing yoga. My last-minute change of plans, however, didn't mean that he aborted his mission, he just switched to lifting weights.

I'm so proud and astonished, I could just bust. And seriously, this isn't dependent on him continuing this stuff, or anything like that: the fact that he thought to do this and then went ahead and did it is just amazing. I have never, in all the time I've known him, seen him undertake exercise willingly. He makes annual sad noises about his gut, or being out of shape, or what have you, but besides an excellent tendency to eat more healthily than not he hasn't made a move on any of these complaints, and I was fine with him not doing so. I figured that as long as we kept the healthy eating thing going, and his general health continued to be just fine, and he was willing to truck around Chicago with me on our epic walks, then sure, no problem, whatever.

I'm just, like, WHOA.

So, currently, I'm crossing my fingers. I am not going to push. I am not going to be weird about this. I am going to give him love and support and that's it, that's the plan. I'm also going to keep to a set schedule of cardio vs. yoga from now on, since apparently he will be wanting to switch out with me, or at least have the chance to do so.

I just can't help hoping that this is the start of something cool. I like to watch him try new things, and it would be utterly cool if he could be my exercise buddy. If maybe someday we could join a gym and go together. Oh, my silly dreams.

In other news, I tried something new yesterday: I set aside a scheduled time to write, put on headphones and listened to "meditation" music (non-distracty, very important) and worked for two hours. That was okay. I liked it. It was quiet time of a sort, which I don't get a lot of at our place. I got to noodle around on my story, which was awesome.

Afterward, I had what I referred to as "pretty pretty princess time": I put on my fuzzy robe, washed up, brushed my teeth, trimmed my toenails, filed my nails, and then annointed myself with various lotions and oils. Ahhhh. Nice. I dearly want a new set of pajamas-- well, I take that back, I'd really rather have a new bedroom, but that's coming up in a few months.

Speaking of which, I'd better get back to work. Gotta get the rent money.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Monday, January 23, 2006


First of all, sorry for going off-radar for so long. Believe it or not, the day after the last time I posted, my Hub got sick, and I spent the whole Martin Luther King Jr. three-day-weekend nursing him, not to mention nursing a lousy sinus headache (which has since been cured by adding a humidifier to our apartment). By late Monday, my Hub was feeling a bit better but I was starting to feel lousy. Tuesday, I was running a fever, and to make a long story short I only got back on my feet yesterday.

There's really nothing to throw a home into chaos quicker than having both occupants sick at the same time. It's also unsatisfactory to be sick and seeking sympathy from someone else who's sick; we both tried to give appropriate sympathy to the other, but the weak half-assed amount of sympathy that we could muster was just not enough to satisfy the inner MOMMY, I'M SIIIIIICK child.

Happily, not only are we both back on our feet, but an extended period of time in which we had no fresh food in the house and no energy to cook properly has completed the job that the holidays started: we're both well and truly sick of take-out and meals consisting of mostly meat and starch. We've spent most of the weekend in an orgy of consuming green things and fresh fruit, and cooked so much yesterday that we don't really have to cook again for the rest of the week. (We will anyway. We missed cooking, desperately.)

In the down time, with not a lot of energy to accomplish anything else, I've spent a lot of time considering what I want to do from here out. One of the principle quandries I've had in the past is the question of whether or not I'm capable of dedicating myself to both mental health and weight loss/maintenance. In the past, that answer has been NO, every time. Every time I do the weight loss thing, I get sort of unbalanced. And frankly, I'm up twenty pounds from where I was a year ago, most of which jumped on me when I got depressed and has stayed on as I gingerly work my way into mental health. I'm not really comfortable with the weight and my clothes are not fitting the way they used to. It's annoying.

The thing is, weight loss can't be the reason for exercise and a proper diet, not for me, not right now. I'm going to have to go into this with my mental health as my main priority, and my physical health as a secondary priority, and my appearance a distant third. So whatever I do, I have to do it so that I don't stress out, and I don't beat myself up with it. I'm not going to apply stern rules and standards. I am not going to hate my body, and I'm not going to count on losing weight.

My, this really has turned out to be quite a different approach from where I was when I started this thing, hasn't it?

I had this idea in my mind that there was no way I could ever let myself be comfortable at any weight except The Weight, because then I'd never have the will to keep exercising and eating right, and I would then promptly balloon up to being even fatter than I was before. It's the same theory that makes it so that it's hard for me to accept compliments about how I looked when I was fat; the theory that says if I let myself believe I was okay back then, that I was beautiful to my Hub, then I'd get fat again. I keep examining these notions and discovering that on both the "on" side of dieting and the "off" side, my self-esteem and mental health wasn't a priority. My priority was either losing weight or guiltily enjoying non-diet time. Neither one of those was about keeping myself sane. It was either about indulging and self-comforting myself to the point of emotional coma, or being All About The Diet And The Rules.

I think maybe the difference this time is that the last cycle of fat and fast-- the last five years-- happened while I was slowly working my way into actually becoming mentally healthy. It has been something of growing importance for me, and as I became aware of how my mental health impacted my weight, it became even more important to me, but the thing is, until the point where I came down clinically depressed it wasn't my top priority. My top priority was still my weight. I was not willing to take the chance that I could sabotage my weight-loss success for something as trivial as staying sane and balanced and healthy. I wasn't going to go completely mental for it, but up until the point when it looked like it was going to become an either/or situation, I wasn't willing to risk getting fat again. Thanks to my binge eating, though, it rapidly reached the point where either I dealt with this stuff in my brain, and made my mental health my primary concern, or I was going to end up with a real serious eating disorder of the health-threatening kind. Whether or not I got fat finally, gradually, grudgingly became a secondary concern.

I'm done with therapy, at least for the time being. I've been on Zoloft since September. I've made it through the holidays, and gotten well and truly sick twice in two months. I think all of that has worked together to put me in a place where I'm ready to sort of start over, and so now... I am.

The thing now is to just do this stuff for its own sake. Where cooking is concerned, I'm presently taking more of a Kathleen Daelemans approach: cook good stuff that I really enjoy, and try to limit the portions. The main reasoning here is that, well, it pushes me gently in the correct directions without also pushing me to stress about the results. Her cookbooks, I must say, rule. Big thumbs-up.

Back to basics. Exercise, good food, get some writing done, and maybe find a way to start voice lessons again-- something I haven't had in my life for seven years. Do things that make me happy. Love myself. And if that means that I lose weight, that's okay, and if it keeps me where I am, that's okay, too.

Cut for length-- click to read more.