I Am That Girl Now

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Too many priorities is the same thing as none at all

I tend to suffer from-- as I've been told on multiple occasions-- an inability to prioritize. I either have ONE THING as the only thing that I do, or I am attempting to do everything at once. I always believe that absolutely everything is important, so the thing I end up doing is the thing that shows up in my in-box at that particular moment, or the subject that my Hub brings up while we're getting ready for work... that sort of thing. I have attempted to change this by writing everything down. This just means I have a very long list of Things To Do.

I'm trying, trying, trying to learn how to prioritize. The first step, thus far, is realizing that there are a zillion bajillion kajillion things that I could, in potentia, do, and that there's no way in hell that I can possibly do them all, not even if I just did them all for about a minute. I'm just not going to live a zillion bajillion kajillion minutes, and, frankly, most stuff takes more than a minute to do. This sucks. This is a limitation, and I hate those. This is, however, reality. Gotta deal with it.

Second step is realizing that there are several different kinds of stuff to do. There's stuff that I want to do. There's stuff that I have to do. There's stuff that I just kind of end up doing when I'm tired or otherwise just need to give my brain a break. And, well, there are things that other people want me to do, which I used to think would trump every other kind of want-to/have-to, because I tend to discount my own thoughts on what's important. There are limits to how much of each of these can possibly exist in my life, again because of the time limitation inherent in being a mortal creature. One thing I've noticed, though, is that all these things will occur in my life, and some balance needs to be achieved, because any time I've tried to cut any of these things out my life has gone all whackamaroo.

Third step, apparently, is learning how to distinguish between these types of things. I'm kind of waffling around there at the moment, because this is a harder trick than I thought it would be. For instance, I seem to not be so good at recognizing that when someone else wants me to do something, it is not automatically a HAVE-TO situation. I still cringe somewhat when I turn something down; I always feel like I'm going to get in trouble for this, or that I'll be hated for it, or something.

A step that I have yet to achieve is to balance all these things. I'm just plain not good at it. I am a creature of great inertia; whatever I am doing, I tend to keep doing. I'm also prone to forgetting that "just five minutes" for something never is, and that even if it would be, I can't afford a lot of "just five minutes" things for the same reason that I can't afford a lot of "just five dollars" things-- they add up, and my time (or money) is finite.

There's a lot of stuff that I won't get to do. This sucks. I guess that making priorities for yourself isn't so much about deciding what will get done, as what won't get done; if I'm going to spend an hour writing, I won't get to spend that hour vegging out on the couch with my Hub, because I still need to get to sleep at a reasonable hour and no, cutting an hour of sleep out is just not an option because every time I've tried that I turn into a horribly cranky person who gets nothing done whatsoever.

Some stuff that I think is important, won't get done. At least, it won't get done by me. I may be able to convince my Hub to do some of it, but that's another learning process right there: accepting that I don't have to do all of this stuff personally, and that, yes, some of my stuff may be important enough to ask other people to help. BIG STEP. I think I've managed this a few times, but, you know. It's hard.

And now I'm using this post to avoid doing something that I really wanted to do, which is just a weird thing altogether. SO. Gonna go do that instead.

Cut for length-- click to read more.


I've mentioned this in the past, but I've been doing a lot of reading lately. Fat blogs, feminist blogs (which I am: face it, fat IS a feminist issue), eating disorder blogs (God bless The Disordered Times), weightlifting blogs, books on mindfulness meditation, that sort of thing. The gorgeous thing about broadening one's reading base and looking at new things is that one ends up with some of those awesome moments where you read something that takes everything you've thought and turns it ass-over-teakettle. It's the swoopy, falling, soaring sensation of being on a roller coaster or being caught up in a tornado: gravity, or other things which you took to be universal constants, is suddenly in question. I've had a few of those moments this week.

It all comes back to control. Control is a common thread on fat blogs, causing celebration when we manage it and causing horror and depression when we don't. A great many of us have high standards for ourselves and describe ourselves as perfectionists. There's a general tendency for us to get hung up on numbers and accomplishments and discipline, and to beat the bloody hell out of ourselves when we fall short. That's going to be a bit of a problem in any arena, really, but combine that with the Diet & Scale type of plan that Weight Watchers personifies, the type of plan in which at the end of the day the thing that we're the most hung up on isn't something we have any direct control over, and it's no fucking wonder that a very small percentage of people graduate into a normal, active, healthy lifestyle, while most of us end up either gaining all the weight back, getting ourselves an eating disorder, or both.

I've just ordered the book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body, and I suspect I'm going to have a lot more to say on the subject after I read it. Quite a lot more. But right now, I keep going back to the fact that during the two periods in my life where I was clinically depressed, I functioned extremely well. In some ways, I functioned better than my "everyday" self. During my college depressive period, I was a straight-A student, a star in the choir, a leading lady on the stage, a hell of a writer; during my latest depressive period-- well, you can go back and check it out because the whole damn thing is documented right here. If you're looking for it, you'll see that I was a maniac, obsessed with details, determined to perfect myself. I was making all the right food and exercising like mad and getting involved in things and being the perfect wife. In both cases, I was a basket case behind the scenes, and only a big external force (the end of college the first time, Hurricane Katrina the second) brought my drive to miserable perfection to a jarring halt. I achieved in spite of being depressed, because one of the big things driving me into depression was the same thing that drove me to succeed.

It's a horrifying realization. When one has a tendency toward viewing the world in black and white, as I often do, the obvious conclusion is that I can either choose to be a lazy, happy loser, or a driven, miserable achiever. Given that I have been taught that achievement is more important than personal happiness, the very idea of chosing personal happiness gives me an automatic sense of shame. The thing is, it's a false dichotomy, based on some very flawed ideas.

At the risk of talking too damn much about mindfulness meditation again (I occasionally suffer from Hey, I Have A New Thing And Think It Is So Awesome, Everyone Should Do It, Too syndrome, known to the rest of the world as "the zeal of a recent convert"), I had one of those world-shaking paradym-flipping moments while reading one of the FAQs for such. The question is basically "I can't control my thoughts when I'm meditating! How do I fix this?" and the answer is "Everyone's like that. That's how brains work. Your thoughts aren't something to fix or control: they're something to observe and be aware of. They're just thoughts. You're fine. Relax. If you forget what you're doing, come back to doing it when you remember, and don't kick yourself."



I don't know when the correct answer to anything that I've gotten into was "control doesn't matter; you're fine as you are, learn what that is and enjoy it." Yeowza. That's just... that's... wow.

Here's what I'm thinking lately: I'm never going to be perfect. I'm always going to be wandery, and forgetful, and have a limit to how many projects I can juggle at once. I'm never going to get everything done on time. I'm never going to always get eight hours of sleep per night. I'm never going to be able to be everything to everybody; I love so much different stuff that I'll invariably end up half-assing everything, occasionally going whole-hog on one thing while ignoring everything else. I will cause misunderstandings. I will misunderstand others. I will occasionally fuck things up in a spectacular manner. I am very probably never going to fit into my wedding dress again. I am absolutely never going to look like that fitness model. There are some clothes that will never, ever look good on me, no matter how awesome they look on other people. I will occasionally forget to clean the cats' litterbox and they will pee on the bathmat and I will probably step on it as I'm getting out of the tub. (Yes, this has happened more than once.) I will squabble with my Hub over ridiculously stupid things. I will probably be directly responsible for a lot of mental issues in my future children. Sometimes I will be the one who passes supremely smelly gas in the elevator.

This is all fine. The fact of the matter is that I yam what I yam, and I'm delightful and frustrating in equal measures, the way every human being is.

Life, I'm concluding these days, is like paddling around on a river. (Yes, okay, this is on my mind a lot, I can't help it, I am REALLY looking forward to our new hobby.) There's a certain amount that you can control via paddling. There's also currents, and waves, and occasional assholes who pay no attention and cause you to have to veer way, way out of your way to keep from capsizing, and the wake from powerboats going too fast, and you can't control any of that stuff, ya just deal with it as best you can, and plan to get wet and/or occasionally fall out of the boat and really, you're never going to get places as fast as you think you will. It's just how things work.

I do want to be thin; I think, though, I want that in ways that are not healthy for me. I think that I tend to equate it with beauty, and with self-control (and hence with being a Good Girl, sigh), and with being a person that doesn't have any problems. Obviously all this is bullshit, and it's surprising that the problems I developed as a result of my balls-out drive for 120 pounds didn't actually cause me to immediately think "Hrm, I can't see living like this being any kind of a good thing." It exacerbated a lot of my issues: belief in a formula for success (and any deviation from the formula being horrible and bad and thus evidence that I was weak and awful), belief in a perfect ideal self that I'd get to if I just worked hard enough (which, really? what the fuck was I smoking?), and worst of all, belief that I would feel better, I would feel good, if I was thin.

I did not feel better when I was thin. I felt shitty. I was five pounds above my perfect goal, and I kept thinking that if I could get there, it would all be okay, and all the shitty parts would stop. Going right along with this was the fabled golden land of Maintenance, which-- seriously, folks, it's just more of the same calorie-counting obsessiveness, just with a slightly more lenient number. If I could just do [fill in the blank], I would feel better.

I fully believed that if I didn't feel good at the moment, that was okay because it was goading me toward being thin. It was okay to hate where I was right now, because it drove me to achieve. Here's the thing, though: if I don't have the ability to feel good about myself and be generally happy right now, as I am, there's no chance in hell that I'll have that ability at any other weight, or through any achievements of any other kind.

Again, I don't mean to get wacky with the HIHANTATIISAESDIT Syndrome, but there's a phrase that is used repeatedly in one of my books: There is more that is right with you than is wrong with you. I keep repeating that to myself these days. Even at my worst, there's a remarkable amount of stuff that I get right: I drive on the correct side of the street, I can locomote, I can type, I can use the phone, I continue to be able to access the majority of the words in my vocabulary at any given time. Whatever it is that I've fucked up, no matter how important it is, it isn't everything. It can't be.

Self-esteem is not to be found through self-control. Self-esteem is something that comes out of love for yourself as you are, not love for what you can or might accomplish, not love for what you've already done. Self-esteem doesn't give a damn about who you might be under the very best of circumstances or if you try your very best; self-esteem is love for yourself as you fail, and as you achieve, and as you stagnate, and at all times and in all situations. It is not something that you get "only if you deserve it". You deserve it now, as you are. You deserve love now, as you are, from yourself and from others; at your very worst moment in life and if you have completely failed, you will still deserve love from yourself and from others. You are worthy. Not what you do, not what you're making of yourself: YOU.

I don't know how to convince anybody of that; I don't know how to convince myself of that. Success and hard work (through which success will come) are positively worshipped in this culture, in a very individualist manner, and while there's nothing bad about working hard and succeeding, there's a weird thing that goes that goes along with it, in which achieving an end result (or even just having it) means that you are worthy, and deserving, not only of having that success but of being lauded and praised for your success.

Hard work is assumed to be inherent to the process. Worth is measured by possessing the end result. So that means that if you're rich, you obviously worked for it and you obviously deserve it; if you're thin, you obviously worked for it and you obviously deserve it; if you're successful in business or in entertainment or whatever, you obviously worked for it and obviously deserve it.

Leaving aside the fact that a) success does not always follow hard work and b) people who succeed are not inherently worthy of such (I think the phrase I'm looking for, here, is "born on third base and thinks he hit a home run"), the major problem that comes from our national religion of success is that those who don't succeed don't deserve to succeed. Unsuccessful people are somehow inferior, and deserve to be looked down on. If you're fat, that's your fault. If you're poor, that's your fault. If you're unsuccessful, it's your fault. And not only is it your fault, it also indicates that you're fundamentally fucked up because if you weren't inferior or unworthy you would have figured out how to get your shit together and become thin, or rich, or successful, because isn't that what everybody wants?

And the thing is, I don't think that everyone actually wants to be thin, or rich, or successful; I think what we actually want is to feel worthy, and in this culture, if you don't have an inherent sense of worth, the only way to have people believe you're worthy is to prove it. To be rich, to be famous, to be thin, to be pretty, to be successful, to be powerful. To drive yourself to the top.

There's such a wealth of success in this country, though, that we seem to be giving ourselves a success-disorder that mimics eating disorders. It's not enough to be well-off; you must be AWESOMELY rich. It's not enough to be pretty; you have to be flawless. It's not enough to be thin; you have to have a flat tummy and protruding collarbones. (Again: ARGH.) It's not enough to be famous; you have to be even MORE famous. And since there's a reality check in place-- really, not everyone can be at the top of every pile, it just doesn't work that way-- we fake it: fake our own beauty with makeup and photoshopping and plastic surgery, fake our own financial success by buying "proof" on credit, fake our own power by spending a lot of time being a talking head who puts down other people. It's this whole anxious culture of complete bullshit, populated by anxious people who are all trying desperately to prove that they're worthy of taking up space.

And the thing is, we are worthy of taking up space, we are worthy of being loved, we are worthy of experiencing joy and contentment. Money and fame and power and beauty and thinness don't buy love, or joy, or contentment; we all know that, but it's so easy to turn around and look at ourselves and think, "I'm miserable because I'm fat, and I'm fat because I eat so much/don't exercise enough, so if I worked harder and had more self-control, I'd be happy." Sadly, no.

I don't know what brings joy, or love, or confidence, or self-esteem, but I do know that being thin isn't it. Immersing myself in anything in the hopes of ignoring myself isn't it, either-- and I've tried this with everything under the sun in the past thirty years, except for illegal drugs, and that's just dumb luck because I never happened to know anyone who'd hook me up. Tried it with food, tried it with books, tried it with work, tried it with alcohol, tried it with school, tried it with performing, tried it with relationships, and with food, and food, and food. Didn't work. So the only thing I haven't really tried is to stop and listen to myself, and stop treating my own thoughts and my own feelings as something so fucking frightening that I don't dare accept that they exist. To stop treating my body as something so horrible and frightening that I could only deal with it by ignoring it or by trying to control it and force it into a new shape. To just stop, and to just be who I am, and accept that this is who I am.

I'm not entirely certain that I can succeed at this, and I'm not sure if it's something that would work, anyway-- but I've tried the other stuff, and know for a fact that they don't work. So, essentially: fuck control. I have a life.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I so totally need sleep.

Insomnia for two days running, which is not cool. I am attempting to roll with it. I mean, it's not something I want to use as a long-term lifestyle, but I don't operate heavy machinery, it's my week off between programs at the gym (more on that momentarily) so I won't be doing heavy lifting, and there's not a lot going on that requires me to be smarter than the average bear, or possibly six-year-old. So. Rolling.

Before I forget, my latest awesome blogfind: Shapely Prose. What is it about Chicago that we have so many smart women who write so well?

Tomorrow starts the first day of the second stage of tapering off the Zoloft: half a pill every other day, instead of every day. I have decorated my birth-control pill packet with little stickers every other day (usually I just put a sticker on the second Monday into the pack, as a reminder to do my breast exam; my doctor is NOT going to yell at me about that again this year, dammit!), so I won't forget. All set.

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

My Hub is in a state of deep paranoia about me getting off the drugs, since his ex-wife tried it last year and fell immediately back into depression as a result. There are several big differences here, though: 1) I'm tapering off, not going cold turkey, 2) I'm doing this under a doctor's supervision, 3) I have a significantly healthier lifestyle going than she does, and don't have to deal with a mentally challenged stepchild, and 4) I actually have a pro-active therapy program going to deal with stress and emotional upheaval. None of these things, separately or together, give me any guarantee of success, but I like to think I've got a better chance. Still, any time I have a bad day his first reaction is "OH MY GOD, IS IT THE ZOLOFT? ARE YOU GETTING OFF THE STUFF TOO QUICK? ZOMG!"

And, no. Typically I am just having a bad day in those cases, and more often than not these things occur when I haven't done my mediation. I haven't made it to the point yet where I can always recognize the stress as it's approaching and deal with it in a good way; occasionally I overcommit or I don't tell him when something is bugging me, and things blow up. Still working on it.

The big fun news: we bought a boat! A little inflatable tandem kayak/canoe, specifically, which will deflate down to backpack-size (26 pounds) so that we can tote it around to our heart's content. Sturdy, certified, unpuncturable. Cheap for a personal boat, too: I think we spent about as much on life vests as we did on the kayak itself. We wisely refused to compromise comfort and quality for a lower price in that case, since life vests are no good if we don't wear them.

(It's also worth noting that of all the paddling vests that are out there, the versions earmarked for women appear to merely be smaller versions of the male versions, and only one brand-- the Stohlquist BetSEA-- took into account the fact that women have boobs. ONE. [Note: I have found a few other brands online, but the BetSEA was the only one in stock at this particular store.] This baffles me more than I can possibly express. One would think that this would be a key factor in the design process, since this isn't a fashion thing, it's a LIFE SAVING DEVICE. I need to be able to cinch a PFD in such a way that it won't pop up over my head if I fall into the water, dammit. RESPECT MY BOOBAGE, LIFE VEST DESIGNERS.)

Anyway, I'm looking forward to this in a major way. I've been talking about kayaking and other forms of paddling, on and off, since around the time I started this blog, but while my Hub was leading a more sedentary lifestyle he didn't feel the pull toward it that I did. It's no coincidence that this is the first summer that the two of us are both relatively in-shape and relatively strong, and hence feel up to a new challenge. This is going to be a hell of an upper-body workout, I hear. Woo!

In other news, anorexia nervosa has struck again in my family. Not immediate family, but close enough (details withheld due to the internet being the internet and all that; it's one thing to bray my problems all over, but someone else's would just be bad taste). My parents are baffled and feeling powerless, anxious, and frustrated-- par for the course, really. I filled them in a little bit on what I knew about anorexia and eating disorders in general, but I'm pretty sure that this was less help for them than it was me making myself feel better by putting it in the context of Meg-the-quasi-expert instead of Meg-the-concerned-relative. Sigh.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Friday, May 25, 2007

No, really, I'm fine.

Jealous of the fact that my Hub has the day off, hence giving him a four-day weekend (why didn't I think of that?) for the holiday, jealous of a friend of mine who is getting free lunch and probably getting to sneak out of work early 9[rant re: our company president deleted just in case]), jealous of friend's boyfriend who has recently upgraded jobs so that now he's working in a field that he really wants to, in a gorgeous company. Generally angry at the high percentage of idiots at our company at the moment, all of whom seem to want me to do their job for them.

But really, really what's ticked me off today is this:

A teenage girl who claims she was gang raped by three 13-year-old schoolboys was overweight and would have been “glad of the attention”, a barrister told a jury.

The 16-year-old and her friend told a court the boys mugged them for their phones then raped them repeatedly in a park while filming the ordeal on a mobile.

But lawyer Sheilagh Davies, acting for one of the defendants, said the girls consented to sex “maybe to gain attention, maybe to gain affection”.





I have no words. Seriously. It already infuriates me to hear the "it's the woman's fault for being attractive/dressing 'provocatively'/acting such and such a way" reasoning for rape, but to a certain extent (and yes, this is just sad) I'm used to it. Taking it a step further and indicating that because the girl was fat, it indicates consent for being gang-banged by THREE THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD BOYS?

Sweet Jesus. I am so angry right now. This is so far over the line, we can't even see the damn line anymore. This is a defense lawyer looking out at the jury, assuming that none of them would want to fuck a fat girl, assuming that they think that no other guy would want to fuck a fat girl, and thus because this girl didn't meet their personal standards of fuckability that somehow creates doubt that she was raped. Clearly, a fat chick is lucky to have anyone willing to have sex with her at all, even the rat-bastard little shits who just mugged her for her cell phone, so really, when the chance came up she jumped all over that.

I continue to be baffled by the fact that people still think that rape has something to do with sex appeal, that it somehow occurs because the rapist finds his victim attractive, that a guy can't get an erection if the chick isn't hot. And hey, what guy hasn't been frustrated by not having the chance to fuck someone he found desperately attractive? It's soooo understandable, isn't it?

No. It's fucking well not.

Rape has been used since time immemorial to prove mastery over conquered foes and slaves and pretty much anyone that the rapists felt needed to be put in their place. Rape is not about sex. Rape is not flattering. Rape is about proving that someone is powerful, and someone else is not; that one person can force another person to share their very body, and thus prove in a physical way that the other person is lesser, weaker, smaller, that the rapist is bigger, more powerful, more important.

And for the record: yes, being fat can put a certain crimp in one's social life, but I hardly think that leads directly to the assumption that a fat woman would be grateful to be raped. This is like thinking "wow, nobody has hugged me in a long time; sure, it's okay if you hit me in the face!" or "gee, I haven't gotten a present in a long time; hey, it's okay if you rob my apartment!" Just plain does not fucking compute.

Lately, this concept of "fuckability" has been preying on my mind. From Leonard Nimoy's artistic photographs of nude obese women (that one's actually a good thing; good for you, Len!), to this WaPo article demonstrating just how bad for your feet those sexy high heels are, to the new idiocy sweeping the suburbs: all-female pole-dancing parties, to the bizarre concept of the "sports corset" (seriously, WHAT?), to that completely whackjob ad for breast implants implying, somehow, that big boobs = brains, to Joss Whedon's awesome rant linking the new film Captivity to the "honor killing" stoning death of a woman in Iraq, to this thoughtful article on the Girls Gone Wild phenomenon and why a display of female sexuality is seen as more important than the actual experience of sexual pleasure for the females in question.

I haven't yet read Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body by Courtney E. Martin, but I read the excerpt from it on Alternet, and it hit me like a sledgehammer: the shit I went through, the desperate desire for acceptance that drove me alternately to work my ass off to become perfect and to despair and give up-- it's not just me. I'm not alone in this.

And then I read the comments on Alternet, which started with a guy bemoaning the fact that MORE women didn't starve themselves, in order to make it so that there are more women out there that he finds fuckable, and I kind of snapped. It went right back, in my head, to the Dove campaign with the regular-gal models that so many people (mostly men) reacted to with disgust, not having it ever enter their little heads that a company that advertises to a female demographic may not have male preference in visual fodder in mind when creating an advertising campaign.

I'm just... what the hell? Seriously, this is insane. I keep looking at the whole loop, thinking that somehow it's all turned into a situation where it isn't enough to be conventionally attractive, or reasonably trim; there was an article up in the New Yorker a few months ago (alas, they have it behind their damn wall) about how the thing that's in now isn't chiseled abs-- it's chiseled COLLARBONES. And they don't mean just having the little divots at the top show up, either-- they mean having the whole fucking collarbone stick out. IT'S A BONE, PEOPLE. A BONE. ON A PERSON. THOSE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO SHOW. OH MY HOLY HECK.

Here's the part where my brain breaks: taking all this together, women are sexy if they're a) putting their sexuality on display and b) skinny enough to have "chiseled collarbones". And since they're sexy, they're "asking for it" in the case of rape. The rest of us, without chiseled collarbones, are fat, and, being fat, are apparently desperate enough for love that we won't mind being raped.

I really hate this world sometimes.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Two weeks, two days, still okay

The days are uneventful, except for my cat continuing to lock himself in cupboards (he figured out how to open them and go inside, but he's got an all-black coat, so when we find the open door we don't see him and so we latch it again... oops) and my Hub musing the prospect of cutting weight at some point in the future to show off his new muscles (I am so not looking forward to that).

Apparently the headhunter has found some job that might suit me. I'm supposed to go over today after work to chat. We'll see how that goes.

I can now squat 135, which means, hooray, I did three full sets with a 45-lb. plate on each side of the bar, looking like an honest-to-goodness weightlifter. I was so proud. I wish we'd had the camera (with camcorder function) along to witness this miraculous event, because it was just so awesome. My sister and I are planning to have me try squatting her when next we meet, which I suspect will mean that she will cling to my back like a monkey, rather than have me try to heft her up onto my shoulders somehow. When and if that occurs, my Hub swears to record the moment for posterity on video, the better to astonish my parents at Christmas. (Although, at this rate, who knows; it may BE Christmas by the time my sis and I get together again.)

This is a short post. Work has gone insane, almost to a literal degree.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

And now you can't shut me up!

Day eight on reduced Zoloft. So far, so good. I've had several things come up that, two months ago, would have reduced me to a tightly wound stressball on the verge of tears, and I was just fine with it. Calm. Asked questions about stuff I didn't know, asked for help when I needed it, wasn't freaking out about what people thought of me. Take that, Zoloft; meditation is continuing to kick your ass.

My shoulder is doing well enough to switch to a upper/lower body split. Which is good, really, but I need to put together a better upper-body workout. My lower body stuff is great, since I've been working on that for two months; squats, step-ups, lunges (oh my God, I can do lunges! I still hate them, but I can do them!), hyperextentions, all that good stuff. I suspect I'm going to have to consult one of my Hub's books and put together a proper routine.

Need to get back to cardio, because I need to burn off some of this fat. Problem: I hate cardio. ARGH. I sense some quality time doing fartlek-style interval training outside coming up.

Good news: one of my friends, who took up strength training on the advice of her doctor (and a lot of encouragement from me and my Hub), has, after just one month, pretty much eliminated her carpal tunnel pain and has significantly lessened her lower back pain. I'm so proud.

I forgot to mention several magical things that have come with squats & meditation (although not both at once; that would be a transcendent experience of a very wrong kind and would involve LOTS OF PAIN).

1) Guys. I can squat. Like, I can lower my ass toward the floor, and not a) fall over or b) tip forward with my heels hiking up behind me. My heels stay on the floor. These are things that did not happen previous to the first week of March, when the Great Big Weight campaign began. I am so thrilled about this, I find myself doing little mini-squats while waiting for the train, just enjoying the fact that my body finally works in a way that everyone else's has all along. When I was all dressed up for a college-reunion-ish shindig last week, dress and heels and all, I tested a squat to see where I'd go with it (answer: ASS TO GRASS, baby, and even though it totally doesn't count because my heels were three inches in the air it still felt AWESOME). I often do little sumo-squatting poses just because I can.

See, I walked on my toes since I was born, which as far as I can tell is due to my tendons in my ankle area being shorter than normal. My entire life, I've been trying to figure out what the hell to do about this, because although it's definitely a memorable way to walk, it has fucked up my general skeletal alignment and made it hard for me to do a lot of things well. Squatting with low weight did not help. Stretching did not help. Lifting small weights with my toes (to contract the muscle that runs up the front of my calf) did not help. Squats with heavy weight, on the other hand, helped in just two damn months, not because my tendons have grown any, but because the other muscles have developed enough to compensate. Those muscles on the front of my calves are hugely stronger, and my quads are stronger, and to top it all off having this notion of how to move has actually changed the way I walk.

2) Mindfulness meditation being all about keeping one's brain in the moment, it is a hell of a thing when it comes to food. I have a tendency toward constantly thinking about the next thing, and the next, and hence giving somewhat shoddy treatment to the thing that I'm actually doing at that very moment; food is no exception. While chewing one bite, I tend to be readying the next bite, so I end up with too much in my mouth per bite, chewing incompletely, and bite follows bite so quickly that everything is done way too fast and I end up feeling unsatisfied, mentally, because I missed the whole thing.

I know I've thought about this before, talked about it before, tried to fix it before, but I think that this time, because it's tied to everything instead of just being associated with the reasons that it's hard to control my weight, it has sort of clicked. I'm at great risk of rushing through my life without actually experiencing any of it, much less enjoying the damn thing, so this is a great place to start. I've been trying to relax and concentrate on the sensations of having food in my mouth, of how it reacts to tooth pressure, moisture content, the tastes, yadda yadda yadda. Huh.

3) Doing things mindfully is kind of like indulging myself, in the best possible meaning of the word. Not thinking about anything else except for what's going on is a form of pampering. I'm not sure how to explain this, except for maybe that since I am generally ALWAYS thinking of what's coming next, planning ahead, and so forth, letting go of that part of my thinking for a while feels like a decadent vacation, even when what I'm doing is taking a shower, or brushing my teeth, or writing, or going to work.

4) Speaking of writing, learning how to relax into a task is helping me get my ass back onto the writing thing. Again, I've said shit like this before, and I realize that, but if one keeps falling off the horse then continuing to climb back up is as much of a victory as learning to stay on the damn thing. Hopefully this time is the time I learn to stay on, but if not, at least it's boosted me back on.

5) Big weights mean that I absolutely have to have good form and good posture, or else I'll hurt myself. I absolutely have to do things with concentration and mindfulness, listening carefully to my body and not doing any careless motion, because even if my legs can squat 130 pounds, that doesn't mean shit if my back can't take the work. It's starting to become automatic, though, to shift into good posture-- shoulders back, chest out, nice curve in my lower back-- in order to pick up anything, no matter how small. I think that's good. Hopefully it'll protect me from injury in my everyday life, not just in the gym.

6) If I can't do something right with big weight, that means that I have to take weight off, because my head, my habits, and my stabilizing muscles aren't up to the task that my bigger muscles can handle. It does not matter if my quads can handle 150 lbs if I don't have the strength elsewhere to keep it balanced. I can't hop ahead like that; I have to wait for the little pieces to fall into place, and just keep working. Doesn't mean that I'm failing; it just means that the little things are catching up. There's a metaphor for life there somewhere.

In other news, I'm trying to convince my Hub that we should just take the express bus after work that goes directly to our gym, rather than drive those days and end up spending $100/month on stupid parking. I may have convinced him to try one day per week. This is kind of a battle; while I don't mind the bus at all, my Hub has something against it. Grr. I'm not giving up on this one, though; this is one of the more ridiculous frivolous expenses we have these days, and if he wants it, he has to budget for it; it is absolutely not coming out of our main account.

We have to get the afternoon mini-meal hashed out, too. This battle has gone several rounds over the past few months, and every time I think we have it figured out, it goes awry. The thing is, my Hub must be fed regularly. He fails to comprehend that this means that he must plan for this and deal with it his own damn self. As a result, he hits hungry-stage right around the time that we leave work, and wants to make dinner immediately after we get home, which I still consider to be freakishly early for dinner. Everything else must be scheduled around the Feeding. This will not fucking well do.

Breakfast, we can handle. We are both packing mid-morning snacks/mini-meals. Lunch, we prepare in bulk and pack for the week. I'm convinced that the way to deal with the mid-afternoon mini-meal is to prepare them in advance, too. I'm going to throw something together tonight for just that purpose, and hopefully it'll fix all these stupid issues.

Cut for length-- click to read more.