I Am That Girl Now

Friday, January 25, 2008

A rant, if you will, about pretty much everything

I'm in thinking mode. I've been reading a lot-- a lot-- lately, and this time I've moved briefly out of my glut of listen-to-your-body/instincts/etc. books and into a glut of seriously-the-diet-industry-is-fucked-up books. Books that indicate that a) it doesn't seem right for women to be put in the position of having to hate their bodies in order to prove that they're good people, b) what the hell is wrong with people that the level of vindictive hate toward fat people just for being fat is way higher than for, say, drug addicts? c) it seems a mite suspicious that there are a LOT of people making money off the fact that we're on a perpetual weight-loss cycle, particularly given their incestuous relationships with women's magazines and with the studies done on how fat effects health, and d) possibly, just possibly, not all women have the same body types, women naturally put on weight in bits past the age of, oh, fourteen, and maybe we should get over expecting everyone to have the body of a teenage model when that doesn't seem to be physically possible.

My Hub has been giving me a lot of raised eyebrows at my reading material. We got in a very cranky fight once about the entire concept of size-acceptance because he'd read on [very annoying website/forum name deleted] that this meant claiming that morbidly obese people had no health problems. Which is NOT what I meant. I was going with two points:

1) Correlation is not causation. Meaning that although extra weight, heart disease and diabetes seem to go hand in hand, the real thing that causes heart disease and diabetes and whatnot is a crap diet and a lack of exercise, not the weight. Eat better and get exercise: be more healthy. Lose weight by any means necessary: be less healthy. The thing that makes you healthy is not the weight loss, it is the healthy foods and exercise. Your weight is a symptom, not a contributing factor. And frankly, in a lot of people it's not going to match up exactly with their health. People can be perfectly healthy and fifty pounds overweight. People can be skinny and terribly unhealthy. Follow the health, not the weight.

2) The first point aside, how exactly does it help to hate on people "for their own good"? Seriously, this is the worst kind of concern trolling in the history of concern trolling. People are not really that concerned about the health of a fat person walking down the street; they are pissed off that their vision is being polluted by a fat person and they want that person to be skinny so that they, the viewer, can only see things that they find attractive. People discriminate against fat people all the time-- dating, employment, customer service-- and that's not out of concern for the fat person's good. That's out of pure "eeew, yuck, fat cooties". There is no respect, no admittance that yes, we're all human beings here and worthy of being treated with dignity. And frankly, there's no reason for that. It's mean. It's stupid. It's like we're all living in eighth grade, all the time, and I swear to God I thought people were supposed to mature as they got older, have we forgotten how to do that?

In conclusion: a) fat does not necessarily mean bad health, just as skinny does not necessarily mean good health, b) you're not really concerned about someone's health when you bitch about seeing a 140-lb woman on a billboard, and c) does someone's bad health mean that you should mock them and discriminate against them? ("Hey, that guy's got cancer, let's make fun of him!" doesn't parse very well if you're not, you know, in elementary school.) I'm still pissed off about that argument, in case you couldn't tell.

What I'm getting out of all of these books, besides what I mentioned up top, is this:

We do honestly eat like shit in this country. Big companies make a lot of money off of that, too: all the most convenient foods are terrible for you. Fruits and vegetables and lean protein and whole grains don't really figure into convenience; wanting to eat those last three in particular takes learning and dedicated time, instead of just toss, heat, and go. Don't even get me started on fast food. There is serious BIG MONEY in all these things, and the problem isn't that people don't know what the calorie content is, the problem is that this stuff is convenient and the healthy stuff isn't. That's it. It's not asking people to choose between apples and oranges, it's asking people to choose half an hour of work vs. waiting in line for maybe two minutes, or nuking something in the microwave for three, and either way doing no work whatsoever.

Also: we do honestly get shit exercise in this country. And there's a lot of money in that, too. Lots of money in TV, lots of money in video games, lots of money in cars, lots of money, now, in computers... and it goes on and on. Our housing is arranged in suburbs so we can't walk down the block to get a gallon of milk, we have to take the car three miles. Public gathering spaces aren't really so much of a thing anymore. The whole world is arranged for us to do as little exercise as possible to get through our days.

These things, I've been saying since forever. The game is rigged, and in order to overcome it and actually eat well and get exercise, we have to go way out of our way and that sucks. We have to spend a lot of extra time and a lot of extra money to live healthy, and that's not easy, and it shouldn't be treated as such because that ignores the reality of the situation and makes it so that nobody talks about how to honestly fix the fucking problem.

Why? Back to the Myth of the Lazy Fatties. Can't talk about how these things are a lot of work because only fat people have a problem with it, and they only have a problem with it because they're fat and, hence, lazy! BAAAAAAAALLLLS. This isn't something that only touches the lives of the fatties, this is an everybody thing. The skinny people just get to ignore it because nobody looks at them with that "shame, shame, you're doing all this to yourself on purpose" look.

Which leads me to the next point. Yes, to a certain extent we do do this to ourselves. A lot of us, me definitely included, have deep-seated issues about our looks and that turns into disordered eating, and turns into a lot of hiding at home so that we won't have to deal with having other people see us, which in turn doesn't really lend itself to an active lifestyle. Technically, though, even a rat in a maze chooses to go down corridor A, which has proven itself safe if nonetheless an eventual dead end, versus corridor B, which is obviously the right one but which gives the rat an electric shock every time it tries to set foot on it. It's the rat's choice, though, which means that the rat is stupid for ending up in the dead end time and time again. Even when the electric shocks get turned off, even though the rat can't tell; stupid rat. Obviously, it's a choice.

I am starting to feel a lot of anger toward the people dolling out the electric shocks, let me tell you.

My sister always says 'it's like we grew up with two different sets of parents' and, you know, that's true, and in the end I think my problems with my body image comes down to this: I was the first one to hit puberty, and it happened while my dad was in the middle of a war with my mom over her weight. My dad promptly went to work on making sure that I wouldn't turn out like my mom (a phrase he actually used on me, many times, which in retrospect pisses me off a LOT), assigning daily exercise, shaming me for eating more than I "should", shaming me for my weight. Which, seriously, was perfectly normal for my frame. Put that together with the way he reacted to me having problems in school in fourth grade through sixth grade-- gee, ironic, all around the same time!-- and what we had there was a recipe for disaster. It's no surprise that I grew up skittish and passive and headed directly for an eating disorder. Just as it's no surprise that my sister, having a naturally skinnier frame that doesn't come with as much boobs & butt, and who never had problems at school, didn't grow up with the same problems that I had.

I ate my way into larger and larger sizes in a way of rebelling against the notion that I wasn't good enough as I was, and that I had to be controlled because I couldn't be trusted. If my dad and I had concentrated our war on something else, like sex or dating, I probably would have ended up sleeping with every boy in town... a fate which I missed out on because I was convinced at age 13, 5'2" and 120 pounds, that nobody would ever want me because I was so grotesque. Instead, I spent all my pocket money on fast food and then, when I went to college, I spent it all on Ben & Jerry's and Doritos and pizza delivery. THIS is simple cause and effect: mercilessly shame a pre-teen about her body, and you get a socially inept teenager/college student with an eating disorder who is convinced that you hate her. You do NOT get a girl with good health, confidence, a healthy body image, and an intact loving relationship with you. How the hell my dad thought this was possible, I will never know.

Again, this is stuff I've known for forever. I haven't looked out at the big picture for that stuff, though. I haven't looked at what gives people like my dad the ammunition that they use, their concepts of "normal" and "health" all wrapped up in skinny. I haven't looked at the studies that skewed the results and the politicians that used it to create a public scare, I haven't looked at the businesses that can only keep the billions of dollars coming their way if women hate their bodies and will do anything to change them, I haven't, in short, noticed that it doesn't make any sense to start the whole process of shame when shame does more damage than it ever, ever helps, and yet that's all that our entire society seems to do regarding fat. I haven't looked at it before, and it's seriously starting to piss me off.

I eat mostly healthy foods. I exercise a moderate amount. I have awesome scores for blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. I carry between fifteen to thirty pounds more than my Weight Watchers goal said I should. I'm pretty fucking healthy, my husband thinks I'm the most gorgeous woman he's ever met in his life, I'm good at my job, I have excellent relationships with my family (even my dad, who still might get yelled at for past events if I ever get my courage up) and friends, I give money to charity and give blood and go to church, I take great care of our finances, and I keep myself clean and moisturized and deodorized and my hair is brushed and my teeth are brushed and all my clothes are clean and ironed.

FUCK the weight. If it moves, it moves. If it doesn't, it doesn't. I am through freaking out about this because all the stuff that is important to me is already taken care of. I'm healthy and I'm happy and I intend to stay that way. All I want out of life now is a normal relationship with food and with exercise, and a better ability to deal with stress, and I think I'm on track for eventually having all those things. To hell with expectations of what I should look like: my experiences and thoughts and feelings here, inside my body, need to be at LEAST of equal importance with other people's thoughts and feelings about me. Because it's me, and I am more than what other people think about me, and that's the end of the damn story.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Welcome to Chicago!

There's something about Chicago in the winter that I dearly love. Admittedly, it's cold, it's bleak, the sky goes iron-gray, we have zero humidity and hence cracked and itchy skin, it snows and, in spite of it being a strong pedestrian town, some of our neighbors utterly refuse to acknowledge the concept of shoveling the sidewalk (note: one of them will shovel a path from their door down to the street, but ignore the sidewalk, the bastards). The wind picks up. The temperature goes down. The sun is only visible during work hours, when we don't get to enjoy it. I still love the season.

I understand that if I was in Los Angeles right now, there would be no snow on the ground and I could walk around in my shirtsleeves or, at most, a hoodie. Friends and family living in various places around the country see every winter as a chance to poke fun at me for living in Chicago, as if it wouldn't be worse in, say, Buffalo, or Minneapolis, or Montreal, or Toronto, or Anchorage. I explain every year that winter is worth it, for the amazing spring and fall we get (and the hot-but-it-could-be-worse summer), and besides, it's not that bad. That's when people start laughing at me.

The thing is, it's really not that bad, once I get the hang of it. It takes a while every year to get my brain recalibrated, the same way that it takes a while each January to force myself to write the new year instead of the old, but once I get the hang of things, it's not that bad. Chicago folk are tough and practical by nature, and I think that's mostly our winters at work: winter survival is not cool by any stretch of the imagination, so there are several months every year where even the rich people wear puffy coats (some still go for fur coats but they are still puffy) and funny-looking hats, where even the flakey guy down the hall will have earnest things to say about making sure there's kitty litter tucked in the trunk of his car, where even the fashionistas in Lincoln Park will adjust to the need for long-johns and layers and waterproof boots. There's a marvelous leveling effect there. It's even a time of great civic... well, not exactly pride, more like identity: we are bonded together as a city by the common need to bitch about street-plowing (it's lightning-fast and efficient by most standards but we are a demanding folk) and The Way People Drive In This Shit (more cautiously than you'd think) and Why The Damn Train Is Taking So Long To Get Here (still generally a fast and well-organized service, for all the bullshit involved). I take it back, actually, there is civic pride proper, which can be boiled down to a single concept: We Are So Bad-Assed That This Fucking Weather Ain't Got NOTHING On Us. When the weather first dipped down into the single-digits this past weekend, nothing slowed down. Everyone joked about hiding inside until Monday with a stock of DVDs and frozen pizzas, but we all knew that if the Bears had made it to the playoffs half the city would have been swarming the stadium. And when it came down to it, it wasn't that bad, you know? Add another layer of socks and an extra t-shirt underneath, break out the down coat and the fleece-lined boots, put a hat on underneath the hood, get a big scarf on the top: problem solved. The city keeps moving, even if the population finds it rather difficult to lower their arms due to the many layers. We Are That Bad-Assed.

Not only that, but there's awesome stuff to make up for it. When we look out at the lake, not only do we get the huge flood of steam coming off it every time the temperature drops, but on certain gray and mildly-cloudy days the sky so exactly matches the lake that it's almost impossible to figure out where the horizon is, and that's a trippy experience you can't get without the big lake and freezing temperatures.

It's a season of unlimited snuggling on the couch because that'll never make you too warm. It's a season of cats wanting lap time instead of draping themselves along the windowsill. It's a season of hot drinks and soup and fresh-baked bread. It's a season of crazy knit or fleece hats, with pom-poms or surprising colors or goofy decorations. It's a season of having something to do in that awkward moment when you've just come in someone's front door, having an instant conversation topic in the questin of where to put coats and whether or not to leave shoes or boots by the door. It's a season of fireplaces and heated discussions about the football post-season games and wondering whether we'll get a good crop of Superbowl commercials this year. It's a season of bulky sweaters and squabbles over the thermostat. Oh, Chicago. Never change.

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Cut for length-- click to read more.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hopefully this won't have to be reposted once I've had sleep

The thing is, I had a GREAT morning before I left for work. I woke up half an hour before the alarm and didn't feel like snoozing anymore, so I showered, fed the cats, meditated for ten minutes, woke up my Hub, got frisky with my Hub (yay morning!), had breakfast, brushed teeth, dried hair, made snacks, and was still out the door on time.

Similarly to the last time I spontaneously awoke before the alarm (last week, I think), all went well until I got on the El. I didn't fall asleep hard this time, but I did fall asleep, and even after jogging around our (largely empty) office a bit and indulging in caffeine, I still feel like I'm about to tip over.

I caught a goof on my husband's paycheck which means they owe him twenty bucks on his next paycheck (and let's just say that it's a good thing I'm watching now, 'cause he didn't notice at all, and it would have been deducted on every paycheck all year had I not noticed), which is all well and good but it means he's $20 short this pay-period... which is really not helpful. I'm trying to get him to follow a spending plan! WORK WITH ME, UNIVERSE, PLEASE.

My Hub is having a worse day than I am... at least, he was. He was so beat and so depressed that I convinced him to take a half-day and go home. Hopefully this fixes things, because I honestly don't know if I'll be able to help. I'm already pretty groggy and I don't imagine it'll improve after work. What the hell is wrong with this week?

My chief concern for the day is that I've got a good friend who went to a fertility doctor and was told, flat-out, that they don't perform IVF on patients with a BMI over 40, and won't do so without a doctor's note if the patient has a BMI between 35 and 39. Now, because my friend desperately wants a baby, she's gone into full-on diet mode. Which isn't the problem. I worry about her, since she seems to be paying more attention to the outside cues than the inside cues and I hope she actually does eat when she's hungry because that way lies madness, but that's not the problem.

First part of the problem: the fact that the doctor has a policy based on BMI. I had a lot of red flags go up on that one. It doesn't say anything about blood pressure, or diabetes, or, you know, anything that might be a legitimate medical concern: it just flat-out assumes that if one has a high BMI like that, one is too risky a case to impregnate. I understand that it's taken as a kind of shorthand for having medical conditions, but dude. Seriously. There's being fat, and then there's being a health risk: these two things may occur together, but assuming that the one is the cause of the other is like saying that pimples cause emotional disturbances in teenagers, when the real cause of both is an excess of hormones. Excess weight and health problems may have the same cause-- eating crap and not exercising-- but what if a person is eating healthy, getting plenty of excercise, scores perfectly on health issues, and still weighs in heavy? What then?

I put my friend in touch with a fat-friendly fertility specialist, "just as a back-up" in case it turns out that a) her doctor is a real asshole when it comes to fat people or b) she gets healthy but doesn't lose weight, in which case she plans to give the current doctor a very rude gesture and go make an appointment with the other one. Yay for First, Do No Harm and their list of open-minded physicians!

Second part of the problem: all the rest of our friends, who immediately jumped on with "yay, lose some weight! we will support you!" instead of "wow, what a fucker! we will support you!". And all the suggestions. Weight Watchers, calorie counting, exercise routines. I mean, hooray for health and all, but it's long been my experience that having some other person in authority impose ye olde "you need to fix yourself before you're worthy to do X" thing is never a good thing in terms of weight loss or, more to the point, mental health. JEEZ.

The point at which a very dear friend suggested a weight-loss calculation tool which, it turns out, adjusts every few weeks to stop counting the exercise you do because your body has "compensated" for it made me want to weep. Because that's definitely not be a sign that your body is compensating the way that starvation victims' bodies compensate. It just means you need to try HARDER and eat LESS.

[Here I would normally rant about diets in which I was encouraged to eat less and less and that "if you don't add on calories for exercise, you'll lose weight faster" and how that ended up making me feel cold in the middle of the fucking summer when it was 100 degrees out. Oh, wait, this is a rant, just shorter.]

I think the lesson to be learned here is a) I have learned a great deal this year regarding how to deal with doctors, b) I do not like it when people pick on my friends, c) I am still not very good at dealing with it when other people have concepts that do not match up with my experience, and d) I am still really easily triggered when it comes to people talking weight-loss because my first thought was "you know, you're right, I should really get in some extra time on the elliptical machine."

I gotta remember-- and this is really hard-- that I gotta live in a way that keeps me sane and healthy, not in a way that makes me skinny. Which for me right now means meditation, intuitive eating, listening to my body's inner cues (which right now are all saying GO TO BED EARLY TONIGHT, YOU DORK), and a certain amount of emphasis on getting exercise and proper nutrition. I may lose weight this way, I may not, but I can't let that be the point or I will lose my mind again and, really, who wants that?

Slightly hilarious side note: I bought a book called "The Gift Of Fear" used over the internet, and I'm only now noticing that it fits in perfectly with my other preoccupations of late: it's all about checking in with your inner instincts and trusting them. You'd think I'd spent a lifetime doing my best to ignore my inner cues and instincts and intuition. OH WAIT, right, that's exactly what I did. Never mind.

Also purchased:

  • No Fat Chicks: How Big Business Profits Making Women Hate Their Bodies - And How To Fight Back by Terry Poulton

  • The Diet Myth by Paul Campos

  • Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss--and the Myths and Realities of Dieting by Gina Kolata

  • Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress by Jon Kabat-Zinn (yeah, I know, I bought this a year ago, but I lent mine to a friend and either she thought I meant to give it to her or she's lost it or something, any way I'm now treating it as a gift and am re-ordering it).

  • AND I'm still reading three books I got for Christmas AND reading DG's book. Just reading on the El isn't going to do, man; I'm going to have to put in some serious hours off-train in order to catch up. It's like being seven all over again and coming home from the library with a stack of books that my mom thought I'd never get read in two weeks. (By the time I was ten, she had ceased to worry about that, and instead worried that I'd finish them too quickly and need to be hauled to the library again at the end of the week. My poor mom.) Ahhhhh, BOOKS.

    Cut for length-- click to read more.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    It's a wacky week so far

    First of all, EEEEE, I got my copy of DietGirl's book! It is shiny and new and MINE, ALL MINE. A very biased plug, admittedly before I have read the whole thing: go buy the thing, folks! Yes, it's not out in the U.S. yet, but it's in Canada and it's in the U.K. and it'll soon be (February?) in Oz! Our Shauna is hilarious and brave and stubborn and completely unafraid to air all the goofy things in life. I continue to hope that I'll grow up to be half as amazing as she is. I've had a peek at a few chapters pages before official worktime started, and it's fantastic stuff. ::jumps up and down in blogger solidarity::

    Secondly, the mad warehouse of fun that is physical therapy has re-started as of yesterday. I'm back in, and doing much better than I was before, thanks to the cortizone shot the doc gave me at my last appointment. Pain-free!

    Thing is, I remember full well that the LAST time I had a cortizone shot, I went on to re-fuck-up my shoulder just a few months later. Therefore, I'm taking this therapy seriously. I want my life back; I want my shoulder to work properly and let me do yoga again. I've been on tiptoes over this thing for ages now, have been dealing with it in one way or another for a solid year, and I just want to go back to the way things were before I did whatever it is that I did. At my last doctor's appointment, he said, "I hope all goes well and I never have to see you here again." Which, dude, right back atcha. I would like very much to put this chapter of my life behind me and be okay again.

    Another reason not to fuck up one's shoulder: I got the bill for the MRI today. !!!! Most of it paid for via insurance, but still !!!! Well, I guess we have insurance for that reason. Oh, shoulder. So expensive you are.

    Slightly related question: I have heard tales of suppliments to cushion one's joints, particularly knees. I keep having the urge to start running again, but my knees complain whenever I do, so I've been stuck on the elliptical machine for a while now, looking longingly at the treadmill. Anyone out there have any experience with such suppliments? If I can get this knee thing figured out, I want to get my Hub training with me and see if we can do a 5K race in the spring. Weirdly, I miss it.

    I chickened out of the Martial Arts class on Saturday. On the one hand, I rather want to try it. On the other hand, I'm worried about my shoulder, which fits in rather nicely with the sheer terror I get when facing new classes of some kind. Made it very easy to justify not going.

    Speaking of the Hub, he's in the doghouse at the moment; he would be more so if he wasn't so darn cute and if he hadn't sensibly cooked me an awesome dinner when I got home last night. After two weeks of tracking his spending, it turns out that he's spent $160 on food. Not groceries; those are covered. This is "I am a sad panda and want to eat takeout/frozen pizza" food, or "I am a bored panda and want to go to a restaurant" food. We seriously need to teach him some other method of stress relief, because that's just not right.

    Today is his first day of real Mvelopes fun. For the past two weeks, he was letting me do all the work and scrutinizing the thing out of the corner of his eye. Now he promises to actually pay attention and attempt to stay within his boundaries. With added reason: after the events of this past pay-period, I concluded that having him send $150 to his credit card every pay-period wasn't going to be possible, because he's so unused to having to restrain himself that by the end he was concluding that he NEEDED all this shite, IMMEDIATELY... and then that we NEEDED to go to Chili's (!) for dinner, and that he would gleefully put this extravagance on the credit card. All of which resulted in him being incredibly stupid and negating half of the payment he put on the damn thing at the beginning of the month.

    He was saying stuff that I swear came right out of the how-to-be-a-nutty-dieter handbook: not only the "well, I already fucked up this pay period, I might as well cheerfully continue causing as much damage as possible until the 15th" bit, but the Last Supper routine: "I'm going to be good starting on the 15th, so I'm going to be retarded with my money now while I can and do all the things now that I won't be able to EVER EVER AGAIN." I'm becoming convinced that this is the way that all human minds operate. As a species, we do not respond well to limits.

    I'll fully admit that I'm not responding well to limits right now, myself. Due to the Amazon.com goof (oh how could I be so stupid) I was out of money for the last week, with $8 clutched firmly in my bank account so that I could go out to eat for Friday lunch (if my college friends and I don't see each other then, we just don't see each other, so it's like an investment). Now I'm going to be low on funds because I'm sending $50 to the future bro-in-law for my sister's birthday present.

    Next pay period, February 1, is the last one that I'll be quite so pinched; that's the last one that I have to save $25 toward a two-year subscription for X service instead of a quarterly subscription, which'll mean that the price-per-month will be cut in half, as I save it up again slowly over the next two years, and that I will actually have my Meg's Stash money stashed away for my own purposes again. I have three virtual envelopes labeled in anticipation: one for the slowly-accumulating subscription cash, one for gifts (which I always forget I'll need money for) and one labled "Meg: Adventure!" in the expectation that I will need some ready money in the event of sudden adventure. My life has thus far lacked such excitement, but it might still happen! Perhaps with an envelope marked for that specific purpose, I will find myself seeking out adventure. Perhaps adventure will hear about my bold envelope-marking move and come seeking me. Limitless possibilities here, y'know.

    Cut for length-- click to read more.

    Thursday, January 10, 2008

    Things I would like to discuss with the universe

    (And, before I start: yes, I am trying to take these things up with the people who might actually give me answers. They just haven't got back to me yet and this makes me feel tense.)

    Problem: Why didn't Amazon use my gift certificate that I had thoughtfully saved in their little save-yer-gift-certificate thing? Did I fuck this up somehow? Why did it charge me money? Why wouldn't it let me cancel the order once I twigged to the fact that it was about to charge me?

    Preferred result: Amazon staff will reply to my e-mail saying "Goodness gracious, something went wrong there. Why, we'll refund your money immediately." And then I can use that money for my sister's birthday present (which I foolishly agreed to pitch in for, $50 worth, and which I won't be able to afford if Amazon keeps charging me, ACK).

    Problem: I can't remember which of the windfall checks we deposited last January is from X, and which is from Y, and frankly that does mean a lot because of taxes, and I would really rather know this before we go to see ye olde financial advisor (sigh) tonight.

    Preferred result: Magically, the information will appear on my desk. Alternately, I'll remember where we deposited the checks, because apparently I need to know that information in order to get someone to tell me. Alternately, our financial advisor will be willing to throw together some kind of tax estimate based on both versions.

    Problem: I think I may have run the car out of gas, and it's (badly) parked a block south of our apartment. It had a quarter-tank of gas when I got there, and then when I re-started the thing in order to park it somewhat closer to the curb, it suddenly started flashing the GAS light at me and the needle was pegged near the zero mark, in the red zone. I'm baffled as to how I lost several gallons of gas, or possibly broke the car. (Eeeee.)

    Preferred result: Everything will be fine and we'll have enough gas to get to the gas station. On Tuesday, that is. No money in the budget for gas until Tuesday. I have no bloody clue how we used it all up, although my Hub driving to work four times in two weeks (one week having two days of work as we were just back from vacation, one week having three days of work as it involved New Year's) may well be a clue.

    In other news...

    My Hub has got the hang-- kinda-- of Mvelopes. So far he does not blindly hate it. So far he does not mind having eight different totals for his checking account versus just plain looking at his checking account. The main problem thus far is getting him to check the damn thing instead of looking at his bank account. He forgets.

    He did, however, make the decision to move money over from one envelope to the other, sacrificing his video game money in order to go out to eat. I'm kind of satisfied; he had that moment where he had to think about it, and that's a big step. He also realized that while he doesn't have a video game per se that he wants to buy, he does want to throw more money at X-Box Live points, in order to buy more content, since he's burning through his current balance like WHOA. And he's pleased that he doesn't have to remember not to spend his NPR money or the Yahoo money (automatic payments every month), since those are tucked into their own little envelopes. I totally understand that one, since I had the same reaction of "WHEW, there's a layer of stress I didn't even realize I had, all gone" when I first set up the household budget on the thing.

    He might get the hang of this. I think it might work. He doesn't have to do any math or any upkeep (I'm handling the which-envelope-does-this-go-in maintenance, since I'm already doing it for everything else) and just the fact that the money is in seperate piles, piles with names all symbolizing things he wants, is already much different for him than just looking at the single nameless mass of money in his checking account. Looking at the names means that every time, he remembers that he might not want to spend $20 on [random item here] because that'll take $20 away from something else he really wants.

    It's all about names. He laughed at me when I said that I loved knowing that all the money had names, but really, that's the thing that makes it work-- that moment where you look at it and remember "Oh, right, that $50 is earmarked for Mom's birthday gift," and then don't spend it on something else. It's magical.

    Also, it is Thursday, and we have not driven to work at all this week. My Hub has a $0 balance in his "parking" envelope in Mvelopes. Coincidence? I hope not. He hasn't said anything, but then again we haven't had cold/wet weather in which to walk to the El, only chilly/dry and warm/wet. He may start bemoaning his fate when the weather starts acting like proper January again.

    I really, really wish we could telecommute during the winter months... well, I probably could, with a slight upgrade on my laptop. My Hub, on the other hand, needs to be at the office. And since I don't mind dealing with the weather half as much as he does (or perhaps I'm just more determined to not pay the $14 to park downtown), that pretty much ruins the whole point. Oh well.

    We've eaten salads or at least mostly-veggie dinners for three days straight now, and I think we'll end up with at least one more salad dinner tonight, since we have chicken breasts and from-scratch croutons already made. All I have to do is slice up the pears, wash and spin the lettuce, have my Hub make the dressing (he's good at it, hence his eternal fate), and chuck lettuce, dressing, chicken, croutons, pears, goat cheese, and chopped walnuts together. Instant-ish awesome dinner!

    You may have noticed I'm slowly adding tags/labels to my posts. It's slow going, since I have to go back and read all the damn things, but I will get organized. More or less. I'm not sure what good this will do me or any of you darling readers, but all the cool kids are doing it, so I feel strangely compelled to keep up.

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    Cut for length-- click to read more.

    Tuesday, January 08, 2008


    My Hub found this and showed it to me a long time ago, and we showed it to my whole family over Christmas, and now my sister and future BIL are both quoting it all the time. My apologies if you've seen it before, but seriously, I love this thing.

    Oh, and the sequel!

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    Cut for length-- click to read more.

    A wee cry for help

    Okay, since I'm clearing up a lot of fun stuff on the blog, I might as well ask: any of y'all with a blog, can you advise me on feeds? Where do I sign up? Do I need to sign up? Er... how do people use these?

    I'm very good on illegally bittorrenting magically procuring television programs and using everything on Firefox but I have to admit that the feed thing kind of passed me by. Help!


    Cut for length-- click to read more.

    A kind of frightening read

    In my post on inside/outside cues, I mentioned a study done back around WWII where a bunch of normal guys had their food intake studied for a few months, then drastically reduced.

    Today, I found that study. Apparently this is better known than I thought; in some places (particularly eating-disorder blogs), they toss the name "The Minnesota Semi-Starvation Experiment" around as a descriptive reference.

    Personally, I've been reading through this and it's more frightening than the relatively calm and soothing summary they have in Intuitive Eating. It's a LOT more frightening.

    Okay, so I mentioned-- because Intuitive Eating mentioned-- the obsession with food, toying with food for hours, binging, and so forth. What I didn't mention, because I didn't see it, is a lot more hair-raising.

    Cookbooks, menus, and information bulletins on food production became intensely interesting to many of the men who previously had little or no interest in dietetics or agriculture, (p. 833). ... In addition to cookbooks and collecting recipes, some of the men even began collecting coffeepots, hot plates, and other kitchen utensils. According to the original report, hoarding even extended to non-food-related items such as "old books, unnecessary second-hand clothes, knick knacks, and other 'junk.' Often after making such purchases, which could be afforded only with sacrifice, the men would be puzzled as to why they had bought such more or less useless articles" (p. 837). One man even began rummaging through garbage cans. This general tendency to hoard has been observed in starved anorexic patients (Crisp, Hsu, & Harding, 1980) and even in rats deprived of food (Fantino & Cabanac, 1980).

    I'M SORRY, EXCUSE ME, WHAT?? Seriously, I've never heard of this before, and yet the description is perfectly familiar from my WW days, in which I printed out a million recipes, was TiVoing about eight different cooking shows, went to the store several times a week because I felt I must buy such-and-such ingredients, and, oh yeah, the hoarding. Not hoarding food, although there were a bunch of instances (some documented in the early days of this blog) when I would find free food at the office and haul the whole shebang back to my office just for me. And the shopping I did for non-food stuff was just huge. I was trying to keep us to a budget but I kept going insane. This is the first time I've heard that it might have had anything to do with my diet.

    The men demanded that their food be served hot, and they made unusual concoctions by mixing foods together, as noted above. There was also a marked increase in the use of salt and spices. The consumption of coffee and tea increased so dramatically that the men had to be limited to 9 cups per day; similarly, gum chewing became excessive and had to be limited after it was discovered that one man was chewing as many as 40 packages of gum a day and "developed a sore mouth from such continuous exercise" (p. 835).

    ::hair goes up again:: Coffee, check; tea, check; gum, to the point of a sore mouth, CHECK FUCKING CHECK. Oh my God. And yeah, I used a hell of a lot of spices; how the hell else do you make it through without resorting to spiking up the taste factor?

    Although the subjects were psychologically healthy prior to the experiment, most experienced significant emotional deterioration as a result of semistarvation. Most of the subjects experienced periods during which their emotional distress was quite severe; almost 20% experienced extreme emotional deterioration that markedly interfered with their functioning. Depression became more severe during the course of the experiment. Elation was observed occasionally, but this was inevitably followed by "low periods." Mood swings were extreme for some of the volunteers ...

    You know, I've said for a while that WW was the starting point of me driving myself into depression. I've just never had any kind of back-up. And that was before I read the next paragraphs:

    Irritability and frequent outbursts of anger were common, although the men had quite tolerant dispositions prior to starvation. For most subjects, anxiety became more evident. As the experiment progressed, many of the formerly even-tempered men began biting their nails or smoking because they felt nervous. Apathy also became common, and some men who had been quite fastidious neglected various aspects of personal hygiene. During semistarvation, two subjects developed disturbances of "psychotic" proportions. During the refeeding period, emotional disturbance did not vanish immediately but persisted for several weeks, with some men actually becoming more depressed, irritable, argumentative, and negativistic than they had been during semistarvation. After two weeks of refeeding, one man reported his extreme reaction in his diary:

    "I have been more depressed than ever in my life ... I thought that there was only one thing that would pull me out of the doldrums, that is release from C.P.S. the experiment I decided to get rid of some fingers. Ten days ago, I jacked up my car and let the car fall on these fingers ... It was premeditated." (pp. 894-895)

    Several days later, this man actually did chop off three fingers of one hand in response to the stress.

    YIKES. Pretty much all I can say to that. YIKES. Remind me, next time I say that diets can make you crazy, that this is not hyperbole. Holy CROW.

    The volunteers reported impaired concentration, alertness, comprehension, and judgment during semistarvation; however, formal intellectual testing revealed no signs of diminished intellectual abilities. As the 6 months of semistarvation progressed, the volunteers exhibited many physical changes, including gastrointestinal discomfort; decreased need for sleep; dizziness; headaches; hypersensitivity to noise and light; reduced strength; poor motor control; edema (an excess of fluid causing swelling); hair loss; decreased tolerance for cold temperatures (cold hands and feet); visual disturbances (i.e., inability to focus, eye aches, "spots" in the visual fields); auditory disturbances (i.e., ringing noise in the ears); and paresthesias (i.e., abnormal tingling or prickling sensations, especially in the hands or feet).

    Okay, I had the decreased need for sleep, the dizziness, the headaches, the hypersensitivity to noise and light, the poor motor control, the decreased tolerance for cold temperatures, and the tingly feet.

    Looking back, I had one friend-- hilariously enough, the one who is now on the Soup Diet-- who, when I reported dizziness and sensitivity to cold (I didn't feel the rest of it was worth mentioning, I guess) put that together with my increasingly weird behavior and pretty much flat-out said that I needed to eat more and that this was looking a lot like an eating disorder. At the time, I was so angry with her that I couldn't see straight. I ranted about that comment to my husband for hours. Bless his heart, he assured everyone that I was fine, thanks, that he was around me all the time and would know if I had an eating disorder...

    ...which, well, he didn't. He knew from anorexia and he knew from binging & purging, but he had absolutely no knowledge of my bouts of compulsive eating, and my behavior was otherwise (or perhaps entirely) a model of woman-on-a-diet behavior. He was worried about my mental health, sure-- the time that I sat in a bubble bath for an hour waiting for relaxation to kick in, after which I broke down weeping all over the place, was kind of a clue-- but he had no reason to connect it to my diet.

    Speaking of which:

    At the end of semistarvation, the men's BMRs had dropped by about 40% from normal levels. This drop, as well as other physical changes, reflects the body's extraordinary ability to adapt to low caloric intake by reducing its need for energy. More recent recent research has shown that metabolic rate is markedly reduced even among dieters who do not have a history of dramatic weight loss (Platte, Wurmser, Wade, Mecheril & Pirke, 1996). During refeeding, Keys et al. found that metabolism speeded up, with those consuming the greatest number of calories experiencing the largest rise in BMR. The group of volunteers who received a relatively small increment in calories during refeeding (400 calories more than during semistarvation) had no rise in BMR for the first 3 weeks. Consuming larger amounts of food caused a sharp increase in the energy burned through metabolic processes.

    This explains so much about why the "maintenance" portion of WW broke my will to live, I can't even start. I was, in fact, up about 400 calories a day (8 Points, OMG, such riches!) from my dieting levels, but considering I was coming off of a 1200 calorie/day diet, and that my basic metabolic calorie needs at that age and weight were at least 1900 calories/day, my body probably looked at that and laughed and laughed.

    I will say this for Body For Life, which I tried after I finally dumped WW: I ate. That program is probably responsible, via sheer amount of food, consumed every three or four hours, plus a splurge day, for giving my metabolic rate a chance to revive. (At the time, I was horrified at the sheer amount of food I would eat on my splurge days. In retrospect, that was my body recouperating from its metabolic winter, and it did me no harm-- didn't even really cause me to gain weight.) True, the sheer amount of planning and work I had to do just to eat proper food all the time was prohibitive over the long run, and my plunge into crazy was in full swing by that point so that behavior didn't help, but as for my metabolism? It helped a LOT.

    I've got less compulsive, disordered behavior re: food than I did in 2005. That said, I've been spending a little time mentally glancing back over the past twenty years. My first battles with my dad over my weight started right when I hit adolescence, and I cannot remember any time after that where I wasn't self-conscious about what I ate. I can't remember any time after that when I wasn't self-conscious about my body. I've been doing this for twenty years, folks. The long and the short of it is that I don't know what my natural weight is. I'm pretty sure that my natural weight is not what I was when I started WW, just because I know I had to work really really hard to get up there. Based on the fact that I have a history of lurking around this weight, even when binging and engaging in no nutrition whatsoever (a long period in college, a long period after college, and now this past year, although frankly I've been doing pretty well regarding nutrition this past year as such things go), I suspect it might be around where I am right now, maybe within ten pounds lower due to my continuing mental issues about food. I guess we'll see, if I get this stuff kicked to the curb.

    In short: someday I want to grow up to be Shauna. SOMEDAY. ::shakes fist at sky::

    In the meantime, I'm making some notes on this study. Just YIKES, people. Next time I start exhibiting any of these symptoms, PLEASE come and sit on me [/Tracy Jordan].

    Cut for length-- click to read more.

    Monday, January 07, 2008

    "One moment at a time" is actually pretty tough

    Reading through my past posts has been something of an eye-opener, particularly once I got back to the point prior to September 2005 when I was in manic perfectionistic mode. There are at least three or four posts there that, in retrospect, set off huge alarm bells for "dude, you are driving yourself into depression, stop having such strict standards, stop being so judgemental and harsh on everyone, particularly yourself, and get in touch with your stress because OH MY GOD YOU DIDN'T KNOW THAT MEANT YOU WERE STRESSED?" I just want to take that old self and sit on her for a while until she calms down, and try to talk her out of this self-destructive course.

    Also I've noticed that I continue to go "aha! I have the answer!" on a regular basis regarding my same problems, just with new answers every time. For the most part, I think all the answers apply, and I'm just kind of building on each one every time. Or something. So every time I think I have the answer, apply a large grain of salt; in another six months, I'll have picked up another piece of the puzzle and will be saying "Let me amend what I said before" again.

    With that in mind, I wanted to talk about this thing that... okay, I forget what it's called. It's the phenomenon in which the limit is gone past, and we go "well, fuck it, I've screwed this up, might as well screw it up MORE." Former Weight Watchers Points-counters, repreSENT: I can't be the only one who had this happen. After the limit is breached, all restraint goes, and crazy-ass eating occurs.

    I had this happen when I was shopping for New Year's Eve, only with the budget, not with food. Which, well, now that I think of it, that's happened a lot with money in the past, particularly with my Hub, who will always have that attitute: "Well, we're already going over budget, so why not order pizza, too?" This time, though, I managed to recognize it when I was in the middle of it, breathe, remember that just because the stuff we needed for the party was going over budget didn't mean that I had to buy more stuff on top of it because "what the hell, I already fucked up, might as well get everything we want". And it was fine. And, really, we already ended up having way too much food.

    Incidentally, my Hub went out to get eggs, milk, and flour (he wanted pancakes on New Year's morning) and returned with those and then frozen pizza, taquitos, and another twenty dollars' worth of stuff on top of that. ...Oops.

    My poor beleagered Hub. He insisted on buying the "Rock Band" video game before Christmas; I admit fully that it is really fun, and it's been an awesome party game, but it cost $150, and he didn't have the money for it. He knew full well that I was going to hate him buying it on credit, and I took advantage of that by "letting" him get it without guilt-- but on the condition that as of the New Year, his money accounts would go through Mvelopes, too. He went along with it. He is not really happy about it thus far, and doesn't get it, and is mopey when I bring it up. That said, we've got the money for the entire household into this thing, finally.

    My job in this, thus far, is not to judge or nag or be weird. Just let the thing track purchases, and sort them into their envelopes. That's a major first step. Having to make choices about priorities comes later, when he runs out of money in his Parking envelope and has to make a decision to raid another envelope for the funds-- thus making it obvious that his parking decision is robbing him of the funds for the next PPV, or his next video game purchase, or the next time he wants to eat at a restaurant. And he'll be able to actually look at the totals from his purchases at the end of the year (or maybe just a few months from now) and recognize that hey, that's a lot of money he's spending on parking, maybe just once a week is okay. What he does with that knowledge is a whole different thing, but going from ignoring the situation entirely to knowing is huge. I just, er, have to make sure that he doesn't avoid looking at the thing. And I have to do that without being a pain in the ass. Yeowza.

    Knowledge is power, it's just not COMFORTABLE power. There is a glorious luxury-- I've written about it before-- in ignoring things. Ignoring what the balance is on the credit cards is a big example, but what I'm thinking of more these days is ignoring my own feelings. I out-and-out said a few times in the early days of my blog that I'd been completely oblivious to being stressed until such-and-such brought it to my attention; stressed, or scared, or annoyed, or happy, or nervous. Ignoring it when I felt like my whole life was a series of pointless tasks, because frankly I'd MADE it a series of pointless tasks. Ignoring how my body felt: hungry, or full, or tired, or overworked, or underworked; ignoring it when my body very much wanted chocolate; ignoring it when my body very much wanted vegetables; ignoring minor injuries that turned into major annoyances; ignoring the bad posture that aggravated those injuries. By avoiding knowledge of what my body was feeling, I was disassociating myself from my body, protecting myself from the shame of being imperfect.

    I do this on everything, really. In any given moment, I've got my brain somewhere that has very little to do with what is going on: thinking about the past, or fretting over the future (although a quote I read lately indicated that worrying about the future does about as much to help with future events as chewing gum has to do with defusing a bomb, which is an awesome comparison), or making a judgment on whether or not I like something, or whether or not someone ELSE likes something, or whether or not it's a good thing. I keep catching myself in the middle of having arguments with people who aren't here and who haven't actually said the thing that's set me off-- or, most of the time, people who were here within the past 24 hours and who said something that I didn't get to respond to in a satisfactory manner. Or I'm working through how to do a project. Or I'm distracting myself with a book, or TV, or the computer. Or with my latest obsession.

    Living one moment at a time is not comfortable stuff. It's the thing we're told to do to get through any big catastrophe, but the thing nobody seems to mention is that the worry about the future isn't the real problem, it's just a symptom of really really really really not wanting to be right here and right now. Even when right here and right now is not that bad, it's hard to hold my attention on just being here and being me, because I'm sort of bracing myself in advance, to cushion the blow of the inevitable bad stuff that's coming.

    So ignorance is bliss. Except for how, the more I do this, the less I'm actually present in my own life, the less I really experience, the less I can remember later about what I'm experiencing now. And apparently that sneaks up on me, because if I don't really experience the time I spend with my family and friends, then I feel lonely, and if I don't really experience and deal with the stress I'm having, then the stress just piles up and piles up until I blow many fuses, and if I don't really experience (and savor, and smell, and enjoy) the food I'm eating, then I'm not satisfied with what I eat even if I eat huge servings of awesome food and, voila, I overeat.

    So, back up, ignorance is blissful, but it fucks up my life. Which, I tell you, sucks. Because I really don't feel up to paying attention, and I really really don't feel up to dealing with the emotions involved in my daily life.

    They talk a lot about paying attention in both the Mindfulness Meditation stuff and in the Intuitive Eating book. The Intuitive Eating book doesn't talk a lot about how to deal with it, granted, and (probably because it's more focused) doesn't talk about how not paying attention to food and body sensations may be part of a larger problem. So while I've picked up from Intuitive Eating that the sensation of "full" is not "I am stuffed full of food" but rather "I am no longer getting the 'hungry' message and my stomach is just kind of there", I had to go back to Mindfulness to get the message on how to deal with stuff.

    And you know what? Their answer is sort of revolutionary: learn to be in the moment while we're in pain, while we are unhappy, while we are stressed out, while we are angry. The idea being that the bad parts of life are still parts of life, and the pain is still part of our experience, and that, while escaping from these things has its place, living in the moment-- without judgment, without dismissing your experiences and emotions as useless-- could be more useful. That maybe living in the moment, noticing but not running away from the emotions that come up, could give us the opportunity to notice and examine those emotions and recognize where they're coming from. And-- oh boy-- accepting who we are in that moment, without judgment, and with love.

    I've been trying to do that, with scattered success, over the past ten months or so. The times I've had less than stellar success, I've noticed, is when I'm trying to be-in-the-moment in such a way where I'm pretending that if I only pay attention, I'll enjoy this. The rest of my brain can sense such self-applied bullshit, though, so I usually get bounced off into a wacky zone. A big part of that was that, in trying to convince myself that if I just relaxed I'd enjoy [fill in the blank], I was not taking into account who I actually am, what my actual likes and dislikes are-- because to a certain extent (oh, who am I fooling, it's pretty much all the time) I don't accept that I am that person. I want to believe that I'm much more adventurous and bad-assed than I actually am, and when I came up against emotions to the contrary, I was dismissing them and looking for the "real" emotions. Which pretty much means I wasn't doing this right: I wasn't open to the possibility that I honestly, underneath the reflexive fear and discomfort that comes with some things, I might just plain not like it.

    I can't really state it any better than this: Kate Harding writes, in The Fantasy of Being Thin: "[This] is, of course, a pretty normal part of getting older. You start to realize that yeah, this actually is it, and although you can still try enough new things to keep anyone busy for two lifetimes, you’re pretty much stuck with a basic context. There are skills, experiences, and material things you will almost certainly never have, period. It’s a challenge for all of us to understand that accepting this fact of life does not necessarily mean cutting off options or giving up dreams, but simply — as in the proverbial story about the creation of the David — chipping away all that is not you. But for a fat person, it can be even harder, because so many fucking sources encourage us to believe that inside every one of us is 'a thin person waiting to get out' — and that thin person is SO MUCH COOLER."

    Oh God yes. I remember I had this list of things that I intended to do, when I got thin, and then when I got thin I didn't do any of them. I forget what all was on the list, but I do remember that they pretty much all involved athletic craziness that, let's face it, I am absolutely never going to do-- not because I'm a chicken, but because I am not a big fan of discomfort (cold, dirt, you name it) or being scared out of my mind for the purpose of getting an adrenaline rush. Therefore, some of the things on that list aren't ever going to happen simply because they're not really something I want to do, they're something that the person I want to be would want to do.

    It's time to repurpose the blog, I think, because if you read my mission statement it's a rejection not only of my body before I lost weight, but of everything I was, personality-wise, when I started. That's pretty fucked up right there. Over the past almost-three years (!!!) my priority has shifted from become the girl who could stay thin to deal with who I am so I can stay thin to deal with who I am so I can be happy. So when I started working on the Intuitive Eating thing, it wasn't to get thin, but rather to resolve my issues with food-- and if that means that I stay this weight, then so be it, and if it means that I gain a bit, so be it. I want to eat like a normal person, without the disordered thinking and the binging and the good/bad dichotomy. I want to be healthy, I want to be more relaxed, I want to love myself more, I want to be less of a judgmental jerk. I want to write for the love of it, for a specific audience, instead of reflexively trying to please everybody. I don't want to be scared of what other people will think.

    I'm always going to have a certain tolerance level for the company of others, and it's not going to be the same in different situations, and yeah, that won't always make sense. I'm always going to have my worldview trend dramatically downward if there is cat litter on the bathroom floor (there's a reason we have a big orange broom in our teeny bathroom, and that is it), because I cannot stand getting crap stuck to my feet. I'm always going to cry when we drive away from my parents' house, even though I know it breaks my Hub's heart. I'm always going to be kind of a flake about appointments all winter because I won't like going outside until spring, and then when it's really hot in the summer I will likewise be cranky because while I can always wear my big poofy down coat in the winter, there's a limit to how many clothes I can remove and still be presentable during the summer.

    It's possible that some things might change, if I'm less scared and am paying attention during them. I might learn to like activities as much as stories. I might be less tense around friends and acquaintances (it's a strange fact of my life that I am gloriously uninhibited amongst strangers, because if they have no prior knowlege of me then I have nothing to live up to and no limits on the bullshit I can sling). I might be able to argue with people without feeling the cold hand of death clutch all my internal organs, and hence a) be somewhat more logical and convincing, b) avoid veering off into YOU JUST WANT TO REPRESS ME, YOU ARE A JERK territory and c) not leave the argument feeling as though I've been beaten up and threatened with more.

    You know what else is weird? Going into tasting food, when I'm trying to be mindful, is kind of a scary experience. I move the fork toward my mouth and have this twinge of oh, God, what if I don't like this? Which leads me to believe that I've spent way too much time zoning out while eating. I think that this may have to do with me never being a picky eater in the past (except for, well, healthy stuff like spinach and green beans and sweet potatoes and olives and fish but the point here is that I did like them eventually); now that I'm paying attention, I've realized that there's some stuff that I just don't like, and suddenly the world is rife with possible dislike. If I don't like something, then suddenly I have responsibility to myself to actually act on the dislike: to send restaurant food back to the kitchen and pick a new dish, or make a request about the cooking if that was the problem; to admit to my Hub that this dish didn't turn out very well this time; to figure out what to do if I'm at a party or someone else's house; to take an item back to Trader Joe's and say "okay, I know you have that 'if you don't like it bring it back' policy, so I'm bringing this back."

    Most of these things risk bringing attention to myself, which still makes me nervous, and standing up for myself, which is even more nerve-wracking. And all of these things mean that I have to disengage from the process of eating, which is still weirdly difficult for me. If I'm at a restaurant, I might have to wait another twenty minutes for my new food. If I'm at home, I might have to make a whole new dish. If I'm at a friend's house, I might end up having to be polite, eat what I can stomach, and then wait until I get home to eat a proper meal (or, as has occurred in the past, have a late-night Taco Bell run). In short, there are abundant reasons for me to discount my feelings on these things, because paying attention means a lot of bother.

    That's the whole thing in a nutshell, I think. If I pay attention, I risk realizing I don't like something. If I don't like something, I risk having to stand up for myself and having to work to make it right. And people, I've ignored whether or not I like a lot in my life, so I'm kind of terrified that if I pay attention to everything, I'm going to be overwhelmed by the stuff I have to deal with.

    Baby steps, maybe. Maybe just deal with the food.

    Cut for length-- click to read more.

    A link, a to-do list, and more on my Hub vs. the budget

    Have you ever had a doctor dismiss your symptoms, telling you that they'd go away if you weren't so fat? First, Do No Harm: Real Stories of Fat Prejudice In Health Care is collecting these stories all in one place. If you have one, submit it. And if you don't think that this is a problem, just start reading-- you may be really, really surprised.

    The last few times I've been at my PHP's office, I've noticed that there's a big stack of Weight Watchers material there. I think I may be mentioning FDNH to her, and handing her the website URL. I love my doctor more than ought to be humanly possible, and often when I'm sick I end up treating her like an extra mother ("heeeelp, I'm siiiiiick"), but after reading all this stuff I can't help but have my antennae up, just in case.

    Today I need to:

    1) Re-schedule my annual girly exam because I just realized while gazing at my Pill pack this morning that I've brilliantly scheduled it for the middle of my period;

    2) Schedule an appointment to have the blood-donation folks suck my blood again, since apparently now that I'm on their list they will be banging on my door every six weeks;

    3) Call the physical therapy folks and get another four weeks of PT scheduled. Which I know I have to do. I just... it's winter in Chicago, okay? Yesterday's (and apparently today's) freakish warm weather aside, usually it's cold. Often it's snowy. Often I must, as a habitual pedestrian, tromp over sidewalks where some bastards haven't shoveled*. And always, after four P.M., it's dark. We're due for relief on that last in mid-February, but I'll be tromping around in the cold and dark with a lack of constant footing and traction. Oh, and in-between such tromping there is the PT, which I am irritated with, too. ARGH.

    * I suspect their thoughts on the matter are something along the lines of Oh, it's just an inch of snow, it doesn't really matter, I can get away with not shoveling when in practice, in a pedestrian-heavy city such as ours, an inch of snow does not magically disappear but instead is crushed down by many feet into a treacherous section of bumpy, dippy ice... at which point any sane person would be tossing ice-melt of some kind out there to avoid lawsuits, but apparently they're too far in denial to even contemplate that. Although, to be fair, some of them are such bastards that they don't shovel (or for that matter pay some enterprising pre-teen a lousy five bucks to shovel) under any circumstances, even when there's a good foot of snow on the ground and people have had to tromp a narrow path through, which is also treacherous because this is a dog-heavy neighborhood so the walls of snow on either side of said path are laced with dog pee. Which one wants to avoid. In short, I fully believe that there is a special section of hell reserved for people who don't shovel their walks or provide shoveling business to pre-teens who can't legally hire themselves out to fast-food restaurants.

    Oh, and 4) Call my parents, because my out-to-dinner adventures last night fell during the time that I usually call them every Sunday night. The guilt is already suffocating. I do miss them, really, I just forgot!

    So it's a busy day.

    I miss my sister. I got used to having her around and I still wake up every morning with the vague idea that she's asleep in our living room and I must be careful not to disturb her. There's some sizeable part of my brain that apparently feels that her being in Chicago is the proper way of things, instead of something that only happens once in a blue moon, and that part of my brain refuses to accept that she's back in California. Sigh. Come back, sis!

    My Hub is maybe feeling better. He slept a ton yesterday and last night, and is all zinc'd up and oregano'd up and vitamin-C'd up, but the real test will come around noon. He generally starts feeling weird around noon, if he's going to do so. Everyone we know seems to be getting sick, so it's a very real possibility that it's just that time of year, but if I can keep us both from getting ill at the same time this year, I would love to do so. Most of our functionality as a couple depends on only one of us being out of service at a time, which means being drunk, being stressed, or most certainly being sick.

    I was going to do my physical therapy at home this morning, but ran out of time before we had to run for the train, so I hauled the giant rubber-band along with me and did them first thing at work. Went pretty well, and I'm pleased to have it over with for the day. I was doing it in the darkened interior conference room, though, since I don't currently have an office (only a cubicle), and every time someone walked by the door I about had a heart attack, expecting them to flip on the lights and ask what the hell I was doing in the dark with a big rubber thing.

    Hub on Mvelopes is going vaguely well. Which is to say, I continue to do all the grunt work since I'm doing so on the other accounts anyway, and the real fun is going to kick in any minute now when his "discretionary" funds get low and he has to start making decisions about what other funds he'll have to sacrifice for whatever new thing he wants (which, when he's sick, I fully expect to be food and parking).

    Now that I'm thinking about it, this is a more grown-up version of the budget game I played with the kiddos during our belated Thanksgiving visit. In that case, I told both of the girls as we went into their New Favorite Store (the craft store-- I'm so proud) that I was buying them each ten dollars' worth of stuff, but only ten dollars, and they couldn't go over. Immediately, the two of them became hyper-aware of price tags: "Oooh, this is cool! But it's more then ten dollars." They were given sudden education on the store practice of pricing things ending in $0.99: "Wait, you mean that $2.99 is pretty much the same as $3? But it starts with 2!" I wrote down each of their selections as we went, and pretty soon you'd've thought they were veteran penny-pinchers instead of kids from a house where the word "budget" has never been spoken. They traded stuff back in when they found things they liked more. They compared different kinds of yarn to figure out what kind was the softest and the cheapest.

    My oldest niece hit a point where she became frustrated that she could not get everything she wanted, and tried to haggle her way out of it by seeing if maybe I might buy her things "for [my]self" and then just happen to let her use/keep them. It was a tense couple of minutes, but the rules of the game specified that $10 was their limit, period, so she eventually settled in and did some last-minute trading to get the most for her buck. Smart kid.

    So now we're about to hit that limit with my Hub, and it'll be interesting, to say the least, to see what he's going to do. Will he start trading things in and be okay with that, accept his limits? Will he try to bargain with credit cards? (Which, considering the fact that I'm making him do this because he ran up a balance on the credit cards again, would be a dumb move.) Will he be frustrated and grouchy? And, the biggest question of all: will a few pay periods' worth of this sort of thing cause him to change his behavior? Will he content himself with buying a new video game every other month instead of every single month, and shift some of that money elsewhere? Or will he cut back on going out to eat? Or will he drive to work less often, saving money on parking? Right now, that's a mystery, since he wants it all and hasn't been forced to prioritize. Watch out.

    (Side note: I am having a tight month with money, starting with my sister having been in town, continuing to my Hub getting sick, and including the friend-in-town dinner last night; next payday, my sister's birthday occurs and I've pledged $50 to the get-her-a-big-awesome-present pool that her fiance and our folks are part of. I've got enough money for clothes (oh God how I need a new bra), donations, and lunch with my always-lunch-on-Friday college buddy, but all the other envelopes have been ransacked to keep up and I'm going to be determinedly Not Buying Anything until February. So I'm a little tense. Oh, AND: we may be staring down the barrel of a tax issue, so I'm trying desperately to throw as much as I can at our savings account right now. That makes me a little MORE tense. My poor Hub has terrible timing.)

    I fully admit that I wanted this, right from the get-go when I signed us up for Mvelopes, although I have been (grudgingly) okay with him not being on Mvelopes as long as he doesn't rack up credit card debt. Having him blithely unaware of his spending is one thing when he's accepting the finite limit of his paycheck; when he moves on to use the credit cards again, there's a problem. It came to my attention because he put a giant video game thing on the credit card, but it turns out that the $150 there was only about 1/3 of the balance; the rest of it was made up of his "day-to-day" expenses: parking, food, new games. Nope, sorry, unacceptable. The whole reason he has a "fun money" budget that's twice as much as mine is so that he can save money to deal with the big things, with the expectation that he'd be keeping the day-to-day stuff under the limit. It turns out-- here's the funny part-- that if he'd waited until New Year's Eve to buy his new game, he would have had enough money without resorting to the credit card, and I wouldn't have pulled that promise out of him to go on Mvelopes. The boy needs impulse control in a big way. I am hoping and praying that knowledge of his spending and a small amount of built-in planning will help.

    Cut for length-- click to read more.

    Sunday, January 06, 2008


    First of all: go read Kate Harding's latest re: the new Weight Watchers ads. It's funny 'cause it's true. Also frustrating because it's true. [This hereby takes the place of a post that, really, nobody wanted to read, including me, and I was the one writing the damn thing.]

    I've been doing a little housekeeping today. Cleaned up the links a bit, added to the "Essays and Rants" section, and added Amazon links to products I actually do own, use, love, and feel comfortable recommending (of which, apparently, there are... six?). So anyone wondering where I got started with mindfulness meditation, or dealing with perfectionism, or lifting weights, or deflating pimples (ha!), now you know. (And FYI, that pimple-deflating stuff does work. Not immediately, but overnight, to the point where I don't spend my whole day fighting the urge to pop the fucker and have it over with.)

    Also: food!

    One of the glories of going back through the old posts has been seeing stuff I cooked at one time or another. Particularly since it's after Christmas and New Year's, and we just this morning got rid of the last of the utter crap food in the house. By which I mean that after a few weeks of eating and being surrounded by utter crap food, lovely nutritious food starts to sound AWESOME.

    So far, one previously forgotten recipe has reappeared: the pasta tossed with roasted cherry tomatoes and roasted broccoli, a bit of the reserved pasta water (starchy, ya know?), some dried rosemary and basil (we, er, got one of those adorable rosemary "Christmas tree"s from Trader Joe's and then forgot about it entirely when we went on vacation; didn't mention it to the friend who was coming in to feed the cats; it is technically alive but all the needles died so we had to strip them off to save the thing's life), and some goat cheese. The goat cheese is a new addition since last time, added because it sounded like it would go well, and because we got a log of goat cheese on Saturday and there's too much of it just for the two nights of salad that we have scheduled this week.

    You know, when I mentioned this dish on my blog, I mentioned that it was soooo filling that I had to unbutton my pants and sit around on the couch all pooched out. And yet, this did not cause me to choose a small portion size for lunch. I remember thinking "well, this is mostly vegetables, so it's not like this is actually two cups of pasta" and... yeah, let this be a (pyrrhic) victory for inner cues vs. outer cues, because my dumb brain judged it on the outer cues 'cause I was hungry and then I ate it without paying enough attention and now I think I may die. My poor stomach is trying to figure out all the broccoli with all that pasta in the way. Ohhh, bad plan.

    That said, I'm totally looking forward to having this ready-made for dinner tomorrow night. Monday nights are lousy cooking nights.

    In other news, my poor Hub seems to be coming down with a cold or some other form of lousy crud. He has been dosed with those Zicam things AND Emergen-C AND oil of oregano capsules, so I'm hoping like crazy that the symptoms subside. I'm also taking Emergen-C and oil of oregano just in case because the nature of marriage makes it impossible for one partner to duck germs from the other partner.

    Big post in the works; will probably be up tomorrow if I have a dull stretch at work. For the moment, go check out that link I mentioned.

    ETA: Met friends for dinner. Got a Stilton burger (with roasted garlic and some great grainy mustard, if you are ever in Chicago GO TO GOOSE ISLAND), fries and a pint. Finished half of everything (to my Hub's delight, since he got the leftovers when I got home)-- a first for that place, but for once I was paying attention, so when I stopped being hungry I stopped eating... and, boom, perfect, it was beautiful, it's half an hour after I left and I'm comfortably full. Bonus: I may have been the slowest eater there, which I would say was a first, except for that time when DietGirl was in town and I talked so much I forgot I had food-- seriously, that never happens.

    So that was cool.

    The down side: it seemed like everyone else was discussing their new diets. One of my friends is doing, I swear to God I wish I was joking, a Good Housekeeping Soup Diet. It does, I believe, involve cabbage.

    I was good. I said NOTHING. I breathed deeply and let go, albeit with a mental note that if I wanted to have a brain-exploding moment later, I'd do so on this blog. See, on the one hand, I'm kind of pleased that she's not doing Weight Watchers again, because since I'm the one who got her into WW in the first place that was continual itchy guilt for me. And since she was doing weird random diets before WW, at least that's nothing different. On the other hand: Cabbage. Soup. Diet. Oh God.

    Cut for length-- click to read more.

    Wednesday, January 02, 2008

    Inside, outside

    Happy New Year, everybody!

    For those of us in this part of the blogosphere, New Year's is a particularly loaded holiday. Not New Year's Eve, but New Year's Day. Resolution time! This year I'm going to lose those last ten pounds! or This year I'm going to track my eating every day! or This year I'm cutting out refined sugar completely! or This year I'm going to go to the gym five times a week, every week! or of course ye olde favorite, This year I'm really going to do it, I'm going to lose weight and have it stay gone!... that sort of thing.

    I'm not. Not this year, not ever again.

    Back before my wacky hiatus, I had a few posts on diets and the Tamagotchi syndrome of over-complication and some musing re: the 90% failure rate of pretty much every diet on the planet. I got stuck directly after that, probably because I was spending a lot of time trying to figure out where I could possibly go. I thought myself into a hole, basically.

    What strikes me most about those posts in retrospect was, mostly, the rules for having success in changing your life:

  • action almost always trumps inaction

  • planning is crucial; even if you don’t follow a given plan

  • things are easier to do when you understand why you’re doing them

  • your brain likes it when you make things as simple as possible

  • Where I got stuck is, basically, that any action I know how to do when it comes to losing weight is an action that lends itself to Tamagotchi syndrome: takes up too much of my time, lends itself to obsessive behaviors and burn-out, and any forward momentum I gain from it comes to a screeching halt if I stop the weight-loss action in question. The other place I got stuck is this: DIETS SUCK A MAMMOTH AMOUNT OF ASS. I cannot even begin to bear the idea of going back on another diet. I'm done.

    I'm not planning on burying myself in chocolate or never going back to the gym again; I'm not hurling myself into another round of "fuck you, diet, I can eat more than you EVER GODDAMN DREAMED OF" reactive eating. I've simply come to the conclusion that whatever healing needs to be done is not going to be accomplished by loading myself up with someone else's arbitrary rules.

    I'm currently in the middle of reading Intuitive Eating. Highly recommended. The long and short of it is this: the majority of eating problems come from paying more attention to outside cues than to inner cues. Outside cues about food such as the size of the serving at a restaurant and the feeling that if you don't finish those last three bites you're wasting money, or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, the social pressure of having everyone around you ordering salad when what you'd really like is some red meat, or simply not paying attention to the experience and taste of the food as you eat it, to the point where the only thing that really registers is the moment that there's no more to eat. Outside cues about body image coming from every damn billboard out there that uses skinny women as props to sell products, and every diet commercial, and every "OMG celebrities are mildly overweight/have cellulite IT IS A SCANDAL" magazine headline, and the comments of well-meaning relatives (or, for that matter, the comments of snide fuckers on the street whose parents clearly did a poor job of raising them), cues from every movie where a woman of normal weight is "the fat friend" who says wise things but never, ever gets laid-- everything saying you should look just like this when for God's sake even at skinny-minnie sizes no two women look alike or have the same bone structure or have the same genetics indicating where their pockets of flab should go. That isn't even bringing up the almighty scale that we live or die by when we're dieting.

    And where do we go, when we determine that we need to lose weight? We go straight for a new system of outside cues. These are good foods, these are bad. This is how big a serving is. This is the sum total we're allowed to eat today. This is an acceptable facimile of an ice cream sandwich-- acceptable in terms of calories or fat grams, not in terms of taste. This is how much we need to exercise.

    Why? Because we're not trustworthy. Because clearly we can't figure these things out for ourselves, so rather than getting urged back into a normal relationship with food and our own bodies, we're taken from one outside-cue-driven relationship to another one, and it keeps cycling like that until we don't have the faintest idea how to trust ourselves with food anymore, and we're convinced that our bodies are horrible enemies.

    They did a study, back during World War II, to see what would happen if you took average, healthy men and restricted their food intake. While they were on this restricted diet, these average joes suddenly became obsessed with food, talking about recipes and dessert, playing endlessly with their meals to make them last longer or wolfing them down helplessly. Some broke into the kitchen and ate everything in sight. All of them, after the restricted-diet portion of the program ended, would eat significantly more at an average meal than they did before the restrictions. It took months for them to get back to normal. The lesson to be learned here is this: the way diets are designed makes everybody on them become sort of crazy, because our bodies are not programmed to make us meet the current social expectations for our weight, but to protect us from starvation, and when our bodies sense starvation, THEY FREAK OUT.

    The answer, according to this book-- and while Your Milage May Vary, as always, I really do recommend reading it if only because getting the full story filtered through a blogtastic game of Telephone is probably never good-- is in giving yourself full permission to eat whatever you feel like, loving yourself no matter what you look like, and to concentrate on paying attention to those inner cues. I remember reading once that tiny children are finely tuned to eat exactly as much as they need, so a kid who's had 200 calories of juice an hour before dinner will eat about 200 calories fewer at dinner, and it's only once they get older and are more attuned to the outside cues and pressures that they change that; in retrospect, it makes sense that adult humans ought to have the same abilities, it's just that we've been swimming in outside cues for so long that those inner voices are complete strangers to us.

    I was working on this post before Christmas-- LONG before Christmas; according to the datestamp it was December 4th-- and I got distracted, because I started to realize that this linked up with a lot of other things I've been working on for the longest time.

    Self-Esteem: I don't think I'm ever going to be able to top myself on this subject while this post still exists, but I'm seeing where it links in with the inner/outer cues thing now. Outside cues tell me that I'm too wide, I'm too short, and my nose is funny, and my hair is now going GRAY oh my GOD. Inside cues tell me that I feel pretty healthy, shoulder notwithstanding, and that there is no such thing as "too short" because this is the only size I've ever been as an adult and my whole worldview is based on this, and that my nose is stuffed up but otherwise a perfectly cromulent schnoz, and that the gray in my hair is sparkly (and I really like sparkly). Outside cues tell me that I am disorganized and flaky and undependable; inside cues tell me that I do just fine with the proper tools (such as Mvelopes and, if I can save up $200, this freakin' awesome receipts/documents scanner with organizational software) and people need to chill out. Outside cues tell me that I need to change myself to be worthwhile; inside cues tell me that I'm just fine.

    Drive and Ambition: Back when I was in therapy, I had my biggest hang-up about drive and ambition, and I suspect that my therapist and I were speaking two different languages regarding such. I kept asking if I give this up, if I learn not to be so terrified of authority and not to kick myself endlessly if I don't hew closely to some rigid routine, how the hell am I ever going to get anything done ever again? I don't think I ever got a good answer, because either my therapist completely missed what I was saying or I wasn't articulating it very well, but I look back at that (and my current meanderings) and recognize that, as in my diet, I've become so accustomed to needing outside cues to jump-start my work that if I remove them, I don't honestly know what to do anymore. Talk about a situation where I need to listen to my own internal cues again; I'm probably worse off here than with my food situation.

    Judgement: I am, I have to tell you all, a crazed judgemental bitch on occasion. The expressing of such sentiments usually coincides with a certain week of the month, but I have to admit that I have these thoughts all the time and most of the time I don't notice them, because, well, I tend to see these as Great Truths and I figure that since they're RIGHT, it doesn't mean I'm judgemental. Or something along those lines. Lesson learned lately: a) I'm not necessarily right, b) indulging in judging other people against my personal standards of Great Truths is just something I do to make myself feel smug and superior, and c) it does too mean that I'm being judgemental, and also it means that I'm being a prick.

    This fits into the outie/innie thing because if I'm really honest with myself, those Great Truths that I'm holding up are the ones that I generally feel sort of nervous about holding to-- ones that suit my inner cues better than the outer cues-- and, as such, I'm now using a new form of outer cues by mentally inflicting my personal creed on everyone else. (Which, considering how often I change my personal creed? Oy. I officially apologize to the world in general for being such a pain in the ass.) The Buddha once said, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." Which is a hell of a quote, and in the middle of elliptical-machine work yesterday it suddenly sunk in that I have to do that for me, and believe that the way these things work with my own reason and my own common sense means more than what anyone else says-- inner versus outer. And then, in return, trust that other people will be following their own reason and their own common sense, and that I don't need them to go "oh my God, you're SO RIGHT, how could I not see it before?" and hence make me feel more comforted in my choices.

    Stress: Christmas was, yet again, one of those eustress ("good" stress)-ful times. I love my family, I love how complete it feels now that my Hub and my sister's fiance' are part of the picture, I love how my Hub gets along with my folks and my sister, I love how seeing things through my Hub's eyes makes me enjoy things a lot more. That said, I had to sneak off once a day or so and sit in my parents' darkened office, where it was quiet and private, and just be quiet with myself for a while, remind myself that I did not have to agree with my parents' views on X, Y or Z, that nobody is forcing me to agree with the direction their church is taking (which, seriously, YEOWZA; all the people are still lovely but somehow there's this weirdly defensive fundamentalist thing creeping in and it's worrisome), and that life did not hinge on how much people liked their presents.

    Every time I focused on outside cues, the dissonance between what I am (and what I feel to be okay) and what was expected gave me stress. Every time I just sat back and was who I am, everything was okay.

    [Incidentally: There is a salon that I walk past on the way to my physical therapy appointments which has a saying painted on its wall: Beauty = Confidence = Power. Personally, I would switch the order: Confidence = Beauty = Power, or for that matter just take the Beauty part out of the equation, or rephrase it as Confidence = Being Interesting and Attractive = Success And Power. (Why use one word when I can shove extra ones in, I ask you?) Again, there's the difference; getting your confidence from outside responses, or having confidence in the first place and generating those outside responses. And that phrase frankly irks me every time I walk past the place because I am always irritated by this idea that changing our outer appearance will solve EVERYTHING.]

    In summary, there's a clear similarity between a lot of my issues, and the answer to all of them is to strengthen my attention to my inner cues, my inner self, and to pay more attention to my "right inward measure" than anyone else's. If I'm calm and collected, I'm probably okay. If I'm being defensive and ranting, I'm probably off again, so beware.

    In other news, my shoulder feels fine. This is purely because, at my latest appointment with my doctor, he gave me a cortizone shot, re-prescribed physical therapy (I have to call those guys again) and so, hey, cortizone, WOO HOO AWESOME. Except for the part about six hours after my shot, where I woke up out of a sound sleep because my shoulder hurt like it was on FIRE, and continued hurting, for no good reason, for about the next twelve hours. I checked the internet (one-handedly) in-between taking pills and icing my shoulder, and discovered that there is a 2 to 5% chance that such a reaction will happen six to eight hours after such a shot, that it is called a "steroid flare", and that it might last as long as two days. Thank God that it only lasted twelve hours. I ended up on Valium for half of that, which my Hub thought was pretty funny, but people, let this be a lesson to you: your doctor may forget to mention that there are side effects to things, even things that went perfectly fine the last time he tried it ten months ago. Communication is key.

    That said, I totally forgot to go to my annual girly exam on Monday, which I kind of have an excuse for because, well, it was New Year's Eve, but on the other hand I now have to reschedule and eat a bit of crow. Oops.

    Weight Watchers has come to my attention again. I have had things to say about Weight Watchers before, but now they're pissing me off further with their new-for-the-New-Year ad campaign about how diets suck-- and they're "not a diet". I went through the roof when I saw the first commercial along these lines, and then had to explain to my dad why I was yelling at the television. For the record: until they get rid of the scale and recipes and measuring devices and focus entirely, resolutely on fixing the person, not the weight, I utterly refuse to believe their bullshit about not being a diet. They are a plan that involves ignoring inner cues and fixating on outer cues. They are a diet. I fully admit that I feel tender and defensive on this one and so I get a bit ranty on the subject, but the point is that this not-a-diet thing is a LIE. Their Core program is better than the Points program in terms of inner-versus-outer cues, but the whole thing still revolves around a scale, which is the ultimate outer cue, so I continue to look at them balefully from across the blogosphere. (And so, apparently, does Erin at Lose the Buddha. I know I just said that I shouldn't have to look for outside cues for this sort of thing but it still feels AWESOME when I end up having a similar opinion to Erin. Like I won the lottery.)

    I said once, regarding Weight Watchers' mythical land of Maintenance, "Without the scale moving, suddenly all motivation has to come from something else, and, really, there's not much to fall back on." In retrospect, that's the inner-cue/outer-cue thing in a nutshell: they make you dependent on that outer cue, and then it's gone like a bad break-up.

    The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl is out in the UK! and... not here. ::weeps:: Well, this might call for some extra shipping. I've ordered things from Amazon.uk before and it's worked out... slowly and with extra cost, no question, but it WORKS is the thing. (ETA: oh my, and the dollar/pound conversion rate. OUCH. Oh God how the dollar has fallen.)

    In other news, remember waaaay back when I had this big post about feet, including my sort of love letter to my own feet? My sister was staring at my feet yesterday, and finally said, "Your feet look so much like mine that when I see them I keep thinking, 'wait, what are my feet doing over there?'"

    My sis is getting married in June, and wants to use my wedding gown. Which, first of all, is such a trip because this is my dinky, skinny sister who's been two-to-eight sizes smaller than me my whole life (depending on how big I got) and I know I was thin when I got married, but even back then we didn't try on each others' clothes so this is all wacky for me. Second of all, when we put her in that gown the other night, she was beautiful, which I expected, and it fit, which I'd expected, but it's different on her than it was on me, which was news. It just goes to show that it's not just the size difference between us; my sister's body is not the same as me-at-that-size. I've got bigger boobs and wider hips and a shorter torso and narrower shoulders. It just finally hit me that yes, we have different bodies. Never did before. Go figure.

    And that, my friends, is all for the day.

    Cut for length-- click to read more.