Tag Archives: Weight Loss

Executive Dysfunction


So the last thing I wrote was a huge angry rant about the Insurrection. Since then, I’ve settled into my new home and my new state, my toddler weaned off breastfeeding, I’ve been vaccinated, I’ve hung out with family, and I started working out on a semi-permanent basis (which is like semi-regular, but kind of from the opposite direction). My parents got to visit over the summer and I have been writing every day. My SO has been telling me about bullet-journaling for a while and at first I thought it would be Work. I don’t have the time or energy to work on things. But he asked me to read a book on it (The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll – Excellent) and since I place a lot of importance on other people reading what I recommend, I did. And I’m glad I did because it took something that seemed nebulous and time-consuming into something I could use. If you’re not familiar, bullet journals are just normal journals but instead of line each page has a dotted grid. This allows you to be more flexible with how you use the journal. You can stick to lines, you can make graphics and lists and get artistic or keep it very simplistic. Mine is more the later. Anyway, if you look up bullet journals on Pinterest, you’ll see what I mean. The first thing I had to do was decide What I Wanted to Journal (daily log, books read, crochet projects, yarn inventory, potty training, migraines, meal planning, and work outs). It seems like a lot, but the journaling has really helped, though it’s kind of funny looking back at my early logs as compared to what I’m writing now. I used to get 2-3 days to a page and now I’m lucky if I get a day finished in less than a page. It’s been a really convenient receptacle for my memory and a place to order my thoughts, prepare for important events, and in general vent my frustrations in a safe space. Don’t get me wrong, I like having this space but it isn’t private and it isn’t supposed to be. Everything I put on here is meant to be read, even if I risk upsetting people. The daily minutiae of my life is not only boring, it’s my life.

I titled this “Executive Dysfunction” for a reason, of course. A while ago I came across a Tumblr screenshot on Pinterest about how to manage executive dysfunction, which is when you know you should do something but you simply can’t. Now, this post was aimed at people with ADD/ADHD, which I am not, but it resonated with me anyway. With ADD/ADHD, executive dysfunction can be crippling especially because neurotypicals *refuse* to understand. They say I can’t do something and the response is inevitably “don’t be lazy, just do it.” It’s not laziness. It is the brain literally being unable to connect the impulse to the action. And it is very debilitating because you have to life hack your way to an atypical solution because to NT people there’s only one solution which is to just do it. That’s like telling a blind person to see by just opening their eyes. It doesn’t work that way. One post I saw was discussing dental hygiene. Person A knew she had to brush her teeth, that it was very important for her health, blah blah blah. But she loathed doing it every day and that made it this Mt Everest she had to face as part of her daily routine. She’s telling this to Person B who asks her what exactly about the task bothers her the most and after some thought, Person A says it’s the toothpaste. She absolutely abhors the taste of mint. So Person B reminds her that kids toothpaste comes in all kinds of not-gross flavors and is STILL TOOTHPASTE. *lightbulb* Another one I saw was someone who was constantly late and instead of getting all flustered or setting a million alarms, she just put a clock in every room in her house.

The thing to take away from this life hack is that this approach is not limited to people with executive dysfunction. We are all very different people who face all kinds of obstacles in our lives so the last thing we should be doing is approaching those obstacles the way everyone else does. This applies to every aspect of our lives: dieting, education, careers, exercise, parenting, hobbies, E V E R Y T H I N G.

Haven’t you ever worked at something and seen no progress and then given up because you just don’t have the will-power or determination or genes or whatever? You look around and see that this works for everyone and somehow isn’t working for you, right? We live in a society that loves to stalk the successes of other people and shame ourselves for not achieving more, even when we’re looking at people who have trust funds and personal trainers and nutritional dieticians and stylists and publicists and good genes to boot. There’s that American Fable of the guy who dropped out of school and became a billionaire by inventing something in a garage, all very impressive. Except when you find out that the start-up for that invention was funded by their millionaire parents.

I decided to look at one of my obstacles through the lens of executive dysfunction instead of laziness or procrastination. I am fat. I gained 50 lbs when I was pregnant, lost 25 of that when I had the baby, and then during the pandemic ballooned back up to my baby weight. This isn’t something that happened overnight or anything, and I’ve been in a gradual decline in physical health since leaving the Army because I swore never to run again and I simply couldn’t stick to a workout routine. I’d try getting gym memberships and doing classes, thinking that if I was paying to workout I’d be more motivated to keep it up. Nope. I tried at home workout where I just planned a routine for myself. Nope. I bought work out clothes and weights. Nope. I started again and again and every time, when the manic push was over, I’d go back to sleep or skip it just today and then tomorrow and then it’d be weeks and weeks and months of nothing. Then years of nothing because I was too tired from having a newborn then a baby then a toddler. Protip: You will never get past the tired from having the newborn. If you didn’t have the time or energy before, you won’t have it after because you won’t get fully rested until they’re grown and by that time you’ll be twenty years older than when you decided to put it off until after the baby.

So here I am, ten years out of the military having gone from being pretty in shape to woefully out of shape. My wedding ring doesn’t fit. I get winded going up the stairs. I had to buy leggings because I couldn’t face buying bigger jeans. And every time I looked in the mirror, I saw some fat woman where I used to be. I’m not being dramatic, there is a complete disconnect between how my brain thinks I look and how I actually look and it is physically jarring sometimes. I’d like to sit here and say that I love myself anyway, that the shape of me doesn’t dictate my quality. That is true. I’m not fishing for compliments and I’m not body shaming. I am heavier than I want to be and that has a lot more to do with my mobility than anything else. I mean, yes, my vanity is hurting right now, but I’m a grown person so I can deal with that. But guys, have you ever tried to keep up with a 3yo? They are aaaaallllllll energy (that they steal from us) and there is no explaining that Mommy’s heart is fit to burst if we don’t take a break from running laps on the back porch. And that’s just now. What about in a few years with team sports? What about in a decade when we want to hike mountains? What about when they need help moving into a new house or watching their 200lb great dane puppy or just want to go on a walk to their favorite coffee place just down the block? I can’t here and risk losing my kid because I simply can’t keep up.

But *still* the motivation to get up and doing eluded me. Despite all the self-loathing I was feeling, I still couldn’t get past this obstacle: I don’t stick to workout routines. I get motivated one day and then in a week or two it fizzles out. Every time, regardless of what I tried. This time, instead of just going with something and hoping I stayed motivated enough to stick with it, I started asking myself WHAT IS STOPPING ME? Basically, what are my excuses? I want to be healthy, I want to lose weight and fit into my jeans, so why don’t I just do it? Aw, there we go. I have always thought of it as that simple equation. I know what I have to do so I should just do it. The human brain is never that simple and shame on me for using the same tired playbook on myself. It’s not that easy, it never is, and there is NEVER just one way to do it so there’s no such thing as “just do it.”

Here is what I did: I made a list of what’s stopping me.

  1. I’m too Tired
  2. I’m too Sore
  3. Migraine
  4. Apathy
  5. Boredom
  6. Toddler

Then I countered each obstacle.

  1. I’m too Tired – You’re up anyways, why not (I have to wake up with my son and he’s always up by 9:00)
  2. I’m too Sore – Stretch, take your time
  3. Migraine – yoga or just stretching, take care of yourself
  4. Apathy – yoga, stretch, or meditate, DO SOMETHING
  5. Boredom – lots of variety
  6. Toddler – Only do workouts that don’t require a sitter

I looked at all my excuses and found a contingency plan for them. My kid is a big obstacle because I can’t just workout only when there’s someone to watch him. That’s an obstacle that can easily turn into a well maybe I’ll skip today since the hubby can’t watch him. Besides which, I want him to see me working out because eventually he’s gonna need that habit, too. Is it annoying to have to pause the workout sometimes because he wants his cereal or he wants to sit on my back during a plank? Yes. Do I still think it’s important that he sees me establishing healthy habits? Yes. I workout in the morning after we’re up for the day. I don’t wake up at dawn or whatever because NO. I have enough bad nights and dumb early mornings thanks to my kid, I don’t need to do it to myself. And if I can only workout at stupid early times then it’s not going to happen. I did 6am PT for 6+yrs, I’m not doing it now. The workout itself was another important obstacle. When I really thought about it, I knew I couldn’t be a gym rat. I don’t like the performance of it, as it is a performance for me. I have to get the right clothes and shoes and look like I know what I’m doing and I spend the whole time fixated on what other people are seeing me doing because I am a narcissist and I can’t imagine them NOT looking at me. It’s distracting AND it gives me another opportunity to nope out of my workout. I’m trying to find the way of least resistance and if I have to get dressed, brush my teeth, get in the car and get to the gym, that’s 4 different moments where my brain could say well, maybe I’ll skip today and just get donuts. Stream-lined routine is I roll out of bed, get the toddler to the potty, throw on a sports bra and workout shirt over my pj pants, and grab a pair of socks in case I need shoes for my workout. Figuring out the routine was actually the easy part. I didn’t want to go full P90X or Crossfit because obviously if I can’t move the next day, that’s another excuse not to workout. Instead, I found a website (darebee.com) that has free workout programs that you can print out. I found one for 30 Days of Yoga which was perfect since my goal was Establish a Routine first, get fit second. That killed the “too sore” excuse as it was a beginner course and hardly anything that would challenge me, even after being out of shape for so long. Yoga, I might add, is just a wonderful way to get moving. I will never be the person twisted into a pretzel, but I can touch my toes now and I have a simple routine I can run through that is just stretching so I don’t have to worry about sore muscles the next day or sweating or anything. I don’t know how it is at losing weight or anything, that’s not what I used it for. But if you’re looking for an intro to working out that is low-stress, low-impact, and in general very soothing, go for yoga or ballet. Just keep it to beginner classes and keep in mind that inflexibility is absolutely NOT an obstacle.

After 30 days of yoga, I added a light workout routine from the website paired with another yoga routine. And every time I started a new program, I went back to my journal to log it, which included restating or reassessing my goals. Goals, you ask? What goals? Well, after I looked at my excuses I had to decide what I wanted to achieve. This isn’t some kind of silly dream board or anything, it was a list of real, tangible things I wanted for myself. I want my wedding ring to fit. I don’t want to be winded going up the stairs. I want to recognize myself in the mirror. I want to fit in my jeans. What’s my timeline for these things? Oh, I don’t have one. I don’t have a weight goal or a size goal or anything like that. I’m not bogged down in results because THAT my friends is a TRAP. “I’m not seeing the results I want so it must not be working so I might as well quit.” OR there are results I can’t see and couldn’t be measured by any metric we use even if I could see them. The real goal is the habit, which I can maintain now since I didn’t force it. I didn’t change my routine, I just avoid sitting on the couch for the first 20-30 min of the day. I’m on my 5th 30-day program, sort of. After doing 3 progressively more challenging 30-day programs from Darebee, I was getting a bit of the apathy bug, so I downloaded the Fiton App and created a program off my goals and such. It’s a nice app, which helped me get over my worry about video workouts (always make me self conscious and I was concerned the toddler would want to watch them, too). The instructors are nice and the music isn’t annoying and they don’t have a class full of people behind them doing all the workouts better than me, so it’s kind of low key like having a personal trainer who isn’t judging me.

Have I been 100% successful? Hahahaha no. I’ve skipped days. For good reasons, for bad reasons, for Reasons. I missed a full week in July because I went on vacation. And two weeks ago, I got stuck with a migraine that is STILL IN RESIDENCE. I’m sure you saw one of my obstacles/excuses is migraines, which I started getting with some regularity in my 20s. Sometimes, I can do the workout anyway, especially if it’s yoga or stretching or something. But I can’t just power through if I have a bad migraine and since they’re pretty much a normal part of my life, I have to accept that I will skip workout days because of them and all that means is that I sometimes miss a day. It’s not a catastrophe. It happens and that’s fine. Now, the migraine I’ve had for 2 weeks took me out 2 days in a row last week and is lingering hard this week, so I am actually going to try to see a doctor next week since this is unprecedented and it sucks donkey dong, excuse my French. But, forget all that. It is AUGUST. I have been working out regularly for SEVEN MONTHS. And I have lost barely any weight! I mean, I think, I don’t really check because weight is only one metric to gauge your health. Am I seeing results? No. I still see that fat woman in the mirror. Am I feeling results? YES. I CAN TOUCH MY TOES. I’m not sprinting up the stairs, but I can make both flights with the laundry instead of needing a break between. Has it only been good days? FK NO. I cried during a splits workout because my body simply didn’t respond and I felt so mortified even though there was literally no one to see me. 100% bawling on my dining room carpet because flexibility is my kryptonite. And I did the next workout after that one to make myself feel better AND IT DID.

The long and short of it is, I may not be succeeding at dropping those unwanted pounds yet but I am not a failure by a long shot and it’s because I took this struggle that I had been looking at as a moral failing and reframed it as a brain-body dysfunction and IT WORKED. What I want you to take away from this long rambling nonsense is that when you aren’t meeting your goals, instead of berating yourself you need to reframe the obstacles. “Why can’t I do this?” is already blaming yourself AND labeling yourself a failure. You’re setting up the imaginary ideal of Every One Else Who Can with you stuck at The Only One Who Can’t and that is a non-starter. Try instead “What do I need to do,” then “Why do I need to do it,” then “What is Stopping Me.” Those questions are important because if you can’t enunciate the reasons behind your goals you will never fully embrace them. They’ll always be that great book everyone told you to read but you never got around to it. Your reasons don’t have to be high-minded or altruistic or anything. They just have to be real. Once you get down to the foundations of your why, you can begin to really focus on your why nots (what’s stopping me). And when you figure out your why nots, you can tackle them with strategies that will work rather than what works for everyone else.

My toddler is home from being out with Daddy, so I need to go. Good Luck on your Obstacles!

1 Comment

Filed under Misc Short Stories

You Cannot Hate Yourself Thin


Dear Mom,

You cannot hate yourself thin.

And I mean YOU, not the general you.

Lots of people hate themselves thin.  They have eating disorders, mental illnesses that distort how they view themselves to such an extreme that they torture themselves to reach an ideal that will never be achieved.  They will die before their twisted standards can be attained.

More accurately, no one can hate themselves healthy.  The difference between healthy and thin is not always apparent, especially in an image-obsessed culture.  Thin is an insignificant number on a scale.  Thin is visible ribs, flat stomach, stick arms.  Thin is fragile and weak.  Thin can’t raise five kids.  Thin is the opposite of Fat.  Fat=bad, Thin=good.

Healthy doesn’t rely on numbers to be true.  Healthy is how you feel.  Sleeping better, moving better, breathing better.  Being healthy is about loving yourself so much that you want to take care of yourself.  You’ve heard obnoxious people say how their body is a temple so they don’t want to eat that trash, right?  We all know them, so superior with their spinach smoothies and coordinated yoga pants.  Or are they kale smoothies?  Arugula?  Whatever.  Healthy is the opposite of Morbidly Obese.  Healthy is meeting great-grandchildren.  Morbidly Obese is “Mom, I’m afraid for your life.”  This is a new feeling for me with you.  I’m used to it with Dad.

Yes, obnoxious.  But right in an essential way.  Your body, yes YOURS, is a temple.  It is sacred.  And you perform sacrilege every day.  I grew up listening to you fat shame yourself.  I know you can’t help that.  I know your father contributed and that unburdening yourself from the judgements of parents (however well meaning) is impossible.  I know you hate being fat.  It frustrates you because it doesn’t seem to matter what you do, it doesn’t go away.  It doesn’t get better.  You’re still fat, you still hurt, and it works for everyone else, why the hell doesn’t it work for you?

I don’t know, because I’m too far away and way too busy to monitor you 24 hours a day.  But I have a few theories, because how could I not?

Regularity.  Do you work out consistently?  Same times and days every week?  Do you have sufficient recovery stretches?  Do you have established refueling rituals?  All of these things help.  Consistency means you can keep track of progress and regularly increase difficulty.  Knowing how to recover means making sure a good workout doesn’t knock you on your back the rest of the week.  And having rituals reinforces the habit.  Finish a workout, get an awesome protein smoothie to help repair muscles and boost energy.  And then have an ounce of dark chocolate, because damn it you deserve it.

I hate working out.  Hate it.  And I have excuses up to the moon to not do it.  I’m tired.  I work part-time, but the last few months I’ve have 30-hour weeks (part-time my ass).  And I have a migraine-a-week habit.  Migraine if I have a glass of wine.  Migraine if I have too much heavy dairy.  Migraine if I don’t drink enough water.  Migraine if I sweat for five seconds moving stock in the back room.  Migraine if I wake up in the morning.  Migraine if I wake up.  But definitely a migraine if I work out.  For the next day or three.  (I did finally talk to a doctor about my migraines and she gave me new drugs that make me a space cadet and don’t work.  I’m planning on following up soon for other options.)  Me working out happens under three conditions.  I’m angry.  I’m having an Up week.  I’m terrified.

You told us that Dad was skinny as a rail until his early twenties.  Dad is no longer skinny as a rail.  Your daughters have been living in abject terror of genetics for our entire lives.  I am not exaggerating.  I’m afraid that I will look at myself one day and see you and hate that I let myself do that to myself.

That is the truth.

And its not for the reasons you think.

This last summer, I had to help you get home.  I had to give you support when muscle failure trapped you on a public toilet.  I had to steady you into the shower and help you dress and undress.  You said I shouldn’t have to see you this way.  And I laughed.  You didn’t know you were insulting me.  I’m your daughter.  I’m the only one who has the right to see you this way (ok, me and the rest of your children and your husband).  From that body you hate came my life.  It’s not a duty to care for my Mom.  It’s a privilege.

You look at yourself with loathing and shame.  Because you’re fat.  I see my Mom.  I did not feel disgust or shame when I saw you.  I saw my Mom.  And I love my Mom and wished she loved herself more.  That is what I’m afraid of.  I’m afraid I will look at myself and see a fat, ugly slob instead of the strong, intelligent woman YOU raised me to be.  I won’t see a loving mother or a successful business woman or a talented leader.  All I’ll see is FAT, UGLY, WORTHLESS.

This is why I think you fail.  You work out because you hate being fat and nothing changes.  So when it comes time to eat, you either don’t or you eat whatever because it doesn’t matter.  I know you try to make smart food choices, because I read your blog.  But under everything you write, I see the self-hate.  Dieting is punishment.  It means you can’t eat.  One piece of pizza.  Half a glass of soda.  No cake.  And then you accidentally have bacon, eggs, and grits for breakfast.  Oops.

That’s not an oops.  That’s a choice.  And I am tired of your choices.

Your body is a temple.  And the startling change you expect from working out will not ever happen, not if you keep sh*tting in your temple.  Eating healthy is an act of self-love.  It is not a punishment.  Food is sacred.  It is magical and wonderful in so many ways.  It brings people together, builds families, makes friends.  And it should never be a loathsome experience.  Not ever.  Not even when you are surrounded by people you hate who are all arguing over religion and politics and the latest family scandal.  Food is how Jesus explained to his disciples how they could remember him.  Within you is the body and blood of Christ.  And it has to share space with junk food.

You want extreme change, you have to start with extreme change.  Which means NO pizza, NO soda, still NO cake, and ABSOLUTELY NO accidental bacon, eggs, and grits.  No baked potatoes or clam chowders or bagels or sweet tea.  No seconds.  Hell, no complex sugars or salt or red meat or starches or processed foods.  Just bread and water, with the part of bread being played by steamed broccoli.

Which sucks, sure.  But it isn’t hell.  It isn’t even Limbo.  You stayed with me and ate my food.  Did you suffer?  Did you starve?  No.  I am a good cook and I like good food.  I would never feed someone bad food.  It would be sinful.  I am also a realist.  I have weaknesses.  Bread is a big one (all those empty carbs).  And pasta.  And potatoes.  Lots of things cannot be in my home because I can’t trust myself to always make the right decisions.  (The list is one that my husband and I made together, since marriage is a partnership, not a dictatorship.)  I still indulge in all those things, but it happens much more rarely since I don’t have easy access.

There are a lot of things I don’t miss.  Excess salt and sugar in my diet is one.  Making a lot of my own food means I control what goes in it and I like being in control.  Sometimes this involves using slow cookers to make a week of meals in advance.  A hassle, yes.  But better than eating at Panera for the third day in a row.  I don’t miss the stomach bombs from fast food or the sluggishness from greasy chips or being bloated from over-salted premade dinners.  I don’t miss chain restaurants or drive-thrus.

I love myself.  So I taught myself that the foods I used to love just make me feel like crap.  And they don’t even taste good.

I slip up, true.  Five Guys, a piece of pizza from the grocery store, SO MANY DONUTS.  But when I sit down to steamed veggies and a chicken breast, I don’t wish it was a Big Mac and fries (vomit sounds).

I’ve noticed something, though, with your menus.  I don’t think you know what “healthy” food is.  A sandwich is not automatically healthy, nor is soup.  I think you need to have a nutritionist give you a full run down on the type of diet that would best suit you.  Which includes portion size and a template for daily meal planning.  Regularity is key here, too.  Keeping to a schedule, tracking your water intake, planning ahead so you can’t deviate from your diet.  And having cheat days.

One day a week, or maybe just one meal, where you can ignore some of your rules.  You can go out for dinner.  You can have seconds.  You can have bacon.  That one day breaks up the monotony.  Nothing kills a good habit faster than boredom.

And on your birthday you eat whatever the hell you want.

Then you go to the gym.  Not because you are guilty about what you ate, even if you did slip up.  And NOT because you hate yourself.  But because you want to be strong and healthy.  Because you want to be independent, not imprisoned by a wheelchair or walker when your body starts giving up.  Because you want to feel better.  Ask your trainer why she works out.  I bet she won’t say it’s because she’s a fat, ugly pig who deserves pain.

I know it isn’t easy to give up, that hate.  After a while, it’s your best friend.  The only one who has stayed with you, who knows the real you.  The rebukes come naturally.  FAT.  CLUMSY.  STUPID.  WORTHLESS.  UGLY.  A regular chant I have memorized.  I say those things now and it shocks me back to reality.

The fat doesn’t make you ugly.  Hate makes you ugly.  Especially to yourself.

I LOVE YOU.  I don’t see Fat.  I see Mom.  And I want to help you.  I just don’t know how.

I can’t make you love yourself.  I hope you’ll try, though.

Your loving daughter,

Me

 

P.S.  Dad, this goes double for you.

4 Comments

Filed under Ramblings, Rants

Tuesday


Today was a better day.

My brother-in-law recovered his missing cat, which was quite a birthday present.  It was a beautiful day.  I did a Body Combat workout this afternoon.  I taught three people how to crochet.  I talked to my mom for a looooong time.  Lots of good things.

Mom and I talked about the whole “getting in shape” thing.  And I told her probably the same things I’ve told her a million times before, some of the same things I mentioned yesterday.  When you have a lifetime of bad habits to correct, you have to make an entire life change.  I also got some clarification on her “numbers don’t matter” post.  She wasn’t just talking about the numbers on the scale.  She was talking about all the numbers.  The calorie counts and the minutes on the elliptical and the reps on the weight machines.  She wanted to do the things that felt right to her.

I say AMEN to that.  Sort of.

The numbers still don’t matter.  There are two general types of people in the “getting healthier” arena.  There are the numbers people and the freelance people.  Numbers people love to focus on the numbers.  They are highly analytical and keep notes on everything they eat and every exercise they do.  That is one way to do it.  Freelancers hate numbers.  They only seem to discourage because they never seem to equal the amount of work being done.  Counting calories makes them feel dumb.

The method that works with freelancers is more artistic than analytical.  It’s about perception.  They do what they do because it feels right.  It makes them feel better, accomplished, energized, etc.  The numbers don’t come into it because there is almost no direct correlation between numbers and results for them.  The numbers are arbitrary, but the boost in stamina and the excuse to shop for smaller clothes shows them all the progress they need.

And this is where the “sort of” comes in.  A person spends their entire life doing what feels right to them.  They eat food that they think is healthy.  They aren’t glued to the couch all the time.  They don’t think of themselves as having an unhealthy lifestyle.  But at after a while, they cannot deny that they are unhealthy.  Either a doctor or a friend or family or their own reflection says this isn’t working.  What feels right isn’t good for them.  The trick then isn’t to point to a bunch of arbitrary numbers and say BECOME NUMBER SLAVE.  The trick is to change the perception of “right.”

I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.  The brain is a powerful tool and you can use it to trick your body into being healthier.  Forget everything you know about eating healthy because the healthy you grew up with simply isn’t.  See a nutritionist and learn what foods are good for you and why.  The benefits of foods vary based on lifestyle.  If everyone ate like Olympic athletes without the benefit of Olympic athlete workouts, everyone would be morbidly obese.  Yet no one can call them unhealthy.  If you are on the low end for physical activity, then your body isn’t using the carbs you’re eating and simply turns them into fat to be used later.  Your body doesn’t know that you aren’t going to be starving over winter due to lack of game and grain.  All it knows is that it’s getting stuff it isn’t using now but could use in an emergency.  Fat is the lifeboat of the body.  The body saw Titanic and clings to the lifeboats just in case of icebergs.

So perception.  Freelancers want to do stuff because it feels right.  When Freelancers want to get healthy, they have to change what right means.  Right means craving almonds instead of potato chips, putting spinach in everything, and finding new ways to make chicken breast taste like anything else.  Right means being about to brag about your workout instead of feeling guilty that you skipped it.

F*ck counting calories.  I am aware that some things are bad for me because they have a lot of calories.  So instead of calculating how many lattes I can have before I need to add a mile onto my walk, I rarely drink them.  Same thing with donuts and chocolate and popcorn and potatoes and pasta and all the other foods that through research I have found to be bad for my lifestyle.  I don’t care how many calories I burned on my workout or what the scale says.  No machine can accurately calculate the former and the latter has more to do with where I am in the month than anything else.

Army Analogy:  When I joined the Army, I weighed in at 108 lbs.  Was I healthy?  NO.  I was underweight and fat, and no that isn’t a contradiction.  When I left Basic Training, I weighed 120 lbs.  Was I fat?  NO.  I was fit for the first time in my life.  Throughout my 20s, the less I weighed, the less healthy I was because I was losing muscle and gaining fat (the latter weighs less than the former).  Entering my 30s, my body is starting to change gears, because that’s what bodies do.  It makes me glad that I started eating healthier five years ago.  I don’t have as much adjusting to do in that department.  Exercise is a whole other problem, but I’m working through it.  That bragging thing is paramount to my success, actually.

So Freelancers, use you’re artistic side to make your lifestyle change.  Leave the numbers to other people.  Just keep these things in mind:

  • Portion control: Small plates help you control how much you’re eating.  Healthy food is only healthy in the correct quantities.  Don’t go back for seconds.  EVER.
  • Ignoring numbers isn’t the same as being unaware of them.  Know what things to avoid entirely, like high sugar/salt content, complex carbs, starches, and animal fats.  It’s often a lot easier to avoid bad foods altogether than try to figure out how much is allowable in your diet.
  • Just because we aren’t counting doesn’t mean we don’t keep track.  You don’t have to detail every ounce of peas or every sit up, but making a note of what you ate (and how you felt afterwards) and when you worked out can be helpful and encouraging.
  • Keep things interesting.  Yes, chicken breast is a permanent fixture on your menu, but it doesn’t have to be boring.  Get NO SODIUM spice mixes, like Italian herbs, Chinese 5-spice, Cajun spice, and curry powder.  Explore the wide range of microwave steamed veggies (just avoid anything with sauces).  Buddy and I hit the broccoli section pretty hard.  Veggies are GOOD for you.  And no, potatoes are not veggies.
  • Have a Buddy.  This person is not your babysitter.  This person is also working toward health goals.  This person will share with you all the failings of her week and then listen to yours without judgment.  This person will cajole and complain during the Zumba class that neither of you really wanted to go to, but thought might be fun to give a chance.  This person will be accountable to you and you to her.  This person may have to be imaginary.

Freelancers, you will do the right thing not because the numbers say it is right, but because you have decided that it is right.

 

There, I think I’m done soapboxing for tonight.  I’d like to thank my Mom for listening to my BS tonight since talking to her helped me clarify some thoughts I’ve been having on this subject.  For those of you who think you have it bad, I want you to know that my Mom is doing everything you are on an artificial hip.  That’s struggle.  As always, Mom, you are my inspiration in so much of my life.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ramblings

Oops


We had our 4.1 Anniversary this weekend (anniversary of our court wedding).  And thanks to the 2 $25 Olive Garden gift cards we got from our parents for Christmas, we only shelled out $15 for a full lunch at Yardhouse.  You should have seen the happy dance we did when we saw Yardhouse on the list of restaurants those cards work for.  It was pretty epic.  Nothing against Olive Garden, which is a fine place to get reliable Italian food.  It’s just some places are expensive enough that gift cards are much appreciated.

Anyway, here is my honest review of Yardhouse.  I do not like eating there.  It is noisy and dark and they seem to be understaffed because the service is always slow.  The staff is incredibly friendly, though.  They always get gold stars for enthusiasm and flirty attitudes.  And it is pricey.  We gave a generous tip, but even so it was a $50 meal for two people and Buddy didn’t even get a beer, which is kind of a big deal there because it is a microbrewery named after their signature “Yard of Beer.”  So why were we so excited to eat here?  This is why:

That’s crab, lobster, artichoke dip, three different kinds of tacos, and a lamb burger.  The food is AMAZING.  I forgive many things for good food.  This is why I have a love/hate relationship with this restaurant.  Hate eating there, love the eating.  But, if you have a group of people who love trying good beer and don’t really want to yell at each other over the TVs and the raucous sports fans, it’s the place to be.  Also, if you just love food and don’t like talking to people.

Now normally if we get an appetizer we split an entrée.  This is common sense for a couple of reasons.  Portion sizes for normal meals are huge in this country, far bigger than healthy portions.  While I love eating until I throw up as much as the next American, it’s just not a good idea.  It’s also a good way to feel like we’re getting a full meal without breaking the bank.  Appetizer to snack on and then managing to eat the entire dinner instead of leaving half of it on the plate.  That was not our strategy Saturday because we had gift cards and we went on a walk that morning, which was great for building an appetite.  We managed to clean our plates quite well.

After lunch, we walked around a mall to aid in digestion before making the drive home.  There was a brief stop for Anniversary cupcakes:

Ethereal Cupcakes

We didn’t eat those until dinner time, when we were finally hungry again.  For the rest of our special day, we watched TV and I made a purse.  Then before we went to bed Buddy did his usual tally of receipts to make sure they matched up with what the online accounts said.  Which is when the evening turned.

Someone had withdrawn $483 from our checking account from an ATM just over a block from where we got cupcakes.  So we called the bank.  We thought maybe someone had swiped Buddy’s number when we got cupcakes, but it turned out someone had a copy of my card and had walked right up to the machine and used my PIN (first try) to access our accounts.  I’m hoping that someone just used a skimmer to get my info because the only other explanation is that someone I know has the tech to copy my card and found out my PIN somehow.  The bank actually asked if we shared that info with anyone.  Um.  No.  Not ever.  That’s my Personal Identification Number.  As in mine, no one else’s and an actual secret to everyone else, including my husband.

That really soured the evening.  I slept badly, too, because I was incensed.  Sunday, Buddy went to a beer tasting and I stayed home because I was cut off from my funds (unless I wanted to use the checkbook, yuck).  I (mostly) finished the purse I was working on.  And I broke my chocolate ration.  By a lot.  I ate 6 squares of a Ghirardelli salted caramel dark chocolate bar.  Which is 6 times my limit.  That’s the Oops.  That and the fact that I didn’t do a workout today.  My excuse is that I didn’t want to wake up this morning and I didn’t feel like it when I got home from work (feet sore and laziness).

The other day, my mom posted an Oops as well.  Previously, she had had a revelation about fitness.  It isn’t about numbers at all.  It’s about improving how you feel.  I was incredibly pleased about this.  Losing weight for her has been a long struggle and that kind of mindset can really help.  Then she posted an Oops where she gained 4 lbs and felt awful physically and it sounded like she was giving up on her revelation.  This is a bummer, but mostly because she’s still associating numbers with failure again.  The numbers don’t matter.  There are so many other factors to take into account.  The numbers are just another factor.  The goal should never be numbers because they aren’t enough.  If they were, then bulimia and anorexia would be medically sound ways to lose weight.  The goal is being able to keep up with the grandkids and feeling energized and living a long life.  And to get there, you have to change.  Not just your activity level but your diet and your mind.  You have to make these changes, not because you hate your reflection but because you love yourself.  Because you are a temple for God.

You also have to accept that mistakes happen.  Every day, every hour, all the time.  We are incredibly flawed and making big changes is incredibly difficult, especially if we are changing habits that have been in place for decades.  Those are habits of thinking as well as acting.  If you spent your whole life telling yourself that you’re fat and useless, you’re not just going to turn around and be all “positive affirmations” all the time.  So instead of focusing on the mistakes and the guilt, find a way to drop them completely.

Here’s my Army analogy.  When we were learning to shoot at the range, we were taught the “Sh*t, F*ck, D*mn” strategy.  You have two minutes to shoot 20 pop-up targets and the ONLY way you’re going to get a good score is if you remain calm and focus on the fundamentals they taught you.  When you miss a target, you go “oh, darn” and move to the next one.  Otherwise, you’ll get frustrated and miss more targets.  And you treat every target the same way, whether it is an easy 50m or the dreaded 300m.  It pops up, breath in, breath out, squeeze (the trigger).  Doesn’t matter if you hit it because there’s the next one.  Breath in, breath out, squeeze.  Did you miss the “Fast Freddie” (50m target that pops up for a second)?  Oh, well.  Don’t miss the next target because you’re too busy beating yourself up.

Yes, I binged a bit on chocolate and I missed a workout.  Oh, darn.  That was yesterday.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Breath in, breath out, squeeze.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ramblings

Working Out


This morning, I walked my butt off.  If you happen to find it, please let me know.  I need it for sitting and filling out my jeans.

People who struggle with their weight tend to hate people like me.  I am not skinny.  By model standards, I’m practically obese.  However, my weight and BMI is average for my height, which makes me thin but still curvy (stupid thighs).  This engenders hate, not merely because I’m thin, but because I don’t have a rigorous work out schedule and strict diet  to maintain my weight (not since I got out of the Army 4 years ago).  In fact, I tend to lose weight when I stop working out.

However, like everyone else in this culture I have body image issues, and as 30 looms closer I’m becoming more paranoid about weight gain.  Both my parents are obese.  Most of my brothers are overweight.  Most of my friends are overweight, or think they’re overweight.  I may be thin, but I’m not in shape.  I am weak-muscled and I get out of breath far too easily.

Okay, that sounds lame.  Here’s the thing.  I don’t have personal discipline.  I hate going to the gym (get up, get dressed, drive over, get gross, drive home, shower, feel exhausted the rest of the day, ugh).  Even when there were classes I loved, like Body Combat and Spinning, I still needed a Gym Buddy to keep me going every day.  I stopped going when we moved here because they don’t teach Body Combat anywhere and my Gym Buddy was too far away.

I also have a healthy distaste for running.  Before you running fans leap down my throat, please understand that running in the Army was always stressful and painful.  The Army pushes you to your limits in many ways, but it doesn’t care if you get to your limit the healthy way so long as you get there.  I got stress fractures in my hips at Basic.  I needed knee braces by the time I was 25.  I told my sister once that I knew I had done a good run when I felt near throwing up at the end.  She was aghast, for some reason.  And don’t get me started on unit runs, which are supposed to be team- and morale-building exercises yet somehow contrive to be exquisite forms of torture.  You try getting 1600 people to run at the same pace (too slow for most males, too fast for most females) for two miles, and don’t forget to yell at and shame those people who can’t keep the pace.

Anyway, I hate running.  My hips and knees agree with me.  I also hate “dieting.”  I love chocolate.  In fact, sugar is major weakness of mine which my teeth do not thank me for.  Salt is a close second, followed by butter.  I have significantly reduced my intake of these guilty pleasures, but if I ever had to give them up entirely it wouldn’t happen.  I love food.  I will not go through my life on “diets” when I can just be conscientious of what I eat now and train my taste buds away from the foods that will kill me (I’m looking at you, fast food).

This is my point.  If I ever become overweight, I have no confidence that I will be able to drop the pounds on my own.  Besides college tuition, it’s what scares me most about having kids.  What if I spend the rest of my life trying to get rid of the baby weight?  I know this is silly.  I know Buddy will help me get back in shape if I ask.  I know it is silly to be scared of something that hasn’t happened.  Still, it’s the only motivation I have now.  I can’t allow myself to gain weight (which is not the same as being out of shape, believe me).  If I stay in shape now, maybe I won’t have to fight my weight later.

It’s not a good long-term motivator.  When school starts and the temperature drops, you probably won’t see me walking.  It’s difficult to be paranoid of something that doesn’t appear to be happening.  Then again, if I keep reading my Mom’s blog about her weight loss struggle and the insane amount of gym work she puts herself through, I might just stay motivated.  Here’s what I did today.

40 min walk (personal best on distance in the first 20, beat my time by 13 sec on the way back)

5 sets of:

20 sec push-ups (on my knees to alleviate shoulder pain)

40 sec Charlie Mansons (abdominal twist)

20 sec leg lift

20 back crunches

All of this while my cats watched disdainfully, because if they get obese it’s my fault, not theirs.

To all you naturally skinny girls:

Do not assume that you can eat whatever you want.

Do not assume that skinny equals healthy.

Do not EVER mock overweight or obese people, especially when you see them working out.  Most people aren’t born that way.  Even with good genes and a high metabolism, it can and will happen to you if you don’t take care of yourself.

(Sorry about the soap box.  I had meant this to be funny and all this seriousness happened instead.  Next post, nothing but jokes.  I promise.)

1 Comment

15AM00000092011 · 09:44

No Justice in Just


My mom started a blog, which I suppose should signal the death throes of the medium.  Regardless, I was really excited to read it because it is chronicling her struggle with weight loss, something I am very supportive of.  The weight loss, I mean.  Not the struggle.  And it is a struggle, believe me.  By medical standards, she is classified as morbidly obese, but that’s due primarily to her 5’1 stature.  She needs to drop about 100 lbs to get to a healthy number, she has an extremely hectic and unreliable schedule, and she has a limited-mobility artificial hip, a handicap she has lived with her whole life.  You could say she has a unique perspective on a national preoccupation.

Frequently, I have found myself unbelievably frustrated with my mother, a feeling I’m certain no college student has ever experienced.  She doesn’t listen to my advice about her diet, she doesn’t go to the gym regularly, and she doesn’t see the results she wants.  Big freaking surprise, right?  You can’t expect extreme results like in the commercials.  “Lost 100 lbs in 2 weeks thanks to this miracle pill/shake/packaged meal!” And you’ll gain it all right back just as soon as the camera turns off.  Sometimes, I find myself wondering why she can’t just go to the gym.  Why can’t she just follow a regular diet?  Why can’t she just stay positive and stop expecting miracles?  Why can’t she just…

It struck me the other day after I had read her first week’s entries that there is no “just” about it.  It’s not just eating better.  It’s changing a lifetime of habits and perceptions about food.  It’s not just going to the gym.  It’s overcoming the knowledge that it is going to hurt physically and everything about that place reminds her that she is old and fat.  When she first started going to the gym, she felt like all the other patrons there were the kids who beat her up in school.  This is a realm well beyond “just.”

We have built a culture of shaming and it isn’t only about weight, though that is one of the major issues.  We prefer to blame people for their struggles rather than support them, especially if we haven’t experienced that struggle ourselves.  Honestly, who hasn’t been a victim of “just” at some point in his or her life?  Why can’t you just get a job?  Why can’t you just get better grades?  Why can’t you just get a significant other?  Why can’t you just go to bed at a decent time?  Why can’t you just quit smoking?  And what’s worse is that we internalize it.  Why can’t I just be prettier, smarter, thinner, stronger, faster, or cooler?  Why can’t I just stop stuffing my maw with Thin Mints?  Why can’t I just be happy?  Why can’t I just be normal?  Just may be the worst word in the English language, followed by “only” and “simply.”

It’s funny how “just do it” from an outsider can sound like “just climb Mt. Everest” on the inside.  And yes, sometimes it is a matter of “just do it.” Take a chance, make a leap, face your fears.  It doesn’t make it any less of a mountain except when you look back.  Personally, I have never struggled with my weight, though that doesn’t mean it isn’t a nagging concern in the back of my mind.  I don’t know what it’s like to step on a Stairmaster and realize that my leg muscles have atrophied from decades of limping on an artificial hip.  I’m not qualified to belittle the labors of others.  So I’m going to be avidly reading my mom’s blog, encouraging instead of criticizing her, and learning from her struggle.  It may be just what I need when my own Everest looms.

2 Comments

15AM00000012011 · 01:05

Good Day/Bad Day


It’s been a day.  I had all my favorite classes and I actually managed to contribute to the conversation in Vampires today.  Granted I was trying to explain why I felt sympathetic toward the pedophile/murderer, but that’s the kind of thing you have to do when you’re discussing a Swedish vampire book (Let the Right One In => I highly recommend it).  I also got to courteously tell someone that we were switching up the blog groups.

Here’s the thing, teacher says she wants blog groups of 3-4.  Due to complex social conventions I don’t fully understand, we ended up with a group of 6.  So we decided to work together and then split the group in two for posting.  We decided who was in which group and when the teacher opened the sign-up list, I leaped on group one.  Then Dumb Girl (she is not actually dumb, probably, she just annoys me), who was supposed to be in the other group, cocked it up by joining my group.

The problem with having a bigger group is that it makes scheduling meetings more complicated (people are apparently incapable of communicating in any other manner than face-to-face).  And then there are the people who don’t like to participate at all, to include not bothering to show up to meetings, etc.  We had a meeting before Spring Break and half the group didn’t show; one from mine, two from the other.  Made it a little difficult to really discuss anything.  And we thought, “Hey, why don’t we rearrange the groups for the next blog so that the three of us who reliably show up are in the same group.”

I think my two co-conspirators thought it would be best to just switch groups on the sly.  When the next blog opens, they would just make sure they sign up for my group first.  But part of the reason I got stuck with such a large group is because they are all friends.  You know how that is, right?  A casual friend joins you for lunch and he/she is joined by a bunch of other friends that you don’t particularly like, but you can’t just get up and leave.  And why should you leave.  You were here first.  Anyway, the sneaky way couldn’t work.  And if it did, peeps would be all disgruntled by the subterfuge.

So, when one of the girls from the other group got to class, I told her we were switching the groups, because that’s what responsible adults do.  She asked why and I told her, truthfully, that our schedules synced up best.  Then I said that she was getting Dumb Girl, who is her friend, not mine.  Her mature response?  “What the f*ck?”  When I turned her exclamation in to a question, she complains that now she will have to do all the work.  The guy who was going to switch groups, in clear panic, stammered that we didn’t have to change groups.

Here’s the part that really bugs me.  She’s full of sh*t.  A) She didn’t show up to either meeting we had for the most recent blog AND she didn’t post any comments to the google doc I posted for the purpose of sharing ideas.  Based on what her group posted this week (on cowboys as modern knights), she didn’t do much work on  it at all, to include basic proof-reading.  B) Dumb Girl, while she needs prodding, is capable of participating.  We did our post on Neverwhere,  and while I had time to read the novel and loaned the other girl the graphic novel, Dumb Girl went and watched the BBC miniseries that the book is based on.  She contributed a good deal to the post and while it wasn’t all what I would call “gold,” it wasn’t what I would call dumb, either.  C) DUMB GIRL IS HER GORAM FRIEND.  I DIDN’T WANT HER IN MY GROUP.  AND PEOPLE WHO DON’T RESPOND TO EMAILS OR POST ON DISCUSSIONS DON’T GET TO BE UPSET ABOUT DECISIONS MADE BY PEOPLE WHO DO SHOW UP.

It shouldn’t matter anyway, since we’re all working together.  Whatevs.

I got to interview the Green Team (Environmental Sustainability) for the paper, which went pretty well.  They seem super enthusiastic about stuff.

I was also published today:

http://www.evolllution.com/featured/whos-boss-unexpected-challenges-transitioning-military-higher-ed/

Then I went to work.  I didn’t speak much. We closed an hour and a half later than usual.  My co-workers have decided that since I’m the fastest at dishes and I like doing dishes (hot water, task I can’t possibly screw up), that they’re going to start saving the dishes for me.  And because I want them done quickly, and done my way (the best way, but not so best that I want to try making anyone else do it that way), I do them.  I am tired of smelling like bleach but at least I rarely get that tone directed at me.  I just…never mind.  Waste of energy.

Then I found my Mom’s blog:

http://www.ihavebetterthingstodo.wordpress.com

She just started documenting her struggle with weight loss, which I have been trying to help her with from a distance.  It isn’t like some stupid TV show where a bunch of twenty-somethings try to get beautiful.  It is a genuine struggle and I look forward to doing all I can to encourage her in this endeavor.  By writing about her experience, she is not only keeping track of her habits/progress, she is giving people a unique perspective on a huge problem in this country.

We shame obese people, you know.  Why don’t you just go to the gym?  Why don’t you just eat better?  It’s not hard.  I know I’ve had these thoughts.  But I’ve never had to struggle with my weight, not yet, so what the h*ll do I know?  It’s that “just” which causes the most harm, as though changing decades-old habits should come easily, like flicking on a switch.  And even when people start, there’s this pressure for immediate results, like everything else in this instant society.  Those weight loss commercials don’t help.  I lost 180 lbs in just 2 weeks!  BS.  Even if a magic pill or smoothie managed that kind of radical change, the weight loss was not due to behavioral change, cannot be healthy (since the human body does not like radical change, just ask deep-sea divers), and will therefore be short-lived.

And now that I have my opinion column for next week, it’s time for me to do the dinner dishes (Buddy cooked, so I clean) and get to bed.

And in the morning, when I awaken exhausted as usual, I will think “Why don’t I just go to bed earlier?”

3 Comments

15AM000000122011 · 00:23