Sunday, October 31, 2010

What's Your "What If..." Weight?

I heard Christmas music in Wal-Mart last week. And yesterday, there was a 20-foot Christmas tree near the front door.

Tis the season, my friends. The Season of Food.

I’ve come a long ways from my early days of weight loss and my “Thou shalt not eat __________” mentality. Adopting such a hard-core view was necessary at the time, but through the help of time and my weight-minded friends (particularly the WW 100+ board alums), I’ve learned a bit about discipline and balance since 2005. But food is still a challenge and always will be.

Walking hand-in-hand with that challenge is the way I view and live within my body. I’ve been feeling bulky lately, and when I walk, I don’t “glide along” quite like I used to. I feel more like a gorilla. That’s why I laughed out loud while packing my office yesterday and came across this cartoon:


I remembered I’d posted it on my original website, Lynn’s Weight-Loss Journey, so I went back and read the post that went with it. What I wrote still speaks to me nearly three years later.

When I was 16, I weighed 150 pounds. That was about 20 pounds more than would be considered normal for my age and height, but at a size 12/14, I was hardly ginormous. Yet that’s what I thought I was. Self-conscious, I avoided walking past certain boys in school because I was afraid they’d “moo” at me or call me fat. They did that to a lot of girls who I felt were my size.

My negative body image caused me to make a lot of poor choices when it came to sex and relationships. Although I had some nice boyfriends in high school, the kind who really did like me for who I was, I always felt there was a “catch,” that somehow they were lacking because they liked me.

When I was nearly 300 pounds, this cartoon’s sentiment was most certainly true for me. I always dreamed of “that day” when I’d be 150 again. All my problems would disappear, I’d have self-esteem to spare, and life would be the way I always knew it could be, all because I weighed 150 pounds again.

I’m well below 150 now and problems still arise and I often lack self-esteem, although I admit not to the extreme of nearly 170 pounds ago. My weight, while definitely an important factor in my overall wellbeing, cannot define my life. I am (and so are you) more than weight, and yet I still base a good deal of self-worth on the number on the scale, the size on a tag, and the width of my hips.

How to undo that? Talking with friends who understand weight loss and maintenance, journaling, meditating, and reminding myself daily that I’m OK just as I am right in this moment.

My question to you is this: What do you think your life will be like when you get to goal, or even when you lose 5, 10 or 20 pounds? How do you stay balanced? And has your definition of “normal” weight changed since you were younger?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Packing, Periods and Purging

This was probably not the most prudent time for me to take the 10-day progesterone regimen my doctor wanted me to start to rid me of my “endometrial issue.” But I did, and it’s working…sort of. Only now I’m packing while cramping and hyper and bloated with a few brain farts thrown in for good measure.

Thank goodness for Carlene and Tammy. They helped keep me sane yesterday.

Carlene, as you know, is my daughter, and Tammy is my friend who I met three years ago when she agreed to be the person who cleaned my house after I was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis.

I wish all of you a Tammy in your life. She is crazy attentive to bathtubs and can scrub a white linoleum kitchen to sparkling like no one’s business. Just 5’2”, she somehow cleans the fluorescent ceiling light in the kitchen – 10 feet in the air – balanced between the kitchen sink and a stepladder. I can’t watch.

Tammy also introduced me to Mary Kay products. I love TimeWise everything. Makes my skin feel like I’m 16 again. Well, 30 anyway. The wrinkles just keep coming, but as long as my face doesn’t feel like leather, I’m good to go. Bring on old age.

Tammy came over yesterday and helped Carlene and I pack up the dining room and living room – the two rooms that contain my most precious possessions. They aren’t pricey by any means, but I’m a collector of memories and everything I own has meaning.

I have my great-grandmothers stereoviewer and the 3-D cards she’d brought with her from Norway; a carnival glass relish dish my grandmother Katinka won at a raffle at her local movie house in the 1930s; a collection of postcards from my hometown in Minnesota; German porcelain pitchers and cups painted with Victorian roses; and an unusual collection of books*. Carlene and Tammy wrapped everything and boxed them while I went through photo albums and tried not to cry. You don’t live somewhere for nearly 20 years or be with someone 14 without a few photos.

Leaving Clarion and leaving my relationship is hard enough without the emotional upheaval that hormones bring. I feel like I swallowed Lake Erie after I went to Presque Isle last week. That was the day I started this 10-day progesterone hell, the third (fourth?) time my doctor has prescribed it to get things moving.

Only having a few periods in nearly four years is a lot like allowing dust bunnies to accumulate under your bed. You can’t see them, but eventually you have to clean them out. I tell you this only to advise you to be vigilant about your body and how it functions. Make sure, as you lose weight, to pay attention to your girlie parts. If you aren’t menstruating the way you used to, tell your doctor. If something feels “off,” tell your doctor. Losing weight – especially a lot of weight when you are over 40 – creates havoc in your body. The poor thing gets confused.

Purging my body is like purging my house. It’s painful and it’s cathartic, poignant yet rote. I want to stay with what’s safe and familiar but at the same time I need to move beyond what I know and discover more truths.

I don’t always understand my body, but I’m not afraid of it any longer. I don’t completely understand why my marriage fell apart, either, but I’m not afraid of my future outside of it. It’s just different. A forced period, an unexpected move…in many ways they’re exciting in the same way you anticipate walking into a Halloween haunted house. You know the monsters aren’t real, but they’ll scare you just the same.

Have a healthy weekend, steer clear of the trick or treat candy, and move around a little. I’ll blog again from my new home.
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Congratulations to Tabatha, who won the Denise Austin “Hot Body Yoga” DVD this morning! Look for another Carlene DVD review and giveaway in the next few weeks. I think she’s got her eye on a Pilates workout.
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* I’d written about my book collection a few years ago on ZenBagLady. Just to warn you, it is rated PG-13. Click here to view.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Denise Austin's "Hot Body Yoga" DVD Review and Giveaway!

Back for another workout DVD review is my lovely daughter Carlene.


The few times I've tried yoga, I've failed miserably. After reading what Carlene wrote about Denise Austin's "Hot Body Yoga," I may have to try again.


If you’d like to throw your name in the hat to win this DVD, leave a comment below or send an email to lynn.haraldson@yahoo.com. I’ll draw a winner this Friday, October 29.


P.S. Thank you again for your overwhelmingly kind support in light of my last post. It's not easy putting such private matters out there, but it was necessary to let you know what was going on because if there's one thing we all know about weight loss and maintenance, it's that life keeps going whether we're eating well or exercising or not.

Now...Carlene's review.

I think I might be in love with yoga.

I just tried it for the first time, working out to Denise Austin’s "Hot Body Yoga," and what I enjoyed most, besides Denise’s positive encouragement and perky personality, is the way it stretched my lower back and hips.

Having suffered from hip pain for the past three years, I’ve blacklisted many workouts. When my hip hurts, it also affects my lower back and my feet, which makes working out a literal pain in the butt. Stretching has always helped the pain, but it does nothing for my fitness level. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, but yoga combines stretching with fitness, making it a perfect solution.

In "Hot Body Yoga," Denise has two 30-minute workout options: Yoga Fit and Yoga Sculpt. Yoga Fit is the easier of the two, providing basic yoga moves and balance poses. As a beginner, I was able to do most of these moves and poses without losing my balance or falling over. Always a big plus! However, there were a few I had to modify since my abs and arms are not exactly in top-notch condition.

Yoga Sculpt is much the same as Yoga Fit, only it incorporates hand weights for a more advanced workout. This workout can be done without weights, as well, depending on fitness level. Either way, it will get the heart pumping!

I’m so happy to have discovered yoga, and I hope you all find it enjoyable, too!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Losing my Berings

“Deadlines and commitments. What to leave in, what to leave out.” Bob Seger

Whether you’re a blogger or a reader of blogs, you know that what you put out on the Internet is open for the whole world to see. Discerning what should be written and not written takes a great deal of thought (although my stepsons have not learned that lesson on Facebook).

I’ve written in the last few weeks that I’m facing a lot changes in my life. I’ve hemmed and hawed about what to reveal and put out here, but I decided that if I’m going to continue blogging about weight loss and maintenance, I need to tell you what’s going on in my non-blogging world.

My life in two sentences: My husband, Larry, and I have decided to separate. I’ll be moving to Pittsburgh next week.

I’m not putting details out here except to say that our split is amicable and we are committed to being friends and the best grandparents we can be. And I will miss him. The rest of the details aren’t necessary.

What is important in terms of my blog is how I integrate this loss into my life of weight. This change is a huge challenge for me as I reacquaint myself with living alone and getting comfortable with my new surroundings.

Things are raw right now. If I’m a little late in my replies, a little distant, a little confused, I hope you’ll understand. But I need this blog and I need you. I’ll stay on this path, though. I promise.

I’m just keeping it real. Thank you for everything. You have no idea how much your reading and participation in Lynn’s Weigh means to me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Recovered

Of all the things I’ve discovered I love to do since losing weight, hiking is probably my favorite. It’s certainly the most spiritual.

I’ve done on a lot of hiking in the last few years, but yesterday’s hike – while not the most challenging – was the most momentous, especially since it marked the 4-month anniversary of my knee surgery.

Yesterday, October 23, was not only the first day I’d hiked in four months, it was the first day I felt I’d made the right decision to have my knee repaired and not replaced. The pain has been significant and the rehabilitation slow and many times I doubted if keeping my own equipment was worth it. But yesterday, feeling my knee working the way it did years ago, feeling like myself again and doing something I truly loved, I knew I’d done the right thing.

My doctor told me I’d recover in 6-12 weeks. My physical therapist said 6-12 months. Both were right because if I’ve learned nothing else this summer and fall, it’s that “recovered” is a slippery slope of a word that runs the gamut of meaning. For some, recovered means, “Hey, I’m recovered enough to go to the bathroom alone!” (which I did less than a week after surgery). Others aren’t recovered until they can climb Mt. Everest (which I will never do). I’m somewhere in between. Recovered to me means I can hike for 40 minutes through a gorgeous section of Cook Forest that has been my place of solace for almost 20 years.

I had no idea how long I’d last, but I needed to test the waters and to measure just how strong my knee was. I used my Leki poles and worked up to almost a normal brisk pace, enough to get a little sweat on. Twenty minutes in, I felt great. Surprisingly great. But I knew to turn around if I was going to keep feeling great. The overwhelming sense of accomplishment when we got back to our starting point was second only to the feeling I had the day I made goal nearly four years ago. It was a freaking rush.

We found a log and I took off my backpack.
And ate lunch.
Then I laid down in the leaves and looked at the sky.
And I was very, very happy, despite the burrs.
I was happy because of my fabulously awesome knee.
Is there something you do that makes you this kind of happy? I hope so. I really, truly hope so.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Jumping in Leaves: A Belated National Love Your Body Day Celebration

I found out through MizFit that Wednesday was National Love Your Body Day. I wasn’t feeling the body love that day, nor was I feeling body hate. I had so many things going on that I really didn’t have time to give the day much consideration.

I guess that’s one reason I love my body. It doesn’t need me thinking about it all the time to function.

Yesterday was different. I gave my body a good early morning workout before picking up my granddaughter Claire for a sleepover. When we got home, the sun was shining, even though rain was forecasted, and when I opened Claire’s car door, she said, “Wow! Grammy you have lots of leaves! Let’s rake them in a pile and JUMP!”

Remember a few weeks ago I wrote how Claire loves to hop and jump, and how since my knee surgery in June I haven’t been able to hop or jump? (See “Joy vs. Drudgery: Weight Loss and Hopping.”) The thought of jumping in leaves scared me a little, mostly because I thought I’d be disappointing Claire if I couldn’t do it. Besides, I had groceries to bring in the houses, boxes to unload and bring to the basement, food to put away, bananas to cut up and put in the freezer, yadda yadda yadda.

But the absolute joy on her face as she walked through leaves so thick she couldn’t see the grass was too much for my Grammy heart to stand, so I put everything on the porch and Claire and I went to the garage for rakes. She found her purple sandbox rake and I grabbed the big rake lodged behind the snow shovel. We marched to the front yard and raked a huge pile of leaves.
And we jumped in.
So did Cooper.


It’s hard to hear on the following video, but Claire is talking about how Cooper misses Mathilda, our dog we had to put down last month. She talks so lovingly and compassionately to him. “Wait for Tilly, wait for Tilly,” she says, assuring him that one day he’ll see her again and they’ll jump in leaf piles together. What. A. Kid. *tear*
video

Then Claire took a nap. (I could have used one, too!) When she woke up, she said, “Look, Grammy! The sun is shining! Let’s go rake leaves again and JUMP!”

And so we bundled up and jumped in.

So did the dog.

And after all was said and done, I thought, ‘Body, I really do love you. Thank you for the arms to rake and the legs to jump, the heart to love and the mind to think, the smile to assure and the eyes that show compassion, the scars of remembrance and the aches that remind me to slow down. I promise to do all I can to keep you running smoothly.’

So happy belated National Love Your Body day. I hope you find many, many reasons to celebrate the body you inhabit, no matter its size or ability.
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Thank you to all of you who entered to win Joy Bauer’s cookbook, and a big welcome to all you new Lynn’s Weigh readers, both here and on Facebook! I’ve enjoyed your emails and comments, and I especially appreciated your encouragement regarding my new career goals. Congrats to Bonnie S., who’s name I drew out of the hat! I’ll get the book to you as soon as I get your address.

It’s almost time for another workout DVD review and giveaway, so be looking for that blog soon. Also, after Thanksgiving I’ll be giving away another yearly subscription to Nutrition Action Newsletter, one of my favorite publications.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Change From Within (Plus a review & giveaway of Joy Bauer’s new cookbook!)

I have a friend who works in a field that to me, sitting on the outside looking in, seems oppressive to a number of minority groups. She believes in gender and economic equality, so her work seems in contrast to her belief system. However, when I asked her why she chose her career, she said that by working on the inside, she creates real change and believes through her efforts that one day, the institution in which she is affiliated will be transformed.

Seems everywhere you look these days there’s someone saying or writing something about the obesity epidemic. “We have to do something about obesity!” cry politicians, school administrators, and even military officials. But like my friend said, change is best made from the inside out; made by the folks in the trenches.

In the six years since I made the decision to take back my body and health, and especially in the two years I’ve known nutritionist Joy Bauer, I’ve caught the fever for creating dietary changes within our culture. As I wrote in my interview with Joy at the beginning of this year (See “My New Year’s Interview with ‘Today Show’ Nutritionist Joy Bauer”), “I believe in Joy’s message. Her commitment to and passion for teaching and supporting healthy food choices and good nutrition is – in a word – infectious. The minute I met her, I knew I’d met a kindred spirit.”

I’d thought about going back to school to study nutrition, but thinking is all I did until I had surgery in June and spent three days in the hospital eating wretched, wretched (I’m not kidding, it was wretched) food. That’s when I decided I needed to be on the inside formulating change rather than on the outside dictating change. I found a 2-year dietetic technician program at Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh to which I applied, was accepted, and will begin in January. (The program is mostly online. For more information, go to CCAC’s information page.) 

Expanding my knowledge of nutrition in this way will put me in a position to suggest and hopefully implement changes from inside institutions such as hospitals or nursing homes. (A bit of Lynn Trivia: My first “real” job when I turned 16 was as a dietary aid in a nursing home. I loved it, although I doubt I’ll be engaging in mashed potato food fights anymore.)

While Joy Bauer is a big name in the “industry,” her education and expansive knowledge of nutrition puts her squarely on the inside where she implements change within her practice, online, and on Today. In my own transformation from the inside out, learning about food and learning to cook in a more healthy way was imperative. That’s why I recommend Joy’s new cookbook, “Slim & Scrumptious.” It not only includes healthy recipes, but solid (and non-intimidating) information about food selection, spices and cooking in general.

I picked up my copy in April and have made several recipes, including the Banana Pecan Bread, which I include at the end of this blog. So far, every one I’ve tried I’ve loved. “Slim & Scrumptious” includes breakfast recipes, stews and soups, an awesome lentil burger and a quinoa salad that made me fall in love with quinoa. Next up, I’m making the Roasted Cumin Cauliflower and Carrots.

Joy includes several meat-based recipes as well, and nutrition information is listed for each recipe.

I have a copy of Joy’s cookbook to give away! All you have to do to throw your name in the hat is leave a comment or send an email to lynn.haraldson@yahoo.com. I’ll draw a winner on Friday, Oct. 22.

As promised, Joy’s Banana Pecan Bread recipe (with a few notes from me because I didn’t have all the ingredients when I made it Sunday).

½ C pecans (I used walnuts that I toasted in a dry fry pan on the stove)
1 C whole wheat flour
1 C all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 t ground cinnamon
¼ t ground nutmeg
1 ½ C mashed ripe banana (2 large or 3 to 4 small bananas)
2 T reduced-fat trans-fat-free tub margarine spread, at room temperature (I used 2 T Land O’ Lakes light butter)
½ C packed light brown sugar
2 large egg whites
1 t grated orange zest (I omitted this)
Juice of 1 small orange (I used ¼ C bottled orange juice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x5 loaf pan with oil spray and set aside.

Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast the pecans in the oven until they are lightly toasted, 6 to 8 minutes. Allow them to cool slightly. Finely chop and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the mashed bananas, margarine, brown sugar, egg whites, and orange zest and juice.

Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet mixture and fold together until the ingredients are just combines. Take care not to overmix; the batter will be slightly lumpy. Gently fold in the pecans.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool completely before removing the bread from the loaf pan.

Serves 20

Nutrition info: 104 calories; 2g protein; 19g carbohydrates; 3g total fat; 0g saturated fat; 0mg cholesterol; 2g fiber; 40mg sodium.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

No More Apologies

“I notice you apologize a lot,” said a friend the other day.

“I do?” I said. “I’m sorry.”

“See?” he laughed. “You did it again!”

It’s true, I apologize a lot. It comes mostly from a skewed sense of the space I take up in the world or a room or next to someone. I’ve always been painfully aware of my physical presence, at any weight, and have struggled most of my life with feeling physically flawed. Long ago, these feelings manifested into spatial form, and even after years of therapy and despite this weight loss, I sometimes feel unworthy to occupy the space I need to be me.

I remember in high school (that's me in my Country Kitchen uniform, age 16...yikes!), I did everything I could to hide what I thought was a large body. I stayed as small as I could and walked slightly slumped over and often with my arms wrapped tightly around my books. I rarely wore shoes with a heel. I crossed my legs so my thighs wouldn’t take up as much space wherever I was sitting.

I also became easy to sleep with (not in the Biblical sense). When I was young, I somehow unconsciously trained myself to take up as little space as I could in a bed. To this day, I don’t move around much, and I usually wake up in the same position as I fall asleep – on my side in a somewhat fetal position and hugging a pillow close to me to keep my arms from stretching out.

If being invisible was possible, most of the time I’d have chosen to be. Even now, particularly in the presence of someone with a strong personality and/or outer beauty.

It happened last night when I went to see a friend’s new band perform. While Tony tuned his guitars and plugged in the amps, the singer, Molly, walked up to the bar where I was sitting and ordered a beer. I introduced myself and we chatted for about 15 minutes.

A lovely young woman in her late 20s, Molly radiates kindness. She’s also lithe thin; graceful with long arms, long legs, long fingers, and a swanlike neck. As we talked at the bar, I caught myself hunching my shoulders and squeezing my crossed legs tighter together. When I checked in with my body (something mindfulness meditation has taught me to do on the fly), I realized I felt really large sitting next to her and my posture was my way of apologizing.

When Molly left to warm up, I checked in with my mind and it was thinking that I, too, have long legs, long arms, and long fingers, but they are attached to unacceptably broad shoulders and broad hips. My neck is thick and susceptible to sagging. Negative upon negative. Apology on top of apology.

Rather than be disheartened, though, I got curious. Curious AND, more importantly, non-judgmental.

Yes, I still want to be invisible sometimes. I intuitively sleep without moving, shrink into myself when I feel intimidated or weak, and say the words, “I’m sorry” without thinking about why I’m sorry.

BUT…Seeing that last night and checking in with my body and mind and sensing all there was to sense, feeling its source when it was fresh rather than when it was days, months or years old, was a huge breakthrough. (Pats on the back, Lynn! You go girl! and all that good stuff.)

Also, not running away from the feeling is major. I looked back today on the times I wanted to be invisible in the last three years. Times when it wouldn’t have been prudent for me to run away. This pushing back against the fear started with Oprah. Truly one of the biggest personalities in our culture, right? How in the world did I get through meeting her without begging the earth to swallow me up? I obviously drew from something inside – something I was NOT aware of at the time, but I credit my friend Shari for tapping into. What I learned from that trip above anything else is that a true friend is not afraid to show us how to or demand we pull our heads out of our butts.

This personal strength (I’m dubbing it my Super Power) is something I need and want to cultivate to live in the light of day rather than in the shadow of fear. I don’t want to be invisible and I don’t want to physically shrink in the presence of beauty or strength.

While I doubt I can change my sleeping habits, I want to fill up my required space and stop apologizing for who I am. I want to feel the aliveness of awareness and take in what strength and beauty has to offer.

So here’s to sitting straight, uncrossing my legs, unfolding my arms and embracing something larger and more significant than a pillow.

Unless, of course, you don’t agree.

Just kidding!

Remember, I don’t bite. Leave a comment!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

PMS: It Does A Body Good

On Aug. 31, 2010, it had been 1,310 days since I’d PMSed.

Now – lucky freaking me – I’m on the 3-week plan.

Maybe my body is making up for lost time, but all I know is that I did NOT miss PMS. I did NOT miss the cramps or the bad mood, the cravings and the don’t-touch-me-unless-you-want-a-black-eye syndrome. It’s like I’m 14 all over again.

When Aunt Flo returned, I wrote about it on Refuse to Regain. (See “The Mystery of Aunt Flo” if you dare.) I complained a little, but mostly I felt pretty good about it. I secretly hoped I’d have at least one more period before menopause (which I’m not facing for another several years, says my doc). I mean, periods have been my life companion every four weeks (give or take the months I was pregnant) since I was 14. You get kinda used to them, you know? They’re part of the flow (no pun intended) of your life (even if you’re a guy and are around women in any capacity).

But getting used to them again is taking some adjustment. It’s only a few days that it makes me hurt, confused and short-tempered and second guess everything I think and feel, but those few days feel like a month. I forgot.

Losing more than 100 pounds comes with a lot of surprises. Surprises no one tells us about mostly because not many people know. Most of the women I know who’ve lost more than 100 pounds have issues with their periods, as in they disappear for months at a time and return whenever they feel like it. It can be confusing and worrisome.

When mine first disappeared, I had an exterior ultrasound and a few rounds of blood work done to make sure I was OK. Now that The Curse is back, my doctor ordered an invasive ultrasound and we found out I have some “issues” with the uterine lining.

While I do not in any way, shape or form regret losing 170 pounds and weighing 130, I am a bit concerned about what it’s done to my body – what losing and gaining and losing and gaining all my life has done to this vessel I call home. If I had it to do over again – if I knew then what I know now – I’d have done my damndest to stay at a somewhat normal weight after the first time I lost weight.

This isn’t a lecture. Just some friendly advice from a 47-year-old woman who’s been around the scale so many times it makes her head spin. If this is the first time you’ve lost weight, please PLEASE make it the last time. Do everything you can to keep it off. If it’s not, if you’ve lost and gained several times, do NOT take my experience as permission to not get to a healthy weight. Just know that you might have some unforeseen issues at the end. Issues you can deal with it. It will be OK.

Just…hey…people, we’ve gotta take our bodies seriously. They aren’t playthings. They aren’t toys. They aren’t meant to bloat and deflate on a subway schedule. They only want to keep us alive, to keep us moving around so we can love and laugh and cry and form relationships and work and go to the movies and stuff.

I simply can’t push the envelope anymore. My body can’t take any more instability. That’s why I’m so committed to staying where I am. Yes, a cookie looks good sometimes, and when I PMS I want to shove Trader Joe’s corn tortilla crackers in my pie hole like there’s no tomorrow. But I won’t. I…in a word…can’t. That was so six years ago. Things are different now. They have to be.

I’m adjusting to the flow of things again, only now the flow might need some medical intervention. Now worries. Nothing my doc can’t fix. But think about it: Our bodies are a wonderland. Maybe not quite the wonderland John Mayer wrote about, but wondrous nonetheless. Treat it right, my friends. Treat. It. Right.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The “C” Word

Me: You look really nice in that shirt.
Friend: You need to have your eyes examined.
Me: No, you need to learn to take a compliment

Friend: You’re beautiful.
Me: (rolls eyes)
Friend: What’s that you said the other day about learning to take a compliment?

I’ve written before about compliments, about how many times in a day, a week, a month that I hear – or rather DON’T hear – the nice things people say or appreciate the nice things people do for me without feeling unworthy of their kindness. It’s a goal of mine to stop with the rebuttals and eyerolls, but accepting a compliment is about as easy as a root canal, so I’m still working on it.

What is it about compliments that make us so uneasy? Part of me wonders if it’s because a compliment reflects someone else’s view of us, a view we most likely don’t share. That puts us in direct contradiction with ourselves. For me, whenever my point of view is challenged, my inclination is to think “I’m always right”, so if someone pays me a compliment for something I am unaware of, then THEY must be wrong.

Abandoning this need to control how other people view me, think of me, expect me to be is difficult and something I’ve been unwilling to (although I know I need to) let go of.

So I ask you, have you conquered the “c” word? Are you open to compliments? Receptive and grateful? Or do you feel and recite your flaws and take yourself down a notch when you hear a compliment because to do otherwise would be “unnatural”?

I’ll meet my friend halfway. Regarding beautiful, here are a few photos that reflect what I believe is beautiful: love. I know it radiates in my face, and so that’s the part of the compliment I can accept. Baby steps.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Knock It Off! Challenge

I’ve been here before. Five pounds up. It happened in 2008 and I wrote about it at Refuse to Regain. (See “A Tale of Five Pounds.” )

Those five pounds were due to my sensitivity to “S” foods: starches, sugars, sorbital and sucralose. I got careless with my diet and from August to November, I gained five pounds. When I restricted the S foods to 2-3 a day, those five pounds went away in three weeks.

These current five pounds are post-surgical pains in the butt, but last Monday, I put on my big girl undies and challenged myself to knock those bad boys to the curb. I’m calling it my Knock It Off! challenge.

It’s been a long time since I’ve committed to a challenge. Sure, I’m committed to walking normally again and am faithful to physical therapy, but I’m talking about a personal challenge. Something I do only because I want to. To prove I can. To fit into my skinny jeans again.

You know me, I always have a plan. I didn’t wake up on Monday and say, “Gosh, I think I’ll lose five pounds!” I journaled over the weekend, answering these questions:

1. Why do I want to lose five pounds?
2. If I didn’t lose five pounds, would I be OK with that – physically and emotionally?
3. How will I lose five pounds?

My answers (The Readers Digest version):

1. I want to lose five pounds because I don’t like how they feel around my middle. I feel bloated and my pants are tight. There’s a point at which – usually around 126-130 – that I feel truly thin. My stomach is flat and I move lithely, bending effortlessly. I remember that feeling and I miss it.

Other than that, I have no “reason” to lose five pounds. At 135, I’m totally within an acceptable BMI. However, I know that if I don’t care about these five pounds, when will I start caring? At 10 pounds gained? 20? 50? As with any weight goal we establish for ourselves, it’s a personal preference as to what is acceptable. For me, five extra pounds is the top of my acceptable. I like being at the low end of the BMI scale. I am at home there.

2. If I don’t lose, will I be OK with it? In a word: no.

I know my body functions better at a lighter weight and so, if it’s within my power to do so, I will lose five pounds. If, however, my body will not give them up despite my best (and not crazy) efforts, I will make my peace. But in the meantime, no, I’m not OK with these five pounds and I want them gone. I will, however, be patient and give my body the time it needs to disperse of them.

3. How I’ll lose these five buggers is probably the toughest question. I eat roughly 1300-1500 calories a day, so eating less really isn’t an option. However, my choices are subject to change.

Just as I did the last time, I’m restricting my S foods to 2-3 a day. While I haven’t eaten as “badly” as before, my current intake could use a little tweaking. I’ll also increase my activity level the best I can and get back to a regular meditation schedule to lessen my stress. Weight gain isn’t solely a result of eating more and moving less. I’m under a lot of pressure these days and I know I need to deal with it in a more loving and kind fashion. That I recognize this is 99 percent of the battle. The other 1 percent should be a cinch once I get my brain around it.

You all know, it’s easier to lose four or five pounds than 104 or 105 pounds. It’s best I start now. Besides, I can’t afford a new wardrobe! (And I really like these new jeans.)
What do you challenge yourself to do? What do you strive to do with your body? What motivates you? How do you plan for it?

Knock It Off! has begun. I’ll let you know if and when I get there. Thanks, as always, for listening.

Monday, October 4, 2010

When Occum Is Wrong

Yesterday was g-baby Claire’s 3rd birthday party. She’s a princess, isn’t she?
As always, most of my son-in-law’s family was there. They are kind, boisterous Steelers fans I’ve adopted as my family.

I met Matt’s parents in 2005 after losing the first 70 pounds in this journey. Here’s what I’d posted on Lynn’s Weight-Loss Journey back then:

“It’s September 18. Larry took this picture before we went out to dinner with my daughter's boyfriend's parents. This was the first time we'd met them. Driving there I told Larry that I would have felt so uncomfortable if I'd weighed 296. He said I would have found an excuse to cancel. That hit me hard, but he's right. I probably wouldn't have met them at my high weight. I would have avoided it like the plague.”

Meeting Frank and Julia the first time took a great deal of courage for me, even though they are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Courage because I was a social hermit. And why was I a social hermit? Because of my weight, of course. Right?

You know how when you assume something’s true, you don’t think too deeply about it or question it? You just allow it to be what it is because on the surface it makes perfect sense. It’s Occam’s Razor: the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.

Usually, but not always.

During my morbidly obese years, I assumed my weight was the reason I was reserved and shy. When I starting losing weight, I honest to god expected that at the end of the journey, I’d be a social butterfly, completely forgetting that before I was 300 pounds, I was NOT a social butterfly.

Remember what I wrote in my last blog? “Thin can solve or prevent a lot of physical ailments, but thin does not resolve issues of self-esteem.” I re-read that line a few times while thinking about this blog and a truth worked it’s way out: It’s OK to be shy. It’s OK to be introverted. It’s NOT OK to NOT accept that about myself and to constantly work against the grain and expect me to be something I can never be.

Self-esteem isn’t just about “feeling good” about ourselves, but accepting wholly and without reserve who we are inside and out. When we constantly think we’re going to change “some day” because our weight and/or circumstances will be different, we’re missing out on getting to know who we really are at the core.

For instance, on Friday, my friend Janet – whom I hadn’t seen in 3 years – came for a visit. We went out. Did a little bar hopping. Janet is assertive and has always been about talking to folks and having a good time. Friday night she was on top of her game. I, on the other hand, other than talk to a few people I knew, stayed to myself and did a lot of people watching.

Contrast that to yesterday when I felt comfortable among people I know love me no matter what I look like. And yet, like Friday, it took a lot of self-encouragement for me to be social and to interact.

Aha!

Here’s what I know about me. I am kind, I know how to throw a good party, I like to help out, I love meeting new people, AND it takes a lot to step outside my comfort zones.

The cool thing is? THAT’S OK!

It’s time I stopped blaming weight for what is not wrong. It’s not wrong that I am shy in public. It’s not wrong that my first tendency is to avoid social situations.

I feel like a refrigerator’s been lifted off my shoulders. Amazing what a little thinking and perspective will do, isn’t it?

This weekend, Frank and Julia’s daughter is getting married. (This is a photo of some of my adopted family. My daughter Cassie is in the middle, pregnant with Claire three years ago. The bride is on the far right.) There will be 460 people at the wedding, significantly more than Sunday’s birthday party. Dressed in my new black dress (and a bit of Spanx), I will attend the wedding and reception, all the while encouraging myself into self-confidence rather than talking myself into being something I’m not.

Heck, I might even dance a little :)


One more photo from the Claire's b-day party.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Thing About Weight Loss Is…

Reading blogs about the ways in which weight loss/maintenance are integrated into everyday life never fails to inspire me to keep going. And I know that’s why many of you read my blog, too. You expect me to be honest with you about my perspectives on weight loss and maintenance. So with that in mind – the honesty part – today’s blog comes from the center of my life as it is right now.

Over the last month, I’ve instigated some major changes for my life; painfully necessary changes that will take me away from many of the comfort zones in which I’ve cloistered myself since losing weight. But why I’m forging ahead into this unknown is because if I’ve learned nothing else in the last six years it’s that the person I am inside – at any size – is the person most in need of my love and protection.

I believe this is true for everyone, even those of you who have children or other family or friends who you say “come first.” I used to feel that way, too. I used to put everyone and everything else first and me somewhere way down the list. But the only way I could start this path – this time – of weight loss was to accept the fact that if I didn’t acknowledge, value and protect my self-worth, I would be perpetually…in a word…screwed.

Every time I lost weight in the past, I thought when I got to goal, my problems would be solved. And every time I was wrong. This time was no different. I readily admit that I wanted to run away from 300 pounds as fast as I could; leave it buried somewhere in my past. But 300-pound me tagged along, and it was around 200 pounds that I learned that life was what I made of it, obese or not, and I couldn’t run away from 300-pound me, or the me who weighed 139 pounds for five minutes in 1990, or 170 in 1987, or 120 in junior high school. I was all of those weights yet only one person. Me.

When I was 300 pounds, I took comfort in the fact that no one really looked at me – not “that” way, anyway. I didn’t dress to impress, and the expectation of me stemmed usually above the neck. I was smart, I loved what I did for a living (I was an antiques dealer as well as being a writer), and my family loved me for me. Then I lost weight and people DID start looking at me “that” way, and for awhile I allowed the expectation of others to become my expectation: stay pretty and happy because that’s what thin is all about.

Wrong. Thin can solve or prevent a lot of physical ailments, but thin does not resolve issues of self-esteem.

For example, I still apologize excessively, and sometimes I feel I don’t have the right to ask for what I need. These behaviors stem from deep-seeded, long ago issues that I chip away at resolution year after year, the ones that can’t be solved in a few sessions with a psychologist or through ice cream or retail therapy.

And so here I am in 2010, thin and still chipping away at the me underneath.

But, as Martha says, “It’s a good thing.”

I’m not the keeper of the keys, or have all the answers for weight loss, maintenance and life. But I will continue to share here what I observe and know to be true for myself. I will also continue to do my best to stay at this weight because it feels like home to me, which is good because I’ll be moving soon and I need the comfort of the way I feel about myself in this body. We are one, after all, my body and my mind, and while we’re far from perfect, we’re all I’ve got.

From the outside, and even to me sometimes, it seems like I have everything I wanted at the beginning of my journey. But I don’t and that’s OK.

Maintaining this latest and largest weight loss is part of my life, but it is not my life. My life is me, and I’m taking care of me, even though this new path will be bumpy as hell. But it’s with a smile and only a little timidity that I say to the uncertainty of the next few months, “Ready or not, here I come!”

And I promise to take you all with me.