Friday, April 30, 2010

Big Heist, Big Payoff

You know those movies where they show burglars trying to get into the bank vault?

They inevitably have a stethoscope, some sort of lock picking set, and (of course) experience with picking locks. Usually there is some sort of sensitive time situation where the burglar is saying that he's almost got the lock unlocked...he's almost there. Just a few more seconds and then...payoff!

In the movie, you can hear the tumblers falling into place. It seems that the burglar can almost FEEL the lock coming open.

Well, it occurred to me this past week that that's kind of where I think I am when it comes to my relationship with food.

I'm armed with my stethoscope - which in my mind is my intuition - a very useful tool if only I listen to it. If and when I listen to my body, I'll be able to figure out what to eat, what it needs, what it craves, and how it feels when I'm hungry.

I'm armed with my lock picking tools - which in my mind are the books that I've read or plan on reading on this subject. They can or will help me figure out HOW to listen to my body. They will reinforce my healthy habits and my belief that food does not have to be something I stuff down without being mindful. In this batch of tools, there are also some distraction and coping techniques for when I'm craving food for emotional reasons.

I'm listening to my body. I'm listening to my heart. I'm learning that food can be something that is utilized simply for fuel. I'm learning that exercise can be done because it's fun and feels good rather than a way to punish myself for eating too much of something I "shouldn't have."

And you know what? I don't have that vault unlocked just yet. But I can feel that it's coming loose. I can almost hear the tumblers falling into place.

And just like the burglar in the movie, there are just a few more lessons I have to learn and then I get the big payoff. I get to be free of overeating foods until I'm stuffed. I get to be free of all of the emotions that come along with eating past the point of satiety. I get to be free of the shame, the guilt, and the passive act of violence against myself which IS what compulsive overeating is.

It also means that even if I find myself up against that locked vault again, I'll be able to know that because I've unlocked it once, I can do it again. As I practice picking that lock again and again, I'll have the experience to know what to do when in a high stress situation - be it moving, changing jobs, death of someone I love, getting married, having babies, or anything else life will bring.

The payoff? It's actually LIVING life.

So, in other words, I'm stealing my life back.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Weighty Words

I figured I'd expound upon my post from Monday, where I wrote this regarding my trepidation of the scale at my Weight Watchers meeting:

But I am worried about what my leader will say. The same leader that I really do like made a pretty big deal about me gaining weight the last time I weighed in. And I guess I want to avoid that.
First, I really appreciate your comments where you picked up on that line. If I had read that on any of your blogs, I would've been worried about what you wrote too.

But, as always, I feel like I should give some context about the comment.

I'm a pleaser. It's exacerbated when the person I'm trying to please is a man, in a position that is superior to mine, older than me, or all three - mostly because of residual issues I have from my dad. So basically, I'd do almost anything President Obama says.

Although I'm working on cultivating my own sense of self worth and trying to trust myself more, I still falter when someone - who is supposed to be an expert in their field - and I disagree.

Case in point: My Weight Watchers leader. She is GREAT. Unlike a lot of other leaders that I've seen in my lifetime, she talks about the importance of indulging in what you want but coaches us to just count the points for whatever items those might be. She coaches us to eat whole and good foods and explains the benefits of non-processed foods. SHE stands up against the machine that is Weight Watchers International...the one that markets their foods and wants to promote their bars, shakes, oatmeal, etc. She talks about good health. She is great.

But three weeks ago, I made the decision to weigh in. I made this decision despite me having skipped the week before, despite me knowing that I had eaten poorly and mindlessly the prior two weeks, and despite the fact that I was wearing a different "outfit" from what I usually do. I usually weigh in in jeans and a lighter shirt but with no shoes. That day, I was wearing lighter khakis. So I opted to weigh in with my shoes on to try to counterbalance the lack of jeans.

I gained 5 pounds.

People, I've gained 5 pounds in DAYS so 5 pounds in two weeks - when I was trying to pack like a crazy woman and was eating fast food take out every day is NO BIG DEAL to me. And yes, I'm confident that when I reach my goal weight I'll cringe at that the fact that I wrote that last sentence and meant it. Sometimes healthy eating/mindsets take place in waves. Two years ago these past two weeks would've garnered a 15 pound gain and a complete lack of concern for my well being. So five pounds? I'm not so very concerned.

I said as much to her. I said that what I was more concerned about was the mindless eating that I had done over the previous two weeks. I hadn't slept for more than 5 hours on any given night during the previous week. I was still looking with my realtor to find a place. I was worried about living with Joe and what changes that would make to our relationship. I was working many hours at work - in fact, the reason why I was in khakis that day was because our National Manager for the company came in and I had to give him a presentation. I told her that a five pound gain was pretty low on my totum pole of stuff to give a crap about.

And that's when she said that she was concerned. She didn't want the five pound gain that I had over two weeks to continue. She didn't want me to weigh in two weeks from that night and gain another five pounds. She didn't want those ten pounds to lead to another ten pounds until all of the sudden I'm back to a Jabba the Hut type existence (okay, I made up the Jabba reference).

I told her that I appreciated her concern, but that I didn't think that that would happen. The 50-55 pounds that I had lost are GONE. I'm NOT the person I was at 280. I don't do the same things. I don't feel the same way. She nodded and said that she was still concerned.

So this past week when I suppose I could've weighed in (realistically, I could have driven the 45 minutes to the meeting, weighed in, and then driven back to work even though that would've been a pain in the arse), I thought of her words. I haven't been weighing myself at Joe's. I have no real idea how I'm doing. Some days my clothes fit tighter than other days (some of that is due to Joe drying my jeans and clothes until they are so hot they could burn you! I usually dried my jeans half way and then draped them over convenient furniture to air dry the rest of the way). I use the same notch on my belt and I am keeping most of my eating in check. I should be right around the same weight I have been.

But what if I gained again?

What if she all of the sudden morphed into my judgemental dad and shook her head at me and tsk tsk'ed?

I know... who cares if she tsk tsk'd? She's been very supportive of me and my journey up until now - maybe she had an off day. Maybe she was projecting. She definitely was trying to be motivating. Maybe she was trying to give me a wake up call?

But to me, it felt like she didn't have any faith in my journey so far. And I guess that's where I felt judged.

Which is stupid...because she is one of the least judgemental people I know.

The stuff that I went through in the weeks where I gained weight are all a part of the learning process. Eventually I want to be the person that can look at all of those stressful things and doesn't indulge in poor fast food choices. I want to be the person who gets the right amount of sleep - not someone who skimps on sleep and then eats simple carbs the next day for an instant pick me up. But right now, those are things that I'm battling.

Having said that, I know I won't gain all of my weight back. I've done too much work inside and outside my body to have that happen.

But I also know that I'm struggling right now. I'm really trying to learn and cultivate mindful eating practices (ones that are not a part of or even endorsed by Weight Watchers). That means that I might gain a bit of weight at first... I'm okay with that.

Have any of you tried to change your leader's approach? Do you have any suggestions of what I can do to help my leader be more supportive of my journey? Do you think I should scratch Weight Watchers completely? I would love your advice on this one...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cherry Creek Sneak, take 2

This past weekend, I ran the Cherry Creek Sneak, which can either be a 5K or a 5 mile run.

Last year, I did the 5K - and walked the entire thing due to some knee pain that I was having. This year, I did the 5 mile run.

Had I ever ran five miles at once? No. But I've come close and figured that it wouldn't be that big of a deal.

Just so you know, I was STUPID. So whatever you do, if you want to run 5 miles on any given morning, do NOT do what I did. What I did do was go to Hacienda Colorado (a local Mexican restaurant) and overate the night before. In addition to eating a ton of chips and almost my whole entree, I had two (count 'em TWO) margaritas. I did not drink enough water.

I woke up with a headache hangover. Because I was still full from the night before, I didn't eat anything.

But I ran anyway.

Again, not a smart way to start a run.

The parking for this thing is ca-razy so Joe was nice enough to drop me off near the start line. He's done this at one previous race - the plan is: he drops me off, parks and reads a book, and then picks me up when I'm done.

Around mile 4.5, I was completely out of steam. And that's when I heard "Yay Anne! Keep going! You're doing great!" I turned my head - sure that it was someone else calling out to their friend - when I saw Joe, cheering just for me.

It felt amazing.

I picked up my pace and kept going strong to the end - where I finished in a little over an hour.

You may notice from the graph that it says I ran 5.5 miles. Some of that is probably attributed to the fact that when you're running in races, you can't really run in a straight line. There is a lot of running around people who are walking or pushing strollers...and sometimes you have to take the longest path between two points (kind of like the runners on the outermost lane of the track). I also am not 100% certain that my Nike+ is calibrated correctly when I'm running on the road. On the treadmill it's right on...but on the pavement? Maybe my path is wonky.

But I finished. I ran the whole thing.

Anyway, when we got back home, I made Joe take a new picture of me - since last year's race was where I opted to draw the comparison between my "before" picture and my "during" picture. Sorry the picture of me is so dark...Joe took it with his iPhone (known for it's handy apps, not necessarily for it's pretty picture taking).

Without further ado, here are my progress pictures:

This picture was taken early spring of 2008:

This picture was taken just after the Cherry Creek Sneak, end of April of 2009:

And this one? Taken Sunday - after the Cherry Creek Sneak, April 2010:

Not a lot of difference between the last two pictures...probably only 10 pounds, but I definitely have toned! My legs are smaller...and I tried to position them similar to how I had them in the first picture...with one leg slightly in front of the other one. I tried to hold my arms out to show the actual outline of my body, but the large shirt just kind of hung off of them making me look a tad disproportionate.

At first I was bummed because I wanted accurate during pictures - and then I realized that if it really is about health, this time around, then who cares about accuracy in pictures? I feel better, I run farther, I'm in better shape, and I am happier.

THAT is what success looks like anyway.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm not going to lie...

I've been having some serious back pain at night that's been making it hard to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time.

So I went to the chiropractor today (first time ever!) and it took about 2 1/2 hours (after x-rays, consultation, weird relaxation thing with cold paddles, and the adjustment). That meant that I had to catch up on work.

I knew that I would probably stay a little late.

But after the bowl of ice cream that I had and about 15 different "bite size" candies, I also was reluctant to weigh in for the first time in three weeks.

So I ditched Weight Watchers. And for the record, I totally feel like a kid that just ditched school...guilty as all get out.

I KNOW! It's not like the scale won't know NEXT week when I come back (oh, who am I kidding? Next week is my birthday, I probably won't go then either).

I didn't eat horribly all week long...sure I indulged a bit on Saturday night (and then today with all the crap that is currently causing a MAJOR sugar headache). I'm not really worried about what the scale will say.

But I am worried about what my leader will say. The same leader that I really do like made a pretty big deal about me gaining weight the last time I weighed in. And I guess I want to avoid that.

It's stupid.

I know it.

You know it.

But it's the truth.

Realistically, it's too late to go now - if I leave now, I won't even make it there by the end of the meeting. So I'm promising to go tomorrow - at a place that isn't too far away from home. I mean, at least then it will be over and done with.

And lest you think I overlooked it, NO I was not mindful about the overindulgences I had on Saturday night and all day today. I'm working on it. I promise. Until then, I need to remember that this pounding headache was totally self-inflicted. I need to remember that the next time that the Butterfingers and Twix bars tempt me. This feeling SUCKS no matter what the scale reflects.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What blissful looks like

I love my boyfriend. I know, this isn't news to you, but it is a statement of my constant happiness for the past week. In fact, some of you may be gagging or hitting "Mark as read" in your Google reader because you're tired of me yapping about him.

But it's a new thing for me. I guess I never knew the simple comfort and joy that you can feel by falling asleep and waking up with the person that you love night after night.

The other day, my alarm went off, and as I rolled over to hit the snooze, he rolled with me and we got to cuddle until the alarm went off again.

I know, it may not last. I know, this is silly and it's probably normal when you first start staying with someone.

But oh, how it's exactly what I had always hoped for, but never thought I could have.

This whole realizing that I'm worth it thing? It's fantastic. It allows me to completely enjoy him and us. I've never felt this at home with myself and with my love for someone else. It's all consuming and incredibly freeing at the same time.

Blissful doesn't even begin to cover it sometimes, just in case you were wondering.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hey, I put some new shoes on and suddenly everything's right

Last year, I bought my first pair of running shoes. Sure, I've technically bought shoes for running before...but how I usually picked them out was this:

1. Walk into a store that sold all types of shoes
2. See a cute pair of "running" shoes
3. Try on said pair of shoes
4. Try to determine if they hurt or not
5. Buy them if they don't hurt
6. Wear them all the time

In case it isn't clear, my previous motivation of buying running shoes was, most certainly, not for running. The highest priority (of course) was whether they looked cute or not.
Last year, when I started getting more active, I opted to go into a running store specifically FOR runners called The Boulder Running Company. This store works completely differently...and for a good reason.
First, you walk in and tell the salesperson that you want running shoes. You give him your shoe size and he brings out a random pair of shoes that are "neutral" - meaning they don't have any corrective padding or shaping to them. You try them on. If they don't hurt, he takes you over to the treadmill (that they have in the store) and you jog for a minute. After that, you sit and watch the video of you jogging (feet only) which is just about the most boring home video ever.
During the video (where no popcorn is served), you get to learn if you under or over pronate, if your gait is crazy, and or if there are any other issues to be aware of. If there aren't (as there wasn't for me), you buy the pair of shoes.
Now, for the price of the shoes, you may be tempted (as I was) to never wear them because they're so expensive...and perhaps that is what I did to a certain extent.
I felt that it was a smart purchase. When I started adding running into my routine, I ran with confidence knowing that my shoes were right for my body and feeling that I was less likely to have an injury. But I made sure to never wear them unless I was running. I didn't want to "wear out" the shoes faster than necessary.
It's been a year. And according to my Nike+ account, it's been 264.87 miles (if you want to get exact). All on the same pair of shoes...which is not very smart.
So, this past weekend, I went to the same store and got my new running shoes. They're no prettier than the last pair I bought. And unfortunately, they're not less expensive. The salesperson took a look at my old ones and cautioned me to run as long on these - saying that the chance of injury is greater if I run on shoes that are that "shot."

In my defense, I had planned to replace them for Christmas...I asked for money from my mom for shoes. But then my dog got sick again around Christmas and it seemed like a smarter thing to put off the running shoes. I really didn't know how long shoes were good for - so I was just guessing that they needed to be replaced.
After talking with the salesperson, I have a much better idea how long they're supposed to be good for and I know what to look for when they're starting to give.
The good news? I ran on the treadmill and we checked my gait. Everything is still fine. Brooks shoes seem to fit me better than others so I'm happy.
The weird thing is that I'm proud that I only used my shoes for running. I'm proud that I got a lot of use out of them...and I'm proud that I just invested more money in me -and my health.
For your listening pleasure, I've also put a song in this post that I think is groovy and about new shoes. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Grey matters

I should know better than to write something in a passing remark (or in my case, paragraph) and then just leave it hanging out there for you all to digest as you wish. So I'd like to take a moment to clarify my thoughts from yesterday's post.

If you look back to all the posts where I've mentioned the word "mindful" I think that you'll see that this mindfulness? It's been on my mind for a while now. For a while, I've noticed that that seemed to be the missing ingredient in my weight loss.

Lemme' back up.

I wasn't a chubby kid. I started gaining weight in my teens and when I graduated from high school I was a size 16/18. I have basically stayed that same size for the past 15 years. Sure there were a few years in there where I was heavier (including the years that led up to my starting WW), some where I was lighter (including the time that I got almost to goal at WW in 2001).

I first started Weight Watchers in the 8th grade. I remember that I was in the 160s. I don't remember whose idea it was, my doctor's, my mom's, or mine. But I joined. And I failed miserably. Because what is one of the worst things you can do to kids when they're asserting control over food? Force them to go to a Weight Watchers meeting with a member from your church and then bird dog them like hell to make sure that they're following the program. I know my mom thought she was doing the right thing, but it didn't exactly work out.

And each week, I'd sit around hearing women talk about fat, weight, and portion control. Years ago when I first started going, the leader I had made everyone take a turn in the meeting and say how much weight they lost or gained that week. Every person had to participate. To put it bluntly, it sucked.

Since then, I've joined WW several times. The program changed to a points system. I'd lost 46 pounds (in 4 months) to get to my lowest weight since I don't know when.

I did it by counting points. I did it because I know that a whole sleeve of fat free Pringles is 7 points. I ate sleeves of Pringles rather than eating fruit, veggies, and protein. I did a low fat, low calorie, high carb diet. And I felt like shit.

But I did it! I was a size 10 - and at 5'9", I looked great! Only because I didn't learn any healthy eating habits, it didn't stay off...and before I knew it, I had gained back those 46 pounds (and more!) in a few years.

But because it worked, I went back in July of '08. I lost 55 pounds in 10 months. And then I stopped. I hit a wall.

In August of '09, I was disgusted with myself. I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to be healthier. So why couldn't I just do it already? I decided to see a therapist. I wanted to get over the abuse that happened in my childhood, wanted to get over an ex that cheated on me, and I wanted to shed this weight...once and for all. So I decided to see a therapist (you can read about that decision on my other blog, here).

And you know what happened in the therapist's office? I started to grow. I started to realize that I *can* trust myself. I started to realize that trusting myself brings GOOD things but that it's not always easy. I trusted myself and Joe when he went on a vacation with a woman (a vacation on which, they stayed in the same room - different beds - but still!). My friends said that he would cheat, that something was going on. Hell, the voice in my head warned me that that was the case. But I trusted myself and my gut on what kind of guy he is. I started trusting myself in relationships - both in personal and business. I started trusting that money would be there...I didn't need to hold onto it with such a tight fist.

I relaxed, I breathed. I realized that it felt better to not see the world in black and white, right and wrong, good and bad, or all and nothing. Life in the grey area? It felt SO good, so nurturing, so...healthy.

And then, the strangest thing happened, I started to relax about food. I started to cringe when people termed their foods good or bad. I started realizing that the all or nothing approach to food was present EVERYWHERE on many blogs that I love to read, in the newspapers, and certainly on TV.

As I started learning to trust myself more, I realized that it feels SO much better than shaming myself into an eating style or exercise program. When running stopped becoming something I *had* to do, I enjoyed it as something I got to do. Taking that Mindful Body class back in February was life changing - I realized that if I trust my body with honest questions, it will come up with the right answers.

The thing is, by doing Weight Watchers, I've been able to figure out how when I follow the healthy guidelines, I feel better. I feel better when I eat meals with more protein (I really had no idea that I needed as much as I do). Because of WW, I started exercising again and fell in love with running.

I don't want to chuck all WW principles out the window...I don't want to throw away everything that I've learned. But I want to focus more on what will fuel my body for what it needs. I want to continue to trust myself in all aspects of my life - food being one of them.

I want to be able to scan my body for signals of when it's hungry and then eat - rather than eating because it's lunch time and that's when everyone else eats. I want to search my body for what it needs...if I haven't had enough vegetables, I want to eat them. Not because they're 0 points and I'm hungry and don't have points left, but because my heart, skin, eyes, etc. depend on that nutrition.

I want to run, play and (gasp!) ENJOY life versus being chained to the idea of points. I want to have a healthy relationship with food - and I can't do that when I still feel shameful that I don't track every day.

I don't expect everyone to understand. I don't expect everyone to support it. I know I might lose a follower or two. But I'm in this, ultimately, for me.

Weight Watchers is a great program. I've seen multiple people reach lifetime and keep off the weight. There are people that I absolutely love there who have given me a ton of support (my leader being one of them). I just want my eating to be a natural thing for sustenance rather than something that is governed by cravings.

My plan, at this point, is to continue going to WW - for the support that I get from the people around me. But I want to have a candid talk with my leader about the things that I'm working on. Basically, I want to go, get the support, hear good messages and but not feel guilted into tracking or be caught up in the scale. If I can't do the last two, then WW may not be a good fit for me at this time. It might be a better fit later...when I've mastered the art of mindfulness. But right now, I hate hearing people say in the meetings that they "can't have" something. I hate hearing people say that they had all veggies at a birthday party so they were "good" or that they stayed away from guacamole because it's "bad."

I'm open to all the options.

But I want to strive for intuitive eating. It might take awhile. And I might completely fail at it and be back to counting points in no time. It's going to be an exercise for sure...because I still can't turn off my brain when it sizes up points values for any given food.

But you know what? Maybe that's a good thing...maybe I don't have to do ALL intuitive eating or ALL Weight Watchers points.

Maybe what is best for me is a combination of the two -a mix, a blend... a grey.

Monday, April 19, 2010

This post falls into the "miscellaneous" category

First of all, I want to thank you all for your kind and sweet comments on my last post, where I talked about my body issues and how they're becoming less of a big deal in my life with Joe. I'm finding more and more that if I can harness and reign in my thoughts regarding my size, weight, and food, I'll be more successful. And, not to freak anyone out, but I'm thinking about cancelling my commitment to Weight Watchers. Don't get me wrong, it's a great plan...and I love my leader...I just need for the focus to be less on points and on the number on the scale and more about the issues/habits that are keeping me fat. I'm still noodling it over in my head and am trying to figure out what it is that I want to do. The great thing is that my leader is awesome and I'm pretty sure that if I come to her and ask her to tweak her questions a tad, that she will do just that.

In other news, I am officially moved out of my house! Assuming that nothing goes wrong tomorrow, I'll be closing on my place. Moving out of my house was definitely a struggle. Joe and I moved stuff (or drove the U-Haul) for 10 long hours IN THE RAIN on Saturday. We had a tough time getting all of my stuff in the truck on one trip, so we ended up having to make two trips. And I had only rented a 10 x 12 storage we had a lot of what felt like "furniture Tetris" to get it all in the right spots. In the end, everything fit. But OH! We are SO sore from moving stuff all day! I offered to treat us to a couples massage next weekend (preferably Sunday, after I run my first 5 mile race!). Joe bought me a house-warming present (even though I'm staying with him) that I'll be sure to write about in a post soon!

Eating wise, I'm really looking forward to being back on track this week. We went to Costco, as we normally do, and got non-fat greek yogurt and fresh fruit to mix it with. We stocked up on veggies and I bought the things to make my tuna fish salad. I'm excited for a more "normal" eating pattern and definitely looking forward to not eating out as much as I have been. I just don't feel as good when I'm eating out - even if I'm trying to eat healthfully. We have plenty of frozen items to eat throughout the week and I'm looking forward to not wasting the food that we already have.

Lastly, I bought a book that I've been wanting to read. It's called "Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life." I bought it because it's really in tune with what I've wanted to accomplish in my life - mindfulness when it comes to food. I'll let you know what I think.

I think those are all the thoughts in my head at the moment! I had intended to go running at lunch, but I forgot my armband and headphones at my new home so I'll run tonight instead.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The new definition of SWF- Sex While Fat

When I started this blog, I was single. I believed, at that time, that no one would really love me when I was fat. I was unhappy, unhealthy, sad, lonely, tired, and fat. I believed that if I just lost weight, everything would be magical. If I would only lose some weight, then surely a guy would love me, right? If I was skinny, no one would leave me. If I was skinny, my life would be perfect or at least really close to perfect.

As I started to lose weight, I realized that being fat was a side effect of how I felt about me. I felt that I was unworthy of love AND that I was any time someone rejected me, I automatically assumed it was because I was fat.

A few years ago, when I started working at the company I did, a few guys in the office were talking about dating. One said to me, "Anne, I would NEVER date you. You're a redhead and redheads have always been trouble for me." He was serious. Another co-worker said, "Really? I don't mind that she's a redhead, but she laughs WAY too loud. I could never date her." That co-worker was also serious.

As wonderful of an experience as that was (NOT!), it actually taught me a pretty great lesson - people don't want to date others for a myriad of reasons that have nothing to do with their weight. Would I continue dating a guy with chronic halitosis? No. What about a guy that was dumb? No. Would I date an asshat that was mean to dogs or grandmas or waiters? No, no, and no.

So the fact that I was and am heavier shouldn't stop me from dating others.

The bigger issue was that *I* hated the way that I looked. And I hated the way I acted. I was unhealthy in more ways than just manifested itself in weight issues such that my unhealthiness was apparent to many others around me.

I had to get to a point, where I wanted to be healthier - mind, body, and spirit - before I could even consider dating. Because the truth is (at least for me), no one can love you enough when you don't love yourself.

When I first started dating Joe in June, I liked him (actually, the day that I met him, I wrote this on my other blog - and it was one of the funnier posts I've written). Although I love him dearly now, when I first met him, I just thought he was a nice guy. I wasn't bowled over by his looks, even though I think he's an attractive guy. What really won me over was his sense of humor. Almost 10 months later, and that's still what wins me over.

Joe is a wonderful guy, but he is (as I've written about here) much smaller than I am. At first, I wasn't sure if *I* wanted a guy that was that much smaller than I was. I was worried that he might be like a past boyfriend - one that blamed our collective unhappiness on my weight many times. But as this past weekend re-enforced, my weight, his weight, or our difference in weight is not an issue in our relationship.

This past weekend, we went to his place when it was sunny. But as the sun went down, it got colder...and I found that the top that I wore wasn't warm enough so he offered a jacket. I froze (literally and figuratively) in the moment. Because Joe wears mediums. I have NEVER in my life worn a medium anything. I'm a size 16 and when I first fit into size larges late last year, I did a happy dance of joy. So a medium? Probably not going to work out.

I borrowed a zip up jacket anyway and at the start was nervous that it wouldn't even zip. When we walked outside to the car, I said something like, "Man! This jacket is a little..." and I was trying to figure out the right word when he supplied "too small?" to finish my sentence.

The old me would've shrunken inwardly. I would've gasped and felt embarrassed that he must've noticed that it *was* too small. Was he worried that I was stretching his clothes? Was he embarrassed to be around me? Was he sad that his girlfriend couldn't wear his clothes?

But the me that is healthy and honest said, "Well, yes" at his question of if the jacket was too small. Because it was. It was a little uncomfortable - I mean, that's why I was saying something in the first place. And when we came back upstairs, I asked if I could borrow another sweatshirt - one that was a size large this time. He brought an old one out and I was more comfortable.

What felt even more comfortable than the roomier sweatshirt was the knowledge that my larger size didn't faze either one of us. We still giggled and held hands. We still went to a restaurant and enjoyed our meal. We still kissed and cuddled at the end of the night. We still are in love.

I read BFD's featured blog this morning all about dating while fat. And in the comments, there was a woman who apparently wrote that she was trying to lose weight so she could get a boyfriend. It's cheesy to say it, but if I had been so unhappy and unhealthy in my thoughts, Joe wouldn't have wanted to date me.

To be clear, dating Joe has certainly helped my self confidence and self worth - because he is healthy and treats me in a loving, healthy way. But when we sat at that speed dating table for the first time, I asked what he did for fun because I wanted someone who exercised regularly (like I did). I wanted someone who had a healthy lifestyle because I knew that that's what I was doing. I asked these questions with the same attitude that I asked others - it was a way to try to gauge whether the guy was healthy - emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

So, sure. Dating Joe has helped me progress in those aspects of my life. But it wasn't all him - it was a whole lotta' me on the outset.

So sex while fat? I'm finding that it's way better than when I was skinnier. Because I love who I am and I'm proud of who I am, it's easier to be in the moment.

When you realize that YOU are valuable, the size of you becomes less significant. The more you bring to the table, the less it seems to matter how much space at table you take up.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

There's a Hole in My Sidewalk

In my therapist's office, there is a framed poster that I keep re-reading.

The title of the poster is "There's a Hole in My Sidewalk" and it's a poem by Portia Nelson.

Here it is:

Chapter 1.

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…
I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in… its a habit.
But, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter 4.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter 5.

I walk down another street.

I LOVE this poem.

It sums up so many learning and life experiences that I've had. And for me, I think it's especially true about my relationship to (and with) food.

For 30 years, I lived in Chapter 1. I ate and overate for decades of my life. If you had asked me why I ate the way I did, I wouldn't really have an answer for you - or at least not a "good" one. I ate because it's what I always knew. I ate because it felt good - at least until it didn't. I was helpless. I was lost. I was miserable. My binges would last for weeks or even months. I gained weight like a champ and it took a long time to turn that train around to where I could start losing the weight. But even then, my relationship with food was a strict one - full of rules and conditions that were never able to last - or at least not for long. Not only did I not know what the solution was, I didn't even know what the problem was!

For most of the last two years, I've spent a lot of my time in Chapter 2. Sometimes I saw the hole and tried to ignore it anyway. I think that I had an inkling that food wouldn't help any situation, but I ate as if it did. I ate more (and faster) than I had before - hoping that I could trick it into working. But inevitably, I'd find myself in that hole - be it a sugar fog, a place where I despised myself, or a place where I cursed everything that MADE me that way. My binges were shorter, but the time between the binge episodes was pretty short too.

Eventually, Chapter 3 became more of the norm. Sure, I'd slip up every now and again when it came to food, but I recognized the feelings (and boy was that a process all of it's own) that led up to the food over-consumption. In fact, today I caught myself eating a handful of Hershey Kisses and literally thought "Wait. WHAT are you doing?" I wasn't even aware that I was in the "hole" at first...but as soon as I did, I realized that I was the one that was choosing to eat them. I put the rest of the foil-covered bites of goodness in a community bowl for others to eat. I am learning. I'm getting out of these "holes" faster now. I don't overeat often and gone are the days of eating bags and bags of potato chips and candies in one sitting.

Every now and again, I realize that I'm spending more time in Chapter 4. Maybe my weight doesn't reflect this change as much as it could, but I'm telling relationship with food has gotten much healthier. I've been able to look at an opportunity to overeat and stuff myself and have been able to ask myself if that's really what I want to do. I've been able to recognize that the hole looks like home. It looks like it could be comforting and it sure looks like it would be safe. But I choose to walk around it anyway. I choose to find my safety in ways other than food. Sometimes I figure out the points/calories that that hole represents and decide to eat something different. I'm able to navigate around the hole with much more ease now. I'm able to use various tricks of the trade to avoid it.

With where I'm at now, there is no going back to Chapter 1. In fact, there is no going back to Chapter 2. I'm looking forward to spending most of my time in Chapter 4. I'm looking forward to living more in an awake and aware state - one where I'm conscious and mindful of my choices.

But, oh - to walk down a different street entirely? To become a person that just IS intuitive when it comes to eating?

Why that'd be divine.

My goal is starting to shift from being a certain number on the scale. My goal is to literally become a different person entirely when it comes to food - and have a body that reflects that. My goal is love myself enough to choose a different street/way of being.

My goal is to be on a different street altogether. It doesn't mean that I forget all about the holes. I still plan on being mindful of the triggers that I used to have. And it doesn't mean that I forget all the ways I got out of the holes. I'm not going to forget about points values or healthy eating guidelines.

It just means that I won't live my life in fear of them.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Listen Up!

When I started working out about 12 years ago (and mp3s were the newest rage), I started compiling a workout play list.

The thing is, I never actually changed the list much. As I heard a song I liked, I'd add it to the list (I currently have over a 100 songs on my workout play list)...but I never really deleted the songs that were older. So when Britney Spears' "Stronger" comes on the rotation, I still like it, but I've been listening to it when I work out for 10 years, so I usually want to fast forward to the next song. I've had runs where I've fast forwarded through as many as 10 songs in a row before landing on one that I'd like to run to. It's a bit silly and interferes with my pace.

The distraction of listening to music is fun...but recently, I've discovered other things to listen to. Sure, there are books on tape or CDs on tape, but I haven't yet branched out into that world...yet.

I'm talking about the world of podcasts. In case you're new to the idea, podcasts are typically free and you can get them on iTunes or maybe directly through the original site. They're like little taped radio programs that you can listen to. I've listened to Jillian Michael's podcasts (which I actually love, but because I can't get them from iTunes, I don't remember to check her site as often) where it actually IS a radio show that's been taped for your listening pleasure. Other podcasts that I've listened to are just informational and not as much question and answer.

I've already told you about my recent experience with the podcast, "Two Fit Chicks and a Microphone" but there are other podcasts that I like to listen to too.

The one I'd like to recommend today is "Nutrition Diva's Quick and Dirty Tips For Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous."

The first thing I like about her podcast is that they are quick. Each podcast is about 5 minutes long which means that I can listen to several of them in any given run. So it's kind of like songs where the subject matter changes every 5 it keeps my attention a little bit better than others. If I'm in the car and only have a few minutes until I arrive home, I can click on her podcast and know that I'll get a tiny snippet of information that will entertain me.

The second thing I love about it is that it is an information-dense podcast. She doesn't waste time boring you with mundane details about her life or experiences just to fill up space. Don't get me wrong, she shares details about her life, but only when they're relevant and she does it in a succinct way. She also doesn't waste time plugging her own materials/ads for other companies like other podcast hosts I've heard. She has one plug at the beginning and one at the end...and I think that's fair. In the middle is gooey wonderfulness where you can learn things about the health benefits of nuts to why a certain food diet fad is a bunch of crap.

The third thing is that she doesn't ascribe to one way to eat or a diet plan of any type. She simply gives you information so that you can make your own choice. She informs. Want to know about the benefits of fiber? She has a podcast on that. Is pasta really going to make you fat? She answers that too.

She's professional and pleasant sounding. I really enjoy her podcast.

The great thing is that with iTunes (which again is free and how I subscribe), the most recent podcast is synced each time I plug in my iPod/iPhone. I can also download all the ones from years past that I might've missed. It makes my runs a lot more enjoyable when I have options of things to listen to.

I'm interested to know what you listen to when you're exercising and if you're interested to read about the other podcasts that I let me know!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Clean Kitchen Club

We've all heard of the "Clean Plate Club," right? The one where members can still hear their parents tell them to "clean their plate" before they get up from the table? I've heard many people say that that phrase alone made them obese - because they choose to always follow the clean plate rule, even as an adult.

I, personally, don't have that problem anymore. If I don't like something I typically don't finish it and at restaurants, I've gotten really good about stopping halfway through my meal.

The one exception I do make is with water. In Colorado, we're reminded often of our drought and I guess I feel like I should finish all of the water in my water glass. So I do. Every time. Besides, overindulging on water (really, is there such a thing?) doesn't seem harmful to my body.

At any rate, with the packing up my house that I've been doing, I'm aware of just how much food I have in my freezer, refrigerator, and pantry. And let me just tell you, it is A LOT.

Two years ago, when I moved into the place I live now, I was moving from a suburb of Denver. I packed up all of my perishable items and put them into the fridge right away. I put the items from my pantry immediately in my new one. I didn't have to waste anything.

But this time, I'm staying with Joe. Joe already has ketchup, mustard, and various other condiments. Joe already has a full fridge and freezer. This means I have two choices: eat it (or have it be eaten by friends/co-workers) or throw it away.

This morning was trash day - it's one of the last trash days that I can take advantage of in this house and I spent about a half hour going through my freezer and fridge trying to make decisions on what is edible and what isn't. I had countless dessert cups of Weight Watchers ice cream or individually wrapped fudge bars. The only problem is I bought these items so long ago that I'm sure they've got freezer burn...which means that I definitely don't want to eat them. So into the trash they went.

I had about a case of beer in my fridge from various parties and float trips that I never got around to drinking. The beer is about 8 months old, so I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't be good any longer. I drained it and threw the cans/bottles in the recycling bin.

I have about 15 frozen dinners that I will put my name on and bring to work (to store in our work freezer) to eventually eat my way through.

I have four bags of broccoli. FOUR - what the heck was I thinking? Do you know if any food pantry can or will take frozen food items?

I have tasty tortilla encrusted talapia fillets that I know are good but since I bought them at Costco there is around 45 thousand of them in my freezer...and I know I can't go through all of those.

I have bags of rice and boxes of pasta. I have jars of opened peanut butter and cans of mushrooms.

I cannot eat all of the food I have and something tells me that my co-workers will be less than thrilled if I bring cans of pumpkin mix to work and tell them to "have at it."

I don't want these things to go to waste. I also, don't want to stuff myself with them because WOW - overeating deli meat and milk seems silly and not appetizing at all. :)

I can donate the unopened dry and canned goods to a shelter, but the rest of the stuff? I guess I'll throw it away.

I read recently that when you eat because you don't want something to go to waste, it's silly. Because it DOES go to waste even if you do eat it. Eating when you're not hungry is wasteful - no matter how you slice it.

But still, I'm cringing throwing away perfectly good food...I mean, I spent money on them...hundreds of dollars on this food - do I really want to throw it away?

Do you all have any suggestions that I'm not thinking of?

Friday, April 2, 2010

This, too, shall pass

My life has been consumed with packing and looking for houses.

So far, some of my stuff is packed and I have found 0 houses that I will place offers on.

It's discouraging. It's tiring.

And as excited as I was about living at Joe's for a while, reality has set in. At Joe's, there won't be any pictures of my family. I won't eat off the plates or drink from the glasses I'm used to. I won't have the laundry detergent that I like nor the soft sheets that I enjoy. At Joe's, I'll be either living out of a suitcase or maybe a drawer or two.

I may not get to watch the programs that I want to watch (he does play games that use the TV) or if I do it will be via

At Joe's I don't know where the can opener is - or hundreds of other little intricacies that make his place his.

I also don't know if I can answer the phone if it rings or if I should let it go to the answering machine. Do I cook dinner for both of us or just me? Do I have a say in who comes over or when he goes? Can I come and go as I please or should I check it by him?

Because I'm not living WITH Joe. He's being nice and I'm staying with him until I find a new place.

I suppose it's important to know the distinction - mostly because I work better with expectations.

For the record, he will probably be very accommodating, as will I. In fact, I can see it being a very polite arrangement until it isn't.

I'm not trying to borrow trouble, but I am being realistic in saying that his downtown loft of 1000 square feet (that he has filled to the max as it is) is going to be tight quarters. I know that we will be as polite as we can...and I also know that there will probably be a lot of blogging or running by me if things start to feel smothered.

It's a journey that we get to embark on...and one that I hope goes smoothly. The week and a half from when my house was on the market to when it was officially off the market, I spent 7 nights at his place without a problem. In fact, I think we both thought it was fun.

My hope is that we can approach this time in our lives with an optimistic attitude. With any luck, it'll go great. So great that when I find a place I love, he will move in with ME... and we'll try this whole moving in together for real - combining his stuff with mine.

I'm not going to lie to you, I'm anxious. And he's behaving in ways that he typically does when he's anxious. At first I wanted to tell myself that that was silly...I shouldn't be this anxious. Right? RIGHT? If I'm anxious does that mean that I'm about to make a big mistake? Well, does it? DOES IT? WHY AM I THIS ANXIOUS??!?!

But then a good friend today said "Look - this is a life changing event" and she's right. Because this? This could be a catalyst that breaks us up or ties us closer together.

It's okay to be fact, I think it's natural. I'm 32 and have never lived with someone other than my family and a roommate for a short while at college. He's 43 and has never lived with someone else other than his family. Both of us have been on our own for decades. If we didn't feel aprehension, we'd be crazy.

No matter what, this next stage will be a significant part of our story.

I'm excited and a bit nervous.

It feels good to acknowledge my feelings. It feels good to know that when they get all jumbled up inside my head, such as they did earlier today, I can go on a run and it all seems to clear itself out.

It feels good to trust that this will work out.

My mom used to say, "This, too, shall pass" when we were kids and upset about something. And you know what? The longer I live, the more I realize that my mom is one smart cookie.

Whether this living together thing works or doesn't, it won't define my life or this relationship as a success or failure. It just is. And that is okay too.