Day 44: Reeling It In (Again)

I’ve been adrift, and am now attempting to regain some sense of control. My emotions (and diet) have been all over the place lately. No bingeing, which is great, but also no structure, which is not so great.

The biggest problem I’m facing right now is that I’m working two jobs in an attempt to be able to save up to move to a new apartment (provided I can find one in my limited price range, which would frankly be a miracle). I’m also trying to work more in order to pay down my credit cards, in what seems like a futile effort to fix my credit. This is probably a backwards arrangement, as one needs decent credit to get approved for a lease on an apartment. But we do what we can. Between the constant worry and the overwhelming exhaustion from working between 50 and 70 hours a week, I’m just hitting a wall. This all affects my current food habits (though not exercise – I’ve been really good about fitting in four or five gym sessions each week). Nevertheless, I’m feeling unmoored.

When I started this blog, I said that I’d be attempting to get mental help. I still haven’t, and while practicing mindfulness has been helping me curb my impulse to feed myself to death, it’s also been helping me understand when and how often and (sometimes, at least) what I’m anxious about. It doesn’t help me fix the anxiety, just see it a little more clearly. And folks, what I’m seeing is that I’m able to hide my feelings somewhat, but they color every single interaction I have in the course of a day. I’m a wreck. It’s making me suspicious and weird, overly sensitive to everyone’s mood, and critical of myself at all turns.

The anxiety can be good sometimes. It means that I’m often three steps ahead, fixing problems before people dreamed they’d occurred. But it also means that sometimes I know a problem is going to happen, and I fixate on it for days, paralyzed, until all I can do is watch it happen, then stare at the mess that’s left in the aftermath. Like, I could have prevented the issue, but I got so obsessed with it that I had no power to take any of the necessary steps. Sometimes I know it’s happening, other times I don’t. So now I’m wondering if I’m sabotaging my own life on purpose or not? How am I pushing people away with my mental issues?

One way that I’ve sabotaged myself in the past is to chronically overspend on food, alcohol, and things that I consider luxuries (but let’s face it, things that most people consider necessities now – things like new underwear when everything you own has holes in it, or toilet paper that you buy from the store, instead of stealing it from various bars, or tampons that aren’t stolen from your gym). I have culled almost every unnecessary item from my budget now. No more laundromat – everything gets hand washed from here on out. No more forgetting lunch and picking up something at the store. I eat free food at work, and I get $30 a week for other groceries. If I want to have a beer after work, it comes out of the grocery fund, which means that I can either have a beer right now, or dinner tomorrow. It’s fine, either way, but when tomorrow-me isn’t eating, she knows she can blame it on yesterday-me. Internet isn’t necessary, but it’s going to stay, since it could come in handy for freelance editing work, were I to be able to find any. I still have Spotify Premium, too, because I just can’t face the thought of no new music. Sorry, that’s a crazy expense that just has to stay. But I cancelled Amazon Prime, and I don’t pay for Netflix, I get books for free at the lending library, and I don’t buy makeup or beauty supplies or clothes. Basically, I don’t have any fun anymore, unless it’s fun that can be had for free (which does happen – for instance, a client recently gave me two free tickets to see NKOTB, Boyz II Men, and Paula Abdul).

This isn’t where I thought I’d be at 35 (being broke and/or seeing NKOTB in concert), but I’m telling myself that it’s for a good cause. If I am diligent, I will eventually be free. Once the credit cards are paid down a little, and my credit rating is up out of the dark orange, I can start saving for something wonderful, like a new pair of work shoes, or maybe a 90-minute deep tissue massage and seaweed wrap (hey, a girl can dream!). What I really want is to go out to Joshua Tree for my 36th birthday, but I don’t know if that’s something I can realistically bank on right now. I suppose I should be aiming for something a little more attainable, like mental health, and, you know, the weight loss I was hoping for when I started this damn blog.

This current stress load and all-over-the-place diet have combined to make sure that I haven’t lost any weight in a month, despite regularly working out. I’m not where I was when I started, so that’s something to be glad of, but I also haven’t dropped at all. I just keep sitting at that 190 lb. point that has traditionally been the tough spot for me. I just haven’t been as careful with monitoring my nutrition as I will no doubt need to be to make any headway. Also, with hurting my hip a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t run at all, and that was my favorite cardio. Oh well.

All I can do now is plan to do better tomorrow. For now, that starts with getting a good night’s sleep.

Day 31: Cutting Back

I’m having some good stuff happen re: energy levels, so want to document it here. On Sunday morning, I officially started to cut back on my coffee consumption. I’d been drinking A LOT – at least 48 oz. of coffee (black, no sugar) every day, but sometimes closer to 72 oz. I just sipped it all day long. So that was possibly adding to my weird energy levels and anxiety, where I was always tired all day but didn’t sleep well at night, either. From now on, I’m going to keep cutting back until I’m drinking maybe a typical 12 oz. coffee mug’s worth of black coffee first thing, end of story. As of today, I had a 16 oz. iced coffee this morning, then drank water the rest of the day.

I’ve also gotten more sleep than usual the last two nights – over 8 hours, both nights! I’m about to put my computer away and try for a third night in a row. Tomorrow I need to go to work an hour early, so I can try to get at least 6 hours of sleep immediately after work, then roll into my second job feeling somewhat rested. We’ll see what happens. I have a feeling I won’t sleep, and the whole next 24 hours will be crazy. But it might work out, who knows? Lol.

As for food, I’ve been eating very basic meals. For the past three nights, I’ve eaten plain old roasted chicken for dinner (not because of any diet rules, just because I’ve been dead tired and the roast chicken was just sitting there in the fridge already). Tonight I added in a baked sweet potato to really spice up my life. This weekend I need to remember to cook up a batch of greens so I’ll have veggies on hand when I get home from the gym. I’ve been getting GNC smoothies for the past two days at lunch. I can’t really afford that kind of splurge, but they’ve also been helping with the energy level. They’ve got this smoothie called the Lovers’ Lane, which has arginine in it. The supplement is touted as having sexual health benefits for women, since it increases blood flow, but I have been getting it because it perks me up and gives me enough energy to get through the rest of my day. Plus, peach smoothies are delicious!

Tomorrow I’m really hoping that I am back in the 180’s. I’m really tired of this weird plateau at the 190 – 192 mark. I knew it was going to happen, as it’s historically always the case that I get stuck at 190 and give up. But I feel like I’m doing a great job of just sticking in there. When it came time to leave work today, it was late, and I typically would have talked myself out of going if this were a couple of months ago. But today I had a little conversation in my head about how good it was going to feel to at least get in a little bitty workout, and I believed myself almost immediately. It wasn’t nearly the same struggle that it used to be.

I play the same mind trick they use all the time in Bikram class. Bikram teachers say that you just have to stay on the mat. Doesn’t matter if you do any of the poses, just don’t leave the room. Just being on the mat gets you all of the benefits. Even if you don’t believe it at first, the longer you work at telling it to yourself, the easier it is to understand that it’s true. I just have to go to the gym. Just make the effort, walk in the door, change into my gym clothes. After that, whatever I choose to do is just fine. The battle has already been won. Some days I’m genuinely too tired to do much but a little bit of weight machine work and gentle stretching. But that’s OK – it’s still more than I would have done at home on the couch. Other days, I surprise myself and end up really pushing it on the elliptical, or attending a class and getting super sweaty 🙂

Anyway, I just need to have faith that eventually I will wake up and my new plateau will be 180. Won’t that be awesome? I’ll probably still be bitching about it, so you guys need to remind me when the time comes that I just need to stick it out, and I’ll get past that plateau soon enough, too.

Today’s Weight: 190.2 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 15,056 steps (including 35 minutes on the elliptical), and an 8Fit workout.

Day 28: The Path

Machado1

I’ve had a difficult week, and have been avoiding writing here out of exhaustion and a sense of irritation with myself. I’ve been going to the gym regularly, but my diet hasn’t been that great. I was gaining weight at the beginning of the week (before the diet went off the rails), so I’m sure I’m back up to my starting point by now. I haven’t binged, but I have eaten more than I should on a few occasions, and have eaten things that I know don’t agree with me or my idea of health (chips, chocolate, soda, you get the picture). I have been getting more and more disgusted with myself by the day, but today I have to remind myself that everything is OK, there is no perfect path to my destination. I make the road by walking it, so it’s my job to keep putting one foot in front of the other, at my own speed, in my own way. I forgive myself. Everything’s OK.

This coming week, I’m going to start working a couple of overnight shifts at my old job, to help speed up the process of paying off my debts. Things are admittedly more difficult for me when I have more money, because I feel compelled to spend it all on food. But I have taken precautions by setting up savings buckets within my savings account for some of the things that I want to accomplish – mostly to have enough money for a deposit on a new apartment, and to save for my current rent while putting as much money as possible into my credit card bills. It occurs to me that I should also start a beauty/wellness savings bucket, to be able to take care of myself when I want to – for massages, mani/pedis, that kind of thing.

Even though I’ll be working 24 hours more each week (sigh), I am looking forward to it in an odd way. The more rigorous my work schedule, the more I will be required to pin down all aspects of my personal schedule. I am better at sticking to a plan when every single part is mapped out. It’s definitely not as fun as going with the flow, but it gives me less room to screw up and eat like a wild thing. I’m also looking forward to working out on the job, since I’m essentially working the graveyard shift and will have little to no interaction. I’m just there to make sure that the hotel stays in one piece overnight, and no one’s going to mind if I do some late night yoga or try to get in a majority of my Fitbit steps by walking laps around the hotel grounds (as long as I’m quiet and don’t wake the guests). If I am diligent and frugal, I can pay off the smallest of my credit cards within a month, which will improve my credit, and also open up my finances enough for me to increase saving up for the new apartment.

Today’s Weight: Too scared to check. I’ll look tomorrow.

Today’s Exercise: 13,000+ steps, 8Fit workout, 5 minutes on a really weird interactive exercise bike, self-guided ab routine.

Today’s Interactions: This morning I met up with a friend from college and his wife, and we talked for nearly an hour. Had a short phone chat with a friend from California, briefly texted with a long-lost bestie who lives in Croatia, and then had lunch with the boyfriend at our favorite little cafe, where I remembered the waiter’s name (!!!). Tonight I chatted with my across-the-street neighbor, then met up with my friend from down the block, and we took her dog for a walk and chatted with everyone we passed. I might be chubby, but I’m not chubby AND antisocial 🙂

Day 23: Finding Space (Disordered)

I’m not going to attempt to put this blog entry down in any real order, or edit it when I’m done. I want to be in bed by 10pm sharp, so that gives me 20 minutes to ramble, then close this computer for the evening.

First off, here’s a thing I realized today: I weighed in at 190.2 lbs this morning, and though that’s not the first time I’ve weighed that amount this month, it’s the first Monday that I’ve weighed that. Also, if I go back and look at my weight history on a charted line, though I’ve had fluctuations since starting this new way of thinking about food and exercise, I am on a constant downward course. So yay me.

Another thing I realized today is that I’m legitimately in recovery. I’m a recovering binge eater. I have been working at this for 23 days now, and though I will always be working at it, for the rest of my life, I’ve done a good job for these 23 days. And that’s something I’m allowed to feel proud of. (Not so proud that I can go out and order pizza to celebrate, but you get what I’m saying.)

Today I went to a meditation class at my local yoga studio, and was happy to find that an old art world acquaintance of mine was leading the class. I love where his mind goes, and find him to be such a compassionate and lovely man, so it was a pleasure getting to hear his take on mindfulness. I talked to him for a little while, and it turns out that the studio will start offering a weekly meditation class this summer, so that’s exciting.

Another thing that is on my mind is not as great. My stomach feels weird. I was having cramps all day yesterday, which I assumed were ovulation cramps, since that’s a thing that happens to me. But now something just feels off. Not painful, not cramping, not bloating or constipation (although that’s certainly a thing that I need to get better about regulating). It just feels not right. So I’m writing about it here in hopes that I’ll be able to pinpoint a date and symptoms in case it becomes something more serious than not enough fiber and probiotics in my diet.

It’s 9:59pm, so I’m signing off.

Today’s Weight: 190.2 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 15,712 steps (9.11 miles), which includes a 30-minute round on the elliptical. Also, a 9-minute tabata routine on 8Fit.

Today’s Interactions: Various, including a long conversation about fantasy books with a coworker, a phone call with my parents, pre- and post-class conversation with the yoga teacher, and some messaging with a couple of long-distance friends.

Day 22: Under Pressure

It’s Sunday night, and I’m in a pretty rotten mood, stemming from the combination of a headache and feeling entirely too stressed about money and social obligations. As I wrote and edited the first draft of this post, I realized that I was blaming it on the boyfriend, but that isn’t fair. This is all me, all my hangups. So very many to dig through.

We aren’t from the same world, and I keep getting reminded of that. New Orleans is so different in its expectations. I was raised in a different culture, where you never ask for the things you need, and you always think twice before letting people go out of their way to help you. And if you have even half a backbone, you would never let anyone go out of their way, unless you’re in danger of imminent death/dismemberment (and honestly, probably not then, either). In short, I was raised to feel ashamed if anyone had to lift a finger to help me when I could have figured out a way to do the thing myself. My own mother didn’t get out of bed in the morning to make me breakfast when I was a first grader, for gods’ sakes.

And though I don’t expect people to feel ashamed when I help them, I certainly do not enjoy being at the mercy of others. It always feels like the underlying emotion on their part should be begrudging, at best, but more likely some sort of seething animosity, a criticism of my weakness and pointlessness as a human being. Whenever people do nice things for me, I feel like I’ve pressured them into it. I hate that feeling. I’d rather just not have them go out of their way at all. I’d much rather walk 5 miles to the store than ask a friend for a ride. Or hand wash all of my clothes rather than ask the friend who lives a block away to use her washer now and then.

Anyway, a friend invited us over to watch the series premiere of American Gods, and offered to pick us up from my house. Then when we were there, she bought pizza and fed everyone (no pizza for me – I stuck to the stuffed grape leaves and La Croix that I’d brought). We were the last to leave, since I was waiting on the boyfriend to call an Uber (I couldn’t afford one, or I’d have done it earlier), but then the host offered to give us a ride home, too. I didn’t want her to. It felt like we were putting too much on her plate. Where I’m from, you offer to do something like that, but with the full expectation that the person will tell you no and go on to do the polite thing – find their own damn way home. In the end, we got into her car, the boyfriend handing me the chips and salsa he’d taken from the kitchen. I put them next to me on the seat, and at the first turn, the salsa jar fell over. The lid wasn’t screwed on. To my horror, salsa spread out all over the backseat, the scent permeating the car.

Our host/driver was so gracious about it, but I was incredibly embarrassed. And because the host didn’t seem to take it badly at all, neither did the boyfriend. Given their behavior at the situation, I know I should have been able to follow suit and just let it go. But really, I was so angry at myself for not checking the lid, and annoyed with him for putting me in a position where I’d have to overthink things and go checking lids after him, and also for forcing me to be beholden to our host for the rides to and from her apartment, and then again at myself for being so negative and not being able to take things at face value.

At the same time, I know that had someone spilled an entire jar of salsa in the back of my car, I probably wouldn’t be angry at them. I’d clean it up and move on with my life. And I know that if I offered to give someone a ride somewhere, it would be my prerogative. But I’m having trouble digging myself out of the guilt loop, and feeling like I just ruined our host’s night by putting her through so much trouble, and feeling like I can’t talk to the boyfriend at all about this because it makes me look insane. But I’m pretty sure he’d also see that I’m hurt and he’d be sensitive to that. Holy fuck, my brain hurts.

Also, I used all of my paper towels and my very last clean towel in helping clean out the back of that car, and I just don’t have the money for paper towels or the laundromat right now. I was already in a state over the amount of money I’ve spent this weekend, between getting my hair cut (which was entirely necessary) and a few meals out that I shouldn’t have bought. I did waste too much money on Friday night and then getting breakfast out yesterday and today. I simply do not have a spare penny to spend on anything besides exactly what my budget dictates, and because of this weekend I will be screwed for the rest of the month. I knew that, and I did it anyway. I keep doing this to myself. I hate being poor. I hate being in debt. Now I’m thoroughly wound up. At least I’m too broke to buy too much food; there’s that.

It’s time for bed. Too much to do at work tomorrow morning to keep badgering myself with things that have long since passed.

Day 19: Sleep

TakingOver

I used to be an accomplished sleeper. It was just something I excelled at – staying in bed all day, sleeping deeply, dreaming something exciting. I love to sleep, and I crave it. It’s one of my top favorite activities, and I’d do it more if I could. In fact, I function best on roughly 9.5 to 10 hours of sleep a night. Sadly, that’s just not possible in my life at this point. To counteract this, I aim for a perfectly respectable 8 hours of sleep each night, and track it diligently each day with my FitBit. However, I seldom actually achieve my goal during the week; on average, I tend to get about 6.5 hours a night. Yes, you heard that right: along with 35% of the U.S., I am sleep deprived.

On the weekends, like many people, I endeavor to play catch up. I know from experience that a 10-hour patch of slumber refreshes me without messing up my sleep schedule, so I try to get that much sleep on Friday and Saturday night. That means no late nights out partying, but it also means that I’m somewhat recharged by Monday. But I hate that, too. I want to be fresh and on my game all week long.

So it’s time to start working on getting my sleep numbers up to at least 7 hours a night. I think I’m going to reset my FitBit goal to 7 hours, and see if I can consistently match that for a few weeks, then up the time a little bit to say, 7:10, then eventually start creeping towards a solid 8 hours of sleep. If the FitBit can help me get in 12k steps minimum a day on a consistent basis, I think I can be using it to work on decreasing my sleep debt, too.

Today’s Weight: 191.8 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 12k+ steps, a 9-minute tabata workout via 8Fit, 20 minutes on the elliptical, some foam rolling & a little bit of an ab workout.

Today’s Interactions: I met a guest at the hotel who was looking for a gym to go lift weights, so I walked him over to my gym and got him a free pass for the day. He was a sweet guy. Also talked with Theo at the gym (of course), and stopped by the boyfriend’s job to say hi and give him a hug. That last part wasn’t as positive as I wanted it to be, but I don’t have the energy to work on it right now. Need a shower and so much sleep, stat.

 

Day 17: Graydreaming

You might not know this about me, but I’m terribly prone to flights of fancy. I spend a great deal of my time in fantasy, either retelling stories of my past, imagining possible stories of my future, or just plain writing fiction that has nothing to do with anyone I know. It’s an escape mechanism, and though fun, is not especially helpful in allowing me to cope with my day-to-day, when I encounter it. The key to mindfulness is endeavoring to be completely present in the moment at hand, and I have spent a lifetime endeavoring to not be present at all if possible. It’s a sharp contrast, and a bitter one at times.

The anxiety that I was suffering all weekend dissipated on Sunday afternoon, and I was briefly fine, mentally. But by last night, I felt myself sliding back into depression. I have hovered on the verge of tears since then. I cried myself to sleep last night, after telling myself a story about why I was so sad (a story that might or might not be true – how can I even tell anymore what’s reality and fantasy in my world?) Now I’m eating wasabi peas for dinner, and wishing that I could write the story I feel inside me, fluttering to get out. But I am not in the writing space. Not the fiction writing space, anyway. Assuming that this, by contrast, happens to be nonfiction.

If nothing is real, how can anything I write be truth?

Guess we just have to go on blind faith that certain things are more real than others. And in the meantime, while we wait around to become just another story that someone tells their children (or in my case, barely a blip on the memory map, as I intend to create no progeny), we find things to cling to. For me, it’s beating this binge eating thing, and going hiking a few more times. Today my hip hurts, and it terrifies me for no reason. It’s just a strain. It will be better if I stay off of it.

But I am reminded that I don’t have anyone to hike with. I have no one to fight for. I am always the one to fight, to persist, to march on, but no one follows my banner. No one fights with me in mind. I am lonely today. I’m too focused on the present, and the present is gray and fuzzy.

Today’s Weight: 191.8 Lbs.