Day 8: Learning The Steps

 

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“Salsa” by Barbara Ruzzene

In Zumba class this morning, I spent much of the hour avoiding looking at myself in the mirror. Part of that was because I am slow to catch on, and need to watch the instructor’s feet intently to get in time. However, a larger part is because I caught a glimpse of myself at the beginning of class, and was grossed out by what I saw: two left feet and completely out of sync with the rest of the class, sweaty hair plastered limply to my forehead, too-small tank top clinging to improperly propped breasts (also due to a too-small and very old sports bra), the gray of the tank top blending seamlessly into the gray of the workout pants, an already beet-red face adding the only color in the entire picture.

I spent much of the class attacking the moves with dogged determination, considering why it is that I love Zumba when I know I look absolutely ridiculous. The fact is, I might be heavy and plodding, but when I get the footwork right, it makes me feel good about myself. A little less awkward. I get to climb out of my head, and live in a body that’s doing what I’ve asked it to. It’s not Zumba that I love, though the class is a decent enough outlet; it’s the solo salsa steps that I truly crave.

As the class danced, I started to daydream a little. I imagined moving to a place where I could add solo salsa dancing to my weekly routine. In my imagination, I went to the club to dance with everyone else, but I was too sweaty, and had two left feet. Where the other women undulated, evoking passion and mystery, I shimmied and shook in all the wrong places, inviting ridicule, or worse, pity. I resolved to persist, to get better, to fit in with the other women there, the ones who had grown up imbuing their every day motions with a salsa rhythm, that smooth sexiness rolling off of them without a second thought.

Back in reality, at the end of class, one of my favorite songs came on. It’s always the same steps with this tune, and I moved along without thinking about anything much at all. I looked up and caught a second of myself in the mirror. My hips swayed just right. My arm movements looked relaxed, not forced or awkward. My steps were on the beat, and in the right place. An easy smile touched my lips. For a moment, I was beautiful.

Today’s Weight: 193.4 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 1-hour Zumba class, 10-minute 8Fit workout, and I’ll update this once I know how many steps I got in. I’m going to walk to Refuge Recovery tonight, and I’m already at 12k steps, so guessing I’ll hit at least 17k or so.

Day 7: Love And Reese’s Pieces

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Sorry if you missed me yesterday. I actually wrote a pretty long and involved post about the planning and preparation that goes into making sure that my weekend doesn’t derail before it begins. The beauty of this blog as a self-help tool for me is in the writing, and I did find that in the process of putting together yesterday’s post, I discovered some things that have a habit of pushing me off of the deep end into abusing food (namely any activity that requires me to make small talk with strangers or acquaintances, which appears to encompass about 95% of social engagements, so that’s going to be a really fun issue to tackle – not). Anyway, working this out in writing was useful, but I didn’t have time to finish the piece, electing instead to go to the movies with my boyfriend. We’ve been in a weird place lately, and don’t see as much of each other as we used to, so when I found out that Trainspotting 2 was playing at the Broad Theater, I impetuously purchased tickets for the both of us. Such a great decision; it really hit the spot. I loved being back in the middle of this crazy film friendship, finding out where Rent Boy, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie were, 20 years later.

Overall, it was a great night, though I wasn’t as successful as I would have preferred to be in being mindful of my food and drink intake. I find it nearly impossible to go to the movies without eating way too much. My all-time favorite activity is to go to a double matinee by myself on a Sunday morning, starting off with a jumbo soda and popcorn (the size where you can get free refills), and peppering the experience with candy or Dippin’ Dots if the mood strikes. No, I don’t do this anymore, but honestly it’s only because I don’t have a car, so I can’t get to the cheap movie theater out in the ‘burbs anymore. If you’re reading this and worried that’s where I went off the rails last night, don’t worry – I was actually pretty good. Before leaving, I was smart enough to eat a small, healthy meal, so when we got to the theater, I had a few bites of the boyfriend’s popcorn, a beer…and most of a giant bag of Reese’s pieces. Oh well, can’t be perfect 100% of the time.

Afterwards, we went back to my place, drank a few more beers, and talked about real things until the wee hours, which I’d call a perfect night. No putzing about online or watching TV, no politics or social media, no one else around to turn the conversation to lighter subjects – just us, giving each other the time we deserve. We’re both going through some intense life transitions right now, and we work opposite schedules, so we don’t see that much of each other. We also both quit Facebook at the beginning of April, and I don’t know if either of us knew how much we “talked” via sharing and liking posts on each other’s walls. Add to that anxiety and depression on both sides of the aisle, food issues on my side, and your general boundary exploration that happens once you’re three years into a relationship, and we’re in a weird place together.

What’s absolutely magical about our very real friendship is that I can be completely honest with him about all of these things without fear that he’ll take it the wrong way. We’re opposing signs (Scorpio and Taurus), and have always shared this dogged determination to understand and really absorb how the other person is faring. We’re each other’s shadow sides, for better or worse. So last night, we had a really good, long conversation about what we know and don’t know about what we both want, our growth as individuals, and how we’ll continue to keep the lines of communication open and provide avenues for both of us to be free and explore and make whatever next steps seem best. There were no revelations, but that’s OK.

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Just a note that this blog isn’t here for me to talk about love and dating, but I do want to make sure to note this portion of my life here, since no one is an island, and no issue stands alone. It is going to be impossible for me to overcome my issues with food and dieting and body image without taking an honest look at how my relationships affect my emotions and food intake.

But on to today. Did I derail myself through last night’s exploits? I’m not entirely sure yet, but I don’t think so. I woke up and made a great breakfast – scrambled eggs, sauteed spinach and garlic, half of a baked sweet potato, and a scoop of salsa. Now I’m at the cafe, having an iced coffee (black, no sugar), and catching up with the blog. I had originally planned to go to the gym to work out, but I can’t see that happening. So what I’ll probably end up doing is completing a short workout from 8Fit, maybe going on a run around my neighborhood, and calling it a day. If I don’t have the energy to do all that, that’s OK, too. It was a great first week of working out, and I know I’m going to Zumba tomorrow, so I’m allowed a break if I want.

Once I’m done here, I’ll go home to do some food prep – I’ve got a rotisserie chicken to cut up for chicken salad, plus eggs to boil, and I’m sure something else I’ve forgotten. Then maybe I’ll clean the house, throw out some more junk, and then attempt to do some “real” writing for the first time in a while – work on one of the fiction projects that I’ve been rolling around in my head for years. We’ll see.

Yesterday’s Weight: 194.0 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 7,574 steps, including a 35-minute/2.5 mile run/walk

Day 5: This Sh*t Takes Time

Thoughts this Afternoon:

Let me start by saying that I overate at lunch, and now I feel sick. It happened, it’s over now, there’s nothing I can do to change any actions that have preceded this moment. All I can do now is examine how I feel and see if there’s a way to use the information to work towards not doing this in the future. Well, that, and try not to puke. I seriously feel ill, guys. I did not see this coming.

Luckily, though I ate too much for one sitting, if I look what I’ve consumed over the course of the entire day, I’m well within a normal limit of food. It’s not like I ate an entire birthday cake. The meal in question was a medium-sized wrap sandwich thing, some chips & salsa, and a side of rice and beans, eaten in two sittings, over the course of three hours. Pretty much nothing, by my typical “I’m going to eat this entire Kia, hubcaps and all” standards. Even so, I ate half of my meal at the restaurant, decided to pack the rest up for dinner and despite that, still tucked into the leftovers not even an hour after we got back to the office. Now I feel like you could roll me down the hall like Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

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First off, the things I’m proud of:

  1. I was craving a Diet Coke while we were out on errands, but I talked myself out of one by promising that I could have it with lunch if I still wanted one then.
  2. Drank an unsweetened tea with lunch. Considered the Diet Coke and didn’t really want it anymore.
  3. Ordered a moderately healthy meal – a shrimp & veggie wrap with a side of rice and beans. Not a huge burrito with unhealthy stuffings, nothing deep fried, and nothing smothered in queso. I thought briefly about getting a salad, but it sounded too depressing. This was enough of a shift in the right direction for now.
  4. I ate half of the food, then got a to-go box. It felt like a no-brainer. I was very happy with this part.

Now, the things I’d like to change:

  1. I didn’t want to go out to eat lunch. I ate breakfast a little later this morning, and I wasn’t hungry again yet. But my coworker wanted to treat me to lunch, and more importantly, I knew HE wanted to get lunch, and I didn’t want to disappoint him. I could have found a way to say no if I really wanted to.
  2. During lunch, I was doing a good job of paying attention to how full I was getting, but I still ate a few bites mindlessly while waiting for the server to bring me a to-go box.
  3. Once I got back to the office, I ate the rest of the food out of boredom. I wasn’t hungry, and that would have made a great dinner after the gym.
  4. I ate even though I was uncomfortable.

This feels a little like my subconscious is trying to sabotage my gym trip this afternoon, but joke’s on me, because I’m still going to go. Just maybe a little later than originally planned, because I’m pretty sure I’d puke if I tried to go in the next half an hour.

Thoughts Tonight:

Man, I’m exhausted. Gonna keep this short. I worked my butt off at the gym with a 35 minute run/walk and a circuit training session via my new workout app. Afterwards, I made the executive decision to go and buy groceries, even though I was a little apprehensive that I’d make some impulse buys that wouldn’t fit my budget and might lead to true binge. I didn’t want lunch to merely be the prelude to something larger and shittier, so when I got to the store, I took my time and thought through every purchase. Was $4 over my weekly grocery allowance, but that’s because I bought cage-free/free range/organic eggs and allowed myself a treat at the checkout – a coconut LaCroix. But the things I did get were awesome, and I’m going to have very tasty, healthy meals this coming week.

I was supposed to talk with my friend Trin tonight at 7, but she had to reschedule, which actually worked out perfectly. It let me shower, get a little housework done, make a pitcher of tea, and bake sweet potatoes (now you know how Southern I am, lol) before my friend Danica and I talked at 8:30. I don’t talk on the phone very often, because it’s so difficult to find the time, and I don’t like talking on the phone (or Skype, for that matter). I prefer communicating in writing if at all possible. But now that I’m not on Facebook, I don’t see any of my best girlfriends, since they all live out of the state (or out of the country). So I’m going to have to make time to hop on the phone if I want to do the work of maintaining these wonderful friendships. All the talking out loud really drains me, energetically, but it’s very much worth it. I loved getting to catch up with Danica after months of only communicating via social media posts and the occasional text.

Today’s Weight: 193.4 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 18,850 steps (including a 35 minute run/walk at the gym), and a circuit training session on 8Fit.

Day 4: Redux

Probably should have trusted my instincts more; there was no meditation group at the Healing Center tonight. Even so, it wasn’t a complete dud of a trip. First off, I hit my Fitbit daily steps goal on my long walk around the Healing Center. Secondly, I had a mini adventure, and got out of my head for a little bit, despite the adversity. Best of all, I was able to identify some triggers, then stop them in their tracks.

The New Orleans Healing Center is a total maze. There are four floors, with multiple stairwells leading up to various places that you can’t get to by other stairwells. It’s super confusing, but luckily I don’t get stressed out by getting lost or turned around, which is good, because I spent about 15 minutes wandering around in circles. There’s lots of signage, but it’s not entirely clear, so I got to the second floor and couldn’t find the stairs to the third floor, and ended up taking the stairs to another second floor, then realized that the first second floor was actually the mezzanine? Yup, totally lost.

After a while, I found an elevator, but when I got to the fourth floor, there was a security gate pulled over the elevator exit, so I had to go back down to the second floor, where I found a set of exit stairs that took me up to the fourth floor, but then the door was locked. I honestly still don’t know if I was taking the right stairs or not. For all I know, there was a whole other set of stairs on the other side of the building, and the meditation group is happening right now. But it was already past the event start time, so I decided to call off the search for the missing mindfulness group and move on with life.

As predicted earlier, as soon as I realized that I wasn’t making it to a meditation meeting tonight, my very first thought was to go to the food co-op and buy something tasty to cheer myself up. But I took the thought and sat with it for a moment, dissected it and took the time to talk it through and ask myself if I was really hungry, or if I was using food to smother my emotions. As soon as I paid attention to the root of the impulse, it wasn’t strong anymore. I was able to put it away and move on.

I decided to look at all of the flyers and leaflets and bulletin boards (there are many throughout the building), to see if I could find any other meditation group information that might be useful. On the ground floor, there’s a little thrift store that’s always closed when I happen by, but today it was still open. I walked in, and there was a gorgeous tie-dyed maxi dress sitting front and center on the first rack. It was just so vibrant and cheerful, I had to at least try it on. The shopkeeper was this chipper, energetic young woman who brightened up the room when she came over to ask if I needed help, so my mind was half made up before I even found out if the dress fit. Then, when I was trying it on in the bathroom, I came out of the stall to check myself out in the mirror, and another woman was there. She and I chatted for a minute, and she told me that I looked so happy in the dress, it seemed perfect for me. It’s a teeny bit snug in the boobs, but in a good way. My cleavage looks amazing! I’m so used to feeling like a frumpy stuffed sausage in all of my clothes; it’s nice to notice something nice about myself. I’m totally rocking my new frock this summer at the beach.

As I left the Healing Center, on my way past the food co-op I again had the impulse to go in. This time the thought was, “I’ve been so good today – I deserve a treat!” So in less than 30 minutes, I had the impulse to eat because I was frustrated, and to eat as a kind of prize for good behavior. It almost felt like a little kid trying a different tactic to get a treat. I again thought it through as I was walking out, and gently just reminded myself that I wasn’t hungry, and there were other ways to be happy. Thought process filed away for later dissection.

Once I was outside in the sun, safely past the temptation of the co-op soup bar, I thought maybe it was time to find a diversion instead of heading straight home. I decided to text a couple of girlfriends in the neighborhood to see if anyone was out and about and wanted to hang out for a little bit. It turns out that one of them will be available in 30 minutes or so, so she and I are going to take a walk around the neighborhood with her dog.

Down the street from my house, I caught something cool out of the corner of my eye: a really pretty wine box was sitting on the curb. There was a man nearby in his side yard, doing some clean up work, so I politely asked if the box was his. He showed me how it had a little termite damage, and then gave me a second box that was sitting in his garage. Score!

Today’s Interactions: I initiated conversations with three different hotel guests in the elevator today, and ended up meeting people from Raleigh and Nashville. I also spoke with the shopkeeper and a nice lady stranger at the Healing Center. I asked two different people if they wanted to hang out (one said yes!), and then when I got home, I initiated a conversation with my landlord about the new flower garden that he’s planting in the front yard. Later, I went walking with the friend who said yes, and though I don’t know her that well, I decided to take the plunge and tell her about the binge eating and seeking help. It was a great talk, and I think we might help each other, as she had some ideas for me, too.

Definitely patting myself on the back for getting completely out of my comfort zone today, and not freaking out about it. Go me!

Day 4: Me, TBD

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One of the things that goes hand-in-hand with binge eating is yo-yo dieting. When I say that I’ve gained 50 lbs. over the last four or five years, it’s not like I just kept creeping up the charts in one solid, upward swing. There have been great ups and downs. My Fitbit weight record tells me that at the beginning of March, I weighed 190 lbs., and before that, I weighed the same back at the beginning of January. Last year I did the Whole30 diet, and lost 15 lbs. in a month without even exercising (which tells me that I’m probably allergic to something I’m eating, but that’s a whole other blog post). When I got back from walking the Camino de Santiago in November of 2015, I weighed 177 lbs. When I started dating my boyfriend around this time three years ago, I was hovering at 167 lbs. But in between each of those lows was a high. I’m constantly gaining and losing and trying harder and not trying so hard and giving up and actively conspiring against myself at every turn. If there were an Olympic category for mental gymnastics, I’m confident I’d bring home the gold.

This all being said, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t pleased that I’m down in weight today, but it’s also important not to put too much emotional stock in the number on the scale. It can go back up tomorrow (and probably will, since I’m not going to the gym tonight). The important thing, much more important than numbers right now, is to keep track of how I’m working towards being a healthy, whole human being. That’s all. If I take care of myself, the results will show in many more ways than just on the scale. And I’ll still be fluctuating for the rest of my life. But the idea is to start a downward trend, and keep it going with good habits.

Speaking of good habits, tonight I’m going to be attending a new meditation group that I recently found out about. I’m a little nervous that it doesn’t actually exist, so I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much. I only heard about it via a printed paper list I found at a Refuge Recovery meeting, and I can’t find anything about it online. There’s a calendar event on the website of the actual event hall where the meeting is held, but if you click the link, it only has the time and name of the meeting. So I’m just going to go tonight and cross my fingers that some other people show up. It’s an interfaith chapel, so I’m not worried about it being a scam or anything, more that if I get my hopes up and get disappointed, it will have negative impact on my day. The interfaith chapel happens to be very close to one of my favorite grocery stores, and that grocery store happens to have some of my favorite binge food (which is actually all healthy food, eaten in moderation, but that word is currently not in my lexicon, so I’m trying to be realistic). Anyway, y’all please put some positive vibes out there for me that the meditation group does, in fact, exist.

Today’s Weight: 194.6 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: I’ll update this later tonight. Hoping to get in a little 8Fit workout after the meditation group. If said group ends up being imaginary, I’ll probably go running, too. Later: I didn’t end up running or doing the 8Fit workout, but I did walk 15,999 steps as of now, so I’m feeling pretty good about my day.

Day 3: First Goal Accomplished

I did it. Last night I spent some time researching my health plan and figuring out who could take my insurance, and it turns out that Oschner (my old hospital/clinic) takes Cigna (my new health insurance). Today I found the courage to call and make an appointment. I was trying to get in with my boyfriend’s doctor, whom I know to be professional and accommodating, but it turns out he’s not seeing new patients right now. So I talked it through with the appointment setter, and she got me in with my old primary care physician.

I have mixed feelings on this. While I don’t have any negative memories regarding my old doctor, I also don’t have any positive ones. As I remember, she was nice, but also pretty hands-off, which didn’t do me any good then, and definitely won’t do me any good now. So I’m going to take my own advice and write down an extensive list of what I want to talk about with her when I’m there in the office, and give it to her as a bulleted list for us both to look through together.

I’m going to have to be my own advocate, and not go anywhere until she’s provided me with the proper channels to continue my journey. No more backing down. No more being acquiescent. I’m too old for this shit. I am going to kick binge eating and anxiety in the face. I am going to unravel all of these knots – physical, emotional, and mental. It’s not going to be instant, but it will happen, as long as I keep working at it, just a little bit each day.

Today’s Weight: 196.6 lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 14,827 steps (including a 30-minute run/walk on the treadmill), 7 minute tabata session

Today’s Personal Interaction: I’m adding this section because it feels right in regards to getting out of my head. Today I talked to my parents for 30 minutes on the phone. It’s never great, but I keep trying. Basically just my dad complaining for the entire time, asking how I’m doing, then immediately moving on without letting me answer. Joy. However, yesterday, I wrote three personal emails to friends I haven’t spoken with in months, and coordinated upcoming phone chats with two of my best friends in the world! So that’s a win.

Day 2: At The Office

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Get this as a wallpaper on QuoteFancy

I changed careers a year and a half ago. I’ve changed a lot of things in the last few years, now that I come to think of it, but for the most part, it’s still up in the air whether or not the choices I’ve made have all been for the better. The career change was a definite improvement, though.

Before I decided to do something different, I was the director of marketing for an interior design firm, and later, the director of marketing for an advertising firm. I was good at what I did, but I hated it. The culture is so competitive, and the subject matter and methodology is constantly changing. Practices that can be considered gospel today all go out the window tomorrow. You’re constantly expected to train in cutting edge tech, learn new and exciting jargon, and look 110% prettier, hipper, and more fresh than anyone you meet. It’s exhausting, not to mention expensive, to pay for all of that continuing education and upkeep.

You also never leave work behind when you leave the office – it’s there with you 24/7. Social media never sleeps, and when you have 10+ clients’ social media accounts to manage, that’s hundreds of channels. I’m sure plenty of successful marketers have found a way to let it go when they want to go back to living their own lives, but I never found a way. I would wake up in a cold sweat, worried about so-and-so’s Twitter feed, and whether that new blog post I’d written for such-and-such was trending yet. It consumed me. Marketing was like a chronic illness. There was no stepping away. There was nothing but a constant sense of panic – foot tapping and nail biting and anger and fear – in my case, accompanied by lots of food in an attempt to dull the pain.

Things are different in my new job. There’s still panic, but it’s muted, and it comes from somewhere else – mostly that I now make about 1/2 of my old income. But I make up the financial loss in other ways. I can walk away at the end of the day and not take the job with me, and more importantly, I’m happy when I’m at the hotel. I genuinely love working in hospitality, despite the occasional bump in the road. With time, I’ll also begin to make more money, though right now I’m constantly on edge with how little I seem to be able to live now that I can’t spend a dime on anything frivolous. No date nights, no new shoes, no mani/pedis, no clothes or craft projects. I can’t even afford to grow a little cactus garden like I’ve been dreaming (though to be honest, I’d probably kill it). I only own one pair of work pants, and they’re starting to look ragged.

Worst of all, I can’t afford doctor visits, which isn’t frivolous at all, but rather desperately needed. I absolutely must go to see a GP in the near future, to get my general health checked, get tested for diabetes and thyroid issues, and get a referral to see a psychiatrist so I can get back on the anti-anxiety meds I desperately need. I also need to start seeing a therapist regularly. All that adds up. Even with health insurance, in a single month that’s going to be over $200, not counting meds. There’s no way for me to pay that now, so therapy is off the table until I get a raise or find a free alternative (that’s where meditation comes in, by the way). But if I really watch my pennies, I can pay for the GP. And if I’m really, really lucky, I can get the GP to renew my existing prescriptions, and skip the cost of the psychiatrist. So I’m just going to focus on being really, really lucky – and explain this all to the GP in hopes that she’ll understand.

  • Goal #1 for the week ahead is to find a GP and make an appointment for the near future, so I can be proactive about finding help for the binge eating and anxiety, plus make sure that I’m not suffering from any serious health issues.
  • Goal #2 for the week ahead is to attend a meditation meeting on Wednesday night. It’s time to start getting serious about making meditation a part of my everyday practice. Because even if I am successful at getting back on meds, I still need to be working at being mentally healthy in other ways, for a multitude of reasons.
  • Goal #3 for the week ahead is to watch what I eat and drink at the office. Quality in, quality out. Nothing from the vending machine. No stress candy or soda. Coffee and tea (black), bacon and eggs (hand to God, I get as much free bacon as I want every morning), and whatever healthy thing I bring for lunch – this week it’s leftover veggie curry and hard boiled eggs. Just those steps alone are enough to lose weight, but it’s not really just weight we’re talking about here, is it?
  • And my final goal, Goal #4, is to exercise, even if it’s nothing that impressive. Even just the minimum of meeting my steps goal on my FitBit and just doing some stretching and weightlifting at the gym is enough. As long as I’m trying harder than I tried last week, I’ll have met my goal for this week.

Today’s Weight: 197.8 lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 13,000 steps, 9 minute tabata session, 15 minute yoga session, and an hour at the gym catching up with my friend Theo (she’s brilliant, so that counts as mental exercise).