Posts filed under ‘coping strategies’

Girls on the Run

When I was a kid, I didn’t have good self-esteem.  Well, I did when it came to school; I was smart and liked school.  But, socially, I did not feel good about myself.  I was fat and ugly.  I was literally the Queen of the Misfits.  Those at school that didn’t fit in with any other group hung out with me.

It didn’t help that I was not athletic, or at least I didn’t think I was.  I didn’t feel comfortable running around chasing after balls, and because I was fat, I never got picked for anything other than anchor for tug-o-war.  Oh… wait… I did make the bowling team.

One of the most exciting things about my transformation is the fact that I am now physically confident.  I believe in my body; I recognize and appreciate its strength.  I’m now willing to try new things, even if I am likely to fail.  In the past, failure was always due to my weight.  I was sure people were laughing at me, thinking that I was too big to do anything with my body.  Now, if I fail, I don’t indict myself for it; I don’t see it as my fault.  Now, if I fail, it’s merely because it’s new to me, or I need to strengthen that body part.

This new-found confidence and attitude has allowed me to try all kinds of wonderful activities: sailing, zip lining, pole dancing, boulder scrambling, free climbing, rope walls, mountain biking, and more.  It’s been a joy.

All through this process, I’ve thought that I should share my experience – my story – with others in some way.  The transformation shouldn’t go to waste; it should ripple out to others who might need inspiration and encouragement.  Up until recently, I hadn’t found the avenue to accomplish that rippling.  Now I think I have.

Through my Leadership program, I learned about an amazing non-profit organization called “Girls on the Run“.  It’s a program dedicated to developing self confidence and healthy living skills for girls ages 8 through 13.

“The programs combine training for a 3.1 mile running event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts. The goals of the programs are to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual and physical development.”

As soon as I heard about this program, I was certain I needed to be part of it.  There’s no council here, so I looked into starting one.  In the process of doing that research, I discovered that another woman had already assembled a team to bring this exciting program to our neighborhood.  I emailed her, and earlier this week, we had a first meeting.

On the way to the meeting, I heard Paula Cole’s “I don’t want to wait”, a song that I haven’t heard in years… and one of my anthems when I splitting up from my first husband.  It was incredibly apropos to hear that song on my way to this meeting.  At the time it was popular, I was finally admitting to myself that I didn’t want to wait anymore to live life.  I didn’t know what was ahead at that point, and I could never have foreseen all the wonders that I’ve experienced in these last couple of years.  Specifically, I could never have foreseen joining up with a group of runners to help young girls prepare for a 5K!

We have a great group, filled with knowledge and expertise, and I think we’ll be able to conduct our first training in the fall.  I am thrilled that I might be able to help at least one girl avoid being ashamed of her body, that I might help one girl learn to love to move and feel that amazing sense of accomplishment when she achieves something physical that she didn’t think she could do.

April 28, 2010 at 4:22 am Leave a comment

Active Hair Coloring?

We’ve all heard of active sitting: where you incorporate some sort of physical movement, no matter how small, into your sedentary job or homelife.  I do it myself, by sitting on a stability ball as my office chair.  I also do it by performing various arm movements during the day, or sometimes using my FLOW software, which prompts me to do exercises at my desk every hour or so.

But, tonight: a first!  Active Hair Coloring!  I ate too much today and wanted to get more cardio in to compensate, at least a little.  I also needed to color my hair.  I’m a home hair colorer, so the ideal solution was easy to find.  While I was waiting for my hair color to process, I did 30 minutes on the Gazelle.  Voila… active hair coloring!  I was so pleased with myself for coming up with it.  I love combining necessary or fun activities with fitness.  It makes me feel efficient, and it makes onerous tasks seem more purposeful and worthy.

It also turns potentially “risky” situations into opportunities for success.  For example, tomorrow morning, my husband and I are going to a pancake breakfast at the airport hangar.

  • We are pedaling our bicycles to and from the airport, which means we’ll get in at least a six-mile ride.  🙂
  • I normally dread being confronted with the white-flour pancakes, syrup and sausage they serve.  The food is always yummy, but it’s got no redeeming nutritive value.  This time, along with getting exercise by biking back and forth, I’m also bringing PB&J pancake batter, made with white whole wheat flour, Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread, Smart Balance Omega 3 Peanut Butter, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk.  The topping will be reduced-sugar strawberry jam.  It’s fun… and healthy!
  • Plus, I’ll be too busy cooking to have much time to eat.


March 6, 2010 at 5:21 am Leave a comment

Don’t ditch the scale; just get a happier one!

This scale doesn’t track your pounds.  Instead, it tracks your hotness.  Well, not really, but it sure makes you feel hot – with affirmations, rather than numbers, such as “ravishing”, “lovely”, “fine”, “perfect”, and “cute”.  And you can’t beat the fuzzy pink cover! 

Okay, in all seriousness, I will never give up my scale.  It’s too important to my long-term success.  But I might buy a “Yay! Scale” and park it alongside the legit weight tracker.  It would be nice to have the option to get a morale boost when I need it. 🙂

February 25, 2010 at 11:55 pm Leave a comment

Do it and then feel it

I was feeling glum, distinctly ho-hum.  I did NOT want to do my stairs. My stairs are only one component of my workout regimen, so I can get away with not doing them.  However, my Scale the Strat is coming up on March 13th, so it’s critical that I keep up my “training” for that event.

All of a sudden, the motto “Do it and then feel it” popped into my head. I got off my stability ball, changed out of my suit jacket, and proceeded to do 20 sets of stairs: 1520 up and 1520 down, for a lovely grand total of 3,040 stairs.

The endorphins are flowing, and I do, indeed, feel it now. Yay!

February 22, 2010 at 11:40 pm Leave a comment

Mindful Eating

‘Mindful Eating’ is another one of those diet buzzwords that sometimes frustrates me.  I alternately want to eat mindfully and don’t want to. Sometimes, I just want to eat without having to think about it. 

I think about eating and exercise all day long already:

  • am I eating too much?
  • am I eating enough veggies and, to a lesser extent, fruit? 
  • will I be able to control myself today?
  • will today be a “good” eating day or a “bad” one? 
  • will I get enough cardio in? 
  • does the cardio make a difference? 
  • is weight-lifting twice a week good enough?
  • is it really bad that I’m not doing yoga?

These are some of the thoughts that run through my head nearly every day, and there are times when I want a break from the constant noise.  I long to be one of “those people” who just do it right without consciously focusing on it.  Well, bottom line for me: no such luck.

So, when I recently found out that a local surgical weight loss center that was offering a series of Mindful Eating classes, I was a bit torn.  I was excited; maybe this would be the key to help me break through my current struggles.  I was also apprehensive.  Did I truly want to invest more time and money in this?  In the end, I decided to sign up.  And, I’m very glad I did.

I’ve only been able to make two of the 12 classes so far, but they’ve been great classes.  The first one discussed resetting our neural pathways, essentially reprogramming our brain’s reponse to food.  It is a variation on the “change your thoughts, change your life” philosophy, which works, but is much easier said than done.  I’ve been doing it… with some success.

It was last week’s class, though, that really resonated with me.  At first glance, there seemed to be nothing for me to learn from a mood-food connection class.  I was wrong about that.

  • There are approximately 3,000 to describe human emotions.  Nearly 2,000 of them are for negative emotions while only 1,000 are for positive emotions.  No wonder we are skewed toward negativity!
  • I always wondered why replacing eating with something else never worked… until our instructor informed us that it takes 3-5 replacement activities to equal the mood-altering effect of food.  Wow!  THREE to FIVE activities to replace ONE food experience.  First of all, that’s how powerful food can be.  And, secondly, now I understand why this ostensibly logical technique never worked for me.  I thought it was me; it wasn’t.  Good to know on a lot of levels.
  • I’ve always been additionally irritated by admonishments to replace eating with another activity – like reading a self-help book or taking a bath or getting a pedicure – because they are almost never practical . When I’m at work, wanting to chow down, I can’t simply run a bath.  Or, when the compulsion to eat hits me at 11:30 at night, the spa isn’t going to be open for a pedicure.  And, eating is about zoning out; reading a self-help book isn’t gonna do it because it’s the opposite of what I’m trying to achieve.  So… I raised the issue in my class, and voila… our instructor had the answer. Deep breathing!  There’s always time to stop and breathe deeply, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.  And, it works.

I’ll miss this week’s class, and I’m a bit bummed about it.   Thank goodness for next week.

February 22, 2010 at 9:40 pm 1 comment

Soldiering On…

My Honey and I had a fabulous homecoming from his disappointing and scary motorcycle race, and my mum’s husband is out of the hospital and doing well.

I started an intense and highly selective leadership program, and we just returned from a very fun camping trip with friends… our first camping experience as a married couple and in the rain.  Nothin’ like snugglin’ up with your man while the thunder booms overhead and lightning flashes through the mesh windows.

I enjoyed the healthy stuff I brought for the trip, but I also indulged in some goodies brought by others: Oreos, Doritos and homemade s’mores, which we managed to cook over a damp fire in between rain showers.  I talked to my girlfriend a little about my weight gain and how I’ve been struggling for several months being 7 or so pounds up.  She said she couldn’t tell, which was nice… made even nicer by the fact that she’s extremely direct and would tell me straight up if she felt otherwise.  It was nice, along with being away from the computer and cell phone access, not to have a scale around and not to keep track of every morsel.  I felt free to just be me and do what I wanted to do with some moderating.

Returning to the real world this afternoon, I picked up the mail and found the latest issue of “More” magazine.  Candace Bushnell’s column really resonated.  Titled “Why I’m a beauty scrooge”, it details why she is against cosmetic surgery.  She relates a story in which, earlier in life, she’s offered a half-price boob job. Even with a huge discount, she couldn’t afford it, and she realized she was “…just going to have to soldier on” with her “…grossly imperfect body”.

That is EXACTLY how I feel on most days: that I am soldiering on with a grossly imperfect body.  It was wonderful to read that Candace Bushnell, an extremely successful writer and a “cougar” with a much younger boyfriend, has felt this way for years.  As she says, the message is “change your looks, and you can change your life”. 

Here’s the funny thing, though.  I have done that!  I have drastically changed my looks, and I have drastically changed my life.  It’s actually pretty darned amazing.  The life I’m living now is one I never even dreamed of.  It’s miraculous to me.  I am doing things personally and professionally that are exciting and challenging and notable.  I am making a difference in my community, and going on adventures, big and small, with my new husband.  My life has a surreal quality. 

Yet, I am still “soldiering on” when it comes to my looks.  There are days – after I see myself on TV or after I see a Facebook picture of a friend in a bikini who never let herself get fat and then had to fix it – that I am utterly devastated by what I see in the mirror… so much so that the urge to hide in the closet is nearly irresistible.  But, I soldier on, knowing that I cannot discount the love of my man by dissing what he sees as beautiful… knowing that my contribution to work is based on my skills and attitude, not my face or body shape… knowing that my support and appreciation of my friends and family has nothing to do with the size of my jeans. 

I hope to get past the soldiering.  It’s admirable but tiresome, and in my case, it’s wasteful of valuable energy.  It helps me live life fully, bringing me a kind of stubborn resolve to try that new thing “in spite of”, but it takes a toll at the same time, leeching joy and peace.

Instead, I hope to be able to truly embrace my transformation and appreciate its significance now… and what it will lead to in the future that I can’t yet see.  I guess I’ll keep soldiering on toward that goal.

September 21, 2009 at 4:10 am Leave a comment

Minor Meltdown

I had a minor meltdown tonight.  My frustration with not being able to eat what I want when I want to overwhelmed me, and I kinda lost it. I cursed and stomped my feet and was generally miserable.  It’s hard on my fiance when I’m like that.  He understands more than most, as he struggles with overeating himself, but he doesn’t get the anger I feel about the hand I’ve been dealt in life when it comes to my physical body. 

I am so angry, so resentful that I have to fight so hard not to give in to my eating desires.  Why is this my curse?  Why don’t other people have this problem?  And for those who choose not to fight it, why are they seemingly so comfortable with that decision?? Why does everyone look at me like I have six heads when I try to explain the compulsion?  When I describe the fear of falling completely off the wagon and losing everything?  They think I’m overly obsessive, and even my fiance said the same thing tonight when we finally talked through my upset.  He’s tired of reiterating that he loves me for the inside but that he truly does think I’m beautiful and sexy.  I don’t blame him; I’m tired of the whole thing, too, and I know it’s irritating for him.

Sometimes I feel so uncomfortable in my own skin that I just want to get away.  No one – not one person – in my circle understands how that feels.  My fiance thinks I want to get away from him when I want to leave.  It’s not that; I don’t want to leave him.  I want to leave myself behind.  Unfortunately, I can’t do that.  No matter where I go, there I am.

I don’t know how to get past this part of myself.  We keep rehashing it, and he wondered aloud tonight when we would stop having this same conversation.  He wasn’t particularly annoyed when he said it, but I can see that coming if I can’t overcome this. 

A lot of it, I know, has to do with stress and fatigue.  I haven’t been sleeping well at night, and along with managing wedding details and projects, my work has been extremely busy and intense.  Knowing all that, though, doesn’t make it easier.  I’m mad at myself for freaking out; I’m mad at myself for continuing to have this struggle; I’m mad at myself for taking it out on my fiance.  I’m just plain mad as hell.

I feel better now that my fiance and I have talked, but it’s not over.  These feelings are always within me; they just ebb and flow.  At some point, I will have to come up with a way to deal with it for good.  I just don’t know when or how.

July 23, 2009 at 4:22 am Leave a comment

I can relate…

I just read an excerpt of “Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater” by Frank Bruni.  Wow!  SO much of it sounded familiar.  Never getting enough food, sneaking food, always being too big in comparison to my peers, throwing up after eating too much.

I’ve never approached full-fledged bulimia, but I have thrown up to purge the excess calories.  Interestingly enough, I never did it as a child or even a young adult.  It’s much more recent than that.  The first time was a couple of years ago, and I went through a period where I did it fairly regularly.  Then I would stop, and then when things got stressful, I would do it again for a spell. 

Mr. Bruni talks about finding a bathroom where he’d have privacy and giving his face time to calm down so that it didn’t reveal the signs of his vomitting.  I have done the same thing, sneaking into the bathroom in a restaurant, hoping no one that I knew walked in while I was throwing up, putting eye drops in to get rid of the redness before heading back to the table.

He doesn’t mention this, but I wonder if others have had a hard time making themselves throw up.  I’ve had times when, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t get anything up.  It’s maddening.  So frustrating to bring tears to my eyes with the effort, hacking and gagging, with nothing to show for it.

I haven’t done in it in several months, but it remains tempting, especially right now when my weight’s up 5 or so stubborn pounds.  I think that what keeps me from making it a habit is that I’m generally so health-conscious.  It’s hard to justify self-induced vomitting when I otherwise work diligently to take good care of myself.  But I definitely feel the pull of it.  It’s an appealing solution to a problem that frequently seems insurmountable.

The author describes his favorite foods like he’s writing a love story; he remembers every nuance: the texture, mouth feel, scent.  Food is like that for me, too.  It’s extraordinarily vivid and compelling.  He mentioned that he’d volunteer to clear the table so that he could lap up the remnants of dessert.  Me, too!  The author turned away from the scale in the doctor’s office.  Me, too!  I even went so far, when I got older, as to refuse to be weighed at all.

One thing I didn’t do was throw up when, as a child, I didn’t get the additional servings of food I wanted, which Mr. Bruni did.  That seems like very odd behavior to me, and yet it makes a weird kind of sense.  My relationship with food is so disordered that odd is normal.  It’s a struggle to relate to people who don’t feel an irresistible compulsion to eat.  I am bewildered by people who can leave food sitting in front of them without giving it a second thought once they’ve had their fill.  It’s foreign to me, truly foreign. 

While our stories are not exactly the same, I feel a kinship with Mr. Bruni.  I understand the torment, the fear, the shame, the turmoil that he’s lived with all his life.  I will be buying his book very soon.

July 17, 2009 at 3:42 am Leave a comment

Gliding on the Gazelle

It’s been an off week for P90X this week.  Work has been so busy, with meetings and outreach events during non-work hours, that it’s been really hard to fit in the DVD workouts.  Instead, I’ve been doing 30 minutes on Tony Little’s Gazelle.  It’s not nearly as intense as P90X, but at least it’s something.  My fiance has been home, and I can do the Gazelle while he’s home without waking him up super early or hogging the TV/DVD player at night.  It’s also a little more mindless after a crazy long day at work.

I may end up repeating the P90X program in the fall, after the wedding and after some of my evening work commitments have passed.

July 17, 2009 at 3:18 am Leave a comment

Are we ever “cured”?

In September, I will have been doing my lifestyle change for seven years.  That’s a long time, and it seems like it should have gotten easier.  Unfortunately… not so much.

I have been struggling for the last few months with a 7-pound weight gain.  I know why: I’ve got a huge amount of stress in my life right now.

1) I’m planning a wedding.  Even though it’s an untraditional wedding, low-key by wedding standards, it’s still a big event, and big events require a lot of work.

2) I’ve branched into doing TV for my work.  It’s extremely difficult to see myself on television.  To me, the flaws are glaringly obvious and exacerbated by the medium.  I’ve been fighting not to get depressed over it, but it’s tough.

3) I’ve been doing a lot more public speaking on evenings and weekends.  I am so excited to be doing this outreach because it’s critical to get the consumer protection messages out there.  But, there’s a lot of pressure when you’re dealing with people face-to-face who’ve been victims of fraud or are losing their homes.  They want answers, and they want those answers from you.  It’s also tiring to prepare and to work the extra hours.  It’s definitely worth it, but it takes a toll.

4) My fiance and I have been doing a lot traveling, off-roading and camping with various mishaps occurring along the way like wheels falling off vehicles, getting lost, flying at weird times of day, etc.  Lack of sleep and anxiety bring out my desire to munch.

Most of my stress is “good” stress, coming from positive events in my life.  But, when I’m stressed, no matter where that stress comes from, I want to eat.  When I get tired, I want to eat.  At times, that urge to eat is nearly irresistable.  In fact, it’s proven to be irresistable for me a lot recently, which is why I’m up seven pounds.

Do we ever get “cured” of overeating?  Will I ever be “normal” in how I approach food?  I don’t think so; I think I’ll always have this yoke around my neck.  It will be lighter sometimes, but it’ll always be there.

It’s an issue that obesity researchers continue to explore.  Irene Rubaum-Keller’s article “What is recovery from addiction?” asks, “If you are an addict, can you ever really get well or are you just destined to manage your tendency to be addicted to things/people/substances forever?”.  My experience tells me I will not “get well”, that instead I’ll just be managing the situation for the rest of my life.  And it bums me out that experts, people who’ve been researching this problem for years, don’t have any answers for me.

Rubaum-Keller says:

The bottom line is; we don’t know the answer to that question. The definition of recovery the committee came up with was this “a voluntarily maintained lifestyle composed characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship.” It involves trading the easy drug/sex/gambling/food/shopping/alcohol high, with something more difficult to attain that is also more meaningful and lasting. Recovery does not just mean sobriety. It is a more holistic experience that involves improving one’s life in various ways.

I am committed to the path I’ve chosen, and for the most part, I’m glad I made the choice.  But voluntary maintenance is HARD.  I keep expecting it to get easier, and it just doesn’t.  That’s my reality.  For now, I can’t change it, so I’ve got to be aware of it and work with it the best I can.

In my current situation, I’m trying to focus on the fact that all I’ve gained is seven pounds.  I’m also proud of having taken on a very intensive exercise program with P90X.  My body is really strong; all my clothes still fit.  I’m having the adventure of a lifetime.  I’m managing the food situation successfully for the most part.  That’s the best I can do, and it has to be good enough for now.

July 2, 2009 at 2:01 pm 1 comment

Older Posts

Recent Posts