I’m Still the Same Person

I jumped on Facebook the other day and received a notification that I had been tagged in a photo.  My first thought was “where was I recently that someone tagged me?”  Hoping it was a fun memory I had forgotten about.   I went to the post and much to my chagrin was an old photo of me from high school.  It was a photo of me when I was at one of the lowest points in my life as far as self-esteem.  I remember those times vividly.   Overweight, not finding clothes to fit.   Feeling like a laughingstock.  Feeling invisible, or perhaps hoping I was.

The pain flooded back as real as if it were those almost 40 years ago.  I immediately removed the tag “incriminating” me.  I was so embarrassed and hoping the tag was removed before anyone could see it.   I don’t have many photos of me overweight, so I took a screen shot of the photo and sent it to my daughter. My daughter knows my struggles and I wanted her to understand why I’m obsessed with my weight.  Her response was “you’re not that person anymore”.

Her statement made me pause and reflect on that.   The photo was from a performance when I was part of a singing group called “The Madrigal Singers”.  I loved singing back then and I still love to sing.  I loved art back then and I still love art.  I was kind and smart.  I am still kind and smart.  I had an amazing family and I am blessed to still have my family.

Does it make me a better, more likable person because I lost weight?  Have I changed or has society treated me differently because my outward appearance changed?  I believe it’s a combination of things.

I didn’t like myself the way I was.  This caused me to be introverted.  That said, society did play a role in that.  Being made fun of for my weight told me that being overweight was a bad thing and a sign of weakness.  When I lost weight, people treated me differently.  There was a marked difference in people’s interaction, and it was unsolicited.

As I lost weight, I physically felt better and was able to move more easily.  I could shop for clothes in the girls’ section instead of the “moms” section (back then clothes were not made over a certain size).  I wasn’t afraid of people thinking I was a “freak of nature”.

So, even though internally I feel like the same person, what has changed is my self-esteem and not caring what others think.  I’m focused on what I love to do and all the things that make me who I am.

When deciding to write this blog I wasn’t going to include the photo from high school.  It is still too painful to look at.  However, I thought by not including it and was becoming like “society” and thinking that girl should be invisible.   That girl was a kind, amazing girl and she deserves to be known!  I love her!  It feels so good to say that!

I also wanted to include a photo of the same girl who worked hard to be stronger and self-confident.  If you are struggling to lose weight, do it to focus on you and not society.  Focus on all that you are and what you love to do.  Be healthy so you can continue to be you for a very long time!

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Scale is Life

SCALE

For as long as I remember I have been obsessed with the scale.   It’s a morning and evening ritual and I am hard wired to respond to the number of the scale. Most times it’s not necessary for me to check because I can usually look at my waist and know exactly what the number will be.   On the rare occasion I am surprised by the number I have been known to throw my arms up in the air in jubilation or drop to my knees with chagrin.

They say never to look at the scale and that you should know how you feel and judge by how her clothes fit.   That always terrified me because I never wanted to gain so much weight that my clothes were no longer comfortable.   To me it was like going a full semester in school with only one final.   No do-overs.

All of this said, something happened to change how I look at the scale.   For the VERY first time in my entire life I did not see a number and think of how my daily strategy would be.   I saw life.  I felt alive.   I was aware that the scale reflected a healthy human being that was taking up space in the world causing a response from the scale.  I was grateful I registered presence on the scale.  I am alive.

The reason for this new perspective was the passing of a wonderful person.  Someone who lived a great life – a kind-hearted soul, lover of the outdoors and epitome of a family man.  The passing came after what I consider a brief illness.   It makes you shake your head in bewilderment and you can’t accept it.  Often with the passing of someone you pause and appreciate life and how quickly things can change. What changed in me was how small and embarrassed I felt worrying about weight.  Worrying about how I looked.  Worrying about clothes I was wearing.  Letting my thoughts be consumed with what was in my cabinets that I could eat.

The morning of the funeral I did what was rote for me and got on the scale.  I didn’t deliberately tell myself to appreciate life and not be concerned with the scale.  But that morning I didn’t go into strategy motion, or celebrate, or beat myself up.  Because the scale moved, I felt alive.  I felt healthy.  I felt strength.

I will continue to exercise and eat healthy, and yes, weigh myself.   But I will be grateful, and I will be motivated to do those actions that help me to have energy to keep living life.  The scale is my reassurance that I am alive and have choices and have been granted one more day.

Thank you for reading.SCALE

Feeling Fraud

I started and stopped writing this edition of my blog many times.  It is difficult to write.   At this point in my life I thought I was successful as someone who conquered the weight loss issues, the food addiction issues.  Yet here I sit struggling, not happy where I am.

I have been much lower with my weight, approx. 9 pounds lower.   I knew when I was there it was pushing it and was content to gain a couple of pounds.  I gained those couple of pounds and then fell victim to too many carefree weekends and holidays and moved up to a plateau where I have resided for the past year.   I was okay with that.  However, the problem is that when you’re obsessed you spend every waking moment worried.

I know everything there is to know about losing weight.  I truly do.  But there are moments that I literally shake for wanting to eat something.   I lose the ability to redirect my thoughts to anything else.  Something else takes over and my breathing is accelerated, and I snack and can’t stop.   What has helped me from packing on pounds is that I am at the gym every day.  But to work that hard at the gym to stay at the same weight, and even gain a pound here and there is exasperating.

I hit an emotional low and just wanted to sleep and make the obsession go away.  The next day I started again.  However, this time I had the day off and just did those things that made me happy.   I gardened all day and organized my home.  I skipped exercise which normally gives me terrible anxiety, but I just wanted to be happy and focus on what I love.  I ended up skipping my exercise routine for an entire week!   That was the first time in a dozen or so years that I have done that.

The outcome was awesome!  I actually lost weight!  I was so focused on doing what I loved that I wasn’t thinking about my next meal.  I didn’t expect to quit exercising because I recognized that I had the energy to accomplish so much because I was in good shape.  When  I did decide start exercising again, I couldn’t wait.   I usually listen to music and podcasts while I exercise, and I was looking forward to hearing new content.

I am always learning new things about diet and myself.  Many times, I lose it and want to give up but every – single – morning I start again.  I am hard wired to need to be in shape.  Too many formative years of associating negative emotions and pain to being overweight.  While I can understand where I am and who I am that is something that will never go away.

As I said this was difficult to write.  My intent with this blog was to share what I have learned and my success.  However, admitting to struggling every day made me question if I should be sharing.  Do I have the answers for others?  Why should they listen to me?  Am I a fraud?

I came to the conclusion that I am not a fraud.  I am someone addicted to food.  Don’t know why – just am.  I start every day to work on myself and this blog is for those with similar struggles who get it.   They get it and my hope is that they never give up.  Start every day.  Try everything.  When something doesn’t work or did but doesn’t now, try something else.

This is my truth.  Thank you for listening.

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Power/Strength vs. Victim/Weakness

Before I started writing this blog, I was still struggling with staying on track with maintaining my weight and I’m still learning about what makes me get out of control with my eating behavior.

When I am doing great and in control of what I eat, I find myself wondering how I was ever in a bad place.   What made me cross over to the other side?  When I am out of control, I wonder about the same thing but in the reverse.  How did I get back in control of my behavior?   It’s as if there is a very thick concrete wall preventing me from breaking free of the behavior.

The behavior I’m talking about is an extreme amount of energy around food – the obsessive thoughts about my next meal.   It’s not necessarily poor choices and sugary desserts, it’s the behavior of racing to the pantry as soon as I get home from the gym and eating another breakfast or putting granola on my yogurt and then finishing the entire bag of granola, etc.

Recently I went through the cycle and tried to understand my thoughts and feelings within each one.   When I’m in control I am self-confident and feeling strong with everything I’m doing in my life.   I am organized at home; I am productive at work and I’m managing my finances and so on.   I am busy with all positive things I enjoy doing.

When I’m out of control with my behavior I am in “victim mode”.  I am feeling that there isn’t anything in my life I have control of, and I am the victim of the circumstances around me.   I need something to look forward to and food is in my control.   As I have said in past blogs, I eat so fast that it really isn’t about what I eat or even the food.   It’s that I can control something and can say yes to something.  And yes, that instant gratification is addicting.

I have also discovered that I’m a happiness junkie.  I love to have a little burst of happiness – something in my day to look forward to.  I’m putting together a list of things that I can do to give me my happiness high – that don’t cost me money!!   For example, I love to create and do advertisements.  I can get lost for an hour just finding one specific graphic out of thousands of just one object for a design.  I also love being motivated by the experts on business or success.  There are thousands of great seminars on You Tube.

Today was a good day.  I did well with getting over the concrete wall to better behavior.   It started with exercising to a Podcast by Gary Vaynerchuk (obsessed), then I wrote “I am enough” with a lipstick on my bathroom mirror (it was on the Today Show).   Who knows when I finish writing this, I might even do the superhero stance for five minutes just to seal the deal!

Thank you for reading.  The Effort is in the Attitude.Ready to save the world.

Not Your Mother’s Green Eggs and Ham

Would you could you eat in a car?

Would you after a night at the bar?

Would you eat from stress after work?

Would you eat instead of working out?

Would you eat your son’s sandwich crust?

Would you eat on a bus?

Would you eat frosting off cupcakes?

Would you eat after failed dates?

Would you hide the food wrappers?

Would you eat while listening to rappers?

Would you eat when you celebrate?

Would you lie about what you ate?

Would you eat when depressed?

Would you eat when undressed?

Would you eat in a car?

Would you eat from the jar?

Would you eat from social anxiety?

Would you eat a sundae instead of drinking tea?

Would you eat peppermint bark, while in the dark?

Would you eat in a park?

Would you eat under a deck?

Would you eat because… what the heck?

Would you eat food still frozen?

Would you eat scalding food from the oven?

Would you eat from the carton?

Would you eat the entire dozen?

 

Yes, yes, I would.

I would eat as I am.

And I would eat them because I am.

But I would try every day.

I can do this! I would say.

To focus on life instead of food.

Because I am worth it!

And so are you!

Close up of a green easter egg

 

 

First Exercise Routine

My father’s birthday is tomorrow, and he was my first inspiration for consistent exercise.   He used to box in his college years and kept part of his training routine into his early seventies.

This routine was done in the basement in front of the wood burning stove.  He would put his t-shirt and shorts on followed by your basic gray sweat pants and gray hooded sweatshirt.   Then he would add another layer that consisted of plastic gray pants and matching plastic gray top.  We called it the “space suit”.  This helped keep his body temperature in and burn extra calories.   He finished off the ensemble with a thick heavy weight belt that went around his waist.   He would turn on the television and jog in place, knees high up to his waist.  Between the layers and the high temperature of the room from the fire he was soaked when he was finished.

My father never referred to it as exercise.  He never said, I’m going to work out.  Never complained about it.  It was just something he did after dinner and something that was part of our growing up.   “Daddy’s in the basement jogging”.  It was as rote as our address or phone number.   I never thought about it as he was trying to stay in shape or lose weight, etc.  But when I decided to make another effort to lose weight, I thought I would try jogging.

I suited up like my father except for the “space suit” and weight belt.  I did it after school before my father was home to build a fire so it wasn’t as hot.  Our basement had four rooms that were all connected by doors.  I opened all the doors so I could jog in a circle rather than in place.   I didn’t think my knees would go that high if I jogged in place and that seemed like agony.   The circle wasn’t perfect, there was a small bathroom in between rooms and the doors weren’t lined up.  I had to do a little side stepping to keep going but I was able to continue my trek without stopping.   I cranked up the record player and off I went.

This was perfect for me!  I loved music and I could jog to the beat and lose my thoughts into dreaming about how I would look thin, confident, and successful.  The best part was no one could see me!  It wasn’t pretty with all my mixed matched layers and huffing and puffing but it was successful.  Nothing would stop me from my routine, even if I was out and didn’t get home until 9 o’clock at night, I was determined.

I exercise at a gym now without caring if people see me. If they see me it’s because I am alive and determined.   I wear a crumpled baseball cap, wrinkled tee shirt, sometimes a random bleach stain on my yoga pants, and sometimes my socks don’t match.  It’s still not pretty but I still dream – new dreams.

It doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to be agony.  Find something you like and build!

The Really First Exercise

I remember being in our dimly lit kitchen at night.  I don’t recall my age, but I remember looking up at my father and seeing him bringing his arms up in the air.  I mimicked this action with my own version of “jumping jacks”.   I thought this was fun exercising with my father.

When I was well into my adulthood my mother was talking about my father saying his prayers.  My mother is protestant and my father is Greek Orthodox.   She said that he was very elaborate with his praying ritual.  He used to be a little embarrassed so he would go into the kitchen at night to pray in private.  When she told us this story I was immediately brought back to my memory.  It turns out my father wasn’t exercising, he was praying and lifting his arms up to God.   I can only image how difficult it was to keep his composure with a toddler flaring about below.

Whether you are praying or exercising, include your children.  They will know it as being fun!

Happy 86th Birthday Daddy!!  Inspiring me still today!

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What you Won’t See in My Blog

When I was laying out the format for the book version of “It’s Not About the Food” I was very clear and purposeful on what I would include and especially what I would NOT include.

What you won’t see is a fat photo of me.  It was a painful and shameful time for me.  I share my personal stories and how I felt and that is enough exposure of myself to be comfortable.  I don’t think showing anyone’s painful image is helpful.  I want to keep a little of myself and my dignity intact.

I cannot stand the show “The Biggest Loser”.   It made me cringe to watch it.  To parade these people with struggles on a public stage showing them at their worst I found humiliating and painful.  Never mind displaying a giant screen with one’s weight posted!

You won’t see me promote grueling exercise routines.   If you dread it, you won’t do it.  As I mentioned in the previous blog, take is slow and build.   You do not have to do it perfectly, safely yes, perfectly not so much.  I am aghast at again watching “The Biggest Loser” and these people being tested and yelled at (motivated?), in order to burn fat.  Certainly, I have days that I feel sluggish and I’m not motivated but I tell myself “I don’t HAVE to work out – I GET to work out”.   I am healthy, I am alive, I can do this!

You won’t see me show food or recipes.  Anytime I have seen a photo of food, doesn’t matter how nutritious or low in calories, I want to eat.  Period.   Food = Craving.  This is part of my addiction.

If I ever publish the book version of this blog, the cover will be beautiful.  I want people to find their happiness and I want it to start with holding a book that is beautiful and filled with pages of hope.

What I hope to share is that you CAN succeed.  I am living proof!  I share my stories so that you will understand where I came from with my weight.   The ups and downs and what were successful.  It’s still a struggle today but I NEVER give up.  NEVER GIVE UP!

The Big Fat Elephant

As with most school yards, the day is started with students lined up outside in front of their classroom doors.  When I was in sixth grade that how ours started as well.   I was walking with my younger sister to our doors.  Hers came first (4th grade), before mine.   As we were in front of hers, a boy in my class started yelling from the distance, “here comes the big fat elephant”, complete with the gesture of dangling his arm in front of himself to mimic an elephant trunk.  He was first in the long line so that the rest of the class could hear.

I could feel the presence of my little sister to my left and the presence felt like throbbing.  I didn’t look at her to see her expression.  I just continued walking toward my class and left her with hers.  The throbbing feeling was embarrassment for my sister.   I was used to ridicule but it was contained to my own little world.  I never shared anything at home.  It was if I lived a double life.   In front of my family life was fine and I wasn’t casting shame on them.  It was a surreal feeling to have my worlds collide.

Tab Brown, the “mimicker” was all smiles and laughing.  I thought perhaps he was just trying to joke with me because we sat next to other and were friendly.  He had to be joking, right?  We are friends, right?   That’s all I remember from that event, feeling ashamed for my sister.  I asked her recently and she doesn’t remember it at all.  I doubt Tab Brown would remember either.

I have come to realize that many times in a bully situation it isn’t about the “victim”.  The “victim” did nothing wrong.  The bully just wanted, or needed, to laugh that day.  They wanted attention, they needed to let off steam from whatever it was they were going through.  I was there.  I was an easy target.  If I saw Tab Brown today, I wouldn’t tell him.  It makes no difference.  He won’t remember because it didn’t impact his life.  He got his release and attention and moved on.  I moved on but I still remember.  I still feel that throbbing to my side.  But today I am here writing about my success through the pain of the past.  And that’s pretty powerful!