Negative Tapes

A few weeks ago I had a very bad day.  Maybe more than one day.  Here’s a little bit of how it went.

I needed to get dog food that day.  The can was completely empty, so that was the day I needed to go.  The dog food I use (BTW, Costco brand dog food has some pretty good reviews, and it has glucosamine right in it) is in the big city.  But actually it is in 3 big cities.  I couldn’t decide which city I wanted to go to.  I couldn’t decide what else I wanted to do for fun.  I couldn’t decide what/when/where I wanted to eat while I was there.  I put my head down on the table and thought what is wrong with you?  You can’t even make a decision about how to have fun.

Before I left, I played a couple of video games on my Kindle Fire.  Negative tape:  What a loser.  You are wasting your entire life playing stupid video games.  Actual time elapsed:  15 minutes.

I finally figured out a plan, but before I left, I did a quick vacuum.  This time of year, I don’t even put the vacuum away.  I usually vacuum every day or two (thank you, Noah.)  Negative tape:  you are such a slob.  Why don’t you vacuum more often/better/more thoroughly?

I headed out to the car, but before I left, I went over and worked on the wood pile for a bit. I straightened up some of the stacks, and brought in some wood for the wood stove, and then covered the stacks with the tarps.  There was news of a storm coming in.  Negative tape:  (for weeks previous–what is wrong with you?  You can’t even get outside to even up your stacks of firewood?  What a lazy bum.)  That day–what a half-assed job you did.  Other people have such neat stacks of firewood.  What is wrong with you?

I got in the car to leave, and it hit me.  Evidently, almost nothing I did was good enough.

I am not a psychologist, or even a self-acceptance blogger.  Karen does that much better than me.  I hesitated to write about this because I don’t have a definitive solution for it.  I do think that recognizing a problem is half the battle.  I’m not sure the Stuart Smalley approach is helpful.  Although just watching that does make me laugh.

I don’t do daily affirmations.  But I have thought about what I do accomplish, and why I don’t accomplish all that I think I should.  I talked to my best friend.  She knows me better than almost anybody, and she is good about being truthful AND affirming at the same time.  She asked, “exactly how many hours in a day do you think its acceptable to be ‘slovenly?’ (my word, not hers.)  I thought about it and said, well, I guess I think that no time is acceptable for that.

Last Saturday, I got to meet up with one of my very long time blog friends!! (ack—bad blogger admission here-no photographic evidence!)  Juice just recently moved out here all the way from Baltimore.  And she mentioned to me that owning her own home, and all the upkeep and repairs that go with that, had caused her more anxiety than she had realized. This was a good reminder to me.  Keeping up a house is a lot of work for one person.

And then there’s the whole aging thing.  Oh, Iets talk about that tomorrow, when I can stand it better…

Just so you know, I am fine.  I don’t need any positive affirmations or anything.  In fact, I waited until I was feeling more positive to actually write this blog.  Probably the very best thing for me to do is to actually PRAY the serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Much better than yelling “SERENITY NOW,”  don’t you think?

I don’t think dogs have negative tapes, do you?

Sophie, in her favorite alternative throne and a rare moment of serenity:

Monk, serenity-master (Mr. Monk had a dental with four extractions and some surgery on his foot this week–came through with flying colors!):

Bess, practicing serenity in Mr. Monk’s chair:

Noah, in a serene moment:

And on a completely unrelated subject, I found this Muppets video on “The Cat Came Back” LOL-worthy.

An Alternate Universe

Who likes science fiction?  I used to like reading Ray Bradbury, and I loved the first of C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy.  It taught me that there were possibly other ways of seeing God besides the pedantic ways I had grown up knowing Him.

If you don’t like science fiction, you will have to have a really good imagination to even conceive of what I am going to try to describe.  Because I can’t really truly conceive of a world like this myself.

What if, in our world, bumps and bubbles, and wrinkles and extra skin, and dare I say FAT  were thought to be desirable?  What happened that made our description of human beauty so narrowly defined?  After all, humans are the ones who worked very hard to create these breeds of dogs that are considered beautiful and desirable by many people.

Extra thin:

Extra wrinkled:

Extra fat:

More wrinkles:

And extra short legs–I mean, extra cute:

It is almost painful to read “weight loss blogs” any more.  Perfectly normal, beautiful, functional woman degrading themselves, spending endless hours obsessing over an impossible to achieve “standard of beauty,” spending what amounts to years of their lives being unhappy and depressed about themselves.  Because they are not a certain shape.  It is not because they aren’t whole and functional people.  Some of these women are wives and mothers (world’s most important job,) marathon runners, weight lifters, swimmers, and artists.  Unbelievable, remarkable women.

And before you think I am pointing the finger at other people, I’m talking to myself too.  I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about this the past few months.  Especially since I changed the header on my blog to be about “living a whole and healthy life,” instead of just being about “weight loss and life.”

I am NOT in weight loss mode right now.  Not even in the same country.  Yet, every single day I think about it a great deal.  I think about how I “should” be losing weight, or how I liked how I looked a few pounds ago.  And then I think about how I shouldn’t be thinking about that.

When I swim and even when I walk, I feel so good and strong (aside from the knee.)  I love how energetic and slim I feel (is that a feeling??)  I am happy with the way I spend my time right now.  I am putting more energy into my art (quilting,) and I am working on The Bridge, our child sponsorship program.  Alleviating hunger in the world, even in a small way, is so important to me (wrote about it here.)  I am happy with my daily schedule for the most part.  I am even happier with how I am keeping my house up.  So why would so much of my thought life be spent on this stupid weight issue?

I don’t have an answer for me or for you.  A couple of things that might work–the “acting as if” thing–in other words, I act as if I am okay with my current weight.  I wear shorts, even  in public, and my summer uniform has been a variety of sleeveless teeshirts.  The thought “I’m too fat to swim now” flits through my head quite often, but I load up the bag and head to the gym anyway.

Another thing that might help is the “what you say becomes your reality,” that I have read recently on someone’s blog.  In other words, I try not to use degrading words (even to myself) to describe my physical body.

People, we are more than physical beings.  No matter how you believe, you can’t change that.  We are more than body.  We have a spirit that is infinitely more valuable than the vessel that contains it. Thank goodness.

And one last note to “women of a certain age.”  Who came up with that term?  I love it!  Anyway, as we age, we are ALL going to retain weight around the middle.  We are.  We Are.  WE ARE.  I don’t know why.  When I get an audience with God and I have run out of the important questions, that is the first one I am going to ask.  I’ll report back to you.  In the meantime, will you try to make peace with that fact?  Please?  And yes.  I’m still working on that one myself.

(edited to add:  if you can’t relate to my doggie illustration, please continue on to the comments.  Karen’s description of a rhino on a treadmill is PRICELESS!)

A Different Way to Weigh

Okay, here goes.  A disjointed (ooh, good ‘j’ word–I’ve been playing Words with Friends lately,) unprofessional review of a very interesting book.

Health at Every Size was written by Linda Bacon, who started out with a masters degree in psychotherapy, and then went back to school to get her doctorate in physiology with a focus on nutrition and weight regulation.  She struggled for years with her own weight.  “Bacon’s pain and obsession about her weight fueled her determination to understand everything about weight regulation.”

The main point she tries to make in this book is that most people are not going to lose weight.  Period.  And if they do lose weight, in all probability they will regain that weight.  She spends a lot of time going over extensive research that shows this is true. (that’s the part I skimmed.)  And she points to many studies that show that being overweight is not necessarily detrimental to your health. (also skimmed.) I think she’s trying to say that if you accept your weight and stop judging yourself for it, it is easier to move forward and make changes that are truly healthy IN SPITE OF your weight.

“Self-love may be the most revolutionary act you can engage in.  A person who is content in his or her body–fat or thin–disempowers the industries that prey on us and helps rewrite cultural mores.”

She doesn’t promote “Health at Any and All Food.”  That’s kind of what I thought the “Health at Every Size” movement was about.  Not at all.  She actually promotes eating very healthy whole foods.  And makes a statement that sounds vaguely familiar.  “Enjoy a variety of real food, primarily plants.” Similar to Michael Pollan’s famous saying, “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  Who came first?

This was probably the most outstanding and interesting passage in the book:

Then recognize that you have a choice.  You can choose your own standard of beauty, one that is realistic and respectful, or you can choose society’s hurtful standards.  Just remember:  You only have one body and despite how well you live your life, it may never change.  Can you afford to hate yourself for the rest of your life?

 

Bring this new thinking to how you view your body.  Experts call this vision kinesthesia, which simply means how you sense and feel about your body.  Kinesthesia is a product of your imagination, much more influenced by your self-esteem than by others’ perception of you.  Only you have the power to alter it.

This might be what happened to me when I made that New Year’s Day list:

Most of all I want to live a balanced  healthful life.  WITHOUT ANGST.

I want to be

  • Active.
  • Creative.
  • Spiritual.
  • Generous.
  • Joyful.

I want to be all of these things.  I want them to be balanced in my life.  I even wrote “If being a little heavier is part of this, so be it.”

Something changed that day.  Well, lets be real.  This whole thing has been a process.  A LONG DRAWN-OUT PROCESS.  I started changing the way I think and the way I viewed myself.  I would no longer be embarrassed that I was ‘too fat’ to go to the gym, and put it off for a week or two until I ‘got the pounds off.’  I went to the gym as a proud overweight woman who wanted to continue to grow stronger.  I looked at myself in the mirror and liked what I saw.  Not compared to anyone else, either fatter or thinner.  I just was pleased with me.  Now don’t get me wrong.  That is in no way a 24 hour a day feeling.  In fact, last night I had to ask myself, so why DO you continue to weigh yourself?  Well the truth is, many times, mostly in the evening when I am sitting, I ‘feel’ very fat.  So I weigh myself to reassure myself that nothing has really changed.

And it has not.  I weigh almost exactly the same every time I get on the scale.  For the last few weeks I’ve taken a break from writing down everything I eat, and have not counted the calories either.  This does not mean that I have thrown out everything I have learned along the way.  Far from it.  Even my most recent foray into eating more protein has come into play.  I still am choosing good foods, balanced meals, basically no processed foods (except the most excellent cake at the missions weekend banquet :)) )  I am not engaging in angst over meals out, or wanting a treat now and again.  I am, however, still battling that feeling of ‘being bad’  even when I have only THOUGHT about eating something too rich.  So I’m a work in progress.  Still.  sigh.

Towards the end of the book she makes this statement:

“Failed attempts at losing weight make people feel like failures, and even those who succeed feel a never-ending pressure to retain that success that will always limit their ability to feel comfortable around food and in their bodies.”

This is what I was feeling a wee bit.  Like a ‘successful maintainer’ who was actually always failing.  I am thinking of changing the byline of my blog to something like ‘thoughts on a whole and healthy life.’  That would be more in line with what I write about anyway.  Since I really have nothing left to say about weight LOSS.

One more thought.  For some of us, who are attempting to maintain a weight lower that what our body wants, or perhaps we have mucked with our internal body mechanism by gaining and maintaining extreme amounts of weight, I do believe that if we don’t continue to ‘try’ to lose weight, or at least remain ‘vigilant’ in maintaining our weight, there is the distinct probability that we will regain weight.

This book was quite scientific, especially the first half, where she uses EXTENSIVE research to try to prove her point (that you can be overweight and healthy.)  But it was much more balanced in its approach to life and food and exercise than I expected.  I have written before that I am scared by some of the HAES advocates.  They seem so angry.  I think my life experience is much much different than many persons.  I was ‘morbidly obese’ for many years, but for the most part I was loved, and treated with respect, and had a very full and fulfilling life.  For some people that is not their experience, and thus, their anger and frustration.  Overall, this book had a lot to offer. (plus it was very cheap to download on my kindle.)  I wish so much that people would learn to be content with their bodies and just eat healthy foods and move around a bit.

Various and Sundry

Well, it seems like forever since I wrote here.  I still don’t have much to write about.  Plus its so cold and it seems like my hands are permanently frozen.  Not much motivation to type.

I’ve been staying on track with my healthy eating, mostly bobay plan (which is a carb cycling type of plan,) and I have most definitely kept up with my newly defined “I am an active person.”  I told my BFF about this proclamation, and she said, “Debby, you ARE an active person already.”  And I said I know, but now I want to be.  That seems different to me than just fitting in activities/exercise because that’s what’s necessary to keep the weight off.  I think that’s partly why I stuck that sentence in there about “If being a little heavier is part of this, so be it.”  I am going to be active because I want to be active, NOT because I want to look a certain way or fit a certain size. Does that make sense?  And does anybody else think its weird that it has taken me seven years to come to this point?

So between being active and having too many new games on my Kindle Fire, creativity is a bit stalled.  Must work on that trait next.

Today, in between the five loads of laundry that are all folded and put away, I started a new knitting project.  I started it because ever since I taught Shelley how to knit, well, before that even, I’ve been thinking about knitting again.  And I had a whole bagful of beautiful white yarn (that was previously an almost finished fisherman knit sweater in my former size 26-28!)  But while I sat there knitting (and Shelley, do you know how long it takes to get through a row of 195 stitches) I started thinking really negative thoughts about myself.  Why are you starting a new project that you’ll probably never finish?  Why are you sitting here, when you could be doing so many other things that need to be done?  You’re never going to get around to getting chickens (topic for another day.)  There were a lot more negative thoughts, and they are quite common, I realized.  They go on every day.  And if I hadn’t started knitting that sweater, negative thoughts about what a waste–all that good yarn and you just never get around to knitting it.  What’s wrong with you? would have been added to the mix.  So I did stop with those particular negative thoughts and realized that I was doing something positive that I had thought about for quite a while.  Its exhausting to be me.

I have consciously worked (mostly through this blog) on not indulging in negative thoughts about my weight.  I feel like I’ve made major progress in that area.  But these others…I’m gonna have to put a stop to them.  Probably has a lot to do with the major changes in my life in the past year.  I have a pretty good daily/weekly routine down, but it is very different than my life a year ago.

Well to end this post on a positive note, we (Wendy and I, and our project, “The Bridge,” for the kids of Carrefour Poy, Haiti,) had a stupendous day at church yesterday.  We did another presentation in front of the church.  Wendy had made a slide show of some of the kids and the scenes in the village (I was so nervous I forgot to look behind me to see it.)  There was such a positive response.  Since starting this in mid-December, we already have sponsors for 23 kids.  I was just elated when I realized how much money this would enable us to send to the pastor down there  to help with their school.  There is a lot of work involved, but I am more than happy to be able to do it.  This is what I was looking for when I retired.  Only then I didn’t even know what I was looking for.  Just being open to God’s leading. I started out telling Wendy that I didn’t think I could sponsor another kid, and for sure I was never going to Haiti.  Guess who has another little girl to pray for, and guess who is going to Haiti, probably sooner than later.  There are just a lot of details that we could take care of that are difficult to do long distance.  Plus, I want to see for myself, and look for what else we can do to help.  I am very excited about how this project is going.  Wendy came up with a verse that describes exactly how things have been happening since we started:

 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Tomorrow is sewing day, and guess who is bringing the food!  I made Helen’s recipe for the Coconut Curry Kale Soup with Shrimp, and I looked up a recipe for low fat cornbread that sounds simple and delicious, and quite reasonable calorie-wise.  It just seemed like a good pairing.  And for the morning I am going to make that delicious Triple Berry Granola Crisp.  I got it covered with healthy food for the day!

And now, as one of my favorite bloggers, Mr. Taylor, says, “Its back to the sofa” to knit one more row on that new project.