Health


Between the blizzard and being stretched pretty thin personally and professionally, I’ve been walking around in quit a fog over the last couple of weeks. But the sun is shining, it’s Friday, and I’m shaking the cobwebs out of my noggin.

I found a SUPERB blog this week, one that lessens the shame I feel about being overweight, while teaching ways to develop a healthy relationship with food, no matter what one chooses to eat. I give you, The Fat Nutritionist.  Once again, it’s a blog that’s been around for awhile, with many followers, and I’m rather late to the game. But Michelle over there is all about removing any sort of moral judgment from the fact of one’s weight, or what one eats.  And I *love* that.

Anyway, we are 16 days post blizzard, and virtually all the snow is gone.  It was well into the 50s here yesterday.  And all you big dog owners know what this means.  It means Big Dog goes out back, and comes back inside with mud caked up in between his toes and under his claws, and his undercarriage gets all splattered with God only knows what, mixed with mud.

We have hardwood floors in our little house, and with a newly mobile baby (crawling like a champ, if I do say so myself), I confess to being super-anal about how clean Big Dog’s paws have to be before I will let him roam in the living room.  So I dug out an old pitcher, and have taken to filling it with water and washing Big Dog’s paws, one at a time, when he comes in from the mud.  That’s right.  Big Dog gets a Doggie Foot Spa Bath several times a day.

I have known for months, in the dark back corners of my mind, that my eating patterns are totally out of control.  And it is honestly a total miracle that I have not ballooned up to 3265789 pounds because of it.

When I was pregnant with my son in late 2009 and early 2010, I was sick. as. a. dog.  The nausea lasted well into my second trimester, and got worse later in the day.  I lost weight during the first half of my pregnancy, and had a total net weight gain of about 15 pounds by the end.  By the time S was 8 weeks old, I was already about 5 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight, which is where I have stayed ever since (despite my atrocious eating and almost total lack of physical activity).  I’ve never had a particularly fast natural metabolism, so this kind of astounds me.  By any measure, I should have gained at least 15 pounds in the last 6 months. Probably more.

Part of this process for me has to be total awareness and acceptance of the crap I’m consuming, and just how bad it is for me.  I estimate that yesterday alone I crammed 4,000 calories in my mouth, including 4(!) cans of Cherry Coke.  And exercise?  That would be the walk between my office and my public transportation station: about 5 blocks each way.  Oh, and the physical exertion related to changing the Mt. Krakatoa of shit-filled diapers last night.

I’ve been perusing fitness and weight loss blogs (Jesus hell, there are countless such blogs that are really just web ads for some miraculous, super fast, all-natural weight loss solution), amassing tips and inspiration for this journey.  Several bloggers advocate taking photos at various intervals (monthly, quarterly, etc.).  I have to be honest…taking a photo of myself in my skivvies does NOT appeal to me, and I have a detailed plan about how I will immediately copy the photos to a password-protected CD and then delete from the camera before another living soul can even begin to be aware that said photos exist.  But I’m going to take those photos in the next few days.

I am putting together a detailed grocery list.  Obviously, the single easiest way for me to exercise the willpower to avoid eating crap is to THROW THE CRAP AWAY and replace it with healthful alternatives.  Tonight I will be purging my kitchen of the processed, refined, sugary, salty stuff and replacing it with the stuff we all know I should be eating.

I have also decided that I will be keeping a food and exercise log, at least in the beginning.  My capacity for denial knows no bounds, and I want to use that as a tool to hold myself accountable.  I’m going to share that log here.

Many, many people (including the gurus on weight loss shows like The Biggest Loser and Heavy) advocate taking measurements in addition to weighing in.  So I’ll be tracking my inches lost, as well as my pounds lost.

I’m going to apply some of my 12-step tools to this journey.  Most importantly, I am going to work hard to always examine my motives for doing things.  Am I eating because I am hungry, and/or for energy, or am I eating because I am bored or sad or anxious?  Again, it’s another way for me to get real with myself about what I’m doing to myself both physically and emotionally.  The truth is that food and eating are actually very complex emotional issues for me.  I will never treat my body better if I don’t work on those emotional issues, too.

Let me also proclaim my newfound affection for Jennifer’s blog, Losing the Shadow.  I relate so much to her, and I’m looking forward to tagging along with her as she works through many of the same issues that I face.

PS–Ordered 30-Day Shred yesterday.  Huzzah!  It will arrive early next week, along with the much-needed baby gate since S is on the very cusp of crawling.

I know I need to be healthier.  I know it in that intellectual way that we know things, and I even think I finally know it emotionally.  I know I have the strength to do it.

And honestly, I positively ache for more than just improved health.  One of my favorite bloggers, Kristin (whose “regular” blog can be found here), nearly made me all weepy with this post at her fitness blog.  I want that.  I want that feeling of power, of living in the very second that I am in at any given point.  My struggle with that is lifelong, and extends so far beyond fitness and health.  I joke that I have a PhD in worrying.  But it’s no joke.  While Al Anon has helped me a lot in this area (and maybe this is one reason why I feel more emotionally ready to really change the physicality of my life), I do still struggle with feelings of anger, bitterness, resentment, guilt, sadness and all that super awesome stuff when it comes to the past.  And I worry much more than a rational person should worry about the future.  I know that this has made me miss out on a lot of things in the present.  It makes me sad to think that this particular personality trait has not only hurt my own ability to live a happy life, but that it has done the same to my children.  And then I enter the shame spiral about the past, and here we go again…

I’m a good mom.  A damn good mom.  And I am feeling this need to be healthier and more powerful.  The need is starting to bubble up out of me and seep out of my pores.  I don’t want to be skinny.  I’ve never been skinny, and it is not in my genetic code to be skinny.  I want to be full of health and strength and power.  I want to push my body as far as it will go, and then push past that.  I want to take that feeling that my lungs have shriveled up into walnuts in my chest, breathe deep, and keep going.

I want to stop mindlessly shoving crap in my mouth, and I want to stop treating the refrigerator like it’s my savior.

I want these things.  And today, I am promising myself that I will do these things.  For me.  I will no longer use asthma or work schedule or parenting as excuses.  It’s hard for me to just leap off this cliff and make this promise to myself, especially since I am so Type A…I want a Plan and a Strategy and Rules to Follow.  But I know the more I overthink that, the easier it will be for me to give up.

What I know is that I have this DVD at home, and I’m going to start using it.  I have heard countless raves about this DVD, and I’m going to buy it today and start using it.    I am going to be kind to and gentle with myself, but I am going to have expectations of myself and I am going to hold myself accountable.  I am going to show my body and my mind the love and respect they deserve.

I am totally overweight.

As of this morning, I weigh in at 211 pounds.  Now, this is a teeny bit deceiving, because I am quite tall; 5′ 10″ to be exact.  But according to this handy BMI calculator, my BMI is 30.3, which puts me just over the edge into the obese category.  Ugh.  Obese.

My mother has been obese for as long as I can remember.  She was a petite teenager and young adult.  After her first pregnancy (with me), she lost some of the weight, but stayed chubby.  After her second pregnancy (five years later, with my brother), she never lost the weight.  Her father died not long after my brother was born, and years later, my own father (with whom I have a complicated relationship, but don’t we all?) shared with me that my mom was never the same after her dad died.

My mom was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes when I was in middle school.  She never really did anything to control her diabetes, and she continued to gain weight.  14 years ago her doctor put her on insulin.  She considered that a “relief,” because it meant she now had a pharmaceutical way to control her blood sugar and could continue to drink Coke and eat crap.  12 years ago she stopped working, and since then has had a series of health issues that have caused her weight to balloon to what I believe is well in excess of 500 pounds.  She is virtually bedridden.

My own weight issues are inextricably tied up with my mom, and my feelings about her own weight and health.  I have never been morbidly obese, and my heaviest (non-pregnancy) weight was about 4-5 years ago, when I was creeping up on 250.  I’ve been in the low 200s for several years now.  Frankly, I’m surprised I haven’t gained weight since S was born last year.  I’m eating like crap.  I’m not respecting my body, and I’m not making choices that will maximize my potential for a long, happy, healthy life with my family.

I struggle tremendously with exercise.  We cannot afford a gym membership, or a treadmill.  Because my husband works out of state, it is not possible in the winter for me to exercise outside (there is no one to stay with the children, and I am already gone 11-12 hours a day because of work).  Part of me screams to check out some exercise DVDs from the library, and then I get discouraged because there is no place in our teeny tiny house for me to actually do them.  Our living room is far too small.  I get angry with myself because I know these are just excuses, but I feel stuck.  I know I need to exercise, but my mental block seems insurmountable.

I know I am capable of eating better.  I’ve done it in the past.  I’ve had success with Weight Watchers, and with various “watch what you eat” programs endorsed by Oprah/her chef/her trainer over the years.  I’m an intelligent person who certainly KNOWS that Cherry Coke and Twix do not make an even remotely acceptable breakfast.

One of the many reasons I’m here is to give voice to these as-yet unspoken things inside me that seem to stymie my personal growth.  I know I can do better.  I know I deserve better.  And I certainly know my husband and kids deserve better.  So why aren’t I actually doing better?

Anyway, on to lighter things.  Here’s another of my favorite blogs, and it’s one I turn to when I need a laugh.  My pets have ruined plenty of things; it’s great to know I’m not alone.