I feel like I am emerging from a long bout of stress, self-negativity and sadness that seemed to begin in veterinary school. Part of this time involved a lot of weight gain as a result of emotional eating and not caring for myself in general (which has manifested in many areas). I am chronicling my trek out of that sadness.
January 1st, 2013
June 8th, 2012
October 26th, 2011
Now that work feels less hectic, I am gradually getting back on track with taking care of myself. I have to work on my coping mechanisms when life gets overwhelming. Being a slug and eating everything in sight doesn’t cut it.
August 7th, 2011
I have had a bad few weeks. I have been very busy at work. I couldn’t make it to my sister’s wedding this weekend (okay, it’s her third but still…) and I’ve been feeling off. I have fallen into old habits of eating a lot of fast food, snacking excessively and eating easy foods for meals. I’ve been sluggish and in a bad mood. The food doesn’t taste that good (well, some of it did but not in the quantities I ate it) and it makes me feel blah. Maybe I needed a fall off the wagon to see what it felt like. I know I want to get back on but I’m still pissed at myself about it and I need to find a way to do it that I won’t be pissed at myself.
My house is a disaster. I have 3 reports due at work this week (that’s not the norm for me). I need to make a hair appointment, get the oil changed in my car and get myself ready to go to Illinois a week from tomorrow to see the family. I just need to breath and be nice to myself if it doesn’t get done like it think it ought to.
July 27th, 2011
I don’t know if it’s been the busyness at work the past couple of weeks or if I have a bit of fatigue after 3 months of watching what I eat and being more active, but I’ve been slipping into some old eating habits: eating more fast food and snacks and overindulging in treats that people bring to work. It doesn’t help that it was hot and I wasn’t in the mood to exercise.
I’m not sure what’s bothering me or if I’m needing something else. I think if I knew what I needed or was looking for, I would try and get that or at least acknowledge it and try to not eat through it. I did make a big batch of veggie and chicken curry to divvie up for lunches. So that’s helpful.
July 4th, 2011
It’s not about the food.
Or the booze. Or the dope. Or the money. Or the video games. Or the mindless web surfing. Or the drama. Or the sex. Or the shopping.
Whatever it is we use to tune out, to muffle ourselves, to hide from any potential discomfort that might dare to brush up against us isn’t the problem. It’s that avoidance of discomfort, of effort, of pain, of embarrassment, of feeling that’s the problem. But here’s the thing: the frothing, deep waters of that discomfort are exactly what we need to dive into, head first, trusting we’ll land safely. Why? What does this even mean? Why are we supposed to embrace discomfort, and what’s wrong with tuning out once in a while or doing what makes us happy?
I’ll start by saying what this post isn’t about: becoming a fear-conquering adrenaline junkie; the goal here isn’t to trade one addictive behavior or one extreme way of thinking and being for another. But readying for and even embracing the discomfort not just of starting out (because starting is easy, right?) but continuing day after day after day after day, is the surest path to healing I’ve encountered.
Obviously, we’re not meant to live in a constant state of fear and discomfort, and of course delicious food/drink and entertaining social media sites or games or programming are all great (wait for it) in moderation. These things enhance our lives, and most of us work hard for the chance to kick back, relax and savor our free time. So when I say ‘discomfort,’ I don’t mean abstinence or detachment. I mean the discomfort that comes from trying something new, or the discomfort of pushing through the intro to that essay/chapter/article/entry and getting it done, and then turning around and starting on the next thing. The discomfort of risking rejection and sending that email anyway. Of telling someone in our lives that you have boundaries they are no longer welcome to cross. Of waking at six a.m., peeling away the delicious, cool comfort of your sheets as you swing your legs over the side of the bed, wondering where you left your running shoes.
I did just that this morning; I could’ve slept till eight but instead I got up and while I did not love my workout, I loved having finished it. Another promise kept, another self-imposed barrier nudged aside. As I lay in bed contemplating whether to just let today go, give myself a break and the gift of extra sleep, I thought about my upcoming girlfriends’ getaway at the end of July, a little joint I named Fred that is populated by an incredible group of women whom I adore (and who would adore me whether I weighed a hundred pounds more or less than I do now). I’m really looking forward to seeing my girls and getting out and doing some fun stuff on the Oregon coast, and I wondered how I’d feel if I’d regained any weight by then and my clothes became too tight. Or if I let my recent two-week exercise hiatus last so long that I started feeling out of shape again. How would future me feel? When I considered that, I got up, found my shoes, and worked out.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve let Future Me down—usually centered around some significant event (wedding, vacation, reunion, conference)—where I’d realize that I’d let another season or year get away from me and I once again faced that I wasn’t where I wanted to be. Usually these feelings would emerge related to my weight, fitness levels, and body image, but this pattern extends far beyond food and fitness. I’ve also watched colleagues and friends sell book proposals, snag agents, build thriving websites, and finish first drafts of novels while my great ideas withered in the sun at the starting gate. I never coaxed those great ideas out because that would be hard. And uncomfortable. And, let’s be honest: it would require sacrifice. And time. And patience. And learning from mistakes and missteps. And follow-through.
Thinking about it all seemed easier. Beating myself up for staying stuck seemed easier. Relying on the bank of Someday became the default setting.
If you’ve padded your life as securely as I have, you understand what I’m saying here. That’s why I maintain that this isn’t about the food. Or the number on the scale. I’ve followed the same patterns of comfort seeking and avoidance in my career for the past couple of years, in large part because I didn’t want to feel discomfort, and also because I was afraid to truly be myself professionally. Lots of perfectionism (if I can’t do it perfectly, why bother?), people pleasing (“I’m a good girl, and good girls do ______, so even though I’m not like that, I’ll do it anyway because it’s what I’m supposed to do”), and fear of rejection or failure if I did things my way and in my own voice. I’m not sure where that divide came from, but I’m working on merging it and finding my place as a writer. I’m also pushing through a long-standing pattern of avoidance when it comes to both fiction and nonfiction writing. What my ‘security’ has gotten me is a stalled career, a heaping mound of debt, and a bank account so lean that for the first time ever, we may not have enough to pay our mortgage next month. And I have no specific idea of how I’m going to fix that, but I know it won’t be through avoidance and fear. For the first time in a long time, thanks to supportive family, friends, and a kickass career coach, I have hope that I can turn this around.
None of those work issues are about food. Or weight. Or money. The food is just a symptom of a greater problem, a deep-seated scarcity mentality. Same goes for the debt and the lack of financial success; living in fear that the bottom will drop out often gets you exactly that. Funny how that works, huh? Until I address the roots of that fear, the dark spot that drives everything else into ruin on the surface, I won’t succeed in losing weight, paying my bills, or achieving my narrative and fiction writing dreams. It’s not about the food. It’s never been about the food. Or the money. It’s been about the fear of not having enough or being enough to achieve my goals.
What’s the solution? Here’s what losing nearly 40 pounds has taught me thus far: Show up. Every day. I tell my kids all the time, “Don’t ask, don’t get.” Well, “don’t do, don’t get” is equally true. And nothing gets done all at once, or perfectly with mastery on day one. Why I or anyone else expects this is beyond me, but I think once again it comes down to preferring comfort over effort. Here is that crossroad of my life where I discover the humility of taking one step at a time and as many steps as it takes to build something I know I’m capable of creating and achieving. Here is where I refuse to surrender to what feels easier in exchange for what I really want to do and who I really want to be. I’m going to be writing about this here, warts and all, and I welcome you to share your own thoughts and questions about this process.
July 3rd, 2011
I am very sore today from weeding yesterday. I am also feeling tired and quite down. I didn’t get the things done I wanted to get done today (work on my presentation, clean some of the house). I have to get this presentation done on Monday as I’ll be giving it on Tuesday morning.
Once again, many paradoxical feelings have come up (which resulted in a tapioca pudding session):
1. I am lonely for company but I am hesitant to open myself up to new people and let them into my life.
2. I think about my career and should I explore more options but am I just thinking about this because I want to avoid the personal things I should work on?
July 2nd, 2011
June 26th, 2011
June 18th, 2011
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