Showing posts with label Self Acceptance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Self Acceptance. Show all posts

Friday, March 7, 2014

New Discoveries and a Shift in Focus

For the past three years, I’ve been focusing pretty fiercely on my attempt to lose weight. I’ve tried to keep a good, body positive perspective but have never lost sight of that end goal. Since my experience with Intuitive Eating prior to discovering Paleo, I’ve been pretty fearful of letting go and losing control. I did not trust myself to make good decisions for my health so I settled on the prize of weight loss to keep me on the straight and narrow. I also harbored a secret fear that no one would ever take me seriously in the Paleo community if I was still fat.

I don’t know if there is something physically, psychologically, or otherwise holding me back from achieving my desired body composition, but any which way, I’m over it. I am over actively trying to change my body. Here’s a little recap of what I’ve been working on lately to take the very best care of myself without the express goal of weight loss:

I’m in love with this program. I look and feel better than ever and haven’t lost a pound (not that I’ve weighed myself!) I cannot recommend it highly enough for promoting great self-care and expression true to yourself. Life changing.

I’d heard of this before but never thought it would be for me. It was mentioned in one of the DYT videos and I decided to give it a whirl. I feel more toned, energetic, and have gotten lots of compliments from Cute Man since doing this 2-5 times per week. The basic workout takes less than 20 min. Score.

Yes, that again. I’m just eating real, normal food while avoiding nasty oils, processed food, added sugar, and wheat products. The biggest difference is that I’m not doing it to try to diet or lose weight. My only goal is to promote overall health and avoid the acid reflux, psoriasis, headaches and other health problems I dealt with pre-Paleo. I’ve also started incorporating resistant starch, which blunts blood sugar spikes and promotes gut health. It just means that I cook my potatoes and rice a day in advance to allow them to cool down after cooking in order to allow the RS to be formed. My appetite is WAY down and my sugar cravings have diminished a lot. I feel almost incapable of overeating. When I’ve had enough, I have to stop right in my tracks with a feeling of not being able to take even one more bite. I can’t eat even half what I used to for dinner. Very interesting. I am not eating any rice noodles or other gluten free processed foods – those seemed to set me off and gave me acid reflux. I started with the RS after listening to this Latest inPaleo Podcast. More info on Free the Animal (warning – he is very unpolitically correct, so if you’re easily offended, please avoid).

Friday, May 17, 2013

Perfect Health Diet – Week 2

It’s been over week so far and I’m starting to settle in to my new routine. Eating some fruit or starch every 3-5 hours seems to be the ticket for keeping my blood sugar stable. I really do need to keep it to one serving at a time (one small piece of fruit; half cup of starchy veg or rice) or else I activate the carb monster who just wants to keep eating and eating. I only eat the starches with meals so they’re paired with protein and fat. I do sometimes eat fruit on its own for snacks, and thankfully, that doesn't seem to cause any issues – maybe it’s the fiber and water that naturally comes packaged in fruit…

I have noticed that I’m a little more emotional lately. It’s not the horrendous mood swings of my high carb days, but it’s noticeable to me. I haven’t had any melt-downs or anything, I just feel little more raw. I will stay tuned in to this and see if this evens out, becomes my new normal, or what. As long as I don’t start going off on Cute Man like I did in the past, I think it’s OK.

One thing I have been emotional about is my weight. When will I just get over this? I am determined not to weigh myself for at least the next month, to give this a real shot. My clothes all fit fine, but I feel like an extra little roll has returned around my middle. Is that just from my glycogen refilling?

As these thoughts swirled around in my brain, making me doubt the road I’m on, I came across Stacy’s post about Fat Phobia today. It galls me to know that after all I've been through, all I've earned, I am STILL hung up about my weight. Reading that made me confront the fact that despite my lip service to acceptance, I am still on a weight loss journey. I talk about focusing on health first, but I really want that to result in losing excess fat.

I am quite familiar with the concept of Fat Acceptance and was very into the idea of Health at Every Size prior to discovering Paleo. I still hold to those ideas intellectually, but have refined them a bit. Trying to eat intuitively (as I did for two years), without the knowledge that wheat, in particular, stimulates appetite and makes me eat more than I need, was not effective. It felt great to not “worry about my weight”, but it did not feel good to keep getting bigger and bigger with no end in sight. I also had horrible heartburn, psoriasis, low energy, etc. Finding information about Paleo did resolve those things in time and did help me shed some of my excess fat. I guess at some point I lost sight of the health goals and fell back into the familiar trappings of a weight loss quest. 

I’ve written about this quandary many times here but it’s clear that I’m just not over it or at peace with where I am. There is a lot of work left to do. I’m so glad to have such a great support system – a husband who loves me at any size and friends, like Stacy, who are on a similar path.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Whole 30 Recap

Well, my Whole 30 turned out to be a Whole 25. On Day 26, I caved! The almond flour I’d ordered unexpectedly arrived incredibly fast and just sat there, taunting me. All I could think about was making chocolate chip cookies. So, last Saturday, I did. And they were delicious.

I try not to be an all or nothing person, so I definitely find value in taking on this challenge even though I didn’t make it to the bitter end. It was a great exercise in discipline and showed me what I am capable of when the commitment is there. The attention to my eating coupled with working out more has me feeling leaner and more energetic. I did not weigh myself before, during, or after this challenge because I want to get away from the scale as my barometer. What if I didn’t lose a pound this month? I think seeing that would make me feel down, even though I am registering so many other signs of better body composition, not to mention the mental and emotional benefits. On the flip side, I’m sure I’d feel like a rock star if I saw some substantial scale movement. But, I’m willing to let that go in search of “better” goals. I’m not doing this to see a certain number. I’m doing this to feel fantastic, strong, and healthy. How I judge my progress should match up with those goals. Yes, they are quite nebulous and hard to quantify. But I’m OK with that. I’m in this for life – I’m “training for life” as Relentless Roger likes to say.

So, I mentioned the chocolate chip cookies. There were also snickerdoodles and there were pancakes. And pizza. Nothing crazy and all gluten free. Pretty tame as binges go… It does give me a hint about how I react to perceived restriction, though. There is the inevitable bounce-back. And I should also mention the “last supper” type of eating that happened just prior to the Whole 30. I think it’s just basic psychology and is not necessarily even a bad thing, per se. I just need to be aware of it. That’s not to say I won’t ever do another challenge again. I think it’s helpful to nix the sugar, in particular, for a stretch to reset my taste buds from time to time. I may go with the 21 Day Sugar Detox next time for the shorter time frame and slightly less restrictive mentality. My plan for now is to go forward more moderately, including a modest amount of treats within an overall diet that is Paleo and full of healthy meat, veggies, and fats. I will continue working out – I’m going to try out the high intensity/low volume training laid out in The Smarter Science of Slim. I really think that the hormonal shift from more exercise has helped quite a bit this month as well. Decent eating + punctuated intense exercise = Healthy Amelia, or at least, that’s the plan!

How about you? Did you participate in any sort of challenge this month? How did it go/is it going? What are the big takeaways?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Guest Post on Paleo Parents!

I am so excited to report that my Paleo Parents guest post has gone live today. So, if you’re visiting after reading about me over there, welcome! You’ll notice that I have some tabs across the top, including one that chronicles my journey to Paleo as well as ones that point to many of the books and other products I’ve found most helpful with this lifestyle. I also teach yoga locally in small groups and privately, so there’s a tab about that. Feel free to use the email noted on the Contact Me tab, if you have a question or comment (nice things only, please!) Otherwise, feel free to check out my site and keep in mind that I’ve changed my stance on things more times than I can count – I’m always learning and evolving. Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Another 180?

Weight Watchers junky to Intuitive Eating purist to the Metabolism Miracle… Have I lost my mind and succumbed to a fad diet? No… please hear me out…

I’ve talked a lot about how dieting has not worked for me (to lose weight or in terms of my mental health). I was thrilled to discover intuitive eating and have gained a great deal of peace through that type of approach to food. It feels great to no longer be a slave to cravings and it still amazes me how easily I can decide I’m full and just stop. No big deal! But somewhere there was a disconnect – if I was doing such a good job of tuning into my hunger, etc. why was I continuing to gain weight steadily? I understood the rebound affect after stopping with the restriction, but after almost two years, there has been no end in sight. I am not afraid of being fat, per se but there came a point where I came to terms with the fact that I just don’t feel good and my health was starting to be affected.

I felt lost – not wanting to return to calorie counting but not really knowing what else to do. That’s when I discovered the Metabolism Miracle. I know it sounds faddy and I really wish it had a less sensational kind of name so I wouldn’t feel so foolish. I heard an interview with the author in a podcast and what she had to say stopped me in my tracks. The premise of the book and of the author, Diane Kress’s work as a dietitian, is that about half of those who are overweight have a problem with insulin. This manifests itself in conditions (when actually diagnosed!) like insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, and eventually, Type 2 diabetes. The symptoms manifest at different times in our lives for different people. Some might start having issues early in life, others not until they get gestational diabetes during pregnancy, or even not until menopause. Regardless of when symptoms arrive, all of these folks have what she calls Metabolism B. Men can have this too, I just tuned in more to the female life stages since I am one :)

People with this type of metabolism have trouble losing weight and/or keeping it off, tend to gain weight around their middle, and often suffer from mood swings (among many other symptoms). But there is a way to see it in blood work as well – fasting glucose over 85 (mine was last checked at 98), history of low-normal blood pressure earlier in life which creeps up to borderline high/high as the symptoms manifest (that’s me!), high “bad” cholesterol (yep, although I also have high “good” cholesterol…), and either really low or really high triglycerides (I have the latter). Trying to combat this by merely limiting saturated and trans fats won’t help because the real culprit is the carbohydrates – the nutrient that sends people with this predisposition into a blood sugar/insulin tailspin that leads right to fat gain – either in our blood or on our bodies (or both!)

Because our bodies are going haywire by overproducing insulin we wind up in a cycle of high to low blood sugar which leads us back to carbs and more carbs just to try to make ourselves feel better; when your blood sugar drops low, you get a signal to follow the quickest route to relief – fast carbs! Add that to the fact that if we don’t eat carbs often enough, our liver will release glycogen stores into our bloodstream to keep us going (which also sets the insulin response in motion). So we’re still getting fatter when we DON”T EAT. This is crazy making, when you think about it.

Diane Kress explains the science behind this response pretty well but I don’t even need all that to recognize the pattern in my own life. This totally explains why I get hungry again quickly after eating quick carbs, why I’m cranky as hell if I don’t eat every few of hours, why I get dead tired in the middle of the afternoon and need coffee just to make it through the rest of the day, and why I’m normally NOT hungry in the morning (my liver’s been dumping sugar into my bloodstream for hours since it’s been so long since I last ate – sometimes since 7pm the night before – over 12 hours!)

So what can I do about it? Well, her plan is pretty genius and completely doable. There is an initial low carb phase where you let your liver and pancreas (that releases the insulin) rest. That is 8 weeks and is low-carb, not no-carb. I’m a couple weeks in and it’s not that tough. I get to put my intuitive eating skills to use – there’s very little counting. It’s basically just a way to treat my body well. Those carby foods weren’t making me feel good so it’s not such a big challenge to avoid them for awhile. I cannot express how much better I’ve been feeling in terms of energy level and mood lately. And it’s a beautiful thing to know that this isn’t forever, that I will get more of those foods back when I’m ready for them.

The big difference between this program and those like Atkins or South Beach is the idea that the important thing is to keep a steady stream of low impact carbs coming to keep the insulin response in check and block the self-feeding mechanism from the liver so that it doesn’t kick in and exacerbate the insulin problem. After the first phase where you’re blocking this cycle by just not ever having enough carbs at a time to trigger an insulin release or build up the sugar stores in the liver that would allow the self-feeding to happen, the second phase switches the focus to controlling insulin by giving the body controlled amounts of carbs on a regular basis to keep the system humming and on track without over stimulating the pancreas to over-release insulin. Basically, it involves never going more than 5 hours without a serving of carbs (each time you eat carbs it’s a single serving of low impact carbs like whole grain as opposed to white, etc.) She even advocates a snack if you wake up in the night to prevent the overnight release. At the very least, we should eat one serving right before bed and shortly after getting up. It is so counter to what we’ve always been taught (don’t eat after 8!) but makes a lot of sense to me now. The final phase is maintenance or simply a plan to live your life after the goal of losing weight is off the table. It’s the same as phase 2, but includes more carbs (the amount is based on your personal stats).

I really feel like I’ve found the missing piece. I don’t see this as a return to dieting but rather a way to treat a medical condition I didn’t even understand I had! Looking at my lab work, I can see that I was on this train and that if I didn’t stop the cycle, I’d be diagnosed with pre-diabetes and most certainly put on meds for my high cholesterol sooner rather than later. Having this information makes me feel so empowered with a feeling like I’m finally on the right track. I don’t feel restricted or deprived, I feel free knowing that I’m finally addressing the root problem, not just the symptom (the weight).

Learn more on the book’s Amazon page (you can “look inside” to get a good bit of text before committing to buy it) and the Metabolism Miracle website.

Anyone else heard of this approach?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Finding Contentment

Seeing this ad for Weight Watchers at Work in my inbox today made me sad. My heart breaks a little every time I think of someone else going down the road that, in the end, led to nothing but frustration and distrust of my body. What’s even worse is that I’m on the committee that helps shape and promote these types of initiatives. Yes, really.

When I first heard this was coming, it was pretty much a done deal. It was happening. I had a choice: rail against it or acquiesce. I’m glad that I took a moment to think before sharing my reaction. My knee-jerk defiance would not have convinced anyone. So, I chose to share my concerns but not let it take over the whole meeting. So here we are.

The most important lesson I’ve learned since deciding once and for all to never again restrict food intake or exercise for the purpose of losing weight is that everyone is entitled to body autonomy. I now know, on a fundamental level, that no one else’s opinions or proscriptions for me or my body are as important as my own. I have the right to listen and incorporate or reject anything. The flip side of that, of course, is that I must recognize that right in others as well.

There is a large demand for these types of programs and this is the result. Personally, it’s hard for me to fathom that the low cost yoga, Pilates, Zumba, and other fitness classes are not exactly full to capacity, but people are clamoring to give big chunks their money away to a big corporation to provide them the magic answer to health. But that is my opinion, and just as I’m entitled to it, so are those who want to give this a shot. Who am I to tell anyone what to do with their body?

So, I’ll continue the revolution in my own quiet way. I share my perspective with anyone who wants to hear it and shut the hell up when it’s clearly not wanted. I am no evangelist. All I can do is find the right path for me and surround myself with supportive (if not always completely like-minded) people. It’s not my job to tell anyone else how to live.

In my yoga teacher training class, they call me Santosha – which means Contentment. I picked it because it sounded pretty and stood for something I’d like to cultivate in my life. And it’s working… the more I let go of things I can’t control (like trying to change my body or the choice of others to do Weight Watchers), the happier I am. I enjoy taking care of myself in many ways, including doing yoga on a close-to-daily basis; a daily home practice is something I could never quite make myself do, before. Funny how when I stopped trying to make myself do it, I found that I truly wanted to do it. These things become easier now that I do them out of love, rather than in the pursuit of some quantifiable goal. There is no longer that feeling of discouragement that comes when the scale doesn’t move or inexplicably goes up. Who cares? How does doing yoga make me feel, right now? Do I feel more alive and in touch with my body and my soul? Good, then my purpose was achieved.

So that is my wish and intention for my world – Contentment. I hope that whatever path you choose to take, it brings you peace and self-acceptance.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Why am I Gluten Free and Should I Stay that Way?

When trying out a gluten elimination diet, a 60 day trial is usually what is recommended. Well, it’s been 60 days. I’ve found avoiding gluten to be not as difficult as I would have imagined. The only time I really freaked out was at the wedding last weekend. I was cranky and hungry when we got to the reception and consciously made the choice to dig into the bread basket. That night I had a roll and a half and about a cup of spaghetti. Not exactly a “breaking my diet” binge. I didn’t feel any sort of urge to go all out or overindulge since I’d already given myself permission to “eat what I wanted”. And although there was lovely wedding cake, donuts, and other dessert-goodness, I was simply too full by that point to be interested. This all just reinforced to me that avoiding gluten was a choice I was making to see if it would improve how I felt, not a diet. I had none of the diet-breaking symptoms. This was fantastic news. One thing I did notice was that I craved a bagel the next morning when I smelled Cute Man toasting one. I decided to not go for it, then, so it definitely wasn’t an all-encompassing undeniable urge. I’ve remained gluten free since and it’s been fine.

My question, though, is: what is the purpose? Am I achieving what I sought out to do? I reviewed my first post about going GF from back in April and realized that I haven’t seen any improvement in the physical symptoms I described. The biggest is the heartburn and that is still raging, I must say. TUMS remains my friend and I’m living with it. The other things I mentioned all remain the same, too. With the gluten free trial period completed, I would expect to see some sort of difference. I realize that these things don’t happen right away, but after two months, I’d think I’d see something. So, it’s really an opportunity cost thing. For the inconvenience of avoiding this food, what I am getting? Nothing really that I can see.

I also need to balance these health concerns with my dieting history and make sure I’m not doing it in order to somehow continue to restrict my eating. I must admit that I hoped that avoiding wheat would have a “happy side-effect” of not exactly weight loss, but maybe leave me less bloated and more comfortable in my clothes… Well, the bridesmaid dress was definitely tighter last week than it was before the GF experiment. I’m not beating myself up about that or anything, it’s just a fact. So that hope (whether it was a healthy one or not) went out the window, too. As a result, I feel like I need to return to Intuitive Eating basics and stop the GF restriction at this time. It’s not helping me and may actually be triggering a bit of my ‘fantasy of finding the answer to my weight related woes’ issue. I can say that I’m fine with being fat all I want, but it’s a hard road to follow within our culture. I recognize that dieting has never had a lasting positive impact on my life but making peace with my body is an ongoing process.

Moving forward, I’m continuing to focus on treating my body well. I’ve been upping my yoga practice and enjoying it at home more often as well as my classes at work. I want to add more walking in my daily life but I’m otherwise pleased with my ability and inclination toward activity (it’s no longer something I should do, rather it’s something I want to do because it feels good). This is a huge shift for me! I also know that keeping processed foods to a minimum helps me feel better, too, so that will continue. As for the continuing heartburn, it is what it is. For now, I think medicating with TUMS isn’t the end of the world. I’ll mention it to my doctor the next time I’m there and see if she has any ideas. It’s time to give myself a break and just trust I know how to feed myself: Eat when hungry, stop when full. I can do that!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why Incentive and Penalty Programs to Encourage Health are a Bad Idea

Over at Budgets are Sexy, J. Money brought up the subject of Employer and/or health insurance incentive/penalty programs. It really got me fired up! My comment got so long, I decided to bring the discussion over here.

The problem comes up with who decides what’s healthy and how to incentivize “healthy” behaviors. When you bring up something like smoking, it’s seems easy and kind of clear cut. Smoking is indeed 100% a choice. It’s good to not smoke. However, something like obesity is much more nuanced. How are we going to police that and do we really want to?

Being overweight is not a behavior, it’s a descriptor or you could say, a symptom. Same with high blood pressure, etc. Things like the kind of food you eat and exercise you do are behaviors. As an aside, we all know thin people who can eat “whatever” they want and never seem to gain weight (maybe like my friend J. Money?) We also know fat people who have dieted their whole lives who nonetheless, remain fat (me). Somehow, the former “makes sense” and we can assimilate that info but the latter somehow means that the person must be lying about their habits or “not trying hard enough”. And on the flipside, what about all the people training for marathons well into middle age and “draining” the health system with all their joint replacements and doctors visits? Somehow, pushing your body to the max is OK and dealing with all the injuries is a small price to pay for so-called “good” health. Not to really knock marathoners – I’ve completed 2 myself – shocking for a fat girl, but true. Was I being irresponsible to risk such an endeavor at my weight? Did anyone suggest that I might be a burden on the medical system? No, I got congratulated for my efforts. I’m making a point that it’s all about CHOICE – and who gets to decide which ones are good and bad. We do not want third parties deciding this stuff for us because in the end, it’s more about moral judgments than budgets and certainly more than actual real concern about health.

In any case, if we can agree that determining health can’t be as simple as looking at someone’s weight or BMI (which I hope we can!) do you really want to be turning in food diaries and tally sheets of your exercise to your employer or insurance company? As an individual, do you really want to give over that much info and control so that you can get a fair price for medical coverage? Should we really be penalizing those that need the most help? An example of a corporate wellness program I’m aware of is one rolled out by Whole Foods where they give an extra discount to employees who meet certain criteria (BMI, blood pressure, and cholesterol must be in the “normal” range) and are willing to share it with the company. Sounds great, right? But when you think about it, why wouldn’t you want to impede access to healthy food to the employees who are overweight, etc? Aren’t they the ones who (supposedly) need it the most? Who’s to say they won’t use that info to quietly weed out these “undesirable” employees?

As always, the devil’s in the details and I don’t think anything good can come from these types of programs when they’re tied to incentives or penalties. How about our private lives remain our private lives? How about we funnel public resources into making sure every family in America has food to eat? Grocery stores nearby that carry fresh produce? Bike paths and parks to encourage exercise for fun and socializing (moving your body isn't a punishment, it's fun, remember)? Money to fund quality school lunches, physical education, and ball parks for ALL students? How about we take worrying about “obesity” out of it? Don’t we all deserve to have access to healthy food and activities? Isn’t it good for EVERY body? We do not need to stigmatize people to get us (as a whole) to collectively do a better job of providing healthy options.

From a personal perspective, I work for an organization that offers an array of healthy workforce initiatives – yoga, pilates, and Zumba classes, seated upper body massages, and two fitness facilities – all onsite at reduced cost (the gyms are free). I don’t have to prove to anyone that I’m making progress or give them ANY personal info to take advantage of these things. Do they make me enjoy working where I do? Do they add to my quality of life? You bet. Do I feel pressured to use them under threat of losing privileges? Nope. I think it’s a fallacy and insulting to suggest that people just don’t know what’s good for them and we need to give out gold stars and detentions to get it into their heads. Taking good care of yourself takes time and it takes money. Providing that as a society to people will do far more to improve our overall health as opposed to creating invasive programs to police our personal lives.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wedding Preparations

Nothing combines personal finance and body image issues better than being in a wedding. The bride-to-be is one of my dearest friends and I am very excited to be there with her next week. Even though I’m not the one getting married, there’s still a ton to do just to get myself into wedding-worthy shape.

I’m not talking starvation dieting to look my “best” for the big day (I didn’t even pull that crap for my OWN wedding, thank goodness). I’m more talking about all those little things that add up to feeling and looking great while standing up there beaming with joy for your friend. Those things take time, money, and add up to a healthy dose of body confidence when you know you’ll be seeing lots of old friends, acquaintances, and possibly former nemeses.

The first step to feeling like a million bucks involves a trip to the spa. I was thrilled to find a daily deal on Living Social for $200 worth of services for $100. This is a God-send. I will be maxing out this deal on Saturday getting my fingers and toes done, my brows waxed, and a massage. Although no one will see that last one, there’s nothing like a good rub-down to help work out the kinks and leave me feeling ready to face it all.

The next part of the equation involves foundational garments – I will be rocking my Spanx and some kick-ass toeless hose under my bridesmaid and rehearsal dinner attire. I generally don’t have much patience for those types of things on the daily but for an event, they are a big part of feeling sleek and smooth while standing up straight in front of people.

And most importantly, there are the dresses. The bride graciously let us pick the styles of our various dresses dictating only the color choices, which are lovely and flattering on everybody (lapis with wisteria trim aka dark and light purple). I’m pretty sure we all picked the long strapless one with some sort of shrug. I was afraid that it wouldn’t fit given the fact that I bought it back in October or November of last year and I’ve been making my peace with food with some serious gusto. But all is well and it will be fine. I got some lovely silvery-gray shoes to go along with it and we’re good to go. I also snagged myself a deal on a smokin’ rehearsal dinner dress from Kiyonna. There’s nothing like a new dress! It arrived yesterday but I have yet to try it on. I’m hoping it’s as fabulous and it looks online.

So, I pretty much have everything in place to feel terrific going into this affair. I managed to do much of this on a relatively tight budget ($100 for the spa, $85 for the rehearsal dress – gotta love coupon codes, and $150 for the shoes – well, a girl’s got to splurge somewhere and I’m serious about comfort when it comes to my feet! I can’t remember the cost of the bridesmaid dress, but it was extremely reasonable. I think I’ll try to find a cute little silver bag to go with the shoes and maybe some earrings or some other inexpensive jewelry to complement the dress. All in all, not bad at all considering I will feel completely prepped and great going into the weekend of wedding fun. That will free me up to bask in happiness for my friend and her groom without worrying too much about myself. And that is the best deal of all.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Me? A Yoga Teacher?

Yoga is everywhere for me this week. It comes up in conversation, in the blogs I read, and of course, in yoga class (well, duh!) The biggest yoga-related event was an invitation from one of my teachers to join her yoga teacher training class. Immediately, the walls came up: I don’t have time, I don’t have the money... The main reason, though, was really: I’m not good enough.

I mean, yoga teachers are like all bendy and skinny and perfect, right? What do I really have to offer? I wondered what my teacher saw in me to lead her to invite me to join her class (it wasn’t a general invite to the class – she only teaches 4-6 people at a time). But from her point of view, I am just the sort of student she was looking for: someone who loves yoga and wants to share the benefits of it with others. Really, it’s that simple. Most people aren’t the “perfect” yoga-type. I know from my own experience that yoga has something to offer no matter what your physical abilities are. Maybe having a teacher who is not the perfect “yoga type” would help others see that in a very physical, no-we’re-not-just-saying-that way.

I have been lucky in my experience with yoga – the various teachers, studios, and classes at work have all been very inclusive. Any discomfort I’ve ever felt (which was extremely rare and fleeting) was in my own head, having to do with my own insecurities. But there’s nothing like trying to learn how to stand on your head to make you forget all that shit real fast!!! You’re too busy! But it’s not all flashy headstands (which I’m not currently doing as part of my practice) or fancy backbends. Yoga is more about being truly present in my body and enjoying it for what it CAN do in the moment, rather than what it can’t.

The class doesn’t start until September, so I have plenty of time to decide and save up the money, if it’s what I really want to do. Right now, it seems like I do. The opportunity is pretty incredible in that my teacher has offered me a partial scholarship to help make this possible. I can envision myself teaching a few classes at a studio or private sessions to individuals or small groups or maybe donating my time at a shelter. I’m not looking to this as a big money maker or anything. It’s more avocation than vocation. We’ll see if I’m still this pumped as decision time looms. I can be quite fickle sometimes!

In the meantime, I will work on my at-home practice. Carving out the time and choosing the mat over the couch is always a challenge. I very much look forward to the little “room of my own” awaiting me in our new house. The plan is to leave it almost completely bare, with just my mat, props, and laptop for music and/or yoga videos. There is just something incredibly appealing in having wide open space (as wide open as a tiny 3rd bedroom can be!) to just turn inward away from the myriad distractions of daily life and be with myself doing something that makes me feel good. I can’t wait!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sticking up for Myself

It is NOT OK to harass me about my weight. I don’t care if you’re a “friend” (in quotes because none of my real friends would do such a thing), co-worker, or my doctor. It’s that last one that got me going last week. I’m proud to say that although I cowered a bit during the actual encounter, I took back voice by emailing the doctor afterwards.

I like to think of myself as confident and self-assured. And I am, most of the time. My big blind spot is my weight and always has been. But the nature of that uncertainty has shifted over the past year. For most of my life I’ve felt there was something wrong with me and that it was my job to fix it. I have struggled for over 20 years to restrict my eating and have exercised for the purpose of weight loss until I was blue in the face (or red, to be more accurate). All for “nothing” and I have failed, at least by generally accepted standards. I am bigger than I have ever been in my life. *gasp* And somehow, I am the happiest I have ever been with myself and within myself.

I’ve gotten to the point where I truly believe I’m better off without the food restriction and punishing workouts. I know that I am taking BETTER care of myself by not engaging in those disordered behaviors. The next step is to share these beliefs in a world where “common knowledge” asserts the exact opposite. I feel really self conscious about it, especially around people I love who think otherwise. I do believe it’s OK and possible to agree to disagree, but I still get that funny feeling in the pit of my stomach knowing that these people disapprove of me.

I thought about all this briefly before heading in to an appointment to get a Rx for psoriasis on my scalp. “They’ll probably weigh me,” I thought. Well, refusing to go through with that would make it a much bigger deal than it should be. “Just do it,” I thought. It’s only a number and has no power. It’s simply some feedback. And it was a big number and I felt the familiar pang. I banished it and went into the exam.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that my weight would take over the appointment. “You’re almost in the obese category,” the doctor said in hushed tones. To my credit, I let her know I’ve been technically obese for my entire adult life, even at my smallest weights. “What you mean is that I’m almost morbidly obese”, I said to her shock and horror. “So what are you doing to work on this,” she asked. I started to explain that I’m working to heal after years of food restriction and am currently experiencing some rebounding weight gain but was cut off with offers of healthy eating courses offered at the health center. I felt that she had no genuine concern for what was going on with me. The number on the scale was larger than she “liked” so she was supposed to recommend weight loss classes and warn of all the harmful affects of not losing weight. There was no time for or real interest in discussing the issue. So I shut up. I smiled and nodded and got myself out of there. She made sure to remind me before I left the room and tried to press a flyer in my hand for the weight loss classes.

I did not leave feeling good about the encounter so I decided to contact the doctor after the fact. I felt compelled to at least express my truth to her in the hopes that a little crack of understanding might creep into her mind before embarking on a similar conversation with another patient. Her response was pretty noncommittal and I doubt much will change, but I did my part and for that, I feel good. I know it took quite a few exposures to the ideas of Health at Every Size before I let it in. Maybe this is one that will help her be more receptive next time…

Here’s my letter (I was limited to 1000 characters so it’s concise):

Thank you so much for seeing me last week - my scalp is much better. However, I wanted to share some thoughts about the discussion of weightloss.

I can understand the desire to take advantage of any doctor-patient contact to bring up pressing concerns about general health (i.e. weight). However, knowing “the weight talk” is coming causes me & others like me to avoid getting medical care. Telling someone she’s obese & needs to lose weight for her health/recommending a weight loss class is disempowering. Telling her she can see improvements in her blood pressure by finding movement she likes & doing it consistently is much more specific/achievable.

Please visit for a concise overview aimed at health care providers on how focusing on weight is not helpful. Please take a moment to entertain a different point of view & hopefully gain some sensitivity to the situation your obese patients are in. Thanks in advance for listening.

So what do you think? Was I right to be offended? Do you think sending the letter was the right course of action? Have you ever experienced something similar and what did you do or wish you had done?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Zaftig Chicks & the Fat Nutritionist Go at it &Why I Love it!

I am a big fan of both the Zaftig Chicks and the Fat Nutritionist. I guess that’s what they call “cognitive dissonance”. It was surreal to see the fallout from a big difference of opinion, expressed in the two posts I linked. For me, it’s fun to see a whole range of opinions that I can sort through and make my own mind up about. I totally get where Silvia (one of the Zaftig Chicks) is coming from. I sometimes question how healthy I can be with the extra weight and have moments where I fantasize about going back on WW for a bit, just to make a dent in the situation. THEN, I can practice Health at Every Size (HAES) and live happily ever after, right?

But then I take a long hard look at my own history. Not statistics, failure rates, blah blah blah. I look at my life. What has all the dieting (mostly on and off WW since age 10) done for me? If I’m honest, it’s made me fatter. When I take an objective look at myself I have to conclude that there must be a problem with the system, not me. The diet industry brainwashes us to think that every time we gain the weight back, it’s our own damn fault. We’re just not disciplined enough. Speaking as someone who has completed two full marathons (both as an “obese” person), I have discipline, thankyouverymuch.

That’s why reading Linda Bacon’s HAES book was such a lightbulb moment for me. There has to be another way besides this yo-yo cycle. It’s scary as hell sometimes and I have gained weight since resolving never to diet again. But just because that’s happened doesn’t lead me to think that going back to dieting is the answer. Experience has taught me that the incredible effort it takes to shed the pounds will ultimately not be worth it. My history teaches me that I can lose weight (although each subsequent time gets harder and harder) but I will inevitably gain it back and then some. What’s the point?

But as a complex human being, I have the ability to choose between more than black and white, dieting and gorging myself to death. HAES is that middle path. I feel great about my twice a week yoga routine and my three time-a-week 10 Minute Workouts. Moving makes me feel better, keeps me flexible, and hopefully, positively impacts my overall health. Do I still eat more than I should from time to time? Yes, it happens, but it doesn’t wreck my day. Now that I have “permission” to eat that chocolate cake (or yummy frozen cheesecake from Trader Joe’s, oh my!) I somehow don’t have the urge to eat gobs of it at a time. There’s no need to get it all in now before the diet starts. Funny how that works.

But yet, I gain weight. I’ve stopped weighing myself but I know it’s happening. It’s frustrating to realize that I really don’t eat “that much”. Objectively speaking, I have a very balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. I don’t binge on fast food or any other “junk”. I eat that kind of stuff pretty moderately. I know that many professionals tend to discount self reporting and think that people like me are lying or just misjudging what we eat. But really, I know what I’m talking about. As many diets as I’ve been on, I can gauge calorie counts and portion sizes with the best of them. I’m not saying I eat a low calorie diet, I’m just saying it’s a normal, balanced one. If you taped me for a week and attributed the amount of food eaten to an average sized person, I don’t think anyone would wonder why she wasn’t 250 lbs.

I could cry out at the gods about the unfairness of it all, but what’s the use? The truth is, I’ve wrecked my metabolism from all the dieting and it shouldn’t come as a surprise. I hope my body will eventually forgive me and either settle at a weight soon or maybe let go of whatever extra it doesn’t need. I know that it’s unlikely that I’ll just keep gaining weight indefinitely – although, I certainly entertain that fear on occasion. But so much of life is really out of our immediate control. I’ve made my peace and will see where it takes me. Because the alternative? It’s just not an option anymore. There are only so many times I can bang my head against the wall and then wonder why I have a headache.

In the end, I can’t help but wish Bianca and Silvia the best of luck with their WW endeavors. All I can wish for any of us dealing with the pressure to lose weight for health (or any other) reasons, is that we can all find “success”, in whatever form it takes. I strongly believe that we all must find our own way through this mess. Me banging someone else over the head about HAES is no different from someone enlightening me about their latest diet. Mind your own business and worry about your own body. I’ll do the same. That being said, I have to admit that I love the snarkiness that’s alive and well (and in such good fun) on both sites and will be tuning in for round 3!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Reframing Resolutions

It’s that time of year – you know, when everyone and their mother is talking about how they’re going to make this year better than the last. And for many, that means self-improvement which often translates to TIME TO LOSE WEIGHT! The commercials are on a perpetual loop – NutriSystem! Jenny Craig! Weight Watchers! Even the cereal Special K is in on the action this year. How nice of them to remind us all that we’re big fat losers and we should go give them our money RIGHT NOW. Because, you know, science proves that giving them money makes us skinny.

However, for most of us, that promise just doesn’t pan out in any real or lasting way. Sure, we may see the scale dip lower for awhile (and doesn’t it just feel GREAT?!), but it’s the rare exception that sees that result last very long. And at what price? The thought of being on food restriction and being hyper-aware of all choices for the rest of my life is exhausting.

But still, I’m tempted. I cannot lie. I look at Valerie Bertinelli and think, “well, maybe…” I have to almost physically shake myself back to reality sometimes. Eating prepackaged food might work temporarily and offer a short respite from having to think about food and it’s affect on body size, but it’s not sustainable. The rebound alone is just not worth it. So, I must work with what I’ve got: my brain and my wonderful body that gets me through life each and every day. Isn’t that amazing?

Even so, the urge to get fit and focus on self improvement persists. I want to look and feel better than I do now. So what’s a Intuitive Eater in training to do? Well, you may call it just semantics but I choose to focus on behaviors and habits rather than the outcome. I choose to put my energy into doing things that are positive for my health – buying yummy whole foods, putting time and care into preparing meals, and moving my body. That’s it. I just let go of any expectation of weight loss. I’m recommitting to doing these things for my overall well-being so there is no pressure of disappointment if weight loss doesn’t happen as a result.

This outlook has a positive impact financially as well. I’m not forking over my cash with my self efficacy to some corporate conglomerate selling snake oil in the form of the fantasy of being thin. I’m not choosing to spend lots of money on classes or equipment to “motivate me”. In reality, getting fit and moving more doesn’t have to cost a thing. Paying for classes, etc. is nice (and I do spend some money on low cost yoga classes so I’m not hating on all expenditures). I just don’t think that spending money can substitute for actual follow-through – a lesson that’s taken me a long time to learn. There are so many free/low cost things to do, it’s incredible.

In my own particular (charmed) world, I have access to two free fitness rooms at work, low cost yoga classes at work, tons of free exercise classes On Demand (I’ve been using those for strength training), and my own two feet :) I also invested a couple bucks in some hand weights and a resistance band to help with my goal of getting stronger this year. That’s it.

To help get me going, I’ve lowered my threshold for what constitutes a good workout. I used to think that if I didn’t do at LEAST 30 minutes, it basically wasn’t worth it. Well, now I’m committing to just 20 minutes most days. Not all days, but most. I will have my 2 one-hour-long yoga classes each week, but the other days just require me to suit up and do 20 minutes. I can DO that. And starting where I am now (feeling very out of shape), it’s a good start that is least likely to result in injury. Will I up the time commitment as I rebuild my stamina? Probably, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. For now, I just want to enjoy the effects of getting some exercise each day without all the pressure and obsession on results. I’m going to do it just to do it and see where it gets me.

So, how has the New Year impacted your motivation to get healthier in 2010? Are you a sucker for the urge to reboot your bod come January, like me? What steps are you taking in your quest? Or, are you immune to the social pressure and living life as usual, focused on your goals but no more or less so due to the calendar? How do you stay so sane? Please share your take in the comments.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Do You “Struggle with Your Weight”?

It’s a common phrase – one I’ve used myself many a time. I used it as a way to express that I was somehow a work-in-progress, that I knew and understood that I was flawed and that I was expending effort to fix the problem. It was a badge to hold up and say, “See, at least I know there’s a problem!” I could participate in the larger culture with my fat-exemption card. I have to admit that it was a big part of my identity, to the point where I created a whole social life around myself built on the very premise. Struggling together was easier than struggling alone because we all know, struggling sucks. It’s hard. It’s energy draining. It took over my life. I decided to revisit this idea after reading this post over at Living 400 lbs.

Now, I’d like to say that the struggle is over – that I’ve learned my lesson and all is healed. If it were only that easy. Life is never black and white and I am swimming my way through the gray. Some days I fully embody Margaret Cho’s Fuck it Diet, and feel really great, really in tune with what my body needs to function well and wants just for the joy of it. Other days, the anxiety creeps in and the struggle resurfaces as an effort to silence the food police in my head and the nasty thoughts about my current (and frightening-to-think-about future weight).

The one real tool I have to combat these negative feelings is exercise. The thing I sometimes forgot about when “working out” to try to lose weight, is that moving my body feels fantastic. Getting going is the hard part but usually I feel good while doing it and really good afterwards. It’s hard to feel bad about myself when I’ve just done an hour plus of walking, yoga, pilates, or other strength training. It just doesn’t compute. What I try to avoid, however, are the thoughts about how doing these things will somehow prevent the apocalypse of The Ever-Expanding-Amelia outcome that I so fear. I cannot claim to have overcome that one yet, but practice makes perfect. I try to reframe my desires for movement as something that is showing myself care, that I’m doing it to feel better in my own skin. The goal cannot be weight loss. It just doesn’t work for me. It makes the whole thing into a chore, something that must be checked off the good-fatty checklist. There is no faster way to churn up Please-Just-Let-Me-Sit-On-The-Couch thoughts than that.

I’ve started to notice that the more I talk to myself in this way, the closer I come to believing it. It’s the whole fake-it-till-you-make-it strategy in action. So, I’m calling it – I’m done with the “struggling” metaphor. My body and I are on the same team. Even when my brain sometimes rebels and I have to talk her down, we’re still on the same side. It’s all me and it’s all good. I’m all good. I don’t need or want fixing. I can take excellent care of myself with wholesome, yummy food and fun, joyful activity. I can do all that without the goal of changing my body or losing weight. I can be healthy and not at war with my body. I’m calling a permanent cease fire.

Does anyone else use this metaphor? Do you think it's helping or hurting your efforts to be happy and healthy?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Newsflash: I Love My Life (no caveats)

For years I’ve thought that if I could just change this one thing about me (my weight) all would be well. In an otherwise charmed existence, this was my one cross to bear. Other people had “real” problems, what did I have to complain about? Just devote my energy to getting this one thing under control and I would be golden. After reading this amazing post at Shapely Prose, I came to the conclusion that this was a spectacular waste of time.

What exactly was I waiting for? What was magically going to change when I lost weight? Would I find a husband? (no, got that…) Would I get more friends and be super popular? (I have plenty, thank you…) Would I be adored by the masses on the street? (I actually HATE that, you know, to be noticed and accosted by strangers…) Was I going to travel and have tons of fun? (hmmm… already had that experience…)

So what was it? I guess my Fantasy of Being Thin just involved feeling GOOD about myself and within my own skin. It was about feeling powerful and healthy and confident. It meant looking good in clothes (and without them!) and just reveling in being me. I’ve come to the conclusion that all of those things have to do with my state of MIND, not the state of my body. It seems so basic that I could literally laugh at all the angst I’ve put myself through.

Over the past 6 months or so since I’ve added some strength training to the yoga I already adored doing, I’ve noticed a change not only in my body but how I feel about it. Although I haven’t lost any weight and have probably gained some (I no longer weigh myself), I’ve noticed subtle changes in my body composition. It’s nothing drastic or probably even noticeable to others. But *I* notice and feel different: stronger, more toned, less wobbly.

I’ve found myself getting a kick out of buying clothes again, something I haven’t been able to do for years. Between the financial concerns and the feeling that anything I bought would be temporary (because I’d be losing weight, of course), I didn’t invest too much in it. What a joy it is to find something that makes me feel good right now, as I am now. I got the best bathing suite ever and I can’t wait to sport it on vacation. Who knew that I was capable of feeling that way about a swim suite!

I AM powerful, healthy, and confident. I am that way RIGHT NOW. And none of those qualities come from my ability to semi-starve my body into submission. So instead of devoting my energy to getting this one (weight) thing under control, I have boundless energy to devote to living this wonderful, amazing life I am blessed to enjoy.