DAY 693: Warrant for a rest

For a long time, I’ve been feeling exponentially draggier.

When I first noticed it, it was during a particularly stressful, eventful, and fatiguing summer of seemingly non-stop madness.  A sampler platter:  attending a 9-day work conference out of town, buying a place while working at said conference, completing the closing and moving processes once I returned, traveling for more work and personal trips in July and August, and undergoing a massive professional realignment that threw my role at work into upheaval and added extra demand and uncertainty.  It was no wonder that I was feeling so tired; I was, and had every reason to be.

As fall came on, the stresses of murkiness at work and first-time homeownership snowballed into a larger mess that collected political and familial stress.  I had not only completely given up on exercising by that point, but I had also thrown into the mix eating anything and everything I could get my hands on.  I took the very mature route of ignorance to deal with it, refusing to acknowledge that I lived in a world where scales or mirrors existed.  When all of my clothes became tight again, I just doubled down deeper into my denial and told myself I’d have to wait to deal with it until things calmed down.

Well, things finally did calm down in mid-January — but a month on, I’m more exhausted than ever.  This is in spite of having successfully resumed and implemented clean eating and easing back into exercise with a moderate lift to start.  What’s up?

It could not be more simple; I’m tired because I’m tired.  I’ve been getting into bed at early times and maximizing how long I’ve spent there for as many hours as possible, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been getting quality sleep.  Every morning, I wake up feeling as if I’ve actually been awake all night, and feeling as if getting out from under the covers is physically impossible.  It’s not because of stress anymore, even if it’s true that it was likely a — or the — factor leading up to this point; it’s because my bed sucks.  Like, SUCKS.

My mattress is a teenager.  Most beds don’t make it into their tween years, let alone to driving or voting age, but that’s roughly the range mine has reached.  That’s TOO LONG to be sleeping on the same mattress night after night!  Of course I’m tired in the morning after a night of tossing and turning, but never getting comfortable.  I didn’t believe it when Jiminy would show an absolute maximum of 3 hours’ deep sleep, but typically more like 1-2 hours’.  As it turns out, that data seems to track.  It’s not worth feeling chronically drained and prone to muscle aches and all-day stiffness, to say nothing of the toll it’s taking on my mental sharpness or ability to live healthily.  Once I finally got real with myself about the culprit of my fatigue, I knew I had to bite the bullet and shell out for a new mattress set.

Can I just say, I realized in the shopping process that I’ve never actually paid for my own mattress before — I was a teenager myself when my parents bought me my now-teenage bed! — and even with the good sales going on this time of year, they are EXPENSIVE!  BUT, this isn’t a splurge; it’s a vital piece of my overall health puzzle.  I can’t do anything well if I’m not rested, and losing weight tops that list.  So, this weekend, I bought myself a new, incredibly comfortable mattress and box spring.  It won’t be delivered for another couple of weeks, but I’m already craving it more than I’ve craved even chocolate recently.  I can’t wait to catch up on some quality shut-eye so I can do the thing right.

Sleep is a VERY important part of this process.  I’ve always known that, but I didn’t realize the extent to which I have been inadvertently depriving myself of it until I stopped to truly think about it, even though the signs have been there for some time.  Now that my eyes have finally been opened, here’s hoping I can get them to stay closed all night in the very near future.

DAY 690: Stark craving mad

I’m a guest at a wedding, and it’s dessert time.  The banquet table is piled high with every variety of cookie I could have imagined, and I want all of them.  I squeeze as many as possible onto the small dish in my hand, still staring longingly at the ones I had to triage out of selection and save for my second trip.  In the back of my mind, my conscience screams, “STOP!  You’re going to mess up your weight loss!  That’s too many cookies!”  In brash defiance of this warning, I reach out and grab 3 giant chocolate-chip shortbread cookies that I just carry in my hand back to my assigned table.  I sink my teeth into one of the cookies in my hand and immediately feel guilty… so I keep eating.  I’m about to plow into the plate of cookies before me, when…

I wake up.

And now I’m angry.  Not only am I angry at my subconscious self for not making it through all those cookies when I could have and it wouldn’t have actually mattered, but I’m also angry that The Mission has crept into my sleeping time.  It’s bad enough I have to deal with constantly combating cravings during my waking hours, but now I have to do it in dreams, too?!

Ahhh, yes, I remember this: the taunting food-dreams stage.  This phenomenon is apparently common among dieters who are going hard.  Even Neil Patrick Harris mentions in his autobiography that when he was on a grueling fitness regimen in preparation for his role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway in 2014, the period was marked by “the most vivid food dreams” of his life.  Avoiding nutritional pitfalls in favor of sticking to meal plans becomes so ingrained in a loser’s mind that it burrows into the subconscious and haunts the person’s dreams.  It’s evidence of dedication and the huge importance of The Mission for the person in question, which is all good stuff — but damn, what a tease it is!

My cravings during the day have been mostly in check lately, but I find that when I let myself think for too long about what it would be like to let a spoonful of ice cream or a bite of a thick, chocolaty brownie with rich, gooey frosting cross my lips, things start getting dangerous.  That’s when the evil voice in my head says, “It’s just one indulgence, who cares?  You deserve it!  It tastes soooo good!”  I have to remind myself that no, actually, what I deserve is a healthy life.  I can’t give in to that temptation and expect to succeed.  Not right now, anyway.  The taunting food-dreams stage comes at a time too early in the process for me to safely veer off my nutritional course without A) cursing my own name, or B) stumbling the whole way down the slippery slope instead of feeling certain about regaining my footing.

I have DietBets to win and multiple bridesmaid’s dresses to fit into.  This is no time to be messing myself up.

The person who brought in the box of Tagalongs to my office, however… if I find out who that was, I will mess THAT person up.  And I don’t even like Girl Scout cookies.

If memory serves, these dreams mark the death throes of the tentative phase.  The more-confident phase of momentum is coming.  My sanity and I are waiting for it with open arms.

DAY 626: No, darlin’.

This… this blog!  It’s alive!  IT’S ALIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!

Sooooooo, as you may have guessed, it’s been a wretched several months.  Work?  Bad.  Love life?  Bad.  Family situation?  Bad.  Friendships?  Bad.  World events?  Bad.  Things have been varying degrees of bad at different times since (and during) the last time I updated this dusty old thing, but the general trend has been just bad.

Some of that will probably come out in greater detail over the next span of entries, but the bottom line is, I haven’t been handling any of it like the baller I was around this time last year.  It’s been uber stressful and I’ve been letting it get to me.  I regained a fuck-ton of weight and I feel like shit about it:  I’m disappointed in myself and ashamed of what I’ve done to negate all my hard work.  Also, man, what a luxury it was to have been so much lighter.  I had forgotten how sucky and embarrassing it is to get winded from walking up a flight and a half of steps.

But ya know, as much as losing weight is secretly a community effort when it’s all going right — you know what I’m talking about if you’re a fellow fatty who gets life from the affirming compliments, helpful online (or even in-person) communities, and essential readings/watchings along the way — it’s equally so when it’s all going wrong.

In the midst of a series of crises at work a couple of weeks ago, I was having a conversation with a colleague about what a mess we were dealing with.  This particular colleague and I typically have conversations that remind me of what it looks like if you draw a flower in the air with your finger:  they start at a central point, then they swing far out from what we were discussing before making their way back to the central issue, only to curve out to something totally different again before veering sharply back to center, and so on and so on until all the petals are drawn.  They’re unpredictable discussions that are simultaneously about 14 different things that somehow all relate in some delicate way.  The conversation we had a few weeks back was no exception.  My colleague had just finished verbally drawing a petal about what she likes to do on weekends before unexpectedly bringing it back to our work situation thusly:  “I say this to you as a woman who has struggled with her own weight:  your face is looking fuller.  That’s stress.  No, darlin’.”

Her delivery was gentle, yet direct, and her message was clear:  Don’t let this place take any more from you.

Those words have been ringing in the back of my head since that conversation, and even though I didn’t successfully put a course correction into place until several weeks later, what she said to me has been helping to stoke the embers of my fading mission back into a fire ever since.

I have wanted to make a new blog post for the longest time, but I couldn’t imagine seeing my failure splashed across a webpage that I wrote with my own hands.  I didn’t want to accept how bad things have gotten.  All the while, I was knowingly avoiding this space to my detriment, because I know that not expressing upsetting things doesn’t make them untrue, and I also know that writing about this whole experience — the good and the bad — is part of what was helping me succeed before.  So, enough time has now passed, and enough healthy weeks have gone by that I feel less-ashamed enough to make a post.

I still care.  I still want to live my best life.  I still have goals, and I still want to achieve them.

I will not let anyone stand in my way.  Including me.

No, darlin’.