DAY 750: True come dream

Two nights ago, I had a major first.  While unconscious.

I was dreaming that I was at some sort of banquet-y lunch with a massive dessert table.  Of course, I gravitated directly towards the dense, chewy, chocolate chip cookies displayed on it.  I picked one up, studied its delicious mushiness, and placed it back on the table.  I picked up another, gave it the same inspection, and set it back down to examine another.  After the third or fourth time I put a dream-cookie back down, I shrugged and walked away.

No, no, no, you don’t get it — my dreams are the place where I relatively safely, albeit at the cost of fleeting waking guilt, stuff my face with nutritional contraband.  I always eat the illicit brownie, piece of cake, cupcake, ice cream, chocolate, or cookie.  But this time, subconscious-me chose not to eat that little piece of dessert heaven.

I still don’t think you heard me.  In my dream, which I have never been able to control, I opted out of a cookie indulgence.

It might sound silly, but this almost feels like a bigger deal than making the safe choices in real life.  Why?  Because DUDE.  This means that the lifestyle change has so deeply permeated my mind that it now lives in my subconscious.  I have embraced it so wholeheartedly that even in my dreams, which express my true desires, I’m going for the healthy option.  I truly, at all levels, want to be healthy.  The cookie, real or imagined, no longer has the hold on me that it used to.  Even at my strongest point of total weight-loss dominance last year, I never managed to achieve this level of mental strength and control.  I’m sure I haven’t dreamed my last food-binge dream, but I’m also sure that having dreamed my first opt-out-of-food-binge dream is a BFD.

Dream-me’s actions are rooted in my general lived experience, but they also come from a specific incident at the end of last week.  On Friday, I was stuck at a work conference for the third day in a row, and it was a Whole30 dieter’s food desert.  (Incidentally, on day one of the conference, The Sugar Association’s Board of Directors was meeting down the hall from my group.  I should’ve burned it down.  HISSSSSS!)  At lunch that day, I was wringing my hands over whether or not the cold-cut turkey set out was compliant.  I had hungrily taken three slices to cut up into my plate of lettuce and cherry tomatoes, but it seemed unlikely that the lunch meat was safe to eat because it almost always contains added sugar.  Finally, I decided not to risk it and pushed it aside in favor of my boring-but-safe rabbit food.

While this inner struggle was playing out, I was looking it up on my phone and wondering aloud to a co-worker who knows of my Whole30 endeavor about the predicament, and another co-worker overheard and asked what was going on.  I explained, and she was kind of horrified to learn what Whole30 was.  She asked, “What do you do when you have a bad day?!”  (Implication: what do you binge on when you want to eat your feelings?!)  I simultaneously appreciated the completely normal, honest reaction she had, and also felt a sudden click of recognition that this is what they’re talking about when they refer to unwitting, sugar-addicted victims of SAD (Standard American Diet).  It was the first time that struck me in such a crystallized way.  As I was processing my reaction to her reaction, I checked myself to make sure I didn’t come off like one of those goddamn judgmental, holier-than-thou dieters.  I took a beat and said, “One of the things Whole30 helps with is changing how you relate to food, so it gets you away from doing that.  I mean, it helps that it’s no fun bingeing on carrots.”  She chuckled, and that was kind of the end of it.

Leading up to this conversation was my walk along the lunch buffet line.  Coming away with a plate of greens and some puny vegetables was a big, fat bummer, even though none of the options looked stunningly awesome.  Passing the cookie-laden dessert table and sitting down to eat with my cookie-laden colleagues was a bigger, fatter bummer.  I really wanted a cookie.  I vocalized that I really wanted a cookie.  I even went back over to the dessert table, knowing that I wasn’t going to take one, just to look once more at what I was missing.  I told myself they probably weren’t as good as they looked, shrugged, and walked away.

And then a few nights later, my true came dream.

What’s funny is that when I’m all by myself, I could give a rat’s ass about a cookie.  I don’t think about junk food normally; I just go about my day and eat the things I’ve spent hours and hours planning and preparing for myself.  It’s these social situations that are murder.  Already, it’s hard even finding something that I’m confident will be compliant, but then watching everyone else be able to indulge in whatever without having to think about or care about what they’re eating, is extra hard.  I never feel like I’m about to cave in those instances, but I do feel resentful and envious of the people who get to eat things other than lettuce.  (Always prepared, I did have my home-cooked lunch with me that day, and at an odd hour of the afternoon, I snuck back to my office for the sole purpose of microwave access so I could eat it.)

I only have 4 days left (including today) on Whole30.  I’m starting to feel apprehensive about going off the program when it ends.  It’s like after spending all of 8th grade English being absolutely forbidden from ever writing with a being verb — sounds impossible, but is really just super challenging — I felt guilty when I started using them again in 9th grade, even with full permission of the teacher.  True story.  Even though I will have successfully stuck it out all 30 days, it will feel wrong to start consuming grains, dairy, etc., again.  I’m also nervous I’ll suddenly regain a lot of weight, and I simply can’t afford to do that.  Unfortunately, I literally can’t afford to maintain this diet fully, so it’s a bit of a conundrum right now.  At this point, I’m thinking I may end up going on for at least another week, to give myself a bit more time to figure it out with a little less pressure because the 30 required days will have passed.  In any event, I had anticipated feeling relief by the time I reached this point, so it’s a total surprise to be feeling hesitant about going off of it!

In non-Whole30 news, I’ve been good about sticking to my work-out regimen, even in spite of some scheduling challenges.  In addition to arms and cardio, I’m keeping my new core workouts on regular days, and I’ve noticed it’s been helping with my digestion (unless that’s just a huge coincidence).  On Sunday, I did back-to-back classes at my gym, and my legs still haven’t forgotten — but it hurts so good.  My sleep has been much better and more consistent, and I am feeling more energetic overall.  I know I said this was non-Whole30 news, but the truth is that it’s probably related to at least a small degree, of course.  I’m relearning more and more that all of this is a delicate balance, and every component of it matters.

DAY 743: To sleep, perchance to food-dream

OK.  It’s day 20, and I feel like I’m back tracking.

I have slept terribly the past two nights, in spite of taking melatonin on Sunday night.  Last night, after 2+ hours of trying and failing to fall asleep, I ultimately gave up and went to the kitchen to start preparing today’s lunch and tonight’s dinner.  Still not wound down from that, I went ahead and filed my taxes.  Finally, I trudged back upstairs around 2 AM where I lay awake for another hour before finally dozing off sometime after 3.  I also peed four times between when I first lay down and when I scraped myself off the mattress when my alarm went off for the 5th time this morning.  I usually only get up once or twice throughout the night.

I also had the worst headache yesterday that I’ve had since starting Whole30.  Two pills didn’t kill it during the day, and it clung on and on until I took another dosage before my first attempt at going to sleep at night.  It then took a while to dissipate, which at least it finally did.  As I sit here typing this, I can feel another one creeping on.

I continue to have inexplicable and frustrating stretches of constipation.  That just infuriates me.  In. fur. i. ates. Me.  Anti-bloat diet, my ass.

And to add injury to insult, I am all of a sudden having knee pain.  KNEE PAIN.  For the first time in my life, I have aching, stiff, sore knees through absolutely no strain or exertion.  I’ve been totally phoning it in on the physical activity, and what little I’ve gotten has been pretty non-strenuous.  Even at my heaviest weight of 303 pounds, my knees were fine.  I’m years and miles away from that point now, and partway through this healthy dietary tweak, I’m struck with it out of absolutely nowhere?  Not fair.  Also, not logical.

What the eff is going on here?!

This better be the death throes of toxins leaving my body or something.  I am SO irked about what I’m experiencing this far into the program.  The hardest shit is supposed to be over.  It’s been almost 3 weeks and I have experienced, mmm, approximately zero of the program’s touted health benefits.  For all the extra investment — and I do mean investment — of time and money to stick to the strident rules of Whole30, to experience nothing even close to “tiger blood” is outrageous.  Not only am I not feeling better, but I’m actually feeling worse.  I am so glad I’ve ignored the guideline about not weighing yourself; if it weren’t for my knowledge that I’ve dropped a lot of weight, it’s hard to imagine I could convince myself to stick out these last 10 days.

Oh, oh, oh!  But THEN!  I’m all skittish about stopping after day 30 because what if all the pounds that fell off were just water weight, and I instantly gain it all back during reintroduction?  I won’t fit into my MoH dress.  I’ll be miserable and inconsolable.  It will all have been an utter waste, in every possible sense.  Ugh, I can’t even let myself think about that, but the thought keeps popping into my head.

I’m exhausted.  What I wouldn’t give for a guilty food dream right now.

DAY 731: Happy worth day, dear body

Two years ago today, I made The Change.

It was tentative at first, but it stuck… for a while.  For months and months, I gained steam and experienced a lot of successful changes physically, mentally, and emotionally.  After nearly a full year of hard work, I eagerly laced up my running shoes and went for my first-ever outdoor run in the refreshing spring air after work.

It was also my last outdoor run.

I spent the remainder of 2016 undoing most of the work I’d done from March 23rd, 2015, until that date.  I couldn’t even bring myself to post on my first worth day because I was too busy falling off the wagon, sabotaging myself, and feeling 360 degrees of shitty about it.  One little thing went wrong, and then I allowed every little thing to go wrong and nearly ruin my weight loss.  What a waste.

This year, I’m not at the size I thought I would be when I imagined myself two years out at my start date on this day in 2015.  I’m trying to claw my way back to the levels of health and happiness I had managed to reach previously, before I will really be able to believe I can attain my ultimate goals.  If I started out two years ago feeling tentative, that’s amped waaaaaaaaaay up this time around.

Shakiness aside, I am making sure to recognize my efforts today.  The path I’ve taken hasn’t been straight or without significant obstacles, but it’s started taking me back towards  where I’ve long wanted — and needed — to go.  As my mission enters its toddlerhood, I recommit to the girl who has always occupied, and will always occupy, this body:  I will be fearless.  I will work hard.  I will see to it that my last outdoor run was only my most recent outdoor run, not my final outdoor run.  I will one day stop being ashamed of this body and strive to not only accept it, but to see it as beautiful.

I am worth it.

Happy worth day, dear body.

DAY 716: Judge Pudge

Sometimes during my health mission, I catch myself being kind of judgmental of others.  I think it’s rooted in trying to keep myself on track mentally, like if I make judgments of other people, it’s a check on the possible hypocrisy of my doing the same thing.  For example, someone I see every day who I know is trying to lose weight, was eating a jelly donut and drinking a sugary smoothie for breakfast today.  My brain was like, “ooooooooh…!”  Like a tattle-tale 5th-grader.  I’m not going to have a donut, I thought to myself with a silent scold towards my acquaintance.

I’ve also done this in certain instances when people start describing their new diets to me.  People come up with stuff that completely throws off their nutritional balance so they can give in to fad diets that will drop the weight quickly, but aren’t conducive to lasting success.  I keep my opinion to myself because I want to support people in their efforts to lose weight, and at the end of the day, it’s none of my business, anyway… but man, the things people will do to themselves!

And strangest of all, in large crowds of anonymous people, I am always involuntarily scanning the area for the fattest and thinnest person.  The fattest, so I can take comfort in knowing that, PHEW!, it’s not me (this time)!; the thinnest, so I can ask myself, does that look healthy?  How would I look at that size?

I didn’t realize this was something I did until earlier this week on my commute to work.  Once I caught myself in the act, I wondered how long I had been doing this.  Since I started losing weight in earnest?  Since I became officially morbidly obese?  My entire life?  Would I be doing it if I were average size?  Do other people do this?

The psychology of this whole deal is fascinating.  In my case, there’s always some proximal thought rolling around in my brain of size, health, weight, and/or appearance in every context imaginable.  That’s not an exaggeration:  every. Context. Imaginable.  It’s so omnipresent that it’s difficult for me to believe that it’s not the lens through which everyone sees and thinks about everything and everyone. When people say they don’t notice how big I am/was, I’m like, come on.  That just can’t be true.  It’s not a thing you can just not notice.

Anyway, taking account of all of my private thoughts and behaviors lately has gotten me thinking about the danger of comparisons when trying to lose weight.  I have learned and practiced not measuring my progress against that of others; all paths are unique and individualized to the point of complete impossibility and irrelevance where comparison is concerned.  If I were to constantly judge my own success against someone else’s, it would only lead to frustration and disappointment on one side of the coin, or smugness and satisfaction on the other, and the worst thing is, it would all be baseless!  There are too many variables between my mission and, say, yours.  We don’t have the same goals, the same physiology, the same genetics, or the same eating, sleeping, or exercising habits.  Making comparisons between two people’s weight-loss statistics is not a worthwhile activity.

Nor is it a worthwhile activity to compare how I look to how those around me look, or to feel any kind of way about it.  I might not be able to flip a switch and suddenly stop subconsciously trying to spot the biggest and smallest people in a crowd, but I can remind myself that it’s a meaningless thing to do (and also just not very nice).  The focus is here, with me, and that’s where I’ve got to keep it.

DAY 680: Going against the (mi)grain(e)

This past Saturday, I had possibly the worst migraine of my life.

At some point after all the vomiting, a new sense of resolve overcame me.  It’s well past time for me to have found a way to kick myself in the ass hard enough to get back on the fitness express, but I just haven’t been able to really tap back into the feelings that gave me so much strength and power to go hard around this time last year.  Maybe it was all the incidental cleansing from the migraine-induced yakking, but somewhere in my mind, the right synapse finally fired and reanimated those atrophied senses.  I finally felt truly recommitted to The Mission.

On Sunday, when I was back to feeling 100%, I prepped my week’s worth of meals and portioned them out along with my snacks.

Yesterday, I hit the gym for the first time in months.

Today, I signed up for 2 new DietBets.

I’m back, baby.  Go time.

P.S. WordPress tells me that, quite fittingly, this is my 100th blog post!

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’.

 

DAY 461: Schizophrenic wishes

I wish I were the type of person who felt empowered enough to embrace the plus-sized body I’ve had since my teenage years.

I wish I could truly believe that big can be beautiful, and that could be beautiful at any size.

I wish I had conviction behind mentally telling the world to fuck off for treating me and anyone else differently because of weight.

I wish I wouldn’t freeze in mortification at the thought of a seatbelt extender on an airplane or roller coaster, even though those days are behind me.

I wish I could permanently silence the nagging voice in the back of my mind that never allows me to 100% focus on a conversation if I’m sitting in a chair that has the slightest chance of breaking under me.

I wish the memories of a morbidly obese life would stop haunting me like threatening ghosts that can reanimate at any time.

I wish I had an easy relationship with mirrors, which are lying when I look bad and lying when I look good.

I wish I felt confident enough to have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward others who judge me for being fat.

I wish I could really be OK if they choose “leave it.”

I wish I knew how to overcome my own shame and disgust at my body and allow myself to have a relationship.

I wish I believed inner beauty was enough.

I wish I didn’t have to be so strong to be happy.

I wish I didn’t have to work so hard to be strong.

I wish I didn’t have to hide myself to work so hard.

I wish I didn’t think I had to hide myself.

I wish society didn’t make me think I ever had to hide myself.

I wish I didn’t kind of agree with society.

I wish I had always been thin.

I wish I didn’t believe being thin was the key to everything.

I wish I could start over again.

I wish I didn’t have to start over again from here.

I wish to be better.

I wish to do better.

I wish to empower myself through succeeding.