Tuesday, August 26, 2014

No Holding Back

This is a post that I have debated for a long time.  I admit, I've done a horrible job over the last couple of years of keeping this blog as relevant as I did when I was losing the weight. And you, my friends and readers, deserve better. You deserve an explanation, if nothing else.

Some of you know that for right around 3 years, my health has been haywire -- as has my weight. I am not at goal weight; this is no surprise. I've been floating around 20-30 pounds north of my lowest weight, and trying to get back to something more manageable. The health struggles started in earnest when I fainted during a meeting. Add stress from a job change due to a merger, a possible cancer scare, other "female" health issues, and a general "woe is me" pity party .... and within 6 months my weight that had been at a decent place (at the time of the fainting episode) was more than the 30 pounds north. I spent the next 18 months battling migraines -- many of which were low-level dull aches which would recur on average every four days. Just dull enough that they wouldn't send me home from work or activities but just enough that I couldn't give 100%.

In short, I battled the bulge as I battled for good health. Believe me when I tell you I have felt like a total failure at times -- wondering why in the world would anyone would want to pay attention to me......... I had that horrid demon of "Perfection" telling me I was worthless unless I was back at my goal weight, looking like a model off the latest "Shape" or "Fitness" cover (can't do that with my bat wings and thunder thighs, right?)

Over the last few months, though, things have changed. Really changed, for the better. And last night I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and was amazed. I mean, ah-mazed.

Here I am, up 4 pounds from where I was earlier this month (thanks in part to a sprained ankle which curtailed my activity level). But I don't care about the number one whit...... Why?

Because I looked pretty damn good in that mirror.

I saw teensy little shoulders -- but shoulders which are strong enough to have borne the weight of the world, every time I feel that I am worthless because I'm not where I was 5 years ago. Or whenever I see some chippy 30-year-old get back to a bikini body only 5 weeks after birthing a child (to which I think, "WHY is that even important?")

I saw a person who has after years of telling herself she wasn't worthy of (you name it), finally becoming more and more happy at last in her own skin. Even more so than 5 years ago or 10 years ago, and far more so than 15 or 20 years ago. I am someone who is learning -- ever so slowly -- that the only opinion that really counts is my own.

I saw someone who is still a success. Once upon a time, I lost 228 pounds. I still have lost over 190 of those same pounds. Just stop and think about that. I have kept off over 190 pounds lost. And someone will dare call me less than a success over a few pounds here and there of it? REALLY? I beg to differ. Unless you have ever walked through the doors of a weight-loss place, having only some idea of what you weigh (because you know what it said at the doctor's office a couple of months back and that was shameful enough) ..... and having no idea how much you might have to lose, but knowing you have to start somewhere and it might as well be the first pound ...... and running out of options.......

If that's not been you, then you have no.... (expletive deleted) .... idea of what it is to be me. And to still consider 190 pounds out of 228 a success. Now you may be asking why I still step on a scale at this point. Because I have to keep myself in some level of check..... because if I don't, 190 could easily become 170, 150, 130, and creep its way back to a place I never want to go again. Because it's not a weight thing with me anymore, it's a health thing.

You see, this weekend, I got to sit with my mom in the hospital instead of our living room. She was taken there on Friday because of her own heart issues and not taking care of herself (and her heart problems) as she really needed to for the last few years. For me, it's doing everything I can to lessen my odds of being in the same boat.......

It's not about whether I'm up 0.2 this week, oh woe is me, I'm a failure as a human being.
It's not about whether I was at 42:15 in this 5K and oh man, that's a new PB, hot damn I am SOMEONE! (although I would think it, very briefly, if I ever got below 45:00!)

It's about being the best person I can be, with all my limitations and not just in spite of them or because of them. It's just recognizing that they are there, as parameters within which to work and be fruitful.

It is about celebrating your successes and cheering you on.

Really, it's about love. Loving myself. Loving yourself. Sharing it with each other and helping each other out.

What a concept, huh?

Imagine.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

And to go with the previous post.....

John Legend, you are indeed living up to the moniker:



This is phenomenal. And I love that many different ladies are represented -- ladies of all sizes, ages, ethnicities, abilities...... The two that got me were the lady who removed her wig to reveal a bald head (presumably from chemo?) and the one who removed her bra to show the scars of a mastectomy. And all of them are beautiful.

Have you told yourself that lately? Have you looked in that mirror and told yourself that the sunspots or crooked teeth or two teensy freckles don't matter -- especially given that no one but you and maybe your significant other know these "imperfections" even exist? That the curves are okay, you're not necessarily meant to look like an 8-year-old child anymore? That you are here and you matter, and there are people who care more about YOU than just  merely the body you occupy -- and that the most important people in your life (yourself included) should care more about you than just the physical aspect alone?

Watch the video again. Cry if you must. And go tell yourself how much you love yourself. How proud you are of yourself for everything you've been through, overcome, and survived to be able to thrive in this moment....... and beyond.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Look of Love

There's a piece of glass that we all love to hate. It has this silvery-like paint on one side that throws a reflection of ourselves back to us. Many are the curses hurled at this innocent little piece of glass.

I am no exception. I have never been much of a fan of mirrors for years.... and lately, as time marches on and leaves little footprints in its wake across my face, I'm finding myself looking and thinking, "Who is that person?" Then there are the times I look in it and think, "Dang girl.... you are looking awesome!"

Lately, however, those are not words I have uttered. It has instead heard words of disgust, of worry, of the variety that make me say, "Great, whatever, you look like (insert a favorite expletive or several here)......"

So here it is on the line: the last almost-three years have been full of some things that would cause the average person to throw up their hands and say "I QUIT" about 4 months into it: heart arrhythmia questions, cancer scare, constant battle with lymphedema (and while mostly under control, there are moments....), job changes (3 times over so far), family situations, a year of recurrent sinus infections and near-constant migraines, and weight that has gone up and down like a Duncan glo-yo. Oh, yeah, and shingles too. Constant stress and worry over the situations beyond my control -- I know, I know, but you live it and try to just "let it go." Yeah, good luck with that. New meds, no let's change this up, no, let's try this, let's take you off this, add this, blah blah blah -- and a new one coming into the mix too soon......

And I am okay. I'm okay.

Because I'm not junk.

A dear friend of mine reminded me last night that the next time I look in the mirror, I need to remind myself that I am not junk. I am not junk. I have been beautifully, wonderfully created for a purpose. I am here for a reason, even if I do not fully grasp it. I am not junk. I am not the number on a scale. There is no scale that will ever define my success. There is no scale that will ever measure my worth.  There is no way I am going to allow a series of numbers -- which are a measurement of the amount of gravity needed to hold me to the earth -- to be a definition of my value as a person.

NO NO NO NO NO.

So today as a reminder, I bought a cheapie compact at the dollar store and took a Sharpie to one half of it..... "U Are Not Junk" all around the edge......

And a reminder that I need to see the person in the mirror with the look of love.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Truer words were never written......



Take it from me
I have had to learn this lesson in the most unpleasant, literally painful way. If you do not take care of yourself -- in big ways and small -- it will come back to bite you in a most unexpected and not very nice way. TRUST ME when I tell you to do this for yourself.
Self-care includes eating right, getting in activity, proper sleep (yes, I *mean* this), hobbies, recreation, de-stressing, connections (and not just online ones), and finding your perfect balance -- which very likely is NOT the perfect balance that someone else has.
Take care of yourself. No one else will. People will help, but they cannot, e-v-e-r, care for you and give your body, mind, and spirit what it needs. ONLY you can do that for yourself. 

DO IT.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Rest up!

I hadn't posted much lately -- for lots of reasons. One, I wasn't sure I really had anything of importance to say. I wasn't sure that anyone really wanted to hear my story, my struggles, my failings, just my triumphs and successes. Part of me would think, "No, that's not right. People need to know that you can bounce back, that it's okay to have dark moments of the journey....." and then this other part of me would think, "But I *can't*!!!! You don't understand!!! I have to be 'on,' all day every day!"

Warped, huh?

Without going into laborious detail, there's a lot on my life plate that has very little to do with weight loss, with body image, etc. and yet ties into it on a very intimate level that only those of us who struggle mightily with it can begin to understand: how we can feel so put out by things that actually are not in our control so we work hard to control what we can -- but end up creating more stress when those plans don't necessarily work out to our benefit. And so it has been with me. Between my own things that really are not within my control and things I can control but either choose not to or feel that I cannot because of other reasons/excuses...... well, vicious cycle of emotional roller-coastering ensues here.

But hope is always present. Faith and courage are always beside me, even when their faces are shielded or blocked by doubts and cowardice. And love, love for myself, love from my friends and family, love and support from those dear to me, is always underneath, girding it all. It is love which binds my wounds and also applies the stinging mercurochrome when necessary.

Most of you know I'm definitely an introvert -- I can operate well in the world and be friendly and sometimes even outspoken, but the introversion/extroversion measurement has little to do with that, and more from where we derive our energy. I like people but I can only handle people situations for so long before I have to withdraw and recharge. I have to be alone, I have to ruminate, I have to allow things to be thought out thoroughly in my head. Make big decisions with ramifications on the fly? The very idea makes me almost apopolectic on a good day. When I'm really stressed, I get moody and very withdrawn and unable to think straight, let alone make the best possible decisions.

Finally, I spoke with a couple of friends who said, "Enough. Enough. You need to stop, you really need to care for yourself. NOW." So I am doing just that. I am taking real, active, concrete steps to do so. Part of it is that I have stopped swinging.

Now..... does that mean I have stopped fighting? Have I taken off the gloves, had Mick throw in the towel and conceded to Apollo Creed? NOT IN THE LEAST. Never!!!!!!!!!! I can assure you that I am never ever ever ever ever going back again (to mishmash Lindsey Buckingham and Taylor Swift; please forgive me). Been there, done that, ain't returning. Bought a ticket out. One way.

What it means is that it's in between rounds. I am sitting in the corner, I am catching my breath -- sweet precious breath -- and I am strategizing. I am trying to clear my head having been sucker-punched repeatedly over the last two years or so by a variety of things, all of which are things over which I had very little control but which I allowed to take up free space in my head. It means even Muhammad Ali took at least 60 seconds out every 3 minutes when he was in peak physical condition to rest. He knew his body needed to rest and regenerate. He knew he couldn't keep up if he didn't rest up.

I love this blog. I love sharing the journey with people. I have hated, hated, hated, feeling as if I have disappointed my readers (1) for not blogging as often as I should have and (2) for feeling as if you'd hate me if I didn't act "up" all the time... if I wasn't perfect. If you've never had that loop in your head say, "You just wait until they find out you are a fraud," then God bless you..... it's a negativity tapeloop that you NEVER want to have. And there are times it runs in my head more than you can guess.

But I'm still around. And I will post when I can and I will come out fighting and swinging for all I have in me..... and know that when I'm silent, it's because I'm in the corner, plannign the next thing and catching my breath for the next round.

One last thought for you:
Never ever regret your struggle. EVER. It has helped make you who you are.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Do you deserve it?

Do you deserve to be happy?
Do you deserve to be healthy?
Do you deserve to be loved .... no, I mean, really loved by the one earthly person who can fill the gaping hole in your heart that is waiting to be filled with love that you give to yourself?

WHOA. Where did that come from?

Please, let me show you.....
(from Lissa Rankin, MD; blogger at owningpink.com 
and author of Mind Over Medicine)

Stop. Stop, really. Just read and read and re-read, and let it sink deeeeeeeeep into your soul. 

That was something where I saw it, read it, re-read it, and had to get up and walk off for a minute. It amazes me sometimes how easily we forget this -- we forget to take care of ourselves. We're taught that we always have to put others first. We are selfish if we dare to consider that we are worthy of our own time .... that the needs of our families, our community organizations, our churches, our extended families and friends always are far more important of our own .... that we are not allowed to say "I need some me time" or "I need space for myself." It's perfectly okay for our hubbies or sons or significant others to build a man-cave or have boys' night out .... but if we need a spa afternoon or girls night out, or want a "sewing room" (or anything for ourselves) it's a massive imposition.

No. No. A million times no.

It does not matter if you are married with 8 children and 14 grandchildren and surrounded by family and a slew of friends, or if you are single for life, no children, no spouse and looking at middle age as a double-barreled shotgun: You are the only one who can take care of you.

Your spouse cannot.
Your children cannot.
Your friends cannot.

It is you.

So when are you going to start filling that massive hole in your own heart with love for yourself instead of donuts or chocolate or that second helping of whatever? Or the leftover crumbs from your children's plate because you'd be thought of as a bad mother for "wasting food"?

Get your mother's voice out of your head, and a little more love for yourself in your heart. Don't force your kids to eat more than they want, and don't eat it for them to have a clean plate. After a while, your grocery list will self-adjust. 

Have you heard of the H.A.L.T. method? It's popular in many circles and do you know why? Because it works. It makes sense. Basically, HALT is this: a reminder to stop (hence, HALT - ha!) and ask yourself:
* Am I Hungry?
* Am I Angry?
* Am I Lonely?
* Am I Tired?
If any of those apply, don't make your decision .... ask yourself more questions. The most important will be "What do I really need?" If it's a food decision, and you are hungry -- and I mean true physical hunger -- then there's your answer. But if hunger is not the question, guess what? Food is not the answer! So then you go to the next..... you find which emotion is about to drive your behavior and address that need. And ONLY that need.

If you're hungry, eat (and again, true physical hunger). If you're angry, find out why and address it. If you're lonely (and this could include boredom), figure out something to do to address that need. If you're tired, maybe sleep or rest or self-care is just what you need. 

And think about the example you're setting for your daughters or the girls in your life..... you're telling them that it's okay to put yourself way down the list. The same time your lips are telling them that they matter, your actions are telling them that none of this is true. You should always put yourself near the bottom, that you don't deserve to love yourself and give your wounded soul the love it needs most.

Let's all think about that one for a while. Let's start a revolution in ourselves that say, "I matter. I matter enough to care for myself. I matter enough to need my time, my space, my own love. I matter. You do too."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Things that make you go BAM!

This wasn't a "hmm" moment. This was a complete "BAM! WHAMMY! HEY YOU!!!!" moment.

Oh, planning during the storm? Massive, epic FAIL. Then again, I worked a full 8 hours each day I was home. It did not let up! Yeah, no rest for the weary. I really was so exhausted at the end of each day that I pretty much took a nap after work. Yep, made it from the kitchen table to the recliner and {zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz}.

And how did that work for me? An even more epic FAIL. I don't even want to discuss how far from grace I fell. I'm a little angry at myself because I know better. I'm mortified because I should do better. But I am not going to beat myself up. Why? Because I had a revelation this weekend that is helping to crack open some things. 


I'm not sure why, since Christmas, I've been going in the opposite direction of where I want to go. I had been doing pretty well in December and yet so badly since then. I have no idea, really. The only two things that could have caused me any problems were my own illness in January (where I craved soup for days on end -- sodium BOOM!) and Padre's passing -- but while I miss my friend, it isn't the kind of thing that would send me into a tailspin.

So ... one of the things that occurred to me over the weekend was that while I consciously choose not to self-medicate with destructive things, I am apparently choosing to self-medicate with food. Again. I don't know what it is that I am attempting to mollify and soothe. I don't know why the smarter part of my brain -- the part that knows what to do and chooses wisely -- is hibernating. All I know is this feels primal and I'm choosing poorly.

Now. The time to change is now. The time to get my crap together is now. It is not tomorrow. It is not next week. It is now. Now. Yes, it's 9:30ish PM. There's still time. It's early yet. I've already got the gym bag packed and ready, and by the door. I have the gym clothes ready to put on in the morning (I just don't like sleeping in them; it's a me thing).

I can plan tomorrow, even if I can't plan the whole week. But I want to plan my week. I need to see things mapped out and on a page and in view. I need to keep the big picture in mind and yet keep my goals in sight too.

BAM! sometimes a knockout punch and landing on your back is what you need so you can see the light.