Is Blogging Helping or Not?

I Love BloggingAlicia had a good post today about blogging and how it has helped her find support and helped keep her from regaining weight when she was in a bad place. Others of Us have said the same thing over the last few months, and I know it’s true for me as well.

But. But.

There is support here online and there is value for me in putting the words together. Sometimes I need a lot of words to figure out what’s going on inside or to reflect on the world around me. Other times, though, the words end up twisting me into a place that obsesses about food and diet and exercise instead of just marking my journey.

When I rejoined WW in 2002, I focused hard on working the food plan which seemed simpler in part because I wasn’t obsessing over it. It was what it was, I talked about it in my weekly WW meeting, and then I just did it. I wrote to my supportive guy friend every week and then eventually into several times a week, just to check in briefly. And that turned into what was essentially a private blog, though I didn’t call it that.

I just reread the whole thing and was surprised at how little I really talked about weight and food on a minutia level. The entries were quite short and more general and about living my life, with food and weight and body image as sidebar stories. It was more balanced than I feel as though I’ve been lately.

I think I’m going to revert back to more of that style. We’ll see how it goes.

Facing Anorexia

Lean or Anorexic?

Tonight I watched a profoundly disturbing intervention on A&E with a stick-thin woman suffering from anorexia. She is 5’8″ tall, weighs 94 lbs, and eats 800 calories or less a day, and thinks her belly is distended when you can see her bones. They look so sharp and angular that you could use them to cut things.

She is a twin and seeing her on screen in contrast with her healthy sister was particularly hard to watch. It was so obvious to me and my friend watching with me (and 99% of other people) that someone so skeletal looked scary and unhealthy. It was really hard to watch her talk about how she doesn’t deserve to eat, how she has rituals around stretching out the food as long as possible. Her clothes were baggy but they still didn’t disguise her true body shape. Her hair looked awful and her eyes were haunted. Her family was afraid that she would die soon.

Part of me watched in appalled discomfort as she justified her not eating, her appearance, her self control, her right to do what she wanted with her body. Because I know I say some of the same things, only I’m challenged by my obesity, not my anorexia. I’ve had fears that my family would stage an intervention with me — we love you, we need you to live and be healthy, we need you to see that you are killing yourself with food.

I’m afraid that I would not deal with it well. However true it is, there is nothing I haven’t told myself. So instead of allowing myself to be carted off to a treatment center to eat bread and water and have counseling for 90 days, I would probably stuff my face and cry.

The show was sobering and left me with much to think about. I can still see her face.

Weekend Roundup

SundayThanks, everyone, for the comments about my ongoing gym saga. Sally, you gave me some great ideas!

The reason I joined this particular gym in the first place is because they are the only place around with a pool. When I first joined last fall, I started going twice a week to water aerobics classes which worked pretty well except the water was freezing. To the point that some days at least half the class would quit before we started, so it wasn’t just me. (I know I”m a wimp but still.) The class starts late for someone who leaves work at 4:15, which was another issue.

I know I could go and work out with machines or something before changing into my bathing suit and hopping into the pool, but realistically, I sat in the car and read instead. I’m totally not interested in doing that in the middle of winter where the car has barely warmed up by the time I get to the club.

The enrollment fee thing is for the personal training package options. You enroll first, then you have the privilege of paying for a minimum of 2 sessions/month – though they really really want you to have more to “help you achieve your goals quickly.” Bahh. Paying for individual sessions don’t require an enrollment which is good because I have no intention of paying that anyway.

I think what I’ll do about the machines is to just muddle through on my own, watch other people, and ask other gym members for individual machine adjustments if I can’t figure out how to do it. But I also ordered Sweatin’ to the Oldies so I have something peppy to do here at home.

In the meantime, I spent time this weekend in Big Box stores, walking up and down every aisle, and wandering around outlet stores in strip malls. It was annoying that the Talbot’s outlet I discovered Saturday only had a handful of women’s sizes and no women’s petites, which is what I wear. I thought of Lori and Jen and wished I knew sizes and current wardrobe needs so I could shop for someone. Next time I’ll ask in advance since now I know where the store is.

By a lovely coincidence, the same little strip mall plaza that has the Talbot’s outlet also has an L.L. Bean’s outlet and the only Trader Joe’s within 20 miles. I picked up a new toiletries kit in red at Bean’s to replace my current one that has a broken zipper. And I relished being able to find all the wonderful things at T.J.’s that I was used to eating and cooking with back in Boston, where there were Trader Joe’s stores all over the place.

Today was quieter. No gym trips, in spite of my good intentions. But I did some serious cleaning with lovely orange-scented cleaners, got rid of bags of trash and recycling, and took a big bag of clothes and a box of books to Goodwill. Plus size clothes are sorely needed and it feels good to know that others can use what I no longer need.

Gym Follow Up

Sometimes we ask for what we want and it doesn’t work the way we expected.  Case in point:  I decided at my WW meeting yesterday that I would be brave and go back to my gym and ask to set up a real orientation session to learn how to adjust the machines.  It seemed easy enough and how threatening could it be, to just go in and ask some questions?

I stopped on my way home from work, all bundled up with cold weather clothes and with a bad case of hat hair which doesn’t do much for feeling pretty.  I went to the fitness desk with the little blue-shirted young perky trainers and asked about getting one or two paid sessions with a trainer to make sure I know how to do the logistics of the machines.

The next thing I knew, I was talking to a manager – who turned out to be the same 24 year old guy who did my original orientation, the one that had consisted of a quick tour and a hard sell on the packaged trainer sessions.  He did say that individual sessions were available at $60/ea, up to 12.  But if I were to pay that, it would be cheaper to just sign up for the smallest package, which is twice a month at $40/each.  But then I would need to also pay an enrollment fee.

The numbers got me muddled because, let’s be honest, what I wanted wasn’t what he was talking about.  I can appreciate that they want to see us achieve our goals – as long as that means they sell more training packages.  And I admit that having a trainer twice a month could be very motivational, assuming I went.  Since I’ve been particularly good at avoiding the place completely, I just didn’t want that option.

I left having not signed up for anything.  I’m saving up for a new car (more on that another post) and think that I’ll just try again to go back and figure it out on my own.  And if it’s too hard for me to make sense of it, or to get over feeling intimidated by all the men and perky toned youngsters, well, we’ll see what happens.

Richard Simmons’ Sweating to the Oldies sounds better all the time.

Once Upon a Time I Designed Web Pages

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Once upon a time I was a pretty fair web designer. I learned HTML when it was just code and not a WYSIWYG program like Dreamweaver and would routinely work in code rather than text to fix problems. I retrofitted sites for CSS and converted both personal and work-related sites to updated designs.

That was then. Now … well. My skills have atrophied from disuse and from not keeping up with scripting for PERL and Java, among others. I can do some basic things but at this point, the web has kept moving while I did other stuff.

This was brought home today at a demo of a new internal portal page for the law school that debuts tomorrow. I know enough to identify a content management system design but couldn’t begin to figure out how to design or set one up. The new stuff is very cool and much more flexible and customizable, and I’ll be able to use it just fine. There’s some sadness in realizing something I thought was a useful skill set is less useful than it was.

Of course, not everyone needs to be a web designer and I have skills and experience in other things. It just feels a little, I don’t know, as though I crossed some kind of threshold of senior-ness that I’m letting go of something I used to do often and well. I can still play in the shallow end of the design pool but getting caught up enough to swim in the deep end would take more work for smaller results than are worth the effort. I like making pages and playing with it all but not enough to apply myself to get caught up on the things that have kept going while I stood still. (Sorry for all the mixed metaphors!)

I enjoy blogging more than playing with web code. It gives me a chance to focus on content, on words and expression, rather than design which was never my strong point anyway. Time marches on.