Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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Living in Stressful Times

StressedI’ve been reverting to very old habits as the weeks have passed with more dreadful economic news every time we turn around.  I know it’s not healthy but there is comfort, albeit shortlived, in eating candy and salty stuff instead of making a healthy meal or taking a walk at lunch time.

We are facing budget cuts of 7.5% this year with another 5% next year and I’ve been spending my time canceling things that have been part of our library’s collection for years.  It’s not completely bad:  this careful review of continued spending obligations is giving us a chance to really decide what the collection of the future needs to look like.  But the short-term is very hard, as is the increasing awareness that there will be personnel adjustments as well.  No knows what that will look like and that’s the hardest part, the not knowing.

I’m not sleeping well, not eating well, not exercising at all, and generally feeling pretty crappy.  And yes, I know that all of this is connected.  The problem is pulling myself out of it.

My former WW leader used to tell the story of a friend who was facing an assortment of problems involving medical, financial, and family issues.  Yet she was able to stick to her WW plan through it all.  When asked how/why, she replied that her food was the only thing she COULD control, and controlling that one thing made her feel better about dealing with everything else spinning out of control around her.  At least one thing was being managed.

I need to pick one thing, even one little thing, and make a firm commitment to it.  I don’t think I’m ready to say I can do that with food.  But I will commit to drinking 8 glasses of water.  Maybe starting with that one small step I can start to pull my way back and keep my world on an even keel.

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I’m Not in a Very Good Place Now

Buddha on the rocksIt’s been hard for me to read most of the weight/diet/exercise blogs these last few weeks.  Although you are all writing about yourselves and your own lives, I read and feel judged and lacking – and realized today that it was because (duh) I was judging myself against your successes and ripping myself up inside for not measuring up.

I am morbidly obese.  I’ve gained and lost pounds so many times and am just so sad that I’ve gained back enough that I finally gave away four winter coats in smaller sizes – so that other people can stay warm and so there’s room in the closet for something that covers me.  My knees are bad and I drink too much diet soda.  I don’t exercise as much as I should.  I’m in reasonably good health, all things considered, but it could be better.  I don’t expect to live as long as the thin women my age, and frankly, that’s okay with me; but I want the kitty to be cared for, so that’s a motivator to take care of myself.

I’m not saying this because I want your pity, your sympathy, or most especially your advice.  I could write the book on how to lose weight because I’ve lost it so many times.  I just haven’t found the *click* inside that lets me keep it off.  I hold myself to ridiculously high standards of perfection that set me up to fail, then feed myself comfort food to feel better.  Yes, counseling is a good idea.  I know it, and you’ve told me a dozen times.  Please don’t tell me again; we’ll consider that advice already given.

My Christmas trip to visit family, which should bring joy, has me tied up in knots.  I know we’ll have the Weight Conversation, the Diet Conversation, the Health Conversation, and of course the Church Conversation – and, given the election results, probably the Political Conversation.  The morbidly obese non-churchgoing liberal Democrat is on her way, crying inside that the people who most understand me aren’t related to me and won’t be part of my celebration.

But it’s not just about me.  Christmas is about family and tradition and being there for them in their lives, even if being there stresses me out.  I can deal with it for a week and come home to my small world, my routine, my solitary-ness, my kitty.

I’m a good person, a good friend, an excellent librarian, a loving cat-mama.  I’m smart enough to work at Yale and if I’m old enough to belong to AARP, I’m old enough to make my own choices.  I just need to own them.

I don’t want to diet. I want to eat sensibly in moderation, to enjoy a variety of food, to ease the stress on my knees, to be comfortable in my body and with myself.  That may be mutually exclusive.  All I can do is try and take things one small step at a time.


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My Not Very Good Day

Spring AheadYesterday was a very hard day at work, with an unexpected conversation that left me feeling as thought I’d been run over by a truck. On a gray Friday afternoon, at the end of what felt like a long week that had started in Chicago.

Immediately after the bombshell there was a librarian’s lunch to learn about Chinese law. I guess being with people and having the food provided so I didn’t have to make hard choices, plus being distracted by a group discussion, was a good thing.

I just know that after lunch all I wanted to do was barricade myself in the office and do brainless things. Checking files to follow up on outstanding problems. Tidying. Weeding email. Even dusting. I had gentle New Age music playing on Pandora and I got through the time. My immediate desire for chocolate was mollified by two WW peanut butter bliss bars in my emergency stash.

But it was hard and I’m incredibly glad that I have the weekend before going back. Today I spent the morning doing hair things (roots, highlights, cut), going out for lunch, and sitting at home watching the pouring rain and finishing a wonderful book by Diane Chamberlain. I ate too much and am not particularly sorry about it.

Tessie woke me up this morning at 7:30 after I’d had 9 hours of sleep and the alarm didn’t go off at 7, so her little meows in my ear and investigation of the CPAP mask were very timely. Tonight we change the clocks and I’m going to try to just sleep until I wake up tomorrow, whatever time that turns out to be. While I love having more light at the end of the day, I’m not excited about waking up in the deep darkness again, but spring isn’t far away and that too shall pass.


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Stress Eating Peanut Brittle

Peanut BrittleWhen I am stressed, I eat. I have a difficult conversation coming up with someone that I’ve already had to put off several times – for good reasons, mind you, but the delay is just making me more stressed. Though the Friday and Saturday snow days were really a treat and did rest my spirit some. And I had those scones at home already.

My food is complicated by the fact that I’m going away on Thursday for a few days in Chicago. Part of my pre-travel eating involves making sure I don’t have food going bad in the fridge so I’ve learned to be very careful about buying fresh foods or making copious quantities of food I won’t be here to eat.

This doesn’t excuse buying peanut brittle or eating the whole box, though it did take me 3 days to do it. I love peanut brittle and haven’t had it in a million years. It’s nothing but pure sugar with some nuts which is why it’s so yummy. And will rot my teeth. Good thing I finished up all the decent size pieces – those little nibbly bits with peanuts got tossed.

For a brief minute this morning I contemplated signing up for a trip to China next fall (until I woke up and realized that it was too much money for something I never really thought about doing and can’t afford to do anyway). But I do admit that one bit that loomed large was the problem of stuffing myself into a plane seat to fly for some 24 hours to get there in the first place. I drank water while I contemplated rather than eat sugar. And I decided not to go, but not because of the plane part.

I admit, though, that I really hope the conversation happens tomorrow so I can move on. I have WW tomorrow night after work and before packing which should help me see the consequences of my stress eating and wipe the slate clean before the trip.

Thanks for your concern about my foot and my knee. I don’t think anything is broken or infected – I’ve had these pains before and did some research. The foot is probably because of pronation and the need to wear my orthotics to keep the foot properly aligned. The knee pain is the result of degenerative joint disease and the joint warmth and stiffness are a result, especially after overdoing. Or walking funny because the foot hurt. Or both. In any case, I see my primary care doctor a week from today for a physical and both will be on my discussion list.

Back to American Idol. The boys are singing tonight and the pitch problems are driving me crazy. I would much rather listen and critique than imagine being up there singing but still, it’s entertaining even when it hurts the ears.


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I Want to Eat Everything

Emotional eatingLast week I quietly strung together almost seven days of eating carefully and relatively easily within my food plan. This week it’s very different. I want to eat everything in sight unless it is a vegetable or fruit. So I guess it’s not everything I want, it’s specific tastes. My basic comfort food pyramid of salt, sugar, and carbs.

I want to crunch things but not baby carrots because they are healthy. Potato chips or soy crisps or popcorn work because they are salty and meltingly crunchy instead of crispy crunchy, the way an apple or those stupid little carrots taste.

I want chocolate, good chocolate or crummy chocolate as long as it’s sweet and rich and creamy tasting. Okay, really crummy chocolate isn’t going to do it for me right now. I want good stuff and since Valentine’s Day is just days away, there is and will be chocolate everywhere within hand’s reach – and later this week it will be on sale for 50-75% off. Uh oh, now that’s scary.

But then there is the lure of bread. Ahh, I love bread. It is my ultimate comfort food, which is why I can’t buy loaves of it to have in the house because I’ll sit and eat it mindlessly, slice after slice. Potato rolls I seem to be able to more or less manage – but a friend mentioned breadmakers the other day and my mind has gone off into scary tangents of justification. No, no, I can’t go there.

So I sit here with a stomach ache from eating too much of all the wrong things today. Fritos in the morning when I wasn’t even hungry, just wanting something with crunch and salt. Small meatball sub at lunch with extra marinara sauce. Little vanilla creme sandwich cookies – 2 packs of them, for no particular reason except they are addictive and were there when I was feeling squirrely. Mrs. Prindables chocolate covered caramels that were supposed to go to the office. Ha ha ha.

I managed to eat a balanced breakfast and a reasonable salad with layers and flavors and – blech – vegetables. I drank lots of water. But somehow that got overwhelmed by the other stuff. I knew what I was doing and did it anyway.

So what’s going on? I’m squirrely. I hate being cold with my toes turning into little ice cubes. I hate the gray and drear and sameness of the days. I’m tired of it being dark so early, even though it’s better than it was. I want long weekends when I can get out and explore and take pictures without taking off my insulated gloves and freezing my fingers.

I want to not have to worry that tomorrow is my weigh in day and it’s not going to be pretty. I’ll go anyway, but I don’t want to. I’m tired of doing a daily (private) inventory and have been blowing it off instead of doing it because it feels like work now and not a helpful tool.

I want a change. I want to be warm. I want to be planning a great vacation without having to worry about money. I want to be satisfied with healthy foods and not just the things that all the experts tell me will kill me. I want to not have the attitude that I’m going to die of something anyway so why not enjoy myself while I go. I want my tummy to stop hurting.

I want to feel better about myself. Maybe tomorrow I will.


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It’s not enough to get the food right

Stained Glass PanelWe obsess over our food plans, counting calories and points and fat grams and fiber. We virtuously steam vegetables and chomp carrots when we really want chocolate. We get on the scale and cringe when the numbers stay the same or, god forbid, go up a little bit. We work out or make endless excuses/explanations for not having done hours of intensive aerobic activity.

But you know what? It’s not enough to get the food right, to follow the food plan – whatever it is – to the letter. It’s not enough to get in the exercise and talk the talk.

What we need to do is work on our inside, that hurt, angry, afraid person inside the fat suit of excess layers and skin. This is much harder to do but if we don’t take the time, we will ultimately fail, because this is the self that we carry with us every single day, every moment of our lives.

Do you like yourself? Be honest. Most of the time I do but I’m not always sure, and when I was at my heaviest, I loathed who I was because I equated the body with the inner person. Yes, I carry around the body but I am more than my body. I am a kind, generous, thoughtful, fun person who loves to play. I’m a good friend to those I allow close enough. I remember birthdays and want mine to be remembered. I love music and theater, travel and web design and books.

I am a whole person, not just my body and the shape it takes up. While I work on following my food plan and yes, trying to move more, I also need to take care of that whole person inside. Be kind to her, pay attention to her. I need to listen to the hurt and lonely girl who wants comfort and reaches for food because it’s what I know will help in the short term. Because there are other options.

Sometimes I have to just be hurt or sad or lost or ragingly angry, to really feel the emotions and not try to comfort myself by smothering them with foods that put me in a carb coma and help me forget for a little while. It’s only by actually feeling those feelings and learning new ways to deal with them that I can be truly happy and content with myself and who I am now, at this point in my life.

If I don’t like myself, why would anyone else like me? If people do like me, what do they see that I’m not seeing? Today I can see a lot but sometimes it’s harder. It’s worth the effort and I’m a nice person to be around when I actually care about myself.  I’m worth it.


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Paying the Piper for Stuffing my Face

AngelWhen you stuff your face every day for a week, there are consequences when you get on the scale. I knew it wouldn’t be pretty yesterday at my weigh in and I was right – up 4 lbs in one week – but at least I went, got on the scale, and got it over with. I’ve learned that no matter what the damage, it’s important for me to get on the scale and see the results in numbers and not just in feeling stuffed – or thin, either, for those weeks when I’m feeling full of myself for having followed the plan.

Why is it so hard? When I first started doing this five years ago, I was highly motivated to follow the program. I was going to chair a national conference and wanted to not feel as fat and unwieldy as I had the year before as program chair. I went to the gym three times a week and worked out routines and recipes that I used to stick to my goal.

But the real difference was attitude. I cared about what I was doing and now I’m just eating WW food because it’s what I do, not because I really want to do it. So it’s easy to cheat on the food, eat a few extra things – or more, to not exercise, to open the closet and wonder why the clothes are fitting so oddly. Most of them are just okay, nothing I love to put on or that make me feel pretty. Lori, Jen, and Frances remind me that I’m worth taking the time and effort to find things that fit and do those things for me. Easier said than done – we short plus size people are pretty hard-pressed to find things with style that fit well without tripping over them. That gets old fast.

I’m in a funk right now with adjusting to a new place, a new job, a completely new routine. It’s harder than I had thought it would be, this uprooting myself and starting over. The new office doesn’t have a microwave or break room and the fridge is teeny. So my habit of bringing lunch to keep cold or reheat (depending on the menu) and having popcorn in the afternoon for a snack just won’t work anymore. I need to learn how to manage it and to find a new routine, whatever it is, that I can depend on. It makes a huge difference in my sense of control.

I haven’t found a gym yet, either. I wanted to wait until I started work because there are fitness facilities available which I haven’t checked out yet. I’m not totally excited about the idea of working out around students, or of lugging my stuff in to work on the bus and then walking to the garage a mile away. So I’ve been looking at others on the web that are close to where I live. Ideally I’d like to find a gym with a pool, the one thing my old gym was lacking. I know they’ll all have fitness equipment, treadmills and weights, and probably classes. There is clearly more to do.

In spite of myself, I’m getting more walking in during a normal day than I did before leaving Boston, trying to walk to or from the garage to get a mile in, or walking at lunch time to explore the area around my new building. Summer is a quieter time to do this while most of the students are gone, but it’s also hot and I don’t do well with heat.

I’m setting a new goal for myself. Between now and Labor Day, my goal is to stay at the weight I was when I left Boston. This will mean losing what I just gained, but Arlene always used to say that if you get right on it, those extra pounds are “just visiting” and will not stick around long. I have one more trip to make – to New Orleans, with all that amazing food – but after that, I’m staying put for quite a while.

There are too many unsettled new things in my life now and I need to not punish myself for not being perfect.