Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


2011 Hate-Loss Challenge

Fat Girl Wearing ThinEllen over at Fat Girl Wearing Thin has issued a challenge, not on losing the most weight in the month of January, but to use the next month to help change the habit of negative self-talk.  Instead of a resolution to diet, exercise, or changing physical things (and we know how long those resolutions last), this is a challenge to rethink the inside part.

I do find that I belittle myself and beat myself up using negative words like lazy, stupid, inadequate.  They’re not as awful as they were two years ago, but they’re still there.  So I was pleased to learn about Ellen’s challenge: “January will be the month that I set in motion a healthy habit  to rid my vocabulary of words that aim to destroy my self-esteem.”  How cool is that?  From Ellen’s blog:

Rules: There is only one rule: At least once a day you must attempt to use one or more of these words in your vocabulary about yourself – and mean it:  strong, courageous, beautiful/handsome, better, unique, remarkable, confident, conditioned, fascinating, pleasing. I encourage you to say the words out loud. Listen to how they sound as they are defining you!

Extra credit: mind-blowing, wicked-hot,  awe-inspiring, sexy, sensational.

Off Limits: Words you can not use:  failure, undeserving, incompetent, lazy, no-good, fat, unattractive, sloppy, defeated, unworthy.

One Final Thought: It’s OK to be angry.  It’s OK to have off-days; just don’t let those feelings consume you.  Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and never, ever let your weight define you.

I printed out the rules for home and work and will report on my progress.


Energy and Self-Management

Red Swirl CircleIn a problem solving workshop this week, the presenter talked about systems analysis of energy and self-management. The principles apply whether you’re talking about energy for work or energy in our personal lives. There was a nifty little diagram that I can’t reproduce here because I scribbled all over my copy so you’ll have to bear with my words instead.

Basically it works like this: we are being pulled in opposite directions, with energy builders on one side and energy depleters on the other side. The stronger the builders are, the more energy we have. Similarly, the stronger the depleters are, the less energy we have. And if we can convert a depleter into a builder by working on it, we boost the energy by leaps and bounds.

On the Energy Builder side we have:

  • Shower / be clean
  • Perceptive focus
  • Energy awareness
  • Associate with energetic others
  • Listening skills
  • Act energetically (fake it ’til you make it)
  • Flexibility
  • Nutrition/exercise
  • Humor and fun
  • Positive self talk

On the Energy Depleters side we have:

  • Inhibited
  • Non-challenging work
  • Taking hits
  • Procrastination
  • Stress and burnout
  • Inability to handle change
  • Worry

Of all of these, the most important is positive self talk. Negative talk reinforces negative beliefs, so we need to actively do self coaching to document and reinforce the things we do well.

As soon as I heard this bit, my brain sidetracked to thinking about what we do to ourselves on our merry whirl of weight loss and blogging. When I listen to others, to myself, and read blogs, I find litanies of all things negative. We ate badly, we didn’t journal, we didn’t exercise, we are fat, we are ugly, we snacked too much, we didn’t need that piece of cake, our clothes don’t fit, etc. etc. etc.

Sound familiar?

When we’re in that kind of a funk, those energy depleters are pulling hard. We procrastinate on getting back on track. We find ourselves unable to handle change so we resort to the familiar and caloric. We worry about our choices, our appearance, our health, our out of control lives. We get stressed and burn ourselves out. And binge.

What if, instead of focusing on the negative, we really try to remember and reinforce the things we actually ARE doing? I didn’t snack this afternoon. I walked at lunch. I did 20 min. on the treadmill. I tried a new food. I had good hair today. I look good in this color. I went to my meeting and participated. I planned my food. I got 7 hours of sleep. I journaled. I tried today.

It’s so easy in the blogs to be down ourselves but to be honest, reading enough of it – and writing it myself – just makes me tired and drained. Focusing on the positive doesn’t mean giving up on making changes or pretending that we don’t make mistakes. Because obviously we do.

But I’m going to try, especially going into the stressful holiday time, to concentrate on building my energy and not depleting it. How about you?


Almost Ready for Company

CountdownI’ve been counting down the days before my parents come, using my list of Things That Need to be Done. It’s broken down by room and I’ve been trying to get one done a night. But I hate working around the house when it’s dark outside and after I’ve been gone all day doing Work. I figured that having a way to break things down would make it at least manageable.

One thing, well okay, two things, I’m doing this week have nothing to do with the parents’ visit and everything to do with personal boundaries. Yesterday I went to my water aerobics class and added an extra 30 minutes before we started, so I must have walked miles in the pool. It really was a hard workout but I’m getting to know what the exercises are and how to do them without hurting the knee but still feeling it in the muscles. Of course afterward the whole class hopped into the whirlpool and chatted some more.

Although I know I’ll be ultra-anxious tomorrow, since they come on Friday, I’m still going to tomorrow’s WA class. I need to set that time apart for myself to do something physical FOR myself. I’ll have to miss at least one next week but I deserve the workout and I’m going to carve out the time to do it even if it means not cleaning something that no one would probably notice anyway.

The other thing I did for myself was go to Weight Watchers for a weigh in and stay for the meeting. We talked about butterflies, and how to be able to fly we first have to be willing to let go of being a caterpillar. There were 6 things on the list, most of which I’ve already forgotten because I have a memory like a steel sieve. But I noticed that when the leader asked us for ways we could work on “Believe in Yourself”, we all sort of drew blanks. We could come up with motivational things but I think we really didn’t believe all that much in ourselves and that we could do what we’ve set out to do.

I know this is true for me. I believe that I am a good person, a good friend, and have lots of positive qualities. I’m not saying I’m a schmuck or evil because I’m obese or because I’ve gained back some of the weight I’ve lost. But I’m going to have to think about this one, what it means to believe in myself and live that out. I think it could be an important piece.

For now, though, I’m waiting for the dryer to stop. There is wine waiting to chill, the study is dusted, the bedding for the Aerobed has been pulled out of the storage chest, and the freezer had lots of protein. I have a batch of browned ground turkey, onions, peppers, and garlic ready to thaw and use in meat sauce with pasta for Friday’s supper. A basket holds tour books, maps, and brochures of things to do.

I haven’t seen my parents since Thanksgiving and can’t wait to see them. The visit is really about the time together, not about whether I’ve fixed the perfect meal or dusted everything that doesn’t move.

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Water Aerobics and the Dentist

Water aerobicsI ventured into new territory this week with an hour-long water aerobics class in the pool at my new gym. Never having taken one before, I of course looked up exercises online in advance so I’d know what to expect – I’m not big on surprises where body things are concerned.

We filled up our hour with 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of strength training using these cute little yellow barbells with baffles on the end to grab water for more resistance. Yesterday we used those noodles with exercises, too. Let me just say that it’s a lot harder to make those behave than you’d think. The cardio work included pool lane walking forwards and backwards, jogging, hopping, marching, different versions of jumping jacks and other things I’ve already forgotten. But believe me, we were busy.

The group is small – five one night and four the other – and I’ve been told 10 is the biggest it gets. Which means we won’t be as likely to hit each other in the pool while we’re flailing around trying to stay balanced. Since we’re all blind at bats in the pool without our glasses, it helps to have people nearby to watch to figure out whatever we’re supposed to do next. The best part was hanging out in the very hot whirlpool after class for 10 minutes or so, getting warm and just chitchatting.

I was very aware yesterday that my right knee hurt while we were doing things. Not vicious, sharp pain but more a sense that it’s just not like the other one. I’ve been aware of it all week as I walked and did my regular life activities so it’s not surprising that I was aware of it in the pool, too. But it did reinforce that trying to do a serious workout is going have to happen in the water which is much easier on the joints than using weight machines or even the treadmill.

Another part of my body was also trying to get my attention: my mouth. I’ve had a low-grade toothache off and on almost since I got here, but I’d been checked out by the dentist in Boston before leaving so wasn’t inclined to go find a dentist. I hate having people put fingers in my mouth and inflict pain which pretty much describes a visit to the dentist.

ToothacheThings have been worse in the last week or so with the toothache accompanied by an earache; I even had two short dizzy spells which were a bit unnerving. Since I have a dental degree in addition to my other ones plus I have access to the web for research, I decided that everything was probably tied to a tooth infection of some kind, pressing on nerves and giving me the earache and vertigo.

The actual dentist, who I found by doing a Google search, decided something different. My teeth are newly cleaned and cavity-free, with healthy gums. But my back tooth is apparently moving and there’s a gap between it and the one next to it. Bottom line is that I need a new crown to replace an old one and build up some of the space to keep them touching so I don’t end up with periodontal disease. That’s very good incentive. I just wish crowns didn’t cost $1,500.

So I’ve been listening to my body. Putting it in the pool, feeding it healthy things, getting treatment when things weren’t quite right. I’m contemplating whether to see someone about the knee or just deal with it; I already know it has arthritis, degenerative joint disease, and very little padding between the bones. There’s not much they can do but I’m keeping my options open.


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.


Daily Inventory for Friday 2/9/07

Woman in BlueMonths ago on the Amazon Blog, Frances talked about doing a daily inventory and sending it at the end of the day to her sponsor. A few of Us have started to do this privately, sharing with each other, and I’m really liking the discipline of it. The questions force me to look beyond food and exercise, to remember and think of positive things going on in my world, an awareness of other people, touching base with being happy as well as being negative. It’s a balance and then letting go when I hit the “send” button.

Here is yesterday’s Daily Inventory entry. It’s too personal much of the time for me to post here on this blog every day, but I like that I am accountable to someone else for completing the inventory – because we agreed to put ourselves in this kind of exchange, not because anyone made me do it. That would have resulted in instant rebellion and probably some serious chocolate.


What did I eat today?

Total points: 30.5 (Points target = 30)

1 C. Steelcut oatmeal + 1 TB craisins + 1 TB brown sugar splenda + 1/4 C. FF milk (3)
2 tsp. reduced calorie margarine (1)

1 1/4 C. Fajita chili (6)
15 Kashi crackers (2)
1 C. pudding yogurt (2)
2 small clementines (.5)

Chocolate peanut butter Vitatop (1)
1 snack bag Pop Secret 94% popcorn (1)

1 C. lettuce (0)
1 tomato (0)
1/2 C. Black bean/corn salad (4)
5 oz. canned chicken (5.5)
1 TB blue cheese (1)
1 TB craisins (1)
Potato roll (2)

What exercise did I have today?
Parked in a parking lot further away than usual so had a longer walk to/from the car (same as yesterday).

What did I do today that I like and respect myself for? (or: How did I behave better than I felt?)
Left work at 5:05 instead of working late.

What did I do for someone else today?
Bought valentines. Helped 2 male students pick out cards for their mothers. Talked to L for almost an hour. Explained serials holdings to the director of another campus library who was totally confused about our practices.

What happened today that I enjoyed and appreciated that had nothing to do with me?
The sunshine. Not being hungry all the time. Seeing the little rectangular swept off areas on the pond near my house that are being used for hockey right in front of the “No Skating” signs.

Where did I have problems today? (or Where did I feel bad or negative today?)
Talking to L for an hour when I really wanted to be by myself to work. The cold. Didn’t go to the gym again. Being jealous of everyone who is on a losing weight roll.

What am I proudest of today?
Remembering to identify libraries to contact about proxy server choices, found contacts and talked to people at four major universities across the country. Cold calls are hard.

On a scale of 1 – 10, how much close interaction did I have with people today? – about a 5. Talked with staff about assorted ongoing projects and problems. Chatted with Raquel. Phone calls to above schools to find and talk to IT people. Chatted with male students at the valentine cards display. Visited online with P today and Jen and Lori tonight.

What made me feel feminine today?
Took a shower and washed my hair. Wore soft raspberry sweater with silly necklace that I like and a Diamonique tennis bracelet. I like how the light reflects off the stones.

What made me feel loved and appreciated today?
Oddly, it was not being interrupted by meetings every 30 minutes. It was a quiet day, time to check in with staff and talk to vendors and colleagues outside of work. It was so nice to talk to people who are names in the field and be officially authorized to call them. The mutual admiration society chat with Jen.


Getting More Beautiful

After a totally crazy week packed with meetings all over the calendar and in multiple buildings, I’m taking a few days off for 5 days in a row for myself. Today was a pampering day.

I started by sleeping in til 8am which is such a luxury – but getting 8 hours of sleep makes such a difference. I made myself go directly to the shower even though I was feeling kind of meh about the whole idead because I know I always feel more awake when I come out clean.

Next step was to make the bed and dry my hair, open the curtains and blinds outside the bedroom, and sit under my natural daylight lamp for 30 minutes. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka SAD) and my doctor told me this week that I should sit under the lamp in the morning to get the light exposure first thing, and it is making a difference to help me wake up and feel less draggy.

I found I wasn’t very hungry all day today, which is a notable change for me. I had to force myself to eat breakfast and brought a long a meal bar and some yogurt for my hair appointment, which is the way I started my day with my “hair guys”. It was time for the works – a hair cut plus coloring my roots and doing highlights and lowlights (giving some of the foil color in a blonde color and some in a lighter brown than my base color). It gives the hair more depth and looks less brassy, but it means spending about 3 hours there havng them do stuff and then waiting while it “cooks” on my head. The pic above is me sitting there with the foil on my head – oh so attractive.

My next stop was the gym. We ran a little long with the hair since I wasn’t sure if we would be doing highlights and that adds to the time, so I ended up not being able to workout. The main purpose was getting an algomask facial. I’ve only ever had 2 facials before and it’s been a long time. OMG, if you haven’t had one, sign up right now, it was amazing. I felt so pampered, resting on the table on a heated pad so the warmth came up to my bones from underneath and on top as well. It was cozy and all I had to do was lay there and feel lotions and heat and mysterious things happen, including lotion massaged into my hands which were then put in plastic bags and placed (not shoved) into heated mitts that forced the moisture deep into the skin. They look fabulous. Maybe I should be a hand model 🙂

My skin looks amazing and feels tighter, not because it’s stressed out but because it’s healthier. The bags under my eyes have evened out and it’s glowing. She even had time to wax my eyebrows, which also improved the look. All I was thinking when I saw them was of the “caterpillar brows” as Carmindy of What Not to Wear described the brows of one of their victims, er, makeovers.

I’m off to bed – I need a lot of sleep so I can head back to the gym tomorrow for a workout and then, ah ecstasy! a massage. And then a mani and pedi – I’m definitely getting in all of the pampering things I can think of at one time. Kind of like a spa but not having to pay to travel or lodging. It feels really good to be taking care of myself.