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Archive for March, 2013

I have been doing a good job of being hardcore in my workouts and in the cleanness of my eating. I am also gaining weight. After a week of diligent carb cycling, super clean eating, and intense workouts, I stepped on the scale on Saturday fully expecting to lose weight (since I’d done everything I should and very little that I shouldn’t), hoping it would be as much as 2 or 3 pounds. Instead, I gained a pound and half. And I lost it.

It took a few minutes, but I started crying. Crying over a number, crying because it brought up so many feelings of inadequacy for me. First, I was frustrated because I didn’t know why it was happening; but quickly that spiraled downward, and all I could think was, “I’m not good enough.”

No matter what I do, or how hard I try, it’s not enough. I don’t do enough. I am not enough.

The feelings were brought up by my weight-loss efforts, but they are about so much more. This is one of my core issues, this insecurity, this sense that I lack. Of course, it is all false. I am inherently good enough; I am inherently worthy of love, a precious being.

But I have been losing site of that again. All of this wedding planning has pushed me back to the exterior, to the feeling that I have to be and seem a certain way in order to be good enough. I’ve been getting stuck in that damaging message that how I appear is what matters. I feel judgment, and I judge too. I look at wedding websites and blogs, and all the thoughts about decor and dress styles are thoughts of judgment. What if I don’t do it well enough? What if people think it looks dumb or cheap? What if they think I look dumb? Or worse, fat and ugly?

I’ve gotten so overwhelmed by the expectations of appearance, of being a bride, and what I am supposed to do to fulfill those expectations. Get my hair done for the day, and cut and re-dye it first, get my makeup professionally done. Have my teeth whitened. Get a facial to remove the milias on my face and just freshen the whole thing up. Have my eyebrows done. Buy special undergarments, buy jewelry, buy shoes. Get the dress fitted. And lose weight. Lose weight, lose more weight, seriously, lose some more weight because everyone, I mean everyone will be looking at you. All these terrible messages about how much I have to do to look good enough and, thus, be enough.

I was crying because of all the pressure I’ve felt about losing weight to look better in my dress, and what if I don’t and I end up looking terrible? It was so hard to come back out of that mindset, and it took totally breaking down and then having a friend remind me that it’s not about the dress or my size, but about love. And how I look is a reflection of the joy and love I feel because that is what truly matters.

It’s an important perspective shift. I can either be dragged around by my anxiety, by feelings of inadequacy, by worry, feeling burdened by my every move and how, if it’s wrong, it could mean judgment and the removal of love. Or… I can start with my own heart, with the joy I feel, with the love I know, with that deep understanding of my own self and my worth and move forward in that way, knowing that I am valuable, I am love. And nothing changes that, not a number, not anything.

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I remained suspicious of the message in this book for awhile, as I mentioned yesterday, I’m really not a fan of low to no-carb diets. But as I kept reading, I came across a couple of passages that spoke so clearly to my personal experience that it felt like lighting a room that had previously been dark and hard to maneuver through.

First there was this:

“Whether you’re born predisposed to get fat is beyond your control… it’s carbohydrates that ultimately determines the insulin secretion and insulin that drives the accumulation of body fat. Not all of us get fat when we eat carbohydrates, but for those of us who do get fat, the carbohydrates are to blame; the fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be.”

Not all of us get fat when we eat carbohydrates… This acknowledgement that the food doesn’t have the same effect on everyone rang so true to me. Because for a long time, I ate like my peers and was fatter than them, and it seemed so unjust. Gary Taubes says this about that:

“That only some people get fat from eating carbohydrates (just as only some get lung cancer from smoking cigarettes) doesn’t change the fat that if you’re one of those that do, you’ll only lose fat and keep it off if you avoid these foods.”

Hearing someone actually state that, yeah, this does not happen to everyone and sorry, but you kind of drew the short genetic straw in this instance, validates so many feelings and experiences for me. The title of the chapter this second line is from is called “Injustices Collecting.” And it helped me to see that admission: that it’s not fair. It helped even more to be reminded of the more important fact: fair or unfair, this is what is. I can’t change the cards I’ve been dealt; all I can control is what I do with what I have. So what am I going to do about it?

That’s a question I can work with.

 

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I’ve never been a fan of low-carb diets, mostly because I fucking love carbs. I mean, what is better than bread? Probably a lot of things, but as far as food goes, it ranks real high for me. I accept that crappy carbs – overly-processed white breads, cupcakes, cakes, anything made with sugar – are bad for me and that I should stay far, far away from them. But I have believed that good carbs – whole-grain, sprouted breads, corn tortillas, brown rice – were good for me and appropriate to eat.

My trainer has been working to get me to moderate and even severely limit my intake of these good carbs for a long time. She doesn’t want me eating any at night, ever. And I was so angry about it initially; I felt like, of all the things I don’t eat, what was so wrong with a half cup of g-d brown rice at dinner. But eventually I started following the no carbs at night rule, unevenly at times, but understanding it was the goal. Then my trainer brought in carb cycling – which meant days with no carbs, and I thought, “Oh HELL no. This is not some Atkins diet bullshit. There is nothing wrong with an effing corn tortilla now and then.”

Because I am a fan of the “all things in moderation” school of eating, as long as “all things” are only all-natural, unprocessed foods that rely heavily on lean protein and vegetables. But I felt like some carbs were still okay. And then I started reading this book:

A lot of me does not want to believe what this book is saying, which is, essentially, that carbohydrates, in all their forms (that includes fruits and starchy vegetables, kids!), are what cause weight gain, and if one wants to successfully lose weight, that person has to severely restrict carbs. I would have tossed this book aside already as another b.s. fad diet except… there’s a lot of compelling evidence. A lot of research, a lot of history, and a lot of science (which I’ve had to read slowly to understand). And it’s convincing me.

So I’m working on it. I am truly striving to do what my trainer has asked of me for so many months: severely limit my traditional carbohydrate intake to one – or no – servings a day. It’s hard, but I’m willing to see if it works. Because as much as I love bread, it is not, in fact, the best thing ever. For me, it’s close. But my good health and being a healthy weight do mean more to me. So that’s what I’m focusing on.

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My fiance just unearthed this photo of me:

September 2006

September 2006

He flashed it to me, pointing out how different I looked then, so much heavier than I am now (and holding cupcakes no less). But I find the photo less interesting for that difference than the fact that, at the time, a friend had given me the photo to show how much thinner I was looking.

Yep. That was me looking thinner. And I was, comparatively. At the time, I was running, a new activity I’d started a couple of months before to train for and complete a half marathon. I thought running for a marathon would help me get in shape and lose weight. It did one the first of those things, but not so much the other. Over the course of five months of distance running, I lost a total of three pounds. It turns out it’s normal for people to not lose weight, and even to gain it, when training for a long-distance run. I did get in much better shape, and as a result, my body shifted, became somewhat more toned, which is what my friend saw in the picture, and what I eventually saw too.

But of course, I was still severely overweight. I clocked in at just under 200 pounds when I ran that half-marathon. I was in good enough shape to get through it, but still heavy enough to injure myself training for my next run, by putting too much strain on my muscles and joints.

I was changing some of my patterns with the running, but as the cupcakes give evidence to, not all of them. There was a lot about my relationship with food and alcohol I still wasn’t willing to look at. And it’s interesting to be reminded of myself at that time. Because I wanted so desperately for things to be different, but still not desperately enough to actually do the hard work needed to make that change happen. I was trying, but I wasn’t actually doing, at least not fully. And we all know the lesson Yoda taught: there is no try.

It’s true, what the Nike slogan says, you do have to just do it. But how you get to the place where you’re willing to fully commit to that action, that’s a big part of the challenge.

 

 

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Two years ago, the idea of tasting cakes, for free no less, would have filled me with anticipation and glee. How many cake tastings could we schedule? And how much cake would we be allowed to eat? I have always loved cake.

But that was a different life, pre-July 2011, and now, the prospect of tasting cakes for our upcoming wedding filled me with annoyance and frustration. Because it creates an uncomfortable conflict for me. I am being hardcore right now, and cake eating does not fit into hardcore healthy living. On the other hand, this is the one season of wedding preparation I’ll ever have (hopefully), and I do want to experience it fully. And everyone has talked about how great the cake tastings are. I don’t want to eat cake, but I also don’t want to miss out on something; so which desire is stronger?

The not missing out one. I figured I could eat just a bite of the cake. I’ve had some cake in the past year and a half; it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

So last Saturday, my fiance and I met with a baker in Santa Barbara, a serious woman who runs her own cake-making business, baking everything from scratch herself out of an industrial kitchen in a building next to a church draped in bougainvillea. We met her at this kitchen, where she had set up a plate with four slices of three-tiered cake in the middle of a table in her cheerful, cluttered front room. We tried four different cakes: vanilla with lemon curd, white chocolate mousse and raspberries, vanilla with passion fruit, white chocolate mousse, and coconut, chocolate with chocolate mocha mousse, and chocolate with chocolate ganache and white chocolate mousse. You know… just something light and simple.

They were all delicious cakes of course. They were also very, very sweet, some a little too sweet for me, which is an interesting way my palate has changed. It used to be that a sugar cube wasn’t too sweet for me; I’d snort pixie sticks given the chance. (I actually did that once for real – terrible idea, from my young and stupid college days). I really just wanted all the sugar in my mouth, all the time. And now, because I don’t really eat it, I’m much more sensitive to it. This is an obvious cause-and-effect relationship, but one that still surprises me because of how big of a change it is.

Stephen and I did not eat all of the cake. I did eat more than one bite though. I actually had two to three bites of each type – so easily the equivalent of a whole slice of cake. But once we had tried them all, we pushed the plate of cakes away from us and continued our discussion about cake designs (beautiful) and pricing (insane) without devouring the whole plate of proffered cake and then licking it clean. (Stephen has joined me on the healthy eating plan this month, which fills me with delight daily and makes me feel much better in instances such as these where I’m not the only one having to exercise massive self-restraint, but am actually part of a team that is choosing a healthier, better path). And so I experienced a cake tasting, and it was fine and good.

Until half an hour later when my body rejected that cake like a baboon heart.

After we finished meeting with the baker, we walked several blocks to a Starbucks to talk with our month-of planner about an assortment of random details. For the last couple of blocks of the walk, my stomach started feeling rumbley, and then I began to feel pain cramps. About the time we walked into the Starbucks, the cramps became intense, and I had to quickly excuse myself to the bathroom. Because guess what my body doesn’t like anymore? Buttercream. And regular butter and regular cream, and really the whole mess of sugar, more sugar, sugar as ganache and fruit-filling and frosting, with some eggs and white flour thrown in for good(bad) measure. I used to eat stuff like this all the time – every day in fact. And my body was so numbed to it, so used to the flood of unnecessary glucose and chemicals into my body that it just accepted that crap. And then stored it. Now though, I have truly recalibrated back to how my body is meant to be. For the most part, I feed it nutrient dense, energizing foods and keep it free and clean from crap that will clog it up. And like a well-cared for machine, it runs better, and responds better. And it sure as hell knows when it’s been given something bad. It lets me know too.

It’s hard some days, of course. Cake is yummy. And eating is fun. But on the balance, I think this is an improvement. I feel good because I’m healthy and I take care of myself. Which makes it easier to live without needing food to make me feel better. And without that crutch, I can look to other sources – like people and art and nature – for fulfillment. And I can still eat cake if I really want it – just not very much, and certainly nothing that rich – and it’s nice for it to be something I want instead of something I feel like I need.

A Plague on My House/Digestive System

A Plague on My House/Digestive System

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It’s like I’m on a merry-go-round, although there’s not much merry about it. Every week it’s the same conversation; I have settled so firmly onto this plateau that it feels like I should be building a permanent camp. But I don’t want stay here. Obviously.

The goal is to be losing weight here. Consistently. But I’ve gotten back into the same cycle I experienced for years doing Weight Watchers and other diet plans: lose a little, gain it back, lose it, gain it back, lose it gain it back, and on and on, so that I effectively stay at the same weight over months of work. It’s very frustrating, and it’s all my doing.

I learned – finally – the solution to this problem, the way to break out of this cycle, when I started working with my trainer. And it’s this: I have to be hardcore. There is no dicking around. There’s none of this “Well just one little cupcake won’t hurt” crap. Because it does hurt. It effectively stops my weight loss. I know this truth, and I’ve been ignoring it. I’ve slid into what is more comfortable and what is easier. My eye is still on the prize, but it’s also looking around at a lot of other stuff. I am not focused. And focus is necessary.

It may seem harsh, and it may seem excessive, but the truth of losing a significant amount of weight is this: there can be no deviation from the plan.

After another weekend day of being distracted and eating things I shouldn’t, I looked at my weight again, and I looked at my history for these past months. I’m not happy with either. And only I have the power to change what’s happening and how I feel about it. I am not in an easy season of my life (cough…wedding planning) for extreme focus. But I also have a good reason to make the space for that focus and work (cough…wedding dress). So I’ve started saying it to myself: hardcore.

As I go through my day: hardcore.
As I pick my meals: hardcore.
As I exercise: hardcore.

I need this mantra. Because it’s easy to forget and to get distracted. But I care more about myself than these distractions. So I ask myself these questions: How much do I want it? What am I willing to do to get it, to care for myself? And I tell myself the answer: Hardcore.

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Doo-doo-doo…we interrupt this regularly scheduled blog… to bring you a wedding rant.

Because it’s all starting to get to me.

I am getting married in less than two months, and and planning a wedding, as it turns out, is a bitch. A joyful, love-filled bitch, but still… a bitch.

It’s like having an unpaid job that people seem constantly astounded and offended to discover I’m not working harder at. On top of my actual job – you know, the one I do for a living. The last time we spoke to our wedding coordinator (a month-of planner whom we still speak to despite it not yet being the month of), she seemed genuinely confused to hear that I had not thought enough about centerpieces and escort cards to have made a decision about them.

I show you my backside, wedding planning crap!

I show you my backside, wedding planning crap!

Does she know how many decisions I’m having to make? She does, of course. And maybe other people are excited to make a lot of decisions. Or can do it faster. I, however, am a slow and methodical decision maker. Which is also known as being indecisive. And I have major decision fatigue.

Pick a location, pick a day, pick a time, pick a menu, pick colors, pick a theme. (Which really? There is no theme. The theme is “marriage.” For awhile, my fiance and I had this great joke that we didn’t get to use nearly enough: When asked the theme, we’d say, “Corn… I mean, maize.” Because it’s a stupid-but-just-plausible-enough theme that we could actually spin that yarn out. The colors would be yellow and green of course!)

Pick a dress, pick dresses for your friends, pick friends, pick an officiant, pick music, and then more music, pick a photographer, flowers, cake, hotel, shoes, hairstyle, words to express your love. The list is never-ending. I just re-did it today. It is 58 items long. And that’s just what I came up with, typing at my desk at work, off the top of my head. Every day there are new tasks, new challenges, new frustrations.

Yesterday, it was chairs. Our reception will be at a restaurant, and everything is included from the napkins to the waitstaff. It’s brilliant. I’m very proud of us for this decision. Somehow though, we totally overlooked the cost of chairs for the ceremony, which is on a lawn in a public space. We knew we’d have to rent chairs for it, of course. We just didn’t know that those chairs, or rather the privilege of borrowing them for two hours, would cost us TWELVE HUNDRED DOLLARS. Over a grand! For chairs! That we don’t even keep! And they are not flaked with gold. Or edible. I feel like an idiot for not having foreseen this problem, but really, how was I supposed to know? How many weddings have I planned before this one? None. I knew the chairs wouldn’t be free, but the quote is well over twice what I expected to pay. Because they’re CHAIRS. That we are not buying. But unless we want Stephen’s grandmother sitting on a yoga mat, or everyone who flew in from out of state standing, we just get to suck it up and rent the Golden Chairs (gold not included).

Today’s special something, which is what has inspired me to write all of this because it was the “just one more thing” I wasn’t ready to digest, was an RSVP we received from a friend who RSVP-ed yes to the wedding (great) and added with his name “and guest.” We did not invite him with a guest. He just gave himself one. Are you fucking kidding me? You can’t DO THAT, dude. This isn’t a keg party. Or even a holiday party. You can’t just be like, “Mind if I bring a friend?” Because guess what? We mind!

Here are some numbers to explain why:
3: Number of months I spent fighting with my parents over the guest list
17: Number of personal friends I truly wanted to invite whom we didn’t have room for
14: Number of family members we’re not inviting
7: Number of those family members I really want to invite
15: Number (approximate – I don’t have his list in front of me so I’m guessing) of friends Stephen didn’t invite
40: Approximate number of friends’ children we didn’t invite
59: Number of people more than our venue can fit whom we invited

Yeah, that’s what all the fighting was about for all those months, and we obviously did a mediocre job of resolving it. So guess what, pal? You don’t get to add a guest for yourself!

It kind of blows my mind, maybe a lot, that someone thinks this is an acceptable way to behave. And then it also astounds me that I find myself caring about something this small. Why does it matter? The truth is, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t. But as this event (which I know will be joyous and love-filled, so maybe I should say… the planning for this event) takes over my life, I start to care about little things that shouldn’t matter because there are other little things that do matter – like cooking healthy meals for myself and Stephen or hiking together on the weekends or reading – that get pushed aside.

My goal has been for our wedding not to take over my life, and I suppose if I have realized that goal for all except the last 2.5 months, then really, I’ve done okay. And I recognize the beauty and joy of many of the ways it’s taken over. Already there is so much celebrating and so many opportunities to share love with the many people we care about. So I’m grateful, really. I just wish it could be BYOchair.

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