I am so not there yet

I’ve been living in a pretty safe, diet-free environment lately.  I don’t live with my mother anymore or hang out with girls very often so I don’t hear women talking bad about themselves or about the latest diet advice.  We don’t have any full length mirrors in the house, just the one in the bathroom at shoulder level.  And I am mainly with my husband who seems to love me regardless of what I look like and who hates it if I even hint at the word “diet.”  Not to keep me from doing what I want necessarily, but because he knows I can take dieting to a “dark place” and he knows I am trying to move forward without constantly monitoring my eating habits.  Puna, my grandmother, signed me up for a subscription to First for Women magazine which seems to be filled primarily with advertisements and articles centered around weight-loss.  It was a wedding gift and very sweet but Matt makes a point of tossing them out before I even see them because they can be triggering to me.  Sometimes I find them and I get a little sad when he takes them away (But but… look at how many pounds I can lose by juicing!) however, in the end, I know he’s right and I really do appreciate his support more than I can say.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes. The point is my environment allows me to feel very comfortable. I mean, I still am making small changes. For the last month I’ve averaged 7,000 steps per day, I am starting week 5 of my 5K training which I have been diligent about and I’ve been eating a salad everyday fairly consistently recently. I haven’t used my home life as an excuse not to improve my health. But I have finally allowed myself to change slowly instead of tackling everything at once. And lately I’ve been feeling that while I’m moving in a good direction, I might actually be ok as I am. Maybe my self-esteem isn’t so bad after all and I really am close to self acceptance already…

Nope. And I’ll tell you how I found out.

On Saturday Matt and I met my Aunt Tanya and other family for lunch at the Mall of America. I know I’ve mentioned my aunt in a previous post but just to reiterate, she is someone I have looked up to my entire life. She’s beautiful and thin and kind. Her make up is always done (but never ever heavy), she always does something with her hair and her accessories always match her outfit. Basically, what I have always wanted to be.

Now, I got her text late on Saturday because I was out for a run and so we only had 30 minutes to get ready. My main priority at this point was cooling down and looking somewhat presentable. Make up wasn’t an option, and I wasn’t going to drop 60 lbs and receive a new wardrobe in that time anyway, so I went as I am determined to just enjoy time with family.

And it was fine! Until we went into a designer clothing store… with floor to ceiling mirrors. And within an instant I knew, I just knew, if I saw myself in those mirrors I was going to cry. My rational brain couldn’t quite understand it. What was there to cry about? But I knew if I saw my reflection in those mirrors, surrounded by these clothes with Aunt Tanya right there, I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I sat down on a bench facing a wall and admired shoes while she finished. I already knew the differences between Tanya and me, but I couldn’t face them reflected back at me so blatantly.

This is not OK!

This isn’t anywhere close to where I want to be! I’m glad I feel safe at home but the downside is I may be too sheltered. It’s easy to think these feelings of shame and self-loathing are gone when I never have to face them. But they are still there when I walk out the door, and they may even be getting stronger as a result of this willful ignorance. And as much as he may want to, Matt can’t protect me from them.

I don’t want this. I don’t want to hide in my house and avoid buying new clothes because I am ashamed. Next time I think these feelings are gone I want them to truly be gone! I want to shop with Aunt Tanya while being comfortable in my own skin regardless of my size at the time. I want the freedom to go where I want and do what I want without being held back by my own mind. But this, right now, is definitely not OK! I am not the Ugly Duckling anymore!

At least I don’t want to think I am anymore.   I guess it hurt to suddenly see how far I had to go.  I’m just… so not there yet.

My Aunt Tanya and I at my wedding

My Aunt Tanya and I at my wedding

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What’s this all about (again)?

WordPress allows me to see what pages are viewed and when (though not who… darn) and I noticed that I was getting visitors at an “About” page that I hadn’t really known existed.  Well, I finally found it and wrote in something other than “This is the WordPress about page.  Here you can…” blah blah and it got me think about what I am trying to do here.

I called what I am doing here a journey which seems fitting and I at least know what direction I am going in but… if I am honest I am not sure what the end result is supposed to look like.  What does “true self-acceptance” even mean?  What is it like?  I imagine it feels good, right?  Something better then self-loathing and the constant desire to be different?

Perhaps I will know I have arrived when I can notice my silouette in a window and not cringe or analyze my legs to see if they are really as fat as I think they are.  Maybe I will stop putting my hands on my waist to check if I’ve gotten any smaller or to make sure I can still feel my ribs.  Stop wearing jeans when it is sweltering, and stop hating summer for that matter… stop feeling conscious of my stretch marks at the pool… stop looking at skinny women with envy and wishing I looked as thin and care free in a small white t-shirt…

But I think what I am really looking forward to is an overall blissful feeling of peace.  Yes, happiness, that’s it.  I want to be happy.  Just as I am.  Totally happy and free of the chains that weighed me down for such a long time.  I want the energy I never knew I had because it was tied up in diet planning and self-criticizing.  I want to actually know who I am rather than fixate on this idea of who I am supposed to be.  Happy… yeah, I think I’d like to give that a shot.  That’s what this is really about.

It’s not as common as weight-loss gurus but I have found some inspiration and ideas of what I am heading for:

Well, of course there is Geneen Roth who first introduced me to the whole “no dieting, ever” concept for which I will be forever grateful.

Then there is Sarah Becan at Sauceome.com who worked through her issues with a comic.  A friend of mine recommended this site to me shortly after I started this blog and I am so glad she did.  At first the comic seems to focus a bit on weight-loss but it grows way beyond that until she comes to a point where she realizes being thin is not that important.  Plus!  She isn’t afraid to love food!  Truly awesome.

And then there is Ragen Chastain at danceswithfat.wordpress.com who probably has the strongest voice of the bunch as she is a fat activist who believes people who are overweight shouldn’t be stigmatized.  What a concept, right?  Below her blog title says “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness are not size dependent.”  What more is there to say?  Unfortunately lots as Ragen will be the first to tell you.

And finally, thisisnotadiet-itsmylife.com is my newest resource of feel-good-about-my-body-ness.  I recently joined a yahoo group for Inside Out Weight Loss (I know, I just said weight loss wasn’t the focus but this is another great resource and I’ll explain later) when I was introduced to this and I immediately liked the author on Facebook.  Now my newsfeed gets peppered with her messages and thank you Kate for sharing the link.

So there you have it.  I am not alone which is nice.  It’s good to know I have tools and wisdom to use as I move forward.  And I am also hoping to raise my voice right alongside theirs one day.  You know, once I have it “all figured out.”  The end is still fuzzy but I have a better idea of what I am aiming for now.

And I know it is going to be wonderful.

Oh yeah, this thing…

Why hello there.  Sorry, I didn’t see you there as I was in the process of sifting through my life looking for “meaning” and “what am I supposed to do?” and other such nonsense.  But that’s alright.  I can focus on this for a moment.

I actually stopped writing for the school semester believing this was not a productive use of my time.  That was a mistake.  I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be anyway and I should know… writing is never a waste of time.

I am happy to say I’ve had a few revelations in the past few months.  No real breakthroughs as far as the whole “body acceptance” thing.  But I’ve learned some things and, in the past couple of weeks particularly, I feel I have taken some small steps forward.  And small is key but I’ll get to that later.  I should probably organize what these steps are in there own little blog segments and keep this a re-introductory type thing.  But they are coming and I hope you find them interesting.

But for now I’ll go organize my thoughts.  I’ll try to be back soon.  I promise.

 

Question

I feel kind of bad posting depressing stuff before but to delete it would seem dishonest to me. I guess it’s not surprising. When you create a whole blog about how you are trying to like yourself depressing stuff can sneak in pretty easily. Not to mention, chronic pain has been a part of my life for about 12 years now… and it involves food… and I hate my body… which also involves food…

Point being, it was bound to come up sooner or later. So thank you internet for allowing me to vent my pain and frustration. I’m sure it will happen again as long as I keep writing.

And I would really like to keep writing.

Now, at this point in time I don’t have very many readers. Mainly it’s read by friends of mine on Facebook (Hey guys *wave*). But perhaps one day that will change and therefore I would like to pose a question to the world.

What do you do when your self-confidence takes a serious beating? How do you bring it back up?

Better yet, how do you become confident in the first place?

Please comment. I would really like to know. And to any strangers out there, I am super excited that you are here reading this! But troll comments will not be shown. Ever. So there.

And so, as I wait for the answers of life to come to me, ladies and gentlemen, the Dead Parrot sketch. Just for the hell of it.

Oh, the shame: take two

I attempted to write this post a couple weeks ago but I started crying too hard to finish.  Let’s see if I can make it through this time.

It’s a bride’s worse nightmare.  It really, truly is.  And no, I’m not just being dramatic.  It is not a broken nail or even I torn hem.  Three weeks ago I was stricken with shingles.

Now I am assuming you have access to Google or some other search engine you can use to find out all you need to know about shingles.  But to sum up, after I had chicken pox back in the day, the virus stayed behind and hibernated in my system.  Until 3 1/2 weeks ago when it woke up and ravaged the nerve which wrapped around the right side of my upper rib cage.  This resulted in terrible deep tissue pain and a horrible blistering rash from my spine all the way around to the middle of my chest.  It really was terrible and I would not recommend it.

Now for part two of my bridal nightmare.  I don’t think I ever mentioned it here before but I have a muscle deficiency in my esophagus called achalasia.  This means I can’t swallow well at all but in truth, that is not the worse part.  Every once-in-a-while, usually when I am tired and stressed, the muscles seize up into this bone-crushing pain; kind of like a charlie horse only it can last for hours.  I call them spasms and the only way to relieve the pain is to swallow something which forces the muscles to open up and relax, even if only for a moment.  Water can work but for long spasms, that much liquid can make you feel really sick.  What really works the best is ice cream.  It is easily accessible (when you are in that much pain, cooking is the last thing you want to do) and the texture and chill is perfect.

I’ve been battling this since I was 14.  Using food as a drug has never been a foreign concept to me.  No wonder dieting has always been a frustrating and vicious cycle.

Anyway, back to the the shingles, the nerve which was affected by the virus could not have been in a worse position.  It sent me into spasms for days (and I mean days!) at a time.  The pain was crippling.  All I could do was eat and try to force myself to sleep as much as possible.

I am planning on getting married in October, the day I want to look better than I ever have in my life, and I am literally stuck on the couch eating.  I seriously felt shattered inside.

And to be honest, even as my skin is healing and I am starting to get my body back, I still do.  I thought I was fat 60 lbs ago back in high school.  Now, the 3 months I had to prepare for my big day has turned to 2 and I have made no steps towards the beautiful self I want to be.

I bought a dress that I fell in love with months ago and it just arrived.  I took some pictures so my mom could see how it looked on me and… I didn’t like what I saw.  I can zip it up but that doesn’t mean my body does it justice.  Where is the beautiful bride I want to be?  Is it even possible to find her in time?  Is it worth trying or will I be disappointed no matter what?  Has my chance been taken from me so easily?  Why?  Why now?  Why am I always stopped by this pain?!

At least I made it further without crying this time.

I don’t even know where I am going with this one.  I’m just voicing my pain and frustration.  My shame.

Before I go I should mention the other inspiration for the title of this post.  All of the fixation on the women’s looks in this summers Olympics was truly awful.  Gabby Douglas didn’t do her hair to people’s satisfaction; Holly Mangold, Jessica Ennis and Liesel Jones, among others, were considered too fat… scrutiny of male bodies seemed to be missing, of course.

What about focusing on the important things?  Their incredible accomplishments?  The fact that I am marrying someone wonderful?  Why is this so hard?

Oh, the shame.

What there is to be gained by avoiding the world

Short answer: nothing, as it turns out.

Well, I suppose I shouldn’t say that.  But it depends on how you do it and what your reasons are.  As you may or may not have noticed, I disappeared for a month.  And I am back to say I have been avoiding the world and I did it the wrong way… again.

There are probably some who feel the world distracts them from what is truly important.  They become monks or nuns and take a vow of silence.  Devote themselves to exploring “the internal” or go on a spiritual journey to India.  But the difference between them and me is that they made a conscious decision to do so.  They have a specific goal they are moving towards.

I, on the other hand, get tired, anxious, scared and, as a result, shut down.  Some of you who actually know me may have been frustrated with how difficult I can be to reach at times, especially by phone.  Truth is I hate my phone.  With a passion.  No lie.

Every time it rings I start to panic.  I imagine someone is going to yell at me, tell me I owe a lot of money, I’m expelled, I fail… basically, everything I already say to myself.  It doesn’t really matter what the caller id says.  I don’t want to answer that phone for the life of me(sorry mom… grandma).  In fact, I have two absolutely wonderful friends who are throwing me a bridal shower and the reason they didn’t get the invitations out sooner is entirely my fault.  The longer I took to get the addresses, the more I didn’t want to face them.  I feel really bad about that.

Do you ever wish the world would slow down and let you catch up?  There are so many  things I want to do this year; not least of which is to have engagement photos taken of Matt and I in the fall and a small, civil ceremony in January.  But at the same time I wish I could delay it all because I am terrified I am not going to be thin enough in time.  I don’t want to be embarrassed by these pictures for the rest of my life.  I want to look at them and be incredibly happy, not frustrated by my stupid, round face.

But what kind of life is that, if I delay everything until I am thin?  Until I am happy with myself?  Would I ever come out of hiding?  Get married?  Travel?  Do any of the things I really want to do?

Probably not.  And that would be so sad.  Because I want more then anything to get married and I have found someone incredible, that I can trust and  love whole-heartedly, to get married to.  I want to graduate, get a job I love, write wonderful things and be happy.  I want to be seen and loved by others.  The things I want most are a part of this world and to have them, I have to be a part of this world as well.

It’s terrifying.

Bit by bit I will move forward.  I have to.  I want to.  I will go to my bridal shower, regardless of my size, and I will see my friends.  I will do whatever I have to in order to graduate.  And hopefully I’ll be too happy at my wedding to care about cameras.

I’ve started by writing a blog post.  Now I just have to answer that damn phone.

I’m still here

Hello.  Been awhile.

I’ve actually really missed writing but finals week has begun and I just can’t justify writing a whole post when I still have so much to finish.  Not to mention this is my first chance in a while to truly finish a semester and I am so excited to conquer some things that have been hanging over my head for a few years now.

But I still have a week to go before that happens so this is just a check in.  I am really excited though because I have a bunch of ideas for future posts, such as:

1.)  How I handled the stress of finals food wise

2.) How I went to class one day just so I could walk the 3 miles home and what that means to me

3.) Why I am taking African mango extract and how I lost 1.5 ins off my waist 45 days after starting it

4.) My gardening and food plans for the summer

5.) How I want to recreate beautiful foods from Francesca Lia Block books

… and so on.

But not right now.  Right now I have a mound of biochemistry to conquer.

So wish me luck and I’ll be back in a week.  Promise.

Assuming I survive of course.

Haha… ha

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