Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fear of flying

Chris's email about those of us Project Grads who are "flying solo" this summer prompted me to think about all the previous backsliding I've done on my fitness journey. He is right - it's SO damn easy to slide back into your old ways, not just of behavior, but of thought.

I was talking to someone recently about the fear of losing all this progress. During the Project I went out to dinner on one of my "free" Saturdays, and it all came crashing down on me - the fear. I had had an awful day at work, my kids were being the most irritating and worthless little people in my world, and all I wanted was a couple of glasses of wine and six pounds of pasta to zone me out. My husband took me to an Italian restaurant and I ordered a plate of bowtie pasta primavera. It was faaaaaabulousssss, and so was the wine. I was just beginning to relax and enjoy myself when the fear hit me.

I looked up from my bowl after eating about half the pasta, and immediately thought about the fat I'd just eaten. The calories. The starch, the butter, the sauteed spinach -- as reasonably healthy as it was, I was convinced that I was going to gain all ten pounds back that night. It was all true. I would step on the scale the next day, my weigh-in day, and all the weight would be back. What a pointless, fruitless exercise this was, and I might as well go home and eat a can of frosting and drink straight tequila, and waddle off to bed.

My ego laughed at me maniacally.

This is where the awareness comes in. The habit of awareness is a hard one to master - it means recognizing reality instead of being driven by fear into old patterns of thinking. I gradually became aware that it was my old fearful ego talking, trying to drag me back into that nasty neighborhood in my mind.

So I took a deep breath, pushed my plate away, and declined dessert. Yes, I had too many calories. Yes, I was temporarily unaware of the bigger picture of the Project. But I talked myself down from the ledge, got up early the next day to do my workout, and started over again. Just as I intend to do now that I'm flying solo, this day, the next day, and as many days as I can.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The insanity of women's sizes

Allow me to rant for a minute. If you have read Sherri's recent blog post, you learned about the awful experience of trying on clothes in a department store dressing room. It's a peculiar form of torture for women, as all the mirrors are designed by carnival workers especially talented at distortion, and the lighting was developed by sadistic surgeons using laser technology to create actual bursts of greenish-grey light that illuminates your every pore. We've all faced it.

Dressing rooms are bad enough. The other part of the insanity is the sizing in women's clothing. Oh lord, the sizing. The variation between clothing designers, the attempt to fit everyone into the S-M-L-XL model, and especially the "vanity" sizing that seems to go along with very expensive stuff in an attempt to get some poor schlub to spend $$$ for a size 4. You're petite, but only if you are between 4'11" and 5'3". If you are 5'4", you are average, just like someone who is 5'8". WTF??? Just pulling a pair of pants off the rack isn't enough -- now we have to obsess over petite, average, tall, apple-shaped, pear-shaped, fitted, relaxed, curvy, boot-cut, athletic, full-figured, busty, zippered, button-fly, racerback, prepubescent, military-cut, clown-sized midget circus trapeze-flying..... OK, I exaggerated those last few, but not by much.

There is so much competition between women when it comes to sizes. Why do we do it to ourselves? I went shopping a few days ago, like Sherri, because it was fun to get a couple of new things for spring after being an "official" Project graduate. Whoopee! I lost 14 pounds, surely I'd be down a size or two.

I tried on a few things. Some smaller things, some not. I was disappointed that I wasn't a full size down, but I haven't shopped for pants in awhile. Then it struck me that again, I was focusing on numbers that don't matter -- numbers that I DO NOT WANT to matter anymore. As was every woman around me in the dressing room.

I overheard two women in the next booth talking about their sizes. Two very petite, lovely women who may or may not have been best buddies but seemed to be in a tiny snit about their bodies and the clothes they were shopping for. One of them was complaining that the pants she was trying on, a size 6, were "just hanging on me. Just HANGING. I swear, I need a size 4 or I'll look like a COW." The other one commiserated with her on the difficulty of finding pants that were "small enough but still long enough for me. I had to buy a size ZERO the other day and I KNOW I'm NOT a size zero. I'm so pudgy I can barely walk!"

Can you begin to imagine my thoughts, as I pulled my size 8s over the gelatinous columns of flesh known as my legs.

Seriously, it took all my yogic calm not to speak my thoughts out loud, which were basically "what the fuck size do you need to be? A size 00? Size 000? Size 12 in children's clothes, size 6x, size 18-36 months? Do you want to be infant-sized, or would that still be too chubby? Maybe you'd be happier if you were an actual zygote? Would that be thin enough for you to actually stop bitching?"

I thought those awful thoughts, knowing that a very pissed-off Jesus is up there listening and thinking "Oy, do I need a bong hit. Why did I give people numbers when they do this to themselves? Sheesh."

Eventually I bought a couple of cute new tops that look very nice on my much fitter body, and I vowed to stop looking at the size every five minutes. Just don't get me started on swimsuit sizes, OMG.....

Monday, April 6, 2009

Gone for good

I've been thinking a lot in the last couple of weeks about all the unhealthy things that I feel are gone from my life since the Project started. I liked what Alison said in one of the meetings about how if she never had another piece of cheesecake again in her life, she wouldn't care -- but she would not get out of bed in the morning if she thought she could never have chocolate again. There are dealbreakers for me as well, but it's funny to think about all the things I would gladly never ingest again. Here's a short list:

  • Cheetos, Doritos, fake sour cream and onion chips: In fact, any flavored junk food chips of any kind. Don't know what they're made of, don't understand the whole day-glo orange powdered-cheese coating, don't care. They smell awful, they leave dustings of cheese powder everywhere, and they seem to be cooked in some sort of space-age petroleum product. Beware of anybody with day-glo orange fuzz-covered fingers -- they probably sit in a dungeon and create computer viruses all day.

  • Doughnuts. If I never ate another doughnut I would not care. Deep-fried balls of dough covered in sticky sugar -- Blecchhhhh. I used to be fond of the occasional pumpkin-spice cake donut, but they're not worth the leaden feeling in my stomach after I've eaten one.

  • Pie. Except for the annual slice of pumpkin pie, it wouldn't bug me if I never had another slice of pie. Too much crust, too much sugar, not enough flavor for the calories. Although I do make a killer blueberry cobbler when blueberries are in season, I'll probably adjust my recipe for less sugar and topping ingredients.

  • Random pieces of candy. Where I work there are several AA's who keep candy bowls filled for everyone to sneak a piece from. I used to take a couple three pieces whenever I would chat with our AA without even thinking about it. It's not just the calories I don't need, it's the habit of consuming something absent-mindedly that I don't want.

Writing down everything I eat has been a huge help for me in terms of the awareness of feeding my body. I still have habits that I need to change, but this is just the start of the journey for me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

OK, you asked for it

Before I started this blog to capture my experiences during the Project, I wrote another one for awhile. I thought I'd give you all the link, in case you are completely out of reading material or you are looking for something to offend you.

Midwest Diva

The title is a little joke on myself. I have a bunch of fabulous girlfriends, and once when we were all together I proposed that we were all divas, and the name stuck. I am not remotely a diva, but I am Midwestern, and after a couple glasses of wine I have delusions of grandeur.

Some of the posts are pretty personal, but I trust that the group will keep it in mind. I'm thinking about dumping that blog but I might keep some of the posts. Let me know which ones you like. I'm very flattered that the Project members have been reading and enjoying my little scribbles.