onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “what works”

There are more options than surgery and moderation

I have been struggling for the past few hours to write a post. I read part of an article on bariatric surgery that made me so mad I had to put it down. The beginning of the article says that since it is already established that diet and exercise don’t work, people should be turning to weight loss surgery. And that they don’t because they wrongly believe that obesity is a problem with willpower.

Now, I absolutely agree that obesity is not a character flaw, nor do I believe it is the result of a character flaw (i.e. lack of willpower.) I could never “just push away from the table.” And boy did I want to. In fact, if you think you have “the answer” to the obesity epidemic and it begins with the word “just,” like “just stop eating so much,” I promise you don’t have the answer.

But one factor that I do believe is a problem is our culture of prizing and romanticizing junk food. By everyone, including the medical and scientific communities.

I keep reading over the past year that “diet and exercise don’t work.” But I am not convinced that this is “already established” as a truth. It is my personal experience that diet does work. Just plain diet all on its own works. No exercise necessary. And I personally know hundreds of people for whom this is true.

Is this true for everyone? Of course not. But to come to the conclusion that diet doesn’t work, is ridiculous. And I have to question the science that claims it. Especially when the biggest change in the past 40 years, the years leading to our current “obesity epidemic” has been a significant increase in the amount of sugar, carbs, and processed food we eat.

So changing the American diet made us fat, but changing our diet won’t fix the problem?

Of course, the “problem” for most people is the extremity of NEVER! I never eat sugar, or simple carbohydrates. The only carbs I eat are fruits and vegetables. And not even some of those that are high sugar/high starch. Because “in moderation” has never been a viable option for me, but “never” worked immediately, and changed my life for the better.

See, I’m pretty sure that is what the medical community and the media mean when they say “diet and exercise don’t work.” They mean they have told people to eat junk in moderation, and people fail at that. Because it is hard to eat junk in moderation. *That* is what does not work. And part of the reason it does not work for society as a whole now is that food companies are working at making their junk more addictive. They want people to eat past the point of hunger. They want us to eat as a reward, and a cure for boredom. They want us to crave and salivate. They have scientists in their labs working to eliminate that “full button” normal eaters used to have. And they are seemingly succeeding.

I was never one of those people anyway. Nobody turned off my “full button.” Mine never worked in the first place.

Does surgery help some people? I’m sure it does. But it is not a solution. It is a harm reduction technique. And if that is good enough, then that should be an individual’s choice. Not everyone has the proverbial stomach for giving up junk foods. But I think it is a problem that the people we should be able to trust, specifically the medical community, are not even offering complete abstinence from sugar, junk, and processed foods as an option. They are saying right off the bat that it doesn’t work.

I want you to know that it does work for some of us. And I think before you have dangerous and invasive surgery, you might want to give it a shot.

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The best way to know why you do is to don’t

I am feeling like such a brat this week. I’m tired. And I don’t wanna! (Can you hear the whine?)

Of course, I did. And I am. Even though I don’t wanna. First, and most importantly, I did all of the things that I needed to do to keep my food boundaries. Plus, I did the laundry, even though I didn’t want to. I cleaned up the deep-fryer and strained the oil and put it away for next time, even thought I wanted to leave it and deal with it “later” and sit on the couch and take ridiculous quizzes on Facebook. I am writing this blog, even though I would rather be lying in the sun doing the Sunday crossword puzzle.

But I will tell you what I did not do every day this week. I did not drink my 64 ounces of water two days this week. For some time now, there have been occasional days when I have fallen short of drinking all of my water. And I have not been doing my morning meditation regularly for a while, either. I do it some days. But not every day like I had for years. I don’t wanna. And somehow, I have let both of these commitments become less than commitments.

There’s no particular reason I’m tired this week. I have learned over the years that bodies sometimes get tired and slow down. That minds sometimes get foggy. That thoughts and emotions sometimes get wonky. Human bodies are complex. With hormones and chemicals and all manner of reactions going on that I personally can’t comprehend. I have realized that if an experience is not a trend, I should not, under any circumstances, worry about it. If it is a trend, well, that’s something else. And it merits exploration.

And these episodes of resistance to drinking my water and sitting down to my morning meditation are trends.

I have wondered what could have come between me and these commitments. I have thought about it. I considered using this blog to ferret out the answer. But then I remembered a very important lesson I learned when I got my eating under control. If you want to know why you eat compulsively, stop eating compulsively.

In other words, if I want to know why I stopped meditating regularly, start meditating regularly again. If I want to know why I’m getting lax with my water intake, get vigilant again.

The truth is, I don’t know if I will just get right back on the horse here. I have unsuccessfully attempted to recommit to these things before in the past few months. Specifically the morning meditation. But it occurs to me that I did it in my head. And not in the world. Where I know real changes happen.

And I will also say that writing it out makes it seem so much less shameful. In fact, I hadn’t even realized I was ashamed until just now. It even takes the pressure of success away.

So as of today, I am recommitting to you that I will do my morning meditation and drink 64 ounces of water every day. And when I glean some new (or recycled) insight about myself, I’ll let you know.

For now, I have to go meditate.

Do you want to be right, or do you not want to get scalded by boiling oil?

Welp, There’s another year.

All in all, one of the best I have ever had. As of yesterday, I am 37. Happy. Content. Not complacent, content. And isn’t that basically the Holy Grail? It is for me, anyway. Peace. Loving my life without it having to be perfect. Accepting it exactly the way it is.

I have been thinking about responsibility lately. What it actually means. What it actually looks like. And I can recognize that my peace is a byproduct of my responsibility.

I used to do a lot of what you might call self-help-y kinds of things. I read books and went to seminars and courses of varying sorts. In general, I didn’t get staggering breakthroughs those years that I was reading and taking seminars. I would eventually learn very many of the things I had been taught. I even mean that I learned them from those very courses and books. But years later, after I got control of my eating. Many of those teachings swam around in my head for all those years in the interim. Occasionally peeking out and popping up. Until I was ready and clear enough to learn them. And then they were just there. Obvious.

I was in a seminar once, I don’t remember what the theme was. Maybe creativity. Maybe designing your life. It doesn’t matter. The woman leading the seminar was talking about responsibility. She said something like If you are standing on the sidewalk, and you look up and notice that somebody on the 8th floor directly above you (I lived in New York City at the time) is pouring a pot of boiling oil down on where you stand, it is your responsibility to at least TRY to jump out of the way. If you are scalded and grievously injured, you can blame the person who poured the oil. You can even sue them. And I’m not saying that you would not be entitled to compensation for that. But in the end, you will be one who has to live in that burned body. You will be the one who has to suffer the pain. So do you want to shake your fist at this person on the 8th floor, and be righteously angry, and yell at them for doing something so dangerous, while the oil comes down on your head? Or do you want to jump out of the way and try to save yourself?

Now perhaps this is obvious to you. But for me at 23 or whatever age I was, this was a little epiphany. I had spent my life up until then incredibly certain about the way things “should be.” And deeply interested in complaining about the things that “shouldn’t have” happened to me, that did. And instead of dealing with them the way they were, I wanted to be righteously indignant about the general unfairness of life. And continue to expect life to be the way it “should be” in the future. But even after this little epiphany, I still had a hard time applying this idea of responsibility to the specific situations in my life. Probably because I didn’t have any personal frame of reference.

The first real responsibility I ever took in my life was getting my eating under control at 28. It was actual responsibility. No, it wasn’t fair that I couldn’t eat sugar like a “normal” person, but there it was. It didn’t matter if I thought it “shouldn’t be” that way. That was the way it was. The boiling oil was falling out of the 8th story window directly over my head. So I made a commitment to jump out of the way. I chose to follow some specific rules about food.

I didn’t only do it when it was easy and convenient. I didn’t only do it when people approved and were supportive. I didn’t only do it when grocers and wait staff and family members did everything the way it “should be” done according to my new food boundaries. I did it all the time. No matter what.

If somebody made it more difficult to do what I needed to do, I did the more difficult thing to meet my own needs. If waiters gave me food prepared or served in a way I could not eat it, I sent it back. If food companies changed their recipes so that a food I loved was no longer within my food boundaries, I gave it up. If people insisted on either my eating something they offered, or their taking great offense, I let them be offended.

And since then, slowly over the years, I have learned to apply that same lesson to other aspects of my life. I have learned to look at decisions I’m making and actions I am taking. And to decide if I want to change those decisions and actions, or find peace with their outcomes.

See, now that my addiction is under control, I have big girl problems. Problems that don’t have obvious fixes or black and white solutions. Life is full of unfair circumstances and hard choices. It always has been. For everybody. You might even say that as a middle class woman in 2014 in the United States, I’m living cushier and easier than most people anywhere ever before. So who am I to curse the oil coming down if I am not even willing to jump aside?

A beautiful word, a lesson in boiling frogs, and a mixed metaphor.

There is a word that is important to me. Insidious. It means something that is harmful, but it happens so gradually, that you don’t even notice it until it is too late.

You have probably heard about boiling frogs. Apparently, if you try to put a frog in boiling water, he will jump out. But if you put a frog in a pot of room-temperature water and slowly bring that water to a boil, he will not notice the water becoming dangerously hot and he will allow himself to be boiled to death. And you can have frog soup or whatever. Which does not sound so particularly appealing to me. But what do I know? I love brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Which I am told makes me a total weirdo…Whatever.

Anyway, I have been thinking about this idea of insidiousness today. Because I scared myself this morning. With a thought.

If you have read my blog before, you probably know that I don’t talk about what I do with food specifically. But I talk a lot about how I keep boundaries around my eating. I have rules. Lots of very specific food rules. About what and when and how I eat. And how much.

A big part of my eating boundaries is portion size. It is specific. And precise. Meticulously accurate. I have been known to cut off a minuscule piece of this or that. I have cut a slice of mushroom in half. I have literally added or taken away a speck of carrot the size of my pinky nail. And I am that precise and meticulous every time. Even when nobody else is in the kitchen. Or the house. I do not do it to show anybody else. It is for me. Between me and me. And between me and God.

So this morning, while I was scooping a pinky nail’s worth out of my bowl and back into the container, I had a thought. “What would happen if I just left it in there?”

My immediate response to myself was “Destruction. Now stop thinking about it because I’m getting uncomfortable!”

But there was something lingering in it. It gave me an icky feeling. Dirty and shameful.

Perhaps because after 8 years of keeping boundaries around my eating I think I should be immune to such thoughts. But I have had those kind of thoughts before. And they don’t generally scare me. I am generally happy with my immediate answer “Destruction.” Or something similar. Misery. Anxiety. Shame. Nothing good! That’s for damn sure. I make a point to talk about those thoughts when I have them. And I keep a healthy fear of the food. (A healthy fear. Not like I can’t go to a birthday party because there will be pizza and cake. But I don’t have to go around smelling the pizza and imagining what the cake tastes like either.)

No there was something else in this thought. And I decided to play along. To answer the question. What would happen if I didn’t take out the pinky nail’s worth? Would the world blow up?

No. No the world would not blow up.

And that would be the problem.

If the world blew up, then I would never do that again. If you throw a frog into boiling water, he jumps out!

But the world would not blow up, and suddenly a pinky nail’s worth would become acceptable. So surely a whole finger’s worth would not be that big of a deal either. And then I would not “need” rules. And I would be able to “manage” my food. And then I would be at that birthday party and I could have pizza and cake just this one time…

But I’m an addict. Eating sugar sets up a physical craving and a mental obsession. So before you know it I am a 300 lb frog who is too fat and too high on sugar to jump out of the pot of boiling water. (Yes, I know I’m mixing my metaphors. Shakespeare did it! What do you mean I’m no Shakespeare?!?!)

The other thing that might happen is that I could end up an active bulimic and exercise bulimic again. I could be running until I injured myself. I could be sticking toothbrushes down my throat. I could be taking toxic doses of laxatives.

In other words, the world would explode. Just not right away. Not until it was too late to stop it.

Insidious. It’s a good word. Both beautiful and terrible.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I recently did something I stopped doing. Years ago I stopped reading health and nutrition articles. And this week I read one.

When I was fat and thought my body was broken, I never read those articles either. Because in my head, they were for people who could be thin. And healthy. But let’s face it, mostly thin.

But when I was thin but plagued by eating disorders, I read them a lot.

For one, I was looking for that magical food experience. The one that would let me “eat like a normal person”. That would make me want to eat normally. That it wouldn’t take anything on my part. No commitment or effort. It would just happen with some diet or food combination.

For example, I read once that when one has a sugar craving, one should quench it. But with naturally high sugar or starch fruits and vegetables. That to deny oneself all sugar would make one feel deprived. I wanted a high sugar fruit or vegetable to stop me from wanting to binge eat. So I started eating a roasted sweet potato for a snack. Well, it started out as a roasted sweet potato. Within a week I was eating 4 or 5. I would finish one and put another into the oven immediately. Or eventually just cook 2 at a time.

It happened with bananas too.

Those are both foods that I no longer eat. It doesn’t matter that they are natural. They are sugar. Pure and simple. And I can’t handle them.

I also read those health and nutrition articles looking for excuses to continue my bad eating behavior. “Chocolate is good for you,” comes to mind. Um yeah…but not in the quantity I ate it…

So I don’t read articles touting the newest thing in eating. Definitely no fad diets. But not even scientific studies. I have a solution that works for me. It does not matter that dark chocolate is filled with antioxidants. I am addicted to it. It cannot do me any good. It will only make me crazy and miserable. Insane and fat.

So the other day, I read one of the kinds of articles I don’t read. It was posted on Facebook by a few people who I really respect. And I was curious. Not to learn something for myself. Like I said, I have a solution to my eating disorders and body image problems. But to see what they were giving a nod to.

What I read made a lot of sense. It was not exactly the same as the way I eat, but it was very similar. And it did not seem like a fad or a ridiculous way of eating. It seemed like good, sane, quality food advice. But there was a part of it that bothered me. It was how to “end sugar addiction in 10 days”.

My problem is with the idea of addiction. And ending it. And 10 days.

Because I am an honest-to-goodness sugar addict. That is not a euphemism for liking to eat. When I put sugar in my body it sets off a physical craving and a mental obsession. I was eating 4-5 sweet potatoes in a row as quickly as I could cook them. I am sick with food. And it took a year and a half of no sugar grains or starch just to come out of the fog that was getting sober from sugar. (Yes, I was high getting sober. It was as disorienting and bizarre as being drunk or high on drugs. Or high on sugar itself.) And that sure as hell doesn’t mean that I can eat it in moderation now because I am fixed.

Not fixed. Still addicted. Eternally.

It’s not the first time it has occurred to me that the word addict gets bandied about. Especially around food. Or maybe I just notice it about food because it’s a tender subject for me. But if you are an actual addict, someone with a physical allergy with an accompanying mental obsession, then I don’t think 10 days is gonna save you. I think you are headed for a life of constant vigilance. Or continual shame and misery.

I’m not saying that it is not possible for people to change the way they eat. Or that a person wouldn’t look and feel better by following this diet I read about. If you haven’t found a solution to your food issues, I say yes! Try one of the eating lifestyle movements out there. And maybe it will work. I found the thing that brought me peace around my food. I hope you find peace around your food too. I’m just saying that I don’t think it’s so simple if someone is an honest-to-goodness addict.

I guess what I am really asking is can we stop calling bad habits addiction? Please? It is too serious. It takes too much. Work, and hope and surrender. It’s not a 10 day fix. It’s a total alteration of the way you live your life. One day at a time. But forever. It’s treatment. It’s recovery. From a disease. And it totally sucks ( in the beginning. – Now it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me. But that’s after years of being sober from sugar grains and starch.) It’s not something one does half-assed. I don’t know any addict who had sobriety just happen to them. And I know a lot of addicts.

Let sleepless kids lie (awake) and other thoughts on surrender

There is something I believe. A tenet. A belief that I use to shape my life. A belief that I try to keep in mind when I think, speak, and act.

I believe that Life is always right.

Sometimes I believe it in a “religious” way. (I put it in quotes because I am not religious, nor am I affiliated with any religion.) But I believe that God is working His plan, and whatever happens is a stretch of the larger road leading to a better life for me. And yes, I do actually believe that. Because my experience has been that even when crazy, scary, upsetting things have happened that have been devastating setbacks, they have always also been merely a leg of a journey to something much, much better.

And sometimes, I just believe it in a practical, basically Zen, kind of way. In other words, it is what it is. (Whatever that is.) If there were any other way for it to be, it would be that way. There is no should have, could have, or would have. That once something is in the past, it is unchangeable. You must accept it, and move on.

I do not mean to imply that I don’t believe in changing things that can be changed. I do not believe in giving up, staying stuck, or becoming resigned. Nor do I wish to imply that I don’t believe in plans, or preparation. God knows that I am awful at flying by the seat of my pants. But “even the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.” And the question becomes how do I react when things don’t go the way I want, or expect them to.

I want to be the person who trusts. I want to trust that God is preparing something even better for me. And I want to trust that Life is always giving me exactly what I need.

And I want to remember that when I trust that Life is giving me the right things, I shift my consciousness so that I am creating an opportunity. In other words, I make it true by believing it. I can make anything into a gift, or a lesson by thinking of it as one.

So why am I writing this? Because I need a reminder. I am unhappy in my situation right now. I had a lot of plans. And I have had a lot of frustrating setbacks. And I’m feeling resentful. Toward God. And Life.

Here I am, doing my best. My best to be good person. To keep my eating under control. To take care of myself by planning and working to create order and comfort for myself. And I’m still not getting what I want! I am not comfortable. I am not happy. I am not in control of my circumstances.

There is something I learned as a babysitter. The Jedi Mind Trick to get a sleep-hating kid to fall asleep, is to not care if the kid sleeps or not. It is to stop resisting their “awakeness.” It is to find peace with whatever happens. And I tell you, that kid will fall asleep every time. (And if they don’t, it doesn’t matter, because you have peace anyway.)

This is true of life too. If I stop resisting, things shift. And if they don’t, who cares. I have peace.

I wish that writing this brought me instant peace. It didn’t. But I’m giving up the right to be resentful. And I’m being gentle with myself. There is no use in beating myself up for not being peaceful.

All in good time. All in God’s time. Life on Life’s terms. Because if I’m being practical, there isn’t any other time, and there aren’t any other terms.

A stitch in time

I sometimes have mentioned that I have gotten many benefits from getting my eating under control. More than being in a smaller, healthier, more comfortable body. More than no longer being obsessed with food.

There’s a long list, frankly. Self-confidence, integrity, peace, happiness and love are just a few. But this week I am really struck by one of those gifts. A specific kind of patience that I have acquired. Patience to learn and improve. Growth patience.

When I was a small child, my grandmother taught me how to crochet. She taught me one stitch, and how to make rows of that one stitch. But I don’t remember ever finishing anything as a kid. Not a scarf or a blanket. Not a pot holder. Perhaps I did. But for most of my life, I thought of myself as someone who never finished anything she started. And I would say that I thought of myself that way because it was true.

In my early 20s I took up crocheting again. But I did it feverishly. And with no concern for the quality of my work. Or the quality of materials I used. I half-assed a few hats and scarves because they were quick and easy. I would get impatient to be done and would start making my stitches bigger to hurry up and get it over with. I even started using the wrong size tools so that I could make bigger stitches in smaller yarn. I had zero patience.

I’m not sure why I even wanted to crochet back then. I don’t remember enjoying the process at all.

But in the past 10 months, I have completed and given 7 homemade gifts, made 2 blankets, a hat and a scarf for myself, and have 2 small complete throws sitting in my closet that don’t have recipients. And I am in the process of 2 new projects at the moment. Some have been quite large and time consuming. Some have been smaller and quicker. But they are complete.

And they have been good. I take my time. I care about both the quality of my work and the quality of my materials. I am proud of what I make.

Mostly because I have been patient about learning. And practice. I have been willing to make the best thing I can with my current skill level. And then to take the time to learn something new. And to make a project with my new knowledge. And then to practice some more. And to be content to be where I am without needing to be the best right away.

Don’t get me wrong. I got a little ahead of myself in the beginning. Wanted to go from making a scarf to making a dress in an instant. Tried to make a dress. And failed.

But I decided that was ok. I didn’t quit crocheting. Instead I decided to quit having ridiculous expectations of myself. I decided to take a step (or ten) back, and get better at what I already knew. And then I decided to learn a little something new. And get comfortable with that.

Because one thing I learned from getting my eating under control, is that pretty much everything worth anything takes time.

Losing weight takes time. Changing the way you think takes time. Getting the life you want takes time. Becoming the person you want to be takes time. That slow and steady wins the race.

And it’s always only a journey. That there is no destination.

My life eating was all about destination. And accomplishment. One destination to the next kept me from ever being satisfied. My worth was based on getting everything right and/or perfect. And that still didn’t propel me to doing things right or perfect. It more just kept me from ever getting anything done. Out of fear and shame.

Getting my eating under control has taught me patience. I have to be patient for my next meal. And in between meals is time to do something. Anything. Have an experience. Read something. Walk somewhere. Learn something new. Make something.

For the most part, I am still making blankets. I’m not quite ready to move on to sweaters or dresses yet. But it has been less than a year since I started crocheting again. And perhaps I never will move on to sweaters. Perhaps I will only ever make scarves and hats and blankets. I don’t have to decide today. I just have to get better at what I know. And decide what I want to learn next.

I learned that from putting boundaries around my food.

I’m posting some pictures of a few of the things I have made since last November when I started crocheting again.

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Want to get a bikini body this summer?

Put a bikini on your body…

I have mentioned before, just last week even, that other people’s eating disorders can bring my own eating disorders to the forefront of my thinking. That’s true of my body image disorders as well. And I’m in a funny place right now. I would say that it’s a pretty good place. But weird.

See, for the most part, my body is not an issue lately. But also, grocery store checkout tabloids and people with body issues on social media are putting images that make me angry (frustrated? freaked out?) all up in my face.

I did not lose 150 lbs for my health. Period. (Just like I did not quit smoking for my health.) I have never ever ever done anything for my health. It is not what motivates me. And I’m not sorry for it. Or ashamed of it.

Yes, I know that the world wants health to be the great motivator. Good Lord, they say it often enough. Just try putting some artificial sweetener in your coffee in a public place. You’d think you were snorting cocaine on the Starbucks counter top. That’s so bad for you!

And it was certainly vanity that got me to get control of my eating. (And quit smoking.) But it was not really physical vanity. It was less what my body looked like, and more what my body said about me.

Here’s the way I think I can explain it. Being fat was, as far as I was concerned, the physical manifestation of how messed up, out of control, morally bankrupt, self-hating, unlovable, and pathetic I was. It was the big billboard that announced “This girl is totally f***ed up!” So yes, I did not want to be fat anymore.

But my experience is that there is a crazy paradox that goes along with losing weight. And even more specifically, getting the body I wanted. And now love.

I had to stop caring about whether or not I would get the body I wanted. And I had to love the body I had. I had to let go of what I thought would be a good body, the right body, a beautiful body.

Because I do not have the body that I thought I would have to have before I could love my body. I just plain don’t. But I sure do love my body. LOVE it!

Those fashion magazine articles that tell us to tape pictures of women with the bodies we want on our refrigerators for motivation, with the promise that if we work hard enough, and be good enough, we too will get that body, well…they’re lying. Those women are models. And I’m going to be blunt here, they are models because they have a rare body shape and type. That a very greedy beauty industry is trying to sell us at all costs. And those pictures are probably photoshopped. The truth is that no matter how disciplined, committed to our diets and regimented in our workouts we are, we will probably never get a body that looks like those women’s bodies.

I know for a fact that I never will. Never ever. I have my own body. It’s the one I got from my parents. And God, or Nature, or Life, or whatever you want to call it. And there is nothing wrong with that. Did you get that? Let me reiterate. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT! I even abused the hell out of my body. And it is fantastically beautiful!

If I had gotten control of my eating to get a beautiful body, I would have given up a long time ago. I would have decided that none of it was worth it. If I couldn’t have a magazine-worthy body, I might as well have had chocolate cake.

But I don’t need to have a model’s body. Thank God! I don’t need to be seen as skinny. Hell, lately, I don’t even need to worry about how fast (or if) I’m going to lose the rest of the weight I gained when I quit smoking. (I do still have body image disorders, so frankly, that might come up again. But for now it’s a non-issue.)

I certainly do not think of this blog as being a weight loss or eating disorder instruction manual. I do my best to keep it about my own experience. But today I’m branching out a bit. So if you read me looking for clues about how to lose weight, here’s my advice. And it’s good!

Don’t wait to lose weight to love yourself. Love yourself now. Don’t wait to get a beautiful body before you start thinking your body is beautiful. Think it’s beautiful now.

Because there is magic in that! It’s a Jedi mind trick. It works. It will probably help you lose weight. And even if it doesn’t…You will love your body! How could that be a bad thing?!?!

What do you get when you cross an oven with a mountain?

I started out writing this post a couple of days ago, but since then, I have become aware of something that has changed everything. I was given some insight into how I operate and how it affects my life. I’m having a hard time processing it. So I wrote this rather mixed up post with two analogies that don’t go together. The kind of thing only Shakespeare can get away with. And it turns out he’s dead. But bear with me. It’s at least short and ends with an interesting point…
On Friday, I started out writing about how I deal with relationships by trying to “do it right”. I used cute cooking analogies. I explained that how you cook something affects the result you get. If you cook at a high temperature for a short time, you get a different result than if you cook at a low temperature for a long time. Pan searing versus slow roasting. But that I had come to the realization that I was wrong thinking I could “do it right” when it came to relationships. That unlike food, people are autonomous. And that, as a good friend reminds me, I am only 50% of any relationship. So I was about to declare to you that I was going to give up trying to do it right in relationships. That I was going to start living like I couldn’t do it wrong.
Ok. Now that I have a little more clarity about my MO, let me give you a better analogy about the way I have been viewing relationships. I have been living like sad loneliness is all around, everywhere. And love is the very peak of a colossal mountain with dangerous terrain. That in order to love and be loved I am going to have to scale this mountain. I’ll have to be at the top of my game, in perfect physical and emotional shape, and even then, one false move and I could lose my footing, lose everything, and end up right back at the foot of the mountain. Or I could climb and climb forever and never reach the peak. There is only the peak, or sad loneliness. The journey will be treacherous. There is no room for error or a lack of focus. And my success, as well as my ability to succeed is doubtful.
So here is what a friend pointed out to me. That all of this caution, all of this tentativeness and focus and “doing it right” is doing it wrong. Because it’s dishonest. It’s inauthentic. It’s a manipulation. Because I am doing my best to be what I think I should be in order to be loved by this one, instead of just being who I am and finding the one who wants to love me. Because I’m so worried about not getting rejected, that I fail to notice that I’m not actually getting loved.
So let’s go back to my cooking analogy. I’m going to say that I was wrong about being wrong about doing it right. (No, it’s ok. Feel free to take a minute to diagram that sentence if you need to…I’ll wait.) I have been wanting something to come out slow roasted. But I have been unwilling to stand in the heat of an uncomfortable kitchen. So I’ve been pan searing it. And I have been pain-staking about pan searing it exactly right. But in the end, it still comes out pan seared. And that’s not what I want. So it’s time to turn off the stove top, turn on the oven and heat up the house.
I’m trying to remember that it might not come out right at first. That it might take a few tries before I get the dish I want. But at least I’m on the right track now…
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Let’s walla walla down by the mango tree (or not…)

There is an interesting thing that I have noticed in my life. I noticed it before I got control of my food. But since then, it has become more obvious. The more I grow and change in my life, the more the cast of characters in my life changes. People come in. People fall away. And who comes and who goes is hard to predict.

When I was in college, I had a best friend. She was one of my four best friends at the time. But after I left school, she was the only one I stuck with. She and I were incredibly close. Even when we both left Chicago, (her for St. Louis and eventually Charleston, me for New York City), we still kept in close touch. Sometimes she would go off on a long adventure to The Balkans or Africa and we would not be in communication. But when she got back to the US, we always got back in touch. We talked on the phone at least once a week. We did a writing project together. We visited at least once a year. I was the maid of honor in her wedding. I thought we would be together forever. But when I got control of the food, she disappeared. After a long separation, I found her on Facebook and she accepted my friend request. But when I wrote her personal messages, she ignored them. I didn’t understand why. But the longer I have my food under control, the more clear it becomes.

We humans are mirrors for each other. When we look at each other, we see ourselves. The good and the bad. The ugly and the beautiful. If we cannot handle what we see, we have to stop looking. I don’t know what my friend saw that made her look at me differently.  But I had just made a huge commitment to change my life. And clearly something about my new life didn’t work in hers.

There is another friend that I love. She has a beautiful soul and a heart that is filled with incredible love. But I had to stop being in touch with her. When I looked at her I saw her letting people be cruel to her and abuse her. I saw her letting people take advantage of her loving heart and bright, beautiful soul. I had to separate myself from her, because it was too close to the kind of abuse I subjected myself to for years. I had finally started to honor my own life first. And watching her let herself be hurt because she loved people made me angry and uncomfortable. I still love her. But I could not look into that mirror anymore.

This is not about morality. It’s not about being better than or worse than. It’s about what I want in my life and how I want to see the world and myself. It’s about the lessons I have learned and the ones I have yet to learn. Sometimes I have to let go of people. And sometimes people have to let go of me. I’m on my journey. They’re on theirs. It’s not about loving or not loving. It’s not about judgment. It’s about honoring ourselves. It’s about relationships that work, and are workable. Or don’t and aren’t.

I used to think that people came into my life and “raised the bar”. That these people showed up and taught me to be the person I wanted to be. But what I eventually came to understand was that I raised the bar. I made decisions and choices about what worked in my life. Or what didn’t. And people fit into that new vision of my life. Or they didn’t. I am the most important person in my life. And I like it that way. I am the one person in my life I can’t walk away from. No matter where I go, there I am, if you will.

I used to have a lot of judgment around people falling away. I was offended if they left my life. Or I would create some offense in my mind to justify why I had to let someone go. Because how could a person walk away from someone they loved? Wasn’t that wicked and wrong? Wasn’t that a moral issue? But now I can see that it’s not a moral issue. It’s about what works. Or what doesn’t. If your car doesn’t have wheels, it’s not going to work. But that doesn’t make the car evil.

Since my food has been under control, I can see more and more clearly what works for my life. And what doesn’t. But I can also see more and more clearly that we are all just people in the world doing the best we can. My wish for everyone is that they live the best life they can. That they figure out what works for them. And if I don’t fit into that plan, even if I love them, I want to honor that. And I hope that my decisions about what works in my life can be honored. Even if it’s sad. Even if it hurts. Even if it just plain sucks.

So in the immortal words of Bill Murray (or rather, the words of Bruce Ley and Len Blum, as immortalized by Bill Murray)
I love you, and you love me
But you love you, and I love me
So let’s walla walla down by the mango tree.
…Or maybe let’s not.

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