Monday, July 30, 2007


Right now a burly man named Dearl (the self-control it took to resist asking him whether it was pronounced "Darryl" or "Pearl with a d" was monumental, I assure you) is ruining my privacy fence by hammering a large satellite disk into the wood, and I must admit I couldn't be more thrilled. I really thought I wouldn't mind only having five and a half semi-watchable television channels for the rest of my life, but when I realized that the reception was getting increasingly poor (interestingly, whenever there's a full moon it's the worst) and that my little streaming Internet TV resource wasn't quite as reliable with getting the shows up as it used to be I succumbed to my dark fantasies of spending Sunday afternoons catching up on all the shows I DVR'd over the course of the week and making sure that every single word uttered by the ridiculous Jonathan Antin was captured for my amusement for the rest of my life.

So I signed my life away to Dish TV and now for the value price of fifty-something dollars a month, I, too, can complain every week that there is absolutely nothing of value to watch on my 200 channels+HBO like a good, honest American ought to. I am so beyond stoked, and as soon as Dearl comes into the house and finishes hooking everything up I'm going to tip him twenty bucks to sit on my couch and eat popcorn and watch the last five minutes of The View with me in HDTV (every wrinkle on Barbara's face!) and let me call him anything other than Dearl and then promise to never, ever speak of it again.

And then the other, equally embarrassing in a different way update for today is that it appears I'm going to have to become quasi-vegan again, and this time for legitimate purposes.

A few years ago, I was really sick for several months whenever I ate red meat. As in, my husband and I would go for lunch at a restaurant and I'd chance a bite of his hamburger just for a taste and then three hours later I'd be crumpled on the floor of my bathroom with tremendous stomach pains and nowhere for the food to go but...out. (Sorry) Doctors thought the enzyme required to digest beef had somehow gone missing because I wasn't really eating a lot of meat at that point, and that basically if I endured the nastiness of reacquiring the enzyme I'd be fine. And I was, and it was all good. But then this last year I started having the same symptoms again, even though I had been eating red meat with abandon and there was no reason for it at all. So I just decided to give up on meat in general, especially after watching Fast Food Nation at home, alone, with half of a Quarter Pounder chewed up and sitting in my mouth because I was afraid to swallow what I had just seen being slaughtered on the TV screen in front of me.

So yeah, I buy into the big, crunchy, vegetarian philosophy of not putting rotting flesh into my body anymore and I feel all the better for it. It was an easy switch to make because I'm an odd soul who really likes the taste of tofu and soy meat, and I only very rarely feel like I'm missing out on food except when I pass buy a BBQ restaurant or have to hang around a bonfire with a Boca hot dog kind of flopping on my stick while everyone else proudly brandishes their plumping, juicy weiners (snicker) around the fire.

And so while the meat intolerance issues are really no big thang for me, finding out that I'm lactose, or at least cheese, intolerant kind of is. I arrived at this through a series of incidents over the last month or two where eating anything involving lots and lots of dairy (ice cream, pizza, nachos...sob) would cause my body to say, "Bitch, please" and then I'd end up spooning the toilet for a few hours just like I did with the meat. So, while I'm praying to whoever's listening at this point that I don't become completely environmentally allergic and end up living on a sustainable commune and trading my organic beets for undyed cotton muumuus with my Old Order Mennonite neighbors like the lady in My Life Among the Amish did (actually a really cool book that inexplicably found our way to my house when I was a teenager) I've realized I need to make some major changes in the way I eat so my body doesn't feel quite so ravaged by its own distaste for really satisfying junk food.

And it's funny, because while the meat thing never fazed me once, when I first attempted to reconcile myself with the reality of possibly not having cheese again, I almost started crying. My darling grandma once told me that back in the 50's her doctor told her she needed to lose her baby weight, and that the best way to do it would be to walk around the block a few times each day and avoid lots of butter and sugar. So, being the diligent woman she was, she dutifully made her constitutional around her neighborhood block 8 times each day and cut the fat out of her diet. She told me, though, that she didn't know that corn on the cob--her favorite food ever--could be eaten without butter and salt, and so when she served it to her family she had to leave the house and go sit on the back porch and cry because she missed it so much. And while it always makes me laugh to think about that sort of naivete, I completely sympathize because the idea of living in a world without cheese and ice cream was just devastating to me for the first few days I thought about it. I'd look at a veggie burger and think I'm missing out when I avoided the obligatory slice of Muenster or Cheddar. I grumpily sat through veggie fajitas at a Mexican restaurant with friends because I couldn't pile on the sour cream or dip my chips in the heavenly spinach queso they serve there. I started envisioning my post-dinner evenings as bleak, endless torture sessions where my nighttime TV rituals were turned into stoic meditations because I couldn't have my dish of ice cream with my hour-long dramedies. And I went on and on feeling totally conflicted and wrecked and sad about this lactose thing until I finally had enough cheese incidents that even the idea of having my stomach revolt so violently makes me want to avert my gaze whenever I see a cow.

But, like, isn't it funny how we have emotional attachments to the foods we eat? How, in some cases, the presence of the perfect birthday cake or the pile of cheese fries at Happy Hour can be more important to a special occasion than the things we do or the people we experience it with? I mean, what are we really missing out on when we give up foods that don't treat our body right? Because, honestly, if I hadn't had the physiological motivation to say goodbye to cheese,I probably would still be piling it on everything I made and wondering why the fat content of my food was so high. I honestly believe, as silly as it sounds, that I am addicted to cheese and ice cream and stuff like that. I miss the way it tastes, the way it makes food more interesting, the way it pulls apart from a pizza and stretches all the way from the plate to your's every bit as insidious as drugs or porn or things like that. And all just because some silly animal byproduct makes me feel soooo good. Food really shouldn't have the power to do that.

A lot of people have suggested getting those Lactaid tabs and dealing with it in that way, but I sort of don't want to. My body is telling me that this food isn't going to be tolerated any longer, and I want to use it as a reason to make another step away from eating shit and embracing a lifestyle that includes more vegetables, more wholesome foods, less fat and oils and stomach pillaging. I don't know a great deal about listening to your body or intuitive eating, but I figure if in its natural state, my body is saying in its John Turturro voice, "DO NOT SEEK THE CHEDDAR" I should probably heed the warning and not try to circumvent it with more chemicals.

And I really think if I'm moving this far towards veganism on the food spectrum, it also gives me license to stop shaving my legs or wear makeup. Or at least, you know, have a token Phish song on my iPod or something.

Let your freak flag fly, comrades.

Friday, July 27, 2007

We gonna drink Bacardi like it's mah burfday...

Last year my birthday was kind of a comedy of errors, as my grandmother's cancer tests came back to confirm that the whistling in her lungs was due to a rapidly growing tumor, my husband decided to finally move out, but trashed our house as a final birthday present, and because of all of this everyone seemed to forget I was having a birthday until my mother remembered mid-Hamburger Helper preparations, and asked if fried ice cream at the local Mexican place counted instead. Since he knew I was down, my favorite person sent me a note that said something like, "I expect that by the time you're 27 you will be fabulous". And I chuckled, and imagined a future full of mani-pedis and size 8 couture (well, Old Navy couture...but the FABULOUS kind) and strings of male admirers who could make sardonic jokes about Proust and had never, ever been near the Bates County Mud Run.

So, 365 days later I have to chuckle, because by those standards I've failed miserably. Well, except for the scads of Old Navy clothing I seem to collect on a monthly basis. A girl can never have too many jungle green scoop-necked tees and grey hoodies in her closet. Being 26 going on 27 was hard...maybe the toughest year I've had yet, because while the intense emotions of a failing marriage and a separation were behind me, the rebuilding was yet to be done. And there was the new job, and the new singlehood, and the no friends, and all that stuff. And as you've read in this blog, the all important quest towards Getting Better has been pretty fumbling for me, even though I've learned an immense amount in the process. I do think I grew up a ton in the last year, and I'm proud of that....much more so than if I had spent the year running through boyfriends and partying and being tanorexic and stylish and superficial like I tried so hard to be at the beginning of 26. I'm really, really glad I didn't go down that path, because I don't quite think I'm the kind of chick who can pull off fabulous.

And I'm not really sure why I'm typing's not to extract birthday wishes or pats on the back from anyone (although, by all means...)

But I guess it was partially an explanation of why I haven't posted any weigh-related progress this week. I haven't eaten poorly, but I've eaten too much and at odd times, and it's all related to a long story involving vomiting cats and finally breaking down after watching too many episodes of The View where the antenna reception makes horizontal lines crawl across Joy Behar's face and ordering satellite TV and now I'm going to be able to record every word, nay every BREATH, Kathy Griffin takes on television because it comes with free DVR and how I had had a torturous half hour of trying to decide between Netflix and Blockbuster Online and how I ended up leaving Netflix for the better deal and writing an "It's not you, it's me" note in the "reason for cancellation" box in all seriousness and I felt really bad until I saw they had charged me twice this month and now it's on, bitches, and how I think I might seriously be lactose intolerant except maybe just with cheese, and, and, and....

And also because my brother's boyfriend informed me that since I'm turning 27 on the 27th, and also that I'm turning 27 on 7-27-07 that folk logic says I'm having a golden birthday and that means something special should happen. And I started kind of looking for the specialness to kick in around Tuesday and since nothing did I started thinking instead...about a lot of stuff, really. Like how I wish my life had more outward direction, more focus on other people and on things that don't only affect me. I wish I weren't such a consumer...that I bothered the environment less with the way I lived, and that I was more careful about how much energy I'm using, how much trash I'm producing each week.

Basically, for my 27th birthday, I want to seek more purpose in my life. More self-discipline. More compelling reasons for doing what I'm doing. Why am I obsessing over scales and calories and exercise if the sole reason is to just look more attractive? Really, what's the point if it's only for me and only for those specific reasons? I need to think about all this stuff more...each subject could easily be a tediously long blog post on it's own (lucky you guys!)

The 94 year old great aunt has requested my presence in the hometown for a birthday fete this weekend, so I must go collect my finery and prepare for a weekend of speaking loudly into hearing aids and trying to avoid cramming seventeen pieces of chocolate cake down my throat.

Here's to being fabulous in a more productive way...I hope.

Monday, July 23, 2007


The numbers on the scale were trending downward in a major way this week. I head steady in the mid 219s all the way through Thursday, flirted with the 218s on Friday and then between Saturday and today I magically appear to have gained back around three pounds. I think the cats are attaching me to a salt lick IV drip while I sleep.

Actually, it's what happened to me this time last week too. I ate a bunch of junk food crap on Saturday and Sunday and filled up with sodium and fat and regretted it on Monday and I didn't drink any water and the only exercise I had was softball.

So, first I obviously need to get over the slacking. I didn't think I was doing SO badly, but maybe cutting corners adds up. And if I want pizza next week I'm only going to get it if I make it, so it'll be personal sized and sans copious amount of oil.

But also, I'm going to start weighing in on Thursdays from now on, because dammit...I deserve to post a loss. I think it's going to be unavoidable that I will eat more calories and fat and salt on the weekends, even if I make sure to curtail it from now on, so I'll wait until my body stops feeling like a giant sodium blimp each week to get a better picture, and I'm going to hold off on weighing this week too.

Just sticking that in there for posterity so next week when I look longingly at the Domino's on the drive home from work I'll remember it's not really worth it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Damn the man.

I have a confession to make.

And I normally wouldn't have ever really written about this because I feel like such a douche for saying it, but I finally got to see that episode of A Different World where Dwayne Wayne becomes an afterschool mentor for rival gang members played by those adorable boys from Kriss Kross and I spent a fantastic seven minutes daydreaming while they rapped about how "bangin' is a shame, and gangs are to blame" that Whitley and Denise Huxtable transported me back to 1992 so I could lavish myself in their collections of New Kids on the Block Hats and kicky print vests over tuxedo shirts, so I'm feeling like I'm in a pretty good place emotionally right now.

My first weight loss blogs? Not this one, but the four before this that all have about three entries apiece and then found their way to the Great Blog Campmeetin' in the Promised Land? They were all written for a guy.

And this guy is actually not a horrible person, on balance. He has a great job, cares about the environment, makes me laugh, likes the same music I did, and made hours-long conversation seem like an absolute joy every time we talked. But this guy had a little problem...he wasn't into fatties. And as he told me this after a long period of being a fantastic friend during my marriage, I felt that instinctive shrinking in that I do when someone around me who I like has a disdain for weight. So I made jokes, and I made excuses for him...I said it wasn't his fault that he was only into thin women, because "it was biological". I told him it was just fine that he felt ashamed for being attracted to me, but only from the neck up. I preened whenever he said no other female connected with me like I did, and that I had a gorgeous face and a great sense of humor and that he had real feelings for me. And I tried to ignore the fact he said all these things through text messages at 3:00 am when he was riding home from some bar or concert and bummed out that he hadn't left with a girl on his arm.

And our relationship reached a real low point when I agreed to write an online personals ad so he could meet women. He called me his "sexretary", and he sent me the login information so I could weed out the unacceptable women and write back to the promising ones. He said that we should make a deal: that he would get all the sleeping around out of his system (I think the euphemism "wild oats" was used several times), and I would lose enough weight to fit into a size 8 and then maybe we could be a real couple.

And Internets, this is where you get to question my character as a human being, because I was all for it.

And so I started to follow the diet he recommended, and I let him berate me for eating cheese on my salad, and I got so neurotic and anxious about sending him pictures of my body and weighing in that I actually began to GAIN weight. I still have a cache of emails from me to him in my outbox, and every single one of them begins with "I'm so sorry, but...". And so after about six weeks of this, of him pushing for progress and me defiantly giving him excuses, we just dropped it entirely. And we started arguing a lot more than we talked and now our interactions are limited to brief hellos and how are yous and I spend a little time every day looking at his icon on my messenger and wishing we could have just one more decent conversation as a way to say goodbye.

And I'm posting this not out of a need for any sort of emotional catharsis, but as an explanation mostly. A, a different male friend of mine recently started reading this blog, and had a few questions about women's body-image and self-esteem and all the emotional reasons why we're doing what we're doing, and I'm afraid I didn't really give him great answers, as I tend to be flippant in the face of emotionally raw stuff.

We were discussing my last big post where I questioned the need for separating physical appearance from physical health as a motivation for eating right and working out, and he asked me if it was ever possible to just lose or gain weight for health reasons only. And I told him I didn't think it was...that for every woman trying to change her body and her life, there probably was the voice of at least one man in the back of her head that would always push her to run further, sweat more, eat less stuff. And I think that's where our wires got crossed, because A took that to mean that for every woman losing weight, there's a man she wants to attain as a result. And I know why he thinks that, at least in my case, because we spend a lot of time discussing dating and relationships and sex, and I often lampoon myself as a husband-seeking , sex-crazed coquette because I assumed he knew that's pretty much the opposite of who I've become. I guess facetiousness gets lost in translation somewhere between the keyboard and the IM window, and I need to be more aware of that.

But to answer A...when I say there's a man's voice in every woman's head, I was generalizing the basic desire that anyone feels to be adored, accepted, beloved for who she is. And it may not necessarily be just an old boyfriend or a thoughtless teenage boy in high school or could be a mother, or a girlfriend, or even just a stranger on the street who made a snide comment in passing...but those voices exist, and it takes a lot of strength to rise above the basic sentiment of you're not good enough for me. Sometimes it takes hundreds of days of failing, thousands of miles on the takes pain and sweat and tears and that exquisitely painful process of breaking yourself down, looking at all the pieces, and then putting yourself back together again to make someone recognizable and yet stronger. I'm trying to say the emotional reasons for losing weight never really go all the way away, even though most of us evolve to a level where working and out and eating right for the sake of feeling good is a much more viable option for our lives.

And am I saying that anyone who chooses to lose weight hates themselves? No. I'm also not saying that I was immune from seeking out external motivation for changing my life at first, even though I can honestly say it's not the case anymore. I have four dead blogs of food journals, apologies, and self-loathing to prove it. And I was worried initially that this blog would go by the wayside too because all I wanted to do was get thin and get revenge...I'm very thankful I ended up realizing there were much more rewarding reasons for writing here, and trying these things in my real life.

But when I weigh-in once a week, or when I decide whether or not it's worth it for me to have a bowl of ice cream with a friend, do I hear that guy's voice in my head? Absolutely. And as much as I hope it'll fade the more time and healing I put between us, I doubt he'll ever completely go away.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Day 9

From now on I'm going to just leave a link to my DailyPlate page each day for the Challenge end of day wrapup. That way I can save more room for the..ahem...weightier posts here and if you want to see what I ate or didn't eat or how I felt while I was exercising you can browse my account at your leisure.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 17 Wrapup

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Can't We All Just...

It is hot today, as it ought to be for mid-July. But it's that first wave of heat where everyone forgets it was ever hot in the world and we all walk around with fixed grimaces and schlumpy bodies and everyone raises their eyebrows in greeting in a silent, mass proclamation of, " got hot."

And with that heat always seems to come that peculiar sense of irritation...the righteous indignation of stepping out of a shower only to find yourself sweaty and mussed again fifteen minutes later. The way no air conditioning can ever hope to compete. The children who suddenly find their twelve-week paradise of summer vacation to be tedious, endless, dragging on because it's too hot to play outside, and lounging in the climate controlled depths of a basement is ultimately every bit as boring as school.

I'm in a bit of this summer funk today, as my sweaty work clothes hang weirdly on my frame, the little wispy hairs escaping my ponytail curl up at the nape of my neck...things that might be romantic in the light of autumnal nostalgia, but right now are just plain annoying. My cats are even whiny...pacing between front door and patio door, meowing pitieously until I open a door for them to leave, and then refusing to budge when the first heat waves off the baking concrete tingle their whiskers. Even the Internet is sluggish today.

So I'm blaming the heat because I was reading several blog posts and forums this morning with my breakfast and now it's lunchtime and I'm still having a problem wrapping my head around the issue:

As a warmup to the Blogher conference in Chicago on July 27 and 28, Laurie Toby Edison, who writes at Body Impolitic announced a panel for BlogHer called "Our Bodies, Our Blogs".

Laurie describes on her site as such:

I’m planning to talk about body image in the broader sense. Obviously I’ll be talking about the issues of fat, beauty, power and health at any size - but body image (as folks who read us know) includes a lot more. When the beauty standard is young, blond, white and thin, it leaves almost all of us out. It leaves most women and men feeling “never attractive enough”, causes endless discrimination, and makes billion$ for the beauty and diet industries. There is so much we can talk about - fat/size, aging, ability/disability, color, “right” facial features, class, children.

Okay, cool. Had I gotten the cash together to book the transportation and a non-skeevy hotel, I would be there with pen and legal pad firmly in hand. I think it's an important subject, I think it's a great idea to bring women together under that particular discussion umbrella, but I'm really having a hard time justifying the motivation and some of the tangential issues with the panel and the movement at large (pun totally intended).

The panel was started by Laurie partially because it's an important and prevalent issue for most women, but also as a response to what she deemed "fat-offensive" items in the 2006 Blogher swag bags (fat free cookies, health water, etc.) And that's fine...I can understand how someone who devotes herself to disspelling the need for such projects would be bothered by seeing them in a giftbag from an organization who also claims to support her causes as well. But I also think it's important to remember that if an organzation like Blogher is going to build and maintain a presence in the online community, they're going to have to accept sponsorships wherever they can get them for awhile, and so maybe it'd be okay to pick your battles from time to time.

And now, for the other more important issue:

As usual, I was a little late in getting my thoughts together on this, so by the time I sat down to write this post, Jen had already read the same forum posts and the same blog entries and had also summed up her thoughts on it very nicely. I won't waste time pointing you to who said what since she already did it very succinctly

So basically the argument Jen is making boils down to this question: If you're currently attempting to lose weight, and if you blog about such issues, should be you be welcomed at a panel about self-acceptance and body image?

And of course the authors of the blogher posts and the prospective panelists all responded and said "Yes! BUT..." And then went on to explain that eating problems and the subsequent weight loss attempts to correct the eating problems all stem from self-hate, and so therefore aren't really aligned with the principles of the self-acceptance movement.

And this is where my mind started going a little haywire, trying to wrap itself around these arguments. And I need to preface everything I'm going to write from this point on with the following disclaimer:

I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M ABOUT TO TALK ABOUT. I am ignorant of body politics. I have never, ever studied feminism or feminist movements. I have very little knowledge of any acceptance movement at all. The following paragraphs are only based on my impressions of the above discussion on Jen's blog as well as my own impressions of the very little corner of the body-image acceptance movement I've read about or seen. Please, if somethign I write about here can be improved by a book or an article or another blog that you think I should read, leave it in the comments. If you think I'm an irresponsible female for never participating in gender studies in college, please let me know who I should start reading so I can become more informed. I would really appreciate that, thanks.

Okay, so.

The body image panel discussion, and Laurie's blog bothers me on two different levels: First, whether or not Wendy McClure should speak at the BlogHer panel because her participation in Weight Watchers was counterintuitive to the body image movement?

What?! This was Brain Explosion #1 for me today.

And I understand (at least I think) that the basic premise is that if you love your body, why would you spend time and money and effort to change it to meet societal expectations of beauty? That any sort of diet and exercise effort should be done for the sole purpose of improving physical well-being and that's it. In essence, if you're trying diet back into your Skinny Jeans, you're too self-loathing to join the ranks of the Body Image Warriors.

I sort of get it...yes. It's the same argument we've been hearing ever since Twiggy bumped out her more Rubinesque counterparts on the cover of Vogue: media puts too much pressure on women to look a certain way and society only values young, thin, white women, etc. etc. etc. so why should we concede that this is how it's going to be?

And you know that battle cry has reached fever pitch when a lingerie model is now telling us to embrace her fat self or shut up:

And so our new Patron Saint Tyra is telling us all to say "So What?" on her show, and she even convinced her audience of fawning women to don red bodysuits with individual body weights proudly emblazoned on each girl's chest (notice in the clips on her show that no one over 160 lbs. made it actually onscreen) and so it seems that the body acceptance movement is gaining momentum in the very arena that caused the problems in the first place. So what bothers me is that the rest of us, unassumingly counting points or writing about cravings on our online journals or slogging away on a treadmill each morning are now no longer part of that community. We're the enemy, we're the backslide to the body image movement because we hate ourselves enough to change how we look.

I absolutely do not understand why there must be a size acceptance camp and a weight loss camp and ne'er the twain shall meet. I think it's stupid, actually, because anyone who approaches this with an ounce of common sense will recognize that the healing process of losing weight, of accomplishing more things with your body than you thought possible at first, of being able to slip on clothes without worrying about what you look like...of those vast improvements in mental health far outweigh and often support the physical benefits of weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. Every single person whose life has been changed through weight loss has talked about the immense sense of freedom they attain while they're going through the motions of working off the fat. They talk about the broken relationshps they've been able to heal, of the new self-confidence, the sense of efficacy...and yes, they gleefully recount the times they've been checked out by someone at the supermarket, or the day that they managed to walk into a non-Fatstore and try on a pair of jeans without tears of shame. And I know the Size Acceptance movement says it should never be about the last part, but it is. It always is, and it always will be. Validation for one's successes, at least in some small measure, will always be an innate human need, and there's nothing that redefining how we're supposed to think about ourselves can do to combat that.

I also understand that another problem with weight loss blogging as a means of size advocacy is that it's a fairly self-centered activity (as Jen admitted in her post). When I write what I ate, what I was thinking when I ate, how I'm feeling, etc., I'm not doing it to inspire anyone at the moment. (Although when people say they draw inspiration from my words, it's a phenomenally gratifying feeling). I'm writing here because I don't have a support network in my own real life, and this is the best way I know to reach the widest variety of people going through a similar process. In my writing, I am not changing minds or effecting societal progress...I know this. But as I considered that, I also realized the other question I have for the size acceptance proponents:

If size acceptance is built upon the idea that you should be comfortable in your own skin, regardless of your weight or appearance, then why be political about it?

Laurie Toby Edison has posted a gallery of her photographs of female nudes entitled Women en Large. From an artistic standpoing, they are brave, bold photographs. They're unforgiving to the women's respective bodies, but they're also respectful, open, and even whimsical in some. But as I looked through each of these...thought about the strength it would take for women like that to strip down and pose and be open to thousands of people viewing their voluptuousness, their rolls of creamy skin, their stretch marks...the primary response in my head was "what is she trying to SAY with all this?"

Because if the purpose of the size acceptance movement is to tell women and men not to worry about what other people think of you, then why publish these photos at all? Or, is the purpose to desensitize the world to the stigma a fat body carries with it wherever it goes? In that case, where does the self acceptance come into play? Why didn't she just give the photos to the women who posed for them so they could enjoy their bodies?

And I wonder about this a lot...whether the size acceptance movement is going awry in politicizing their agenda. I thought about this as I caught a few minutes of the reality show America's Got Talent and watched a performance by the plus-sized girl group The Glamazons. I argue that The Glamazons have made it as far as they did not because of extraordinary talent (their ability to harmonize and exude stage presence is questionable in comparison to the other acts on the show), but because they were, in fact, all fat. The judge's comments were primarily geared towards congratulating the girls on their bravery for appearing in ass-baring lingerie and jiggling and dancing with abandon like the supersized Christina Aguileras they were obviously trying to imitate. So what is this communicating, that these women are being honored specifically for being overweight? It seems to me that size acceptance, in what I understand to be its original form, is completely lost when it's being used as the label for getting other people to accept individuals of size, rather than offering support for anyone who has a problem with their body to improve it and ultimately make peace with it in the process.

I suppose what I'm trying to say, in a very inefficient manner, is that I like the spirit of the size acceptance activists. I like what they stand for, but I do not like their politics. I'm angry that Wendy McClure was made to feel even a little unwelcome because she had the audacity to look for a tool that would help her feel better about herself. I'm angry that talented writers like Jen are told there must be something psychologically wrong for them to want to reduce their body shape and look better. I'm irritated that just because I want to feel that profound sense of relief when I walk into a store knowing that there WILL be something there to fit me, that I've been branded as superficial, body-conscious, shallow for wanting to look a certain way. If that's the case, then label me as such, but I'm fairly certain that in the last seven months of learning how to eat correctly, to vanquish bad habits, to move past all the hang-ups I have about how I am and what I can do, I've done more for my own self-acceptance through dieting than I ever would by simply throwing my hands up in the air and saying "so what?"

And now the cats and I must retire to the patio with a big glass of water and a fan. Because's hot.

Days 7&8 and Weigh-In

I kept sitting down the last two days meaning to get this entry done, but I got distracted by something shiny each time. I apologize.

Day 7 went very well. The softball game was a bit of a disaster, as my friend Jenny and I found out we were the only non-high school or college baseball players on the time, and we ended up playing our first game against a team who had played with one another for 3 years, and who were using this sort of beer league setup as a way to stay in shape before their next tournament season started. We lost 12-5, but it could've been worse because we were shut out until the 5th inning. I've found my contribution to this particular softball team is going to be as the "thinking man's player" who cannot hit, can't really run or field, but can definitely wait all day for the pitcher to lob balls at me so I can earn a walk and take my base. I have never received so much acclaim from my teammates as I do now when I refuse to swing the bat. So far, it's working for me.

I ended Day 7 at 1550 calories (had cottage cheese, 3 new potatoes, an ear of corn, and some tomatoes for dinner) and the hour of softball for exercise.

Day 8 was also fine, except our gym is still closed with no explanation, so my window of opportunity for exercise was blown when I drove out there and back. I also didn't get a full gallon of water down, and I'm a little surprised that I'm dehydrated this morning. I guess that's why I always felt so deathly worn out during the school year, because I usually only had about 20 oz. of water in a day. Had the usual cereal/fruit/tea for breakfast, black bean nachos for lunch (I am so beyond sick of black beans right now, but I had to finish the can or they'd spoil), and a veggie burger and baked kettle chips and ice cream for dinner. Not a very well rounded day, nutritionally, but I ended up at 1599 calories and 50 g. of fat for the day, so it's fine.

I weighed in yesterday morning at 221.4 lbs. which is a 2.6 lb. loss from my previous weigh-in of 224. I'm irritated I gained that much weight in June, but it's good to be on the losing end of it again.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Days 6 and the first half of 7: On Planning, Sleeping, and God.

On Planning

One of the nice things about the summer vacation teachers get is how very few things can get so easily stretched into much greater amounts of time. During the school year, I have approximately 45 minutes between the absolute last time I can hit my snooze button and still be able to shower and the deadline for when I should be racing into school, a coffee cup clutched in one hand and a shopping bag spilling over with pipe cleaners, clown hats, a Lean Cuisine, and an expression on my face that says, "If someone even glances at me this morning before I suck down this coffee, I swear to God I will quit and go to law school and I will leave the P.E. teacher in charge of Seussical the Musical and we all know how it sounded when he tried to karaoke to Kenny Chesney last September so BACK OFF." So in those dark forty-five minutes between blissful sleep and the moment that my veins are laced with sweet, sweet caffeine, there's not a lot of time for silent reflection and thoughts about the day and wholesome bowls of cereal and grapefruit.

But summer is obviously different, and completely abudant with opportunities to sort of stretch out activities. I wake up at 8:00 but lounge in bed until 9:00. Breakfast lasts through the last hour of Today and well into The View until Elizabeth Hasselbeck's voice starts making me grit my teeth and I turn it off. Cleaning and lunchtime are interspersed with breaks to read books, go outside and give pep talks to my mournful looking tomatoes, painting and repainting my nails...and the day just continues in this pattern of lazy idyll until I fall asleep with everything in its place and the smug knowledge that while my little brother is crawling out of bed into his car for his 7:00 am summer job, I will be able to ignore his morning phone call and crawl back under the covers for at least a few more hours before I start feeling guilty.

So I was surprised, after a bout of near perfection on days 1-5, that Day 6 sort of fell apart by a sheer lack of planning and foresight. Saturday is the day most closely resembling a typical school day for me, since I get up at 7:00 to make it to work before 9:00 with the commute. But since I had gotten used to staying up late and sleeping late, too, getting up with the alarm was way hard, which meant I didn't wake up in time to make breakfast which meant I was starving by the time I drove the hour commute back home which meant I didn't want to wait to eat lunch which meant that the leftover pizza and breadsticks came out of the freezer, made a pitstop at the microwave, and contined straight into my mouth. Strike one. Strike two was the small buttered popcorn and Coke at the movies in place of dinner. Strike three was the four pieces of dark chocolate at my desk while I tried to update drivers for a program that had stopped working. So yesterday, with the addition of no water and no exercise because the gym was inexplicably closed, was not a good day. I need to always remember to plan, plan, plan and make getting meals ready and breakfast set out and my clothes picked before the morning to be a priority or else all my good intentions will probably get pushed aside in favor of easier things food. And I don't want that to happen.

On Sleep

Despite all my opportunities for rest and relaxation, I haven't been getting the best of sleep in the past few weeks. I go to bed around midnight, wake up at 2:30 and then stay awake until 4:30 for seemingly no good reason at all. I've been having these bizarre hot flashes as soon as I get into the bed where my neck feels like it's 400 degrees and no amount of undressing or ponytailing or keeping a fan on my neck seems to help. So when I finally can't stand my fake menopause symptoms, I wake up and walk around and read and do stuff for a couple hours until I cool down and then it starts all over again, but at least by the time I can't stand it again it's time to wake up. We got a set of eight lovely pillows for the wedding three years ago, but I guess after three years those pillows couldn't take it anymore because they're all now roughly the consistency of heavy fruitcake and sleeping on one of them feels like being propped up on a concrete block. So I went to the store and got two different kinds of therapeutic designed to keep my head at the right angle and one designed to wick away body heat, and I switched out my bedspread for a lighter quilt and everything seemed to work splendidly last night. So splendidly that I slept straight through my alarm and missed church by a good fifteen minutes this morning. At least I have one issue on my not being able to wake up for work problem fixed, though.

And On Church

Apparently my little requirement on my 30-Day Challenge about going to church raised some eyebrows, because I don't really seem like a churchy kind of girl. And it's true that I'm not, really. I got an email from someone who also pointed out how insane it is to say that showing up at church is somehow going to make me lose more weight, and if that's all there were to this challenge or this blog then I would entirely agree. But I've said all along that this stuff isn't just about fitting into a size 8...if it were I'd have 79 posts worth of food and exercise logs and careful measurements and all that good stuff. But I want to get better in a lot of different ways, and so for me going back to church is part of that.

When people say they were raised in the church, it's usually a figure of speech, but I'm at least 40% completely truthful when I say I was raised IN the church. I went to daycare at a church, I spent nights there at choir practice and handbell practice. I hung with my grandma and my great-aunt as they quilted and crocheted and glued and sewed every Monday afternoon for our annual bazaar. My mom worked as our church secretary for seven years, so I was there a lot even if I didn't want to be.

And when you show up to church more than once a week, and when the adults who go there parent you the same way your mom and dad do, and when you eat meals there and make your friends there and get married there, church becomes a vital part of your life even if Jesus doesn't. And that's kind of how it was for me; I loved the traditions and the liturgy and the music and the people at church, but I never quite bought into the New Testament. And I didn't know where I stood on Jesus and Heaven and how all it took was belief in salvation to actually get into Heaven.

So, since the OBVIOUS choice for anyone doubting their faith was to marry a minister of that very faith, that's exactly what I did. And so I became a minister's fiancee and wife and went to church every Sunday without fail. And as my marriage got worse and worse and we separated and I had to start telling people who asked, "I'm getting a divorce. He cheated. He's a minister. Yes, that's weird." And so in the process of getting angry at my husband and extricating my life from his, I started also really getting mad at all the other hypocrisy that existed in Christianity and the people who claimed to love God and do his work.

So basically, for me, going back to church is a way for me to figure out whether being mad at my husband needs to translate at being mad at God, too. Because I want to believe in something. I think you need to. The greatest people in the world...the Gandhis and the Mother Teresas and the Dalai Lamas all believe in something. I haven't quite figured out whether or not that something needs to also come with the Methodist potluck after the late service and The Bible and Jesus and all that, but I'm working on it. And I made sure to start attending a church that is working for social change as well as healing through faith, because that's important to me. I like being part of a body of people who want to work together for the environment, for gay rights, for urban renewal...all that bleeding heart stuff that really gets me excited and fueled to take on the rest of the week.

So do I think that praying to Jesus is going to magically reduce my ass? Nah. And I don't even know if reaching out to God as a way to gain strength to exercise and eat right is even a viable option for me like it was the first time I lost weight. I just needed something I could do that felt familiar but also is going to challenge me to interact and think and grow into a more responsible, proactive path in my life, and that's why I decided to go back to church.

Except not today because of the terrific therapeutic pillows. So since cleanliness is next to Godliness I'll have to do that to make up for it. Then our first softball game tonight, wherein I will prove that I am a horrible, horrible athlete.

Wish us luck!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Day Five

I sipped a cup of jasmine tea tonight, brewed the right way with loose tea leaves and an infuser and a little bit of patience. I'm not really a tea drinker unless it's something sturdy like black tea that I can drink with milk and sugar and pretend is coffee, but sometimes when things slow down, I like to make and linger over herbal tea.

The first time I'd ever had real jasmine tea was nearly two years ago, the first week after we moved to Kansas City in August of 2004. Some old friends from college were meeting up and invited me to tag along. I drove in from the far south suburbs, nervous about the way my JC Penney couture and boring haircut and equally dull life would clash with my friends and their bohemian, artsy roommates and acquaintances. And I thought it was funny, as I parked my car on the side of an oak-shaded road in the part of Kansas City where the gracious neighborhoods just begins to brush against the ghettos, how far removed I felt from a lifestyle that my friends still carried I used to be so flamboyant, so crazy-wild in my own way, so utterly hungry for the future and how fabulous life could potentially be. I wished more than anything, as I walked up the stairs to the decrepit but still magnificent porch of the erstwhile mansion that now housed my college student friend and her roommates, that I was so ashamed of who I had turned into and what she would think of this quiet, mousy, dumpy woman who rang her door.

The evening was remarkable for me as a series of firsts: first taste of Middle Eastern cooking that would begin my lifelong quest for the perfect saffron rice recipe...first cup of French press coffee at the little Westport coffeehouse known for its flamingly unique clientele and the fact that it trumped the neighboring Starbucks for business every day it had been in existence...first tango lesson...first cup, then two, then five of jasmine tea on her leaf strewn porch as we wrapped ourselves in down blankets and watched an unexpectedly early autumn wind whip rainbursts and tree branches across the yard in the twilight.

And it was also the first time I admitted to anyone I was desperately unhappy about the way things were transpiring in my life. My oldest friend had just proposed to his girlfriend and asked me for marriage advice, and in searching for something wry and witty and helpful to say, I finally just broke down and told the truth...that I felt trapped, unfulfilled, terrified that nothing would ever change. That I had considered leaving him but was afraid he couldn't take care of himself. And as we sipped tea, and talked through that night, and assuaged our respective fears and concerns about the future, I remember thinking that this night was a truly extraordinarily bright spot in a long stretch of pretty dark days.

I don't know what I expected my friends to do after the night we met. Somehow I wanted us to form a bond over our secrets and insecurities--kind of a broken hearts club that we could use as an excuse to meet, to interact, to heal. Selfishly, I wanted a reason to drive up to Westport each week, wanted a buddy to push me into meeting interesting people, wanted to become interesting again myself. But as old friends tend to do, our promises of staying in touch and getting together often fell by the wayside; my oldest friend proposed to his girlfriend and went back to Austin for the school year, my college friend stayed busy and eventually moved to Switzerland to live with her boyfriend. And I didn't see another soul besides my husband and my family and my coworkers for seven more months, because it had just gotten that dark. Day after day after day of despair and unhappiness, with just that one bright spot--"the night I had jasmine tea", as I framed it in my mind--to illuminate my memories.

A few days ago, I walked into my county courthouse with the intention of filing for divorce. I had researched the process of filing a no-fault, no-lawyer divorce petition on the Internet, and assumed that walking into the circuit clerk's office with a driver's license, a checkbook, and a winning smile was all I need to have to start my path toward dissolving my marriage. The very unamused assistant at the front counter informed me that I should've also proffered the appropriate forms with the identification and the money and the smile, and when I asked her where I could get them, the numbers of eyes simultaneously rolling itoward the office ceiling probably would've challenged the Guinness World Record for bureaucratic exasperation.

"You'll have to consult with an attorney about the proper forms." Her eyes never glanced up from the fish tank into which she was irritably tapping food flakes.

"But I don't want an attorney, and the Internet said you'd give me the appropriate forms here."

I could hear my voice approaching howler monkey pitch like it does when I realize I look very stupid in front of a lot of people. I found out later that if an employee helps you find documents, or helps you prepare them, then they can be considered a contributor to the overall case and can risk being subpoenaed for the hearing or even sued for bad information by a litigious person. The pro se divorce FAQ I consulted included neither this information, nor the fact I had to show up with my own papers. I turned and walked out quickly, embarrassed and annoyed that something I thought would take thirty minutes, something that would be worth a pithy blog entry at the end of the day, actually required effort and seemed a little complicated.

So this morning at 8:00 I woke up, got online and peeled a banana while I looked for divorce petition forms on the Internet. I had a bowl of cereal while they printed out--all seventy-three pages of information. I drank a large coffee while I read the instructions. Three hours later I was ready to finally fill in blanks.

After seven years of college and grad school, countless term papers, research projects, technical writing portfolios, reviews, essays, and comprehensive exams, I can honestly say that filling out the paperwork for divorce was the most complicated thing I have ever done. The resources available for an individual trying to navigate the judicial system on their own are scarce, and the ones available for Missouri residents all linked to the same Missouri Divorce Code...a labyrinthinian mess of legalese, statutes, and absolutely no useful information at all. I finished the petition, the social security verification, the proof of residency, the financial affadavit, and the request for service at 3:00 pm, packed the last three years of my life into a manila folder and went back to the circuit clerk's office with what I hoped was the appropriate paperwork in hand. I handed her everything I had, sort of half-begged her to blink twice or tap a pen or something to let me know she had everything she needed to make the hearing packet (she didn't fall for that), and then was informed that I needed to come back with 120 dollars in two money orders and I would be partially on my way to a divorce. I went through six security lines, had my purse inspected four times (by the same security guard who recognized me EVERY SINGLE TIME but apparently couldn't bear the idea of not fondling the lid of my Chapstick as I went through). I wrote down Google search strings and website addresses for pro bono family law advocates for two women who had come in searching for help and advice and who were near tears and close to being kicked out of the courthouse for expressing their frustration in the loud, defiant way that low income people from the country get when they can't get the help they want.

And then I had to call my husband, because I had lost the apartment number for his address and he can't get served if they don't know where it is.

I expected things to go better on the phone than they did, because a month ago my husband called to ask why I hadn't gotten around to filing for divorce yet...he wanted to move on with his life and I was holding him back. So, you know, I thought he'd be glad, and he seemed okay when I hung up the phone after I thanked him for the address. Then he called a second time, and a third, and a fourth and a fifth and a sixth time, and with each call he got increasingly agitated and irrational, as is the pattern with my husband. He emailed three times, threatening suicide in one, proclaiming his loyalty and love in another, and demanding his scuba flippers and a set of music books back by the end of this week in the third. During his final phone call, he broke down sobbing and asked me how I got through the last year and what he could do to handle this better...that he wasn't getting any better.

And I really wanted to tell him that I hadn't done so great. I didn't have a secret, except that I failed most days and I was miserable most days, but that I had to start small and work on the tiniest things before I could even conceive of feeling normal again. It was a good day back in August after he moved out when I remembered to feed the cats, and it was progress in December when I could go out in public alone and not start crying at the couples and the lights and the intimacy and the hope of the holidays. I was proud of myself in January for starting this blog, and in March when I started making friends and going out once in awhile, and in May when I began to feel good about my job and the way I reached out to kids and other people, and in June when I got my hair cut and I remembered that I can be attractive if I try and two weeks ago when I finally...finally started not being angry at my friends or angry at my parents or angry at God and myself for all the shitty things that have happened. And then there was this challenge on Monday and how each day is a little better than the last one, and each day some part of me that got ripped open and was raw and scarred for so long finally gets to heal a little and that I can finally look at the future and not be too terrified of it to move...

And I really wanted to tell him all that, but he wouldn't have believed me. I wouldn't have believed myself if I had heard it last year. It's not my place to be his best friend or his shrink or his emotional support right now and I had to tell him that even though I just wanted to let him know that if he can forgive himself, it'll be okay. That he wasn't a bad person...that we both screwed up in our own ways. But I don't think it's possible to tell someone who's not ready to heal on their own that it's all going to be fine.

And so, for the food part of this entry, since I was at my desk all day assigning value to assets (few) and debts (copious) I forgot to eat. I had the breakfast and then at 7:00 when I got home after some errands and a run to the movie store, I didn't want to make anything. So I cheated, and I got a veggie pizza and some breadsticks. But it wasn't because I needed to punish myself for my life mistakes like I used to, or that I needed cheese and grease to fill some sort of emotional void; I just didn't want to cook. So I had two (okay, two and a half) pieces and a couple of breadsticks and I put the rest in the freezer and it was what it was. I had pizza. I didn't binge. I don't hate myself. I ate and I'm full and I'm satisfied. And tomorrow I will have oatmeal and weird Asian vegetables and whole grains and it'll all be fine.

A few months ago--probably a few weeks, even--I would've labeled today a "dark day". Maybe one of the darkest in awhile, because of the significance of the divorce filing and my husband's pain and my pain and the fact that it's only the first Friday of a month-long challenge and I already broke my main rule, but there were also good things about today, too. I opened a savings account at my bank, and I planned it so I'll have enough money to turn it into a money market account in a few months. I paid down a third of my outstanding debt with a little bit of money I saved up over the summer, and I doubled my payments for the rest of my contract with my debt people. My debt manager lady said she was proud of me and I think she really meant it when she said it. My mom said she was proud of me, too. My first statement from my mutual fund annuity came in, and my little 100 dollars in the fund is already chugging away at building interest. My loud, trashy neighbors have moved out and were replaced with a little family that's quiet, sweet, and who have children who bounce beach balls in the backyard and who like to hang wind chimes from the privacy fence. I think I'm going to bake them cookies.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that dark days do not have to be monumental if I don't want them to be. Today is just a day. Day 5 of 30, or Day 194 of 365, or Day 9,684 in my life so far. It had some bad things, it had some good things, but as long as it teaches me something to help make Day 6 an even better day, then it counts as a positive. I don't want to live a life where the good days are buffered by weeks or months or even years of darkness anymore. I don't want to sustain myself on pride or anger or self-pity. I want to be able to eat pizza and have it just be food. I want to keep learning lessons, and having After School Special types of moments where I get sheepish and realize the world doesn't have to be as difficult and upsetting as I'm making it. I want to just keep...breathing.

I'm sort of glad I drank jasmine tea tonight, even though I didn't realize the significance of it until I wrote this blog. It's finally time to let the old "jasmine tea night" from two years ago slip into the past, where it belongs.


Oops, I thought I had posted an entry last night, but it's floating around somewhere in cyberspace.

Day 3 was fine with food, exercise, and water. Saw people, went outside. Had a good day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Day 2 Wrap Up

Food: Was excellent, actually. Daily Plate has me at 1551 calories and 52 g. fat. I really need to work on getting the fat down, but usually non-meat protein is higher in fat than, say, chicken or fish. Oh well.

Breakfast: 2 Kashi Go Lean Blueberry Waffles; 1 tb. peanut butter; 1 medium banana; black tea

Lunch: 1 c. whole wheat spaghetti; 1/2 c. basil and garlic pasta sauce with 1 Boca Italian Sausage diced into it; Salad w/reduced fat feta, veggies, and garlic and rosemary viniagrette; apple; water.

Snack: 1 string cheese; 1/4 cup pistachios; 1 handful blueberries

Dinner: Eggplant Stir Fry in a Citrus Soy Glaze (**see below for details); Brown rice; 1/3 roasted red pepper; diet cream soda; 3/4 c. Edy's No Sugar Butter Pecan; handful of raspberries; 1 square dark chocolate.

Water: 144 oz.

Exercise: Got my ass kicked by Turbo Jam and Turbo Sculpt. I heard people rhapsodize about it before, but I really had no idea....fantastic workout.

Saw People: Yup.

Went Outside: Yup.

Cleaned Something: Oh, yes.

**Okay, so my cooking philosophy usually involves staring into my refrigerator and thinking "What would look pretty on a plate? What's just about to rot that I can salvage? Hey, nacho cheese might taste really good on a bagel." I usually don't have a lot of luck with recipes, because I'm oppositionally defiant to them and in purposely not following the measurements, I create crap. So I do my own thing and sometimes it ends up pretty good, like the eggplant stir fry I made. The picture is below, and if you click here, it'll take you to a Google doc with the recipe I made for it. Bon appetit.

The void that doesn't need filling

I have this distinct feeling that my ass is smaller than it was just a week ago. If you have a badonk, you know what I mean when I say that it's an omnipresent force in your life. It's always...THERE. Bumping things off tables or brushing against people in department stores. When you swing your body around to check yourself out in a mirror, it seems like your ass catches up with the rest of you a half second later and ruins the profile. It's there to remind you you're just about too big for your last pair of fat jeans, it's a water-dark, supersized Rorshach blot on the side of a concrete swimming pool when you stand up to jump back in, it's the first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing you think about your life. THE ASS can ruin whole days if you let it.

Well, my ass is missing some of its bulk, and that's completely weird to me, because in the time that I was actually working to lose the weight I never felt like I got smaller. But I think I am. I really do. My summer jeans aren't quite clinging to my posterior the way they were a month ago (maybe I've finally just worn them out and they're too weary to do anything except sag). And most important of all, I feel that....absence. Some part of me isn't where it used to be.

I must say, I'm rather thrilled by this.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Challenge Day One


So the first day of this was good in terms of following the rules, but not great in terms of actual nutrition. reports my caloric/fat intake as 1957 cals/87 g.

The teacher friends and I were seduced by the fabulous chips and spinach queso at our local Mexican restaurant, which is where I consumed the bulk of my cals/fat. The burrito itself wasn't so bad, and I did great at breakfast and I doubt we'll be there again in the next 30 days so I'm glad I ate what I did, and I'm glad I got to see them most of all.

Breakfast: Fiber One w/Raisin cereal, skim milk, banana, black tea w/Sweet n Low

Lunch: Black bean Monterey burrito, copious amounts of chips and dip, Diet Coke, water

Dinner: Leftover bean burrito, refried beans, Spanish rice, Edy's no sugar butter pecan ice cream, raspberries, Diet cream soda, water

Water intake: 132 oz (woot)

Exercise: About 30-45 minutes of softball practice. Daily Plate calculates I burned around 350 calories for this, but I think they're dirty overexaggerating liars. Although I did fall to the grass in exhaustion and laid there apathetically while my friend Jen's 125 lb. Malamute made out with me.

Saw people: Check

Went outside: Check

Day 1 is a success, I think.

Grocery List for the Week of 7/9/07

Here's the link to my grocery list for this week, since a few of you were interested:

Grocery List Week 1

Monday, July 9, 2007

Hark, a challenge! (Why am I suddently entitling everything like it's from a Renaissance Fair?)

I realized that starting today, I have exactly 30 days entirely to myself. And I know that those of you with real jobs are rolling your eyes because YOU don't get an automatic 30 days to yourself at your job, but President Bush doesn't tell you how to do your job, and you don't also have to sometimes be in charge of scraping dried boogers off of bathroom stall handles, so you eye-rollers can go ahead and just suck it.

I can see this upcoming month going two possible ways: first, it's a disaster because I never leave my house and I end up sublimating my boredom and loneliness with a whole lot of ill-planned craft projects, online computer games, and of course food.

Or, I can actually get better, get happier, and maybe at least even out the dreadful farmer's tan on the tops of my feet where the sun has emblazoned burnt sienna latticework on top of my painfully white skin. I've also been thinking about the way I'm consuming SO much paper and plastic and water bottles by eating out almost every evening, and so I'm going to make sure that's a goal in this endeavor as well.

So here's my 30-Day Erin, Stop Being Such a Whiner Challenge:

Rule 1: Unless on vacation or showing up to a previously planned dinner date or get together, all meals must be taken at home, even on nights when I work late. I'd rather eat healthy food late and risk a slow digestion than shove a Baconator down my throat on the way home from work.

Rule 2: Food will obviously be of the healthful variety, with an emphasis on the principles of the G.I. Diet as a guideline for what to buy. Any snack food, frozen junk food, full-fat cheese product, or "heat and eat" type food will be thrown away as of Monday, July 9.

Rule 3: I will blog each day about food intake, how I'm feeling, what I'm planning for the next few days unless I am on vacation. On Monday evenings I will post my grocery list for the week.

Rule 4: I will have 128 oz. of water each day, but only in a glass/Nalgene bottle, and never from bottled water. (I reached the breaking point on my justification for bottled water consumption when I paid $2.50 for 16 oz. of Fiji water the other day at a coffeeshop. I can't abide by all the bottles we drink and then trash, especially when the majority of it is just purified tap water)

Rule 5: I will do 30 minutes of exercise each day starting Tuesday, July 10 and will blog my accomplishments each evening.

Rule 6: I will go out and do something that involves interacting with people at least once per day. There will not be a day when I spend the entire 24 hours in my house, having conversations only with my cats. (Even though my cats have gotten a lot more interesting and opinionated since they started watching The View)

Rule 7: I will go to church

Rule 8: I will clean something in my house each day

Rule 9: I will spend some time outside in the sunshine each day.

Rule 10: I will never make more than 10 rules for myself even though I loooooove making lists.

So, this sounds doable enough. If you'd like to follow along on your own challenge for the next 30 days, that'd be cool. Just email me if I'm not already linked to your blog or if you don't post online so we can keep in touch.

Friday, July 6, 2007

HRM, the Queen of Self-Loathing Land hath declared It Restrained Exhilaration Day

(I made him put his breeches on just for this)

WHEREAS: Even though some days I wake up and put on my clothes and I feel like my old shirts and jeans are so tight you can see the outline of my spleen through them.

And WHEREAS: Even though I don't really DO anything to deserve it.

And WHEREAS: I can't really see it myself because that would be admitting I'm good at something.

BE IT RESOLVED ANYWAY: That today two people, independently of one another, came up and said they'd noticed "I'd lost a bunch of weight".

Happy Weekend...I'm on a mini-vacation 'til Monday.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

I perched on the edge of the black examination chair, legs dangling centimeters off the floor like some kind overgrown eight year old and stared at an insurance noticed taped to the wall. Something about how we should write to CIGNA and chastise them for not meeting the clinic's terms. I really like coming to this hospital, which is odd I know, but some clever architect managed to hide the actual hospital-y parts below the ground and grouped all the outpatient services into this lovely shopping mall atmosphere. There are glass elevators and fountains and a coffee place, and when I go there for appointments, I feel like I should be walking out with a Nordstrom's bag on one arm, too.

This was a visit with my ENT who gets to visit with me for sundry reasons each year ever since I realized that my rapidly failing vocal health was probably not a good physical path for a music teacher to travel. This time he was there to look at my tonsils and determine whether or not they should be exorcised from my body and hung from the London Bridge for making me use up all my sick days on actually being sick, rotten traitors that they are. He didn't really give me a strong opinion one way or the other, but a tangential conversation we had made all the difference in how I'm feeling since my sulky post of last Tuesday.

I walked into his office wearing yoga pants, a tie-dyed t-shirt, and flip flops, which I ordinarily wouldn't dare wear in public for fear of seeing my grandmother's ghost, looking disapproving and resigned to her sloppy granddaughter, floating in a corner and knitting some sort of commemorative quilt at the same time (I presume even in death her Teutonic genes enable her to multitask with ruthless efficiency, and that the afterlife has the shiniest linoleum floors its ever seen). But I had driven straight from summer school, where I get to mess with kids who can't read well in the mornings and teach yoga in the afternoon. The ENT is usually used to seeing me in some permutation of black dress pants and button down teacher shirt, so he asked me what I'd been up to this summer, and when I told him about the kid yoga his normal expression of bored amusement lit up into something resembling genuine interest.

We spend the next fifteen minutes discussing what I did with the kids, and his Bikram classes in the heart of Kansas City and how the hot yoga classes I once attended weren't true Bikram classes so I should really come and see what it all was about, and how the winner of the 2007 Yoga Games came to class and performed and he was truly incredible and if I ever wanted to go to his studio I should mention his name so he could get 20% off, and then FINALLY when we ran out of yoga conversation he remembered I was here about my tonsils and we got back down to business.

When I walked out of his office, I felt this peculiar sense of lightness, and it took me the entire trip to the parking lot before I realized what it was: while we were discussing yoga, and his progress and my progress, and especially my interest in the most physically demanding and kind of competitive form of yoga there is, he never once indicated that it was absurd for someone like me to participate in those classes, and to be with those kinds of people. My ENT is the paragon of health; glowing skin, lithe body obviously built for endurance athletics, and every time we talk he mentions a new physical activity he's challenging himself with. I feel like Jabba the Hut talking to him, even though he's an extremely kind and unassuming man.

But it completely blew my mind, because in everyone of the yoga classes I've taken, in the dance classes filled with their Russian former ballerinas, in the Pilates workouts and the tennis afternoons, I have run into the people who look me over and say "You're seriously doing yoga? Isn't it difficult to do if you're not already in shape?" "Tennis is a pretty big cardiovascular workout...are you sure you don't want to start with walking?" And the comments roll on and on and I end up just sort of cringing underneath the shame of them, all the while furious that I'm relegated to the fat lady exercises that I don't want to do. But this man...he ACCEPTED me. Even while I was frantically trying to come up with novel things to say about yoga so he didn't think I was a fraud, he just kept acting like it was the most normal thing in the world for a 220 lb. midget to be able to do a handstand or a Scorpion. And in not questioning how someone like me could do something difficult, he very much helped blow a good portion of my funk away for this week.

I suppose it's little secret that I have something of a self-esteem issue, and I swear to you I cannot figure out why that is. I know, intellectually, that I am good at things. I had trophies and plaques and scholarships in school to prove it; I have job accolades and compliments to validate it now. But I absolutely cannot translate any of that into really knowing that I'm good, that I can do stuff, that I deserve better things. And it's also fairly obvious that I bounce from one exercise, one diet plan, one philosophy on life faster than a Paris Hilton headline pops into my newsreader every morning when I log on. I quit so much because I don't really ever believe I'll succeed. I don't stick with anything because I don't want to admit to failing.

I've felt recently sort of spiritually bottomed out, although I'm not really sure what that means even more. When I lost weight last time it was joyful; I talked myself through hard runs, and tempting meals...I seemed to spend a great deal of time focused inward in a really good way. The difference was between then and now, I guess, is that I was a fairly devout Christian at the time. Things and circumstances have changed, and I'm confused about how to regain that level of commitment and dedication and sincered belief in my ability to succeed, because in each of those things I was confident and self-assured and successful, and that's what's missing at this point. Right now I feel pretty empty...raw...joyless...and I didn't used to be that kind of person.

I think I need a pretty rigid routine, and I think I also need to find something to get me out of bed in morning that doesn't involve work or the pressing need to vanquish the pile of dishes from my sink before things grow on them. I have this whole next month free of obligations, and I can already foresee a disastrous stretch of napping, getting depressed, being alone, and getting more and more unhealthy as the weeks progress. I desperately need to find something else to do, something to focus on, something that makes me feel more alive and ready to actually believe in myself, even when very few people seem to believe in me, too.

Or maybe I should just take up crystal meth. I hear provides similar results.

Monday, July 2, 2007

I am blocked, and that annoys me to no end, because I'm not lacking for things to write; I just don't really feel the need to expand them beyond a topic sentence and a couple of paragraphs that ultimately lead to nothing even remotely resembling a conclusion.

I am not out of money right now, I have food in the cupboards and social engagements on my calendar. Nothing is hurting, or infected. My car works. Work isn't challenging in good or bad ways. My cats are still adorable. My eating habits have been acceptable, though not stellar. My gym membership expired yesterday, but I didn't renew it because I have a subscription to an aerobics class right now. I went once and have neglected to go again, but I probably will this week. I don't expect to lose weight this week, but I also don't expect to gain anything big. Frankly, I don't care.

I have never, in my entire life, been at a point where I would admit to being bored and disgusted with who I am and what I'm doing, but I think I've finally gotten there. I was cleaning out old Rubbermaid containers of stuff I've carried with me through college and grad school and my last job, and I found a pile of legal pads from five, six years ago stacked neatly in a corner. In my cramped, precise script I had written out shopping lists and meal plans, all perfectly enumerated on a weekly calendar that looked like I had drawn out with a ruler. And like every shopping list I have ever written since I stopped sponging off my parents, the food on it was fresh, healthy, low-fat, no sugar...hopeful, ambitious, and probably wasted in favor of takeout and ice cream. I have been pulling the same bullshit for five years and all the gorgeous lists and tables and entries I made have rendered me enormous, unhappy, and positively lavishing in my own torpor.

I am so, so tired of this holding pattern I've been in since college, and I am so very sick of people who helpfully offer suggestions to make me feel better. "Take a dance class!" "Find some interesting friends in the city!" "Get season tickets to the ballet!" "Stop shopping at Wal-Mart if the sight of braless women in muscle shirts depresses you!" Great, thanks. But the problem is everything seems to be dependent upon everything else in order for me to make a clean break from this malaise...I can't go into the city to do things until I can afford to lose a quarter tank of gas with each jaunt northward, and Iget a fuel-efficient car, but I can't get a car until I pay off my debts, and I can't make substantial payments on debts because I have to eat and stuff, and I can't get the things I need because I'm always paying off debts, but I can't use a credit card to get the things I need because I have to pay off old credit cards, and I can't move into the city because I can't afford the rent, but even though I pay a smaller rent on a bigger place outside of the city, I can't get into the city to make upf for the fact that I live in the flabby, warty backside of the Universe because I can't afford the gas...

And it just goes on and on and on.

And it's not like I haven't tried to find a loophole out of this cycle of not being able to move forward. I'm not just sitting on my ass and complaining about my life. I really have paid down a ton of debt in the last two years, I have researched bank loans for people with messed up credit, I have considered getting a third job just to make car payments, I try to find substitutes for expensive yoga or Pilates classes by doing my own on video or teaching it myself to the kids at school. I research grad schools and make contacts with other people who could help me in the future and try to do research and write and do whatever I can to pad my resume for the time when I can apply in four years. I feel like every day I square my shoulders against whatever battle I have to fight in order to retain some dignity, some footing in moving ahead, and then I go to bed with a clenched jaw and regrets about whatever I screwed up or didn't accomplish enough of during the day before.

I do all of these things...but for what? I'm still supersized, I'm still poor, I'm still the tired, wan girl who might've been pretty at one point but who isn't worth the second look in the grocery line or the bookstore because whatever spark she used to have has since extinguished under a mountain of bills and stress and self-doubt.

And now I've just realized how incredibly stupid my problems must seem to someone who actually has to deal with real issues, and I'm sorry for that.

Anyway. Back to the food, because that's what this is about:

Breakfast: Banana, Iced latte (5 pts)

Lunch: Broccoli cheese soup: (6 pts) Garden salad w/FF dressing: 0 pts

Dinner: Probably Pei Wei

Sometimes I hate my rotten life, especially when I realize it's not even interestingly sucky.