Thursday, January 24, 2008

213.5 and Food Debacles

So last week, in my endeavors to continually pinch the penny (that phrase always reminds me of pooping, which tells me I probably shouldn't have ever been entrusted with the education of young children), I decided to make two giant, inexpensive casseroles and eat them for lunch and dinner, three days each. This attempt to both simplify and budget my life was, of course, an unequivocal disaster. But it's cool.

The first casserole I made wasn't horrible. It just wasn't that great. I got both of these off Aimee's Adventures, and I need to take a moment to say that I don't believe the nastiness of last week's food was in any way the fault of her or her recipes. I'm just a sucky cook, for various reasons. Anyway, I started off the week with this casserole, which from this picture kind of looks like a glistening square of grasshopper abdomens and maybe some postnasal drip but I promise looked pretty awesome when actually prepared. You can click on the picture for the recipe if you want to try it on your own (and then send me some in individually portioned containers so I don't have to cook next week):

It was mostly just kind of bland, probably because of the fat free cheese and the whole wheat rotini that tends to make everything else in casseroles taste like whole wheat rotini, and also because I accidentally grabbed a cream of celery instead of cream of chicken, but in general I it was not completely horrible and I dutifully ate my six servings of it.

Then came this:

And this, my friends, was simply pure evil in a crockpot. I do not know what the shit I did to it, but when I woke up the next morning the chicken chunks had turned kind of a grey-brown, and the squash and the parsnips had kind of congealed into this burnt sienna colored blob. The only things I really recognized were the carrots, and they were just kind of bobbing there in the sea of mush, numbed by the indignity of having to spend an evening in a crockpot with the rest of it. I didn't have anything else to eat, though, so I scooped some into my Gladware container and gamely tried it out for lunch that day. And seriously, when the first glob of it passed over my tongue, I swore out loud. I've eaten food I didn't like, and I've tasted things I'd rather not taste again, but I've never actually eat food that tasted BAD until now. And I know probably 105% of it was because I Rachael Ray-ed the portions and kind of played fast and loose with the seasonings, but still, there was just something unholy about it that a mere human couldn't have caused. That casserole just twarn't right.

Anyway, while I was trying to figure out what to eat for this week, Anne posted this awesome book summary on AFG over the weekend. It got me inspired to see if I could stay within my budget, but also make sure I had a good variety of entrees to choose from, interesting snacks (one of my downfalls last week was not to budget any extra food beyond meal preparation), and as much organic and natural stuff as I could get. No fat free, no lite, no Splenda, no high fructose corn syrup. It takes longer to shop that way, and people give you funny looks when you're holding a canister of bread crumbs up to to the light to read its ingredients, but I've found that it seriously reduces the number of impulse buys I make, and because I'm generally a lot happier with my food I don't go out to eat as often. Here's the weekly grocery list and food plan.

And since I manage to screw up other people's recipes last week, I decided to try screwing up one of my own this week instead. There is a restaurant in Kansas City called Eden Alley, and if you're ever near the Plaza you should definitely go eat there, because it's incredible even if you're not a hippie. The food there is beyond delicious and everything's reasonably priced and you get a ton of it and it's just great. When I was there last time, I had a mushroom and spinach loaf that made me forget ever missing real meatloaf in the first place, and it seems straightforward enough to make so I'm going to try it. There are surprisingly no closely related recipes online for this, so I kind of cobbled a recipe based on Eden Alley's picture and description and some similar tofu loaves on the Interweb. I'm going to make it tomorrow night and I'll let you know how it turns out. The idea of combining natural, simple foods into a recipe seems, to me, to follow the logic of eating simple foods by themselves: it's really hard to mess it up if you're sticking to the basics, right?

But as I figured out with Satan's Savory Squash Stew, the road to Hell is often paid with good intentions, so we shall see.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I Will Never Blog About This Again

I've been sans blog because I've been really struggling with this entry, but can't quite find the appropriate words to finish. My other entries about the recipes and sundry other thoughts have had to take a number, so they're on deck and will be posted throughout the next week. This is a very long, badly organized, rambling blog. Get a stiff drink and a sherpa before you begin reading:

I had another conversation about weight loss, specifically my lack of it, with The Friend the other day. Yeah, that same friend from this entry. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson at this point, huh?

And I need to preface all of this by saying I'm not writing this for sympathy, and I love you all for how supportive and wonderful you are and how some of you emailed in and offered to gather up an angry mob with pitchforks the first time I wrote about this, but for this entry I just want everyone to kind of think about this, because I'm seriously sort of stuck on what to believe.

It doesn't matter how the friend and I landed on the weight conversation again, but the gist of what he said is distilled down to the following:

1) Losing weight is absolutely nothing more than a matter of burning more energy than consuming it. There's nothing hard about calories in vs. calories out, and people who say it's not that easy are whining.

2) Anorexia and bulimia are real diseases but addictive behaviors like binge eating (or alcoholism, drug addiction, etc.) aren't, because we make the choice to eat the food, or start drinking the alcohol. Likewise, depression or other mental illnesses don't count as a disease, or as legitimate reasons for overeating and gaining weight, because the choice is always there to improve the depression, and therefore the weight.

3) The fact that I've lost about 25 lbs. only means that I've gone from morbidly obese to slightly less morbidly obese (with the subtext of that statement being I crow about it like I've won Biggest Loser, when I haven't really done shit)

4) He doesn't believe I'll ever really lose enough weight to be normal sized.

And finally...

5) I make a hobby out of being fat. That if I seriously ever tried to lose weight, and I got thin and healthy I wouldn't have anything to bitch about, and so wouldn't have this blog, or these people who read it, or anything to say about myself or my life. So I don't lose weight, because if I did no one would feel sorry for me.

Of course it embarrassed me to read those things, especially because I was reading them in a Panera in Johnson County (it's the 90210 of the Midwest, if that helps) during last Saturday's brunch rush, sitting in a huge, overstuffed leather armchair, and wiping big, rolling tears off my cheeks while a table of college girls in North Face jackets and Dior sunglasses gave me funny looks in between sips of their I.C. Cappuccino Chips. But for a week, I tried to be really, really objective about what he said, because I think there's at least a little truth in it. I don't know if I use my size as an excuse, but I know I DO use it for things. I know Pasta Queen's talked about this in an entry before; I use being fat as a litmus test to sort out the kind people from the unkind, and the shallow from the worthwhile. I use it to be invisible, so I can watch how people really are when there's not a pretty girl around to distract them. And yeah, a huge portion of my entries in this blog are about what it's like to be fat, instead of always what it's like to be losing weight. I write them because I feel them every single day, and I write them because I see other fat people going through the same thing, and I read that some of you go through it, too. I write about it because what happens to people as they lose or gain weight is not right. Society wouldn't fathom of telling someone to be a little less Methodist, or a little more white, but our fat, or our lack of it, is everyone's business; the skinny girls get told to go eat a sandwich, and the fat ones are told how much prettier they'd be if they'd just TRY a little harder.

I've been overweight since time immemorial...this part of my life has become my identity, my struggle, and it has colored my view of the world in a way that a normal person simply couldn't understand. I don't expect to be able to tell my friend that I'm scared of abandoning that identity for a new one, because I don't think he'd ever understand it.

I say these things not as reasons for why I'm not currently losing my 2.5 lbs. per week, but because I didn't know before last Saturday that normal people feel contempt for obese people who try and don't do so well. I wondered if maybe there was some sort of fundamental "go get 'em" characteristic that most thin, active people have and most overweight people don't. I know The Friend would call it laziness or self-pity, but I also know I am not a lazy person. I'm a workaholic, and a to-do listaholic, and, well, I'm not the lazy sack of shit he seems to think I am. I know plenty of obese people who run circles around their skinny counterparts during the day, with their families and their careers and their lifestyles. It's not laziness, dude.

So, what is it? I keep calling it the lack of a "Rudy gene" in my head; that ability to take criticism or adversity and just plow through it no matter what. I know in the past when The Friend has goaded me about my weight, he did so with the intention of inspiring me to get up off my ass and exercise, or to remember it as I made a choice between a healthy lunch and an indulgent one. I don't know if he was planning the same thing when he said he felt disdain for me and "all my excuses for not slimming down". I don't know if he wanted me to pull a Bridget Jones and say "Fuck you!" and then spend hours pedalling a workout bike while Chaka Khan blares in the background. I know I didn't; I sank back into the Panera armchair and took another bite from my bagel and chewed and considered what he had to say. I didn't really expect myself to...I've always been one of those people who take the criticism and store it away to beat myself up with it later, rather than using it as an impetus for change. That part IS a character flaw, I know.

So, this is what I've been trying to figure out for the past week: What is it that causes me to be this ambitionless? Why do I get little ten minute flashes of inspiration and then they die out just as quickly as they started? What characteristic causes me to get motivated to make changes in my body, my career, my relationships for about a day and then I'm sucked back into that same feeling of inertia when the day is over? Why have I allowed that inertia to control my entire life, in everything from from choosing a college to choosing a husband, when I know that ultimately it's really messing me up?

I landed on depression, obviously. When I hear teachers or parents berate a kid at school for being lazy or listless or uncaring, I am never surprised to hear that two or three months later the kid's been evaluated and diagnosed with depression. Because depression isn't that kid's personality, it's what's drowning it. I know it's been drowning me for at least twenty years.

And this is where yesterday, at the conclusion of the week-long series of conversations between The Friend and me, that my jaw hit the floor. Number one, as I listed above, was that he believes depression isn't really a disease, and that it can be fixed by making the choice to get better. The Friend used his own case of depression as an example; that it simply was a mental disorder he improved by giving it the good ol' college try, manning up, and overcoming the same way he'd climb a rock wall, or negotiate a business deal, or make a particularly difficult pasta sauce or something. This is where our conversation sort of broke down, because I got all high school debatey and pulled out sections of the DSM-IV where the doctors say depression IS a disease, one that essentially starts out with a badly mixed cocktail of brain chemicals that ultimately erode your brain's structure and ability to cope with stressors or even with the day-to-day trivialities of life. The Friend said he didn't agree with the research, because it just didn't "feel right", I may have said something nasty about the lack of med school diplomas on his wall, and we both threw our hands up to one another and said goodnight.

Here's the thing: there is the kind of depression that comes from losing a job, or breaking up with a girlfriend, or of course being overweight, and then there is the kind of depression that starts for no reason at all when you're a child. I've had the latter since I was about five. I've spent more than one of my own birthday parties locked in a bathroom crying uncontrollably, my seventh because I couldn't stop thinking about all the children in orphanages or old people in nursing homes who didn't have anyone to celebrate their birthday with, my ninth because my mom got irritated at me when I told her I wanted a different Cabbage Patch than I'd received and she said I was ungrateful and I decided I WAS ungrateful and I had ruined my birthday for her, and a couple other ones in recent years for various twentysomething angst reasons. I was carried out of Epcot Center when I was 10 because a week of hearing my parents fighting in our hotel room and throwing up in the bathroom every night from the stress of it all finally wore me down until I decided the Laser Light Display was a nuclear bomb attack and I went beserk. I've spent entire days in bed, not sleeping, not really thinking...just unable to move because the sadness in my body weighed a million pounds and held me there. I was labeled a "high strung child" and a "neurotic teenager", and the thought of depression never crossed anyone in my family's mind until my mother found me collapsed on the floor of our kitchen one day during a Christmas break home from college, unable to do much more than laugh and cry hysterically. She called a local psychiatrist, and started referring to my depression as "my little problem" from that point on. For the past two weeks, "my little problem" has manifested itself in half of my brain, very calmly, urging me to eat at least 4,000 calories a day so I wouldn't give The Friend the satisfaction of seeing I lost weight after our conversation. It's funny, because the normal part of my brain shrieks out the warnings while the crazy part encourages me to eat, and by the end of the 4,000 calories I've been so preoccupied with the Wagnerian chorus of insanity in my head, I haven't tasted one bite of my binge. Don't expect a loss on Monday, by the way. :)

I'm not writing these things to shock you, or to garner sympathy. I'm writing them because I want The Friend, and other people who might read this and not get me and why I sort of fritter around at all this, to understand that sometimes depression is not a choice. Sometimes, you take your medicine and go to you therapy and do quite well for awhile, and then one chemical decides to take the day off and suddenly you're right back to where you started. And in the course of battling through the depression...of getting your head back above water for the 3,679th time in your realize some things, weight loss for instance, have to take a backseat until you do. You're just happy when you eat poorly like a normal person would, instead of binging your life away.

I'm writing this, finally, because anyone who thinks it's a choice to live a life like this; to be that unstable for decades of your life, to have to admit to your parents why you haven't paid bills or cleaned your house for a couple weeks, to walk into work without a shower or makeup because you couldn't make yourself just do it, to be a hundred pounds overweight not because you're not really trying, but because the messed up part of your head won't LET you, to dutifully take your meds and go to therapy and do all the homework and the journaling and the roleplaying and the self-affirmations until you practically have a psychology degree of your own and still you haven't quite found the right combination to keep you happy for more than a few days at a anyone who would seriously think that I, or anyone else like me, MADE THE CHOICE to live like this? You're welcome to go fuck yourself. Seriously.

I'm done talking about this now. I promise I won't ever write why I'm not losing weight again, unless it has something to do with finding out that a grocery store prankster somehow managed to fill up all the fat free yogurt cartons with Ben & Jerry's or whatever. I'll post the exercise logs, and the food journals and the recipes and the product reviews, and maybe if I go through a stretch where getting out of bed seems as unattainable as base jumping off the Chrysler Building, I'll write about other things, like how the front entryway of the Wal-Mart always smells like farts, or how I can't find a vase big enough to sit by my fireplace that doesn't cost a thousand dollars. I'm through trying to justify something that I barely understand myself to a person who doesn't care to even try to understand. My meds feel like they've kicked back in again, because I see the silver eye floaties and that's always a good sign. I'm getting more sleep, and that means more energy down the road, and since I've figured out I'm a wretched cook, I'm going to go back to the original plan of getting entrees and salads from restaurants and splitting them up throughout the week. I have a plan. I stumbled, but I'm getting better. I'm TRYING. And now I'm done bitching.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

213.2 and Linky Goodness

A friend of mine, who's lost about 65 lbs. through Weight Watchers and who looks utterly fantastic and also knows how to do eye makeup better than anyone I know, introduced me to the below sites. They're cool, and there's a buttload of recipes and I pre-made two of them tonight for the week ahead, so I'll let you know how they go when I post my food plan tomorrow.

Hungry Girl

Aimee's Adventures

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Well played, Girl Scouts. Well played, indeed.

Yesterday at work I realized Girl Scouts of America brilliant evil empire.

Have you ever noticed how Girl Scout cookie pre-orders start in early December when all of us, freshly buzzed off Thanksgiving tryptophan and flushed with the holiday spirit, are just absolutely thrilled!!! to buy tasty, tasty cookies!!! from apple cheeked little girls in beanies!!! And as you're writing your name in the little grid on the order form you notice no one else on the list bought fewer than two boxes and Deb in payroll bought seven whole boxes of Samoans and what would it say about you and your commitment to self-empowering and supporting the physical, intellectual, and moral development of girls the world over if you copped out and only bought one measly box of Shortbreads? THINK OF THE LITTLE GIRLS.

And then, three weeks after Christmas, when the holiday spirit packed up and took off for its timeshare in an artists' commune in Taos, and your pants are still straining across your hips, and the only thing you have left to remind you of the October-December orgy of goodwill and snack items made out of Marshmallow Fluff are the remains of pine needles still stuck in the loops of your harvest wheat colored Berber, and when you have completely forgotten you ever had an encounter with the little cherubs in their brown jumpers....THEN is when they extort the money out of you. It's ingenious, really.

I stumbled toward my classroom door on Friday morning, a banana kind of obscenely clenched between my teeth by its stem, strong black coffee sloshing out my little titanium travel mug, and an armload of books and lesson plans and a Real Simple that promised to help me organize my work life by spring. As I rounded the corner to my little classroom alcove, I saw a plastic grocery bag hanging from the doorknob. Inside it were two, ugh, boxes of Girl Scout cookies and a Post-It that said "Ms. Mighty Minx owes Jasmine $7.00".


And, seriously, for a day I was followed around by Jasmine and her Girl Scout posse like I was Lloyd Dobler and she was the paper boy until they finally cornered me during my planning period and stood there until I walked out to my car, dug around for seven dollars, and threw it at them and ran the other way. And now I have one box of Thin Mints and one box of something I swear I didn't order appear to be wafers of fat and sugar dipped in chocolate. I've always followed kind of a slash and burn philosophy with the Thin Mints, because seriously there is just no way that they can sit in my cookie jar without me thinking about them constantly. So, I just kind of take a hit off the box whenever and hopefully the sweet, sweet torture will be done by February.

Seriously, though, considering the frightening levels of childhood obesity and diabetes in America, is the GSA being responsible in promoting stuff like this as their fundraiser? I know they have a good thing going, and they've been doing it for years, and it's a tradition, and if you don't want to get fat off eating your Peanut Butter Patties you can just say no, but I overreacting in saying it sends kind of a sketchy message to tell their scouts to be physically active and nutritionally responsible but to peddle cellulite in a box to everyone they know?

Perhaps a Thin Mint will clear my mind.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Kick to the Back: Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Embrace the Jam

Since the flyover states get exposed to trends about 20 years after the coastal states (Missouri just discovered Jordache jeans and recreational cocaine use...exciting!), I hadn't really heard of Turbo Jam until just recently, even though it's apparently been around for at least a decade. I mentioned in a previous post that my mother gives away a substantial portion of her disposable income to, which is the parent company of a bunch of TV infomercial exercise video sets. Perhaps you've been sitting at home, brushing Flamin' Hot Cheetos crumbs off your chest and flipping between Golden Girls and Judge Joe Brown (it's okay to admit it now...we've all been there and we've all had the grimy, orange stained fingertips to prove it) and you've come across the somewhat painful rap stylings of Shawn T during a "Hip Hop Abs" commercial? That's the same company.

Anyway, being the proficient exercise dilettante that I am, I had tried every Beachbody exercise program available and hadn't really fallen in love with anything. Everything on there is great, and I really appreciate how Beachbody makes sure to market only really quality videos that can produce significant results, but there was never any Holy Grail of exercise for me on there. Until now. At least I hope.

Turbo Jam has been around for a long time, and its original incarnation was as a kickboxing/dance class taught in some small gyms around Orange County, CA. The creator of this program is named Chalene Johnson, and originally I avoided Turbo Jam because I was fairly certain I would hate her guts. She looked like a miniature version of Denise Austin and everyone on her infomercial was always hopping and smiling and looking like they...enjoyed life. Gross. What eventually finally persuaded me was the number of success stories on Beachbody who used TJ as their primary workout. I very reluctantly obtained copies of a few of her videos, and now I'm pretty much hooked. It helps that I am a total hermit during the winter and would very happily hide in my house with some canned soup and HBO until April if I could, so not having to drive to the gym is a huge bonus for me.

Here's kind of a breakdown on what it's like and why I lurve it:

What You Get: The basic set comes with five workouts on two DVDs. Chalene bases her choreography on 11 specific moves that she details in the introductory workout, "Learn and Burn". The meat of the DVD is the "Cardio Party", which is the 45 minute kickboxing/dance workout. In my research online, most people say it counts as moderate to high impact exercise, and the Beachbody claims it can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour. The other long workout in the set is called "Turbo Sculpt", and it includes free weights and other weight-bearing exercises for 40 minutes of toning plus low-impact cardio. The final two additional videos in the set are a 20-minute quick workout and a 20-minute ab toning workout. Also, every video has modifications to make it either high impact or low impact, depending on your fitness level and preference.
There's some extra footage where you can get cast biographies and watch an interview with Chalene. Beachbody offers the starter set for $57.95+shipping, but of course you can get it from Amazon or eBay for a lot less. Turbo Jam has recently come out with a "Maximum Results" series that is exactly the same except they send you weighted gloves along with the shipment. Don't be fooled into paying their price for them, as you can buy the cheaper set and get gloves at a sporting goods store much more cheaply.

Schedule: Since I'm now trying to get all my exercise solely from workout videos, I combine stuff to make sure I'm getting an equal balance between cardio and toning. My plan is to work out six days a week, with an off day on Monday and a light day on Thursday (the nights where I travel to my second job). I usually combine Cardio Party with Ab Jam, and Turbo Sculpt with the 20 Minute Jam as a warm-up. On Thursdays I try to get in either 20 Minute, Ab or both if I have time. If you order the full package from Beachbody, they will send a recommended schedule for both sedentary and active exercisers, so that may help you if you decide to jump in with this.

Extra Information: There are a bunch more TJ products available, including extra Cardio Parties and some different options for circuit training and toning. They're all available on Beachbody and on the other sites I've already mentioned. Also, if you're located in a large city with a pretty decent gym, it is likely that the live Turbo Jam classes are already being held there. They're called Turbo Kick, and they are exactly the same thing as TJ. My gym offers Turbo Kick plus a Turbo Sculpt session back to back once a week. It might be a good idea to go to meet other enthusiasts or to get help on moves, form, etc.

Why I Love It: It's just really freaking fun. It's like Jazzercise but with better music, or like Taebo without the impending feeling of death. Seriously, every single kickboxing or just plain aerobics video I've ever tried has made me feel worked out and completely exhausted. TJ makes me feel worked out and uplifted, and I'm not the kind of person who gets uplifted very easily. The music is awesome...lots of old school hip hop and rap and Chalene edits each track herself to make the moves fit the music. I cannot tell you how many videos I've shoved to the back of my shelf because the music was either shitty or it didn't line up with the choreography.

Another reason why I love this is because Chalene and the cast seem to transcend the stereotype of typical aerobics video people. Sure, they smile too much, (I once tried to maintain a frozen grin for as long as one of the featured exercisers did and I had to stop because my gums were drying out and I wanted to bitchslap myself) and there's some unnecessary hamming at the camera and there's this one horribly awkward older lady who makes my eyes bleed when she tries to get her freak on, but for the most part they're pretty cool. There's a good range of ages and body types and at least two of them lost a significant amount of weight with TJ before they became instructors. Chalene, of course, is the star of the program and as much as I wanted to hate her initially, watch a tiny blonde woman from Orange County jumping around to LL Cool J and talking she's straight outta Compton is pretty endearing, and I personally think her running commentary makes the workouts go much faster than they would've without it. Her counts and cues are like 99% right on, her explanations are great, and she's inspirational without being saccharine, and I appreciate that.

Some Caveats: If you are a person who gives up on exercise videos quickly because it takes too long to learn the moves, this might not be for you. I'm a pretty coordinated person, so I tend to gravitate towards videos that change up the choreography a lot, but I know a few people who hate it for that very reason. It also might not be an ideal workout for people with knee or back trouble. I hurt both my knees and my back pretty badly in a work injury several years ago, and I definitely feel twinges while I'm working out with TJ now. Chalene offers a lot of tips and reminders for avoiding that, but if you're really really weak down there, I'd stay away. Finally, if you don't like a little bit of silliness during your workout, then this might not be good, as Chalene spends a lot of time being goofy and encouraging the at-home exerciser to do the same.

The only single thing I've found that I really don't like about TJ is the "Turbo Sculpt", partly because it's HARD and I start dripping sweat during the warmup and I'm embarrassed that I fall over when I do lunges and sometimes I tell Chalene and the awkward lady to suck it after I've done that and then my cats give me disapproving looks, but mostly because it lacks the same sort of exuberance that the other videos have. I think it's probably unavoidable, since it moves at a much slower pace and is entirely based around weight training. Somehow it just seems interminably long compared to Cardio Party, and it's disappointing when Chalene stops being Chalene and lapses into the run of the mill aerobics instructor cadence for Turbo Sculpt. It's a very, very minor issue, though, and I use Turbo Sculpt regularly despite it.

Bottom Line:
I'm addicted, and the majority of people who try it end up that way, too. I can't wait to get my hands on the other videos, even though I doubt I'll get tired of the original ones soon. I'll report back on if it actually reduces the size of my ass in a month or so, but even if it wasn't a phenomenal calorie burner, I'd still probably use it to burn off stress and have fun. I've included links to some shorter segments of the workouts below in case you want to check it out.

Kickin' Core Turbo Jam Ball Workout

The Elite 11 Moves

Turbo Kick Success Story

Turbo Jam Success Stories

Happy Balloon Ascension Day, by the way.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Eleventy hundred million point five

Dealing with the interruption in my meds was much harder than I anticipated, to the point that the only thing that would stop the low rumble of insanity in the back of my brain was sleep. Or food. Or a combination of both that left my body and brain feeling like twice-microwaved death mixed served with a side of fresh-baked despair.

Anyway, today was a significantly better day than the last several were. Missouri managed to purloin California's tropical climate for a few days, so I got to open the house up to warm, fresh air and sunlight. I did a little housework, exercised, drank water, took my meds, and ate reasonably well. I realized, also, that I'm going to have to change a few things about the way I'm living right now in order to make any more progress at getting healthier and happier. I think, during winter break, I was doing really well despite the lack of meds because I was getting an adequate amount of sleep each night. The shitty thing is that I tend to average around 9-10 hours of sleep when I'm allowed to stay in bed as long as I want, and I'm just as exhausted after 8 hours of sleep as I am after 5. It would probably make sense to go for the 7-8 hours anyway, even if I don't feel it immediately. I also need to stop bullshitting myself about the types and amounts of food I'm eating. Honestly, the reason why I lost so much weight in October and November was because I wasn't eating much, probably because of the initial effects of the Wellbutrin. When I started getting hungry again around Thanksgiving and later in December, I tried to supplement my diet with high-carb vegetarian foods. When stuff started getting out of control around the holidays, my tofu and salads turned into grilled cheese and potato poppers, and no matter how much I tried to spin it, I was eating copious quantities of shit. No wonder my body revolted.

The thing that really kicked me in the ass (aside from my epiphany yesterday afternoon that I hadn't actually moved my body in several hours and that maybe I had actually, finally died from being a miserable wreck and if that was the case my mother would find out I had expired next to an open bottle of vitamin water and a gift card to an adult toy store I won at my faculty Christmas party and she would NOT BE AMUSED) was a set of photos from the New Year's eve party I attended with some friends. The party was the most fun I had had in years, probably, and I met some really nice people, and danced like a madwoman and I thought maybe...MAYBE...I actually looked really good. The jeans I had on were a size smaller than I could've worn previously, and I had a killer pair of red pumps and I actually took time on my hair and makeup and I kind of thought that even if I didn't look good, at least I looked better. But when I got those pictures from my friend a few days later, I realized that the same pasty, double-chinned, and tree trunk-legged Erin who started this whole thing a year ago didn't look a bit different 25 lbs. later. And I think I cringed the world's biggest cringe right then, realizing that everyone at the party must've been kind of taken aback by this tub of lard who was dancing too hard, and laughing too loudly, and maybe flirting when it wasn't her business to flirt because there were prettier girls with smaller asses. God, it sucked to have to realize that.

But it gave me some perspective on how stuff really ought to be going for me, because it's going to be a long, long time until I can look at a picture of my whole body and feel like I look like everyone else. It's going to take months, maybe years, of screwing up and stumbling and fighting not to be miserable when I just want to go back to bed and not wake up. It'll be a process of working day after day to make the right choices, and to talk myself off the roof when I've made some bad ones, and looking any further past the current day will probably drive me crazier than I have been recently. It's such a long fucking road...all of it...and the only thing I really feel like I can do is just take it one step at a time.