Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 100

It's the 100th day of 2013. 100 is a nice, round, even number. Why wait until December to reflect upon the year that was? I am a reflective sort of chickadee -- I'm going to use the 100 day mark as an excuse to reflect.

I know it is the 100th day of the year because of the photo a day project I have embarked upon along with a couple friends. I tag my daily offerings pic a day, but one of my friends has numbered hers which -- in retrospect -- was a really good idea and if I ever do this again it is one I will almost certainly use. Her photo yesterday was day 99, so being the smarty-pants that I am I was pretty quickly able to surmise that today would be 100.

This project has been a real learning experience for me and a lot of fun.

Originally I intended to be in every picture. I thought it would force me to do something worth documenting every day. I also thought it would allow me to get used to the way I look in pictures, because looking at pictures of myself has always been a sort of shocking experience. I figured if I was ever going to get comfortable with myself, I better know what I look like. At the 100 day mark I must admit that I strayed from the goal of being in every picture pretty quickly. It turned into a documentation of my life rather than of me. Nobody wants to look at a new picture of the same old person every day. Ain't nobody got time for that. Plus, I think it portrayed me as someone who was really into herself and that was not how I wanted to present at all. So I branched out and took pictures of other people and of things and of places and I think the project is better for it. I still make sure to get myself in there on a pretty regular basis.

Some things I have learned from this:

When I posted this pic in early January, I got a pretty positive response. It documented my first time buying jeans in a straight size store since I don't even remember when. People said nice things. I said this:

I really ought to learn to wear makeup -- and I have such healthy DARK hair -- it wouldn't kill me to spend a few minutes styling it -- and I need a better fitting bra -- and I still have a crap-ton of weight to lose...

Tom called me out on that comment -- as he tends to do when I get too self-deprecating -- but after I wrote it I realized that (almost) ALL of those things were in my control.

So I got a haircut, bought some makeup, picked up some new bras (boy, was I wearing the wrong size!) and proceeded to feel a whole lot better about myself.

Thanks, pic a day!

I missed a few days -- when I was just too sad to bother -- but I quickly learned that it was a great tool for that, too -- finding something positive or beautiful or worth documenting every single day. Even on those lowest days there is something. There is always something. I forgot that a couple times in the past few weeks, but I intend to try to use it in the future to motivate myself. Visual gratefulness. Make it a goal, on a bad day, to find that one good thing -- just one, no matter how tiny -- then photograph it and post it and make it real -- make it as real as the bad things -- make it MORE real.

Or, you know, skip a day here or there.  Whatever.

100 days in I would say I am definitely well on my way to achieving my goal for this project -- recognizing myself. Embracing the flaws I can't do a thing about and working on the ones I can.

It's a process.

Here's to the next 100 days!

Monday, April 8, 2013


If you want people to be interested in you, you must first be interesting.

This is pretty obvious advice, but fits pretty neatly into the easier said than done file.

How does one go about making oneself interesting?

I think the answer lies in reading, in learning, in doing -- in never becoming stagnant. The people I find most interesting are always trying new things. Mostly they succeed. Sometimes they fail. Always they try. They are eager and enthusiastic and learn from their failures rather than allowing them to define them.

Interesting people are interested.

Bored people are boring.

I have been bored.

More than that, I have been sad.

Not very interesting, is it?

The day-to-day has become overwhelming. Do you want to hear about it? Of course you don't. We all know what overwhelmed feels like. Nothing unique or interesting about that.

It's time to read new things -- to learn new things -- and -- most importantly -- to try new things.

I'm shaking off a long winter fog. 

I'm just, as The Boss says, tired and bored with myself.

But no more. Because it's stupid and it's boring and I have no desire to be either of those things anymore.

I will close my laptop in a few minutes. I need to throw a load of laundry in and get the kids to school and go to the gym and go to work and get a kid to an appointment and go back to work and get another kid to a practice and do a favor for a friend and all of that will take me straight to an hour before bedtime. I can spend that hour doing the same thing I always do, or I can spend it stepping out of the mundane and trying something new.

Will I?

I can't say for sure. It's a long day and just typing it out was a little exhausting. I deserve an hour to knit and watch TV. And I just might. But I also just might devote that hour to trying -- or at least reading about -- something new.

And I, my friends, am open to suggestions. You name it and I promise you that I will look into it. I just might try it. I will, of course, keep you informed.

I'm bored with being bored.

I need to shake off the mundane.

I need to be the sort of person I'd want to talk to.

I'm not that person right now.

It's not too late.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Somebody needs a hug.

Aw, I know you. You'd give them one if you could. Heck, if you knew I needed a hug, you'd probably reach right through the interwebs and give me one. Maybe you would squeeze me really tightly for a second or two then release me and continue to hold me at arms length so we could look at each other while we talked. Maybe you'd hug me so hard my feet would leave the floor and you'd shake me like a rag doll for a second or two (wow, you're really strong). Maybe you'd pull my head to your shoulder and pet me like a child. Maybe you'd put your arms so far around me that I disappeared in them or maybe you'd pat me awkwardly on the shoulder because you never cared for the whole hug thing but you understand that sometimes it's just a thing one does.

Why are you squeezing me with your body?
Hugs are awesome.

But what happens after the hug? Oh come on. I hear you singing "bow-chicka-bow-wow". It's not that kind of post and it's not that kind of hug. But when somebody needs a hug -- and we give it to them, literally if proximity allows and figuratively if it doesn't -- what happens next? Because realistically -- as nice as it sounds to say it -- you can't hug all day -- or even longer than a moment or two. Consider the lovers who wanted to spend eternity in one another's arms. The first few moments were bliss. Then their arms started to cramp. Positions were shifted, but nothing was sustainable for long. Eventually they became hungry. At the risk of being crass, bodily functions became necessary. Spending eternity in someone's arms is a romantic notion, but one that can never actually be achieved.

photo: AP
Ok maybe these two, but...
What happens after the hug? Think about the times we say, "I need a hug". We're usually feeling kind of crummy. Sometimes -- when I'm feeling crummy -- that well intentioned hug brings tears rather than comfort. I never mean for it to happen. I'm just hanging in there -- feeling crummy, but holding it together -- then I  accept a hug and -- bam -- some kind soul has a less than delightful mascara stain on their shirt. Oops. It's like that hug grants permission, "You rest. I've got this. You don't have to be strong anymore." Okay -- a good cry can be cathartic. So that's a possible result. But thankfully, it's not the usual one. Nobody likes a cry baby.

Why is a three second hug so wonderful, then? Does the shadow of a good hug linger on us like a ghost? Does it make a physical impression on us that keeps us warm long after the embrace or is the impression merely figurative? Does any of this matter? A hug feels nice -- even if only for a moment. Sometimes a moment is enough. Hugs remind us that we are loved and safe and cherished.

Things have been rough.

I need a hug.

I know you'd give me one, if you could.

Knowing that feels pretty nice.

I'll try not to wreck your shirt.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Post I Didn't Write

A couple days ago a friend posted that in the year since he has begun his journey to health and fitness he has lost 140 pounds and his doctor considers him a model patient and would like him to provide motivation to other folks facing that same long road. 


I was -- am -- so happy for him -- so proud of him.

What a helluva thing he accomplished!

I had one of those posts planned, too.

March 20th marked the one year anniversary of my journey.

I won't tell you I wrote that post in my head last March, because I didn't.

But shortly thereafter...

No -- last March I joined the gym, went back to the doctor and modified my diet because I wanted to feel better and I wanted to be strong. Feeling good, I reckoned, should not be solely the domain of the slim. I knew, then, that I could not be slim -- but I deserved to be happy and healthy and I was neither of those things.

Also? I really love lifting.

Almost as soon as I started, weight started falling off. I couldn't believe it. I felt better almost immediately. Shortly thereafter I started looking better. Then I dropped a couple sizes. My focus shifted. I was no longer doing this to be strong and healthy. 

I wanted to lose weight. 

That's about when I started writing that post in my head. I would lose over 100 pounds. I would feel 20 years younger. People who hadn't seen me in awhile would be amazed at my transformation. My doctor would look at me approvingly. EVERYone would look at me approvingly. People would ask me how I did it and -- oh boy, did I have a response planned for that. I would trip over myself to stress the point that this is what worked for me but that it wasn't a universal answer -- that there isn't a universal answer. I would tell people who asked -- and oh, they'd ask -- to stay away from gimmicks and the whole weight loss industry (the very root of all evil, I am completely convinced) and just figure out what worked for them. I would be encouraging without resorting to annoying platitudes or manufactured inspirational bullshit.

And there would be pictures.  

Oh yes, there would be pictures.

I didn't write that post, though.

Because my anniversary would've been in March -- but it all went south in January.

I completely stopped losing weight -- unless you count the same 4 pounds that I put on and took off over and over several times each week. For a few weeks I didn't worry. I'd hit plateaus before. They just need to be ridden out. I could ride it out. I'd proven that over and over. Head down power through.

Except four months is an awfully long time for a plateau.

This was something different.

This was -- is -- a new set point.

Towards the end of that time period some personal events took place and I had a rather major backslide. I ate things I shouldn't eat and drank things I shouldn't drink. I gained a few pounds. I went back to eating properly and immediately dropped the extra weight I'd put on -- but continued carefulness would not make that scale budge one tick lower.

A new set point.

I can apparently eat and drink with abandon and remain this weight or I can diligently watch every bite and work my ass off and remain this weight. For about a week now I've chosen to go with the flow -- not bingeing anymore, but not watching either. Through it all I've rarely missed a morning at the gym. And my weight is not moving.

I don't know that it ever will again.

I need to find my way back to the mindset I had when I began my journey more than a year ago. I didn't get where I wanted to be -- but I'm not where I once was, either.

I didn't lose over 100 pounds.  I barely lost over 50 pounds.

I don't feel 20 years younger. I feel exactly my age and am starting to look it.

People who haven't seen me in awhile do notice a change -- usually -- but their response definitely falls well short of amazement. Which makes sense. I do not look amazing.

My doc? He was happy with me at my last appointment. Not because I was still managing to move the scale at that point, but because my bloodwork was perfect. My triglyceride levels were perfect for the first time since I'd been seeing him. I don't believe that bloodwork done today would yield the same results. I have a good doc. He is more interested in my health than in my appearance. I need to find my way back to that myself.

It is what's important.

It was what put me on this road in the first place.

Straying from the lifestyle that put me there is not making a difference in my appearance (I don't think). But I feel worse, and I know I'm not as healthy as I was.

It wasn't supposed to be about weight.

It wasn't supposed to be about appearance.

It was about health.

It IS about health.

So I won't get to write that post.

I don't get to be a success story.

I don't get to shake my head over the amazing before and after pictures.

But I can reach those original goals.

I can be healthy and strong.

Now I just need to figure out a way for that to be enough.