tumblingdays: Post-It Note that says "Walk Around the House Like a Fucking Champion" (defiance)
A friend and I walked a 5K yesterday. It was my second 5K and first "race" and her first 5K. Our goals were simple - finish in under an hour and don't come in last place. We accomplished both! We walked it, and I came in 50th in my age group. A "good" aerobic walking pace is 17-20 minute miles, and we were at a 17.8 minute mile. This pleases me.

I woke up today feeling much better in my own body. The route had one large hill and hiking up it worked out a kink in my shins probably caused by living in high heels. Yay for exercise?

After the race, our husbands joined us for dinner. My husband ran the 10K while we were running the five. His goal was the same as ours, and he did well. We finished in 55.19 minutes. He was at 59.06. We hadn't even gotten water yet when he crossed the finish line. It was excellent to sit with old friends, catch up, and feel like I had accomplished something.

After dinner, I went over to another friend's house. We sat out on her roof drinking wine and talking late into the night. This was possibly the perfect end to a Saturday night. Her roof is a cozy, secret place, protected by old trees that let the stars shine down like benevolent eyes.

I'm in the middle of a long stretch on the road, and I can already feel a little bit of travel fatigue kicking it. The time will go by quickly. We are only 10 weeks from Christmas now, and I will be home the week of Thanksgiving. It's not that far way.
tumblingdays: B&W Photo of a little girl hugging an elephant (loving yourself)
I continue reading Women Food and God by Geneen Roth. As I stated earlier, I have not been blogging every chapter because not every chapter has a lot to say. And honestly, the chapters that do have a lot to say [to me], have kept me chewing over them and not talking about them either. I am up to chapter 6. The first six chapters comprise the first part of the book. It's kind of introduction to the approaching our relationship with food from a new perspective. Since I started the Intuitive Eating process as part of treatment for my ED about 20 months ago, I don't really need a hard sell in this regard. Roth is also advocating Intuitive Eating, though she doesn't call it that.

There is a quote from chapter six that captures my feelings about dieting and about this whole process. It's lengthy, but I am going to quote it here and then talk a bit about it.

Diets are based on the unspoken fear that you are a madwoman, a food terrorist, a lunatic. Eventually you will destroy all that you love and so you need to be stopped. The promise of a diet is not only that you will have a different body, you will have a different life. If you hate yourself enough, you will love yourself. If you torture yourself enough, you will be become a peaceful, relaxed human being.

I doubt I am alone with struggling with loving discipline for myself and restriction, with treating myself gently and spoiling myself. In my treatment of myself, I see a pattern well established long before I was the person primarily responsible for taking care of me. Often my childhood was a pattern of neglected NEEDS and an over-abundance of WANTS. This is how you "spoil" someone, not by ensuring that they feel safe, loved, protected, and nurtured, but by replacing loving support with sporadic overabundance paired with benign neglect.

So, for years I've done pretty much exactly the same thing to myself. I'd diet or otherwise restrict my eating and then I'd follow that up with a period of overeating. Or, I'd go back to my bulimia - binge and purge.

Now, I am struggling with the kind of structured discipline that comes from loving yourself and wanting the best for yourself. I kept typing here that discipline has never been a part of my life, but it's not true. It's just that before the last couple of years, discipline was about restriction. Treating myself gently is not something I have much experience with. I live my life hard, whether that hardness comes from restriction or from casting off restrictions. I was living as an over-indulged princess or a bereft pauper. I will eat it all or I will eat nothing. I will exercise every day, balls to the wall, or I will sit on my ass. I will sleep a lot or I will not sleep. I would save compulsively, denying myself necessities or spend like a reality TV participant.

And now, I have taken a big step off what seems to me to be a very high cliff. I have to trust myself to be neither the pauper nor the princess. The rules are not black and white. I can take a day off from working out and it's not "falling off the wagon." I can eat a piece of chocolate and it isn't "cheating." I can buy something I like and enjoy it. I want this to be my normal, but often this is still a matter of closing my eyes and making a giant leap of faith. I have to believe that my body is not shirking if I feel like I need a break from my workout routine. I have to believe that a craving is a momentary want that I can choose whether or not to indulge and not a sign of weakness or deprivation. It's hard. It involves a lot of sitting still and listening to that faint, faint voice inside of me. I am not good at sitting still, and I often doubt that voice.

Even with all of that, though, I am happier than I have been in a really long time. I am slowly beginning to trust myself. I am finding that I can live under a yoke of gentle discipline and that I can be responsible for myself. It gratifying. Right now, there are frequent failures, but they are becoming more about a failure in the moment rather than feeling like I AM a failure. The difference is profound.
tumblingdays: Post-It Note that says "Walk Around the House Like a Fucking Champion" (defiance)
Last night, my husband and I joined some friends at the state fair. We ate deep fried Oreos, rode puke-making rides, watched monkey jockeys race atop dogs (really), and... I rode a mechanical bull.

I am reluctant to call it a "bucket list," but I do have a list of kind of goofy things that I want to do at least once in my life. Riding a mechanical bull is on that list. I had to get over my self consciousness at being a fat chick on a mechanical bull. I am pretty darn confident that there were people laughing at me, especially since a friend had to hoist me up on the bull before I could even begin my ride.

It was thrilling and terrifying. Mostly terrifying. The bull is fairly high off the ground, and staying on is not as easy as it looks. (And it doesn't look easy!) The operator started me out pretty slow and then moved faster. I held my own for a bit, but then got thrown pretty spectacularly. It was fun, but now that I've done it, I'm in no hurry to do it again. This was definitely more of an "experience" than something that was enjoyable in and of itself.
tumblingdays: Post-It Note that says "Walk Around the House Like a Fucking Champion" (defiance)
This morning I accomplished something really challenging at the gym. I've been working toward being able to do planks, which require a good deal of core strength. They are not easy. If you've never seen the exercise, here is an image: http://cdn.womenshealthmag.com/files/images/0905-poster-side-plank.preview.jpg. Not me. I think eventually you straighten out the bottom arm, but I am definitely not there yet, and with my arthritic shoulder may never be. Still, I can do this pose for 30 seconds on each side, with a 30 second basic plank in the middle. (Another image that isn't me: http://www.fithacker.com/images/plank.jpg.)

I was sitting up after the second set of these thinking, "How in the hell can a minute and a half be that LONG?!?!" when my personal trainer said, "There. Wasn't that worth it?" And I realized that holy shit, I just did a full set of planks without giving up, without my body giving out, without falling down, without losing my breath! Holy shit.

I've been working toward incremental improvements in fitness for so very long that I had forgotten when I first started working out that I was proud when I broke 10 seconds on the basic plank and that I couldn't even get my hips off the ground to do a side plank. Here I am, poo-pooing at my minute and a half, and it is SO MUCH farther than I've ever been. Even better, those planks were just a stop in the middle of circuit. There were weights and crunches and rows going on.

I don't regret that I've opted for incremental fitness. I don't know anyone who wouldn't love to get fit really quickly, but that's not realistic. This process- where I set small (very small) incremental goals and then meet them and then set a new goal- is much more effective than any get fit scheme I've seen. Sometimes my new goal is related, sometimes I get bored and do something completely different. Some goals just get sidetracked- earlier this year I got a wild hair to learn how to do cartwheels and after falling often I moved on without ever really getting it right. Permission to simply fail and move on is part of the plan.

On another note, I finished Chapter two of Women Food and God without any new insight. Chapter three gave me A LOT to digest. I plan to re-read it and blog about it later. It merits some consideration.
tumblingdays: B&W Photo of a little girl hugging an elephant (ed)
Yesterday was my bi-monthly meeting with my nutritionist. I am recovering from a lengthy history with disordered eating, and while I have made huge progress the last 20 months or so, I still have a long way to go. I am also in the middle of prepping for a major certification exam for my career. Since my ED has stress management implications, this leads to a rough balancing act.

But, this week I had a kind of ridiculous epiphany. I've been maintaining with 5 pounds or so the same weight since I started prepping for this test 10 months ago. I've exercised steadily and my eating has fluctuated in and out of healthy choices. (Don't get confused here, "healthy choices" is not some fucked up code for dieting. I mean eating in a way that makes my body feel good and allows me to experience my emotions rather than stuff them down with food.) I have none-the-less stressed that I should be doing more "work" in this area.

I'm not sure what brought it on, but this week, I got some perspective. I imagined what emotions I would feel if one of my "normal" sized friends told me that she was prepping for a major life change, doing extensive planning, juggling a whole host of new responsibilities, but she felt like she needed to be focusing on weight loss at the same time. I'd be angry at her and for her. I'd be mad that she considers "weight" as important as these other things. I'd be annoyed that she is spinning her wheels with this issue when there is all this other stuff going on. And I'd be angry for her that she feels like she needs to take on this task RIGHT NOW on top of everything else.

This revealed a part of my psyche that I am still struggling with- because I am not "normal" sized, I feel like I don't get that pass to ignore my weight when I am already dealing with so many other things. I don't have a right to just be myself - healthy, active, comfortable- because I wear a size 20. That isn't right. I am active and healthy. I manage stress through exercising and other productive means. I practice self-care. The fact that I am not losing weight is pretty inconsequential in the scheme of things. My nutritionist took it one step farther and pointed out that stress causes your body to slow weight loss because it is holding on to those reserves for your "fight or flight" moment.

The other part of me it reveals is just how deeply seeded the "diet mentality" is. At the beginning of the summer, I would have told you that I am not a dieter. I don't diet. I try to eat intuitively- food that satisfies me and makes me feel good. But this focus on why I am not losing weight amid everything else tells me that there is still some diet mentality going on in my noggin. More work to do there...

In the past, under this kind of stress, I probably would have quickly lost a lot of weight. Dieting was my tool to "control" what I could control- calories going into my body. Some part of brain kind of expected me to lose weight and is disappointed, even though my even keel is one of the best signs of my new, healthy lifestyle.

I have to make peace with the fact that this is the right way to live, working with my body to treat it right rather than trying to force it down the path my brain thinks it should take or hiding from it. Some days, this is tough road.
tumblingdays: (work)
Yesterday, I stretched myself at work a little. Generally, I am comfortable with the fact that I have chosen a job that suit me well, but I don't want to stagnate. At the beginning of this year, I was asked to join a training committee. We would plan and execute peer training throughout the year. I don't enjoy leading trainings and I am not a "joiner," so committees are not my favorite part of the world. I am not what you would call a "consensus builder." (Fact: Apparently I don't actually even know how to spell "consensus.")

I volunteered. A little discomfort is not enough to merit limiting future options. So, after a few planning sessions and a lot of discussion, yesterday I co-lead my first peer training session. It didn't go as badly as I'd feared. People were engaged and participated. There was a lot of discussion. Several of our peers told us afterward that they thought the session went well. Part of the point of peer training is that the instructors learn about something so that they can pass it on, and I learned a lot both in my prep work and in the session itself. Overall, I wouldn't call it a wholesale success, but it wasn't a failure either.

And best of all? It's OVER. My obligation was the pre-planning sessions and to teach one of the classes. Since I went first, I do not have to teach other session.

Now comes the other tricky part- once you get on a committee at my work, even though it's only supposed to be a one-year appointment, they are damned hard to get off of.

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