Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Week 35: Diet, Revisited

This past week I was catching up with some folks I’ve not seen in a while and eventually the subject of my weight loss came up.  

“How is that diet thing going?” they asked.

Now, as I explained in a previous post, the word “diet” carries a lot of negative connotations in my world.  “Diet” implies the changes I’ve made are not permanent, and I don’t like that.  Of course, the people in my life that are not very close to me may not know that, so I usually just politely answer that things are going just fine and just leave it at that.  However, this week I just wasn’t able to let it go.

“I’m not on a diet,” I replied.  

Because I’m not.  I’ve changed my diet, yes, but I’m not on a diet.  It’s a distinct difference, and I found myself explaining it to this person in detail. And perhaps I was overreacting, but it’s important to me that people understand the difference.  It’s important to me that people understand these changes are not temporary, that I’m in it for the long haul.  

Why the sudden sensitivity to a question that up until now I’ve politely blown off with polite replies?  Two words: high cholesterol.   The folks providing my family’s health insurance instituted mandatory health screenings for all their adult members, and my cholesterol levels are high.  Suddenly the importance of my dietary changes remaining permanent seem even more so.  In fact, I find myself thinking that there will be one more permanent change in the very near future.  I will most likely be transitioning from mostly vegetarian to vegan within the next couple of months.  Under the circumstances, I think it is the right thing to do, and that I will be better off for it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Week 34: Mirrors

I dislike mirrors.   When I look into a mirror I’m there long enough to make sure my hair is tidy and my clothes are straight, and then I’m gone.  If I linger I start to criticize myself, and the next thing I know I’m feeling terrible and my self-image is all but shattered.   I see that I am not a size 10.  I see that my complexion is not perfect and that my skin is no longer as firm as it used to be.  I see that the clothes I wear don’t fit quite the way I wish they would.  When I look in the mirror I rarely see what is *really* there, nor am I able to perceive myself the way others do.  I see myself through a filter created by years of media conditioning and my own internal dialogue.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced on this journey is disabling that filter.  I had to lose nearly 50 pounds before I could even see that I appeared different from when I began my weight loss, and even then it took unexpectedly catching my reflection in a window out of the corner of my eye to really see it.  In that moment the visual filter was not in place, and for a second I did not recognize that the thinner person I saw was myself.   And even now that I’ve lost 100 pounds, I continue to struggle with my self-image.  My  friends and family can tell me that I look great, and I will smile and thank them, but in my head I’m disagreeing because I have a hard time seeing myself through their eyes.  I found myself looking in the mirror this past week and thinking that I somehow looked bigger than I had three weeks ago, and it simply is not true.  I’ve not changed size and all of my clothes still fit...and yet the mirror seemed to tell me otherwise.  

This is something that I’m going to have to work on for a long time.  I hope that someday I will look into a mirror and not feel the need to look away from my own reflection.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Week 33: Hope

This week was so much better than the last few.  I racked up at least 10,000 steps seven days in a row, and on three of those days I managed to run a couple of miles.  I found myself actually wanting to exercise, a feeling I’ve not had in nearly two months. I still struggled with keeping my calorie intake within range, but that, too, was much improved when compared to the last few weeks.  I found the motivation to do some experimenting in the kitchen again, and the vegan black bean burritos I made last night were both satisfying and delicious.  

It gives me hope that the dark cloud of fearful anxiety I’ve been living under for the past month and a half is finally dissipating.  I can once again see my journey’s path.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Week 32: Variety

I did a lot of thinking this past week, and I think boredom may be part of why I was finding it so hard to stay on track with my calorie intake these past few months.  I was getting into a rut with the food I was eating, and forgot the promise I made to myself when this all started.  I promised myself I’d try new foods or recipes at least once a week, and now that I think about it, I’ve not done that in quite a while.  I know better, too, because lack of variety in past diets has ultimately led me to throw in the towel.

Well, now that I’ve figured that out, I spent some time searching for some new recipes and have found a couple that I can’t wait to try out this week.  I’ll be making a vegan burrito filling and some avocado fudge.  I found a recipe for vegan spinach pie, too, and will probably get the ingredients to make that later this week.

So, reminder to self: make sure to eat a variety of foods and try something new every once in a while!  Counting calories is less a chore when you’re not bored to death!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Week 31: Believe

Recently I started therapy because, let’s face it, sometimes we need help.  I’ve hit the point in my journey where there are things from my past haunting my present.  I’ve been avoiding some of those things for nearly three decades, but it’s time to tackle those monsters and put them to bed and move on.  I’m still in the early stages and my therapist is still working on getting to know me and gathering a lot of information in the process.  This week, she assigned me a self-assessment exercise that consists of ten questions.  None of them are easy, but my thought processes ground to a halt when I reached question number four:

What are your strengths, abilities, skills and talents?

As is the case anytime I'm asked this kind of question, my mind went completely blank.  And then I got frustrated with myself.  Why can I never readily answer this question?  Why is it so hard for me to see the good things in myself? One day my husband will tell me I am beautiful and it is all I can do to keep from arguing.  Another day a friend will tell me that I’m doing an awesome job with my training and I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying something along the lines of “I could be doing so much better”.  And on my really, really bad days my husband or son will say “I love you”, and I have to stop myself from asking why.  

When I look in the mirror, I look for what they see and can never quite find it.  I suspect this is a tendency my therapist and I will discuss at great length.  I need to learn how to see the good in myself before I travel too much further on this journey.  I need to shut down the negative inner dialogue that has me doubting the sincere words and praise of my friends and family.  I need to believe them.  

And most importantly, I need to learn how to believe in myself.