Only Love Today

I was going to make this part of my last status update, but instead I decided to give it its own entry. The lesson that’s involved is important enough that it should stand alone.

This came to me via yet another friend on Facebook—isn’t social media great?—and is wisdom that I, too, find difficult to follow very often. I am a scheduler—I like to plan things, and I like it when the things I’ve planned happen the way I plan them. While I do not have any children, I think I will begin keeping a look out for that certain expression in my husband’s eyes…and it would not hurt for me to learn how to be gentler with myself.

In her recent blog post, “The Bully Too Close to Home“, Rachel Macy Stafford writes,

I desperately wanted things to be different too. It was time to stop being so hard on my child; it was time to stop being so hard on myself. I prayed I could stand up to the inner bully. I knew I needed an easy first step. I decided to use one simple word: STOP.

Within the hour, I had a chance to try it. The first critical thought that popped into my head arose as I was preparing to leave the house. I looked at my reflection and thought, “You look fat. You can’t go out looking like that.”

“Stop!” I assertively thought to myself, shutting down any further criticisms. Then I quickly turned away from the mirror and recited these words: “Only love today. Only love today.”

If you haven’t yet, go read the full post. It’s some pretty moving stuff.

The reason I wanted to discuss this piece is because I know.

I know that inner critic who follows you everywhere, degrading you and robbing you of your personhood, turning you into some kind of monster. Even seventy pounds later, I still have one of my own—though it is much quieter now, and I have that number I can use as a shield. Even so, I know.

Maybe Stafford’s method won’t work for you…but then again, it just might. It’s worth trying. As I have said, you have to find a way to love yourself. No one else can give you a reason—or the ability—to love yourself, and the world is a much happier place when you feel that love. So maybe try getting your inner critic to shut up for a minute—and be warned, if you don’t already know, it will roar louder the more you try to ignore it, but know this now, you are stronger than it is—try getting your inner critic to shut up for a minute, and see if that works. See if you can still hear the sweet melody that is you behind the diatribe of lies your inner critic tells you. If you can hear it, you can make it get louder.

Either way, at least ask yourself this: What kind of wonderful person might you discover you are if you allow yourself to love yourself?


Your Existential Question of the Day

What does it mean to be “attractive”? This photo series, created by Gracie Hagen, examines this. The series is comprised of artistic nudes, so if you do not care for nudity or are in a space where viewing it would be inappropriate, you should not click the link.

Essentially, this series is all about body language. Hagen photographed models standing in two different poses. First she photographed each of them in a pose that is considered conventionally attractive. I noticed this typically involved body language elements that conveyed a sense of self-confidence and maybe even pride: Chest up, shoulders back, gaze level or directed upward (as opposed to meekly cast down), that sort of thing. So in essence, the models look attractive because they act like they think they are attractive. I have noticed that doing so myself has a similar effect on people. If I act as though I feel confident and attractive, then people respond to me as if I am such.

Conversely, when Hagen had those same models stand in unflattering poses–slumped over, eyes downcast in embarrassment, shoulders down, etc.–they looked considerably less attractive. Which brings to mind the concept of how we cannot expect the world at large to like us if we don’t find some way to like ourselves, first. It is, at any rate, much more difficult.

All of which–for me, anyway–boils down to this:

Find a way to love yourself.

End of story. You may think you are unworthy of love, and a terrible person, and if you’re reading this blog and you do think this, then chances are it is weight and/or eating disorder related. I know of at least one friend of mine who has difficulty seeing the good in herself because of reasons related to her weight and her issues with food. It is a thing. It exists. Do not be ashamed. I have been there myself. And perhaps it is easier for me to say this because I am much closer to the other side than I was nine months ago, but nevertheless:

Find a way to love yourself.

There is a way. You can find it. The world is a much more beautiful place with love in it, and where better to start than with the only person you will always be with for the entirety of your life?

Welcome to December

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Between all the baking I did and the subsequent eating, I gained around four pounds, but that’s ok. Why? Well, for one, it was Thanksgiving. While I was worried about this exact thing happening, I figure that Thanksgiving is one of the three days of the year I should be able to indulge within reason and not guilt myself over it (the other two being Christmas and my birthday). Note the key phrase, “within reason”. So yes, I gained four pounds last week. On the other hand, I did not stuff myself to pain or even real discomfort during Thanksgiving dinner, so I consider that a major plus considering my control issues. Four pounds is not that much. I will go back to following the rules I rather blithely ignored last week, and the pounds should go away again. Plus, my amazingly supportive husband has offered to pay my way into some sort of exercise-related something (I am still trying to find a bellydance instructor, and am keeping my fingers crossed). So I will accept the price of enjoying my holiday-related indulgences last week.

Beyond that, I wanted to share something I found on Facebook by way of a friend. It appears to be public, as I was able to read it, and it very well illustrates something I’ve been pretty irritated by for a while.

When the news reporters interview me in my prison cell, when people are filling out their life or property insurance claims, when my victims’ parents and children and spouses stand up on the witness stand and cry and look over at me handcuffed to my defendant’s chair and beg to know “Why???” I will have an answer for them.

“One too many fat jokes.”

Seriously. We aren’t funny. To me, laughing at a fat person and how fat they are is like laughing at a heroin addict and how addicted to heroin they are, or laughing at a person with Down Syndrome and how Down Syndrome-y they are. In the one case, the laughing person is making light of someone’s crippling addiction, and in the other, they are making fun of someone who was just naturally born different. And in both cases, the butt of the joke didn’t have any say in the matter–you might choose to take heroin, but you don’t choose to be addicted to it any more than someone with Down Syndrome chooses to be born with Down Syndrome. So it’s pretty nauseating to me to see the way fat people are portrayed in the media. I am so happy to see that I’m not the only one.

This actually reminds me of a very interesting conversation I had with my sister while she was in town for Thanksgiving. My sister is a smoker, and mentioned the searing judgement that emanates from some people when they see her smoking. I don’t remember her exact wording, but she did seem to imply that I had no idea what that was like. I pointed out that yes, I actually did have an idea of what that was like. How many times have I been in a restaurant and ordering or eating food and wondering what the people around me thought? How many times have I been at the movies with a bag of popcorn and thought that surely everyone around me felt nothing but disdain for the fat chick who really didn’t need all those calories and salt? Hell, I’ve even been embarrassed about my food choices on my own blog. So it was interesting to connect those particular dots and illustrate how my sister and I had that particular sort of connection going on.

Given the way Thanksgiving went for me, I am now dreading Christmas a lot less. I think I will be even less afraid if I can find a good bellydance or yoga class between now and then. In the meantime, stay warm, everybody.

Yes, It Really Starts this Early

This morning, a friend of mine shared this article on her Facebook page, entitled, “Uh Oh: My Child Might Have An Eating Disorder”. I gave it a read, as this is the sort of thing that’s relevant to some of my interests, and I was curious to see what the situation was.

The article doesn’t say how old the child in question is, but she’s pretty young. And I would be willing to bet money that there are people out there–because this is the internet–frothing at the mouth because of how alarmist this article is. The child couldn’t possibly have an eating disorder, she’s too young.

If a disorder is a thing that disrupts or prevents conventional or healthy behavior, then it is entirely possible for a young child to have an eating disorder. And more to the point, I know this because mine began when I was a young child.

This article actually made me remember some things about myself that I’d forgotten. Like how, once when my (step) uncle was visiting, we made cookie dough and put it in the freezer to chill. Then something happened, and the cookie dough was forgotten, and we never actually made cookies. Except I didn’t forget about the cookie dough, and I would sneak it compulsively. (This was at the age of seven or eight, folks.) I used to sneak candy all the time. Like the child in the article, I would also get really excited about sweets, and would ask for them at odd times of the day. I was much better able to get away with this at my dad’s house than at my mom’s, and I remember frequently eating ice cream at odd times, or drinking can after can after can of soda because it was so good, I just couldn’t stop. One year, for Christmas, my Papaw gave me twenty dollars. I walked to the Village Pantry near my dad’s neighborhood and spent all of it on donuts and ate them all myself. Twenty dollars worth of glazed donuts is a lot of fucking donuts.

When the friends I had in my dad’s neighborhood would have slumber parties, I remember I would get so full on snacks and soda that I would consider making myself throw up so that my stomach would stop making me miserable.

If the compulsory ingestion of a substance known to be harmful to oneself is not the hallmark of an addict, I don’t know what is. I am an addict. And I started really, really young.

I’ve been worse about my intake this last week than I thought I was. I’m back around 180. I will be asking for another adjustment when I go to see my surgeon in a week or so (and not just because of the weight increase, but because of part of what’s causing the weight increase–I’m having issues with actually feeling hungry). And I do have the business card for an addiction counselor that my surgeon recommended. I’m just waiting to contact her until we figure out what’s going to happen with our insurance next year. …which leaves me in a bit of a lurch over the next two months, which, lucky for me, are The Holidays.

(Pro Tip: For anyone working their way through compulsive overeating/other eating disorders, the holidays are an absolute nightmare.)

So yes: It is very possible for a young child to have an eating disorder. I only hope that it’s also possible for a young child to overcome an eating disorder if it’s recognized and treated early on. And I wish that family all the best.

Edit: Oh, and by the way, I thought I should give you all fair warning. In conjunction with that whole holiday thing I mentioned, I also suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder, which you may know by the term “seasonal depression”. It is therefore very possible that my posts may start becoming less thoughtful or exuberant and more negative, as part of the reason this blog exists is for my own catharsis. It’s not guaranteed that it will happen. Last year, for example, I was barely bothered by the winter, and there were plenty of non-SAD reasons for me to be down about things–and I wasn’t. But this year…this year, I started feeling ghosts of it a couple of weeks before Halloween. So if my posts take a turn for the negative, just know that it’s caused by a combination of food cravings and the weather, and that the blearch should subside on the nice, bright sunny days.

Status Update #6

September was an interesting month.

Weight on day of surgery: 239.2 lbs
Weight last month: 183 lbs
Weight today: 179.4 lbs
Total lost: 59.8 lbs

It was effectively the exact opposite of August in terms of weight loss. I am freaking out about it less than I might otherwise be, however, because there’s a good reason why I barely lost anything since my last status update.

A day or two after last month’s update, I went back in to see my surgeon because I still wasn’t able to eat anything. He removed all of .5 CC of fluid from my band—apparently the band was not completely empty upon implantation as I thought, but did contain a baseline amount of fluid—to loosen things up so I could eat again. When the size of one’s stomach is significantly reduced by a physical object and then the tissues around the object are really, really enflamed, it makes it pretty difficult to ingest anything. I was even starting to feel uncomfortable drinking Ensure right before he loosened my band.

But once the inflammation finally died down, this newfound room in my stomach did what it was supposed to do: It allowed me to eat. It allowed me to eat a lot more than the band had previously been allowing. So ate I did, and as a result, I only lost around three pounds last month.

This potentially means that I still haven’t hit the point at which my weight loss just naturally slows down on its own, so, as I said, I’m not freaking out about it. Yet. My surgeon replaced the fluid he removed last month when I visited him today, so we’ll see what happens in October. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can get back on track. It’s amazing how horrible it can make one feel to suddenly not lose as much weight anymore after a period of fairly regular weight loss.

Also, my doctor provided me with the name of a psychologist who he says works with patients in need of addiction counseling. This is a thing I’ve been intending to do for a while, and before this month, I was doing reasonably well managing on my own just because I physically couldn’t eat a lot of junk. I noticed a marked difference in my portion sizes with just that tiny amount of fluid missing from my band, however, so the monster is once again rearing its ugly head. It doesn’t help that we’re coming up on the Season of Gorging, where “enough” has to come with third and fourth helpings of all of the everything.

I hope the beginning of fall finds everyone well. I am, in addition to looking forward to once again having a more restricted diet, working on the first of my next two albums, planning for next year, and looking to take on more freelance work.

May this harvest season bring you all the fruits of your labors.

Ps. There isn’t a photo for this status update because my appearance really hasn’t changed much since last month.

Some Links for Today

So a friend of mine published her first CD last year, and on it is a track called “Long Time Comin'”. I’ve been thinking of sharing this song here for a while because it’s really appropriate, I think, for anyone who’s had a chronic illness, be it a mental or physical one. You can listen to a sample of it on Amazon. Sadly I don’t see the full lyrics available online anywhere, but the song is well worth the $.99 download if the sample piques your interest (and I actually highly recommend just buying the entire album because it’s good stuff).

Secondly, an author whom I have friended on Facebook made an amazing post yesterday about her own recent weight loss and her years-long battle with weight and body image. Maybe you can relate? I know I did. And anyway it’s always nice to know that you’re not alone. This is part one in a series, it seems, and I for one am really looking forward to the next installment.

And that’s it. We’re off to Cincinnati tomorrow morning for a concert, and I look forward to wearing my “new” pants tomorrow.

My Nearest Milestone Has Me Thinking

Soon, if all goes well, I will be back to the weight I was when I moved in with my then-boyfriend, now husband in June of 2005. This is a pretty big deal. I am, needless to say, incredibly excited. I’m also excited by the fact that this weight loss has required comparatively little effort, and been occurring not only regularly, but pretty rapidly. For the last few months, my body has been chugging along, getting rid of the excess I built up because of how compulsive I can be when it comes to food. And so that’s gotten me thinking.

See, I’m expecting there to be an end to the easy part. I imagine that eventually I’ll need to start exerting actual effort in the form of exercise in order to lose weight. And I might even need to have my band adjusted at some point. Thus far I’ve been doing really well with the band at its loosest possible setting.

But so I’ve been wondering where the cutoff is. What does my body just naturally want to weigh when I’m not shoving fistfuls of exorbitantly fatty foods into it? I’ll find out, I’m sure. But I’m hoping it won’t be for a while yet. Hip pain sounds like a convenient excuse to forego exercise, but it really is painful for me to be too active right now. Thankfully, it is getting better! Noticeably so, in fact. But still, I’m hoping my body will burn off another twenty pounds at least before I’ll need to start being active in order to keep shedding the pounds.

I am so damn excited about my progress thus far. It’s hard to believe this is actually happening. I had given up hope of ever losing significant amounts of weight. But I actually have been.

I like to monitor my progress on a weekly basis. I look forward to Saturday morning, as that is the day I will step on the scale to see how I’ve done this week. Here’s hoping it will be a good morning.