Monthly Archives: February 2019

Personal responsibility…

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It has been kind of an odd day. I woke up pretty early, didn’t do my laps because my husband was traveling and I was going with him to the airport. All went well with that outing and on my return home, I stopped in my favorite nursery and purchased a few things I needed for repotting an orchid. As a prize, I also bought myself two lovely, flowering African violets for my growing collection. I love my violets and their flowers tell me they love me back.

This particular blog has turned into my most honest one, the one where I often really do have a stream of consciousness, unapologetic narrative that deals with real issues going on in my life. I rarely read over what I write because it is a good exercise in purging myself of toxic things that might otherwise make me ill or require the help of a therapist.

I have shared that I was an overweight kid. Not obese by any standard but a good 10 lbs. overweight before my 10th birthday, causing my mother a lot of guilt, some embarrassment but mainly a sense of her own failure up close and personal. As a consequence of my fatness, I was not ever happy about a clothes shopping spree with Mom because pretty clothes in my size did not exist. My personality is such that I never really believed there was anything intrinsically wrong with me (we can credit Grandma for that, she never, ever made me feel inferior because I was fat), just that I enjoyed food and didn’t like to feel hungry.

I learned to sew in my early teens and never knew what size I wore because I made my own clothes. I was a happy kid despite the rejection from Mom and the relentless teasing and taunting of other people. My other (positive) traits became strong. I felt a need to be helpful, funny, responsible, etc. and those attributes did not feel like burdens. For the most part, I enjoyed being me although I do admit that I had imaginary friends who loved me unconditionally for more years than I care to admit.

Today, after the long and rather hectic day, I decided to take a look at the Discover part of WordPress to see what was new and exciting in the world of blogging. I came across a blog written by a fat person (I am one so I don’t feel I need to apologize for calling the blogger that too) writing long and hard to thin people she feels were/are judging her as she is getting on an airplane to travel. I admit that the writing is excellent and the thought process also. The long blog made me curious to see other blogs by the author so I visited her page and found one that was specifically about one of the popular weight loss programs in existence for about 60 years. It is the only one I feel really works and one that has taught me all about nutrition, calories, and getting to know good habits for maintaining weight and fitness.

It has always been my belief that we are each responsible for our lives. Unless there is some real issue, mental or physical, most of us should be able to accept that most of our decisions are responsible for where we find ourselves in our life. I believe that it is true that some of us have more of a tendency to have a hard time putting on or taking weight off but for the most part, it has to do with calories in (eating) and calories out (exercise, etc.) All diets will work if given enough time and most people who lose weight can maintain their loss if they continue to follow a routine of eating in a healthy manner. If one is consuming too many calories for their height/body type, etc. even from good food, one will gain weight. There is no way around this. To say that a particular diet plan is simply a business endeavor designed to make one fail and keep re-joining is to disrespect one’s power. I know what she means in a way but I can’t really accept the thesis. I have about 30 lbs. to lose. When I traveled 25 lbs. heavier than I am now in my small frame, I could feel the sides of the airline seat squeeze me in and so I purchased a first class ticket…these days, minus those 20 lbs. I can sit in coach and spend the extra cash somewhere else.

The blogger’s arguments against weight loss plans are not without merit but to simply give up the idea of travel because the preparation just along the weight issue (will people stare, will people not want to be seated next to me, will people insult me, will people assume laziness, etc.) is a nightmare very sad to me. I envision myself 30 lbs. lighter by the end of this year. My motivation is maximized when I look at pictures of myself 15 years ago because I remember that I never felt deprived foodwise but I always stuck to a more or less healthy, normal eating pattern. Years of dieting in my childhood and teenage years has made my metabolism very slow. This is something I know. I also know how many calories I can consume to maintain my weight. Extra calories without any extra exercise will make me gain weight. Although that is not the end of the world, being fat interferes with the way I want to live my life.

I want to wear belts and dresses. Right now, they don’t look good on me. I want to be able to go into my closet, pick out any item and know that it fits. I used to be able to do that, I am annoyed because these days I often have to try on a few things before I find something that is clean, ironed and fits. I want the old days back. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with paying for it when I can see that trying to do it on my own simply doesn’t work for me.  So while I accept that the blogger has a right to feel empowered by her rejection of following a plan, I think it is important to point out that some of us thrive (without obsessing) by sticking with it. Discipline, commitment and optimism are key to losing weight initially and perseverance and attention are required to maintain. What is wrong with that?

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Day 1 Whole 30!

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They (yes, those all knowing “they”) say that people who belong to committees or social groups, etc. quickly put on weight. I can only agree with this opinion/fact and have been able to prove it because it is almost impossible to resist the social atmosphere that exists in almost all the neighborhood groups I belong to!

Yesterday’s meeting began with greetings and refreshments. Yesterday was my first day on the second round of the Whole-30 for which I have been preparing for the last week. I took one look at the plate, drooled over the cake, caught a whiff of the freshly-baked bread and with unwavering discipline, quickly passed the whole thing to my closest colleague. So far by that point in the day, I had had an egg, fruit and coffee for breakfast, and a small serving of mahimahi with a salad. It was 4 p.m. the time I usually indulge in my afternoon coffee with a pastry. It was not to be. I instead enjoyed my cup of strong, black coffee which is actually no sacrifice since I have drunk my coffee that way for more than 40 years.

No one remarked or even noticed, probably because we had guests and there were many items on our agenda. The meeting lasted almost two hours, quickly followed by an equally long second meeting with a different set of committee members. Fortunately it was too late for coffee and too early for dinner so we just had our meeting and I went home.

My dinner on DaY 1 was a sweet potato with lots of ghee (clarified butter, to be more accurate) and a small salad, with a bottle of water. I can honestly say I was not really hungry. As my husband and I watched a couple of episodes of our latest BBC detective drama, I missed the ritual of the chocolate and wine and cognac!

I made myself a cup of herbal tea just before bedtime and slept soundly. When I woke up this morning (for day 2!), I was aware of Tony Robbins’ remark once (and I paraphrase) that nothing tastes as good as being healthy and looking great feel. I admit that is something that boosted my resolve this morning.

My trip to NY in the spring is another such booster. I have already started saving some pennies for what I hope will be a lovely shopping excursion, either for RTW clothes or some spectacular fabric.

Not a bad start!

pictures my own

Preparing for the Whole 30!

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Following up on yesterday’s blog, I am almost ready to tackle the program again on Monday. I know there is nothing in the program that will compete or negate anything WW has so I feel pretty excited about doing it this way.

I spent the morning shopping and looking over the recipes and reviewing the “rules” again. I have to say that the practical and grounded me feels comforted by the fact that I can rely on someone to tell me exactly what I can and cannot eat. I love that every once in a while the author reminds us that we are “grown ups” and gives us much needed “tough love” as feedback. It is tough love that will work with me, even if that coach exists only in my head.

My husband, who will probably NOT join me in the 30 days, has been very supportive in the past of all my efforts and wondered out loud earlier why I had picked up a bottle of red wine. With a straight face, I replied that I was starting on MONDAY, no need to get crazy over the weekend.

I will keep us posted…perhaps with pictures so I can motivate myself. I realized not long ago that one of ways in which I was able to sublimate my desire to overeat in the past was by purchasing beautifully photographed cookbooks (I have an extensive collection) and reading and drooling over the recipes. Sometimes, I would indulge in a bite of something really spectacular and found that when it is just a bite it never did much harm and satisfied whatever the craving was.

When life is stressful, I crave crunchy things. When I am sad, I enjoy chocolate things, but really high quality stuff. When I am angry, I go for nuts that require shelling, like peanuts (which are actually legumes, I know, I know).

Have a great rest of the weekend. Perhaps I’ll take the day off tomorrow and post my menu on Monday!

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Is it tough to lose weight?

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The answer frequently heard is Yes, it is tough to lose weight. Depending on how much and how long you want to “diet”, it could be tough or easy. I remember years ago listening to older women discuss their sacrifices after gaining a couple of pounds over the holidays. That was back when I was myself overweight and a young girl. I remember thinking that these women were really crazy to consider themselves “fat” and compared myself to them and felt terrible about my shape and my lack of motivation to get thin.

I lost a lot of weight (35 lbs. on my small frame put me in the obese category) the year I was going to turn 20 and kept the weight off for more than 30 years. I have written or talked about this ad nauseum…then I started gaining weight, first in the hospital where I was fed a high calorie diet to combat damage from antibiotics given to me for cellulitis in my arm. Along with the high calories came a 6-lb. weight gain in 2000. I was still within a normal weight for my height and age but never got serious about returning to my former weight, in fact the last almost 20 years has had me putting on a pound or two every year which now has me weighing almost 40 lbs. more than I should. I am now obese. I feel great, and I think I look pretty good until I see pictures of me, then I feel like “Wow, why doesn’t anybody tell me how fat I am?”

At my age (63), no one is going to tell me how fat I am. And in this day and age of “everything acceptance” and “political correctness”, no one is going to call me out on it.

Last year I lost 25 lbs. (I have also written about this before) but managed to put back 6 or 7. I still pay for and try to follow the Weight Watchers on-line program but do feel that the tremendous freedom we have to eat what we want and track it, does not work for me because I work better with a program and strict rules…I am a Virgo, need I say more?

I tried the Whole 30 in the month of April 2015 with tremendous success. I am gearing up to do it again starting on Monday.

In the meantime, I will figure out the points on WW of following the Whole 30 (like I have nothing else going on in my life) and I want to get as excited now as I was the first time around. I don’t know how I got here but I cannot stay here…I want to live a long, healthy, happy life AND be able to fit into anything in my closet that brings me JOY…the JOY that Marie Kondo talks about. I have started de-cluttering and yes, when I feel joy coming from clothes that are too small for me, I keep them because I know I can muster the right program and willpower to fit into them in the future.

My goals are within reach. There are people on WW who have more than 100 lbs. to lose and they do it the same way as those of us who have 40 lbs. to lose, with determination, patience, and good habits.

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Unexpected catharsis

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I woke up this morning with one goal in my mind: clear off and put away the items on the love seat and two small chairs in my bedroom that have been serving as “hot spots” for the last several months! It is now 12:45, I haven’t even gotten to the first item on the love seat because my morning has been filled with other more urgent matters that were not on my agenda.

First, I needed to reply to a couple of important messages. Then my husband asked if I would call the glasses place to see if his new eyewear was in (it wasn’t). We have had some guests for the last couple of weeks so I gathered and took the linens to the laundry room to get rid of that item quickly. In the meantime, I noticed that my kitchen counter was looking rather shabby so I stopped and began to clear the counter of all the dust and debris collecting there despite the fact that I have a once-a-week cleaning person. She never cleans the counter and I never have time to do it properly. I didn’t have time to do it properly today either but I just couldn’t stand to look at the dust anymore. I expected to be done in 5 minutes, it took 35 minutes because it is a very large counter with much clutter…I understand why she doesn’t do it, although truth be told, I was very resentful today that we pay her…

As I was going on about my household business today, cleaning, wiping down, discarding the odds and ends that have no rhyme or reason to end up on the kitchen counter, I thought about my childhood. I am currently reading J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. I am not sure how I happened upon it but reading it has allowed me a glimpse into a world that I have seen portrayed in movies or sitcoms but have never really experienced to that personal a degree. My mother was not a good housekeeper. She made no apologies for that. My parents moved to “America” in 1963 with four kids and a brother in tow in order for us to have a “better life”. I was only 8, I never really knew at that point that my life was anything but idyllic. Moving to the States was a shock that I don’t think I have ever recovered from.

Although we were not dirt poor, my parents did have to resort to boarding people, working extra hours and using their credit cards creatively in order to attain a middle class existence. We did not have a maid; we did have chores that were expected to be done in exchange for an allowance. I don’t think I appreciated that at the time, it just suddenly dawned on me this morning that my mother’s expectation that household chores would be done was not unrealistic. I remember always doing my chores and having to often do my sister’s chores to avoid the screaming and fighting that would ensue and make me feel so anxious. I remember my mother’s words (“What do I have here? Four mortgages?”) when referring to us after she found that we had not done what was expected. I hated that feeling of being a burden, she made no effort to hide it. But what I realized today is that she was not wrong in her expectations, I have been wrong in my interpretation. I have been so wrapped up in being resentful that I did not give sufficient credit to her for being willing to pay for the chores to be done. She was not exploiting us, she was simply exchanging money for work, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

My husband and I are retired now. Well, he is semi-retired but his work does not take him from home, he can do it from the comfort of our beautiful estate. He has always worked with his mind, physical labor has never been his thing. I do not fault him for that, he is generous and has never balked at paying for household or gardening help. He would rather pay for anything than have to do it himself. I knew this when I married him, I worked with him, I was familiar with the fact that here was a guy who could literally do nothing all day long but read and watch television. He is a very educated and intelligent person, he just doesn’t have ambitions or hobbies that venture into the realm of building furniture for example or learning to fix simple electrical or plumbing issues.

As I was gathering the clothes for the laundry and wiping down counters, I could see him in bed reading. I could feel myself getting annoyed because I felt oppressed while he is wonderfully relaxed. Then I dug deep into the real reasons for my resentment and can honestly say that my feelings have zero to do with him and 100 percent to do with me. I too could lie down and read my books, it is my choice not to do so.  In fact, aren’t I this minute spending time writing? Tomorrow is the cleaning lady’s day. She is not great at her job but she needs the money and frankly, does a better job than I do on the floors. I could speak to her about the counters and debris but I prefer to keep the status quo.

A lot of things are going on with me right now, I think it is best to accept that I have had a tremendous catharsis today regarding my mother and that is a really good thing. I am going now to clear off at least the love seat!

 

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