Wednesday, July 31, 2013

At exactly the right moment

I finished my summer classes on Monday.  I am now officially a college graduate - WOO HOO!!  That feels really good to write.  I am the poster child of perseverance.  I started my college journey in 1991.  Obviously I didn't take all my classes without stopping because who takes 22 years to get their degree?  No, I had starts and stops in there with a big gap of years where I didn't take any classes at all.  But, once I decided to really get my degree, I pushed through and did it.  I even did well in my last two classes.  I went in with the attitude that all I needed was a "C" in each class, that's all I needed.  The people that really know me, though, know I wouldn't have settled for just a "C".  I tell you, the most challenging class for me was that last darned Spanish class.  It had been three years since I had any Spanish, so I was pretty nervous that I wasn't going to do well because this class was taught all in Spanish with not a lick of English.  While it was only six weeks instead of the typical 16 weeks, I felt like a robot who was learning so much in such a short period of time and having to be fluent in it.  The new words weren't so bad, but it was the verb conjugations that were killing me.  Do you know how many ways there are to conjugate one word?  There are many tenses, like present, present perfect, imperfect, preterite, past, past subjunctive, future, conditional, past participle, blah blah blah.  I feel so much empathy for those that are attempting to learn English or any other language for that matter because there are rules and exception to rules.  Ick.  That's over, thank you God.

I was supposed to be on a summer road trip as I type this, but I'm not.  On Friday, I took my car in to get serviced for the trip.  I thought I'd do an oil change and have them check out the tires.  Turns out, for the distance of the road trip, I actually needed some major work.  I just had several things coming due at once and they would have to be done before I could hit the road or I would likely have major problems on the road since it was a 1,600 mile round trip journey.  They were things like both my front and rear brakes, all four tires needed to be replaced and more.  It ended up costing me $1,375.  I was completely unprepared for that.  I have gone to the same shop for my car needs since I was 17 years old, so I trusted them when they told me what I needed.  They were even gracious enough to throw in two additional things and no cost to me to make sure I would be safe on the road.  So, I had to make the difficult decision to cut out the Utah part of my trip because of the unforeseen expense.  I am still going to Vegas because I really need a mini vacation away from home before I return to work.  I've done nothing this summer except those two classes, so I need a break.  If you've ever taken a summer class, you know how absolutely intense they are and I was taking two.  I didn't do anything else besides the two classes because there was no time!  I'll be heading out to Vegas on Sunday and I'm definitely looking forward to it.  This morning I was playing a game on my computer through Facebook, just totally in relaxation mode, when someone "liked" a post of mine.  I was curious what that was about because I didn't know the person.  So I clicked on it and saw the post below in an Optifast forum (I erased names and pictures of people to protect their identity):

As I was reading my original post and all of the comments, my heart sunk for a little bit.  This was back in September, not even a year ago.  I absolutely remember the feelings I was going through when I posted this.  Imagine being nine sizes smaller.  It was just a feeling of utter joy like I had never felt before.  I got a little bit sad because I know I'm not there any longer.  I have gained a lot of weight back for a myriad of reasons.  Actually, the reasons are unimportant.  They are important because I need to deal with them, but the fact remains that the weight gain is there and that's something I have to walk bravely through.  I know this post came at exactly the right moment because, just this morning, I was looking at the mirror and being incredibly critical of myself.  I'm not where I started, that's certainly true.  But I'm also far from the happy girl in the post above.  In fact, my Facebook profile picture now is the same one from back in September.  I guess there's a big part of me that hasn't updated it because if I change the picture I think that somehow I'll never get back there.  Silly, isn't it?  There are many things that have hurt me in my life, but I have to say this battle with weight has been gut-wrenching.  It's the single greatest challenge of my life by far and many of you know I have been through absolute hell and back several times.  So for me to say that, it's saying something big.  I really do believe, though, that God put that message before me today to get my attention and to remind me that I absolutely can do this.  I can be healthier and I can feel better about myself.  I'm working on it, but it's not always an easy thing.  Food is a battle and I think it always will be.  However, in that moment, I knew that I needed to see my joy to remember that I did it once and I can be there again.  I must remember, I drank shakes for ten months and didn't eat any real food during that time, so, seriously, I can do anything!  I won't be doing it through Optifast this time because of the medical toll it took on my body, but the will and perseverance are still alive in me.  If I ever doubt that, I can look at college degree that will soon be in my possession as a reminder.  I can even look at my own smile at that smaller size and know that, one precious day at a time, it is possible.  I just have to do the work.  That doesn't mean just exercising and eating right, but that means the emotional work that feels so much bigger than anything else.  It's just one foot in front of the other, though.  I don't have to run at full speed to the finish line.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Plan "B" is perfectly okay

I'm almost at the end of summer classes, thank you God.  Taking 6-week classes that are usually 16 weeks is pretty intense.  After the end of the classes, the plan is for me and one of my close friends to go on a summer road trip before we both return back to work since we both work in education.  We had discussed where to go.  My folks live in Utah, so we contemplated going out there, but she wasn't really digging driving that far.  So after much discussion about where we could go in California, we both decided on spending two days up in Santa Cruz and then two days in Lake Tahoe.  We both have never been to either place, so we got really psyched about going.

And then she called me to tell me that she changed her mind and isn't going after all. 

To say I was shocked was an understatement.  She had gotten a little sick, but we were waiting for her to feel better before we got together to pick out hotel rooms and then pay for them.  So that's why I thought she was calling me, to make arrangements to do that.  She said that because she was sick, she felt like she needed more time to prepare before going back to teach.  I was confused by this because we had a full two weeks before we were supposed to leave and about five days after that before she would return from vacation. Besides, she had told me before that she would only need a couple of days to prepare her classroom when we were originally making plans.  She was silent on the phone to give me time to digest what she was telling me.  I asked her if the entire trip was off or if she wanted to go somewhere for a few days.  I guess I just couldn't believe what she was telling me.  I can't force anyone to do something they don't want to do, but it seemed like something else was going on that she wasn't saying.  Regardless, I was extremely disappointed and, to be completely honest, hurt.  Before I left on summer break, I had decided to return to work later in August so that I use up my comp time for this trip and was so looking forward to spending the time together since we had such an awesome trip last summer.

After I got off the phone with her, I tried to do other things not to think about what just happened.  Then I wondered if I should just return to work as previously scheduled on August 1st instead of the 8th since I was no longer going on a trip.  Then something inside of me said, "What are you, crazy??"  Just because she bailed on me doesn't mean I can't still go on a trip.  Why not?  I don't know other people that can go with me because pretty much everyone is married or has kids, but what's so wrong with going myself?  I love to travel and I don't mind getting into adventure, even if it's on my own and, besides, you only live once.  I'm not about to sit here and pout and get madder.  No, I work hard and I deserve this vacation so by God I AM going to take it.  So after looking at places to go, I decided to go out to Utah to visit my dad.  We don't spend enough time together and I've never been to his house during the summertime.  There are a ton of national parks, we can go exploring and I want to spend time with him and my stepmom.  They're getting older and I don't ever want to sit in regret that I didn't spend enough time with my family.  The trip is 1,600 miles roundtrip and will take me through four states.  I'm breaking up the drive into two days, so that's about six hours each day ... totally doable.  When I go out there, I'll be going through St. George and then up to Ogden (north of Salt Lake City) where they live.  Then, when I come back home, I'm hitting Vegas.  Every time I've gone to Vegas, I've stayed at hotels off the strip since they are near my brother's house.  But I decided this time to stay in a fun five-star hotel where I have never stayed before.  So check out where I'll be going:

Any guesses as to which hotel it is?  The best part is that it's completely free!  Actually, my entire trip is because I'm using points from one of my credit cards.  So now I'm really looking forward to this trip, actually more than the one I was going to take with my friend.  I'm still upset about what happened, but you never know what direction life can take you in.  Plans that you may have had can change in the blink of an eye.  That made me think a lot about my weight loss journey.  I must admit - I have moments where I think I should just go back on Optifast so I can loose the rest of the weight quickly and "get it over with".  I'm sure other people can relate to that.  I lost so much weight so fast before.  This road I'm on now seems so long and arduous in many ways.  Of course, I forget how bad I felt while I was on the shakes and all the medical issues I had along the way.  Besides, I don't want to be in a space again where I gain some of the lost weight as quickly as it came off.  That part has been so devastating for me.  I understand that everything happens for a reason and the path I'm on right now is the one I'm supposed to be on right now.  I can continue losing it a slower and healthier pace following my Weight Watchers plan with gluten free and lactose free foods as well as combining that with the therapy session to help work on the emotional part of this journey.  Now that I think about it, plan B really is perfectly okay. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Finding peace around food

I just have to say that the last few days have been really great with my food.  I was doing okay before, but there's been no desire to overeat or to eat things that are not good for me.  In fact, everything has been very clean and even tasty.  I have been reflecting a lot on the conversation with my therapist and I have to say that it made a huge difference.  Hmm, there might be something to this therapy thing after all.  I've been keeping the mantra Yes, I can on the front burner.  When I pray, it is for God's grace, love and support and to especially help me to meet Him in my life on a daily basis.  What I mean by that is that I need the strength and the courage to get out of my own way and grab a hold of God's hand that is always extended out to me.  Sometimes I really forget that in the moment.  How is it that ice cream or some other concoction can be so much more powerful than other things that are so much more important?  It's probably because it's always been the way for me of coping or just dealing with life.  It's not even the difficulties of life; it also includes the joys as well.  What better way to celebrate something than to go eat or drink, right?    I'm happy to say, though, that there is peace right now.  I know these things can change in the blink of an eye, but I'm choosing to go with it.  When I made my dinner tonight, there was just a calm that I really loved.  I made a heavenly stir-fry mix of shrimp, mushrooms, yellow bell pepper and polenta with just a touch of gluten free soy sauce.  Of course, like the geek I am, I snapped a pic of it.  And, yes, I'm posting it below.  Call me proud of myself for taking care of my body.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I think I can vs. I know I can

I am feeling victorious today.  I was up pretty late last night studying for an exam today and so I was dragging a bit.  I made sure to have breakfast, though, before leaving for my class.  I didn't want to, I sooo didn't want to, but I forced myself because I knew I would be famished later.  My class ends at 1:40 in the afternoon so if I don't have lunch right then or bring it with me, I don't end up eating lunch until I'm beyond being famished.  I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription but, unfortunately, I had to go to a location that was pretty far away because that is where I saw a surgeon a couple of weeks ago.  So, by the time I had finished that, it was 2:30.  No lunch yet and my breakfast was small, so I was h-u-n-g-r-y.  As I was driving home, I had this thought that I should just pull in and grab something.  That lead to thoughts of, "Well, I already missed having a healthy lunch at a decent time so maybe I should just swing by the store and get ..."  You can see where my thoughts were headed. 

As I was driving on the freeway, the conversation I had with my therapist yesterday came into my head.  One of the things that she wants me to do is go back to some of the writing I did when I first was starting Optifast last year and read about how I had such strong resolve and an absolute commitment to doing everything I could to be successful no matter what.  That will take me some time to do, but I'm so grateful that I have this blog so that I can go through what I wrote about in those moments.  One of the other things we talked about was the commencement ceremony I participated in at Cal State in May.  I described to her the feelings of joy I was going through as I waited in line to climb the steps up to the stage where I would shake the university president's hand.  As I stood in that line, I had flashbacks to the many classes I took to get there, to the starting and stopping of my education due to life's circumstances and the absolute perseverance and guts it took to keep going no matter what.  She reminded me of all the sacrifice I gave to reach that goal, but I did do it.  And, so now, as I continue on my journey of health, I can absolutely do this, too.  It does take perseverance and major guts but I did that, so I can do this. 

I thought about all of this while driving home and, in the moment, made the decision that I would not be stopping anywhere. I would not be driving through to get food I have no business eating.  I would not stop at the grocery store to get food that probably will eventually lead to a binge.  No.  Hell no.  I came home and had a very healthy meal of a chicken breast, zucchini and brown rice.  I did end up eating my lunch at 3:45, but that was okay.  It's not okay to go that long in between meals for me, but I made good choices.  Scratch that, I made great choices.  And when it was time for dinner, a had a large organic spring salad with ground turkey, tomatoes and walnuts in it as well as a nectarine on the side.  I logged all of my food into my Weight Watcher's account and everything I ate today was gluten free and dairy free.  As I end my day, I am encouraged by the words of my therapist from yesterday - Kathy, you CAN do this.  I know I can.

My head is getting in the way

I've been pretty busy this past week with schoolwork and have put me on the back burner.  No bueno.  It's past midnight right now and I have a huge Spanish exam in the morning, but I just needed a break from studying for just a few moments to catch up on what's been going on with me.

Things have been going well with eating a (mostly) gluten free, dairy free food plan in conjunction with Weight Watchers.  However, there are those moments when I haven't been perfect with my food.  It's not even just not following the food plan, but it might be excess food because emotions are getting the better of me and then, before I know it, I've screwed up with my food and feel like I've blown my day.  Then, when I get in that space, it seems to take over me because I think that's license to eat more because I already messed up.  It's also license to eat foods that will make my blood sugar go up because, after all, I already "failed".  Then I get into the mode of comparisons.  That is an absolutely awful thing to do to myself.  I compare my body against other people, I even compare my body today to the one I had at my lowest weight when I was doing Optifast last year.  The size in my closet is different, way different, and so I get down on myself.  It's a horrible cycle where I go in a circle ... mess up with the food, compare, be critical and then repeat.  Couple that with the frustration I have been trying to deal with in regards to the pain I'm always in and the fact that things hurt more when I exercise.  And if I'm not exercising, that seems to be a reason to rationalize that I've messed up and, lo and behold, the food calls to me more. 

Bleh.  I'm sure there are other people that are reading this that have done that or are doing it now.  It's this idea that I must be perfect and, when I'm not, then the emotions get the better of me.  So I confessed this all to my therapist when I saw her today.  It was the first time since I started seeing her that I have not cried during the session.  I just told her everything that I'm going through with this.  In our conversation, she took me back to the time when I was doing Optifast.  When I was on the shakes, I was one hundred percent compliant.  I didn't cheat, not once.  In fact, I remember asking the counselor if I could have permission to take communion at church once a month.  I was that dedicated.  So my therapist asked me today why I think it was that I was in that space of not deviating from the program whatsoever when I had every opportunity to do so, just as other people did. I told her that I even surprised myself because I have never been able to do anything like that.  Every time I have gone on a diet, within a few days, I was already cheating.  Yet, I was doing the shakes for ten months and I still remained compliant the whole time.  She reminded me that my efforts in being healthier and losing weight, even though I'm not on Optifast now, is absolutely doable.  She reminded me how strong I am and to reflect on all the things I have been through.  So she gave me some things to work on in regards to changing those negative tapes in my head that go from 0 to 60 in three seconds flat.  The world is not just black and white ... there are so many lovely colors in between.  If I'm in pain while I'm exercising, I can be less intense.  If I make a mistake with my food, I can remind myself that I'm not perfect and just keep moving forward.

It's so important for me to own all of this.  It's very easy to not say anything to anybody and feel like I'm failing and feeling ashamed quietly.  But I share this because it makes these things far less powerful.  I have such a wonderful support system.  Sara always reminds me that I'm not where I used to be.  Other people remind me to be kind and gentle towards myself and that I have no business comparing myself to anyone, including my smaller self.  When I began my blog and wondered what I would call it, I decided on "Now is Finally the Time" because I was done with being unhealthy and feeling bad.  And I know this is completely a process.  I felt that way all the time before, but now it's fleeting moments and doesn't consume everything any longer.  I am completely determined to staying on this journey of good health and self-discovery.  Oh my gosh, this is not easy.  Sometimes it's emotionally and physically painful, sometimes I have terrific days.  While I may sometimes feel that I am taking three steps forward and two steps back, the point is that I'm continuing to walk forward, imperfect as I may be.