Friday, October 30, 2009

Is Hallowe'en Scary?

There's lots of talk about Hallowe'en in the weight-o-sphere. Some see it as the first day of the hardest season of the year--a time when the floodgates open and junk food rushes in, aided and abetted by the overeating monster. Who needs a costume when you can gussy up that fatsuit all by yourself!

This year, I'm not feeling particularly worried. I will go out and buy a few bags of candy for the kiddies. I don't know whether my boys are planning to go out or not (they're both teenagers now). Maybe I'll get them to man the front door. I just hate jumping up and down to answer the door, especially when it's cold out.

I promise you, I WILL eat a few of those wonderful little packs. I'll probably stick to what I love the most: chocolate. I will enjoy what I eat. I will savour what I eat. I will not inhale it. And I'll make it my treat, not my meal.

Can I trust myself? I think so. A few weeks ago, my younger son had his birthday party. His birthday's actually in the summer, but we celebrate either earlier or later so that he can invite all his school buddies. One of D.'s friends brought him--I kid you not--about a half a dozen bags of candy as a gift. I was not amused, but what's a mom to do? When your kid is 14, you can't just grab the bags and throw them out. At that age, they should have a say. So D. took his favourite candies and hid them away. He eats a few from his stash every day. There were, however, some little licorice pellets that he left out for the guests and there were a lot left over after the party. I put them in a Tupperware in the pantry. I guess I'm like most of us--I hate to throw out food. No one has eaten those candies except me. Every few days, I take a handful and try to eat one at a time. And that's it. It's enough for me. There's still about a week's worth of candy left.

So that's why I'm not worried about Hallowe'en. And since we'll have much better candy in the house for awhile, I might even throw away the rest of the licorice candies. They're OK, but not great.

Are you worried about Hallowe'en?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Lurve Gok

(Image from The Sun newspaper.)

Gok Wan is a British fashion consultant who hosts a fabulous TV show called "How to Look Good Naked". He's flamboyant, gay, and I think he's one of the only TV personalities on the air right now who truly loves and accepts women as they are. He helps heavy, often out-of-shape ladies to see how beautiful they really are. Some may think this is a bad idea. Gok doesn't lecture them on their weight, or tell them that if they only got in shape and ate better, their lives and their health would improve immeasurably. Instead, he helps them to love themselves as they are in the here and now.

I totally agree with Gok's approach. I really don't think you can make positive changes in your life if your starting point is self-loathing. "I'm such a fat pig. I've got such ugly legs and bat-wing arms" and on, and on it goes. Self-image is so deeply rooted in one's psyche that no matter how many changes do take place, often the individual doesn't see them and continues to view him or herself as ugly, undeserving and profoundly unworthy. If you haven't transformed your mind and your attitude towards yourself, the physical transformation likely won't last very long and you'll be back where you started: in physically and emotionally bad shape...with a few extra pounds to spare!

It's a fine line to tread. You have to accept yourself as you are today if you want to make a real, long-lasting change.

So, I "lurve" Gok, as they say in Britain. And I lurve him even more, knowing that he was once extremely overweight himself. According to the Wikipedia entry, he lost a huge amount of weight in a short time by crash dieting--which certainly isn't the way I do things. But I lurve him nevertheless because he too has been there and done that and the love and compassion he shows for the women he works with is just so beautiful.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blowing Off Steam

What do you do when you're accused of asking for too many favours when it's actually the accuser who does this all the time?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Fad Diet

What's the secret to losing weight? Yes, the REAL secret, the one that's going to change your life? Are you ready? Is the suspense killing you?

In the long run, no matter how you do it, the answer is simple: eat less, move more.

So naturally, I was both unsurprised and dissappointed to see an article on the latest fad diet to hit the newspapers and the wallets of people seeking the magic weight loss bullet: the cookie diet.

I read this article a few days ago in the Globe and Mail, but here it is in the New York Times. Read it and weep. Yes, any diet will work if you stick to it religiously, but come on, or should I say "puhleez"? Fifty-six US greenbacks a week for cookies plus one real meal a day? I don't call this a diet. In my opinion, it's just another recipe for disordered eating.

About 14 years ago, I did one of those "two shakes a day plus one real meal" plans. My husband even joined me and we both lost weight. I bet you know that we gained all that weight back and some extra weight to boot. And rather quickly, as I recall.

It always bears repeating: to lose weight, you have to eat real food. Restricting yourself to cookies, bananas, grapefruit or special bars is ridiculous. OK, if it works for you, great. But you're probably one in a million.

I hope that today, you'll all be eating real, nutritious food in reasonable quantities and moving your body any way you want. And if you really need it, save some room for a cookie, just don't make it your whole meal!

Monday, October 26, 2009

I've Always Been Fat (Or at Least Thought I Was)

I have always felt there is a difference in approach and attitude to weight loss depending on whether you're going back to your previous non-heavy self or aiming for something completely new.

I was always a chubby child--never grossly overweight, but definitely chubby. I grew into a chubby, non-athletic teenager. I hated gym, not because I didn't like to move, but because I was just not a gifted (or even decent) athlete. Knowing that you will always be chosen last in team sports does not make you look forward to gym class.

I never ever looked anywhere near the norm: no flat stomach or long, lean legs for me! The fact is, though, that many people--even when their weight is perfectly fine--just don't fit the norm. Objectively speaking, there have been times in my life when my weight was perfectly acceptable. But I have always had a bit of a paunch, even at a good weight for me. Of course, when I've been at a higher weight, the paunch is bigger. Bottom line, though: the paunch is always there and believing that I'm going to get rid of it without a tummy tuck is just wishful thinking.

So I have two questions:

How do you imagine yourself in a slimmer body, when you don't really feel you've ever had that body?

And perhaps even more importantly, are you trying to love your body as it is now and as it will be when you get down to the weight you want--even if you still don't look like a fashion model?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Biggest Loser: My Take

I'm now on Day 2 of my weekend resting marathon, continuing to lie in bed (a little grammar note: you lie, not lay, in bed--maybe one day I'll bend your ears with an explanation of that common error...) and trying desperately to avoid total frustration!

For better or for worse, we have a TV in our bedroom, a leftover from my many months of convalescence from two surgeries a few years ago. In the past day and a bit, I have been spending too much time watching TV. This morning, I decided to swallow my bile and watch "The Biggest Loser", more or less from start to finish. In my opinion, it was disgusting.

TBL is an entertainment program that thinks it's rendering a public service. The media is all abuzz with America's obesity crisis so it's not surprising that an enterprising network soul decided to cash in on the hysteria and create TBL. Ooh, what fun! Pitting people against each other, tears, fake praise ("this guy is like a brother to me, the best person I've ever known...but here's your name--oops, your head--on a platter and you're out of here"), anger, insults and the promise that finally, you, the fat slob, will come out of the fatsuit and emerge as a beautiful swan.

I've got to digress here. TBL reminds me so much of a character in the Archie comic books. I don't remember her name and I don't know if she's still part of the Archie cast of characters, but does anyone remember the ugly, fat girl? I remember an issue where this girl was somehow transformed into a gorgeous, perfectly coiffed and dressed slim girl. Then, just as suddenly, the beautiful body burst apart and out emerged the ugly, fat girl that everyone knew and (didn't) love. The transformation had been real, but only temporary and the poor girl had to go back to her miserable, fat existence.

Of course, this is not the message that TBL is trying to transmit. However, that is precisely what will no doubt happen to a number of the contestants and viewers. Instantaneous just doesn't work. And by "instantaneous", I mean the length of one TV season. Creating a radical change by taking people out of their normal environment and imposing a totally unrealistic regimen of diet and exercise on them will yield quick results...quick and usually fleeting.

I was also horrified to see how destructive it is to a person's self-esteem to "only" lose a pound or two in a week. On the episode I just watched this is exactly what happened to two of the women contestants. I think that one must never forget the influence of monthly hormonal fluctuation on women's weight loss. It can never be overstated. I saw two women crushed by their failure. OK, maybe they were "asked" by the producer to look so crestfallen, but this is not healthy, either for them and for viewers, who I suspect often know little about the factors that make for consistent and permanent weight loss.

Superficial and psychologically violent--TBL is a big winner for the network and its advertisers. Is it a significant player in helping people to reach better physical and psychological health? I think not.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hip Non-Update

First, thanks for the words of encouragement! It really helps.

I faxed my surgeon a message on Friday, since it's really hard to reach his secretary on the phone. I'm hoping to hear from his office with an appointment date at the beginning of the week.

My yoga teacher basically spent an hour doing breathing exercises with me yesterday. She's also put on my total bed rest for the weekend. I'm typing this on my netbook while reclining in bed. I hate this!

In the meantime, I've got a few subjects that I'd like to talk about here and hopefully that will keep me from going totally stir crazy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More Pressing Concerns

I' ve started having hip pain on my operated side. It's only been five years since the last surgery and frankly, I'm freaking out. I haven't called my surgeon yet and I do already have a scheduled appointment in about six weeks. I'm hesitating to call, honestly because I'm afraid of what might be happening. I'll probably call his office at the latest next week.

So please bear with me if I'm a little less present on this site.

Thanks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Well-Meaning Advice

In 2006, I suffered my third ruptured disk. I won't go through the details. Suffice to say it was one of the most painful experiences of my life and certainly one of the most fear-inducing. You just don't know if it will ever sort itself out or if you'll be living in pain for the rest of your life.

Once the pain was pretty much gone, I set out to find an acupuncturist to help me manage the situation. My beloved acupuncturist in Montreal had given me the name of a few Toronto acupuncturists that she recommended and one of them had his office very close to my home. I booked an appointment.

The acupuncturist was a lithe, handsome Japanese man. He spent a long time with me at each appointment and seemed genuinely concerned with helping me. But to my mind, he made a huge mistake. The first thing he commented upon when we met was my weight. I definitely had to lose weight in his opinion. Period. My hackles went up immediately and stayed up. I did not go to him for long.

Did I need to lose weight? Well, duh. Yes of course I did. Was I morbidly obese? No, nor have I ever been, but yes, I was "overweight". But how did this obviously naturally slim man get off telling me what to do? I am quite sure that this man has never had nor will he ever have an issue with his weight. We all know people like that and let me tell you, no matter how well-meaning they are, they have absolutely no right to lecture me or anyone else on weight control.

About a month after the disc episode, I met my yoga teacher. During our first lesson, I threw down the gauntlet and told her that I was willing to do the work, but I wanted to get the weight thing out of the way immediately. I knew I was overweight and she didn't need to remind me. Her reaction was swift and comforting. She had no intention of shaming me. She was there to help me to help myself. Three years plus later, we're still working together.

Which leads me to recommend you read this article about doctors and the advice they should (or should not) give to their overweight patients.

Personally, I agree with the doctor in the article. The vast majority of overweight people feel enough shame already. I really don't think badgering them will help any. In the end, we make up our own minds and the trigger for the "big decision" can come from anywhere and not necessarily from the "experts". If the doctors had that much power to change our minds, there would be a lot fewer smokers in the world too!

Writing this post has been helpful to me personally. I know that there are people I love whom I lecture about weight loss. I have literally said, "it's because I love you". Well, I'm going to try and rein myself in. Love or no love, threats or no threats, we all come (or never come) to that turning point on our own.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Orthorexia

WARNING: This is another post in my series of hard questions and serious reflexion. No, I am not targeting "you". I just think this is an interesting topic that warrants thought and debate.

The other day, I was having lunch at a sushi restaurant with two colleagues. Neither are slim--they are painfully thin. From what I can tell, they are both addicted to exercise. They also both "watch what they eat", although I have seen one of them drinking a high-calorie food supplement. He knows that he is actually way too thin for his own health. The other colleague seems to enjoy her food, though for the life of me, I can't understand why she would use that vile, low-calorie, chemical-laden dressing on her salads.

We were looking over the menu when L. turned to me and asked if I'd heard that drinking three cups of green tea per day is said to lower your likelihood of developing colo-rectal cancer by 79%. He was both serious and a bit mocking. How did they come to such a precise number? Why not around 75-80%, for instance?

And thus ensued an interesting discussion of orthorexia.

Have your ever heard the term "orthorexia"?

From Wikipedia:

Orthorexia, or orthorexia nervosa is a term coined by Steven Bratman, a Colorado MD, to denote an eating disorder characterized by excessive focus on eating healthy foods. In rare cases, this focus may turn into a fixation so extreme that it can lead to severe malnutrition or even death.[1][2]

Bratman coined the term in 1997 from the Greek orthos, "correct or right", and orexis for "appetite"[3]. Literally "correct appetite", the word is modeled on anorexia, "without appetite", as used in definition of the condition anorexia nervosa. Bratman describes orthorexia as an unhealthy obsession (as in obsessive-compulsive disorder) with what the sufferer considers to be healthy eating. The subject may avoid certain foods, such as those containing fats, preservatives, animal products, or other ingredients considered by the subject to be unhealthy; if the dietary restrictions are too severe or improperly managed, malnutrition can result. Bratman asserts that "emaciation is common among followers of certain health food diets, such as rawfoodism, and this can at times reach the extremes seen in anorexia nervosa." In addition, he claims that "anorexic orthorexia" can be as dangerous as anorexia. However, he states, "the underlying motivation is quite different. While an anorexic wants to lose weight, an orthorexic wants to feel pure, healthy and natural.

And from this article in the Guardian, a well-respected British newspaper:

Orthorexics commonly have rigid rules around eating. Refusing to touch sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soya, corn and dairy foods is just the start of their diet restrictions. Any foods that have come into contact with pesticides, herbicides or contain artificial additives are also out.

The obsession about which foods are "good" and which are "bad" means orthorexics can end up malnourished. Their dietary restrictions commonly cause sufferers to feel proud of their "virtuous" behaviour even if it means that eating becomes so stressful their personal relationships can come under pressure and they become socially isolated.

Yes, of course you can be careful about what you eat without suffering from full-blown orthorexia! I repeat (because there are readers who are going to accuse me of attacking their incredibly healthy, fine eating): OF COURSE YOU CAN BE CAREFUL ABOUT WHAT YOU EAT WITHOUT SUFFERING FROM ORTHOREXIA. Clear? Now, you know where I stand.

I grew up in the 1960s when everybody ate marshmallow Fluff on white bread, the only cooking oil you could buy was corn oil and nobody thought it was necessary to think about eating enough fruits and veggies...except for my mom. White bread never crossed our door. Peanut butter came from the health food store and was free of sugar and salt. Baked goods were as rare as hen's teeth in our home.

I grew up in a household where healthy eating reigned supreme. My mom worshipped Adele Davis.

Of course, I rebelled and lusted mightily after all things junky and sweet. I still like sweets. It's just the way I am. But the basics that my mom taught me did stick in my mind.

When I started developing arthritis (it runs in the family), I consulted a number of alternative medicine practitioners in an effort to slow down the disease. At one time or another, I cut out all the usual culprits: refined sugar, wheat, dairy. Then I cut out "evil" foods masquerading as my friends: brussel sprouts, grapes, tomatoes, eggplant...

I've told this story before. None of these virtuous plans ever did me a lick of good. I finally decided that my mother's guidance was good enough for me: a variety of foods, whole grains inasmuch as possible (you'll have to pry the occasional piece of baguette that I eat out of my cold, dead hands), fruits, vegetables, meats, but very small amounts of junk food and processed sweets. No orthorexia for me!

But recently, I've had to ask myself whether I'm more concerned about virtuous eating than I thought.

There are a few weight-loss bloggers out there who are losing scads of weight eating whatever they want, though in modest amounts. Generally speaking, my reaction to them is BRAVO! They're not trying to cram themselves into strict plans that consider many ordinary foods to be the devil's spawn. They've made peace with food, in their own way, just as I'm trying to do.

However, now I'm starting to worry about these wonderful people. Junk food can be awfully tasty and just fine from time to time but if there are no apples in the mix, if green beans only get on the plate every few weeks or so (I'm not quoting anyone's diet in particular, here--just speaking in generalities), if squash is just a dream, I have to ask myself: are my admirable friends going to stay healthy?

Weight loss and more exercise are fabulous. Reasonable portions are to be applauded, but I hear my mom calling and she's saying "eat your veggies, have some fruit, choose healthy over empty calories more often"!

So here I am, as usual out on my own personal ice floe. I don't feel comfortable with food purity, I do applaud people who can make peace with their food and don't have to hide from the occasional piece of pizza as if it were poison but I do think we should stress eating a well-balanced diet that's based on nutrient-rich foods.

What do you think?

P.S. I have thought long and hard about posting this. I know that everybody has their own "what works best". I am incredibly impressed with the successes I see around me but I cannot help feeling somewhat ill at ease with both the purists and the "anything goes as long as I'm losing" crowd. I admit that I fear being bashed by both sides because of this post. I guess I'd better don my flak jacket...



Friday, October 16, 2009

Grammar and Spelling for the Weight-loss Crowd


I work with language day in and day out, so bear with me. I tend to be picky, but I also believe that proper grammar and spelling make for better communication.

Let's slim down the word "loose" by one letter: o. That way you will lose weight and your clothes will become loose.

English may be the world's most popular language, but it's not easy to spell. Spanish, French, German--all these languages have much more difficult grammar, but their spelling is much easier.

Don't ask me why lose and loose have their "o"s pronounced the same way though the words are written differently and have a different meaning, they just are.

OK, have I driven you completely around the bend? The good news is, it's Friday. Happy weekend.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Clothes That Fit


No, these are not photos of my derriere, nor is that my house (though I do rather like the built-ins). These photos were in an e-mail I received from aBritish website devoted to intuitive eating.

Please don't roll your eyes and get all huffy thinking that I'm going to try to convince you for the nth time that intuitive eating is where it's at. Keep reading.

These are clearly "before and after" pictures, right? Wrong! You see before you the same woman in the same room (did I mention how much I love built-ins?) and taken the SAME DAY!

The difference is that in photo #1, she's wearing pants (that's trousers, for my British readers) that are two sizes too big and in the second, she's wearing pants that fit.

One of the things that goes out the window when we start gaining weight or find ourselves at a weight that we really don't like, is nice, well-fitting clothing. Pants get baggy, t-shirts get bigger, and let's not even talk about a flattering haircut or a touch of lipstick. I myself am not a big fan of make-up, but I realized before I started out on my journey to a NewMe that I was no longer happy with the way I looked and I was not going to do anything to make myself look nicer (like wearing that dab of lipstick or putting on a nice pair of earrings). It just didn't seem worth it.

As soon as I lost a few pounds all of this changed. I ran out and bought a beautiful pair of small wale corduroys and felt like a million dollars. OK, I should have waited a bit longer because now those cords look a tad baggy, but it was worth it. I was wearing something that was nice and well-fitting for a change.

Like many of you, I have wardrobes for all sizes and I probably should get rid of a lot of those clothes (especially that late 80s black suit with big shoulders and yellow trim--it really did look nice when I bought it, believe me). But I am glad that I've kept some things like the black jeans I discovered yesterday afternoon, going through an overflowing drawer of pants and shorts. I didn't recognize these jeans, couldn't for the life of me remember where they came from, but I tried them on and they fit very comfortably. Then I remembered: these were the jeans that I was busting out of last December. The jeans that I felt so ashamed about because they were not particularly small but I still couldn't get into them anymore. I'm glad I kept those jeans. On the other hand, I will have to get rid of the lovely black jeans I bought to replace too-small pair #1, because those jeans now make me look like picture #1 above.

So what's my long-winded message? Feel nice about yourself, no matter what weight you're at right now. Don't wait to reach the magic number to look good. Treat yourself nicely now by wearing well-fitting clothes. Your self-esteem will thank you for it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Uh-huh


Well, this place really tests my ability to encourage people to eat what they want. At this restaurant, people over 350 pounds get to feed their obesity for free. I'm not saying that it should be closed down, but it's a pretty sad commentary on how (some) people eat. I'm also rather offended by their blatant use of sexy chicks to sell their product. Sorta makes me think of "Hooters" for the obese set.

Just my humble opinion.

Have any of you actually eaten there?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Cart Before the Horse?

WARNING: I've got some hard questions and some controversial thoughts floating around in my head. Although I'm not fond of riling people up, I also find it hard to be quiet when I see things that worry me. I honestly do care about people--be they strangers who are suffering from inner demons or children who are starving and suffering violence in far-off countries. So if I say something here that you find offensive, please be assured that that's not my goal.

There's a common denominator running through a lot (not all, but a lot) of weight-loss blogs: binge eating. I'm not talking about over-eating. Even thin people do that from time to time. I'm talking about stuffing; the all-encompassing urge to eat everything in sight; the inability to eat one or two, or even five or ten whatevers but rather to demolish the whole box or two at one sitting, no matter how physically sick that makes you feel.

I'm just describing what I've read on blogs out there. This is not an experience I've had myself, though yes, I know exactly what over-eating feels like.

I certainly admire the honesty these bloggers have shown--their ability to talk openly about their suffering, their painful self-awareness. What I don't understand is why the solution to binge eating seems to be first and foremost dieting: in other words, "wearing the diet-straight jacket" (I must only eat xyz...I must never eat abc...I must only eat at x time...I must never eat at y time...).

As an innocent bystander, I see dieting as putting the cart before the horse. In fact, I wonder whether dieting is a way of NOT dealing with the root cause of one's binge behaviour.

Self-awareness is a difficult, wonderful thing, but it is nothing but words unless we put it to use. Is the answer to never eat out, purge your home of every "offending" food, etc. etc. or is it to confront the demons lurking behind the disordered food behaviours?

We're all dealing with hard personal issues, though some of us more than others. Physical and mental abuse, especially spousal or directed toward children; illness; financial problems; deep-seated guilt, which is often totally unwarranted; feeling obliged to fit into a mould imposed by society, family, religion--all of these situations and more lead people to engage in extremely disordered behaviour. Sometimes this behaviour is highly anti-social (pedophiles who themselves were sexually abused as children), although more often than not, the disordered behaviour is turned in on oneself.

Binge eating is fundamentally a way to stifle emotions. It is a powerful control mechanism with powerful side-effects. But isn't dieting also a control mechanism? I must not, I will not, I cannot, I should not. And while bingeing can only make the pain go away for a limited time, straight-jacket dieting can only keep the beast at bay for a limited time. The underlying problems will still be there, festering, growing, unsolved, clawing to come back to the surface.

Binge eaters say that they cannot "do" intuitive eating. I can understand that. Following your intuition--your feelings--is seen as leading to a melt-down. Your feelings are telling you to eat, not your stomach, not even your taste buds. These feelings are so overwhelming that the food has nothing to do with eating.

For binge eaters, food is NOT just food.

So why are people dealing with emotional issues by imposing a food-based solution? Why are people using a bandage solution that can potentially add to the guilt and self-abuse when you go "off plan", as everyone inevitably does?

Eating a more wholesome diet is not a bad thing. Ceasing to rely on empty calories to keep your body going is a good thing. Appreciating a wide variety of food is liberating. That's what food's about.

It's probably much "easier" to engage in straight-jacket dieting than it is to go to couples counselling. leave an abusive situation, go into therapy, confront an abuser, consider new paradigms (you can be a good mom and work outside the home or conversely, maybe it's better to lead a more satisfying life with less stuff by cutting your hours at work, changing careers or taking a hiatus), etc.

Dieting is certainly a more "productive" short-term approach, but the statistics are there to tell us that it's a bust in the long-term. You can run, but you just can't hide. Isn't facing your non-food issues head-on rather than using dieting as a magic bullet precisely what you have to do to successfully deal with disordered eating and lose weight?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thanksgiving

As I was walking back to my car clutching my brand-spanking-new digital meat thermometer and enjoying the crisp fall weather, I realized that I had much to be thankful for.

I am thankful to have found a wonderful husband. We'll be celebrating 21 years together this January (17 1/2 years married).

I am thankful to have two wonderful children who give me huge amounts of joy.

I am thankful to have relatively good health and a health care system that is always there to take care of me and my family.

I am thankful that my husband and I both have interesting careers and that we don't have to count our pennies to afford a digital meat thermometer. I'm not being facetious. We don't do expensive vacations or have a big, fancy house, but we have a lovely life and want for nothing. There are so many people who are suffering financially or emotionally. I am thankful for what I have.

I am thankful that I live in Canada.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm Coming Out


As is often the case, Diane at Fit to the Finish has written a post that I would like to respond to here. It's entitled One Big Mistake.

In a nutshell (though I know you'll read the whole post!), Diane reminds us that making mistakes is human and that rather than being defeated by our mistakes, we should learn from them and go on. The "one big mistake"--the only real "deal breaker" mistake--is not believing in yourself and in your ability to succeed.

My first instinct, and yours I'm sure, is to say "yes!". Believing in oneself is key to success. But something bothered me and I had to explore it further.

In the past, I have mentioned my failed hip surgery. It was something that was totally outside of my control. The surgeon made a bad call, which led to surgical complications, which led to a negative outcome for me. This negative outcome was not clear in the beginning. At first, it just seemed like the surgical complication would slow down my recovery, not stop it dead in its tracks and actually lead to increased disability. So at first, I bravely soldiered on, faithfully exercising (which actually made things worse) and plastering my home office with "I am recovering" post-it notes. Sadly, there are times when a positive attitude is about as useful as a broken washing machine when there are no clean clothes in the house. In other words, it's useless.

Well, I had the corrective surgery and then put my "I can do it" attitude to work because I knew that now my washing machine was repaired and it was time to get the clothes washed, so to speak! I recovered.

How does this apply to weight loss? Is that "can do" attitude going to get me there, just as it did after my revision surgery? Is really believing in myself and my ability to succeed the final key to a lasting and successful weight loss?

The answer is no.

As I read Diane's article, I realized that I have been making the changes that needed to be made and I have lost some weight--about a third of my ultimate goal. I am not a compulsive or binge eater--intuitive eating has been the right answer. For me, both physiologically and psychologically, dieting is a violent act. It was a temporary act of violence that I could implement when I was younger, but a lifetime of self-flagellation is not what I'm looking for in life. I decided that I had to make peace with food and that is what I'm doing. It's not a linear process. After all, this is a mind-shift, a turning-around of how I have thought throughout my adult life. In a sense, it's a lot harder than setting a daily calorie limit, though much more liberating in the long run (again, remember, I speak only for myself).

Another change that I've made is that I drink a lot more water. It's perhaps a small thing, but it's something that I believe is extremely valuable.

I have also only recently discovered the healing power of falling asleep naturally. I now never let myself fall asleep while watching TV. This was a bad habit I acquired when recovering from both my surgeries as well as from travelling a lot and having to fall asleep in hotel rooms. It's amazing how much better I feel now that I just turn off the TV and read a few pages of a good book before turning off the light at bedtime. My chronic, low-level headaches have all but disappeared and I think that even my blood pressure is going down. Why didn't I start listening to my husband years ago?

Unfortunately, I have hit the wall on what would have been the fourth pillar of a successful "healthy me"/weight loss strategy: exercise.

I feel I deserve hearty congratulations for maintaining a regular yoga practice. It has been of great value to me. But the fact is, due to my disabilities, the gentle yoga that is so good for me has no appreciable value as a weight-loss tool. (P.S., I cannot really do the simple act of sitting cross-legged, as in the photo I posted above).

My little best friend, the pedometer, has helped me to up the amount of daily walking I do. But I can't do the brisk walking that puts a little sheen of perspiration on the brow and burns a couple of pesky calories. When you're disabled, there are two kinds of pain: the pain that you, the non-disabled, feel when you're aiming for the burn and the pain that I feel when I'm doing something that's harmful to my body. I can distinguish between these types of pain and sadly, the pain of pushing myself which is required to burn calories, is the pain that could put me back in the hospital.

So I've decided to be honest with myself and answer Diane's question by saying that no, I don't really think I'm going to reach that wonderful goal. I'm not ready to close the door completely, but I think that I just have to keep doing what I'm doing and not set what is likely to be for me an unrealistic goal.

I'm going to keep blogging and keep reading blogs, including a number of weight loss blogs. Though I feel I have to "come out" as a non-weight loss blogger, I hope you will continue to drop by here to visit. I still want to inform, express my views and inspire you too, hopefully!

Food is Just Food


Here's a confession: I'm not a binge eater. I don't eat to stuff down my feelings, to compensate for past traumas or to make up for disappointment or sadness. The more I read fellow bloggers, the more I realize that my relationship with food is no more disordered than that of most women. Perhaps it's actually in the process of becoming a healthier relationship--less fraught with fear and loathing--than most women have with food.

Please don't get me wrong: I feel great compassion for those of you who have in the past or who continue to use food to deal with serious issues in your life. It's just not my reality.

Here's my reality:

I can't eat a lot. In fact, I can't eat very much, even if I just want to maintain my weight. I'm vertically challenged, peri-menopausal and disability prevents me from doing cardio-vascular exercise so I don't burn many calories. This sucks. But at least food is just food.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Photo Shop Madness

Via Huffington Post, this little gem of a photo:


Tell me, is it any wonder women are obsessed with being thin?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Death in the Family

Yesterday, my 100-year old uncle died. He was two months short of his 101st birthday.

He had a heart attack about a month ago and stayed in the hospital for tests and stabilization for six days. The tests showed his heart was too fragile to operate on and he was feeling fine so he went home where he did his gardening and lived for a few pleasant weeks more.

I think my uncle definitely came out on the plus side on the great balance sheet of life. He was a good man--not perfect, but no one is.

My uncle actually had quite an exciting life before he settled permanently in Canada. He was born in Germany, the son of a man who was, for a time, the mayor of a small town near Frankfurt, I believe. His mother died while giving birth to him and he was raised by an aunt.

During the Great Depression he came to Canada, hoping for a better life. He was a man of principles and joined a volunteer brigade of Canadians who fought for the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. A book was written about this brigade a few years ago. It wasn't a particularly well-written book, but it included four pages on my uncle! I was shocked to learn that after leaving Spain, he was almost turned away when he tried to get back to Canada. Fortunately, a nameless immigration bureaucrat literally turned away and didn't look so that my uncle could get through immigration. If this man had "done his job", my uncle would have been sent back to Germany and thrown in a concentration camp where he no doubt would have died: Hitler and Francisco Franco of Spain (the dictator that the Republicans unsuccessfully fought against) were great friends and my uncle's participation in the war on the Republican side would have signed his death warrant.

My uncle's subsequent life in Canada was fairly quiet. He married my aunt (my mother's sister--so I can't inherit any longevity genes from him since we're not blood relations) and had one daughter. I am particularly close to my cousin's daughter, now in her 30s. My uncle had two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Since he was a staunch atheist (as is everyone in my family except me--I am a committed agnostic!), I doubt he worried about the afterlife. If the soul goes on (remember, I really don't know), I am sure my uncle's soul is doing just fine now. He's probably having a beer and maybe visiting with the mother he never knew. I hope he is encircled by all those who loved him and preceded him in death.

Here's to you, "Unk"!

Friday, October 2, 2009

This is what I'm always talking about!

Many, many thanks to Francesca at Small Changes for this excellent article. It may make you feel uncomfortable, you may say "well that's OK for you but it won't work for me" but I think that stuffing yourself either WITH food or INTO the straight-jacket of dieting is what's at the heart of the problem.

#11


Some of you know my real name, and some of you think you know it.

Let's settle this once and for all: it's Wendy. Yes, as in Peter Pan. And I married John.

And yes, I do fly. It's just by plane. John flies too. But less often.