Monday, October 29, 2012

No exercise equals a cloudy mind

I missed three days of walking and can definitely tell that it has impacted my mood and mind.  I feel sort of down and my thinking is muddled.

For me, this is a reminder that I need to exercise primarily for the antidepressant effects of physical activity rather than for fitness benefits.  Greater fitness is nice, but seeing mental changes day-to-day based on whether I exercise is more motivating because the feedback is so immediate.  Bodies, on the other hand, do not (visibly) change immediately.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My weight, two months before my due date

I weigh about 259 pounds right now.  My home scale has been reading between 258 and 260 for over a week.  The doctor's office scale is always within a couple of pounds of my home scale.

Back in April, just days after I conceived, I weighed 255.  So over the past (almost) seven months, my weight went from 255 down to the 240s and then back up again to where it is now, a net gain of about 5 pounds so far.  This all happened gradually and naturally, without me doing much to manipulate my weight besides making an effort to curtail binge eating behaviors.

Friday, October 26, 2012

What I'm working on right now, at 31 weeks pregnant

Because it's unwise to set big weight loss goals during pregnancy and breastfeeding, these are my aims right now:

1.  Avoid gaining excessive weight in pregnancy, and avoid gaining (any) weight during breastfeeding.
2.  Become less eating disordered and more of a normal healthy eater.

My eating is screwy in many different ways, and I've tried comprehensive overhauls in the past that always fell apart in short order.  This time, I'm accumulating normal eating "skills" slowly by working on just a few areas at a time. I think pregnancy taking away any weight loss goal for the near future is what is allowing this shift towards a slow-and-steady philosophy.  What's happening right now:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Half physical, half mental

The distinction we make between the physical and the mental is problematic on several levels, but I'm going to go ahead and talk as though it's a straightforward matter.

When I'm eating regular, nutritious, satisfying meals made from real food (i.e. when I'm cooking for myself regularly), my desire to binge goes way way down.  My cravings for desserts are manageable instead of monstrous.

This won't surprise many people, but it surprises me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Keeping perspective

When I start thinking "how can I cook and exercise today when the house needs cleaning SO badly, the car needs servicing, I need to mail that stuff off?" I know that I've lost perspective.

The house exists to serve me, not the other way around.

The car exists to serve me, not the other way around.

The errands are completed to serve my life; I don't live to complete errands.  I don't live to serve the dry cleaner, the post office, the bank, the store.

It's empowering to put things in their place!  The biggest challenge is keeping them there...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The old me wasn't so great, either

I've been having those days where I cook and eat very well, and get nothing else done.  At least it feels like "nothing".  But that's not entirely accurate; I do get some stuff done.  Not as much as I'd like, but still.

I've been thinking about this more, and have concluded that I always feel like I'm not getting enough done because I compare myself not only to others, but to my OLD SELF.  Namely, the person I was in college.  I always took a full course load, made good grades, did extracurriculars, worked at least one part-time job, volunteered, etc. etc.  I'm not making this comparison in a very direct and conscious way, but I know it's there because I frequently find myself wondering why I'm not more driven, competitive, and goal-oriented, "the way I used to be."  Maybe worrying about it more than wondering about it, to be honest.

True, I'd like to have some of that spark back.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Food pics

This app makes pictures huge! I have to go on my laptop to edit them down. Still though, this is probably the only way I will share photos on a regular basis. Transferring files from my good digital camera to my laptop and creating a separate blog folder is too much hassle when all I want to do is capture particular meals and dishes--seeing homecooked food reminds me how good I feel when I cook for myself instead of grabbing fast food, for example. And a crappy iPhone photo is good enough for that kind of casual visual record. I'm not going to photograph everything I eat, but when the mood strikes and my phone is handy, I will.  Here are some old photos that have been in my phone forever.

(I'm obviously not tech savvy; I can't figure out how to rotate this picture so it's displayed properly, and no idea why my iPhone captured it this way in the first place.)

Testing, testing...

Seeing if I like this iPhone Blogger app for posting pictures, and using the most ridiculous photo I can.  (I keep sending my sister texts with this idiotic looking scarecrow in it--I don't know why it cracks me up so much!)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Different sets of parents

For many of us, the people that bring us into the world are not the same people that enable us to live our best lives.  Too often, in fact, the people that birthed and raised us through childhood become an obstacle to our health and personal fulfillment in one form or another.

When we realize this, we feel guilty and conflicted.  And alone.

We could instead rejoice at the fact that life has supplied us with several different parents, all the parents we need, if we would only see it.  More good news: we don't have to fully reject our original parents in order to receive the parenting of others, either.

There are parents out there for every stage of our lives, every area of personal challenge.  There is someone to guide us and love us through it all by way of regular face-to-face interaction, or through words, or through example.  We may never even meet some of them in person.  A dead author can be a parent if they speak directly to your problem and directly to your heart.  You can feel their benevolence through their message and know they would have loved you and the thing you are trying to accomplish.  That can be enough to sustain a person.

The corollary to this is that any of us can be parents, regardless of our biological activities.  You can be a parent without even knowing it.  You can help someone walk part of the road between the cradle and the grave, supporting them when they need it most, raising them up when they fall--and when you do this, you are raising them, period.


I'm excited to be a mother, yet I know I cannot personally supply everything that another human will need throughout their entire life.  I want my daughter to know that she can have all kinds of parents, guilt-free, as she walks through life; that if anything, I never want her to feel alone and unsupported.

Friday, October 19, 2012


It hit me a day or two ago that I have virtually no self-compassion.

I'm never saying to myself, "Rach, you're doing ok.  You're trying to deal with depression, an eating disorder, and some other personal problems and you've come part of the way already.  You're trying to prepare for a new, challenging role--that of mother--as best as you can.  You are attempting to build a career, maintain a house, nurture a marriage, nurture other relationships, keep up with errands, and have a spiritual life. And that's not even the full list. You're doing all of this simultaneously and I know how much you care and how much you expect of yourself.  Just keep going!"

That's not the internal dialogue I have, but I'd like to move more in that direction, because constant (and I mean CONSTANT!!!) self-criticism isn't helping.  

I'm not sure how to build more self-compassion: talk to myself Stuart Smalley-style in the mirror every morning?  Read "Self-Compassion" by Kristen Neff or "The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion" by Christopher Germer to get some ideas?  I've been eyeing both books for a bit now.  Hmm.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Always dropping the ball

It seems that in a given day, I'm always dropping the ball in one important area or another.

If I eat right, exercise, and meditate, it seems to take up most of my attention.  I'll drop the ball on errands, housework, and/or career-building activities.

If I run a bunch of errands and clean and so forth, it saps my energy and I find my eating to be sloppy and my likelihood of exercise to be low.

Lots of days it's some mix: I exercise but my eating is chaotic.  I run errands and eat ok but am sedentary most of the day and let the house go.  I work on career-related writing but ignore everything else and binge to cope with the anxiety I feel.

I don't expect my performance in all areas of life to be perfect every day, but I've lived this disjointed, unsatisfactory way for years now.  I've tried all sorts of things to break out of these patterns, and still don't have an answer.  Ultimately, I feel like I'm treading water and getting nowhere: I prevent emergencies and put out fires when they do arise, but I don't feel in control of myself and my life.  I don't feel capable of reaching important, ambitious goals anymore.  I'm so scattered and dissatisfied with myself.

Lately, and by that I mean the last couple of weeks, the only thing I've been consistent about almost every day is taking a walk.  This prevents the kind of guilt I felt throughout most of my second trimester about not exercising (at all, pretty much).  Maybe I can build from here.

When it comes to this scattered rut I've been in for years, I know that there's something to my thinking that's tripping me up, over and over again, and I'm trying to get to the bottom of it.  Something to do with lack of clarity about priorities, perfectionism, discomfort avoidance (i.e. going after "low hanging fruit" a lot of the time), and not being able to focus on one task at a time but instead ruminating about what's not getting done WHILE I'm getting something else done.  Four years of weekly therapy sessions did not help me with this--did not even directly help me identify all this--and all I can do today is admit where I'm at and vow to keep untangling this mess.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Unhappy and Overwhelmed

I'm already off the makeup kick and more focused on nesting, so I'll pick up my discussion of makeup, clothes, and everything else at a different time.

I've been in a really negative headspace for the past few days.  I'm frustrated with myself.  No matter what I do in a given day, I feel like it's not enough.  That internal critical voice has been so loud lately that yesterday it felt like a separate person and I talked back to it: "yeah?  What do YOU do besides sit around and criticize?"  Definitely a slight case of the crazies.

I have so many problems besides food and weight.  So many.  I don't think or talk about my depression all that much, but it's still there and very much impacting my life.  It's under better control than it used to be, and I've found exercise and meditation to be more effective (at this time) than meds and talk therapy, so I have a plan of action.  But in SO many areas of my life, I desire a total overhaul in my habitual thoughts and behaviors.  When I think about the baby arriving and changing my life in ways I can't fathom, I get anxious.  How am I going to hold everything together?  How am I going to make much-needed changes when I have no time to myself?  Personal progress is abysmally slow NOW, when I have all the time I could ask for, so what does that tell me about my future?

This blog hasn't been incredibly focused so far, but it has been about eating disorder recovery, weight loss, etc. more than anything else.  That's going to change. I want to feel free to talk about anything that I'm struggling with, regardless of whether other people can relate or they find my problems ridiculous.  I may as well be honest and say I blog for myself first and foremost--I do it because it helps me process my thoughts and feel better--and if my writing helps anyone else on some level, that's great, but not something I feel is my responsibility or primary goal.  In other words, I'm not here to provide an "expert voice" of any kind.  It's just me, figuring out what I want and how to get it.  And if I put it all out there, all the worries and dreams and hopes and efforts and failures and experiments and projects, it's going to be messy.

I'm ok with that.  I'm unhappy right now, and feeling overwhelmed, but at least I can accept the mess.