Triumph

The problem had dogged me my whole life, apparently, until a couple weeks ago. I mean I’ve been struggling with it a few decades, but really there were long periods when I didn’t even try. Nothing seemed to work. When I was about 12 my mother took me to a doctor who gave me a diet sheet. I took one look at the first breakfast,  which was something like one boiled egg, one piece of dry toast and some milk, and I just snorted. I think my mum brought the paper home, but I never saw it again.

I’ve always been fat, as others have pointed out most unkindly since about Grade 1. But I’ve always been healthy because I eat real food and I do strength training. This was enough to make up for any number of bags of potato chips and fast food indulgences and masses of cheese – because mostly I ate my five a day and cooked everything from scratch. But now… the fat is disappearing. Simply, I wanted to feel light, to do things with ease, and to have more opportunities in life. Greater agility for dance, perhaps the ability to do more intense field work in my area of interest. It might even help me get hired in a new line of work, given so many preconceptions about fat people. But anyway, the main thing is I wanted it for myself, absolutely wanted it, and realized I was going to have to have a meal plan. I wanted to feel good. And now I feel good.

I plan my meals the day before, and I don’t snack. No, I’m not perfect, but basically that is what consistently happens. Three five to six hundred calorie meals, and my morning coffee with 18% fat cream because that’s how I like it, and maybe a protein shake in there if I’m too hungry in the morning or late at night. If everyone on Supersize-Superskinny can do it, then I can do it. Your appetite adjusts to the schedule and amounts given, even when those amounts are half of what you used to eat. (For us overeaters, anyway.)

I haven’t quite figured out how it is that the emotional eating is gone. Maybe it’s that I pursue many other things seeking pleasure. I’m consciously choosing to turn away from a path that brings me much pain in the long run. I’m consciously choosing to lay down new neural pathways in breaking that habit and looking to create new ones. But it’s not that everything is just hunky dory now. I have the same problems in life – need a new job, hate the noise and stink, feel lonely as hell often, am ageing – all that. But I’ve knocked off a long-standing problem – two, actually, both struggling with food and weight and struggling with the emotions around food – and that is a glorious triumph for me.

 

PS the four blocks of cheese I have in the fridge that were on discount a while back are gonna last me till next year now, for sure.

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Supersize v. Superskinny

Glory!

I’m late to the reality-TV party, but I recently discovered the UK show Supersize v. Superskinny, which is kinda reality-TV because they are real people taking part in a filmed interactive situation. But this show uses its shock value for a very constructive purpose rather than just for entertainment. Basically, Dr. Christian Jessen, often just called Dr. Christian, guides one obese and one near-anorexic person to learn from him and each other, in order to revampt their eating habits. Dr. C, with his sensible comments and caring voice, has taken up residence in my mind along with my favourite participants, and encourages me now.

Two different people each week meet and compare visual display of a week’s worth of food. They are each going to have to eat what the other one did in the past week, as recorded in a food diary. They enter the feeding clinic and the skinny person is presented with a vast dinner, often followed by unwanted snacks. The fat person gets some sad excuse for a meal, like a chocolate bar, a piece of toast and an energy drink, or if they’re really lucky, decent food, but a portion fit for a four-year old.

So this past week, I set up a “feeding clinic” for myself. No one else here, just the show participants and Dr. C to cheer me on. From the show, I learned that you can reset your appetite. I planned three sensible meals a day for myself, and a protein shake as an option if rushed or heading out for a long swim and the like. Currently the two key points for me are to do without snacking, and to make a plan and follow it. I already eat high quality food made from scratch, for the most part, and now that is exclusive. No more fast food burgers and other not-great stuff I’ve enjoyed in the past. Time and again the supersizers suffered through some hunger but pretty soon were okay with their tiny portions. I can only guess their bodies started burning a bit of fat.

Amazingly, most of these people started to look noticeably better after several days in the clinic, especially people who were there for a whole week, and especially the super-skinnies. Even though they were often eating takeaway food with lots of bad fats and carbs, just getting more calories put colour in their face and took away some gauntness, immediately. I also noticed after the first day on my feeding clinic, immediately my complexion looked clearer, just like most of the supersized folks on the show.

So, I got a bit of glory. I found something that I know will work. I saw it work for many others. Planning your meals is not a new thing, but it’s something I resisted till now. I like flexibility, but now I need control. I always cooked in bulk and saved it in the fridge and freezer for meal convenience, so I’m used to that level of planning, but the point is here is planning for portion control. Limit intake to three meal periods and a scoop of protein if necessary. So far I’m not defining the meal portion extremely. That will be the next step, once I have the 3 meals without snacks habit down pat. I’m quite sure this alone will make a decent difference, as I was quite the opportunistic grazer up till now.

It’s great to have a plan I can believe in, live by, and refine, and be free from emotional eating. Yes, I had a few thoughts of indulgence over the past few days, but I focused on my goal to get through to a new state of being, like the peiople in the show. They are sent off for a few weeks or months and come back to reveal their results. They are encouraged to continue beyond that. Unfortunately, I won’t have a feeding clinic buddy to keep in touch with, but I can at least remember a lot of the delightful and inspiring people who have been on that show.

Just one thing about me – I’ve never been a dieter. My life has been going through hell the past two years, due to my marriage breakdown. I did manage to lose some weight during the separation part of that, but gained more than half of it back. Yoyoing is not fun and I don’t want that pattern to repeat. I’m taking it slow, steady, and comfortable (except being willing to feel hungry while adjusting), so it can be a solid lifestyle change.

I know all the supersizers and superskinnies and Dr. C would wish me success.

 

Love

Love

Is this not the best cheddar cheese ordinarily found in grocery stores? Please let me know if you know of a better one. This is very sharp and cheddary, and often goes on sale. What more could I want? Well, there is a cheese with truffle bits in it – fabulous, but $10 for a small piece maybe 1/3 to 1/4 size of this one, which is often on sale for $4. So, that’s like 3x as much. And, sure, it tastes 3x better and maybe I’ll buy it one day, but I haven’t yet. I tried it at a conference… wow! So I researched what on earth I had eaten. I love cheese, okay? Cheese slathered on seedy bread with a base of butter to stick it all together. Oh, yeah.

I have been kicking butt on life, okay? Making bucks, getting fit, making friends, setting limits with other friends. Even though it’s amazing to be wanted… it’s even better to not spend time with people who aren’t that interesting. “I like you – You’re a good conversationalist.”  And then, “Why don’t people want to visit me — I mean you.” Wow, believe me, this is not the kind of experience I’ve ever had before in my life. Am I on something? Is this a hallucination? No. It’s just a result of being 55 and trying to connect with people in the world. And I’m sorry, but it’s hard to connect with someone who has given up on trying, who can’t remember anything, and is just lowering their standards (her words) to make life more comfortable.

No, I have drive and passion. I want more. I’m not satisfied. Yes, death is a comforting thought, but that’s because life is so unsatisfying. I don’t want to lower my standards. I want great cheese, the good kind, and soon I’ll buy the kind with truffle bits in it, dammit.

But that’s just hedonism, is it not? Sure, it is. I want to do something grand. I want to be totally absorbed in a mission. Frankly, I am not excited about the achievements of Tony Robbins or Arnold – no need to spell his last name – but I totally desire to be completely absorbed in pursuing something with intensity. Arnold’s workout sets were insane, and I love that, even though the drugs he took are no longer legal and in fact guys built like a brick shithouse do not actually appeal to me. And Tony, the coke-head (I think, no aspersions cast) Robbins, no, I don’t get excited about his insane rants and coal-walking, but I am totally impressed with how he learned to give speeches. He went and gave several a day, not just a few a month. Go Tony! I dig that.

But what am I to do in this world? I am having difficult figuring that out. So many aptitudes. So much  random knowledge. So much passion. No frickin’ clue about what to do.

I’m TCB, doing all I have to do, but I want glory. And it’s not coming from cheese, luscious as that is.

 

WCCMT – a secret

WCCMT – a secret

West Coast College of Massage Therapy is an awesome place in my town. (And in a few other towns, actually.) See, the students work there in a clinic, and it’s incredibly inexpensive to get an hour’s treatment. Discount for seniors. I don’t feel like a senior, but I’m over 55, so I got the discount. I can handle that a lot better than being offered the senior discount on my 40th birthday because my hair turned white rather early. Yes, that really happened. I especially liked stepdad’s comment, at the time, on the hat I always wore in those days, a canvas canoe hat which I indeed was wearing during that senior incident: “Well, it does age you.” Somehow that cracked me up.

So, this week is the last week at the school, and the fifth term students are off to their professional careers. They will be RMTs – registered massage therapists. They do relaxation massages, but they specialize in therapeutic ones. Not if you have a WCB/ICBC claim, of course, but if you have a problem area. I have quite a few. I learned the most awesome and helpful things!

I learned that if you have a painful muscle, maybe you should not stretch it but rather look at its opposite, which may be so tight it’s pulling and making the other one sore. Story of my hamstrings. Hurt to sit on them. My pelvis had other tight muscles that were pulling on them.  Now the pain is 95% gone.

I learned that for my inflamed tendon on one side of my foot, I need to strengthen the muscle that opposes it, on the other side of my foot and leg. Wow, the tendon pain went down by about 3/4 and I am going to keep doing my leg days and strengthening those muscles.

But it’s also important to stretch. There are certain muscles I’ve trained for years – chest, triceps are two groups – but I never stretched them. Unlike a lot of women and especially dancers who well know about lengthening muscles, instead I thought like a man: it feels good to be strong, so build up those muscles with weights, strength training. Clearly we need both, and my student RMT has a great depth of knowledge. He’s one of those lucky people who, though young, knows what he wants to do and has dived in and is doing a wonderful job of it.

I went to two different people there, but the first one was a fifth term student, and for a bit I had a fourth term one when the fifth wasn’t available. He was better than she was, so I went back to him when he was available again. The term ends tomorrow, and the mood in there today was like floating on a cloud. They had their last exam this morning. But in September, a new term begins, and a new calendar to fill up with lovely massage bookings. And, yes, I am also going to be a private client of my fave student. He wants to go independent in a year, and I am happy to help him out with that and also get the benefit of his excellent skills and sensitive touch in my healing journey.

If you check out their webpage, you’ll see they actually do some spa type things as well. I saw these offerings and signed up for one on a whim. I have never done a spa thing. It was just a crazy idea: Salt Glow. So I’m lying there naked with a towel wrapped under and over around my crotch to cover the crack and all, and getting scrubbed with basically sodium chloride and some essential oil. It was rough, like sharp sand. It was different. It was okay, but as he pointed out, it makes your skin incredibly soft. A week later, it’s still softer than I ever remember.

So, apparently exfoliation is a thing. As you can tell, I’m really not very girly and never experimented with exfoliation nor had girly friends to tell me I had to do it. I guess I’d like to try a facial now. Maybe it’ll make my face skin similarly soft. Not that this place offers those. But I think I’m on a roll here, of self care as well as self–pampering.  If you want to do the same, move fast as I understand the school is phasing out the spa stuff and sticking with the higher value (my view) therapeutic massage stuff.

To the grads… and next term! 🙂

 

I hope it’s not too late

I hope it’s not too late

Sometimes it is hard to be good at a lot of different things. For me, it dovetails with indecisiveness. There’s no reason to choose one single thing. There’s never been one clear thing I should focus on, one clear path.

I’ve done artwork for various people who needed logos and things like that. “You missed your calling,” I was told. Yeah, well, I don’t see much excitement or meaning in commercial art, even though I don’t mind doing a logo for ya. And as far as the art scene, I didn’t see a place for myself there, either. I love music, too, but loathe the music scene. All of these scenes are about fashion, pecking orders, and politics, all things I don’t understand well. Those are my weak points, blind spots. I’m good at many things, but just uncomfortable with all that.

A lot of people have assumed, told me, or asked if I’m on the autism spectrum. Well, maybe I am, but I never had a diagnosis or any help, so technically I’m not, as no clinician has weighed in on that. Plus I’m female, so we women don’t fit the typical autism categories which were based on males. Plus, I’m obviously very high functioning, so even if I’m a complete fucking freak, I’m not exactly disabled the way a low functioning autistic person is. I like my ivory tower, so maybe I’m INTP.

So, what to do in life? I am acquainted with a couple people who have experienced what I dearly wanted all along: to have a specific direction, dream, and goal from an early age.

Of course there is my favourite artistic fusion bellydancer, Bagoas, who explained in the short documentary film about male bellydancers that he has been doing this since he was 15. I guess he’s in his mid-20s or something now. Certainly under 30. He does such wonderful, original, skilled, beautiful, joyful, playful, and expressive things that I so envy that I never had a life like that. I never belonged anywhere that I could pursue anything that interested me. I’m sort of acquainted with him because he’s a Facebook friend. Maybe in the next year I’ll go see him dance in Seattle. But basically I’ve watched his videos over and over because I’ve been going through the toughest time in my life with my divorce and all, and his expressive art always beings smiles to my face. Smiles, plural, never just one smile. His playfulness is absolutely golden, and wrapped in musical expressiveness and artistic precision.

Then there is a guy I know from the Scrabble group, a retired cop. This week he told me he had tried to get into the RCMP at age 21. It was what he always wanted. He was a cop  all his life and then a bylaw officer. I’ve heard of a lot of cops who get messed up from the conflict, violence, and tragedy involved in their work, but somehow th is guy came through unscathed, apparently. He doesn’t seem troubled, unhealthy, overweight, or anything. He seems very light at heart, playful, open, and able to hear others. In a man, those are all nice qualities, and in a cop they aren’t exactly the stereotype.

And I have nothing.  I can do all kinds of things – visual art, statistics, applied math, writing, research, teaching . . . and I am completely lost.

Fireworks in the sky

Fireworks in the sky

It’s firework season in Vancouver. I missed a big event on July 1 because I didn’t want to deal with transiting through downtown while 350K people who like fireworks are also transiting, but there are much bigger reasons why I have no use for fireworks.

The main reason is that they are just ugly compared to the beauty of the sky. I say look how many painters and poets have attempted to capture the beauty of the sky, or referenced it in their love of nature or wonder at it. Apologies to Turner’s painting of train smoke, but neither that nor mere human-man fireworks come close to the gorgeousness of the sky. No camera can capture it.

Now, my bias is not hating crowds and noise. It’s also that my colour acuity is in the highest human ranges, top four percent. Subtly rippled, shaded, highlighted and textured clouds send me into a trance of wonder, easily. It’s a good thing I don’t drive a convertible, let’s just say.

And cheesy boom-boom fireworks, explosions of chemicals in the sky, can’t touch the beauty of a sunset, or broad expanses of cirrus or cumulus clouds on a bright day. Even low stratus in a drizzle is amazing, geographically, though I don’t usually wonder at its beauty! Seen to much of that here in Vancouver. Even a night sky, out of the city’s light “pollution” is more beautiful than fireworks, something akin to a glittering embroidered blouse, but tented above us. Wow.

And yes, golly gee, it’s amazing that transitory patterns can be traced in the sky in such a grand way by tubes of chemicals packed by humans and thrown into the sky. Yay, physics and chemistry. Being a spatialist myself, fascinated by spatial phenomena, I was interested to read up about the packing of the tubes. Basically, the spatial orientation of the packed materials, including timing set by distances, determine the expanded spatial positions of the projectile chemical bundles. And gravity does the rest. But it has always bothered me that these materials end up on the land or in water bodies. For fireworks are often done over water, seemingly for safety reasons. Safety of people – not of water ecology! It seems like fireworks is something it would be nice for our culture to outgrow. But I know I’m towards the end of that curve, and currently that’s not what most people want.

For me, fireworks obliterating the beautiful sky is ironic to the point of ridiculous. I will stick to enjoying the glory of the sky and its quiet, subtle, ever-changing beautty. Okay, not always quiet – but thunderstorms are glorious, too.

 

Anxiety

Anxiety

Well, I done good as my old high school principal used to say. “Ya done good,” a verbal backslap.

I’m cultivating my own peace within, on top of maintaining the body connection. Sure, I just screamed aloud at the Nth irritation here, someone who keeps walking past my window with a crying brat, which happened half a dozen times today. But other than that, I’m doing great with this hyper-alertness that has plagued me.  I recently realized it’s a form of anxiety.

There was a selfish elephant at the swimming pool this morning that joined my lane and hit and kicked me every time he passed. And other annoying behaviours, including when I confronted him on it. There was a selfish neighbour emptying her dust pan several floors up. Her balcony is the source of the sunflower seed shells I get daily, and now apparently this filth that coats my plants, also. And now apparently a boomcar parked outside my apartment. But, no! No, it was over 2 blocks away, believe it or not, a deejay at the outdoor pool. Why and WTF ever for? It was an amazingly long walk, with the ground reverberating through my shoes. And they have turned it down quite a bit. And I left a note for the landlord about the dirt-neighbour and talked to the lifeguard about the elephant-swimmer (someone who takes more than half the area within the lanes) and the swim-slob kept the lane and I got a big lane to myself over in the deep end. Didn’t know there was a lane there! Fine. I’m not scared of the deep end and no more elephants or other nonsharing selfish people joined.

But the main thing is writing that didn’t make me hotter under the collar. After confronting the boom-bass at the swimming outdoor pool, my body was not in a high state of alert, like it always has been in the past. I wasn’t trembling with anger. Apparently my week of cultivating calm, no matter what, is working. And the shitty things I’ve dredged up just now seem relatively far away, even though they all happened today. Today I focused on getting things done and not wasting time in rage and amazement at how shitty people can be.

Triumph and glory. Despite those people.