Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Not to belabor the point, but

What does it mean to have a relationship with food? It seems odd to even articulate that--a relationship with food. Food should be nothing, like air. I don't think about my relationship with air. It's just there, doing what it needs to do without any thought on my part. Why can't it be the same with food?

I'm not a big eater, but I think about food a lot. I don't mean I think about eating, but rather I think about food strategically. What can I eat? What can I absolutely not eat? Is it OK to consume something? Did I earn these calories?

I've lost the ability to enjoy food. My thoughts and strategies around calories are so strong and have been for so long that even when I eat something delicious, any pleasure or appreciation for it is quickly replaced with anxiety and guilt. Did I earn that food? What will I have to do to offset the calories? How much walking is that? How much will I not be able to eat later because I ate this? How many calories did that have? Will it impact my carbohydrate load for this 24-hour period? Why did I eat that?

Regret and anxiety are the two emotions I most closely link to food. That's probably not normal, right?

I have a pretty good idea of what my basal metabolic rate is, so now I obsess over every calorie that goes beyond that. If my body needs only 400 calories a day to maintain basic systems, then I have to engage in activity that will offset every additional calorie I consume to have a net-zero calorie intake. It's exhausting. It's the reason I can't enjoy food. Whenever I eat, all I can think about is the amount of work I'm going to have to do to not store calories and gain weight.

This is a complicated and sad way to live, especially since at the end of it all, I'm still clinically obese with a BMI of 32. I have to lose another 17 pounds just to be merely seriously overweight.

I am in a rage about this. I haven't gone through menopause (despite my many jokes about it), I don't eat badly to begin with, and I move a lot at work. I park far away as a rule. I take the stairs. I drink liters of water every day. I am so angry and frustrated with my body, I feel like starvation or something like it is the only thing that will stop this disgusting turn of events. 

When I was working out so much in 2012-2013, in nine months of KILLING myself at the gym and flaring my fibromyalgia, I only ever lost 6 pounds, and even they kept fluctuating. 

In the end, I want to be like that chick who won The Biggest Loser and end up at 105. I HAVE EARNED IT and I feel cheated.

I will see this through or die trying.

And then it passed

I'm not hungry anymore. I think in the battle of mind over physical sensation, my mind is finally exerting influence as I want it to.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I had mysteriously gained weight between November and February. A lot of weight, weight gain for which there was no explanation. It was particularly vexing since not only was my diet already quite healthy and balanced, I was already perpetually hungry. A few years ago, I talked to a specialist about that and she told me to just ignore that particular physiological response. She didn't want me snacking on anything, not even celery or broccoli. She told me to get comfortable with the stomach growling and hunger pangs because if I could ride it out, eventually, they would stop. The hunger never went away, at least, not until now. It has been a constant force I've been pushing against while I filled my head with logic, reminding myself of the calories and nutrients I had consumed were everything my body needed. There was never a physical need to add more, even if the hunger made me a bit nauseated. Just ignore it until it goes away, May.

The recent weight gain added insult to an already difficult and demeaning situation, but I was moved to make renewed effort to stop it because of Laurel's son's Bar Mitzvah. I need to fit in a dress for this special occasion coming up in a couple of weeks, but how does one diet when living on 1200 healthy calories a day does not stave off weight gain?

Enter Bob Harper of Biggest Loser fame and author of the Jumpstart to Skinny plan. It's a three-week, 800-calorie-a-day plan that is supposed to result in a weight loss of about a pound a day. That certainly didn't happen with me, although I was diligent in following the "Skinny Rules." I did lose 10 pounds, but I was hoping for the full 20.

Readers of Harper's book are cautioned not to follow the plan for more than three weeks to avoid shutting down the metabolism. It made me wonder how that works when the metabolic rate of the person involved is already so slow it mimics that of someone who is either dying or starving. So few calories seemed impossible, but there's something to be said for cups and cups of leafy greens and a little lean protein.

Some days, I don't even make it to the full 800 calories. The first week was hard as the hunger and fatigue were fierce, but by the end of the second week, something interesting happened. I wasn't hungry anymore. At last. I finally wasn't hungry anymore.

Food hasn't been interesting to me for weeks now, and I'm OK with that. There are two bags of sugary Popcornopolis popcorn sitting on my desk, along with most of a large collection of lemon petits-four cakes left over from a community outreach event earlier this week. They are inches away from me and each time I come back into my office, my thought isn't, "Damn, I wish I could have that." Instead, my thought is, "Damn, I have to remember to put these out for people in the office to enjoy." This is a milestone.

Frank was worried last night because I've been putting in some brutally long days, and in addition to a heavy work load, I've been working with a personal trainer at the gym. I got home close to 9:00 p.m. and skipped food entirely. Frank is worried I'm going to get sick, but honestly, my body could sustain itself for six months just from the visceral fat in one of my thighs.

I have stopped losing weight far too soon, but I am relieved that I am also no longer gaining weight.

How many people have you ever met who could work a lot, work out, consume 800 low-fat calories a day (that include almost zero complex carbohydrates) and maintain 175 pounds?

That's just one fucked up human body.

I plan to stay on Bob Harper's plan...forever. A near-total abscence of complex carbohydrates, lots of leafy greens, and egg whites every day. I can do this. I'm not hungry. One of two things will happen. Either I will eventually lose more weight, or I will die from malnutrition. I'm OK either way. If I can never be skinny--and I mean ribs-visible skinny, the American ideal--then I really don't want to live. The culture I live in is just too harshly critical of women who aren't waif-like, and I'd rather be dead than continue to be such an abject failure.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dieting again

Between November 2013 and  the end of February, my body mysteriously gained 20 pounds for no apparent reason. I don't feel like I, personally, had any part in this weight gain except to be the recipient of it. Certainly, I didn't start binge eating or drinking too much, or start snacking on sugary, fatty foods. There was no change in exercise. It felt like the weight came out of nowhere. I hadn't weighed myself since Thanksgiving, and when I finally stepped on the scale in February, I was, justifiably, horrified. The only time I had ever experienced something like this was when I was taking Lyrica and gained 50 pounds in three months. I had to stop this before it got worse.

I cut back my calories to a strict 1,000 a day, and then a week later, started on the Bob Harper "Jumpstart to Skinny" plan. It's a short-term austerity plan, but for me, I think it's going to be my forever plan. Participants in Harper's plan consume only 800 calories a day, consisting almost entirely of vegetables and very lean protein.  The plan is supposed to yield weight loss of about a pound a day, but of course that hasn't been my experience.

Some days I eat fewer than 800 calories. The most fat I consume is spray-oil from a can for cooking and a little bit of low fat salad dressing. My consumption of complex carbs consists of a slice of Ezekial bread every few days and about a half-cup of whole-wheat noodles once a week. So much spinach...There is so much spinach on this diet. Gagging.

Exercise, exercise, exercise. Yes, I exercise and as of this week, I started working with a personal trainer.

I've lost almost ten pounds so far, but my clothes don't fit any differently. Once again, I'm experiencing that secret, internal weight loss that nobody can see and that doesn't affect the fit of my clothes.

I need to fit into a party dress in about three weeks. At the moment, I can't get it zipped up. I'm discouraged, but this time, I'm in for the long haul on the 800-calorie plan. It's not that hard for me. Lettuce. The secret is lettuce.

Goal = 105. So, 70 pounds to go.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I want to die.

That is all.
I hate my life.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Allie Brosh's NPR interview

Sure, you should read the summary highlights, but if you have 40 minutes, listen to the interview. It brought me to tears.

When Allie gets to the part where she talks about what her suicide plan was, I lost it. I had a plan a few years ago. It was eerily similar.

I was in the car with my husband when I heard this interview. Somehow, he seemed to understand me better after hearing someone else describe how it feels to be so void of emotion you don't want to live anymore.

Start to finish, this is an excellent interview. Listen and feel ALL the feelings!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm around. Just not here.

Do you miss me? I know you do. I do. There's so much to say, but so little focus. I'll be back soon. I promise.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I thought it was just me

Have you ever cried on a plane? I have and I've written about it more than once on this blog. As it turns out, not only am I not alone in this, it's not even uncommon.

I just read an article in The Atlantic that discusses this behavior and some of the explanations related to it. I recommend it. The article is insightful--and validating.

Why We Cry on Planes by Elijah Wolfson, The Atlantic

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Greetings from Pinellas Park

My mother had total knee replacement surgery last Wednesday. I've been here in St. Petersburg since last Tuesday. I don't go home until Saturday, but, holy fuck, I am exhausted.

My mother's house is a wreck. It's not that she can't take care of herself. She has always been a bad housekeeper, but when she became enmeshed in chronic pain, the clutter, dirt, and lack of maintenance became borderline hazardous.

The Home Depot near 22nd Ave. and 28th St. N. is like my home away from home away from home. I've been there a lot in the last week, and I know I'll be back before the week is over. I've also been to the Walmart on Park, a place I despise. My mom is currently in Edward White Hospital (which I keep calling Walter White Hospital) not working very hard at all on her rehabilitation. I leave on Saturday, Mom, step it up.

I am not an only child, but my life plays out as if I were. My brothers want nothing to do with this situation. If you've been following along on this blog, you know that this is the third surgery I've helped my mom through in the last five years. My brothers have been AWOL. After the first surgery--which I took off from work for without pay--my mom invited my niece to come visit and showed her the town. Me? I got to change the kitty litter and clean up vomit and find my own ride to the airport.

My family does not take me seriously. They see me as being someone whose job does not matter and whose personal life is irrelevant. This pisses me off.  I'm hoping my younger brother can come and take over for me since I'm definitely leaving on Saturday. I guarantee that if he does come down, my mother will laud him to everyone she knows, talking about how her son cleared his schedule to take care of her. Me? Well, that doesn't deserve mention. Everyone in my family just expects me to be available and step in when needed.

I resent this.

I need a massage. I need my husband next to me in bed. I need some help getting this disaster-area of a house into habitable condition. God, it's a pigsty.

I had some really good things I wanted to say in this blog post, but I'm on my third glass of wine, so the words are now muddled. Fuck it.

Here's a picture of the dryer vent tube at my mom's house. I thought I could smell the dryer exhaust every time I did laundry, and this is why. My mother never noticed any such thing. this pretty much sums up what my week has entailed.

I hate Florida. Lizards, snakes, toad, roaches, rust, rot, blech.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Blogging on a plane…again.

A stream-of-consciousness post that is only a little about 9/11, my mother, or travel...

So, it turns out that Frontier Airlines now offers half-bottles of wine. Since I’m about to spend eleven days helping my mom after surgery—once again—I thought I would treat myself to this. It’s unlikely I’ll be able to drink when I’m in Florida, as I’ll have to be able to drive at a moment’s notice. At the moment, I’m very carefully timing my wine consumption so as not to finish while there’s still a lot of flying left to do, but not leaving myself in the position of having to swig down a lot of remaining wine at the last minute, either.

The light outside is rapidly dimming as we fly from west to east, into what is already night on the Gulf Coast. The sky below is a blanket of clouds with the occasional columnar formation that is probably pounding a thunderstorm on the land below.

I could sit here and post something about how resentful I am that my mother demands my presence in these situations, or how much I despise myself for always giving in, or how I know I’ll spend at least five days cleaning a house that likely hasn’t seen any housekeeping since I last took on the challenge in January, or what a truly entitled, ungrateful, and demanding patient my mother is.

I don’t need to write about any of that because I’ve done it all before.

We may be flying over the Gulf now, but in the dusk, all I can see is an endless stretch of slate blue. In a few minutes, there will be no way to differentiate between up here and down there. It’s a great metaphor for how I feel much of the time.

Sometimes I think I want to tell you my name. Not my pen name, but my real name. I‘ve never liked my name very much, but it’s still mine and an important part of my identity. I try to share this concept with the refugees when I struggle to pronounce their names. When I ask, “Did I say it right?” it’s not unusual for someone to say, “No, but it’s OK. You can call me that.” That’s when I say, “No. It’s not OK. This is your name. You’ve come here with little else, and the least we can do here is get your name right.”

I still can’t sleep. Maybe that should have been the theme of this blog all along: May’s Insomnia. If anything, the situation has only gotten worse. On a good night, I get six hours of sleep, but never six hours in a row. I should be psychotic by now. Instead, I’m gaining weight and losing mood points. Always losing mood points.

My wine is almost finished, but there’s still an hour of flight time left. My alcohol consumption is outpacing this fine Boeing aircraft. Maybe it’s an Airbus. I didn’t really pay attention during the safety briefing.

OK, here’s something I’ve never told anyone. I always buy a cocktail on the plane, regardless of the time of day. I also always eat a two-pack of Resses’s Peanut Butter Cups. It’s my ritual. The ritual seems even more necessary tonight, when it’s September 10, just a day before September 11. I allow myself these treats when I fly because I don’t take commercial flight for granted.

When those planes crashed on September 11, my parents called me that night. They had never really embraced my change of profession from cable corporate superstar to social worker for the refugee population, but on that night my mother said, “We’re just so relieved you aren’t traveling constantly for work anymore. That could have been you. How many times have you flown out of Boston or toward DC, or over Pennsylvania? It so easily could have been you.”

Until she said that, I had not personalized the tragedy. She was right, though. I used to travel on a near-weekly basis when I was a corporate soldier. Ever since then, I have made a point to enjoy—truly enjoy—a cocktail on every flight, regardless of the hour, and to savor my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, a true indulgence. If my plane ever goes down, damn it, I will go down having tasted pleasure and appreciated it on my tongue.

I usually fly Southwest. It was a bit of a jolt to get settled in and realize that Frontier doesn’t have onboard Wi-Fi. What the fuck? I’m composing this post in MS Word and I’ll upload it later. Still…Seriously, Frontier?

If they had WiFi, I’d have been on Twitter the whole time. Instead, I’m trapped here with a head full of thoughts because although I’m willing to pay $14 for a half-bottle of cheap chardonnay, I am too cheap to pay $5.99 for onboard television. It’s possible I’m trying to prove to myself that although I may have an alcohol addiction, I can still say no to television, goddamnit.

I tweet under my own name, or at least, something so close to it, there’s no actual masking my identity. About 100 people follow me on Twitter, and I’ve never figured that out, really. I only know six or seven of them. The rest? Who knows.

Are we there yet, are we there yet, arewethereyetarewethereyet?

No. We are not.

I wish I could sleep. I wish I could feel better about going to Florida. I wish a lot of things.

OK then. I am officially out of alcohol and attention span, but not flight time. Sigh.

There is one more thing I do when I fly, and it just occurred to me to share that, too. In the last 15 minutes of the flight, just before they tell you to turn off your electronic devices, I watch a video on my laptop. Yes, a video. It’s just as good and important as the cocktail and peanut butter cups. I watch the 2008 Matt Harding dancing video. It’s necessary.

I’ll try to write again tomorrow. I’ll be spending the day at Bayfront Hospital. See you then.

Friday, July 26, 2013

I knew that. I told you that.

A new study shows that the full moon causes sleep problems. Really? You don't say... Here's the CNN article.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It doesn't pay much

There isn't much money in my savings account--almost nothing, really. If I offer it to you as payment to kill me, would you do it? I don't know you, you don't know me...

I know the most interesting, dynamic, strong, fascinating, creative, successful women. I am not one of them. It pains me that I can't be more, or at least more like them.

Failure doesn't make me sad. Mediocrity doesn't inspire me to work harder. It's only what I am capable of, and that's my reality. Wa-wa-wa...I can't even write my own blog anymore.

So, if I pay you, will you end my sad existence? I should mention I don't actually have any money because my debts outweigh my savings. But you come here, you check in, you're interested in what I have to say, so maybe you care enough to help a sister out? I mean really out?

No? OK. I will keep shuffling on, but please don't expect any actual results.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


I stepped away from my blog for awhile. I'm sure you noticed.

This week, I've been rereading 2008. I don't remember writing most of those posts, so when I revisit them, it feels like I'm peering into someone else's life.

Those posts are incredibly well written, funny, insightful, and painfully deep. Where did those thoughts come from? Why can't I write like that anymore?

Today I reread the post about Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath (45 Mercy Street). What part of my brain put these words together so beautifully? I feel I should clarify. I still think that way; I just can't write it down that way.

Stick with me. It's probably all going to come back.