Wednesday, December 10, 2008

#23 The Taming of the Chew

Have you been keeping up with the news? Oprah's gained all her weight back, plus some. Let me just say for the record that she has my sincerest sympathy and empathy. I can't count how many times I swore that having lost the weight, I would never gain it back. Ha! Oprah's a strong woman both physically and spiritually. She's had trainers, chefs, and all kinds of gurus to teach and assist her in her endeavor to lose and maintain her weight loss. I am sure that it was very hard for Oprah to openly admit that she is back to being heavy yet again. There's a saying that goes something like this: If you plan to wear your heart on your sleeve, have plenty of outfits in the closet. Well, Oprah has a vast closet.

Over the years she has shared her desire to be thin as well as her frustration with being heavy; her bad food choices; her weight gains and her weight losses; her thyroid condition; admitting that she felt like a fat pig while interviewing Cher and Tina Turner, and just recently admitting that the dress she had planned on wearing to Obama's inauguration will probably not fit and that she will need to start looking for something else. On this morning's news I heard a reporter say that Oprah's drug of choice is food. I once came across a postcard that said, "food is like aspirin, it dulls the pain without improving the spirit". Let me just say this for the record too, aspirin is not strong enough to heal the causes of emotional eating.

The injury that causes emotional eating can't be compared to a bruised hip or even a fractured arm. For a number of reasons, food is chosen to dull those emotions that can't be shown to others or felt too deeply or are frightening. Lets say a 30 year old man turns to food when he feels angry. Perhaps as a youngster he was punished severely for showing anger towards a parent and so he learned to squelch this feeling with food. Over the years he extended his use of food to suppress anger towards other people and other situations. Obviously, Oprah loves food, and comfort food at that. Perhaps she hasn't yet learned how to deal with her "anger" and so it continues to follow her.
Emotional boo boos aren't bandaidable nor do they respond well to analgesics. Our 30 year old man experiences his emotion [getting angry] in response to the injury [getting cut off during a presentation to his boss]. Rushing to a vending machine to 'chew' his anger won't make him feel better. To tame this chew, he needs to learn how to express or deal with his feelings instead of suppressing or hiding them. Easier said than done.

I know you were hoping this last paragraph would have the answer. Sorry. I'm still learning to tame my own chew. But what I have discovered over the years is that if you share your problem openly and honestly with the right people [friends, doctors, family, bloggers] and/or if you listen to people talk about their problems without judgement nor critique, you can learn many things that may help you with your own "chew". Don't be scared to wear your heart on your sleeve. I have found that there are many people out there with sizeable wardrobes... maybe even bigger than Oprah's.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

#22 The Why-Bother-Blues


The slippery slope of the SCALE.

Sometimes the scale can be your friend and other times your frenemy. Let me explain. Maintaining one's weight loss takes vigilance, not obsessiveness, but just honest day to day oversight. To aid in this endeavor, there are different methods. Here are some:

-how we feel

-how our clothing fits and feels on our bodies

-the mirror

-fat calipers

-the scale

-honest friends and family members

For me, the scale [used almost every morning] is my aid of choice. I believe that clothing stretches [everyone knows that a pair of jeans just out of the dryer in the morning feels very differently by the end of a day], family and friend's moods apply to how they see you, there are some great 'skinny' mirrors out there that can trick you and it's too difficult to use fat calipers on yourself. So for me, the scale works. Now here comes the psychology of the scale.

My happy weight is 133-138. Sometimes, around 137-138 I get a little tense and start to watch what I'm eating. Other times I say to myself, just screw it [in less nicer terms]. Here I am watchful of everything that I eat and exercising 5-6 days a week and the scale isn't being friendly. This 138 hover can send me either way; like rein me in or make me feel frustrated and give me the why-bother-blues. This is the heavy hover of weight psychology. Wait till you read the light end hover of weight psychology. When the scale hovers around 134, I either feel so good that I tend to allow myself foods that are not part of my maintenance regime or I feel so good that I stay in control and revel at this weight. I never know until I step on that scale how I'm going to react.

Now I know what you are thinking. Good lord, we're talking 4ish pounds here. Yup! What can I say? This is the emotional roller coaster of weight maintenance. I don't want you to think that I or we maintainers never give ourselves a break. Sometimes, weeks go by where I'm on auto pilot. I'm feeling good, exercising, eating healthy and actually forget to weigh myself. But with every success, comes the F-word, and there are those days or weeks that feel like torture, where food controls all behavior and thought. Thankfully, I know this is usually an emotional and/or hormonal hiccup and food will become a non-issue again... until the next cycle.

I want to end this enemy/frenemy babble on a happy and positive note. Here goes -- I'm maintaining. I'm not going up and down the scale by 10 or 20 or 30 pounds. I don't have to constantly start a diet. I don't have all those "heavy" emotions that come with dieting, like failure, fat, doomed, denied, etc. Ninety-nine percent of the time I feel really good and successful and happy and for those of you who read my last babble, I got rid of that picture in my head of the perfect me and have embraced that I am the perfect me right now.

one way to maintain

For those out there maintaining, I say-- hurrah for us! Having dieted and maintained, I think we can all agree that this might just be the harder job.... As Robert Collier says, "Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

#21 Picture Perfect

I always dated or wished to date tall, dark, beefy men who had that edgy, bad boy look. Of course I wanted them to be a professional [at something], but beyond that I didn't give too much thought to their personality traits. Actually, that's not totally true. I should share that in the 5 years preceding my marriage there were 2 attributes in men I wasn't interested in. The first was men who were doctors. Since I worked with them every day in the Emergency Room, taught them surgical wound management and played on a softball team with them, I just didn't think I could deal with any more MD ego after hours. The other kind of man I didn't want to date was a Jewish one. Let me share this with you, I'm Jewish. Despite dating my fair share of Jewish boys, I tended to lean towards 'bad' boys and none of the Jewish boys I met were bad boys. Anyway, people reading this babble who know me and my husband are smiling. Why? Because my honey is about 5'7", as blue eyed as they get, has blonde hair [now with more salt and pepper in it], is Jewish, a doctor and is the antithesis of bad boy. The only quality he has that was on my list is that he's a little beefy - far from fat of course [in case he reads this].

Now, I know you are all wondering why I'm writing about my husband. Well, I'll tell you. Just like I had a picture in my head of my perfect man, I have a picture in my head of a perfect ME. When I met my husband, I didn't even look at him as a potential date. He didn't fit the picture I had in my head of "my man". I actually walked away from him and his buddy leaving my friend's sister to keep them company. She, being a nice enough girl, gave my husband my name and where I worked [she didn't know my phone numbers]. He looked me up, called my office on Monday and we chatted. This story could go on and on, but I'll make it quick. I wasn't interested. However, he told me he plays tennis and I thought what the hell, I like to play tennis too. We played tennis and then went back to his place for some wine and cheese.I thought, nice guy, but nothing there for me. I couldn't see beyond his shortness and blondeness. The next day I came home from work and there was a message saying he's meeting some friends for a drink and did I want to join them. My girlfriend, who was over, told me to go. She said I might end up meeting one of his friends. I arrived at the bar and learned quickly I had made a mistake. It turned out that he was setting up 2 of his friends - so it was really just the 4 of us. While walking me to my car later that evening, he asked if he could take me out for my birthday [about a week away]. I thought why not? Nobody else had asked me yet. It was after that birthday date that I began to wonder if this was the kind of guy my mom had been talking about.... a best friend boyfriend. By the 4th date, I realized that this short, blonde, blue eyed, Jewish doctor was wooing me. I haven't looked back since.

So, this is what I was thinking. I had this picture in my head of the perfect man and ended up marrying him. I just didn't realize he had all the qualities [and more] that I was looking for, but the packaging wasn't exactly what I had had in mind. I came to the conclusion today that I needed to ease up on the perfect picture I had of me. Maybe this is what the perfect me is supposed to look like. I've worked [and I mean dieting, exercising, self actualizing] very hard to be where I am today. Why don't I just rip up that old picture of the perfect Bobbie and just take a new picture of me - the today me?

Starting today, I'm going to see me through more accepting eyes... those same eyes that finally saw my husband as the man he was and not the package he came in.


November 2008, me in 3 inch heals with my picture perfect husband...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

#20 - Fighting "Mood Food"

The other day I was driving home from an appointment and along the way I started thinking that I wanted something to eat. Now, you all know me well enough to understand that when I'm driving AND thinking of something to eat, it's usually not because I'm hungry. To be honest, I've been in a little funk lately. This funk usually happens at the change of season and it doesn't matter if its a hot season turning to cold or a cold season turning to hot. Something just happens and for a few days I feel in the doldrums. Thankfully, as quickly as this feeling comes upon me, just as quickly does it leave.

Speeding along the highway, I try to fight the feeling of wanting "mood food". To this end, I turn my thoughts to my woman's group meeting earlier in the week. For this meeting, I had asked a local yoga instructor interested in healthy eating and healthy emotions around food to be our guest speaker.

During our meeting she taught us, among many lessons, how to try to stay with the moment. She told us not to give in right away, to stay with the feeling and to try to figure out what was driving [no pun intended] us to eat. So, being in my seasonal transition funk, I explored those ideas. I asked myself a number of questions like, what was it that I was feeling and was there something I did, or heard, or didn't do nor didn't hear that set me off. I dug deep, but I couldn't put a name to this je ne sais quoi [french: literally meaning ‘I don't know what’, an intangible quality that adds or makes something attractive or alluring].

Meanwhile, off the exit ramp I drive and I start to pass WAWAs, 7-11s, Dunkin Donuts and many other potentially dangerous food establishments. I just can't seem to figure out what it is that I want to eat. All of a sudden I realize that the reason I'm having such a hard time trying to find THE food is that perhaps this feeling is not treatable with this form of medication.

-- I realized that there is no food that is going to cure what ails me. The cure comes from within.
-- I realized that this realization, in itself, was a great feeling
-- I realized that I had finally graduated from emotional eating 101 and could now move onto emotional eating 102.

I realized that what I needed to do was to grasp with my mind that which the soul desires. And that which the soul desires is peace and serenity. The rest of the drive home was just that. No thoughts of food. No desires to fill that "empty space". My soul felt free and light and that lightness filled up my empty space. As I pulled into my driveway, I realized that my seasonal funk may have just had its last day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

# 19 My Dog is a Candy Corn Addict

Every year around this time I do something terrible. I buy candy corn. I know you're thinking how terrible can that be? Well, I just don't buy candy corn, I crave it. And once I start eating it, it's very hard to stop. Sometimes, before I even know it, I've popped 10 sweet kernels into my mouth. As the 11th goes in, I begin to get the shakes and feel nauseous. It's usually when I'm feeling this way that I question my sanity [Aren't there better things to crave?]. What's amazing though is that once Halloween is over, I can pass candy corn in any venue and have absolutely no desire for it. I mean zilch. You could even offer me some and I'd very easily so no thank you.

This year, however, things started out a tiny bit differently than previous years. This year I started buying my candy drug in September. I usually wait till at least the first week in October, but for some reason [I'll guess an emotional one] I allowed myself a small bag of Brach's candy corn [the only brand I'll eat]. On the 4th day, when that last kernel was eaten, I contemplated the possibility that I had gotten them out of my system early.

NOT! About a week later I arrived home to find a package from UPS on my porch. I opened it and there inside was a small bag of candy corn. Sooooo sweet!!! Not the corn, but my 12 year old daughter. Being the understanding, wonderful and nurturing person she is, she sent me a care package. Anyway, to make a long story short, I OD'd on them the second day and had to head upstairs for a sugar-induced nap. During my afternoon siesta, my husband told my daughter to go hide the candy corn and to dole it out sparingly... and only if I begged. Hmph!! I don't know at whom I'm angrier? My daughter for buying it, my husband for hiding it or me for my lack of control over it.

Fortuitously [or not], I found the stash of candy corn. As I was sitting at my desk this afternoon answering emails and munching on my drug of choice, I dropped a few. Iggy, our adopted dog, knows that when something drops he has to wait for permission to eat it otherwise he would be eating buttons, staples, you name it. Well, you'll never believe what happened. The minute Iggy saw what had fallen, he lunged for those 3 yellow, orange and white tipped sweeties. I swear, we had a fist to paw fight over them. As I sat there staring at my dog and three lost candy corn, it came to me in a flash: Oh my G-d, Iggy's previous owners had turned him into a candy corn addict!!! I smiled... it's nice to have a junkie buddy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sharing the Struggle


Dear Bobbie,

I was amazed to hear about your struggles with food. You are so thin and pretty I thought the struggles you have gone thru were way in the past. It gave me hope to hear you share that food still calls you. You've shown that it's not about deprivation, but choosing the right foods in the right amounts; it's about loving yourself and finding one's way in the jungle of eating. Thanks a lot for your sharing.

Sincerely, S








Dear S -

It is a jungle out there for some of us. I've been struggling with food since my early teens although I do have some vague memories of sitting in a dark closet eating Halloween candy as a little kid. Somewhere I learned to use food for a myriad of reasons. I have my good days [sometimes weeks] and then I have my bad days. Thankfully, the bad ones never last too long and I'm able to grasp onto some foothold and hoist myself back onto the wagon. I truly believe that food, like drugs, cigarettes, shopping and alcohol can be an addiction.... and an easy one because food is so accessible.

The secret is, I'm scared to get fat again. I'm not good company when my clothing gets tight, my eating is out of control and I'm feeling "fat". This is why I continue after 8 years to go to Trevose Behavior Modification. I don't want to ever see those 25 pounds again. I may not always do the program, but when I'm having problems, it's the program that I run back to. I know that losing weight isn't just about dieting, there are also a lot of emotions attached to it. When people open up about personal food issues, it allows others to see themselves as not alone or different. It also lets us see that we can have issues, but still look good and maintain a "normal" weight.

Keep up the good work. Stay focused. Be strong, and take good care of you. Thanks for writing and sharing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

#18 - Donuts Are Not Mood Enhancers!



Last week a friend of mine told me the story of how she was so frustrated with her printer that when she gave up on it she went right to her pantry and started searching for Oreos. Then, today in the car ride home from the dentist, my daughter shared that it was not a good day in school and when we passed a Dunkin Donuts, she asked if we could stop and get a donut. I knew what she was doing. I told her that eating a donut was not going to make her bad day at school get better. I told her I'd rather go buy her a pair of shoes than a donut. By the way, we did neither.

When I got home I thought about our short conversation. What I had told my daughter made a lot of sense. What's amazing though, is that I never thought of it so clearly when it involved me wolfing down some food item to make me feel better. I'll repeat for all our benefits: A donut is not going to make your bad day at school get better. Wow, so simple.

How in the world did we ever get to this place where a cookie can make the frustration from a broken printer go away or where a donut can make a bad day better? Was I taught as a child that food would make the physical hurt go away and did I transition this thought process to emotional hurt? No. I know with certainty that I wasn't taught this - this using food for mood improvement. It was not my mother's, father's nor grandparent's style, nor was it their parenting style. As a matter of fact, when my kids hurt themselves, I didn't give them food to make them feel better. I used to "beat up" the floor or chair or door jam or whatever inanimate object had led to them getting hurt. And if they were feeling sad, I told them not to be sad, that I would take the sad and make it mine.

Most everything I've read says that eating to improve mood is conditioned, ie. learned. Somewhere along the line we felt bad, ate something sweet and felt better. I know it's not that simple, but that's the essence. So, if learning something, like eating to make you feel better, is learned by being reinforced over and over, then can't we un-learn it the same way?

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9GBdqjuo5M
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My challenge for the next 30 days will be the following: Every time I go to food for mood enhancement [or any other emotional mood moment] I will stop and tell myself : "a donut will not make this day better". Concurrently, I will then substitute a healthy activity [or thought or action] which serves the same purpose that going to food did. Perhaps, if I repeat the donut quote enough times I can un-condition myself. Alternatively, I will do something positive.... not give into something negative. May the force be with me!!!
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*photo of lady is called "death by oreos"

Monday, September 15, 2008

#17 How Hercules Cheats on His Wife

My husband told me this story about a year ago, and although he thought it was hysterical [in a guy-humor way], I saw it very differently. Here's how it goes: My husband takes a buddy [let's call him Hercules] to the hockey game. Hercules, being a vegetarian, orders a veggie hoagie for dinner. When the woman behind the counter asks him if he wants oil or mayo, he tells her both. She says to him, "Are you sure, honey?" He responds, "Give me a break; This is what I consider cheating on my wife."

Here's another story. My husband and kids are going to the shore for the weekend, and to make life easy, I drive my kids to my husband's New Jersey office so he doesn't have to come home first. Crossing the bridge back into Philadelphia, I begin to think about what I'm going to eat. Not, what am I going to eat for dinner, but what am I going to eat that I usually don 't allow myself to eat.

Do you see the parallel between the two stories? Hercules and I both felt liberated from our self-imposed food-choice prisons. It's not that our families are our jailers, but it's a role that we somehow bestowed upon them. Many of us eat a certain way in front of our children, spouses, parents, and even our friends. I have a friend who swears that she's never seen me over eat and can't, by looking at my size, understand that I have food "issues". It's because "that kind of eating" is done alone. I'm not a betting woman, but I bet in the Hercules scenario, if he'd ordered that same hoagie in front of his wife, she wouldn't have said a thing. Normal-eating people understand that eating in a restaurant or at a party or at an event is a treat, and that sometimes you indulge. They don't look at it as cheating. People with food issues DO see this type of eating as cheating, because more often than not, indulging means going overboard.

People like me restrain ourselves so much of the time that when we do let loose, it tends to be in gigantic proportions. When the reins are held taut, that's as close to normal as we get. And let me say, the reins may be self-imposed, imposed by others, or imagined imposed. For example, a friend of mine only eats healthy and "dietetic" meals when she's with her parents. Because she was a chubby child, her parents had held the reins and directed how and what she ate. Now, even as an adult, she still sees those reins, although she admits that her parents never say anything. I only eat one scoop of ice cream or small cones in front of my kids because I'm trying to teach them [without words] that dessert or a treat is just that. It's not a food group that is supposed to fill the belly nor fill emotionally empty spaces.

Over the years, and with many slips and slides, I've learned how to allow myself some out-of-control-time. Thank goodness, I've also learned how to rein myself in. Here's the SECRET!!! READ CLOSELY!!!! I feel better when I eat healthy food and normal portion sizes. There. That's it. Honestly. When I eat a side salad and a piece of veggie pizza, I feel satisfied. My tastebuds and belly are happy. I know if I so desire, I can have another piece, but I also know that I would feel a little overwhelmed - more full than satisfied.

Here's the next secret. Read closely!!! I can have another piece tomorrow. Normal people know their limit and, more importantly, they know the food will be there tomorrow if they want more. People with food issues think in two ways. We either believe that the food won't be there tomorrow so eat as much of it as you can today or we want to be "good" tomorrow so best to get rid of that "bad" food so it's not around tomorrow [that is, polish it off].

When I arrived home from dropping the kids off, and... feeling "let out of jail," I grabbed a bag of chips and a soda and went out on the porch to read that day's newspaper. While reading, I did something I hardly ever do [I mean, besides eating chips out of the bag and drinking soda]: I read my horoscope. Caroline James of the Inquirer wrote, Taurus, you bull, "Tomorrow is another day. This should be your mantra".

Amen, sista!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

#16 What's Eating You?

I've received a number of requests asking me to re-visit issues that relate to diet, food and health. So, for those needing a loving kick in the buttinsky, here goes. I hope the following will inspire you to take the power away from food, seize opportunities to overcome emotional eating, and be kinder to yourselves when "accidents" happen.

Recently at my women's group meeting one of the members shared an interesting quote. I don't know the originator, but it came from a friend of hers who recently lost 70 pounds. I guess when you lose that much weight you figure out that, "It's not what your eating, it's what's eating you". Since I was taking notes when she said this, I didn't see anyone else's reaction. I know, without a doubt, what mine was; goose bumps all over.

Here's an example of how simpatico I've become with this quote. Just the other day I took my newly adopted dog for a walk. I'm working with him on being less dog aggressive. After 20 minutes of walking and having to cross the street more times than I want to mention, we came home. I mean, he had some great moments, but overall, had he not been on a leash, he may have done damage to a few other 4-leggers out for an after-dinner stroll. Anyway, we walk into the house and as I put the leash away I start to think about food, like I want something very sweet and I want it right now. But why? We had just finished dinner so I wasn't hungry and since I've continued eating the 'Oprah cleanse' way, I really haven't had cravings or what I call emotional food foraging. So, why was I feeling this way?

It wasn't until I was sharing the story in my women's group that I had an "aha moment". I realized that I wasn't doing right by either Iggy or me. Although I already love Iggy and think he's a great dog, it doesn't necessarily mean that others will.... especially if he's trying to sink his pearly canines into your dog's hind quarters. I realized that his problem was more than just love could handle. I was worried that perhaps this behavior wasn't treatable. I know from previous experience that this feeling, this unsettled feeling [I just don't have a name for it], this feeling of being lost, out of control, vulnerable can be a trigger for me to eat.

After I related this story to the group, I realized that this was perhaps the first time I was really able to identify the reason for food foraging and connect it to the emotion that I was having at that very moment. In the past, I used only two 'emotion words', angry and upset and I called my eating "fuck you" eating to deal with those emotions [remember the babble where I was waiting for my date, he was late, he didn't call to tell me that he would be late, I gorged at dinner]. Now, when I think about that experience, I understand what I was feeling. While waiting for my date, I was feeling vulnerable, not in control, disrespected. I didn't know then how to apply or perhaps I was scared to apply the true names to those feelings so I just did some retaliation eating to try to 'get back' at who was hurting me. Those of you who have done a little
f-u eating know, avenged and vindicated is not how you feel after you've forced down feelings with a pint of ice cream or a sleeve of oreo cookies. Since that meeting I've been looking back at instances when I 'foraged' because I was "angry or upset" and am now able to realize that I was "comfort eating" and not "f-u eating".

When you've allowed food to become an important source of companionship and stress relief in your life, you are entering a trap. When you deprive yourself of your companion and stress reliever, the trap snaps closed. This depriving yourself can make you feel abandoned, frustrated, lonely and even angry. If this sounds like you, ask yourself -- what's eating you? Dig deep. Be truthful. Be present. Acknowledge those feelings that you are forcing down with slices of pizza, spoonfuls of devils food icing and diet soda. Truthfully, I'm not sure a special key exists to release this trap. However, I'm 99% positive that the trap can't close if you become aware of, find ways to deal with, overcome, and seize control of those feelings that make you look to food for comfort and answers. I can picture a number of people right now who are struggling with their weight. I recommend taking your dog for a walk [metaphorically or literally]. You may just learn something about yourself.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

# 15 Yawn, Yawn

I have a wish. I want to fall asleep at a decent hour (let's say 11 pm) and wake up in the morning around 7ish. This means going to sleep at night and not waking up until morning. Is that asking too much? If I remember clearly, before children and before I shared my bed, I went to sleep at night and woke up in the morning when my alarm went off. If I happened to have a dream and it wasn't too scary, I fell right back to sleep. Back then, I didn't get up to go to the bathroom, I didn't listen down the hall for the sounds of my children's breathing, I didn't start making mental lists of all the things I had to do, and I surely didn't gingerly climb into bed so as not to wake up my husband who if moved from that most wonderful position, might start to snore. In which case, it could be a very long while before I fall back to sleep.

I digress... What I'm trying to share with you is that although, on average, I am a little sleep deprived, the pain is worth the gain. Let me explain.

The time is 1990 -- about 6 months into my marriage. Since my husband and I are both dog lovers, we couldn't wait to bring a fluffy little bundle of joy into our new home. Because we lived in Washington DC and in a condo, we wanted a dog that would make us feel safe, but also one that didn't bark a lot. After reading dog books and talking with many "dog" people, we decided on a Doberman. We went to a breeder, played with 7 little Dobies and brought our Zoe home. She was 8 weeks old. We kept the cage in our bedroom and took turns being "on call" for the middle of the night walks. Talk about zombies. I was working shift work in the ER and my husband was working part time and spending his off time studying for the entrance exams for medical school. Let's just say Zoe taught us a lot about parenting. These lessons included: carrying on our daily lives on less sleep than we thought possible, sharing responsibilities, loving a warm tiny body that pees on you, taking turns out of turn without getting nasty with each other, and cleaning up messes of all kinds. Luckily, our experience didn't stop us from wanting kids, it just made us a little smarter and probably a lot more tolerant. Let's move forward a few years.

The time is 1995 and my daughter is almost 3 months old. We have just moved into our 250-year-old money pit. I'm 33 years old and working a 60-hour week in the Emergency Department. Even with a toddler, a new house and a demanding job, I still got up for those middle of the night feedings. Although I was usually asleep on my feet, I LOVED doing it. To this day I can still remember her baby smell, her little hands playing with my lips and nose, the absolute quiet and Zoe laying at my feet. Those were some of the best 20 minute increments I've ever spent. Not surprisingly, once back in bed I fell asleep like the dead, but had no problem waking up at the slightest squeak from down the hall. I have jokingly said that my daughter aged me. I wonder though if there is an equation where you count the number of hours of lost sleep and relate that to the number of years that it's aged you. Lets talk about recently.

About 3 weeks ago we adopted a dog from a shelter. He's somewhere between 2 and 3 years old. I felt so lucky when I discovered that he was 'potty' trained and understood many commands. I thought that, unlike a puppy, I wouldn't have to get up in the middle of the night to let him out, nor would I have to listen to his crying because he missed sleeping with his mommy and siblings. May I inform you as to how wrong I was? Let me share this information with you. My dog has to be the cleanest dog in the neighborhood. During his first two weeks living with us, I thought I would go mad [the insane kind of mad]. Between 3:00 and 5:00 every morning he would start to clean himself with long, loud, luscious, lip smacking licks. I mean a total body bath! I wanted to pull my hair out. Well, we are now into our third week and when he starts 'a-lickin - I say, "NO Iggy", and he stops. I hope by the 4th week he'll have figured out that cleanliness is not next to Godliness and that in this house and at that hour it's more likely to get you booted out of the master suite. Oh, did I mention that dogs have dreams and 'some' dogs talk in their sleep?

So, what have I figured out from all this? I know -- don't let your dogs sleep in your bedroom. However, mostly I've realized how well I can function on so little sleep. I've also realized that I interact with amazing women every day who live and sleep as I do, and you'd never know it. They are vibrant, intelligent and beautiful people who only occasionally, in their exhaustion, may forget to take their kids to a dentist appointment or forget to pick one of them up from an after school activity. Perhaps, lack of sleep caused by the performance of loving acts is mathematically a plus negative on that equation of aging. Since this babble is sort of a time line, I'll finish with this. The year is 2011. I'm told as we reach menopause our sleep becomes even more interrupted. At this point, lack of sleep is so part of who I am that I might not even notice....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

#14 Medical Terminology 101

I have a disease. It's called "early-itis" and part of it's underlying cause may have something do to with another disease called "control-pathy". I know for a fact that my early-itis is genetic. My mother has it big time and my dad actually shows signs of it too, but I'm not sure if he had the disease prior to meeting my mom or caught it from her. My sister HAD it, but it was cured when she married a man who has "late-itis". However, her underlying "control-pathy" is still there and like mine, can manifest itself as something close to frustration-megaly and at it's most lethal, angry-oma. My brother isn't as badly infected as we are, but he does show signs of on-time-ogia. How do I know this? We share the same genetic make-up. I've tried treating the early-itis by changing clocks, driving slower, sticking an extra errand in before I need to be somewhere, but for me, this seems to be an incurable disease. The control-pathy, luckily, has a better cure rate and when it flairs up, I've been able to find the right treatment. I'll never know what its like to be late and I've pretty much given up on making the grand entrance. As for my control-pathy, the symptoms are mostly in remission, but I'll be honest, under duress I do have flare-ups.

I think my first really dangerous bout with control-pathy was when I was pregnant with my first child. I was lying in bed about a week after his birth trying to read without giving into my exhaustion when my husband came into the room and sat down. He looked at me, took my hand and told me that he was very unhappy. He went on to say that all I do from the minute he walks in the door is boss him around. He was right. As I sat listening to him I realized that my control-pathy was out of control. It was at this time that I learned an important lesson about myself. The more out of control I felt, the more I tried to control my surroundings and the people around me. As menial as house cleanliness and organization may sound, I had felt in control of my life [such that it was]. When that was taken away, the only thing I thought I could control was my sweet, overworked husband. Luckily, he was brave enough to approach me in my postpartum hormonal haze and thankfully I was able to hear him.

My wedding day was way more stressful than any wedding day should be because of my need to control. The vision for our wedding party was to have the guests enter a romantic candlelit ballroom and to be greeted with butlered glasses of champagne. Alarmingly, as the first to arrive, there were no "butlers" standing there to greet us, the bride and groom. We were even more horrified when we walked into the room. Nearly half the tables weren't set, none of the 200 candles were lit, the bar was still being set up and on and on I could go. I panicked, with a capital P!!!!! Because I had wanted total control of my wedding I hadn't hired a party planner and because of this, there was no one in the room to take charge. As guests started to arrive, I realized that I needed help and when I saw a good friend walk in I pulled her aside. I told her what was going and what needed to be done. I then walked away turning control over to her. Since I hadn't shared my vision for our party, no one realized that things were amiss. I danced the night away and had a wonderful Cinderella wedding. Major lesson learned: Hiring or asking for help doesn't mean that you lose control - your voice is still heard.

Just recently, my control-pathy almost stopped me from having a wonderful summer vacation experience. My husband and I have never traveled with friends nor relatives mostly because of me. A vacation should be relaxing, but if I have to wait for others or rush for others then I get stressed. Stress and frustration or worse yet, squelched stress and frustration induce another disease of mine, emotional eating. I was scared that this would happen if we went on a bike trip with 7 other couples. However, my husband really wanted to go and told me not to worry, but I was worried. In the spring, the country was chosen and our deposit was made. The day finally came and we all met up in Prague outside the hotel. As I sat in the bus and listened to our escort describe the week to come, I realized that for the next 5 days and nights, nothing was going to be in my control - except the number of miles I chose to ride each day. I remember sitting there and gladly letting go of the reigns. And let me say that I had a fantastic, wonderful and truly memorable time. Everyone did their part to be respectful of the schedule and each other. At the end, I felt so lucky to have experienced this amazing trip with my friends. Without having to worry about hotels, renting cars, hiring tour guides, etc. it was actually one of the most relaxing and stress-free vacations I've had in a long time.

If I went to a clinic for help with my control-pathy, I believe the doctor would scribble out the following prescription: Take 2 'enjoy life and take it easy' pills twice daily and swish with 'relax and go with the flow' elixir every evening before bed. Repeat everyday for the rest of your life.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lucky #13

I know I'm opening up a can of worms, but I'm going to tackle a tough topic -- Gossip. And before I get into the nitty gritty, I'll admit, I gossip and participate in gossip by listening to it. What I would like to believe is that what I say isn't hurtful or damaging and when I gossip it's with friends who know the kind of person I am. It might sound bit harsh, but I'd venture to say that people who say they never gossip are probably lying.

Is gossip always bad? And if gossip is bad, is the gossiper necessarily a bad person?

A couple of years ago, my brother gave me a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The premise of the book was to try to teach the reader how to be a righteous person by agreeing to do 4 simple things. The first agreement is, "Be impeccable with your word". The author asks the reader to say only kind and truthful things; to be aware of what you are saying and how you say it. When I called my brother weeks later and told him that I was really working hard on being impeccable with my word, he said, "great, now work on your thoughts".

I took on the first agreement with a vengeance. When friends or acquaintances talked about others, I tried not to be pulled into the conversation, or when I heard someone say something that wasn't impeccable, I told them so and then explained what being impeccable meant and where I learned this. When I told a friend of mine that I was working on being impeccable with my words, she told me about Lashon Hara. She explained that in the Jewish religion, saying truthful remarks about anyone--be it good or bad--is called Lashon Hara. It doesn't matter if you say something nice [like "Isn't she pretty"], because this statement could invoke jealousy in the other person and cause them to say or even think Lashon Hara. My friend told me that the best thing you can do is never talk about anyone. I asked her if this was possible and she said yes - that her husband won't talk about other people at all and when she wants to vent about someone or participate in idle gossip, he won't listen because by her speaking to him about these people, she is causing him to participate in Lashon Hara. Oy Vey! This was hard for me to fathom. Wasn't trying to be impeccable with my word good enough? And to be truthful, I was beginning to miss "sharing information".

When does a fun and interesting chit chat amongst friends become gossip? I really want to know. The word gossip has a negative connotation. I believe that true gossip is hurtful and mean and I think it is also when the people sharing are getting more out of the sharing than just the information; where cruel thoughts are conjured and where delight at someone else's misfortune is felt. Roget defines gossip as, "idle, often sensational and groundless talk about others". Wikipedia says, "gossip is idle talk or rumor especially about the personal or private affairs of others". Neither one of these definitions says anything about gossip being nasty, mean or hurtful, but in our hearts we know when our exchanging of information becomes gossip. And what about people we know who are good and nice and exchange information? Are they gossipers? Are they bad people? Don't get me wrong, I live in a glass house, so I'm not throwing any stones.

I think there should be another word to refer to the event of friends exchanging information where there is no malice nor hurtful intention. I remember reading in one of my Psychology classes in college that gossip between two people is a friendship ritual, it brings people closer. It's a shared intimacy. This is what friends do. Conni Sharp, an Associate Professor of Psychology and Counseling, says that although gossip usually has a negative connotation, it can sometimes serve the purpose of spreading information. For example, finding out about sick neighbors, the death of a pet or a car accident is sometimes learned through "nature's telephone". See, this is what I mean. There should be another word besides gossip for this kind of information sharing. Putting aside Lashon Hara [because you can't talk about anybody, good or bad], why can't I hear about something in someone's life and just take it for what it is---namely, information?

The other day I was sitting with some good friends and one of them was telling the story of this couple who were separated, who then got back together, who then separated again and finally got divorced. I happen to know this couple, but am not friendly with them nor do I move in the same social circle. This information was just that: information. I thought to myself, hmm, that's sad, poor kids, and so on. It made some things clearer to me about stuff I had heard in the past, but did this story make my heart beat faster, my pupils dilate in fascination or make me feel better for knowing? NO! Did my friend telling this story get pleasure from relaying this information? I can tell you definitely not. If anything, it made us all feel sad and more importantly grateful for what we have. Professor Sharp validated these feelings. She says,"By talking about other people's difficulties, we discover that they don't have perfect lives and this makes us realize that we are not the only ones with problems'.

I would love to get into the whole gossip thing as it relates to men vs. women, but that would make this babble even longer. Let me just say, why is it that a man can say to another man, "Hey Joe, did you know that John isn't living with Jane anymore?" and it not be considered gossip, but if this question is asked between two women, it's considered gossip? I think there is an unfairness here. Some of my best gossip sessions have been with men. Interestingly, as I write that sentence, I wonder if they would consider what we talked about gossip? Sharon Shepherd, a marriage counselor, says, "While gossip among women is universally ridiculed as low and trivial, gossip among men is called theory, or idea or fact". Perhaps it comes down to this: It's not just how something is presented, it's also who is sharing the information.

I'll end on this note. The only time we dislike scuttlebutt is when it is pointed at us. To help ensure that I keep the finger pointed away from me and mine, I will continue to strive to be impeccable with my word, and as Eckert Toller [who wrote The New Earth] recommends, I'll try not to "get drawn into other people's drama". I never did get around to sharing the other three agreements with you, but for the purpose of this babble, I'll end with the 4th Agreement. This one states: Always do your best!

Monday, July 7, 2008

#12 How a Self Breast Exam Set Me on My Career Path

Some of us go through life without a calling. Sometimes luck helps dictate our life's direction...

I was driving home from tennis the other day and turned the radio to NPR. They were doing one of their 15 minute "interesting news bits" about kids signing up for military duty. They were talking to new high school graduates who couldn't wait to get to boot camp. They were so gung ho!! What I realized was - these kids have a calling - a calling to serve. Sometime during their formative years, something or somebody clicked for them and they just knew. Some kids know from the time they can walk what they want to be. You also hear about people being called to the cloth and I've also heard stories from people who say they got their calling later in life. Well, either my "phone" was busy or I wasn't home, but somewhere during my 46 years, I missed my call. I have often wondered though if missing that call was such a bad thing...

Never during elementary school, middle school or high school did I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach or in my heart or in my head that called to me. I had no well-worn path in front of me to follow. I didn't have an innate talent and didn't know anyone in the business world that had a career that I thought I wanted to do. When I arrived at college I went to meet my guidance counselor to help me explore career choices. Unfortunately, his interest was more about how I got my nail polish to match the shirt I was wearing than helping me figure out "what I wanted to be when I grew up". In ways known only to the cosmos, I literally fell onto my career path. And metaphorically speaking, I didn't hurt myself.

I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but honestly, I was worried that I wasn't smart enough and if I was smart enough then I surely didn't feel I was a good enough student. So, like thousands of students at George Washington University, I became a psychology major. After my sophomore year, for a number of reasons, I decided to go to school part-time and work full time. I applied for a job in the Emergency Department as a Trauma Technologist. This was an on the job training position where I would learn to perform emergency minor surgery, start IVs, open infected wounds and so on. The job description said that I would be learning all I needed to know during a one year intense internship. This, scarily, would be while I was still finishing my junior and senior years at college. Although the salary was very appealing, I wasn't sure I wanted to do this or could handle the extra work or even had the experience needed. However, if I got the job surely it would help me discover if being a doctor was my "calling". Cutting to the chase, I got the job. How? Pure luck and timing! In life, other forces are in play and without us knowing it, we are pawns on their chess board. When I brought over my application, the head of the Trauma Team happened to be working. He was a young guy who "liked my looks" and told me he wanted me on his staff. He said that he was going to push my application to the top and lo and behold I had an interview with the chairman the next day. During the interview the chairman asked me how my manual dexterity was. I answered that I typed very quickly. He said, not that kind, but on the human body. Not wanting to get into my sex life, I was at a loss. Finally I told him I did a mean self breast exam. His eyes bugged out of his head and when he finally stopped laughing, he told me I had chutzpah and hired me.

When I decided that medical school was not in my future and I was a few months from graduating college, I was at a loss and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. One day I was talking to my sister and she said, "Well, you like medicine and working in the hospital, why don't you get an MBA in Health Services and track it in Acute Care?" I smiled, thought why not, and went the next day to register for the Graduate Entrance Exam. A week later, I took the exam, got a good enough score and was accepted into the Masters program. Fall came and without missing a beat I started taking classes while continuing to work in the ER.

At the end of the two years I decided instead of doing a thesis I would opt for doing a 2 year administrative fellowship in a hospital. There was one problem - I really wanted to stay in Washington. However, since there were only five fellowship positions in DC and hundreds of applicants I knew my chances were slim. I finally made the decision to apply to just those and if I didn't get one, I would worry then. Waiting interminably, I finally got a phone call [the only phone call] for an interview. During the interview process, an interviewer let it slip that I and the other applicants interviewing that day were actually the hospital's third tier group and that the first two groups had either all accepted positions elsewhere or had declined to interview at this hospital. Some of the graduates with me were offended and hurt, but I felt lucky. I didn't care if I was 60th on their list, I was there and other people who may have had more experience and/or better grades weren't. My interview went very well and I got the fellowship. Yea for me.

My next few jobs over the years were, I feel, based a lot on luck and timing. I'm not belittling a good education, personal appearance, grades and all the hard work put into one's future, but looking back, I truly see that for me, timing and luck may sometimes have played a bigger role than those other things I mention above. I still envy those people who have a calling or who knew from a young age what they wanted to be. I think it may be easier when you know what you want and have some type of path to follow even if it has some bumps along the way. Flying by the seat of your pants can be exciting, but I'm not sure it trumps a calling.

I wonder though if people with a calling are not the norm, but people like me are. No, I didn't have a calling and am not sure I'll ever feel one, but over the years I have learned that if you're in the right place at the right time and your heart and mind are open to the possibilities, good things happen. That's how I met my husband... but that's another babble.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

#10 Hold the Croutons Please

When I was growing up on Long Island I had a friend who took really great care of herself. I used to jokingly say that her body was a shrine and she only brought beautiful and healthy gifts to it. She ate very healthy, exercised and cared for her skin. She made sure to get enough sleep and never wanted to be around cigarette smoke because she said it was toxic to you inside and out. What is amazing about this is that she was a 15 year old girl and this was during the 80s. The only real diet out there was Weight Watchers and the only exercise guru was Jack LaLanne. I mean I'm talking before Jane Fonda and her video. My friend's parents weren't healthy eaters, nor were they exercisers. Where did this come from? And let me just say that she didn't stop doing this after a month or year. Off to college she went continuing to eat very healthy and to take care of her shrine. Even after college when I went to visit her, she went to an aerobics class one day while I decided to lay by her pool and read.

The reason I bring up my friend is to tell you something I've figured out. It seems that [sometimes] one must be a little controlling and selfish to make sure that his/her needs are taken care of. I can say with certainty that she was both of these things. Controlling what you eat may sometimes mean imposing your needs on others. If your family decides to go out for pizza and you're worried that you'll be too tempted, then either they need to change or you do. If you don't take control, you may be angry at yourself afterwards for eating more than you wanted. If you do take control than you may feel guilty for upsetting your family. If you've decided to be a vegan or vegetarian, it makes it tough for those family members who are true carnivores to get excited about going out to a restaurant of your choice. I think along with selfish comes strong willed, which I know she was too. I, on the other hand, did have and still have a hard time going out for Italian food and passing up the pizza, pasta and garlic bread for a nice chicken Caesar salad [hold the croutons, dressing on the side please]. However, I don't want my food needs to stop my family from being together and doing something we enjoy. So, selfish, controlling and strong willed are not traits in my makeup....

Sometimes exercise comes in the way of other activities that may involve friends or family. A person needs to make the decision whether or not they are going to put their exercise needs first. I can honestly say that there have been a few Saturday mornings when the family ran a little late getting to synagogue for a Bar/Bat mitzvah service because I had to get my exercise in before the day got away from me. In this instance, I can say that my kids weren't too upset and may actually have wanted me to run a few more miles. My putting myself first wasn't hurting anyone. However, you can't always get what you want and there have been many times where the day has gotten away from me and I've missed my exercise opportunity. My high school friend might have climbed on the treadmill at home or done some callisthenics after dinner, but I'm not that way. There is a window where I want, enjoy, and need to exercise. After that, it becomes work. I love to exercise so the last thing I want to do is make it work. So, selfish, strong willed and overly dedicated are not part of my makeup....

There is nothing selfish in the word selfish if what you do makes you a better person, feel better and react to situations better. There are many people I know who are overweight, under exercised and frustrated with some parts of their lives because they don't know how to put themselves first [and I don't mean all time of course]. You can't be freely good to others if you're not good and caring to yourself. This carries over to you can't nurture others well if you don't nurture yourself. Don't let the word selfish deter you from taking care of you. Once you start feeling good, the rest follows easily and quickly. So, selfish, strong willed, over-dedicated and self-nurturing may not be part of my makeup, but I have tried to adopt these traits when it comes to eating, exercising and taking care of me. I don't always put myself first, but I do try to make sure that along with my family's needs and schedules, mine doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

#9 The Cottage Cheese That Doesn't Live in the Fridge

I returned from shopping at the grocery store the other night and after unpacking the bags I sat down at my computer to catch up on unread emails. I came to an email from a friend from grad school and happily opened it. She had recently read my blogs and had some funny comments and memories to share. At the end of her email, she writes,"...if you could only see me now - plopped on the couch with my laptop and a paper plate loaded up with sponge cake and extra chocolate ice cream (you know extra ice cream b/c the sponge cake is very low in calories), oh the tricks of the trade...I am so gullible to my inner self!!! And here with me is the latest copy of The Enquirer. Have you seen the cover this week?- - STARS WITH CELLULITE!!!!"

I sat at my computer with a big grin on my face because as a matter of fact, while in line at the grocery store just that evening, I too had picked up the Enquirer and turned directly to the article about famous people and their cellulite. And do you know what I thought? I thought, these celebrities have every type of doctor, drug, trainer, juicer, vitamin, exercise machine and spa at their disposal. They also have enough money to do whatever is needed to fight the cellulite battle. If they've failed, if they've lost this battle with an arsenal full of the most up to date and modern ammunition, what can us poor [in all definitions of the word] bow and arrow everyday normal gals do? All of a sudden, I sorta, kinda felt good - in a ha, ha way. Isn't that terrible?

Let me tell you about my battle with cellulite. Simply said, I've lost the battle and the war. My problem started about 10 years ago [late 30's]. I noticed this dimpling on the rear of my thighs, especially when I put on a bathing suite. I believed this was related to having kids, sitting at a desk all day and not exercising. I mean, honestly, I had been FAT many times in my life and had never seen these embarrassing dimples before, and now I was relatively thin [can you ever be thin enough?] and here they were. So what's a girl to do? I hired a personal trainer, got up at 6:00 a.m. 3 times a week and lifted weights, lunged, squatted, ran and sweated. After that fun hour I got the kids ready for pre-school, myself ready for work, and out the door we went. After a year of this, I was in better shape, but that "cottage cheese" look hadn't budged. Grrrr.

One day I came home and told my husband that I had heard about endermology and I was going to try it. Endermology is when a roller/vacuum type machine is moved all over your body sucking and massaging to rid your body of cellulite or at least reduce its appearance. Needless to say he thought it was a bunch of bologna and cringed when I told him the price, but if this worked, he too would reap some of the benefit [a wife with smooth thighs]. For ONLY $1200 [once a week for 7 weeks] I was vacuumed and rubbed [not painlessly I might add] for a good 40 minutes. At the end of my 7 sessions, the "endermologist" showed me my before and after photos. Gee, I thought I looked exactly the same, give or take a few new hickey-like bruises from all that sucking.

Anyway, a year or so later I'm taking a yoga class and in walks one of the endermology technicians I had seen at the doctor's office. After class I went over to say hi and catch up. She told me that she was no longer working at that office. That's when I asked her about endermology and if it really worked. Truly, I don't remember exactly what she said to me, but the essence of what she said was that in her couple of years vacuuming and sucking the bellies, legs and buttocks of numerous men and women, she had never seen one successful outcome. Ok, I admit it. My hubby had tried to warn me that this was a scam, but I didn't want to believe him. I wanted to get rid of my cellulite!!

About six months ago, I was at the plastic surgeon's office finishing my series of laser hair removal on my thighs when the doctor asked if I wanted to be part of a study. He said he was asked by one of his vendors to be a test site for a new cellulite removing cream. Oy, I cringed in embarrassment, but that didn't stop me from signing on the dotted line right then and there. Again, out came the camera for the before photos. I was told to use an ice pack for 5 minutes on my right upper thigh and then rub the cream for at least 3 minutes in the cooled area before bedtime. I did this religiously for 2 weeks. Back I went for the after photos. Guess what? Nothing! Nada! My after photos looked just like my before photos. I heard recently that the trial had been discontinued . I wonder why????

To conclude, I haven't put up the white flag yet. I'm still open to the possibility of a cellulite "cure". However, I think perhaps for me, the cure is here. It's called age. It seems the older I get the more I've learned to accept [not happily or quietly my friends and family will attest to] body parts that in my 20s, 30s and even early 40s I bemoaned and worked so hard to change. Don't get me wrong, I still complain about them, but it's more in a woe is me way. I haven't given up my exercise, yoga and dieting, but I've sorta, kinda come to the conclusion that it ain't happening in this lifetime. I console myself with this thought though. At least when I'm at the beach wearing my bikini and I bend over to fix my towel, I don't have photographers hiding in the bushes waiting to snap a photo of my jiggly, wiggly, cottage cheesy butt. I take comfort in that thought.

Monday, May 12, 2008

#8

I was recently watching the movie The Secret with a group of women I meet with every week. After watching the movie we took some time to chat about what we liked, what hit home with each one of us, what got our attention, what excited us and what made us think twice. During the movie, one of the speakers said, "Energy flows where attention goes". That got a few nods and it was something we discussed afterwards. Another quote that really made a number of us "sit up straighter" was one by Henry Ford. He said, "whether you think you can or you can't, either way you are right".

Now, if you are sitting in a group of entrepreneurs, then these quotes will talk to you in a way that helps shape your entrepreneurial thoughts. If you're in a group of creative artists, again, these sayings will be seen and discussed with the view of being able to create. Our group is made up of 7 women. We are all in our 40's and we all have children. Some of us work outside the home, but no one works full time. What brought us together is our common goal to lose weight. However, weight [although the elephant in the room] is not the major reason we get together. We all are in a place in our lives where we have given [and still do] so much of ourselves to child rearing, family obligations and work, that we have lost a little bit of ourselves. In this group, we do different types of exercises where we try to learn more about ourselves. We ask questions that help us figure out our priorities like - who we are, what we want, who we want to be, why we do what we do and where do we want to go [besides Hawaii]. Needless to say, our interpretation of those quotes lead our thoughts in a different direction than the two groups I mentioned above.

Where weight is concerned, a number of us realized that we put a lot of our energy and attention into wishing we weren't the size we are, or being upset that we don't fit into last years clothing or that our appetites are uncontrollable. If you believe in The Secret and what it is trying to teach, then all that attention needs to be redirected to the positive and away from the negative. So instead of wishing we weren't so big or fat or flabby, we need to focus attention instead on seeing ourselves as thin, in shape, fitting into clothing from last year and eating in a normal and healthy way. The Secret says you need to shift your thoughts and feelings and with that shift, the key to changing your life has been given to you. I think intuitively we all know that. If you think bad things will happen to you, then usually they do. This quote not only helped some of us with our weight issues, but it also helped a few of us redirect our energy in dealing with issues going on in our homes and personal lives. One member even decided to use this in regards to her sex life. She will put more attention on feeling good in her relationship and her feelings towards her spouse and less attention on her body and how she wishes it was thinner. We're all waiting to hear if the "attention" followed where she directed her energy.

The other quote "whether you think you can or you can't, either way you are right" was another ah ha for a number of us. Again, in regards to weight issues.... DUH!! How many times have you started a diet and then when you didn't lose those 20 pounds in the first 2 weeks you just gave up saying it's never going to happen. Well, you thought you could lose 20 lbs in 2 weeks, found our you can't lost 20 lbs in two weeks and found out you were right. However, the path you follow after that realization is the make or break path. If you follow The Secret's teachings, then you know that you need to shift your focus to the positive and say, "Ok, I didn't lose 20 lbs, but I lost 5 lbs and that's still better than gaining 5 lbs so I'm going to keep going and see another 5 come off in the next two weeks". Now, instead of bemoaning your lack of weight loss you are thinking and putting your attention to the positive. If you continue to feel and think positively, your energy will flow there and the shift will have happened. You will have found the key. For those of you who think this is mumbo jumbo - and I know there are a lot of you out there - give it a try, or not. However, this may work for those of you who need a nudge right now to help bring focus into your life, in any area.

Some people swear by The Secret and it's teachings. There are a number of you already living this way and have just never thought about it. Another quote from the The Secret says, "Man becomes what he thinks about". So, our small group is working on redirecting our thoughts, desires and wishes. If this works, watch out! There are going to be 7 stunningly thin, creative, fulfilled and very happy women out there real soon.

Monday, May 5, 2008

#7

I was driving along listening to music on the radio when a commercial came on. I decided to change stations and in my search for another song I came to NPR. The speaker was a woman [an author talking about her book - I don't remember the name] and the topic was weight loss. She was discussing how before a person starts a diet, she works with them for 2 weeks helping them with coping strategies to use when they start dieting and feel hungry [both physical and emotional]. She said it was really important for a person to know how to deal with feelings of hunger. She also said that she tells her clients to eat breakfast one day and don't eat again until dinner. This helps a person remember what true hunger is and also helps them realize that hunger is ok, that it doesn't kill you and that it actually waxes and weins She said that lots of obese people forget what hungry feels like.

Anyway, the one thing she explained to the interviewer that really resonated with me was the "No Choice" rule. I don't remember her exact words, but she explained it something like this.... you don't have a choice about brushing your teeth or going to school or work or stopping at a red light. These things must be done. Well, where food is concerned, you need to tell yourself just that. That you have no choice. She gave an example. A client of hers loves cheese and it is extremely hard for her to not eat it when she is around it [like at parties and such]. This client told herself that she had "no choice" when it came to cheese. This was a food that she was not allowed to eat. Now when she goes to parties or functions or restaurants and there is cheese on the table or in the dish she just tells herself, No. She has no choice. There is no compromise. There is no negotiating. There is just NO. Perhaps down the road she will be able to go back and eat cheese, but the lessons learned from this are two fold. First, she learns that she is stronger than her desires. She relearns that she is in control and that food doesn't control her. Second, she begins to believe in herself again. By saying no and not eating cheese, she can forgive herself for all those times when she swore that she would start her diet, or wouldn't eat this, or would exercise every day, etc. With this rule, she was able to say no and stick with it. And I guess there is a third lesson. Maybe she realized that she really didn't need cheese in her life, that food tasted just as good without it. We get so used to eating things one way, that sometimes it's hard to leave out the mayo or the bread crumbs or the butter or the cheese.

Perhaps some of you will think this is a little extreme. I think maybe it is, but I also know that my self control isn't always controllable and sometimes when I lose it, I lose it big. If there were a food or food group that I had a very hard time with, this No Choice rule may just work. Isn't this what the Atkins diet is all about? He said you can eat this and are not allowed to eat that. For some people, "diet rules" really help. I say if your in a bad spot right now and not happy with the way you are eating, perhaps this is for you. Pick a food or pick a food group and go for it. But, and this is a biggie, don't set yourself up for failure. Pick something that is attainable. If chocolate is your thing, don't use the No Choice rule for everything with sugar. Figure out if it's chocolate bars or chocolate ice cream or chocolate cookies and just start with that one thing. If you can prove to yourself that you can do this with that one food, maybe you can pick another and go from there. If your eating and/or weight is out of control, give it a shot.... you have No Choice.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

#6

I was driving my 12-year-old daughter to an after school activity today and we arrived about 15 minutes early. Since the lesson she was going to was in a private home, I told her that we should wait a few more minutes before going in. She was fine with that because she was busy texting her friends. I picked up a book that I was reading and started where I had left off. She looked over and asked what I was reading. I told her it's a book called, "Breaking Free from Emotional Eating". She looked at me with that sweet smile, said "you're crazy" and then went back to her phone play.

I closed my book and thought about what she said. Am I crazy? The author, Geneen Roth, doesn't sound crazy to me. She says that the fear of hunger is like the fear of loneliness and both are connected to feelings of emptiness, echoes, endless wanting. Hmm. That feels familiar. Along the way she talks about [learning to] using food to fill these feelings. Hmm. That sounds familiar too. What she also says in this book is that you can learn to distinguish between emotional hunger and real hunger. Hmm. She shares some of her experiences and although they are hers, they feel and sound familiar too.

Let me share one of my experiences with you. I was in graduate school and I remember waiting for my boyfriend [who is now my husband] to pick me up for a date. He said he would be over to pick me up at [lets say] 7:00 pm. I waited and waited and he finally showed up [probably 15-20 minutes late]. I laid into him with both barrels about how disrespectful it was to keep me waiting and that if he knew he was leaving his house late he should have called to tell me he was running late, and blah, blah, blah. I remember him looking at me like I was this crazy person he just let in his car. And when we got to the restaurant all I could think about was stuffing my face. When I look back on that incident, I wonder if being left waiting was really me feeling abandoned and not important?

I've done enough self analysis to know [well almost know] that this goes back to high school when my boyfriend went off to college and I still thought we were "boyfriend and girlfriend." I never heard from him again. It was around this time that I remember eating a ding dong [that's a chocolate cake with white cream inside] and actually feeling the texture in my mouth, sort of relishing the taste and the sensations, feeling really "loved". Weird, huh. However, from there I started experimenting with other foods, like mallomars, drakes coffee cakes and oreos. Now, all these foods had been in my family's pantry and in my repertoire for years, but now I enjoyed these in the privacy of my own bathroom [I was too young to drive or I'm sure it would have been in the car]. Why did I start to eat in the closet - so to speak? I still don't know because I haven't finished Ms. Roth's book, but I believe what she says. She says that, "if you only eat when you are hungry, you are removing your protection from those feelings".

Anyway, this babble could go on and on, but it won't. The reason I share this with you is that for many years I felt alone [in my bathroom] and didn't understand what I was feeling and why I was doing what I was doing to myself. I share this so that no one should feel alone or embarrassed by the measures they take to care for the "little girl" inside them. We are mature and intelligent enough to know that what we did or are still doing isn't physically or emotionally healthy for us. As long as we are aware of this and are [willing to be] open to discovery and recovery, then we are ahead of the game. I say when you are ready, ask the hard questions. It may take a while to find the answers, but they are there. Be kind to yourself. I truly believe time heals all.

Monday, April 28, 2008

#5

I've recently taken on the job of class of 1980 correspondent for my high school. Our class president said that he had had enough [he's been doing the job since 1980] and with 4 kids and a busy job, he just didn't have the time anymore. I willingly stepped in since I've been "jobless" for about 30 months now and I don't see anything on the horizon. Anyway, with all this emailing to update addresses and forward school information, I've been communicating with people who I haven't spoken to since the last reunion or since high school.

All these old memories are popping up like crazy. Some good ones like when I received an email from my first boyfriend that just said, "hi bobbie', and others that, well... aren't so good. Remember how we were in such a hurry to grow up and experience the world? We drove, talked, ate, played and lived with no fear, well at least without the fear of knowing the consequences. I think "naive" would be the best word. We thought we knew it all... and we did know a lot to a certain extent, but mostly we were probably clueless.

One of my memories is wearing a tiny yellow bikini with abandon. I was more worried about it showing too much than worried about how I looked in it. What a notion!! Another memory I have is me drag racing my car Bertha against my friend's red corvette. I knew that driving that fast was dangerous and if caught, I would get a ticket, but at 18 you feel you are indestructible. Wouldn't it be great to have that freedom back? We just did things, we didn't always weigh [and I use that word for good reason] the right and wrong, the good and bad, the fair or unfair. We just did it. I know we are now mature women with children, husbands, animals and households to care for, but wouldn't it be nice to just go shopping with a friend and stop to get ice cream because you just want it? No "babble" in your head of: what did I already eat today, what am I having for dinner, was I good yesterday, did I drink enough water today, is it too close to lunch or dinner, what's tomorrow look like, how are my pants fitting, etc? Wouldn't that be nice? And this doesn't have to be about food. What about curling up and reading for a couple of hours without worrying about your "chores"? That's what you would have done back then. There was no rush....

I think we need to ALLOW ourselves a little bit of high school to come back into our lives. Not those bad memories of boyfriends long gone [good riddance] or braces or pimples, but those high school moments that let us just be us. I know that there were many self conscious hours spent during high school, but try to remember those times that you felt totally free of pressure or doubt or whatever. Enjoy that memory and try to bring a little bit back with you. Bring that smile and light hearted feeling back and try to find moments like that in your life now. Be present enough to feel that feeling with clueless abandon..... even if it's just for a minute or two.

#4

Well, the Passover Seders are over and although I banked my calories both days knowing that the dinners would be high calorie and salty ones... I still overate. And in doing so, I chose not to get on the scale for the last three days. I can't truly answer why I didn't weigh myself, but I can tell you that sentences like, 'scared what I might see' would be a good reason. Can one really hide from the truth? Remember that saying I shared in group? The one that goes, "what you eat in private shows in public". Why do we think that hiding our eating literally and/or figuratively or hiding ourselves from the scale will negate the calories ingested and the consequences of those calories? And curiously, I'll never know if the 5 mile power walk on Friday or the 5 mile run/walk I did on Sat. or the 5 mile power walk I did on Sunday or the 5 mile power walk I did today or all the water I drank helped me lose weight or kept my weight stable over this holiday weekend.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we have to own up to our choices, that the consequences be they good or bad aren't really going to change what we are striving for in the long run. However, just because we don't acknowledge what we do, doesn't mean that we can get away with it. That eating healthy, feeling good, being in control of our food choices and losing weight are ultimately what we want. A weekend of eating is a short term set back. It's o.k. to "hide" as long as we continue to strive towards our ultimate goal. If your eating is "bad", keep drinking your water, keep exercising, use the scale as you see fit and grasp control at the earliest possible moment!!!

#3

I was watching a program last night. One of the woman subjects was a very attractive person who was probably about 50-60 pounds overweight. Although she is an attorney and has all the confidence she needs in the courtroom, she is extremely insecure and has absolutely no self confidence when it comes to her body and to herself. She would look in the mirror and tell herself that she was fat and ugly, that her ass was gigantic and that nobody would want her because of these things. The psychiatrist told her to think of a movie star that she thought was beautiful. Then she looked in the mirror as that movie star and he asked her what she saw. She said confidence, beauty, self worth, etc. He then had her put her body in that movie star's and said that she needed to see those things in herself every morning when she looked in the mirror. She needed to wash her face, brush her teeth and then step in front of the mirror in all her glory and see what she saw when she was the movie star. I believe they followed her for about 12 weeks and then had her on the show. She told the audience that she felt much, much better about herself and that doing this exercise has helped her immensely. She's more self confident outside the courtroom and when shopping for clothing she didn't cringe when she was trying on outfits. She said that she does the mirror exercise every morning and that as a by product of this new found "person" she has lost 12 pounds and feels happier than she has in many years.

So, this morning I washed my face, brushed my teeth and then weighed myself. Not too good. I had a very busy weekend with parties and lots of food and drink. Seeing my weight was a little distressing and disappointing to say the least, but I put on a happy face and thought is could have been A LOT worse.

I turned away from the scale and tried to picture a person that I thought was very attractive both inside and out. Someone who I thought showed confidence and happiness in herself and her life. Then, in all my glory I looked in the full length mirror and did the exercise as above. I told myself that I had a wonderful body and that I should love it and take care of it and to not sabotage what I was given. I told myself that other women would love my round bottom and thick legs [I've heard those with really skinny ankles complain], that my breasts weren't yet sagging enough to upset me and that my shoulders, deltoids and biceps were in good shape. I then finished getting dressed and went for a power walk. Now you know I am queen of what I call "objective and honest self criticism". I know my strengths and weaknesses, my assets and flaws. Interestingly, I have felt great all day. Honestly. Even knowing the number on the scale, I felt great. And, not only have I felt great all day, but I felt like I looked great too. I liked the way my hair blew out this morning, my skin was cooperating, my eyes weren't red and itchy [I'm having spring problems], and the one pair of jeans that I fit into right now felt good.

So, I say give this a chance. You may be thinking that I'm more susceptible than others, but I really doubt that. I have tried on three separate occasions to be hypnotized and never once did it work. All I can say is try this. It doesn't cost anything. You don't have to buy anything. You don't have to go anywhere. Give it a shot.

#2

Just had an invigorating 45 minute power walk in the twilight. The weather was beautiful, the speed was quite fast and my breath, arms and legs were pumping hard. I am so glad that I am compelled to exercise at least once and sometimes twice a day. I love it! I love walking when I'm alone and love it when I have company. I love going to yoga classes. I love working out with weights. I love playing tennis. I love doing all these things, but more than loving doing them, I love the way I feel afterwards. Perhaps it's the endorphin high or the knowledge that I just burned calories or that I strengthened my heart and other muscles. Whatever IT is, it keeps me doing something invigorating every day. And, when I don't exercise, I feel a little sad and frustrated, but never guilty. And, sometimes I don't feel like doing it [for whatever reason, the weather, hormones, being tired], but 99% of the time I can overcome those feelings and do some type of exercise.

So, if exercise feels so good and the post exercise feels great, why can't I translate that to the after feelings of losing weight. I love feeling thin and feeling healthy. I even love eating healthy and the way I feel after a good meal. What is it that makes me dedicated to daily exercise, but not to daily healthy eating [what I mean is daily healthy eating for more than a day in a row]? And let me admit, when I don't eat healthy, I don't feel sad or frustrated, but I definitely feel guilty and usually a bit nauseous.

Now I know that most overeating is emotional. It's a crutch, it medicates, it's a best friend, etc. Well, let's just think about those words for a minute. A crutch is supposed to help support you, medication is supposed to heal you and a best friend is supposed to help heal your hurts and support your needs. Wouldn't it make more sense to exercise to feel good than to eat to feel good? Eating unhealthy, eating too much, eating to fill time, eating to "swallow" anger, eating to procrastinate do not make you feel good. And yet, we do it all the time knowing that the "good feeling" is short lived follwed by "bad feelings that can be 'long lived'. If exercise is good and makes one feel good and eating healthy is good and makes one feel good, shouldn't there be a way to somehow trick the mind to want those post exercise post healthy eating feelings?

This is going to be my "job" for the next few days. I am going to try to really be present before, during and after I exercise. I'm going to pay attention to what I'm feeling - in my head as well as my body. Then, when I'm eating poorly, I'm going to do the same thing... try to really be present, pay attention to what I'm feeling - in my head as well as my body. After I understand the feelings for these two different events, I'm going to see if I can "download" those pre, during and post exercise feelings to help me stop/put off choosing to eat unhealthy. I'm going to try to replace those feelings that make me go for food with the memory of those feelings I have after I exercise. If anyone else is going to attempt this, please let me know if you have success. I'd love to hear how you got there and how it feels to be there.

Quote of the day: "If you attempt to get thin by reigning yourself in, judging yourself, not believing in yourself, you will end up a deprived, self-condemning, and frightened human being. And maybe thin for a while, but just a while." Geneen Roth from Breaking Free from Emotional Eating.

#1

I'm on my walk today and I ask the person I'm walking with how her sister in law is doing [about 2 months ago she had a heart attack (at 47) and during her recuperation and perhaps because of her age, health status and family she had an epiphany]. My friend said that she's healing well and that she needs to call her because it's been about 10 days since she spoke to her and she wants to see if she's still in epiphany mode.

That got me thinking......Why do we get inspired or epiphanized or get on a roll and then forget or fall off the proverbial wagon? What happened between the OMG and a day later? week later? month later? What can we do to hold onto that feeling so that we don't lose it or fall off the wagon? So I came up with some ideas and maybe we can help each other out.

First, you need to share your ah ha with someone[s]. Second, you need to remind yourself of that "ah ha" by leaving yourself notes, phone messages, unwritten signs [like a red ribbon on your pantry door], meaningful books, etc. Third, if your epiphany is about weight, leave your favorite jeans or bathing suit out in the closet and make a schedule of trying them on [like every monday and friday]. And last, make a pact with someone to ask how you are doing every other day.

This way if the feeling is there, but beginning to wane, a chit chat with someone who can remind you about your ah ha and how good you felt and what the conversation around your ah ha was about, may re-inspire you. Pick someone you feel comfortable talking to. Someone who doesn't mind making and/or receiving the calls. It doesn't have to be someone in the group. Whomever you shared your feelings with is the person or are the people that will hopefully get you back on track. An email asking how you're doing may bring out a response that you didn't know was in you.