Monday, May 30, 2011
For me, the focus of family gatherings were of course the people, but seriously, for a compulsive eater? They were about the food! The rich, decadent, bad for me food that holidays gave me an excuse to consume in quantities: while preparing it (don't ya know the cook has to taste it, just to make sure it's OK), of course at the event (someone prepared this special, they'll be offended if you don't show a hearty appetite and rave over their offerings), and then after (I used to make extra just so I could savor it afterwards, too).
And then there were the years of living in terror of food! And of the people, too! When I hadn't seen them in a while, and I would have gained weight, and I didn't want them to see me as a failure (yet again). So I would eat before, in anxiety, during I'd be "good" for show, and after, back in the privacy of my own kitchen, pile it on full of shame over my perception of my fat!
But now? I just observed this: it is as though there is this peace with who I am and who my loved ones are and that it's all OK. What changed? Wouldn't it be easy to say that now I'm at my "home" weight and have stayed there for almost a year, it's all because of that? But it's not.
It truly is the result of the hard part of losing weight: the mental, emotional, spiritual journey of acceptance and nurturing. It makes even family gatherings different. It allows me to attend, observe, participate and yes, love fully what each and every one brings... their stories, their music, their faces, and the food. In balance. With mindfulness.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Three "I" words, along with the classic "I" referring to oneself are on my mind this morning. They are:
Introspection is a process, an activity. Webster's New World dictionary says it is "looking into one's own mind, feelings, etc.; observation and analysis of oneself."
Identity, it turns out, is a fact. The piece I am focusing on is this one "2. a) the condition or fact of being a specific person or thing; individuality, b) the condition of being the same as a person or thing described or claimed"
Image has many nuances, and here's the piece that comes to mind as I contemplate the three "I" words: "4. b) the concept of a person, product, institution, etc. held by the general public, often one deliberately created or modified by publicity, advertising, propaganda, etc."
Identity is who we are. Image is who we are perceived to be. Introspection is the process of self-evaluation that some of us engage in a lot, some a little, but all of us at least at key moments in our life and growth as human beings.
The people who seem to be most at ease to me, are those who accept themselves (identity) and either do not worry excessively about how others see them (image), or feel in harmony with what they see in themselves (self-image).
There is an importance to the external image in an interdependent society. For example, if you are seen as being trustworthy, it is to your advantage. If you are perceived as honest, as a hard worker, as a loyal friend, etc., it truly does help you survive.
Often, I become introspective in moments of quiet between the busyness of life. I also become introspective following achieving a goal, and following disturbing incidents in my daily walk. It becomes particularly disturbing, this process of introspection, if I detect a dissonance between my self-image (my perception of my identity) and how others see me (image as defined above). The process of introspection seeks to resolve this.
The resolution can end up altering my self-image. It can't really change my identity. And it probably will not change my external image (unless I make amends if that is what is needed). I can deny the dissonance, or I can alter my self-image to accept that I can be perceived differently because of some word or action on my part. And I can make attempts to correct any errors on my part. I can grow... but essentially, I am still, and ever will be, me, the identity.
In the end, I have to come to peace with me. I can change my behavior. I can be true to my identity in the process. I can become stronger.
Introspection: Who am I? Why am I here? I am me. I am here because I have something yet to learn, and possibly something to share... my experience, my strength, my hope. My experience tells me that achieving goals is possible. My strength tells me that I (and you) can do this without giving in. My hope is that I can move forward lovingly, kindly, and in harmony with my inner values.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
The iris on my page are my sister's garden. Our grandmother used to keep a similar garden after grandpa died. Grandpa was the real iris afficianado, and she kept them in his memory. Every year on Memorial Day, Dad would drive us to her house, where we would harvest the iris breeds he had been working on when he passed away. We would take her out to the cemetery where we'd place them on his grave.
Then we would return to the house and go through the old photo albums of relatives who had gone on before. The war stories would come out. Especially the one about Grandpa coming home from WWI to read his own death certificate that was sent to his family in error - he was not dead, but taken prisoner, and they got word of his survival shortly before the death certificate arrived. His brother, however, did lose his life in the same battle. This is the story of service men and women: all gave some, some gave all. My thoughts are with all those serving today, as well as with honor to those who have served in the past.
In any case, this time of year the iris are generally in all their glory, so they make a great Memorial Day flower. The lilacs often are in bloom around the same time. And my nose becomes a faucet... but that doesn't stop me from loving them anyway.
Age of Innocence (1952, Historic variety)
Friday, May 27, 2011
Two years on a Friday afternoon I walked into my local Jenny Craig center, to "support" my daughter in law in her choice to try this program out. I was a complete skeptic. If you've been around the blogs a while you've probably seen the reference to multiple efforts over decades to get weight under control.
What I said to the manager of the centre was: "Nothing you have to offer will help me if I choose to go out and buy quantities of food not on your program and consume them. Grocery stores exist. I have a credit card." Which is a truism.
She just smiled and said something to the effect that my knowing this was a predictor of success (or at least that's the way I heard it). Being a good sport, I followed the program, "mostly", and the end result is that here I am, two years later, with considerable success under my belt.
But the success is not because of the commercial weight loss program. Not to bash JC, I have become a believer... it's a great tool in the battle. However, that is the thing about any of them: they are tools. I continue to use them. Just as some readers here use Weight Watchers or any other group in addition to Spark. And I've used many of them over the years.
The key is not the specific tool set: it's inside myself, it's deciding I'm worth a nurturing choice. It's avoiding the trap of thinking the glazed donut is a reward or a consolation prize or something. It's avoiding the further trap of compounding the initial mistake of taking in something that triggers a binge by piling on guilt and continuing it.
"Taking in something" is more far reaching than a food or a bite... what one takes in that triggers a binge is often a thought or a feeling taken to heart. "I'm feeling (fill in the feeling... lonely, anxious, angry, sad)... food will make me feel better."
This morning I observed that breakfast *did* make me feel better. The minute I savored a bite of my steel cut oats with banana and cinnamon and nutmeg, my palate lit up and said, "Yes!" My tummy said pretty much the same, and the lights went on in my head: "I feel better (emotionally)!" And when breakfast was over, I felt satisfied and enlightened. And I was able to say confidently, "this is enough for now."
Eating mindfully... and moving mindfully... and breathing mindfully... not a bad life. The storms can be weathered. Somewhere in this mindfulness is the me that is meant to be. Sometime with this mindfulness, I will find her.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The big life question: who am I and what is my purpose on this planet?
Huge question, huh? What does it have to do with Spark?
Spark is disguised as a place to work on nutrition and fitness and healthy habits (which it is)... really is a place to work on LIFE. One of the first things the book "The Spark" has a person do is figure out WHY he or she wants to ... "lose weight" or "eat healthy" or "get more active". That has to do with what is personally important.
What is personally important is all wrapped up in the subject question: "Who am I?" "Why am I here?" "What do I hope to get out of this?"
Spark encourages us to examine our values, our deepest sense of what's important to us. The hardest times in life (for me) are when I question my own assumptions about myself. I don't know about the rest of the world, I'm only one woman. Maybe some people never ask that question.
For me: the large questions and doubts have to be faced at some point, and re-examined from time to time. I have choices about how I handle these times of doubt, same as anyone else. I can choose to numb the thought process for a time: and my usual tool to do this has been food. As I work toward an athletic goal, I can defer the thought process by giving myself a "substitute" goal (like completing a 5K, or the half marathon). Weight loss can be a "substitute" goal or an intermediate one, as well. So can attaining a certain level of physical health. Why? Because they are steps on the path to achieving our purpose in life.
When an intermediate goal is reached, we get back to the big questions of life: Who am I and why am I (still) here? My mom once asked a spiritual adviser this question, and received this answer: "You have something more to learn, or something more to give."
It has been three and a half weeks since the last "finish line". I have kept myself busy, and I have had some little(?) emotional tantrums during this time. For the most part I have weathered them without heading down the road of relapse, but I've felt physically lazy, and emotionally stressed.
I've kept on Sparking. I've blogged or posted status. Because I've learned this: it's important to keep nurturing me physically while I figure out the other parts!
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