Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lessons In Forgiveness

Part of my journey in regaining my physical and mental health is learning to deal with things from my past. Not just deal with them, actually, but to put them away and move on. I've clung to certain things for a long time and I'm finally figuring out how to let go.

One of the toughest things I had to endure was bullying at the hands of my babysitters' kids. Because both of my parents worked, I'd stay with families who could watch me before and after school. Most of the time, though, the kids in the household would resent having other children around to take up their parents' attention. In almost every home, I was teased and bullied, and because I was so shy, never stood up for myself.

The last home I was at was the worst. I ended up there after meeting one of the girls and her older sister on the bus. I was only in the first grade at the time, but they were nice to me, even though they were both older. When I found out that their mom ran a babysitting service in her home, I begged my parents to let me stay with their family. They agreed and I was thrilled.

At first, things went well. I loved being in a home with my new friends; even better, one of the girls from my second grade class was also staying there. I enjoyed being around a group of what seemed like nice kids.

Unfortunately, things quickly went downhill. The older sister, who was five years my senior, started making nasty comments at me. At first, they were pretty benign, but as time went on, they got worse. She also recruited her younger sister and my classmate to gang up on me. They'd constantly "correct" me or call me names; it never seemed like I could do anything right. They lectured me for boasting about my grades, made fun of me for being Jewish, calld me an "Igpay verde," green pig in Pig Latin.

I stayed at that home for three years and by the time I was 10 and the older girl was 15, the abuse from her turned physical. One time, she held me down and yanked off my skirt and then had some of the neighborhood boys walk under my legs -- when I was in my underwear. Another time, she held me down and tried to feed me dog shit. There were other things, too, that I'm not so comfortable writing about. But she also made fun of me for being fat -- which I wasn't at that age. After enduring three years of these girls telling me how much I suck, pretty much on a daily basis, I hated myself. Their words and actions stayed with me until adulthood.

I finally left that home at the end of fourth grade. I just couldn't stay there anymore, so I begged my parents to let me just stay home by myself. They were a little wary, but agreed. I remember feeling like I'd been let out of prison. The next year, the third girl -- the classmate -- apologized to me for everything they'd done. She explained that she and the younger sister were scared of the older girl and teamed up with her basically out of self-preservation.

Anyway, the other day on Facebook, the younger sister sent me a kind note. She told me that she felt blessed to have had me in her childhood and asked if we could be FB friends. I've heard of nostalgia changing people's perspective on the past, but wow, was her vision of our time together different than mine! I was moved by her sincere note, though, and after sleeping on it, wrote her back. I came up with something positive to say and said that she could be my FB friend if she wants.

Part of me is a little freaked to know that I'm now two degrees from the older sister via FB. However, I feel safe in knowing that she can't do anything to me. For one thing, I'm certain that I'm now bigger than her. I doubt that we'll ever come face to face, but if we ever do and she dares to touch me, I will kick her ass! Being fat DOES have some advantages, LOL! But more important than that, I've finally reached a point where I like myself -- and nothing she could say would change that.

I'm proud of myself for taking this step and letting the past go. I'll never forget what happened, but I think I am ready to forgive.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Holidays And Catching Up

Just finished a crazy week -- no wonder I crashed on Friday night! After attending my friend's bridal shower and then visiting my grandmother last Saturday, we had our Passover seder on Monday; I then helped another friend with wedding plans later in the week. It was fun seeing so many people, but I was happy to enjoy a quiet Sunday today.

I'm going to be honest, I haven't been so great about going to the gym. But I have been doing well with my eating. At Passover, I took only one serving of meatloaf, spinach souffle and stuffing, and I didn't even finish it. For dessert, I had one small piece of Passover brownie and one macaroon. Oh, and I had half a glass of wine. That was it. We were supposed to go to a second seder on Tuesday, but I decided to not attend. I felt badly cancelling on the friend who invited us, but I didn't want to do two big dinners in a row, especially since I had the bridal shower the weekend before. I stand by my decision and figure that we can see the friend on another day.

Later in the week, I went to my friend Amy's to help her address wedding invitations. She also served Passover food, but it was all very light -- beet salad, homemade guacamole and matzah, fresh vegetables, cottage cheese.

We don't really observe Passover (yes, I still eat bread; I'm a bad Jew), but I've been careful all week. I actually haven't had that much of an appetite, probably because I've been eating less.

Mentally, I'm in a good place. I have my second craft fair next weekend and am looking forward to selling some more jewelry. I've been working on new pieces all weekend and can't wait to show them off. Physically, I could be better (I know, I know, working out will help), but I'm sleeping a lot better these days and feel less lethargic. We had a half day of work on Friday, so I went home early with the plan to take a nap; instead, I ended up finishing a book and making four pieces of jewelry that evening. On weekends, my instinct is to hibernate, but I've been forcing myself to go out, even if it's just to see a movie. We did that yesterday and then today, I made some more jewelry and cleaned.

Right now, I'm going to enjoy the salad and chicken curry that Jon cooked for me. I like Sundays because it means that it's the start of a new week, and another chance for me to start clean and healthy. Here's to a happy Easter/Passover to everyone and to you having a healthy week, as well!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

More Than Words

I just had the strangest, shittiest week and it only got more bizarre today. Not sure what it is ... maybe it's all of this rain?

Anyway, it looks as if my job is in serious jeopardy. We're being bought out by another company and the rumor is, about half of us will be out of work. Some reps from the new company had interviews with everyone over the past couple of days and I believe that I impressed them, but I'm trying to stay realistic. The good news is that Jon's work is going well so we're fine; if I lose my job, I'll find something else to do and it won't be the end of the world. But I'm worried not just for myself, but for my co-workers. I also know that a lot of people have already lost jobs because of this move and I feel badly for them.

This weekend, I prepared to get my mind off of things by relaxing and enjoying my friend's bridal shower. I arrived over an hour early so I went to the bagel shop next door to get some breakfast. It was nearly empty and very quiet, so I sat and read. For the first time all week, I was actually having some fun.

Then this man barged in right around the time that the two workers were in the back, checking on the bagels, I guess. This meant that I was all alone. I figured that the man was just a customer, but then he turned to me and growled, "Hello, FATSO." I knew that he was addressing me.

I tried to ignore him, but he went on a rant about how I was a fat piece of shit and a waste of space, and how I don't love God. Obviously, he was crazy out of his mind. Still, it scared the hell out of me. I just sat there, frozen, because I didn't know if he had a gun or knife on him, or what. He just kept screaming at me, taunting me about my weight and daring me to call the cops. Finally, the workers came out from the back and threw him out. They explained that he's basically the neighborhood Crazy and that everyone just ignores him.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I went next door to the place where the party was being held, but the man's words kept echoing in his head. Yeah, he was loony-tunes, but his insults still hurt. It was like all I was to him was a fat person and that angered him enough to barge into the store and yell. I try not to be hard on myself, but having him telling me how gross and useless I am was kind of like a demon spitting all of my insecurities right into my face. It also occured to me while he was ranting that if he did have a gun and shot me, that the last words I'd hear would be someone calling me a fat piece of shit.

I like to find the purpose in things, a reason for why things happen, but I can't come up with any for this. I'm trying to stay positive and remind myself that he didn't have a gun and didn't hurt me in any way. Plus, he's crazy and has apparently fallen through the cracks of the system, while I have not. Maybe this was supposed to be a test -- a test to see if I could deal with insults coming from someone who doesn't matter? I don't know.

Now I'm home, snuggled into my bed with my cat and my book, as the rain hits our window. My husband is in the next room and that man is probably wandering the streets in the bad weather. I can't let someone like that take away my dignity. It's hard, but I'm going to talk myself into moving past this.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bitter Pill

Working out has definitely helped me get some of my fitness back, but I've also made another life change: I went back on my meds. I was hoping that I could stop taking the pills that my doctor had prescribed for insulin resistance, but after being off them for about eight months, all of my old symptoms returned: break-outs, brittle nails, bloating, sallow skin, lethargy. I've been taking them again for about a week ... and I already feel better. I've also decided to finally see a new edincrinologist when we return from Greece. I was originally planning to wait until I lose more weight, but I'm realizing that I have a real problem. Right now, I'm researching doctors in NYC; if anyone knows of a capable endo with a good bedside manner who won't judge my weight, I'm open to suggestions!

I'm not going to argue that going off the pills was an idiotic thing to do. But after going for so many medical things relating to my leg the last year, it felt nice to be "clean." Plus, I was feeling good. I was in PT, I was losing weight, I was getting back on my feet. I liked the thought that I was getting healthy enough to be pill-free.

Unfortunately, my body doesn't want to cooperate. As I've written before, this winter was really difficult for me because I spent most of it sick. Then I started getting horrible "bacne" and excess hair on my face. I started skipping periods. That's exactly what happened the last time when my doctor put me on meds. Again, I'm a moron for letting it get to this point, but well, I'd rather move on than dwell on a bad decision.

In the week that I've been back on my pills, I've already lost some weight and my back and face have cleared up significantly. I'm also less lethargic. I'm getting more physical benefits from losing weight, too; when we went to the movies, for example, I fit in the chairs a lot more comfortably.

In addition to losing more weight, I do know that I have to take care of myself by seeing my doctors more often. I'm embarrassed to share this story about my pills because really, what kind of person goes off meds that she needs? But I want to be honest with my readers -- and myself -- when I mess up.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Goals For April And Beyond

I really hate it when my body doesn't cooperate. I've had a sore throat all week; today, I was feeling better, but then I threw out my back. So there went my plan to go to the gym after work.

Still, all is not lost. I'm going to do the BowFlex tonight and work on some back strengthening exercises. I need to do more strength training, anyway, so it works out.

As of now, I have 45 days until Greece so I need to come up with definite goals for April. I keep thinking that the month is almost over because we're into the May issue at work, but April's just started! That gives me plenty of time to enjoy it.

I want to continue going to gym -- more often than I have this week, obviously -- and also use the BowFlex in the mornings. I've been sleeping a bit better, so if I can get my butt out of bed by 7:30, I can get in a nice 20-minute routine. If I do this every day and then go to the gym three times a week, that's a decent amount of exercise.

I've also been thinking about longer term goals, things I'd love to do if I were in better shape. I'm always looking for new projects, like the jewelry making, and being fit opens a lot of doors. Some of my future goals include:

Learning to ballroom dance
Hiking Bear Mtn, which is near my in-laws
Scuba diving
Riding a bike down the Maui volcano in Hawaii

None of these goals are too extreme. I'm not planning to become a decathlete or even a triathlete. These are just some fun activities that I'd love to try.

On days like this when it's rainy and I ache, it's easy for me to fall into a rut and say, "I can never do this." Having goals gives me stuff to look forward to.

What are some of your fitness goals?

Monday, April 4, 2011

TV Show Review: RUBY

Whew, I'm wiped tonight. Yesterday was my first craft show for my jewelry, so Jon and I got up at the crack of dawn and then spent the day in the freezing cold and wind as I sold my stuff. But I made a few sales and learned some stuff about retail. All in all, it was an interesting day.

I got in some exercise since I had to carry my suitcase full of jewelry and supplies, but my eating wasn't great. Though I brought some granola bars and low-fat string cheese, I ended up having some chocolate pretzels and a barbecue pork sandwich, though to be fair, I only ate about a quarter of the sandwich because it was fatty and gross. Not my best day, but I didn't go crazy, which was good since I was surrounded by fresh-baked cookies and candies at the event. Today, I returned to eating well and am looking forward to getting back to the gym tomorrow. Only six weeks until Greece; I've really got to step it up a notch.

Meanwhile, I've been watching a lot of "Fat TV" in search of inspiration. There are a lot of shows featuring obese people these days, which is kind of scary. But it's good to know that I'm not alone in my struggles.

One of the shows that speaks to me and frustrates me at the same time is RUBY, which is on the Style network. It chronicles the weight struggles of 40something Ruby Gettinger, who went from being 700-plus lbs to about 350. She almost made it out of the 300s ... and then gained about 60 pounds.

What I appreciate about the show is that it shows a real woman's struggle. It's not like THE BIGGEST LOSER, where contestants lose weight very quickly ... and then we don't really hear from them. Ruby is realistic and raw; we see her weight go up and down, and her struggling to not binge -- which is what it's like for many of us who have eating issues.

Unfortunately, much of the series frustrates me in that it's contrived. Ruby claims to have no childhood memories, a plot point which has been dragged out for four seasons. I suspect that something bad happened to her, like she was molested, but I'm not sure that I really buy that she blacked it out. I mean, she's still in touch with so many people from her childhood, how can they not jog at least some of her memories?

I'm also finding Ruby to be annoying. She's extremely childlike, using words like, "Hacky" (Happy and wacky) or saying things like, "What the hellicopter?" If she doesn't get her way, she whines. Her friends, Jeff and Georgia, are at her every beck and call.

But what furstrates me the most is that she just doesn't seem to be interested in changing her lifestyle. She's been handed everything-- trainers, shrinks, supportive friends -- and a TV show! And yet she whines whenever her friends eat pizza in front of her and just doesn't seem invested in trying her trainers' workouts. She blames all of her problems on others.

On the one hand, I feel for her because I've been there. Hell, I AM there. I know how difficult it is to keep up your motivation when you have so much to lose. I know what it's like when your friends can eat "normal" foods and you have to watch yourself. I know how it is to lose a lot of weight and then gain it back.

But I've tried. I really have. I've been successful ... and then not so much, but I keep trying and trying again. And I like to think that I act like an adult, even if I do have a weird sense of humor. Ruby doesn't have a job and basically has minions; my friends would kill me if I made them spray tan my naked body (yes, Ruby did this in one episode). I don't yell at people for eating "bad" food in my presence.

I don't expect Ruby's weight loss to be continuous and consistent, but I wish we were watching a more motivated, mature role model. Either way, I hope that Ruby loses the weight. My weight problems are pretty bad, but hers are like a trainwreck. I'd really like to see her get it together.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Green-Eyed Monster

Now that I'm in my late 30s, I feel as if I'm going through a bit of a transition in regards to my friendships. I know that I've changed a lot over the past few years, maybe even more so than the time between high school and college, and when I was in my 20s. That said, I've made some wonderful new friends and have lost others. I'm told that this is normal, that everyone goes through this type of change, but it seems to be happening all at once. I tend to be loyal to a fault when it comes to maintaining friendships, so it always hurts when I lose touch with someone. Still, I'm trying to do more to appreciate the friends that have stayed with me.

One thing I've come to value in my friendships, besides stability, is positivity. I like being around positive, creative people who inspire me to be the same way. I'm not saying that they should never complain or be upset -- that would be ridiculous -- but the people I find myself gravitating toward lately are those who tend to stay upbeat, even when the odds are against them.

I think we've all known people who are "emotional vampires," who are constantly involved in drama and who tend to use their friends for whatever purpose. I admit, I used to be like this. When I was in high school and even college, I was depressed all the time. I used to whine about not having a boyfriend, not being pretty enough, not being popular enough, etc. Then I wondered why people didn't want to be around me! Worse, I always wanted what others had, especially when it came to romance. I felt as if I were useless because I didn't have a boyfriend and resented my friends who did. I remember that my now sister-in-law and her then boyfriend were up for the "cutest couple" reward on our floor and I purposefully didn't vote for them because I was angry that they were together and I was alone. What kind of friend was I? I was being jealous and petty, and wished she could be miserable like me.

I've felt this way when it comes to weight, too. Lani, my friend since childhood, has lost a lot of weight over the years, but when she first started dropping pounds, I - I'm ashamed to admit -- was jealous. When people complimented her, I'd be like, "Why can't that be me?" but she worked hard to get thin. And when I was training for the 20-mile walk a few years ago, I found myself becoming envious of my friend Scott because he rund marathons. I wished I could be as athletic as him. Again, he worked hard at being in shape and would constantly tell me, "Stop comparing yourself to other people."

Then there have been my reactions to others' life changes. When my sister-in-law became pregnant, I worried that she'd be favored by the family for giving them a grandchild and that I'd be left in the cold. But it hasn't been like that at all. Having a niece is fun and I've found other ways to bond with my in-laws. And again, I know that my SIL works hard to be a good mom. I've felt a pang when other friends have announced pregnancies, as well, but when you're a parent, you NEED adult friends. Yes, their lives may have changed, but I've learned to adjust and relish my "new" role in it. Kids are time-consuming, but almost all of my mommy friends also cherish the time they get to be with me or other girlfriends.

These days, I'm making an effort to not be jealous of others. It's such a negative emotion and it usually doesn't get you anything except resentment. Instead, I'm trying to focus on the things that are positive about myself and turn my envy into admiration and support of others. It's been great because, as cliche as this sounds, when you're happy for other people, you feel happier. I don't want to be angry with friends for having more money or a better job or whatever; I want to celebrate their accomplishments. In turn, I like being around people who have a similar outlook, who are happy for me when things turn out well.

I truly believe that the more positivity I include in my life, the easier it will be for me to focus on my weight loss. I've built up so much negativity over the years, it's literally crushing me in pounds of fat. I'm determined to fight it and improve my mental and physical health.

Happy Anniversary

It was exactly a year ago, April Fool's Day, 2010, that I broke my leg. I can't believe that so much time has passed already. I'm not 100 percent, but I can function and am getting stronger. I know that losing weight will help with my recovery.

I know it seems strange to call this a "happy" anniversary, but I'm grateful for many things. I'm glad that all I did was break my leg and not my neck; I'm glad that my job didn't give me a hard time about taking four months off; I'm glad that I had that time off to reflect on some things in my life, plus the time off gave me the opportunity to do a lot of writing and begin my jewelry venture.

The accident also made me change my perspective on some things. Some of the treatments I went through, like getting my bone popped in, hurt like hell, but I survived them. I survived the surgery. And for a brief time, I got to see what it's like being wheelchair bound. Obviously, I can't compare my situation to someone who is in a wheelchair for life, but I got a taste and it gave me a new respect for things many of us take advantage of. Since then, I've been happy just being able to do things like climb stairs or enter a restaurant or see a movie that's on the second floor. I still think about these things all the time.

I also find that I get less stressed about stuff, save for dealing with my parents. Before I broke my leg, I was thisclose to quitting my job and felt as if I weren't valued. Nowadays, I'm a lot more relaxed at work, even though I have more to do. This attitude has spread to other areas of my life, as well. When I'm with my friends, I like to laugh and celebrate the good things going on in my life rather than complain to them. Before I broke my leg, I was bitching to everyone about my job troubles and I'm sure that was tiresome. Now I'm making more of an effort to stay positive and to surround myself with positive people. In the past, I'd get jealous of friends -- because they were in better shape or had more money or had a new home -- but I'm taking more time to remind myself of what I DO have.

I'm definitely not perfect. There are days when I get very stressed our or angry, and when I complain about silly things. If you read through my entires when I was dealing with my broken leg, I complained often! But at least I've gained more self-awareness so that I can step back and deal with my problems. I hope I never break another bone, but if I had to do so, I'm glad that the incident had such a positive influence on my life.