I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom. -George S. Patton
Lately, I feel like I’m gazing at rock-bottom when it comes to my health and weight loss journey, and I’m just waiting for the thud. I’ve been eating a lot of my “comfort foods,” the salty, fatty, carby, terrible for me things that I have sought comfort in since I was very young. Key ingredients include cheese, highly processed carbs, fried foods, and sugar/salt/fat.
From Mac & cheese, pizza, fried everything, grilled cheese, cheese and crackers, and cheese quesadillas, to bacon cheeseburgers, fried chicken patty sandwiches, fried clams, french fries; from fettuccine alfredo, creamy soups, milkshakes, bagels and cream cheese, to Bailey’s, Remy, rum and coke, cookies, ice cream, milk chocolate… Notice the lack of vegetables? Fruits? Clean protein? When I’m feeling out of cope, as I have been, it’s where I revert. It’s where I have been returning to for a while now.
I’ve needed comfort. A year and half ago, I was doing the 40 Days at Heartsong- and that’s when the depression started. After watching Aimee’s super easy experience with getting pregnant, my more difficult time came as sort of a shock- not to my brain, which knew my chances, but to my heart. My motivation to get healthier started to wane, and I lost energy as I started to regain some of the weight I had lost. And then I felt sicker, and the weight piled on, and the exercise stopped. And after 8 months of trying to get pregnant I gave Aimee the go-ahead for try to conceive, she did, again, in her first month of trying (our plan has been 3, so this was just a timing issue). As excited as I am for the baby to come (in just 2 weeks!), and feel blessed that Aimee has had such a positive experience, there is still part of me that feels betrayed by my body. Then I started to get more answers when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder this spring and advised not to try to conceive until I get my thyroid under control (and it’s still not, 5 months of medication and adjustments later). Add to that getting Lyme disease this summer, which had me bedridden except for work for several weeks, and now I’m having a lot of joint pain. I’m going to WW but my weight hasn’t budged because my habits have been hard to shake. And by hasn’t budged I mean it’s fluctated a pound or two, and as of today’s weigh in I’m at the exact weight I started at in July.
My health isn’t my only stressor- there’s Aimee’s busy business schedule and her pregnancy; Micah going from being our stay at home dad to working 2 jobs that mean he works 7 days a week; Ian working 50-60 hour weeks; Ian’s mom moving in and all the transitions with that; and oh, yeah, having a 2½ year old amazingly energetic little boy… Add in work stresses and transitions, finance worries, maintaining the house with the 6 of us, etc… It’s a lot to handle, a lot to wrap my head and heart around. It’s a lot for all of us in my family, and so we’re all often drained and not able to support each other the way we’d like, because we’re focused on keeping our own small corners of our world held together.
I’ve been in therapy for the past year and am lucky to have an amazing therapist to support me on this journey, but part of that work has been to look at all the ways I block myself from really feeling- and thus dealing with- the pain I have felt from the illness, the infertility, and the myriad of stressors in my life. And I’m reaching the place where I’m scared and able to feel it- and I’m uncovering a real depth of fear. There is the fear of what if I can’t change- I don’t want to die young, or have limited mobility as I age, or hurt so much for the rest of my life. I want to be able to run around with my kids, and their kids, someday. But there is also a great fear of change, because these methods of coping are all I have ever known.
I know that there is science behind the why of comfort food- the release of dopamine and seratonin, for instance. But for me the real key for finding my way out of this spiral is to find healthier ways to nurture myself. Beating myself up hasn’t worked, and so I need to find ways to take care of myself that are kind but effective- and help me actually deal with what I’m feeling, not just suppress or ignore it.
Some of the things I know have worked for me in the past, that I want to get back to include:
*Getting up earlier and having a morning routine that helps me start my day in a positive note
*Blogging to talk about what I’m going through, both as an accountability and mindfulness tool, and as a way to connect with others going through these struggles
*Getting moving again- walking at first, and then hopefully jogging. A 5K next spring would make me happy. Also yoga, which I’ve had a big emotional block against for the past year (but have come back to again and again for over 15 years, so I know I will, again).
*Eat mindfully and healthfully, not mindlessly as a numbing or escape agent.
*Meditating, especially first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and with other people/groups when I can.
*Journalling, especially first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and when I need to resist a craving.
*Spending time on my spirituality, including going to church and to Grove activities, as well as solitary devotionals and study.
*Actively looking for ways to simplify and streamline my schedule and attentions so I’m spending more of my time on those things that have a positive impact on my life.
So will I more toward this healthier path? I see myself taking small steps in this direction, talking to supportive friends, continuing Weight Watchers, even blogging tonight. But I know from experience (and anyone can see from the evolution of this blog) my history of jumping in with enthusiasm only to run away at the first real signs of imperfection or struggle.
I don’t really know how or where to start but to, well, start. And start again, and again, until I’m somewhere else on the path that feels better than where I am now- and then to keep going.