Fat Fridays: Week 28 Death of a Dream

Today has been a bit of a shock for me. 

Yesterday I went to my yearly check-up at the doctor’s. I mentioned that my blood sugar problems seemed to be worsening. The doctor ordered me a new glucometer since I haven’t used one in two-and-half years: since I was pregnant and had gestational diabetes. She told me to check my fasting blood sugars a couple times and after I’ve eaten a couple times and if the numbers were high to give her a call. 

So this morning I obediently took my fasting blood sugar at 6am and it was 130. It’s supposed to be under 100. Not good. Not good at all. I ate a low-carb protein breakfast of eggs, cheese, and grated carrots. An hour later my reading was 149. Not good. I called the doctor and left a message with the nurse. I expect I’ll hear back from them in the next couple days. I know that one high reading does not make a diagnosis. In fact, the Mayo Clinic website says that TWO fastings over 126 make a diagnosis. I’m just thinking that if my body can do it once, there’s nothing stopping it from happening again. 

The specter of Type 2 Diabetes has been hanging over my head for eleven years. Way back when, I was pregnant with my 5th child and had gestational diabetes for the first time. The nutritionist, who wasn’t exactly the encouraging type, told me that I would probably have Type 2 Diabetes within the next five years. I did a lot of research, figured out the whole low-carb approach, and stuck diligently to a strict diet, checking my blood sugar regularly. My 6th pregnancy I had no diabetes. Had it for the 7th, not for the 8th or 9th then had it again for the 10th pregnancy. By then I knew my weight made a big difference in how my sugars were doing. But how to keep the weight off? 

Type 2 diabetes runs in my family. My grandfather was Mexican-American. According to a NCBI article, “Diabetes and Mexicans: Why the two are linked”  

Mexican Americans, the largest Hispanic/Latino subgroup in the United States, are more than twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites of similar age (13).

I know of a lot of cousins and aunts and uncles on that side of the family who have diabetes, my father included. So, it’s not like it’s a big surprise or anything. I considered myself “Pre-diabetic”. It’s one of the pressing reasons I have wanted to lose weight. But…to see those numbers this morning was a kind of death. Death of the dream that I would lose weight and get in shape before my genetics and the consequences of being overweight caught up with me. That somehow I would hold it off by becoming the picture of health. 

I basically feel like a failure. Not that I want to wallow in that, but still, I am mourning. 

What it means, of course, is that I need to make a new dream. New goals. Gird myself for battle. I am not going to lie down and just accept this. I have read story after story of people who had a Type 2 diagnosis and they lost their excess weight, adopted a different lifestyle and changed their numbers till they technically weren’t diabetic any more. I know it can be done. And I want to be one of those people that do it. 

Lord help me. 

 

Fat Fridays: Week 4 First Things First

This year January first came and went and I never started up on a new diet. You know that saying that goes something like, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results..” . Well, that’s how I feel about diets. Years of starting diets have done me very little good over the long term. I have decided this year that instead of jumping on the latest dietary fad wagon, I wanted to get to the root of why I am overweight. Why do I overeat? Why do I turn to food? Why do I constantly fail at adopting a healthier lifestyle? Perhaps if I can understand these things, I can change the base behavior that has brought me to this state. Writing the Fat Fridays blog has been a good step in this direction as far as starting to analyze why I do what I do, but I still have felt like I needed a plan, something to actively be working on.

This past Sunday in church we had several different people give words of encouragement, words of counsel, words of wisdom, and the theme I kept hearing over and over again was, you need to get off your devices (phone, internet, kindle) and give more time to God instead of submerging yourself in entertainment.

This has been nagging my conscience for a while. I have definitely developed a really bad phone addiction. I would see all these memes trying to show people just how bad their phone addiction is and I would cringe because I knew that was me. How did this addiction develop? Well, I would say that I had a real desire to not be “present” in my surroundings. It was a way I coped with depression…don’t think, just read books…don’t think, just get on Facebook…don’t think, just read some mindless articles on the internet.. It has become a full-blown addiction. Subconsciously I knew this, but I didn’t want to deal with it so I tried not to think about it.

So, this was the message I felt like God was telling me, the path he was leading me down…You want to lose weight? Ok, disconnect from your phone.. Deal with that addiction first and then you’ll be in a better place to deal with your weight loss issues.

On Tuesday I laid down the law. No more than one hour a day on the internet. Only get on my kindle when I’m exercising on my elliptical or when I have to wait in a doctor’s office or some such place as that.

It’s Thursday night and I can tell you that this has been extremely difficult. That one hour seems to disappear really quickly. I’ve done twice as much exercise because my book got really good and I didn’t want to stop reading. I went over my internet time a bit yesterday and felt guilty about that. Disconnected from the world-wide-web, I find myself just thinking, pondering things instead of automatically trying to find something to read or look at. I find myself talking to my children more, being a bit more present. I find myself getting more projects done as I have a restless energy to keep myself occupied. This has been difficult and necessary and exciting. Difficult because breaking any kind of addiction is hard. Necessary because it’s hard to assess your life and habits and make changes when you’re completely tuned out of your life. And exciting because I feel like I turned off the background noise and suddenly I’m hearing the birds singing again, and the wind blowing in the trees and I find myself thinking about the future and dreaming and imagining and feeling hopeful again.

I don’t know why, but getting space from my device is making me happy. And I find it a lot easier to tackle weight loss problems and challenges from a place of happiness than from a place of depression.

I don’t know what the next step is going to look like in this weight loss journey, but I’m feeling optimistic.

Fat Fridays: Week 3 Emotional Eating

I was trying to think about the reasons why I eat. If I was just eating because I was hungry, I don’t think I would have weight issues. From what I can tell, your body naturally regulates how much food you need and when you need it with this thing called hunger and fullness. It’s when we start eating for reasons other than hunger, and when we keep eating even when we’re full..that’s when we run into problems.

So, top of the list. Emotional Eating. I looked up the definition and it says, basically, overeating to relieve negative emotions. For some reason, when I am angry, depressed, angry, bored with life, angry, or maybe just angry, I eat. Eating gives you this short rush of nice feelings and usually you can continue on and pretend like those negative emotions never happened. Until, of course, they pop back up again. But then you just eat again and put it off again and on and on it goes.

I seem to have an intense dislike for feeling negative emotions. I don’t want to feel angry. I don’t want to feel sad. I don’t want to feel melancholy. I just want everything to be pleasant. I don’t just use food to avoid these feelings. I use entertainment. Read a book and forget about it. Check Facebook and calm down. Scroll through useless articles on the internet and zone out.

So here’s the question. Why? Why am I so opposed to feeling negative emotions? Is it because I am a peaceful person and things like Anger feel wrong? Or maybe I have just always tried to fill the role of the “good girl” and feeling bad doesn’t fit that image? Or maybe, our society does not give healthy examples of people dealing with strong emotions and so I have no role models?

There is a verse in the Bible, Ephesians 4:26-27 that says,

“In your anger do not sin: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

I have always liked the fact that the verse seems to assume that you are going to get angry. Getting angry is part of being alive. It’s what you do with that anger that can get you in trouble.

My anger tends to erupt when people have inconvenienced me. Which just shows how deep my sin nature and selfishness is. I struggle with borderline road rage. I’m not out of control, I just sit there and mutter about the other drivers. I am aware that this is a problem and I have started repeating to myself when I drive, “It’s not all about you…It’s not all about you..” Because really, road rage is the presumption that all the other vehicles in the road should do everything possible to make sure that YOUR driving experience is smooth and trouble free. When someone is going  too slow when I’m in a hurry, I feel inconvenienced, and my little selfish self speaks up and says, HEY! How dare you! Don’t you know I’m in a hurry! Stop driving like that, it’s inconveniencing me! (Of course, not so eloquently put, more like me muttering under my breath about idiots and people who don’t know how to drive.)

Of course, the way I get inconvenienced the most is by my children. Those lovely, beautiful human beings my husband and I helped create. They have this amazing way of spilling cups of juice on my freshly mopped floor, or wiping snotty noses on my clean shirt, or accidentally breaking my favorite mug, or wanting me to intervene in an argument right when I’m trying to cook supper…They are masters at inconveniencing me. Unfortunately, my selfish side tends to react and I get angry. And I really don’t want to be angry at my kids. When I first had children in my early twenties and had two toddlers on my hands, I indulged in some pretty impressive temper tantrums when the kids wouldn’t cooperate.  The most dramatic was when my little ones wouldn’t help clean up their toys and I stood at the doorway and threw their toys into the yard. Hopefully, I’ve matured a lot since then. I’ve learned to walk away when I’m angry and go cool down. I’ve learned a bit better how to hold my tongue and not say things I’ll regret later, and most important, when those tactics fail, I’ve learned better how to go and apologize to my children when I mess up. Good things. Bad thing though is that somewhere along the way I figured out that when I’m really upset, eating something helps you calm down faster. In fact, eating something can help you calm down without having to do any thinking or analyzing about Why you got angry, and What can you do to change things so you don’t get angry again over the same thing?

That’s the problem. Eating something makes you feel better for a short amount of time, but it never gets to the root. It never forces you confront your own sin nature, beg God for forgiveness, seek reconciliation, make changes so that you can handle these things better. All it does it covers up the emotion for a while so you can postpone feeling it.

I think I am scared about feeling strong emotions. Like I might not be able to handle it. Like it’s a giant wave that’s going to knock me down and I might never resurface. I don’t know why I’m afraid. I’ve got Jesus. He said he was never going to leave me or forsake me. He said his grace was sufficient for me. He’s not going to leave me alone with these uncomfortable emotions. I have a feeling that if I actually started confronting the anger and trying to dig down to the roots of it, I have a feeling that it would lessen, ease up, that I would be a healthier person.

So this is my challenge for this week: to stop trying to cover up the emotions with food. Those emotions are there for a reason. I need to let myself feel them. Take them to God in prayer, ask for wisdom to understand where these emotions are coming from and what to do with them. That’s the plan. May God give me the courage to do it.

Fat Fridays: Week 2 The Number of Shame

How much do you weigh? The answer of course is, NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! As I thought about writing this weightloss blog, I wondered whether I should disclose where I am starting from. How much do I weigh. After much mental agony I decided that the answer is NO. That is just way too vulnerable, way too out there, way too painful. And here’s the question of the day. Why? Why is it so painful to share our weight? What is it about that horrible number that stirs up so many emotions?

Think about it. We have this system of weights that we invented to give a numerical value to how heavy an object is. It’s scientific. It’s helpful. It helps keeps things fair and equal and even. When we buy food we do it by weight. That way, I know that every time I give you a certain amount of money, you will give me the exact same amount of food every time. 1 gallon of milk. 2 pounds of flour. 4 pounds of apples.

I’m not sure why we started weighing people. Haven’t looked up the history of it. I’m going to presume it has to do with medical science attaching value to certain weights, coming up with a system that says if you are this tall and weigh this much then you are healthy. But, if you are this tall and weigh this much then you are not healthy. Those lovely BMI charts. I am not saying that medical science is incorrect. I’ve read all the articles. I fully understand that the more extra weight I carry around, the more likely I am to develop a whole host of unwanted diseases and syndromes. But why does that number, my weight, evoke so much shame?

When I think about the giant array of heights and body types for women, the idea that there is a certain number that we all want to be is ridiculous. It’s a person-by-person situation. My ideal weight will look nothing like your ideal weight. So, why do we hold that number so close to our chest. No one needs to know how much I weigh!

I think for me that number has come to represent just how far away from perfect I am. Ok, forget perfect. Let’s just say normal. If I was a normal, self-disciplined, healthy individual, I would weigh this much. And I don’t. And what does that say about me? It says I’m a slob. I’m a glutton. I’m without discipline. I’m gross. I’m unworthy. I’m unlovable. And I have a numerical value that tells me exactly how far off the mark I am. And so it becomes a number of shame. And there’s no way I’m going to share my shame with you and so…It’s NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS how much I weigh.

Here’s the problem with shame. It’s not a very good motivator. I have tried to use shame as a self-motivator to lose weight. “Look at you! You’re disgusting! You don’t deserve to eat anything but vegetables and water for the next year. You look horrible. You have do something to fix this mess you’ve made.” And so I go on a diet. And I’m angry. Angry at myself for getting  into this horrible state. Angry that I now have to deny myself all the foods that I like. Angry that other people seem to be able to eat whatever they want and don’t have to deal with weight problems. Angry that I am such a failure at life. Eventually a temptation arises that is too big to overcome, I cave, the diet crashes, and I slowly go back to my relaxed way of eating which is to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, without giving it much thought. So yes, shame is a horrible motivator.

I have heard people say that you need to love yourself. That is the way to overcome weight issues. If you love yourself then you will want to take care of yourself, take care of your health. You will care about the fact that being overweight is actually causing you to be more sick, less energetic, less confident. You will care so much about yourself that you will willingly take on the lifestyle changes and make the sacrifices necessary to lose weight. That sounds good. I like it. It fits with the theme I have been coming back to over and over again. Love God, Love your neighbor as yourself. It seems that in order to love our neighbor as ourselves, we would need to love ourselves, right? So, here’s my question. How do you get to that place where you love yourself?

This number, how much I weigh, I’ve been carrying that around for my entire adult life. I left high school trim and fit, went to college and immediately gained 15 pounds. That crept up to 20 pounds before I got married. This number has been staring at me from the scale for 20 plus years now, speaking it’s message of shame. The higher it goes the lower my head hangs. It’s really hard to love myself when this number is loudly proclaiming how unworthy I am.

When I sat down to write this I had no idea where I was going to go with this. Apparently God has some ideas. I guess it’s going to have to come back to my identity in Christ. The world with all it’s systems of measuring, tells me very clearly that I don’t measure up. Not skinny enough, not rich enough, not smart enough, not connected enough. The world’s message is I AM NOT ENOUGH. Right now I am feeling that so strongly. I’m not a good enough wife. I’m not a good enough mother. I’m not a good enough friend. I’m not a good enough anything. I don’t measure up. How can I, miserable failure that I am, ever hope to change my ways and lose weight? I have tried so many times and I have always failed. I’m just don’t have what it takes. So, what does God say about me?

Here’s a list I found:

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I can add a couple more. I am loved by my husband. I am loved by my children. I am loved by my family. Maybe this person, the one that God says I am, can love herself enough to willingly take on the lifestyle changes, willingly make the sacrifices necessary to be healthy again. We’ll see.

Fat Fridays: Week 1

I would very much like to start a blogging day devoted to weight loss. I think it would be cathartic (if you don’t know what that means, look it up). I think it would be encouraging and have a lot of potential for helping me understand some of my mental issues that revolve around food. I think there would be a lot of potential for encouragement from my readers. It would also likely give me a feeling of accountability to write about this journey, knowing that other people were expecting me to keep on and keep them informed about it. I can see a lot of good coming out if it.

And then I can see a lot of bad. Weight is such a sensitive subject. I mean Really Sensitive. I mean, I would rather talk to you about my sex life than to talk to you about my weight. In fact, knowing that my acquaintances were reading about my struggles with weight would make me embarrassed to show up in public. In fact, I start blushing even now, thinking about people at church reading about my weight loss issues. Especially men. I know that most women are familiar with the struggle to maintain a good weight, it’s something we joke about with each other because it seems that most of us understand. But, it seems to be a lot more of a foreign concept for men. I know my husband has grown a lot from when we first got married to now. He understands. Is understanding. Supportive. I trust him. But that was a hard-won trust. 19-years-of-marriage-worth of trust. I don’t particularly trust the random guy on the street to understand where I’m coming from or have any sympathy for my plight. In fact, I’m presuming that his attitude towards me, a stranger, would be rather uncomplimentary, in regards to my weight.

The question is, are all subjects really bloggable? Should all subjects be bloggable? The fact of the matter is, I know that if I was writing for a strictly female audience, I would have no problem being frank and open about my weight problems. But, this is a public blog, I have no control over who reads this. Which means I have to be resigned to writing to a co-ed audience. Weight loss is such a huge problem in our country these days. It really should be spoken about much more just because there are so many of us struggling with this, very real, health issue.

I was told by a trusted friend once, that she saw me as a fierce and bold person. This is rather surprising as I do not see myself this way at all. I would classify myself as mild-mannered, quiet, unassuming. Writing a blog about weight, to me, feels like a very bold undertaking. One where I would have to be vulnerable with the world and trust that God’s going to protect me, even as I make myself open to getting hurt. Can I be bold? I’m not sure. If me, writing about my weight issues somehow is going to help other people, then yes, I can be bold. I’m going to need a lot of hand-holding along the way though, as the very thought of being that honest rather terrifies me.

Well, here’s the plan. Fat Fridays. I will reserve Fridays to write about weight. Sundays and Wednesdays will be anything and everything, just not my weight journey. I’m not even sure I’m going to share my Friday posts regularly on my Facebook. At least not right away, not till I get a little more courage. I have a goal, a plan, a dream. I need to lose 100 pounds. Yikes. I want this coming year to be the year of victory. Maybe as I blog about it, I can overcome my mental hang-ups that always throw me off track and ultimately defeat me. Maybe I can encourage other people on their journey as well. We’ll see.