Fat Fridays: Week 14 Shakes, Headaches, and Scales

Here we are, three weeks completed on the vegan, grain-free diet. Happy reports: I have been feeling pretty good this week. I’ve had more energy, and I don’t feel like I’m in a fog. In fact, I feel a lot like I’m waking up from a semi-comatose state. I’m getting used to eating differently too. This week my go-to easy meal has been to grab a can of bean or lentil soup,dump it in a pot, throw in a package of frozen veggies and heat it up. Fast, fairly inexpensive, easy, filling. I’ve also resorted back to the food of my youth, growing up in Haiti, and I’m eating plantain again, almost every day. It’s a filling starch and healthier than white potatoes. And they’re yummy. My other diet addition has been to start drinking a vegan shake for breakfast every day. It’s 24 grams of protein and has lots of other nutritious stuff in it. It’s become a good way to start the day.

Not so happy reports: I’m still dealing with a lot of headaches which I think are part of the detoxing process. Also I am prediabetic and this week I’ve been waking up around 5 am with really low blood sugar. It wakes me up and I either stay awake till my normal waking time of 6:45am or I have to get up and eat a small piece of fruit. Last night I ate a big snack right before bedtime and that seemed to help, but it’s hard because I haven’t really been hungry at bedtime. It feels counter-productive to eat when you’re not hungry.

One other happy report is that my clothes are definitely getting loose on me. I’m in that awkward place where my current clothes are getting too big and I have to wear a belt now, but I’m not quite ready for the next size down. You’ll notice that I haven’t posted about numbers of pounds lost. I’m trying to stay away from numbers. I have found that my relationship with scales is not good and the obsessive habit of constantly weighing myself when I’m on a diet is not a habit I want to pick up again. I’m trying really hard to not weigh myself often and try to keep track of my progress by the size clothing I’m wearing. We’ll see. Unfortunately I own a scale. (I haven’t for years, but one of my kids needed one.) When you feel like you’re losing weight, it’s really hard to not get on the scale. Seeing those numbers go down is a real rush. But then, if the numbers go up or stay the same, it causes a lot of discouragement and sometimes you even just feel like giving up. So, I remind myself that this diet is not just about weight loss. It’s about achieving good mental health. Losing the brain fog. Having energy. Perhaps lessening the episodes of depression significantly. And losing weight would be great too. 🙂

Plans for this week: Continue the diet. I’m also looking at a supplement that helps your body with the detox process. Maybe it will help with the headaches? I haven’t exercised this week as my back has been giving me a lot of problems, but the last two days have been better so hopefully I can start exercising again! (Yeah, I said that last week too, but this week will be different!) (Promise!) I’m also just trying to be proactive about getting in the sunshine and soaking in the vitamin D and feel-goodness of the sun. I tell my four year old it’s “Sun Medicine”.

So, go enjoy some sun medicine if you can, and have a good week everyone!

Sunrises, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and My New Piano

Sunrises. I love sunrises. For many years I have been too tired to get up and enjoy them. Nowadays, though,  I am driving my kids to school early every morning and during the winter I have been enjoying a lot of sunrises. My kids’ school is only about two miles away. It takes us maybe five minutes to get there. Part of the drive to the school involves going up a big hill and then we crest at the top and suddenly we have a big view of mountains and mist and red orange light peeking through the clouds. It’s amazing. Every morning I can’t stop myself from exclaiming to the kids, “Everybody look at the sunrise! It’s amazing!” And the kids have learned to oooh and aaahh right along with me. Thanking God for the sunrise is part of our morning prayers. I have always imagined God standing at an easel, throwing paint on left and right, painting the sunrise every day. God the Creator. The Creative One.

The other day as I was driving along, enjoying the beautiful colors, I thought about how we are created in the image of God. I’ve always wondered about that, what it means exactly. I thought about God painting the sky every morning, making art and it occurred to me that when we create things, make our own art, we are, in a small sense, being like God. We were made to create because we were made in the Creator’s image.

I thought about music. I love music, but I have struggled with music over the years. As a teenager I used music as an emotional outlet. A way to vent, a way to express emotions, a safe place to feel emotions. As life got more and more complicated, harder, I found myself shying away from music. As I look back, I can see where I struggled to keep depression away, and one of my solutions to not dealing with depression or anger or a bunch of other unresolved feelings, was to shy away from feeling any emotion. Just stay neutral. Calm.

The only problem with this approach is that when you don’t allow yourself to feel bad emotions, the really good emotions go away as well. I don’t think you can fully live in joy if you don’t also allow yourself to mourn. You can’t have peace if you don’t go through the conflict first. You can’t have happiness if you don’t deal with the anger. I think that as I shut myself down emotionally, I also shut down music. I just couldn’t do it. Music was too closely tied to emotions. I could sometimes sit down and play through some Bach or Mozart in an attempt to make my brain feel orderly, but I wasn’t feeling it. And so I mostly avoided it.

Lately, I have been looking at getting back into music. My husband, excited that I was showing an interest again, went out and got me an old 1935 Wurlitzer Baby Grand, for a really good price off Craig’s List. I went with him and helped him move it. It’s a perfect fit for our house.  It’s got some history, apparently it’s original owner was a violinist with the Knoxville Symphony and she died after a long happy life at the age of 103. It’s also a bit dinged up and scratched here and there which means we won’t have to freak out if our kids add another scratch or ding. I rearranged our entire living room so that I now have a Music Room at one end. I have started practicing a bit every day. Scales, warmups, old songs I played in high school. Just easing myself back into it. I have really been enjoying myself, but I’ve wondered about the emotional side of it. Can I relax enough to let myself play with feeling? Can I let myself feel the sadness in the song? Can I let myself feel again? I’ve been a bit worried that maybe I can’t any more. Maybe that part of me is gone. 

Today I was working on getting my piano music moved to a different bookcase and I found a piece of music that I didn’t even know I owned, “Pie Jesu” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s REQUIEM. My copy was a vocal duet with piano accompaniment. It’s a beautiful, simple song written in latin. The English translation that is written on the music gives the words as this:

Merciful Jesus, who takest away the sins of the world, grant them rest.

Oh Lamb of God, who takest away the sin of the world, grant them eternal rest.

I sat down and started to sing it and play along. Alas. I am not a talented soprano and there was no way I could sing that high. My voice couldn’t bring justice to the beauty of the song. I stopped playing for a minute. And then I remembered my piano teacher, Ms. Wong, telling me to make the notes sing, make the melody sing. And I realized, I can’t sing the song, but I can make the piano sing it. And I did. And my fingers made the melody sing and it was beautiful. When I finally finished I sat there, feeling fidgety, like I needed to get up and do something. I stood up and went over the other side of my living room where I was still rearranging other books onto a shelf. (Moving my living room around created a couple projects I hadn’t been anticipating.) I was putting books back onto an empty shelf and I picked up my old Bible from years ago. I flipped it open and found myself in the book of Job, and I suddenly just wanted to read this chapter. Job 9. In this chapter Job talks about how powerful God is and how unworthy he, Job, is. In verse 33-35 he says,

“If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.”

I stopped reading and thought about how horrible that would be to have the full burden of your sins on your shoulders and no way to approach God because He is too Holy. And I suddenly realized that the song I had just played was an answer to Job’s predicament. Jesus takes away the sin of the world, and grants us rest. He removed God’s rod of punishment from us.

I went back to the piano, stared at the music again, and with fresh wonder, played the song again. And while I played, some tears fell, and I felt just a bit like my ice wall around my emotions started to crack a bit more. And I felt hopeful. Excited. I have missed music and I hadn’t even realized how much I missed it.

Here is a link to a recording of “Pie Jesu” if you’d like to hear it.

“Pie Jesu”

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:

whoiaminchrist_single_printedsheet_halfsheet_v1_00-600p

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.