Day Five: Epic Fail

“It’s fine to celebrate success, but it’s more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

According to the internet, this is something Bill Gates said. I don’t have much in common with the richest man on earth, but I figure he’s probably right about some things in order to be in his position.

And today, I need to heed the lessons of failure. Well, hopefully tomorrow I’ll heed. Today I’ll just write about it.

The weekend is drawing to a close, and with it the end of my fifth day as a fitness and diet guru. Right? Shouldn’t I have lost 10 pounds by now and discovered inner peace?

Alas, all I’ve done this weekend is one list of things I should be doing, another list of things I shouldn’t be doing, and feeling like an epic failure in between.

Friday night I went to the movies with my husband. I skipped dinner so I could have popcorn and chocolate at the theater, and I went to seep feeling okay about that choice, just this once.

Saturday morning I went to see the first Harry Potter movie by myself. It was a special screening and I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd, so I had to go. I snacked and forgot to log My Fitness Pal, which started the guilt train. Then I felt lonely because I was out by myself, but I’m by myself a lot and I’m usually used to it. This guilt was brought on by the fact that most of my friends  were sitting at home watching General Conference for the Mormon Church (which I belong to) and I was watching Harry Potter instead.

So I went home and joined my husband and son and quickly turned on General Conference. Phew. I was doing something on  the list of  *shoulds.* And it was fulfilling. Only no one in my house cared about my change of heart – my son was doing laps around the kitchen and my dog was needing walked and played with and my husband was napping after playing with our son all morning so I could watch Harry Potter and my computer kept freezing so I was missing half of the talks I wanted to be spiritually edified from and on and on.

Weren’t most of the people I know surrounded by loved ones, eating Lion House rolls and singing hymns in unison in their perfectly clean living rooms while I was sitting alone with a toddler and a frozen computer screen?

By the second two-hour block of conference talks I was feeling better. My husband watched some with me, I baked cookies with my son and I felt the pendulum swing again into the *should* category.

But I was still feeling lonely. It had been building up all week, where I spent my days with my two year old and my nights doing homework, devoid of any socialization or connection with human adults. I needed fresh air, so I went for a quick drive.

To the ice cream shop.

Screw it, I thought. I’ve been such a failure all day. I’ll finish with ice cream.

Sunday- today-  I woke up weary but ready to start fresh. But as I started watching General Conference again, and the house erupted into chaos, I kept thinking of all of the loving homes with reverent children, and probably fruit salad instead of the three cookies I just ate, and how they all sat around feeling spiritually and personally fulfilled.

Fail, fail, fail, I thought. I’ve done it all wrong for so long. You can trace it all back sooo far.

So we ditched General Conference and decided on a more worldly pursuit- the pumpkin patch. I fetched out my favorite autumn jacket from the past few years and it wouldn’t fit. It was so tight in my arms I couldn’t fold them. It buttoned but I was more lumpy than a sack of potatoes.

Fail.

I felt the pendulum of my weekend success slide way over into the *should not* category. After the pumpkin patch, we went to my husband’s company picnic at a park and I ate a cookie. And chips. And a non-diet Coke.  Screw it, screw it, screw it, I thought. We came home tonight and I ate chocolate just because we had it.

Now, there’s a few things to know about me: I like to think I’m quite self-aware, and I definitely don’t think I’m mopey, in general. I do take issue with the societal expectations placed on women and I don’t think I am correct to feel like a ‘failure’ at every turn like I did this weekend. It’s not the ‘normal me.’

But I’ve recently moved continents, and that’s a big change. I’ve had to adjust to a lot more time by myself and a lot more time with my thoughts. I’ve switched from having people to talk to about everything to internalizing a lot of my struggles.

And I often feel like an outsider in my new life, here in Fargo. Like I don’t fit anywhere very well.

I don’t always have weekends like the one I just described, but I wanted to recall an honest account of what went into thoughts and decisions this weekend.

If a therapist asked me to synthesize what I’ve written, I’d be able to point out how often I emotionally ate. That’s not something I realized I did!  I’d be able to spot my all-or-nothing attitude. As soon as I felt myself sliding, I let myself down for the rest of the day. I’d also realize I’m probably having some self-esteem issues, which may be related to my weight, or to the move, or to my relationships with others, or a whole host of things. Life, I guess.

I titled this post Epic Fail, but I know that the weekend wasn’t. Yes, I failed at My Fitness Pal, and I ate cookies and ice cream. But I got a lot of good snuggles from my two year old and painted pumpkins with him. I got to see his joy at decorating cookies. I was spiritually edified by my church’s broadcasts (when I was able to watch). My husband made me breakfast this morning and let me sleep in both days!

I’m sure there are plenty of Epic Fails to look forward to. For now, I’ll chalk this up to a learning experience and remember that tomorrow is a new day!

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Day Two: “I’m going to die”

The last thing I did before bed last night was play around on this blog, so it was fresh in my psyche as I feel asleep.  At some point in the middle of the night I woke up and I had dreamed that the next blog title was  “I’m going to die.”  Of course this freaked me out, and I lay there in the dark wondering what on earth the disturbing blog title meant.

Those who know me understand I’m a keen observer of dreams and take a lot of meaning from them. I had the brief worry this dream was foretelling doom, but further thought led me to the realization of what I’m actually fearing will die: the “me” that I am now. The “me” that I live with every day and the “me” that is composed of a million different habits.

If I’m truly going to change – if I’m truly going to fight fat for fashion, for fitness, for health, for my future and myself – then parts of me as I know myself are going to have to ‘die.’

And we always mourn change in whatever shape it takes. Even if it’s good change. I’ve learned that lesson often throughout my life, with all of the changes, good and bad, that have made up my existence.

This blog has taken a more serious turn than intended for day two, but I’ll make up for it with a frothy post later.

Day One: History of a married chocolate fiend

The background is telling of an age...
The background is telling of an age…

One thing should be clear from day one of my blog: I am not a proponent of the ‘fat acceptance’ movement. I’m a proponent of a healthy body image movement, and I’m against fat shaming. But I am not a Confident Fat Woman. I won’t buy and post a picture of myself in a fat-kini. I believe we should love ourselves no matter our size, but I don’t think it’s healthy to accept and embrace obesity.

I chose the above photo of myself as a representation of the weight I strive to be. I think of it as my ‘skinny’ self, but really, I’m still curvy in this photo. I like being curvy. I didn’t like being told I had ‘child-bearing hips’ by boys when I was in middle school. I hate bra shopping since the smallest my boobs have ever been is a DD. But being curvy is good.

Being obese is not.

I was a skinny child. The gangly type, all arms and long hair and no coordination. When puberty hit, and it came early for me, I was faced with ill-fitting clothes and general wonderment at the flow of my new figure. I discovered the Juniors section and make-up and from that point on I became pretty, well, vain (it was a phase). The story my best friend and I like to rehash is how ridiculous our grooming rituals were- up at 5:30 to make sure we curled our hair and did full-makeup. Half a bottle of Victoria’s Secret body spray before entering the school halls and a reapplication of lip-gloss at every opportunity. Lunch meant a make-up touch-up and a hair check, and some extra body spray.

I would sit in the bath and hunch over and make sure I didn’t have a ‘roll.’  I could handle my wide hips and my muscular calves. As long as I didn’t have a dreaded stomach roll!

I got married when I was twenty. The photo above is a year into married life – the giddy, super sexy phase where no one gains a pound. But since I have been married for ten years, the phases of marriage have crept into my diet and exercise plan- you know, the I-don’t-give-crap-right-now-because-you’re-a-jerk phase. The he-loves-me-whatever phase. The I-have-no-one-to-impress-right-now phase. The lets-sit-around-and-binge-watch-TV-and-binge-eat-too phase.

I’m not blaming my husband. I’m not blaming marriage. I’m saying it’s made me look in the mirror less and made me lounge around more.

As I mentioned before, I have no will-power. I am good at justifying anything from deserving a piece of cheesecake to deserving a night off from the gym. I’m also good at procrastinating.

There are three other more serious aspects to my weight gain. I’ll keep them brief.

1- Pregnancy and childbirth. Gestational diabetes and my tendency towards meticulousness while pregnant meant I followed my diet to a T. I hardly gained any weight while pregnant. But once I gave birth, I ordered cheesecake right away. The diabetes was gone! I was freeeeeee! And then I was so busy breastfeeding and eating and working to keep up my supply – in addition to sleeping for only 2 or 3 hour stretches- that the last time I stepped on a scale post- partum I weighed 165 and things were looking good. In the three years since I stepped on that scale post-partum, I’ve gained FIFTY POUNDS. It’s not pregnancy’s fault, it’s just a host of factors related to the post-partum period which meant I lost complete control of what I was doing and what my body was doing. I had no idea.

2-Stress. I have quite a stressful life. My OBGYN has said it’s likely stress hormones have contributed to my weight gain.

and on a related note

3. Insulin Resistance. Last time a doctor took a good look at my bloods and scans, I was told I don’t have PCOS, since my bloodwork wasn’t consistent with it, but it was possible I was PCOS-ish (they are very noncommittal about this). But since then I have discovered I am probably insulin resistant. My OBGYN, just last week, said it’s like I have to do twice as much work to lose weight for half the result of a ‘normal’ person. I already knew I had the metabolism of a reptile, but this put it in perspective for me. Hormones are not on my side.

But I shall not be deterred. Day One of my weight loss journey is over and I went to Body Jam today. I drank a protein smoothie but I also had a bowl of ice cream and some Halloween candy. Tomorrow is a new day.