Monday, May 30, 2005

The long way

I walked home from work today, which I don’t usually do. I am so lazy, desire for incidental exercise aside, that I will often ask Taco to come get me. Unbelievable. You’d think I was happy at this weight with that kind of behaviour.

Helping me reform is my shiny new iPod Shuffle, which is making me want to walk everywhere, all over town, all day long. To start, though, I walked home from work. Listening to a curious blend of Beastie Boys, Kelly Clarkson, some stuff I don’t even know what it is, I just bought it in a frenzy the other day at the iTunes store, and Taco’s record (which you can download for yourself, if you like, here. I highly recommend it, of course…)

The Goodness Plan has not exactly been flawlessly executed yet, but elements of it are coming together. That is to say, I did do yoga this morning, and Taco started supper before he went to work. I came home as he was going out, and he asked me to go pick up his new glasses. I grabbed a ride with him as far as the music school he teaches at, then hiked the rest of the way. The place was closed, no new glasses for Taco today. Instead, I bought a loaf of kamut bread at Great O and hoofed home.

I took the long way home, consciously eschewing short cuts.

You know? It was very awesome. All together, I ended up with 50 minutes of brisk walking, which will more than sub in for what I was going to do at the gym tonight. Plus, I got to feel the damp air on my skin (the sun is supposed to come out tomorrow, and it’s about time. It’s been 25 days since last it shone here). And I got to smell the incredible fresh-cut grass on Citadel Hill. And I got to hear a lot of really good music on my iPod.

I loved the feeling of being in motion. The sensation of walking, of feeling my legs move back and forth. It was absolutely intoxicating. I cannot account for this. I’m not generally the type to get all worked up about simple movement. Maybe I am becoming this type? Hard to say.

I can tell you this. Lately, I’ve been working on breathing. And trying to stay in the moment. Two things I’m pretty bad at, all things considered. But when I manage to do either, let alone both, I feel fantastic. Light headed and happy, like I have some tremendous secret, some amazing new toy. Somewhere in here, somewhere in all the brain work I’ve been doing lately, somewhere in here lies the key.

If it’s been all about fear in the past, and I believe it has been, then this is where I begin to conquer it. This is where I start to find myself. Finally.

And all this time, I didn’t even know I was lost.

This is just me, I guess, taking the long way home.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The new deal

I am having trouble with balance. I am tending to look after others before — way before — looking after myself. There are things I want: to exercise daily, to eat well, to rewrite my novel, to spend time with Taco, to have a nice house, to deal with my grief and assorted other issues. But so far, I haven’t been able to balance all those desires, all those needs. Or maybe, I haven’t been trying particularly hard to do so.

In fact, it’s possible I’ve been paddling pretty furiously in the exact opposite direction.

Why would I do this? Who the hell knows?

Am I worth the trouble it would be to balance all these sometimes-competing desires? The intellectual part of me says hell yeah. The other part? The part that lately makes a lot of my decisions? That part is not as sure. In fact, that part, quite possibly, says no, probably not.

It pains me to even write those words. It pains me to admit that there’s a part of me that is small and fucked up and spends its time finding ways to sabotage the efforts the rest of me makes. I used to think I’d made friends with that fucked up part, that I’d found a way for us to live together and all. I thought I’d found a way to acknowledge that part, but also to wrest the power away from it, to put it in its place. A very small, insignificant place.

But then, I guess it’s been a while since I tried to do something so…difficult, yes, but also so demanding of change. Of honesty. Of self-searching. Not that it took much self-searching to bring my old nemesis, the Nay-sayer, to the surface. Apparently, she was lurking there all the while. Waiting for an opportunity to gain the upper hand again.

And the opportunity is definitely there. I am feeling weak, in many, many ways. Emotionally, I’m tired. Grieving is hard work, especially when you pretend it’s not happening. Physically, I feel like my body is falling apart. I cut myself definitively on the weekend, sawed into my flesh as if it were the loaf of sourdough I was cutting. And now my left index finger is bent and sore and swollen, and maybe I should have gone for stitches after all because I cannot straighten the top third of it. The battle with the yeast beast continues. I feel like I am always on the verge of a yeast infection, plus I have cystic-acne-like eruptions in a couple of places…boy, aren’t you glad you stopped by Mighty Mighty today? My hair is still thinning, which I find extremely distressing, even though no one can tell but me because my hair is so thick to begin with.

It would be very easy, right now, to just lay all these burdens down.

Except what would that prove? And who would that help? Physically, it will not make me feel better to stop working out, and to start eating crap. Emotionally, it will not serve me to accept defeat.

And so, I have gone the other way. I have flipped into planning mode, my happiest mode of all. There is a plan, people. Which is not unusual. I almost always have a plan. But the best thing about this plan (which I realise needs some kind of snappy name. I am working on that) is that Taco, the least planningest person I’ve ever known, is the mastermind. Taco! It is to laugh! And yet, behold the goodness of this plan:

· Continue with yoga/pilates every work day morning
· Taco will prepare suppers of my choosing each afternoon so that I don’t have to a) cook when I get home and b) freak out that I can’t eat what he’s made
· Not having to cook supper means I can get to the gym at least four evenings a week…
· Where I will do a combination of classes I enjoy, and nice mindless treadmill walking, because walking helps me think
· On Saturdays, we will go for walks by the water, which will serve two purposes: one, exercise for the day; and two, grief-management homework assigned by shrink and not yet touched or even thought about constructively by me
· On Sundays, I will write. Or edit. Whichever seems most pressing, book-wise. Meanwhile, Taco will attend to the housecleaning etc.
· And finally, on Sunday afternoons, there will be a treat outing. Like, to a matinee. But no movie popcorn, because movie popcorn is the devil in a bag. Because you might as well eat SIX BIG MACS as eat a bag of movie popcorn, and that’s without the golden topping, and if you didn’t know that, now you do. So we will take our own excellent snacks like cherries, which can kick the ass of movie popcorn all around the snackbar any day of the week anyhow.

If that’s not a plan that’s bursting with goodness, well, I guess I don’t know what goodness is. As Taco pointed out this morning while devising this plan, he is basically a house-husband, except that I’ve been taking on most of the cooking and house chores. Why? Because I am OBSESSED that’s why. And because being obsessed with the house and looking after it and him means I don’t have to think about things I’d rather not, like why I’m shying away from dealing with my grief, and my weight, and my writing, and my SELF.

Ha-ha! Well, there’ll be no more of that! Seriously, though, I’ve been putting it off, putting it all off, for probably fairly goodish emotional reasons, but those emotions kind of aren’t helping me go forward in…well, in ANY way. So. The Goodness Plan. It goes into motion today.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Define this

I have just spent the last ten minutes feeling up my own leg. I cannot get enough of myself right now and I will tell you why: Pilates or yoga, five times a week, that’s why.

My god, people, the definition. In my calves. My knees. My forearms, for the love of Mike. Even my thighs offer, in some small way, their own form of definition. This morning, as I rolled up into yet another pilates-induced crunch, the sight of my own bicep filled me with glee.

A very nice feeling indeed.

Certainly, the need to blast off rather a lot of fat remains. But when it begins to abate in earnest? Muscles. Muscles, muscles, muscles.

So it’s been…what? Three weeks since I made it a goal to do pilates or yoga every workday morning? I haven’t missed a day since. And that’s been good. But it has meant that my slavish loyalty to the gym every evening has fallen by the wayside.

It is time to bring them back together. Yes, time to preside over the unholy marriage of meditative morning toning exercises with sweaty evening gym machinations.

I know it’s necessary. I know I can do it. But I worry, a little, about getting overwhelmed by it all. Because: I have a full time job. And we’re renovating the house. And I have this novel hanging over me that I’m supposed to rewrite. And there’s the morning toning stuff, which I love. And counting calories, which I am totally getting the hang of. And what if I try to add this other thing and I totally flip my wig?

I guess the answer is so what if I do? So what? So I’ll just get up, dust off and start again in a different way. What’s a little wig-flipping, to the likes of me, champeen wig-flipper from way back? Has there ever been a truly negative, lasting effect to the flipping of the wig? No, now that I think about it, there kind of has not been. There’s been plenty of needless fretting before I do something that I think MIGHT lead to wig-flipping. But no actual stopping-of-the-turning-of-the-world once my wig is up in the air doing somersaults.

So. So so so.

Guess what I’m doing tonight? Me, my sportsbra and the treadmill. Yes, boy.

(Because, I’ll tell you a secret. Lately, I’ve started to think that people who run for fun or exercise or both are not as stupid/insane as I once thought they were. Now that’s just between you and me. Don’t go telling everyone.)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

All that you can be

Is it enough, in this weight loss game, to do the best you can do? I guess that depends on what your best is, and what the situation is, and what kind of changes you’re willing to make to that situation.

For myself, the last week has been a revelation. Actually, numerically tracking my food intake every day has been enlightening to say the least. On the days on which I also exercise, I have no problem either hitting the target directly, or even coming under by anywhere from a handful to a few hundred calories. The days I don’t exercise? Well, that’s proven much more difficult. And it’s not just that I have fewer calories to eat on those days. There are two factors at play there.

One is that if I exercise, especially if I do so in the morning, I have already made a commitment to myself that day, as absurd and flaky as that sounds, and it seems kind of foolish to seel it down the river by eating cookies or excess cheese or whatever it is I want that day. The other is that, if things are nomal and good an droutine, I will have worked out. That’s it. If things are not: If I’m grappling with too much work, if I’m on the road, if I’m a little depressed, I will not work out. And all those things being equal, quite apart from exercising or not, I will have trouble with food. Either I can’t get what I need—healthy, low-calorie food—or I don’t want what I need. I want chips or chocolate or cheese instead. The unholy trinity.

Take this trip to Toronto, for example. I packed my workout stuff, but the hotel gym was packed to the rafters the first morning, and I decided to sleep in the second morning. Add to that the continental breakfast (croissant, cheese, fruit, espresso, yogurt) that left me hungry all morning and led to snacks during the meetings (half danish, half scone). Oh, and of course all-day meetings with a bad facilitator meant I sat on my ass for eight hours. Bored enough to be burning fewer calories than I normally would just sitting around.

Day two was a little better, but really? Not much. I adjusted, based on what I’d learned the day before, but still. When I don’t exercise, I feel sluggish, I feel like there’s something missing. This, to me, is a great, great thing. It suggests that making exercise a life-long habit will be relatively easy. Or, hey, at least much more likely. Which I will take in a pinch.

There were certainly points in those two days, and indeed the rest of the weekend, during which I thought, ok, this is the best I can do about this right now. And I can either freak out about not doing better, or I can look to the future and see how I can adjust there. I chose the latter. And sure, it might look like a cop-out at first blush. Except that the best I could do didn’t mean giving up and eating as much as whatever I wanted. Instead, it meant eating food that admittedly wasn’t my first choice, but eating it in a mindful way. And it meant looking up food on weight loss resources BEFORE going out for breakfast, so that I could order in an informed way. And the same at supper.

It’s not easy this stuff. It sure is not easy. But it is, at least, simple. Simple enough that even I can get the hang of it. I’m excited about this. Excited about going forward with these tools in hand. Excited about the rest of my life.

Monday, May 09, 2005


I am a process nerd. I love systems, charts, graphs. I like to calculate amounts, distances, dates. I am addicted to counting down and counting up.

Or I thought I liked that stuff.

Then I started using Weight Loss Resources to track my food, and oh sweet jesus, I knew bacon was bad for me, but 322 calories in three slices? Son of a bitch.

Even though it feels like harsh tokes just at the moment (I grabbed the wrong tupperware from the fridge today, and ended up lunch-less, and Taco was out doing errands and I foolishly thought I could get an OK lunch at the canteen downstairs which, hey, I probably could have, without the bacon), it’s actually the best kind of sobering. I have been cruising along, in a slightly more enlightened version of my old state. I know what healthy foods are, and I usually eat them. And I’ve added exercise to the menu, so now I’m good, right?

Not so fast there, pardner. Avocadoes. Which I love. Which I eat every day. Are shockingly high calorie. Good fat, whatever. Two hundred and thirty nine calories in those little friggers. That’s rather a lot.

This kind of tracking, which I’ve never done before, has a way of bringing everything into sharp focus. Yes, I love seeing a calculation on fruit and veggie servings and how many grams of fibre and protein I’m getting in a given day (if only it showed calcium intake at a glance…). But it’s also making me think even more about what to have for supper. I can see, OK, I’ve put away X number of calories so far today, and I have 634 left, and that includes the ones I earned doing yoga this morning. Which means I need to find something I can make for supper that’s going to be pretty well fat-free and crammed with good carbs in the form of vegetables. I have some haddock in the fridge, which I’d been planning to dredge in cornmeal and panfry. Um, not so much, any more. Instead, I think that haddock is bound for glory in a modified bouilliabase. Heads up, Taco, supper plans have changed!

Yes, sure, the accountability part of it is great. If it’s all there on my computer screen, it’s hard to ignore that I’ve been just a little over my calorie allotment every day for the last three (that is to say, every day since I started tracking in earnest). But it’s also hard to carry on regardless, the way I would have say, last Thursday (the day before I signed up). I’d have eaten the bacon at lunch and made the haddock for supper and I’d have walked around with that vague sense of doom, which I would have pushed insistently to the back of my head.

I realise now, writing that, that I’ve been walking around with that sense of doom for years. Literally, for years. And I’ve been pushing it to the back of my head for exactly the same amount of time. What a sad waste of energy I’d have been better served using to kickbox or walk or paint a bedroom yellow or dance in the kitchen with Taco. Well, I won’t throw good energy after bad. I won’t lament that other state. I’ll simply be thankful I found that calorie-tracking tool now, rather than a year from now. I’ll put my energy (efficiently and accurately tracked as it’ll be) to good use from here on in.

Friday, May 06, 2005

And again

Another planful day yesterday. Pilates in the morning, water all day. Didn’t get supper till around 9:30, which is decidedly not perfect. But it consisted of a big salad, carrots and yogurt dip, some cheese and crackers, hummus and pita and some pineapple (still eating appetizers, after the Professor’s birthday party last weekend. That’s the last of them, though, thank god.) Again, not perfect, but far from a crisis.

And this morning, though I slept it till NINE O’CLOCK, I still managed to get the yoga tape done (as well as the dishes, and I remembered to take my vitamins, too), and walk to work.

And now, after a light sushi lunch and some fresh fruit, I’m working on the water thing. Bit by bit, I’m going to get this bitch done.

One way or another.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Goal tender

All that wallowing yesterday certainly paid off. I’m funny with the wallowing. I like to do it, almost need to do it, but not for too long. I get tired of the sound of my own voice wailing "I don't know, I don't know!" Once I’ve done it publicly, and it’s out there, then I straighten up and fly right. Works every time.

So yesterday, I polished off two litres of water at work, went home, worked out for a second time yesterday, cardio this time, and then drained another litre of water. I made a rare untasty supper, though it was at least healthy. Dessert was a strawberry-mango-grapefruit-pineapple salad. Post-dinner snacking amounted to a spelt crispbread with some goat gouda, and then I packed myself away in bed by 11pm, managed to get in some snuggle time with the Professor, and then slept the sleep of the righteous.

And this morning, Pilates. Walked to work in the soft sunshine and am now drinking water like a hero.

I think it’s going to be a good day.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


That would be the tidiest way to sum up my “efforts” lately. I don’t know what it is, this malaise that has me eating sugar and bread as if they’re health foods. I don’t know how a person could feel so ready to change, and yet, not really go through with it. I mean, sure, I’m hopping…er, dragging myself out of bed every morning (this week, anyhow) to do either yoga or pilates before work. But then, well, take last night. Please. I came home from work and had a little sourdough baguette. Then made barbecued jerk tofu and veggie skewers and basmati rice, and salad. It was a great supper. And a little while after eating it, I was back in the kitchen for a bowl of cereal with soymilk and blackberries. And then I ate some chips. Not very many, but still. And a Lindt truffle. And then another one of those. And then I got the hell in bed because I couldn’t see where it would end, you know?

I was so HUNGRY yesterday. But not the kind where you feel that tingle in your stomach, the kind where you’re actually, physiologically hungry. Instead, the kind that had me eating all day and never feeling full.

I feel like I have a tremendous capacity for happiness, and an equally tremendous capacity for sadness. And yesterday, that hungry feeling was a similar one. One of simple (yet so complex) capacity. I didn’t feel full-to-bursting, so I kept eating.

It’s not a crisis, yet. My clothes are still fitting better than ever, I’m still in a size 16, my measurements are still holding steady or falling a little. But that’s not what I want. I don’t want to be a size 16. I don’t want these clothes to fit, I want them to be so loose they’re falling off. Yet, when I’m eating mindlessly, eating only because I can, I have to question just how much I want what I say I want.

It is so easy to do nothing. So easy, except for the constant chatter about it in my head, the scheming and planning and imagining. That part isn’t easy at all.

On the other hand, many times in the past nine months (nine months already?) I have found it just as easy to do the right thing. To make healthy food choices, to exercise, to drink water. So why is it so difficult now?

I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know why I can’t just make sure I get three litres of water a day. It’s not like I’m not thirsty. Quite the contrary. But can I get up twice a day to refill my water bottle at work? I cannot. Can I, either during breakfast or throughout the evening, knock back another at home? No sir.

I forget sometimes that it’s all choice. All of it. I can choose to give my body the water it needs. I can choose to prioritise exercise. I can choose to not bring trigger foods into the house. I have made these choices before. I can choose to recommit.

It seems my two settings, though, are whole hog and half-assed. Heh. So let’s jiggle that around a little and actually try baby-stepping through it, shall we?
This week’s goals:

Drink three litres of water a day


Do yoga or pilates tape each morning.

They’re small steps, but they’re steps I can do. No point in big steps I won’t take, right? So, small steps it is.