Thursday, July 29, 2010

"The Summer Really Suits You!"

Today I was on my way up to my office when I saw someone I hadn't seen for awhile. I said hi, making the usual pleasantry small talk. She paid me a really nice compliment - "You look really great. The summer really suits you!"

I had an internal "WTF?!?!?" moment. This summer has monumentally sucked for me. I've been depressed, injured, and my productivity has been impeded significantly. Nothing -- seriously I can think of really literally almost nothing -- has gone as I expected. Those 1000 miles I was going to bike this summer? Nope. Back injury. Those 20-30 lbs I would have loved to lose? Nope - lost 15, gained 5 back. Lack of injury and discipline + inability to exercise. Those four papers I was going to submit? Nope. Got one done, probably will get a second done but definitely not four. The big "you have to submit this" grant I was supposed to submit? Did not happen. Not the summer of my dreams or plans. And certainly nothing that I have felt "suits me".

Apparently I am hiding all of this pretty well. The complete "I am going to fall apart at any moment" feelings that I so often feel must be tucked out of sight of most. Many of you even commented on how happy I look in those pictures I posted last week. Ironically, I felt soo much better when I posted those pictures in May than I did when I posted the pictures last week. However, I can flash my million dollar smile and you will all be none the wiser, unless I let you in. I had a meeting that I cried in anticipation of with a friend/colleague on the phone for literally 1.5 hours. The meeting went fine and my boss thinks life is hunky dory. It's clearly not. I am not sure if this is good or bad, but I am just apparently quite good at hiding this and letting people think that life is ok.

I have to look at the big picture though. I have submitted a paper. Other things at work are moving along ok, which is good. Not as fast as I want, but they are moving forward. Although I haven't lost as much weight as I want, I am still better than I was 90 days ago and I am getting help from a counselor to work through my food- (and other-) related neuroses. I am working to get things in my head squared a way and to make changes that I believe are sustainable in the long term so that healthy living is a part of my lifestyle, and not just a flash in the pan.

This post, too, has been rambling like so many of them lately. I appreciate all of your support, and I love to hear from you in the comments. I am determined that I will make it through this tunnel of darkness and emerge on the other side. I appreciate the role that blogging and the community of support has played in this. Thank you so very much. I will choose to believe that this summer really does suit me. I will fake it until I make it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Progress Pictures - July 2010

Today I was at a place with great full length mirrors perfect for taking progress pictures. I couldn't resist.

Despite having a lousy time with food lately, several folks I hadn't seen in awhile told me "OMG you are looking great." Although it's tough to do a direct comparison when not wearing the exact same clothes, I would have to agree with them based on a comparison to my last set of progress pictures and obviously compared to my starting point.

7 things about me

To accept the Versatile Blogger Award I wrote about last time, one of the things you're supposed to do is to write a list of seven things people probably don't know about you. Here are seven things about me:
  • I like to write lists like this about myself, and I also love reading others' lists like this. I especially loved the 25 things about me fad on FB, and I wrote another list about myself when Lyn started the Memorial Blogroll.
  • When I get into a hobby or interest, I get really into it. Two examples of hobbies/interests I've really been into are Broadway shows and quilting. I still LOVE going to and learning about shows, but I no longer read all the message boards, know all the gossip, etc. I also love quilting but don't do it nearly as much. I now prefer active stuff and being outside whenever possible. My obsession du jour is biking, specifically watching and taking in every moment of the Tour de France.
  • As I have gotten more healthy, a lot of things have changed. One of those things is that I care a lot more about my appearance now, and always have my toenails in good shape, shave more often, dress less sloppy, etc. Another thing is my taste in guys. I used to think that padded, teddy-bear types were cute, but now I prefer fit, cut looking guys. I'm not into gross overly-built types (an oily looking Schwartzneger type? No thanks), but I want someone who takes care of himself and is healthy so we can do active, healthy activity together. (no, that is not what I'm talking about sickos!)
  • Despite wanting to like yoga and knowing its benefits, I can't stand yoga! I have tried several different videos, in person teachers, etc and it's just not for me and I accept that now. Same with pickles. I want to like them but I think they're gross! (except the bread and butter variety)
  • Water bottles are like my teddy bear: I take them everywhere. If you see me, chances are it is with a water bottle. I have like 5 water bottles and I keep them everywhere - one at work, one at the gym in my locker, one in my car, etc. Almost all of them are of the 32 oz. Nalgene variety, BPA free. I love water bottles and keep one with me almost all the time.
  • I hate to take pills/meds. It was really a mental struggle when my physician told me I needed to go on Lisinopril for my blood pressure. However, I take it because I know it is important and it will keep me healthy and save my blood vessels though. Ironically, I like to take vitamins and supplements. I probably take about 10-12 daily. It is crazy - lecithin for smooth/sagging skin; a calcium/vitamin D pill; turmeric for arthritis symptoms; niacin for my low HDL; vitamin E for sagging skin; glucosamine for my joints/prearthritis; a hair/skin supplement; fish oil; and a multivitamin. An update will follow, but my psychologist has suggested taking an SSRI seasonally and I have mixed feelings about that.
  • I really wanted to be able to run. To me, nothing says "You are in shape" like being able to run or complete a triathalon (and I can already bike and swim proficiently). However, that is how I hurt myself and my back/SI joint again. I now accept I will never be a runner or triathalete, which makes me sad -- but my longterm health is way more important and I absolutely give myself credit for all of the other active things I can do -- swimming, water aerobics, biking, Zumba, weight lifting, etc.
And, because I love lists, I thought I would include a list of my 25 things about me from FB circa January 2009, and the list of 25 things I wrote earlier on my blog.
1. Even though I have always enjoyed musical theatre, the first time I saw a show on Broadway was in 2008. Then in 2008 I saw 14 shows on Broadway.
2. When I was a kid I wanted to be an entomologist (who studies bugs) or a scientist who studied pachyderms.
3. I like to cook and bake, but I rarely do (unless it's from a box and quick). EDIT - I now cook a lot more. A lot healthier that way, and I have gotten pretty good!
4. I subscribe to 60 blogs. They range from stuff about operations research to Hollywood gossip to news. My favorites are the ones my friends have about their kids. EDIT - now a lot more, as I read a bunch of your WL blogs!
5. I collect magnets and try to get one when I go somewhere new or to a show I haven't been to before.
6. My favorite genre of books is non-fiction (business books, biographies, etc). I also like children's books and historical fiction.
7. I have a goal/belief that I should visit at least one state for each year of my life. I am currently 29 but have been to 31 states so I am +2 at this point.
8. The first book I ever wore out was Cranberry Thanksgiving, a book I had when I was a kid. The second was Linear Optimization by Bertsimas and Tsitsiklis.
9. I am from Port Clinton, OH which claims to be the Walleye Capital of the World. That place sucks, has lots of closed minded people, and I hope never to live there again. It didn't do it for me.
10. I used to be incredibly conservative and even volunteered for the Republican party in DC. Now? Not so much.
11. The first time I ever visited Arkansas was on my interview at the University of Arkansas. I had low expectations of the state, but I love where I live. It is great.
12. I really enjoy the WiiFit, but don't play it as much as I should.
13. Quilting is something I really have fun doing. I especially enjoy playing with color.
14. I have been to more than 100 musicals. I'm kind of obsessed. I read Broadway message boards, etc. It's over the top. EDIT - shifting priorities and new hobbies = not as obsessed with this anymore.
15. Sometimes I wish I had another type of job -- working at a performing arts center or quilt store or art gallery or something -- but then I realize it would be disorganized and I would not be well compensated and I get over it pretty quickly. EDIT - don't get over this as quickly anymore
16. I have way too much stuff, and need to get rid of a lot of it. I'm too lazy to sell it on eBay so I need to partner with someone who is not and we can split the profit.
17. I love to garden but live in an apartment, so I can't. I have an Aerogarden now which is a reasonable (and low maintenance) substitute.
18. I used to think people who used Macs were crazy and arrogant, and now I am a crazy (but hopefully not arrogant) Mac user.
19. I love reality tv, even (especially?) the trashy kind -- for example, Girls Next Door and the Real World. However, I can't do the Hills -- but this was surprising to me.
20. I was really judgmental when I was younger. I hope I am more open-minded now. EDIT - while this is still true, I see more and more ways in which I am still judgemental. Still have a ways to go!
21. I would love to go to a taping of the Oprah show, even though I think her new age stuff is yucky/ridiculous.
22. I won several pie eating contests when I was a kid. Shocking, I know.
23. I never thought I would get a PhD. Life is weird.
24. I lived in Germany for a summer and loved it. I really made the most of my time there, visiting a new place every weekend (had an internship during the week).
25. About some things I am uber-organized (DVD and CD collection, class notes, etc). About others, not at all (office, home, e-mail). I need to get organized about everything; it makes things a lot easier. EDIT - more and more, I am organized about less and less. Symptom of depression I think.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stream of Conciousness

This blog has been sorely neglected... I still think about it sometimes, although I do less and less. I am just not sure where my head and my heart are lately.

Since learning that I could once again affix the "depression" label to myself, life has seemed harder. I am not sure why. Things are the same as they have been, perhaps even better now that I am on a path to get some help. However, knowing that I am officially depressed almost justifies and validates how crappy I feel and, sometimes, provides just the excuse I need to not do what I don't want to. And that is bogus.

Today, I have another appointment at the counselor. I am not looking forward to it but am hopeful that it will help me. I will let you know.

Some interesting things have happened on the job front. I have to be vague since I have a sneaking suspicion several of my students (and maybe even coworkers) read this blog, but let's just say this. There have been opportunities that have arisen and the timing of these opportunities is either a huge huge coincidence, or a big sign. I am trying to process what all of this means, and how I will proceed. Right now I am just confused and not really believing in my decision-making ability. We will see what happens.

Last week, I received my first blog award. Not only did I receive one, but I received two! Thanks to Cariann at Pencil Skirt Bound and Bunpoh at the Angry Inch. Check out their blogs if you get a chance. I really appreciate you sharing this award with me and will likely do the "assignment" with it later. I hate that it feels like doing everything -- even a simple and somewhat enjoyable task like this feels like I have a mountain to climb. It is ridiculous.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wisdom from the Counselor

When I talked to the counselor about wanting to be able to enjoy food -- including things that probably aren't considered amazing choices like cheese dip and pizza -- she had something really insightful and great to say. She suggested enjoying those things, but not when sad. When you're sad, you go for healthy things. You work to use food to fuel your body, but you don't pick things that are "bad" choices when you're feeling down. Food is not for comfort, food is for fuel and to enjoy in moderation.

Only eat cheese dip (or whatever your food achilles heel is) when you feel sane, calm, and normal about food. When sad, stay clear of it.

I guess I will not have any tonight, even though I thought to myself "Man I should get some cheese tonight!". I am grateful she told me that, or else I would likely have eaten an entire block myself tonight.

The symptom or the problem?

I have known that things with me have not been right with me for awhile. I couldn't figure out what it was, but I knew that I needed to get into a counselor ASAP. As I have written about before, I have been in counseling before and found it very helpful.

I put off calling the counselor last Friday. Finally around 4:45, I called. No surprise; he wasn't in the office. What did surprise me, however, was how tough it was to place the call.

"Nah, you're really ok," my inner voice said. But every shred of evidence and an even deeper inner voice pointed toward the truth. Things are not ok. I am not ok. And I need help.

My eating had been spiraling out of control. Not out of control binge city 24-7, but enough to know that I was teetering on the edge of a cliff that, if I didn't find my way off of, was certain to lead to impending doom. I have worked too hard to make too many good changes to sacrifice this progress. The 3-4 lbs I've gained over the last two week are simply the warning sign of what's certain to be a downward spiral if I'm not careful. My mental health felt similar to how my back feels right before it's about to cause me major trouble. I am learning to recognize the signs.

I was unsuccessful in getting in touch with my counselor from before, so I took to the internet to find someone knowledgeable about food issues and eating disorders. It seems odd to think of myself as having an eating disorder because I have a mental image of people with eating disorders being skinny -- usually scarily and unhealthily so -- and that I sure ain't. However it's hard to make a compelling argument that my thoughts around food are healthy, and that my eating is not disordered, so I think I fall into this category (not to mention that binge eating disorder is officially recognized by the medical community as a problem).

I found a counselor with eating disorder expertise, of course did a bunch of background googling on her, and ended up deciding to give it a shot. I met with her for the first time yesterday.

I went in there expecting to talk about food, how I could reframe my relationship with food, and, eventually get more sane, healthy, and normal in my relationship with eating and food. However, we talked about the gambit of things. The official diagnosis? I am depressed. Very depressed. Again. DAMN IT!!!

As I think about it, though, she is right. Ever since I had the problems with my hip and back recur -- and have had to spend lots of time inside, not doing much so I don't hurt myself more, etc -- I have sunk deeper into a funk. I hate that.

The food and the overeating is a symptom of the problem, not the main problem (for now). The problem is depression, and food is just a coping mechanism for the problem. I will work on my relationship with food during counseling, but I will also work through the other stresses surrounding my life -- most notably, my job and my difficult time finding friends here. By dealing with the root causes and dealing with the food stuff too, I hope I can get fixed. I hate feeling broken, but admit that it's tough to get past the brokenness without acknowledging it first.

I am glad I was able to catch this 3-4 lbs into a gain rather than 20-50-60-100 lbs in. I am optimistic that working with someone who understands disordered eating, life as an academic, and mental health in general will be helpful. And I believe in myself and my ability to overcome depression, again. For the second time since I've moved here. Is this a sign of something?!?!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Not dead, and not quitting

I haven't written here in over a week. That is a long time for me. I have several things I want to write about, but have yet to find a moment when I have both time and inspiration to do so. I do want to let those of you who are curious know that I have been having a hard time with food/healthy living lately, but I am most assuredly fighting and totally not giving up. This is a fight that I am determined either to win, or to go down swinging. Fortunately, I am so competitive, I think I will find a way to win. No one wants to lose at the game of life.

Monday, July 5, 2010

What kind of a donation?!

Today I was at Borders, buying a magazine about the Tour. As I checked out, the cashier asked if I wanted to donate a box of candy to the local children's shelter. I about flipped my top. I asked, "Excuse me, are you serious?!" The cashier explained that the Borders employees were going to go to the shelter (I give them props), read to them (HUGE props), and feed them the donated candy (again, WTF?!).

After I realized that my reaction probably sounded like I was mad about being asked for a donation, I clarified my position. I cannot believe that of all the things that these kids probably need, that candy is what we would be donating to these kids. Kids need healthy food, not processed crap and especially not boatloads of candy. I'd rather donate apples or watermelon or -- heaven forbid at a Borders -- books than HFCS candy to growing ones living in a shelter where they are probably served school cafeteria grade processed food. Shame on you Borders.

EDITED TO ADD - I just reread this. Am I overreacting?
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