February 5, 2016

Processing

Yesterday I didn't have any classes, which means I usually head to the office for a while to catch up on work, then I head to the park to walk a bit before getting my son from daycare. When I woke up, I was in a terrible mood. I'd binged the night before - not terrible, Just What's Here, but still, off plan. Wednesdays are my toughest nights. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are long days for us, but Monday nights I have my night class to keep me distracted at night, and Fridays are followed by two days off, so they aren't as much of a challenge. Wednesdays have nothing going for them. I'm exhausted from a long day, and Noah has very bad separation anxiety since his dad left, and he won't fall asleep unless I'm sitting in the room with him. So I stay sitting on the floor for an hour sometimes, and if I move, he whisper-shouts "Mama! Lay down!" 

I've tried just letting him cry it out. He'll scream and cry for an hour, until he vomits. So I just sit with him. And some nights, like Wednesday night, it takes forever. I sat there for an hour, until I heard him start to snore a little, then I stood up.

"Mama! Lay down!"

Another half an hour, another escape attempt. I made it to the doorway before he got hysterical. Another hour. Still not asleep. My eyes were burning. It had been such a long day - classes, meetings. I'd made two separate students cry. I just wanted the day to be over. I just wanted him to sleep so I could shower and go to bed.

I went to the kitchen and ate whatever I could grab, and just stood at the counter, shoveling, needing that chewing sensation to soothe the anxiety rising in me while my son screamed his head off ten feet away. It didn't get him to go to bed any earlier. Eventually, like almost every night, it got to a point where I was so tired, I couldn't fight him anymore, so I grabbed him and his blanket, brought him into my room, and we both passed out immediately. I don't know what the solution is, but I guarantee snacking isn't it.

So, I was crabby. I was tired. I was frustrated. I wanted to just bring him to daycare, some back, and take a nap. But I got my gym clothes on anyway and headed right to the park. Gray skies, a light sprinkle, didn't care. I figured, I'd do some walking, then come home and crash. I managed to get two laps in before the ran started to pick up. I was thoroughly wet but not drenched, so I got in the car, turned on my audiobook, and just drove around for a few hours. I ended up at a few different thrift stores, looking for the Pyrex pattern I collect, looking for pickling crocks for my sister, looking for vinyl records for my other sister.

On the drive, I saw something that reminded me of my husband, but I never told him about it and I didn't write it down myself, so I don't remember now. It must not have been too significant.

That happens a lot. (The "I should tell him about X," not the memory troubles.)

We moved to South Carolina blindly for my job, and for a very long time, it was just us. No family here, no friends. So everywhere I go, I see reminders of him, of day trips, of facts he recited and stories I told. I live in our apartment. I sleep in our bed. His bookshelf is here, empty. Don't get me wrong - I don't want him here. Even with all the trouble it brings, having him a thousand miles away suits me just fine. But it's hard sometimes to be optimistic about the future when your present is still saturated with reminders of such a big, painful part of your past.

Because of this, I find that my mind frequently drifts back to California - mainly due to the fact that it's a place where he didn't exist. I knew him then, we talked often, I visited him in Chicago and we visited San Francisco together - but actual presence in Merced, my small city in the middle of nowhere ... that was all mine, for better or for worse.


Sometimes I wish that my family had been able to visit me there. That maybe it would've changed something, or maybe they would have at least understood why I was so desperate to leave, why I wanted so badly to be back with the boy I knew in Chicago, why he seemed like a good choice at the time. My father drove to California with me, so he's the only one close to me who ever saw my apartment, the school where I worked, the town where I lived. He's the only one who met the man I loved so deeply there, and I'll never forget coming home from my first date with him and the joy on my dad's face as he exclaimed, "Not even a week here, and my daughter meets a handsome doctor!" It's hard not to think about that whole situation, especially knowing what happened next for me, and not feel like I let my dad down.

Last year, I made a resolution to write a poem every single day. My life felt so stagnant and uncreative, I needed to do something to find my way back to my happiest self. At the end of the year, I sent them off, and now I have a nice 300+ page professional-looking book of my work, a diary documenting such an incredibly full year of my life. Frustrations about work, family arguments, depression about my weight, parenting exhaustion - they're all there. There's a poem for the day I told my husband I wanted a divorce, there's a poem for the day he left, and there are many, many more detailing every emotion fueled by these events and their aftermath.

I have a few poems about California, mainly in the beginning of the year, for reasons I explored - where else? - in one of my poems. Without further ado:

something that strikes me:
noticeably absence from my mind these days
is time spent and tears shed
thinking about california and all its regrets.

in a painful and loveless marriage,
some days, my only joy came
from revisiting memories
of an equally imperfect and difficult time
now softened by years of distance.
there was love there,
but also heartache -
passion,
but also betrayals,
like the many i've had in my marriage.

and when the pain of the present
outgrows the hurts of the past,
it can be easy to romanticize a time
when i
also
all-too-frequently cried myself to sleep.

but now that separation is imminent
and divorce is inevitable,
the power has been given back to my present.
my eyes are wide on horizons
and despite my short-term anxieties
i am overall optimistic
for a future with genuine love
and a today so fantastic
that i don't have to daydream
about the lesser of my evil situations.

Some days are easy, and my mind is focused on the here and now and nothing and nowhere else. But I can't wait to close the book on some days, and sometimes, on those tough days, I still think softly about California, and the woulda-coulda-shouldas from there. Denise, who gets me like few other people in the world, said "It's super easy to get caught up in. You can imagine your could-have-been however you want because it's just hanging out in the past without any fights or madness in it."

She's right. It's like eating too many snacks because your kid won't fall asleep. It doesn't change the situation, but it makes right now feel a little better. When I binge, I'm not thinking about the bigger picture, I'm not remembering previous bad experiences. I remember the bliss, I forget about the remorse.

I deserve a life free of binges, and fantasies free of rehashing the moments I wish I'd done differently, the things I should have said. Not every day is beautifully positive - and even the beautifully positive days are rarely 100% so. A lot of days are this kind of messy - a little, or a lot. But I'm getting through them, and I'm pushing forward.

Down a few more pounds this week, to 317. I'll take it.

I never did get a nap in. Maybe tomorrow.

February 2, 2016

Wrap-up: January

On January 1, I stepped on the scale, saw 332, and cried. Then I dried my tears, and got to work.

Yesterday, February 1, I weighed 318, a 14 pound loss for the month. Even with a few difficult days, and a lot of things thrown at me (my husband in town, a canceled court date, my spring semester starting), I still managed to lose an average of over 3 pounds each week.

I'm trying not to fixate. I'm trying to focus on one day at a time. But I'm also very motivated right now by the idea that if I stick to this routine (which is do-able and not exhausting or depriving) and continue to lose consistently, I could make serious progress this year - I could be back at my lowest adult weight by my 30th birthday. It's keeping me focused - especially at night, when I want to snack for no reason, I think about how good it will feel to be back in my goal range, and it usually deters me.

My goals for January:
  1. Hit my water goal (96 oz.) 20x. I'm SO proud of the fact that I met this goal every day in January. 31 days of drinking lots of water - at least 96 oz., and even more some days.
  2. Stay "on plan" 20x. I met this goal, plus some - I was on plan 24 of 31 days. 2 of the 6 "off-plan" days I did too much snacking (but wouldn't call it a binge), 2 days I went out to lunch (once with my husband and once when I was exhausted and just wanted Subway), and 2 days I did binge. 2 binges out of 31 is a serious accomplishment, since most of November and December was spent in an carb overdose coma.
  3. No daily weighing. This was where I failed pretty bad - I weighed every day except one day. But I *am* proud of the fact that I knew the numbers but didn't let them boss me around, didn't let them dictate my moods. When the scale maintained or even went up some days, I looked at the day before, and decided to make that day better - more water, more activity, etc.
  4. Do something active 20x. I didn't make this goal - I logged 16 workouts. The toughest weeks for me were the week when I started back at work, and then last week, when I got busy with appointments and work whatnot. I'm proud of the workouts I logged, though - started small and worked my way up to being able to walk 5K again, and then I worked on shaving time off my 5K. There's been really great progress here, and I am looking forward to keeping it up.
Having my giant poster board calendar on the fridge helped, for sure. It is nice to look at a full month of ups and downs and see the bigger picture - an overall loss, lots of great walks, tons of water, and meals I enjoyed.


It's nice, too, to have a completely blank one made up and ready for February. A clean slate, of sorts. I hope to increase/modify my goals for each month, so here they are for February:

  1. Hit 96 oz. water goal 20x/Hit 128 oz. water goal 9x. The overall goal is to get at least 96 oz. of water in every day - I made the goal in January with more days in the month, I can totally make this one again! It never ceases to amaze me how critical water is to my weight loss routine. Some days it's tough and I'm chugging my last few ounces in bed, but some days (especially when I am teaching/talking a lot), it's actually pretty easy.
  2. Do something active 20x. I didn't reach this goal last month so I repeated it, hoping to make it this month. It's gonna be a bit of a challenge - with 29 days, this means every day that I'm not teaching, I have to be active - and I'll still need a few more days to meet the goal. It will be a good challenge for me, to try and work activity into my teaching days. I mostly want to just come home and crash, so this will be a good motivator to do something, anything - even just a 15 minute walk around the neighborhood with Noah.
  3. Try 5 new recipes. This was something that motivated me a lot in the past - I tend to get into routines of finding something I like and then making it way too often. I was reading an old copy of Food Network magazine this past weekend and found a recipe for meat-less meatballs made with eggplant, so I got the ingredients and put them together.
    They were a little bland at first, but the next day, they were much more flavorful, and I will definitely make them again (as meatballs, or as a veggie burger!). So I want to keep reading and keep looking around and try to find a few new recipes to try!
  4. 5-day no binge streak 5x. Ideally I'd like to be binge-free all month (I was very close to that in January!), but I like the idea of marking streaks, because in future months, I can keep measuring the streaks, increase length of time, etc. The idea for 5-day streaks was looking at the workweek and trying to stay fully on plan during the week - not saying that the weekend is a time to binge, but expressly trying to avoid the binges during the week when stress tends to be higher and the urge to binge tends to strike more.

It's a short month, but I know I can get a lot accomplished. Work is about to get hectic - I thought the independent study course I proposed was rejected since we're four weeks into the semester and it still wasn't on my roster, but yesterday it showed up. I have a shell of a course, but not too many activities prepared - I was focusing my energy on the classes I knew I'd have to teach, instead of spending a ton of time on something that wasn't going to be approved this semester. So today, I'm at the office, plugging away on materials. The good news is, I'm so over-the-top-organized with everything else, that I'm able to fully devote time to getting this material together without making sacrifices for my other courses. It's the first semester in a long time where I've been this organized, and it makes a world of difference, for sure.

I'm feeling really confident right now - even with the weird blip of emotions and whining about not feeling like a "real" adult at the end, I had a pretty great month. And I'm feeling much more optimistic and confident that my "real" adult life is happening and it's fantastic, even if it doesn't look like everyone else's. I'm getting divorced in my 20s, and there's no polite way to say that it totally sucks. It's not beautiful and it's not the life I wanted for myself or for my son. But even with the mess, we're thriving. We've got a lot to be grateful for, and things can only get better from here, right?

Right!

What about you? How was your January? Holding strong on your resolutions? What are your February goals? Tried any great recipes lately that you'd like to share?