April 30, 2011


This picture is totally unrelated to the rest of the post, but I love it - I walked home from the gym last night because I had a lot of energy and wanted to fully soak up the first sunny day in what feels like forever, and I was marveling at my shrinking shadow. Man, I love my legs!

I made a Spring Fever Challenge goal to complete three items on my 101-in-1001 list. Last week, I was able to cross two items off the list - awesome!

Also awesome: I've completed two more this week! #70 was to buy flowers for a friend or family member - I bought flowers for my friend Ellen. We were grad students together, then we both were hired as lecturers, and now (or at least until next Friday) we share an office. She is in the same position as me job-wise, and so I got her flowers to thank her for being such a great friend and to wish her good luck with her job search.

I also set in motion #48 - take a completely spontaneous weekend getaway. I woke up yesterday and felt this impulse to check and see how much a flight to Connecticut was. I found a ridiculously cheap one, so I called my best friend and asked her what she was doing this weekend!

By the time this post goes live, I'll be in the air, heading for a few glorious days with Jill. It's supposed to be gorgeous this weekend, and I can't wait to run around and just have an amazing time. We're going to have a picnic at our favorite park with one of our other good friends as soon as I touch down around 10:30, and I'm unbelievably excited. The last time any of my friends from home saw me I weighed 345 pounds, so this ought to be a fun reunion! Not to mention the perfect relief for my recent stress.

No recipe tomorrow, and my SFC update will be posted later than usual on Monday. I'll be back Monday morning, with stories and pictures and hopefully a little color in my face from taking in all of the glorious East Coast weather.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

April 29, 2011

Roses and thorns

I don't have a number to report today, because today is Day 7 of my 30 day "no weigh" scale-free challenge. And let me tell you - it's a challenge, alright. It's weird: for the first time in 272 days, I don't know exactly what I weigh. And that's surprisingly tough.

My scale dependency has definitely improved from when I first started losing weight back in August - I would weigh myself upwards of five times a day, mostly because I was in awe of the results. (Go figure ... you move more, eat less, and eat better, and the numbers drop.) Eventually I got it down to once a day, which is still a lot, but certainly an improvement.

I've been trying to focus on other things this week. Wrapping up my last week of teaching, processing my thoughts on last week, eating light and clean, and really enjoying my workouts. I'm feeling good, and I know I am doing well even if I don't have a number to define that success.

Well, I have one number.


As in, the size jeans I just bought.

They're a little tight. They muffin top like nobody's business. But they zip and snap, and that is a wonderful thing - my 14s are pretty loose, and my work pants a year ago were 28s!

What about you? What non-scale successes are you celebrating this week?

April 28, 2011


My dad called me yesterday morning during my 10 am lecture. I called him back for a quick chat before my next class started, and he asked how I was doing and how I enjoyed Mom and Dan's visit. A few days and a lot of written words later, it was a little easier to discuss objectively: I had a good time. I liked seeing Mom and Dan, it was just a little tough trying to stay healthy while dealing with a variety of stressors that week. And he understood.

Also on my emotional plate for last week was the stress of finally hearing from my director at my current job that rehiring me for the fall is unlikely, but I will know for sure in May - sort of "keep your hopes up, but don't count any chickens." My concerns with work have several levels:
- If I do not have a job, I can't pay my bills.
- If I can't pay my bills, I have to move home.
- If I move home, I am likely unable sustain my healthy lifestyle.
These stresses increased dramatically by having my mom here filling my kitchen with unhealthy food - it made my concerns more real, I guess. This is what it might be like - again. This is bad. But this is easy. I'm stressed, so I want to eat myself sick and take naps - usually, I find other ways to soothe myself and de-stress, but with Mom here, binge eating was not only easily accessible, but encouraged.

Dad said that what he heard from Mom upon her return to Connecticut was mostly concern, that she saw patterns of obsession manifesting themselves with my eating and my exercise. I explained to him that I'm not obsessed, far from it in fact - I want to live my healthiest life possible, and for me, that means counting calories right now. I'm okay with the fact that Mom isn't a planner when it comes to trips and excursions - my bigger problem with her disorganization was not planning meals. summer 2010I needed to keep going to the gym when she was here not because I am obsessed with exercising, but because I want to be healthy, and if my food quality is down/quantity is up, I need to make sure I am doing my best to stay balanced and burn the calories.

I understand where she's coming from. My mom has struggled with her weight for most of her life, too - both on extreme highs and extreme lows. I'm her firstborn, she loves me very much, and she just wants to see me attain my goals in a healthy way. I really don't think her intentions this past week were to sabotage my efforts - for my family, food is love, and this is the way that she knows to show me she cares. Both my parents grew up in situations where food was not always available, so being able to provide it means that they are successful and able to take care of their family. My mom wants me to be taken care of, so she bakes me a quiche and makes me tapioca pudding early in the morning right before she leaves. What needs to be understood, then, is that I love her too, and I am doing very well, and I don't need boxes of cereal and bottles of salad dressing to know how much I mean to her.

My mom and I had a lot of really great conversations while she was here, and I think my letter to her will reinforce some of the things we talked about. While I was at work one day, she read the book Jess sent me, and we had some good related talks - she commented on how the author didn't talk so much about how she lost the weight but how and why she gained it, and I told her that I thought that was the point. spring 2011I haven't finished the book yet, but it's not so much a diet manual as a woman sharing her experiences with super obesity and how to come to terms with the having a disordered relationship with food. I essentially came out to my mother about having an eating disorder and tried to explain the difference between enjoying a treat and bingeing on it, and I feel good about that - it was a huge step for me in a positive direction.

She also started reading a book lent to me by a co-worker, Mireille Guiliano's "French Women Don't Get Fat," which I have not yet started to read, but she said that of what she read so far, it seemed like a reasonable approach to weight loss. Eating less, eating whole foods, and eating mindfully - all things she can see herself implementing in her own life. I'd like to think that she honestly believes it and that she'll make a conscious effort to do so. I think that my mom went back to Connecticut with the seeds of some good ideas, and I can only hope that she makes the effort to plant and care for them when she settles back into her daily routines. Because I love her, my dad, and my siblings, and all I want is for everyone to feel as good as I do these days. I'm so happy, hopeful, positive, and full of energy. I'm honestly living, and nothing would make this complete for me like having a family that not only supported me but that wanted the same joy and good feelings for themselves and made the effort to attain them.

April 27, 2011


Late last week, my cousin Sarah and her boyfriend Marty had my mother, brother, and I over to their apartment for a little catching up (and Wii Monopoly - so much fun). While Sarah gave the grand tour of her place, Marty asked how I was doing; it had been a particularly rough day, love that baby goatand it took all I had just to whisper that things were not well and not to breakdown entirely in tears.

While playing, we got to talking about some of the things my mother and brother had done so far while out here; they were pretty much all food-related. My mom made light of it, as she always does, joking that I was visibly struggling. Marty's a really level-headed guy, and he noted that of course I would be having problems with the poor eating, I've been working so hard to get as far as I have. She said that she was sorry, but that she's just out here for a visit, so she needs to get all she can before she has to go home - laughing, she made a comment about being a fat girl in a food paradise, and we all pretty much let it go from there.

I used to joke all the time about my size too, because I wasn't comfortable. If I'm able to laugh about it, hopefully people will think that I'm okay the way I am. Walking to the train and seeing my subway pass right by, I used to laugh that I'd just get the next one, because "I don't run unless I'm being chased." There was nothing cute or funny about the way I was treating myself, and there was nothing cute or funny about what my mother said Friday night. It was embarrassing, really. Here is my mother, an adult, someone who ought to know better, making jokes to excuse the fact that her eating is out of control and she's been pushing the habits back on me as I try so desperately to recover.

Somewhat coincidentally, it was exactly one year ago Sunday that I got an e-mail from Sarah that set in motion my committment to get healthy:
Hi Mary my Dear,

I've been thinking about you a lot in the past couple days (in a good way!), and I wanted to reach out (cheesy, I know, sorry).

I just had a conversation with a mentor of mine, who is awesome and wonderful, and she started telling me about her work with Seattle Sutton's, and what has been good, important, challenging, etc. I'm *not* writing this email cause I think you should do that program, but after talking to Cam, I realized that I've never actually asked you how I can support all the work you have done (and are doing) to live a healthy life. Really, being healthy of course isn't just about food, but I we don't often talk about the food part. Not that we should all the time- but I don't want to miss a chance to support all that you do, because you really deserve to succeed in everything (I seriously, seriously mean that).

You are a real visionary, Mary, and you've set up all kinds of systems for your success, and I want to support you in anyway I can. I think I've been a typical [last name] with our eating habits- thinking that it's cute or awesome to 'cheat' on taking care of ourselves. But we know from our family that the cuteness wears off. None of us want to end up like the relatives. I can't even point fingers, it's just a mess, of course- I'm just really glad that you, me and some of the other cousins are taking the steps to be healthier people than the older generation (in lots of ways).

That all being said- the real point is that I love you so much, and I'm really inspired by your creativity, your brilliance, hard work, and real beauty that you bring to life. And honestly, I just want to support you in any way I can, but I haven't done a great job of asking you what that means, so I'm asking now- if there's anything I can do to support your goals to be healthier, please let me know. I'm sorry it took this long for me to just try and listen!

If this is all just insane and offensive, I'm sorry. I just wanted to, again, reach out cause I love you to pieces.

That's all. Love you! <3
I've talked exhaustively about how my intentions with obesity were to be invisible - I didn't want to be seen or noticed, because that meant I was safe. I couldn't be hurt. And no one ever said anything to me about my size - at least not family or friends. Strangers have always been more than willing to yell their thoughts and opinions out car windows or mutter them under their breath on buses and trains, but my best friends and family never once said anything about my having a serious problem. When Sarah sent me this, it was like the spell was broken. Someone noticed. Someone saw that I was unhealthy and finally called me out on it.

Major breakthrough I've had recently: I have a lot of resentment towards my parents for never saying anything to me about my weight. I always felt a little bothered by it, but recently I've realized it makes me deeply upset, frustrated, even mad and angry ... and to have my mother here and encouraging off-plan eating was infuriating. She was on the phone with my father mid-week talking about the trip so far, and I took notes:
"If you could see your daughter, even smaller than she was before - she's such an inspiration. She's so petite now, it's like, 'Oh my god, you're so skinny!' Her wrists are so petite! You'll be shocked when you see the pictures."
It made me so mad. How can you see how I look, the results of how hard I've been working with both exercise and controlling my eating, and still bring the things I have told you are triggers into my kitchen?

April 26, 2011


There are so many ways I can approach discussing my mother's visit. The easiest for me to personally make sense of, I guess, is to start with the tough stuff, then ease into many good things that happened.

Before we get to this particular week, I think addressing my relationship with my mother is pretty important. For a few years after my parents' divorce, I did not see or speak with her at all. After separating from my father, my mother decided to throw herself full-force back into life, going out with her friends, drinking a lot, and dating. Eventually, it became easier to stay away than to deal with it, and since I had the choice of another home to escape to, that's what I did. It was a very difficult time to live through, and for that reason, it is absolutely never spoken of.

My mother married my father when she was in her early 20s, so I can understand wanting to have some of the experiences she missed out on by choosing to be a young wife and mother. As her child, though, and at barely 12 years old, I was really hurting - it was hard enough to now have a broken home and two separate and completely new lifestyles to get used to, but to see her dating so soon afterwards was really painful. Neither of my parents were drinkers, but now Mom was drinking in excess. She wore too much eye makeup and always had her hair colored and styled - a sharp contrast to the quiet folk artist mother we'd grown up with, always in jumpers. She'd introduce us to her boyfriends and get mad when we tried to tell her how much it bothered us to have to meet these guys.

My mom had always been pretty quiet, something I later learned was not necessarily her demeanor but the result of a deep depression. Being married to my father was a terrible situation for her - they were great friends, and still are now as they live together, but as a married couple, it just didn't work. The severe lows we were accustomed to seeing were now replaced with extreme manic highs; that, matched with her frequent drinking and the fact that I was a teenage girl, meant that we butted heads a lot.

There's one night that I still remember quite vividly, where our arguing came to an apex. I can't remember what the fight was about, just that I ended up shoved into a corner in the kitchen, then thrown onto the floor. She straddled my stomach and held my hands down over my head; leaning in, she whispered:
I wish I'd aborted you when I had the chance.
That was the last time I saw her before court-mandated mediation and therapy. I moved in with my father and his parents, fell deep into binge eating, and gained a hundred pounds between sixth and eighth grade. She kept up her new lifestyle, and one day during our therapy session, she told me that she was pregnant. love this baby boy more than anythingMy thoughts were only that the punishment fit the crime, and I still stayed away. There was so much anger, towards both her and this baby. The therapy sessions stopped, and I didn't see her again until the day Dan was born.

I'm not sure what happened that day, but seeing this sick little baby through the nursery window tore down the wall we'd created between us. There were tears, apologies, and promises to make things better and new. And we never spoke of those years again.

I didn't talk about this at all with my mom while she was out here, but I will have to address it in the letter I write her this week. As I try to hash out the causes of my emotional binge eating and the issues I have with food, I keep going back to this period of time when it all seemed to start.

My family is very much a group of avoiders: we suffered and struggled through that time, but it's easier to pretend that it never happened; we all have problems with weight, but it's easier to pretend that we don't and carry on eating like garbage. I think part of the difficulty of the past week, then, comes from the fact that I am actively confronting my issues and trying to work through them. I don't think my mom necessarily feels threatened by it, but perhaps simply a little afraid - fearful of having to think about the way she was, the way I was, the things that were said and done ... because again, it's easier to forget about it and move on than to talk about the issues and try to work through them.

April 25, 2011

SFC: Week Four

My positive picture for the week:

girl and the goat
Little brother and me, killing time while Mom shopped. I love this little kid more than anything.

What have you done this past week to help you achieve your goals?
(1) I lost two pounds this week, down to 212. Thirteen pounds to onederland!
(2) I skipped a few days during the week, and as of Saturday, I am committing to 30 days without the scale. This is going to be tough, but it's necessary. I want to divorce myself from my obsession with numbers and focus instead on how I feel and how my clothes fit.
(3) I logged 21 biked miles last week, for a challenge total of 61.5 miles. (28% of goal)
(4) I didn't make the full hour this week - I only did about 18 minutes, actually. My brother used it a lot, so I'm happy about that, but I didn't make my own goal. I wanted to finish out the hour Sunday after my family left, but in a ridiculous turn of events, my brother took BOTH my Wii remotes home with him. So until I get those back, the Wii is useless. I'm hoping I get them back sooner than the nearly five months it took for to return the nunchuck...
(5) I actually knocked out two items on my list this week! I completed #59 (Go out to lunch with my mom) and #64 (Send 25 postcards via Postcrossing). I treated my mom to a nice lunch last week, and my 25th postcard was sent off to Russia.

What did you do this past week to make you feel good about yourself?
Yesterday I went for a long run along the lakeshore paths. I didn't worry about distance or time - I just ran. And it was incredible ... exactly what I needed to feel good about myself again after a very hard week.

Fill in the blanks:

The ability to plan and organize comes naturally to me.

The ability to "just go with the flow" does not come naturally to me.

I wish the ability to gracefully adapt to change came naturally to me.

What is your favourite Easter candy? Are you allowing yourself some this year?
My favorite candy for any holiday (or non-holiday, really) is anything with peanut butter, and I have completely avoided Reese's eggs this year - a huge victory. I *did* have chocolate covered Peeps a couple of weeks ago - a dark chocolate one is 120 calories, not fatal, especially compared with peanut butter filled anything!

April 24, 2011

Thirty days

"Live through this, and you won't look back."

I usually post recipes on Sundays, but this week, I have nothing. I haven't cooked in over a week, besides throwing together the occasional bucket salad. I'm not happy about that, but this week will be full of opportunities to get happy again, to get back into the things I love - cooking and eating healthy meals, drinking lots of water, and being physically active.

Today, I will say goodbye to my mother and brother. As soon as their car is out of sight, I will run back upstairs and let out all of the tears I've been fighting back for days because my apartment is small and I can't properly grieve my current situational failures with my mom here. I'm going to sob and scream into my pillow until there is nothing left to let go of, and then I am going to go for a walk.

The weather for today is not looking great. A little rain doesn't bother me. Bus pass and keys in my pockets, iPod at home - I need to be alone with my thoughts today. The gym is closed since it's a holiday, but I really don't mind. I kind of prefer it, actually - it's all coming full circle. I am going to go for a walk because that's what I did on July 31, and despite being over a hundred pounds lighter, right now, I feel just as weak and unsure as I did back on Day One.

After a few miles of physical movement and emotional introspection, I'll come home, grab a garbage bag, and get rid of everything my mother has filled my fridge with. I know it's wasteful and I feel a little guilty, but I just can't keep it here until Monday to give to folks at work. The situation is that critical. It has to go now. The trash bag needs to be immediately brought out to the alley - it can't stay in the house a second longer.

Today's meals will be clean and simple, and my menu for the week will be planned, organized, and full of the healthy foods I have nourished my body with for the past nine months. I love feeling light and clean. I love finally fully enjoying my life. I'm not willing to throw all my hard work away. Nothing I've eaten this past week tasted as good as it felt to run a mile for the first time in my life. Nothing I've eaten has made me feel as happy as buying clothes at normal stores. And nothing I've eaten was as sweet and satisfying as finally looking in the mirror and starting to love that girl.

I'm starting over again, again. And I'm trying something new.

My scale has been cleaned off, folded up, and tucked away in my closet. I weighed in on Friday and I'm not going to weigh myself again until May 22. Thirty days, scale-free. I was really hesitant to try to commit to this - it isn't an excuse to continue eat junk, and it isn't a means to avoid taking responsibility for how I've fallen apart this week. I'm owning this failure, believe it. No one is more disappointed in me right now than I am in myself. I'm not proud, I'm not happy, and I'm not feeling healthy or inspirational, even to myself. I'm not giving up, though, either, and that's the most important thing.

This challenge is critically important to me right now, especially as I prepare for my life in maintenance. Thirty days to get back on track, to deal with my end-of-semester/job stress, to focus on feeling my best and not on numbers. Without seeing it happen numerically, I want to transition into my life in onederland - I'm remembering how tough it was to go from 300s to 200s, and I can feel myself self-sabotaging because of the anxiety and fears associated with redefining my identity to include this new aspect. I want to take the power away from the numbers and focus instead on nourishing my mind and body and feeling like the best, healthiest me that I can be.