July 26, 2013

Roses and thorns

Last week, Matt and I were looking through our high school yearbooks. It was so funny to see how different we look now compared to then - and not only weight wise. It's funny, I didn't think I looked *that* different, but now, the girl in the senior portrait is definitely just a little kid.

Matt went to a much bigger school than I did, so his graduating class just shared their pictures. My considerably smaller class was able to have a little section devoted to each student: their birthday, memories, a few favorites, and future plans. At the time, this stuff meant so much to me. As I explained the inside jokes, though, it made me feel old, a million years removed from that time and place.

My future plans, though, made me smile.

Teaching, travel, family.

Realistic goals, all things I'd wanted for as long as I could remember. Next year, it'll be 10 years since I graduated from high school. And it's nice to know that I've achieved my future plans.

I have an incredible little family, with a loving partner and a happy and healthy son. I have traveled across the country and overseas, though I still hope to do more in the future. And I've taught at two universities, each very different from the other, but overall positive experiences at both.

And soon - very, very soon - I'll further the accomplishments with all three in mind.

I got the job.

So: Matt, Noah, and I are moving to South Carolina in two and a half weeks.

Full-time teaching, with benefits. I couldn't be happier. The money is of secondary importance - I'm just thrilled that I get to teach again.

It's going to be a crazy couple of weeks. I told my dad: to be honest, I almost liked the California situation a little better. I didn't have time to panic or overthink things - I had 48 hours to pack everything and go, and then we spent three days heading west in a pickup truck. With this much time, I'm a bit worried about feeling anxious - but I'm also keeping in mind that this time, there's much more to be done. There are three of us now, and we have much more to haul (last time, my dad and I sold or donated much of my big furniture - bookcases, bed, etc. - because it was easier/cheaper to start fresh and new in California). We're nervous - about the move itself, about what happens when we get there, about what the year will bring. But it's a good nervous. An excited nervous.

The one thing I'm not worried about, surprisingly, is my eating. When I left California to come back to Chicago, I planned out every meal so I wouldn't have to throw anything away or run to the grocery store in the last few days. I couldn't binge or even overeat because if I ate something one day, it would come out of the next day's food. This time, with a few weeks before we go, I know we're going to be eating out a few times - goodbye dinners with friends, etc. - but I know we're going to stay focused and in control.

That said, the night before I got the call with the job offer, I have to admit: I binged. Bad. The worst since ... probably grad school, honestly. I was upset that the scale was up 2 pounds for no reason, and I was anxious over not hearing from the school, and Matt was getting worried and depressed too - and in a moment of panic, I decided that talking to him wasn't what I wanted, but rather, I turned to my drug of choice. The next morning, I weighed in up 2 more pounds. I have to remember: if hunger isn't the problem, food isn't the solution.

I'm weighing in today at 260, a 4 pound gain from last week. I'm upset but not beating myself up over it any more than I already have. I spent the night crying, with a bad sugar headache. And I felt ridiculous. My binge didn't affect whether or not the school called. It was the wrong thing to do.

One good thing, though, is that after the binge, I went online and found a depression chat room. I should have talked to Matt - I should have admitted what I did, confided in him, explained how I was feeling - but I was so ashamed. So, I found a group of strangers. And one person, I didn't get his or her name, said something that really stood out to me.

He/she said that with suicide, one common suggestion is that if you're feeling suicidal, wait three days and see how things change. Suicide is forever, so three days really isn't a long time. By waiting on it, most people end up deciding not to attempt.

It resonated with me, and I decided that the next time I feel like a binge, I'm going to do the same thing. If I still want to binge the next morning, then I'll revisit my options. But almost always, sleeping on it makes the feelings subside. I forget where I saw it, but a year or so ago, someone (another binge eater) shared on his or her blog that he/she never wakes up and wishes he/she had eaten that [whatever]. It's so true.

I'm feeling overwhelmingly positive right now, and I hope this good feeling lasts. It sucks that I have to relose these few pounds again, but it's going to be alright. I'm going to be working! And with the job comes a paycheck and health insurance (to finally find a therapist!) and a set schedule (which helps with working out).

I can't wait to share this new adventure with all of you! And to be secure and happy, and to start feeling like my best self again. One of my all-time favorite blog comments (from a sadly now defunct blog) came a couple of years ago from a young woman:
I'm so excited for you. You're standing on the edge of great things - the next few years are going to be amazing. I know it! 
I think about that comment all the time. It turned out to be rather prophetic. The years that have followed have been surprising, with ups and downs, but always an adventure. And right now, I'm feeling very much on that edge. Scary, exciting, but definitely great, in every sense of the word.

What about you? How was your week? What do you do to avoid stress eating? And - any readers out there living in South Carolina? I've driven through it but never visited, and now we're going to be living there. It's going to be a new experience for the three of us, for sure! (Matt's a born-and-raised city-based Midwesterner, he's preparing for a serious culture shock.)

July 22, 2013

Celebrity moms

I feel really bad for Kate Middleton.

It was tough enough for me with just my family and friends calling and messaging endlessly for days: is that baby here yet? I can't imagine having them, plus the press, plus strangers around the whole world, all waiting for the news. But that's part of being famous, I suppose.

I read an interesting blog post on the Huffington Post about the sick obsession with pregnant celebrities - specifically, about the intense focus on their post-baby bodies. Written by a mother of two young children, the post touched upon so many things I've been thinking (and worrying) about for the better part of the past year.

Everywhere you look, there are "news" articles about this actress, that singer, this model, etc., and how fast she was able to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight. I remember one particularly disturbing one that I stumbled upon when I was maybe 5 or 6 months pregnant, about a (former?) Playboy bunny whose goal was to lose 40 pounds or so in a month. It was frightening - because even for people far less visible than this girl, that pressure is still there. The day I went into the hospital, and the nine months leading up to it, I was "looking great," I was "glowing;" almost as soon as the baby was in my arms, I got bombarded with questions about when I would start working out again.

It's upsetting. For all the ways that new mom celebrities and I are different, the one thing we have in common is this new role we've taken on. No matter where you live, no matter what your economic status or career, the first few weeks as a new mother should be about resting, about recovering, and about bonding with this new member of your family. The scale shouldn't cross your mind at all.

Within a few weeks of delivery, I had lost a good amount of weight - part baby, mostly fluids. Since then, I've been losing 2-3 pounds a week, not bad considering I had the same rate of loss when I was in the gym 6 night a week and all I do now is walk with my baby and breastfeed him. There's still a considerable amount of weight to lose, and I'm working on it, slowly but surely. Still, I can't help but feel self-conscious, like people are judging me - she was a runner, she was in good shape before, why isn't she back in her old jeans yet? They see that it's possible for the women in the magazines, so it should be possible for me too, and for all the other "real life" postpartum women they know.

It's silly to think people are judging me like that - and if they are, to heck with them, I'm doing the best I can and I don't need to make anyone else happy. But the sad thing is, it's likely in the back of at least some people's minds, because it's constantly all over the media. So-and-so is looking amazing just X weeks after delivery!

I'm not So-and-so. I don't have a personal trainer and full-time nanny who can watch my kid while I spend hours on a treadmill to make sure the tabloids don't catch me looking like I just created another human with my body. I'm just Mary. And I'm doing the best I can.

I'm lucky to have a great partner who isn't putting any pressure on me over all this. Matt knows I want to lose weight, and he supports my decisions and encourages healthy habits, but he is by no means forcing me to overdo it and try and get my body back as fast as these famous women. I can't say it enough, I'm so lucky to have a partner who has fought the same battle as me, who understands the struggle with weight and the issues with food. I'm getting a lot better about communicating with him and working through tough times. I told him that the wait over news about the job has me fantasizing about binges, and he listened without judgement and offered advice and support.

And I'm lucky to have an incredible son who loves my body no matter what it looks like. This body made him, and now it nourishes him. He doesn't understand baby weight, he just knows that I'm his mama and I take good care of him. Ideally, he'll never know me at this weight - but it's lovely to know that no matter what, I'm still so loved by this little boy.