March 6, 2015


When I first lost the weight, I had a mantra: if you don't like something, do something about it. And I surrounded myself with people who supported that, and who chose to live the same way.

I decided recently that I was going to be taking charge in that way not only with my health, but with my professional life. My office mate and I share stories every day about our frustrations with some students, with administrative things. We commiserate about how we aren't compensated enough for how much is required of us here (we have a heavy teaching load because we aren't supposed to be required to do any University service, but then we are put on service committees anyway ... I make less here than I did in California, and I teach twice as many classes a year here, plus all the service).

My first step was to apply for positions at places I would not only like to live, but where I could thrive. Places where the money is good, the course load is reasonable, and there will be job security. I have six or seven active applications right now, and have received my first rejection. I'm not in a position where I need a new job immediately, it's just that a new one would be nice. So the rejections aren't as difficult to swallow as they had been when I was looking for the job I have now.

Next, I approached my department head, and asked why we didn't offer any sections of French in the summer. Spanish gets to, so why not French? And what a blessing it was to hear from him that it was only because the other instructors in the past hadn't wanted to teach in the summer. So I got two courses posted, and now my task is to ensure that they get filled.

The benefit to summer teaching is three-fold. I get extra money, which is always good. I'll be able to add two intensive summer courses to my CV, which will help and my job search continues. And third, there's this:

That is the office where I work/teach, as seen from one of my favorite cardio machines at the gym. Summer teaching guarantees that I'll be this close to the gym four times a week for almost the whole summer. I'm really optimistic that it will help keep my eyes on my goals when I would usually use summer break as an excuse to avoid workouts.

March 4, 2015


I suppose my last real update from my absence is to talk about my exercise habits, which have generally been "all or nothing." I go to the gym after my last class of the day, stay for 30-60 minutes depending on how I feel, and then head to the daycare to get my son. This works well for a week, two weeks, three ... then work gets overwhelming, or I get stressed out or anxious about something, and I not only stop going to the gym but I start to eat terribly.

I made a few New Years Resolutions this year:

  1. Lose 52 pounds
  2. Read 12 books
  3. Save $1200
  4. No binge eating
  5. Walk at least 26.2 miles every month

December had been rough. I had my usual great intentions when my son and I went to visit my family for Christmas, but when my husband joined us a week later and the sneakiness began again, I just surrendered and ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

My January 1 weigh in, I saw 313 on the scale. I sobbed. Bawled. Just completely devastated. I remembered the first time I lost the weight - I bought a birthday candle, a little wax number three, and melted it while meditating on my journey. I was symbolically demonstrating to myself that 3 was gone, and 3 was never coming back. But now, here it was again. I cried in California when I would weigh in at 196 pounds, because that meant I lost 149 pounds overall, and I couldn't claim 150. How foolish I was to obsess so much over insignificant details! Now, the compounded result of untreated anxieties and depression over the last year and a half: I'm back in the threes, unable to claim even a 50 pound loss.

Even worse than the feeling of seeing that number is the feeling of knowing everything that happened in order for that number to come back - not the foods specifically, and not the skipped workouts, but the problems, the events in my life that I've quietly ignored and allowed to fester instead of treating them and helping myself heal.

So in January, I committed, hard. Lost 13 pounds, put a little money aside, kept my eating in check, and logged nearly 30 miles of workouts. Then, in the first week of February, my father-in-law decided to surprise us with a spur-of-the-moment weekend visit, and everything for the rest of the month went terribly. Three weeks of no workouts and insane amounts of binge eating (which cost almost all of the money I had set aside a month earlier), both of which contributed to regaining 8 of the pounds I had lost in January.

My father-in-law is a trigger for me. He's very judgmental, and even at my smallest, I never felt good enough, so now, so terrifyingly close to my biggest, I feel absolutely terrible about myself. We go out to dinner at a hamburger place, and he says you might enjoy a salad? The thing is, I would have ordered the salad. I have before and felt great that I could enjoy a meal out without it being excessive. But to be told what to do like I'm a child, like I am completely unaware that a salad is a better choice than a cheeseburger and fries ... it sets me off.

And for some reason, when he leaves, it doesn't end - the binge cycle. I feel awful and call myself a failure and head to a drive thru, making sure I keep the windows down on the drive back so the smell of chicken sandwiches and fries doesn't fill the car - my husband finding out would lead to a discussion about the problem I'm having, and the last thing I want right now is to confront my demons.

Eventually, just like Geneen Roth wrote about, giving in and allowing yourself the "off plan" foods gets old. You get sick of them, and you feel lousy, and you want to do right by your body. So I get back to what I know works, and I head back to the gym, and I do well for a few more weeks until the next big upset.

Right now, I am in a good place as far as my eating and exercises. It's been less than a week out of the binge cycle and into a pattern of healthy habits, but I feel cleaner, healthier, better - writing certainly helps. My youngest sister is coming to visit over spring break next week, and luckily, I don't feel the same as I did when I found out about last month's visitor. My sister loves and doesn't judge. I can go to the same hamburger place with her, and when she says what looks good to you?, I'll say the salad and truly mean it.

Another safety net set in place is that I've arranged for us to do a virtual race while she's here - a little walking every day, with a goal of a half marathon over the week. At the end, we will get medals! I have been doing a 5K once a month for the last two months, and I'm excited to up the distance (and complete it with a partner!). The sites I have been using for the medals are JostRunning (the adorable Cabot medal and the one we will be walking for next week) and FullMedalRuns (the Route 66 medal). They send you a medal and part of the registration fee goes to a designated charity - for Cabot, it was Feeding America; for Route 66, to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund; and for the upcoming race, the National Stroke Association (which is meaningful to us, since our mother had a stroke about a year and a half ago).

I know the biggest missing piece in my goal for complete health is mental: I can eat well, I can move my body. But I keep ignoring the mental health issues, and that in turn impacts all other areas. I tried counseling here in South Carolina, with really terrible results. I'm not sure if I can find something online, or if I should hold out for wherever I end up next. But I know that long-term, my success is dependent on how I take care of myself in terms of working with and treating my depression, anxiety, and compulsive behaviors.