Breadcrumbs 2

640px-BreadThis may become a recurring feature for days when I have a backlog of small thoughts and no big theme to pursue. I gotta admit, though, that I’m not even sure I have a collection of small thoughts to pursue.

Nevertheless, after “dropping the blogging ball” at the end of last week*, I’m strangely invested in the idea of getting a post in tonight. So: breadcrumbs it is.**


Last time I did a “breadcrumbs” post, I talked about the immense desire to use lip balm during the winter months. Unexpectedly enough, that longing has only been increasing the last week or so as the seasons have shifted. I have no idea why my lips are feeling more chapped in the spring than they were in the winter. Is it the way that spring and winter keep handing off the meteorological baton on a 48-hour cycle? Have I been cooking more meals with cayenne or ginger?

Whatever the cause, my poor lips are hurting. Even if I do end up obeying the advice about being very slow to add fats and oils back when I’m transitioning to my next-phase eating regimen next week, I can promise you that I’ll be having my own one-woman festival of appreciation for (and liberal use of!) Burt’s Bees Lip Balm starting Thursday.


Day 2 of Five by Five successfully completed, with a couple categories achieving the “more than 5″ benchmark. Let’s see how long I can keep the streak alive!


Six more days of shots, eight more days of way-strict eating regime. Counting down


Among the many restrictions of the HCG protocol is a suggestion not to take most over-the-counter medicines: especially painkillers. No ibuprofen, no naproxen, nothing in the family of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-imflammatory drugs).

I’ve been lucky enough not to need anything during my HCG experience. At least, not till now — unfortunately that’s changing. I’d hoped the strange side benefit of getting old and having less frequent periods might be that I’d have one of those two-month cycles and completely miss facing the challenge of menstrual cramps sans painkillers. Alas, ’tis not to be.

Guess I’m in for a few days of playing mind over matter.

* Since I started up again this spring, had I ever missed two nights in a row before this past Friday-Saturday combo? Corollary question: why do I think of two nights off as such this huge lapse?

** Damn, I miss bread.


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Five by Five

Faith with stakeSome weeks ago, when I was deciding not to sign on for the 40 bags in 40 days challenge, I talked about finding my own ways to keep momentum chipping away at the ongoing responsibilities of daily house care plus unpacking. However, between the craziness at work, plus my detox trips, it is undeniable that my ongoing momentum has slipped a bit off the rails, as it were.

Over the weekend, I got back into unpacking boxes and stuff-purging after missing two weekends (crazy proposal/taxes pileup followed by my “detox tuneup” trip). So yay! for that.

But as I looked around the main floor of our lovely contemporary ranch house yesterday evening — all the leftover boxes from moving are down in the basement, don’t cha know — I started thinking about how frustrating it sometimes feels with the slow pace of unpacking & de-cluttering, as well as all the other pieces of things where I’ve been falling behind. The file boxes of items that have survived the basement purge and been brought upstairs to find a home. The laundry that stays hanging on the drying rack or sits unfolded in the basket long after it’s been washed.

I know part of the challenge I’m facing is the way that my momentum keeps hiccuping from the weekends (some progress) into the work week (full stop). So, for the next few weeks, I’m trying to inspire myself into some regular, but manageable activity on these fronts even during the work week.

I’m calling it my “five by five” program.* For the:

  1. Five (5) days of the work week, I will
  2. Fold and put away (at least) 5 items of clean laundry
  3. Find homes for and put away (at least) 5 things bought brought upstairs after the stuff-purging
  4. Take (at least) 5 items out of the moving boxes in the basement and deal with them: whether that’s putting them in the trash, on the goodwill pile, in a file box for later transport upstairs, or on the pile of stuff Mr. Mezzo and I need to decide about
  5. Put away (at least) 5 pieces of general household clutter: incoming mail, kitchen stuff, new purchases, things (books, DVDs, office supplies, whatever) that have been used and not put away

Now it’s true that dealing with 5 items a day (particularly in self-renewing categories like “laundry” and “things used in daily life”) may not be an aggressive enough pace to get caught up. But there’s always the hope that some days the “at least” clause will be invoked and instead of 5, I’ll be handling 6, 8, or maybe 12 (!) things in a (or multiple!) category. And even at 5, this would be more regular effort towards these tasks than I’ve been giving.

Tonight’s report: after one whole day of this system, I’m back on the rails. Obviously, it’s easy to have a one-day winning streak, so we’ll have to wait and see whether and how this is sustained.

Still, happy to have made a strong step forward, and hopeful this will be a structure that — at least for a time — I can find to be supportive and not confining.

* Any resemblance to a favorite phrase of a certain back-up vampire slayer is purely coincidental. (Tara: “Five-by-five? Five what by five what?”; Willow: “See, that’s the thing: no one knows.”)


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When Can You Call It the Home Stretch?

mac&cheese-genieI take my last HCG shot a week from tomorrow. After that it’s two more days of the super-low-calorie food regimen while the remaining hormone works its way out of my system, and then it’s three more weeks of a different food regime — larger quantities, adding fats and oils back in, but still avoiding sugars and starches.

So by one perspective, there’s still a long way to go. And yet, it also senses like enough of an accomplishment to be nearing the end of this initial six-week stretch that I’m kind of thinking of myself as being in the home stretch. At least, on some sort of home stretch.

And at this point, I am ready to reach the first finish line. Because, however fine my physical body is doing on this regime, the emotional body is currently a little worse for wear. All these little daggers of frustration adding up.*

  1. There was an upsetting happening yesterday afternoon, and the emotional craving to self-sooth with comfort food was as strong as it has been since this HCG journey began.  (I distracted myself from the craving with a footbath and a funny movie.)
  2. We let the food stores run very low in expectation of doing our grocery shopping today after church choir — only the last apple in the house turned out to have gone spoiled. So I didn’t have my usual apple on hand for today’s breakfast, which totally threw my morning off to a challenging start.
  3. Mr. Mezzo and I did our grocery shopping together, and as we walked into the aisle to pick up his loaf of bread and English muffins, I couldn’t help myself from lamenting, “I miss bread.” (Bought some spring tulips instead.)
  4. I’ve started reading up on the next phase of dietary restrictions, which are very clear in suggesting that the first week or so after HCG it is best to stay within the same limited list of allowed foods (lean proteins, plus certain veggies and fruits) and just increase one’s portions. Meanwhile, I’m obsessing over something I saw on GMA about shirataki noodles and how I could use those as a way to do “macaroni and cheese” within the new (and looser) restrictions. And I do think the shirataki mac & cheese would obey the letter of the new dietary laws, but it sure isn’t in the spirit of what’s recommended for this upcoming phase.

This is always the mental pattern that I most hated about times I would try to diet or “get myself in shape” by “eating right”: the part where my attempts to eat healthy burgeon into a full-blown food obsession. Ugh.

I was in a detox class yesterday where the teacher talked really eloquently about the ways it can sometimes be unhelpful to approach detoxing through the lens of “eating the right things” in order to prevent the ingestion of toxicity. Instead, it could be possible to acknowledge the fact that one’s system has already ingested some decades’ worth of environmental, energetic, and yes, food-borne toxins, and thus place a stronger emphasis on ridding the system from that accumulation.

I’m holding this teaching very close to my heart today as I try to imagine my remaining weeks in the current and future phases of the HCG experience. I aspire to get back to that more balanced perspective on things.

But right now, I’m feeling a bit on the edge of a precipice. Feeling the grip, the gravitational pull of that food obsession. Thinking about food all the time, maintaining routines and rituals as a way to stay on track (see: today’s upset re: the spoiled apple). Chafing against the restrictions, trying to figure out every clever trick I can to stay just a hair’s breadth within the rules (see: my shirataki noodle obsession), tempted now and again to just say “fuck it” and eat a whole package of Kraft macaroni & cheese with a microwave popcorn and Ben & Jerry’s chaser.

I’m still holding within the boundaries of the protocol. But if this is really meant to be a detox journey for me, then the way any possible other insights have been swept away by all the food obsession hits me as just a tiny bit problematic. Okay, hugely problematic.

But it’s all I got tonight.

* Phrasing inspired by Henry Rollins, Airport Hell: “That’s two minutes of time I don’t get for myself. It’s like he’s murdering me — just a little. Like he’s murdering me with a very tiny knife.”


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Going Through the Motions

I’ve been feeling a bit of malaise during the past couple days. I’m not exactly sure the reason for it — one theory I have is PMS-type hormonal shifts. Unfortunately, as I get closer to the age of menopause, my cycle is getting more and more irregular, so I can only diagnose PMS episodes after the fact. (My bleed will start, and then I can look back on the out-of-nowhere blue mood three days ago and say “That’s what that was about!”)

Regardless of the why, this blue mood is what I’m facing right now.

As someone who’s had a few rounds of clinical depression here and there, it can be hard to hold my patience and composure when I hit my blue days. I still don’t feel as if I have a lot of tools in my arsenal for when this occurs. I try to keep moving through my days and my responsibilities as best I can, give myself some extra forgiveness around my media addictions, allow myself some extra time to rest or sleep. And ultimately, I just kind of wait it out.

Luckily, tonight’s my first evening at home since my trip — and since all the pre-trip craziness to work — so I have a chance to give myself a little TV time and maybe an early bedtime. If I’m lucky, I’ll feel better tomorrow. If I’m less lucky, it’ll be the weekend soon and I can maybe take another look at what I’m feeling and whether there’s a way to ease the sadness.

Because I am aware that this may not be PMS at all, and might instead be the old forces of sadness and trauma that I gained all the weight in order to avoid.


suit of armorA friend recently sent me a link to an unfamiliar author responding to that “Dear Fatty” letter some condescending fuckwad posted to Facebook in response to seeing a fat woman running. Other bloggers have appropriately eviscerated the aura of self-superiority and judgmental assumptions this letter (and other “thinsperation” pieces) is drowning in. Here’s the story from Jezebel, and I hope to have time during the weekend to go pull up some more relevant links and add them here.

This author, Alanna Fero, also points to some of those aspects in the “Dear Fatty” letter, but she also goes on to depict (with searing honesty) some of the traumas she has experienced with sexual abuse and harassment, the ways she has used being in a larger size as a mode of self-protection, and the ways that weight loss feels like an act of betrayal to her younger self.

Whenever I lose 30 or more pounds, which I have done at least a dozen times in quarter century between the ages of 22 and 46, I start to feel like I am abandoning my solidarity with my younger self, and with all the wounded kids in the world, with everyone who has ever lived in that bunker state.  I feel like I am selling out the kid still inside every adult who has ever been attacked for the way they were born, or for the way they choose to make themselves feel safe in an unsafe reality. . . . Sometimes, when I lose enough weight that it feels like everyone I know is talking about it, I experience a panic not unlike when I was pushed to the ground or a wall or a couch as a young girl – and I am so fucking scared and angry, I just wish I had a German Shepherd handy.

Now, my story is not the same as Fero’s, but I have enough moments of sexual trauma and mistreatment in my own life to deeply resonate with the tone of what she’s saying here.

So, if I’m not feeling more cheerful by Saturday, I might be trying to figure out how best to face and unwind another layer of the trauma-body.

Man, I hope it’s just PMS.


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Biostatisticians Manufacturing Insecurity

obama not trueThere’s been a small flurry of press around one of the latest entries to my ever-expanding reading list, Dr. Carl Lavie’s The Obesity Paradox: When Thinner is Sicker and Heavier Means Healthier.

This story over at Good Morning America is pretty typical of what you might expect from such coverage:

  1. gasps of surprise at the notion that fatness and fitness could coexist in human form
  2. the usual journalist concern-trolling comment about “won’t this just let overweight people feel okay about themselves?” — because it would, of course, be awful if any fat person actually had self-love or self-acceptance*
  3. a concluding tag from the network medical editor desperately trying to reaffirm the badness of fatties and the continued relevance of using the BMI (“body mass index”) as a measure of your general health and fitness.

It’s almost enough to make me giving up watching my usual morning news show, because here’s the thing: BMI is not in the slightest bit a relevant or useful measure for someone’s health or fitness.

The person who dreamed up the BMI said explicitly that it could not and should not be used to indicate the level of fatness in an individual.

The BMI was introduced in the early 19th century by a Belgian named Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet. He was a mathematician, not a physician. He produced the formula to give a quick and easy way to measure the degree of obesity of the general population to assist the government in allocating resources. In other words, it is a 200-year-old hack.

At least The New York Times is taking a more reasonable approach in its response to Lavie’s book. (Of course, the Times employs Gina Kolata, so I’ve come to learn I can expect a little bit better of them than from the usual muck-raking hacks.)

It’s a little frustrating to have all of this trumpeted as if Lavie’s saying something that’s never been said before, when this is ground that’s been well-trod by Linda Bacon, Paul Campos, Eric Oliver, and yes, Gina Kolata. But I guess I’d rather have more and more sources revealing these inconvenient truths, in hopes that we’ll hit a point of critical mass and the cultural discourse will turn.


Prompted by all this recent conversation about the BMI, I was inspired to do two things.

First, I took a trip down memory lane and over to Shapely Prose’s BMI Project: a set of pictures that shows the wide variety of beautiful, healthy woman and men who would be stigmatized as over or underweight all because of this fucked up wacky BMI obsession.

Second, I did some math to figure out where I currently fall on this dreaded rubric and what the delta is between my current shape and the holy grail of a BMI equalling 24.9 or below. Current BMI: 35.2, which matches me exactly to one of the BMI project folks on the top row of the flickr page. Pounds I would need to drop in order to reach 24.9: 64.

Which is totally fucked up bananas. It is even more clearly bananas when I look at my “BMI twin” on the Flickr set and try to imagine it.

(It’s that old trick of being able to see more beauty in and feel more compassion for others than for the self. Heck, I’ll use whatever’s in my arsenal to keep growing my level of self-love and body acceptance.)

* Here’s when I started screaming at the TV. I think I scared Mr. Mezzo.


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Hard is Hard

mister-rogers-flips-bird-photoshopEven though work isn’t as crazy now as it was a couple weeks ago, life feels kind of crazy this day or two. (But the taxes are finally submitted!!)

And at work, there are a few challenges looming — not with personalities or anything like that. Just with the aspects of non-profit work that are sometimes really, truly, legitimately difficult. “It’s hard because it’s hard,” my boss and I sometimes say to each other on days like these.

So, in lieu of a longer or more thoughtful post, here’s a favorite TED talk about hard conversations, and the closets we all find ourselves living in when we’re too scared to have them.

There is no harder, there is just hard. We need to stop ranking our hard against everyone else’s hard to make us feel better or worse about our closets and just commiserate on the fact that we all have hard. At some point in our lives, we all live in closets and they may feel safe, or at least safer than what lies on the other side of that door. But I’m here to tell you, no matter what your walls are made of, a closet is no place for a person to live.

Be authentic, be direct, be unapologetic. Thank you, Ash Beckham.

I hope to be back more fully tomorrow night.


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Not Just Ridding, but Receiving

It was a full day of bodywork sessions — colon hydrotherapy, oxygen chamber, magnesium wrap, the “heart bed,” and some sauna time. As we were going over today’s schedule last night, my coach said we had a choice about what to do during the day’s first session: the sauna or a raindrop kinesi session.

A card pull on the question pointed me towards the sauna, and as I shared that result with my coach, I told her how the result didn’t surprise me at all. “I love the raindrop and it was great to get one last weekend. But the tone of last weekend was more about taking in care and getting off to a good start with the HCG, while this weekend is more like I’m in it now, so let’s get this shit out!

And there is some of that tone on things. After all, that quite literally is what a colonic is for, as well as the footbaths (which have been uber-yucky in a great way) and the sauna.

receivingBut midday today I started contemplating how in parallel to the “get this shit out!” movement, this weekend is still — just like last one — deeply about the process of taking in care and nurturance.

The signs have interwoven throughout the sessions. Yesterday, I was part of a castor oil sandwich, and the first observation the practitioner made at the end of the session was how much of the oil I had absorbed into me. That theme continued through today’s sessions with the magnesium aloe mix from the wrap, and even with all the water my body absorbed during the colonic session. So at a very obvious, physiological level, my system is still drinking in lots of nutrients.

And that’s also functioning on an energetic level, with the numerous gestures of care and caretaking that I am experiencing. Everything from Mr. Mezzo’s generosity in giving me rides to the airport, to letting one of the center staff members help rinse and dry my feet after one of these uber-yucky footbaths.

Now I’ve written a little bit before about how I see the HCG journey as one about taking in nurturance. But the reality is that a lot of my focus in these first few weeks of the process has been about the discipline of the movement and about the notion of toxicity leaving my system.

This weekend’s juxtapositions have me thinking a little more deeply about how clearing out the toxicity isn’t about purifying my “dirtied” being. It’s a means of allowing more space for good nutrients (literally and metaphorically) to come into my system, and to nurture the authentic flowering of my true nature.

(Full disclosure: seeing the value of that true nature is still a place where I feel my limitations, but I will leave that exploration for another night. Right now: bedtime.)


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