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.


Image credit: http://www.rachelrussellbooks.com/2012/04/30/medieval-monday-maximilian-armor/

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.


Image credit: http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3rdhji

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.


Image credit: http://boringpittsburgh.com/wtf/mister-rogers-middle-finger-flipping-the-bird/


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.)


Image credit: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/the-art-of-receiving/

Claiming the Choosing

So the guidance I’m getting is to try and push on for the full six week experience of HCG, and to meet the places of fear and programming that are arising right now, rather than to flee from them. After all, it’s precisely this old programming, these areas of emotional and energetic residue, that I’m trying to detox during this journey.

That holds a lot of truth for me, so I’ll be trying for the six weeks.

stick figure planting a flag on a mountaintopI am aware, as I make this proclamation, that I am watching myself very carefully to distinct between a tone of full maturity in choosing this path, versus the child-tone of “I’m going the full six weeks because they told me to.”

It’s delicate and nuanced ground, because I absolutely want to honor and acknowledge the fact that I am receiving guidance in this. I mean, that’s why I’m working with these folks, because I have trust for them — their wisdom, their care, their listening, their compassion, their hearts. So it feels disrespectful not to acknowledge the part of this process that is about receiving care, nurturance, support — and yes, even advice — from the people down here at the center.

But there’s also a world of difference between putting a parental projection on the center and actively, maturely choosing to follow their advice.

In the first scenario, I’ve created a positionality where, if this next phase of the HCG journey gets tougher*, then I could possibly turn towards blaming the center for that difficulty. Directing anger and resentment towards them for “making me suffer” like this. Taking a source of nurturance and pushing it so hard through my internal filters around the assumption of non-nurturance that I mangle it through a sausage-grinder.

Needless to say, that isn’t a scenario I want to enact and experience.

Instead, I’m trying to hang onto the one inside me that is actively choosing this journey. The mature one that can reassure the anxiety fragments but hold the vision and momentum for moving forward. Yes, it’s scary, and I/we can get help and support in the fear — but we’re going forward because it’s well past time to claim the energetic space to live full-out and on-mission.

I’ve got her on board, for sure. The strength and ease of my access to this inner explorer is a little more on-and-off than I’d prefer, but even if she’s a little more background some moments than others, at least she’s present.

And so on we go…

* Which I do kinda feel is possible (likely?) considering the pieces I’m beginning to hit around body size, attractiveness, and the cultural patterns around reducing women to the place of sexual object.


Image credit: http://jarredh.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/time-to-change-my-goal/

Leaving on a Jet Plane

So I’m heading back down to the detox center tomorrow morning for a mid-HCG check-in. I’ll have a chance to do some physical care & detox methods that either aren’t available to me at home (oxygen chamber, magnesium wrap), or that I just plain haven’t been taking the time to do (the perennially popular foot bath).

justice scalesWe’ll also consult to determine whether I’ll stay on HCG for a 4-week or a 6-week course.

Either length of time is customary for an HCG experience, so at that level, it’s a free choice. I started out assuming that I’d go the full six weeks, but now I’m not sure what I want.

Reasons to go the distance. If I set myself a task, I might as well go full out. The desire to feel as if I fully committed to the process rather than doing it half-assed. The mathematical expectation that staying longer on HCG will give my body more of a chance to burn off more old toxins. The worry that folks will be disappointed in me if I “chicken out early.”

Reasons to stop at four weeks. Part of me is getting tired of the dietary restrictions. HCG comes packaged in vials that contain four weeks’ dose and it expires, so if I go six full weeks, I’ll be letting a half a vial “go to waste,” when instead I could take a couple months off and then do four more weeks later. I’m already feeling a little weird in a smaller body, so the idea of pausing and acclimating before proceeding feels kind of tempting.

I’ll be curious to see how this all shakes out. What my advisors will hear and recommend to me, whether I’ll hear a clearer piece of guidance within myself. If nothing else, I’m glad I heard the question clearly within myself, so even if I stay with the original pan of six weeks, I’ll be doing it from a place of conscious choice and awake-ness.


Image credit: http://robertjustinronald.edublogs.org/2013/05/17/chapter-5/justice-scales/

A Swing and a Miss

cute-marshmallows-unohana-the-fanpop-user-35316539-500-313In my mind, I’ve been much less active on JALC than is actually the case. I’ve done 4 posts in the last 7 days — which, although less frequent than I’d wish for under ideal circumstances, is perfectly respectful for the kind of bananas week I’ve had…

And the only reason I’m taking about any of this is to take note of the strong internal pattern I still have around score-keeping. Figuring out what the standard is, constantly calculating to see if I’m measuring up or, instead, if I am failing. Because part of my system still clings to the limiting belief that to fail is a deeply catastrophic thing to do.

This is all very front of mind because earlier today, everyone in my company had to take the marshmallow test. Not, not this marshmallow test, this one:

The experience definitely got my mental wheels turning about my fear of failure and the ways I let that suppress me and hold me back.

I’m certainly not alone in this challenge.  Since I follow Edutopia on Twitter, I remembered seeing this article last summer:

There is a major disconnect between schools and the real world on the notion of failure. School teaches us there is only one answer for every problem. And if we don’t get it, we are a failure. This dissuades students from trying — they fear failure. We need to teach students how to make friends with failure. . . . Schools have this failure-thing, the F-word, all wrong. They focus on getting the answer, but it is the questions and the mistakes that are actually more instructive. It’s in these spaces where we learn. . . . Education’s focus on the right answer and the grades has made students afraid to ask questions. Deborah Stipek, Dean of Stanford’s School of Education, writes in Science that schools incubate the fear of failure, which causes stress and anxiety to perform, which do not enhance learning.

And when looking for the Edutopia post, I also found an article advising teachers “How to Help Kids Overcome Fear of Failure,” and this excerpt from a new book, Fail Fast, Fail Often:

[S]uccessful people take action as quickly as possible, even though they may perform badly. . . . Instead of trying to avoid making mistakes and failing, they actively seek opportunities where they can face the limits of their skills and knowledge so that they can learn quickly. They understand that feeling afraid or underprepared is a sign of being in the space for optimal growth and is all the more reason to press ahead. In contrast, when unsuccessful people feel unprepared or afraid, they interpret it as a sign that it is time to stop, readdress their plans, question their motives, or spend more time preparing and planning.

So now I have a new book on my to-read list, and a line of internal questioning. Because for all the ways my fear of failure jams me up a lot of the time, it is also true that in some realms, I have a strong experimenter on board. I wouldn’t be doing my consciousness study, or my detox journey, or even the blogging, if I didn’t have that aspect to me.

In some things I can summon the freedom of exploration and expansion, and in some things I haven’t yet made that leap. Now the process is to try and shift more of the latter group into the former.


Image credit: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/unohana-the-fanpop-user/images/35316539/title/cute-photo