I woke up well before I normally do today, willing myself to stay in bed and lie still, listening to the fan whir back and forth, the puff of air it creates just reaching me. I watched the brightness on the walls created by the streetlight outside slowly fade as the dark sky made its way toward morning, but grew bored after a while and decided to get up.
I’ve gone through my closet a couple of times in the past month or so, weeding it of pieces I’ve had for years. The soft loosely fit pants I bought in both a steel grey and khaki because the trousers I normally wore to work were getting too snug around my waist and were too warm for summer. The newer navy pinstriped trousers I found on sale, with a more comfortable waistband that kept me from thinking about my expanding midsection. Three pair of my favorite Bermuda shorts I think I lived in last summer. A couple pair of ancient light-weight cargo shorts that made shrugging out of pajama bottoms so easy from one day to the next.
And then there were the jeans.
Stretchy jeans. Favorite faded jeans that had gotten too small, then happily fit again, now too big even after a good hot water washing and spin in the dryer. Big jeans purchased in desperation, only briefly worn when things were seriously getting out of hand. Dark colored trouser jeans I bought for our trip to England a year and a half ago and then outgrew. It took a year, but I managed to do it.
As I removed each piece of clothing from its hangar, I tried it on — something I detest doing. The better part of a day was spent standing in front of our mirror clad closet doors while I examined my reflection noticing sagging in the rear, or a gaping waistband. Pants easily removed with a simple tug — no unzipping necessary. As much as you might expect I’d cheer each time it happened, I didn’t. I was busy trying to ignore my practical self voice– the one that thinks about how much was paid for something worn only a few times. Or the seemingly helpful self who cautioned that a waistband wasn’t all that loose and that I may need to hang on to some things.
Just. In. Case.
Four large plastic garbage bags were filled by the time I was done and as much as I can say it felt good to realize losing 20 pounds makes a such difference, I noticed my preoccupation with other things. Things like the sizes on the clothes — many of which were 14s. Size 14s that all fit so differently from huge to still just right. Fourteens with waistbands too high and tight, and others low cut and baggy. A couple of size 12s were also too big, others too small. One size ten I could squeeze into if I thought I wanted to look like an enormous trussed chicken ready for the oven.
That was nearly five pounds ago — and counting. Every other day or so weigh-ins to document my progress have become something that can easily upset me depending on what that progress actually is. Sometimes, there seems to be no logic to it: a one and eight-tenths gain, then a two and four-tenths loss the very next morning regardless of the strict consistency I strive for with this routine. It’s maddening, catching me wanting the gratification of a particular number instead of the understanding that the big picture provides.
So I review.
Eat breakfast before 9am. Check. Alternate between eggs and veggies, whole grain cereal with a bit of fruit, or a carefully orchestrated smoothie. Check. Eat enough calories in one day. Struggle to check. Get your cardio and strength exercises done each week. Sort of check but always working on it.
All my life, I’ve thought of food, but thinking about it in this capacity at times has become exhausting. I’ve begun to notice that instead of wanting to be constructive about planning meals with creativity, I simply want to get it over with. How challenging can it be to grill a small piece of fish or lean meat and roast a vegetable? Grab a healthy snack between meals. Fire up the blender for a smoothie?
I’ve reached the halfway point — or to be more accurate — see it right in front of me, taunting me. Telling me I need to step it up. Get myself moving. But today, I’m tired and cranky. And I’ll allow myself that because staying on good course for 18 weeks, I’ve done what I set out to do. But I’ve been waking earlier than I normally do and staying up later. When I’m not careful about what I eat, I end up with too few calories in my body and feeling like I’m out of fuel, because that’s exactly what I am.
No patience, easy to rile, and seriously lacking in motivation. Flat.
But I don’t “cheat.” I use that term loosely because most understand that being on a diet implies there are rules that must be followed just so — and if they’re broken, it’s cheating. I never set out to be on a diet. I set out to change the way I live my life and feed my body.
At first, I was almost religious about eating five times a day. Three fairly even meals with a morning and afternoon snack. But as I’ve progressed, things have changed. The snacks have sort of disappeared and not by intention. I get busy and don’t think about it. Saved calories, right? That doesn’t work for me. I’ve figured that if I don’t keep the fuel steadily coming, then the whole thing breaks down. I’ve also shifted away from eating even sprouted wheat bread once in a while — toasted with a measured mound of egg or chicken curry on it. Again, this hasn’t been by design.
It’s been days that I’ve been writing this and struggling over how to say it all. When I read it over, there’s no justice served to what I’ve learned.
Perhaps it’s a lesson about my life in general. What I’ve learned must be summed up in a particular way, and because I’m not done, well then, it’s not easy to put down.
Words escape me, but I’ve taken photos just to document. Yes, photos. Each month on a given day, I subject myself to photos taken in three positions. I make a collage of sorts and date it, and each month, I compare the extent to which I’ve grown smaller. Clearly, I have. The clothes show it, the photos show it, and I can see it. I share the photos only with my husband who says he could never do it himself.
But it holds me accountable far more than loose clothing or a number on a scale. A glance in the mirror.
Yet, I’m wondering. Am I just giving in to something I’ve always said I’ve deplored?
Thin to be thin?
I’m not sure how long I’ve been awake, but realize it only when I hear the surf’s low roar in the distance through the window I opened yesterday just to get a bit of cool air in the room, then forgot about. It’s not quite chilly, but I’d rather it be shut. The short, quiet whistle just outside has me wondering who the someone is out there, his dog down the street farther than necessary at this time of night. It’s a bit creepy.
The clock reads 3:26 am, and I give in to the idea that even though it’s too quiet to run the coffee grinder or too dark to go for a walk, I decide to sit here to pass the time. And because I’ve already thought about everything there is to think about before I decided to get out of bed, I wonder why I’m making an effort to write any of this, tempted instead to fumble my way down the stairs in the dark, pick up the book I just started last night and read for a while. The only problem is, no light is strong enough downstairs to read with. This makes me realize it wouldn’t be a problem if I’d transitioned completely to Kindle which I only recently downloaded to my iPad. Somehow, the idea bothers me because I still like the look and feel of a book — especially fiction. But that doesn’t help me much, sitting here in the dark and wanting something to do.
I watch the stream of Tweets on TweetDeck with little interest, but hesitate to close it since it’s not distracting me — as if that’s possible. My brain feels empty, which means I really should be sleeping. Or perhaps I am asleep and just haven’t figured it out yet. This would be a fairly boring dream if that was the case. Imagine.
No, the ache at the base of my skull isn’t something I’d dream about. Gently, I shift my head from one side to the next, feeling the muscles in my neck stretch. It feels good, and so I extend the stretch down each of my sides, elbows up, slowly pulling, taking a slow, deep breath. Much better.
A lone bird has chirped somewhere outside and the first car headed down the hill. I wonder who it is and what time work begins, glad I am not that person, but remember briefly having to get up this early to go to work myself for several years. I remember enjoying the quiet as I readied myself, shutting the front door quietly as I left each morning, all the people I loved still tucked in their beds, some snoring.
I think about what I’ve decided to do today after the sun has risen, committed to heading down the boardwalk to get some exercise. When we first moved here, as much as I wanted to sleep in on the weekends, I’d wake, pull on my sweats and drive down to walk on the beach. It was a novelty then and I enjoyed breathing in the salty, damp air as I walked along not having to dodge the bikes and skateboards normally crowding the boardwalk. Yes, I’ll enjoy that this morning, and while I’m walking, I’ll decide whether or not to make Christmas cookies this year. The MoH and I certainly don’t need cookies around the house, but I saw some great new recipes in Bon Appetit’s holiday baking spread this year and am tempted, knowing if I procrastinate long enough, it will be too late, and then I’ll be saved from the task. We’ll see.
It’s 5:05 am, and I’ve successfully filled time more than space here, not really focusing on anything. Lizzie’s followed me up here at some point and is curled on the futon behind me. I get up for a minute to pet her, listening to her purr. I peer between the blinds, surprised to see a still dark sky, and yawn.
Should I go back to bed or risk the coffee grinder? Waste time pinning pretty things to my Pinterest boards? Paper, scissors, rock.
I’m chilled to the bone now, my head still hurts, and the stuffy nose I’m just now realizing is the culprit for my being awake is annoying me.
It’s an admirable 5:31 am.
It’s Wednesday. Remember Wordless Wednesdays?
Once upon a time, while many others were busy posting an image or a cartoon to take a bit of a blogging break midweek, I was busy finding excuses about why I wasn’t wordless and thinking how could anyone ever be wordless? I made jokes about my seemingly endless stream of whatever came to mind while others took a deep breath. Looked around. And although the words are coming now, they don’t add up to much. I stop to think, searching for something to put here, to have a bit of meaning other than to say what I’m saying.
See? Not much.
I know I should be wanting to hop on a soapbox about politics, or shake my fist at the injustices in the world. Complain about the cost of health insurance, or the size of the plastic debris soup “island” growing in the Pacific right now. I will say we recycle more than we throw away, avoid water in throw away plastic bottles, and reuse as much as we can, but our efforts seem paltry as I observe effects of others’ unconcerned attitudes.
No, I don’t feel like writing about those things right now.
The state or process that occurs when no more of something can be absorbed, combined with, or added.
This would be me on food.
Eating it, looking at it, purchasing it, cooking it, cleaning it up, and most of all — writing about it. I’m saturated. In fact, I’m probably super-saturated, but I won’t go into that because I’d have to Google the term to remember what I learned in chemistry a million years ago.
But I’m there.
I’m hoping my brain will thank me for easing up on it, because at the rate I’m going, being one-dimensional is right around the corner. Although I’m sure there are some perks to being one-dimensional — like being able to fit in tight spaces, weighing less, qualifying as a cast member of The Real Housewives of You Fill in the Blank (or all three simultaneously) — but I’d rather not find out.
I don’t want to have to follow “expert” advice about how to improve Google rankings, or format posts, tag photographs, or use social media to improve traffic. Focus? Why do I have to have one? It makes me weary thinking about it.
Licking my index finger and holding it up to see which way the wind is blowing is good enough for me. If anything, it would allow for the unexpected instead of the planned. Whimsey. Bird-walking.
No lists. Ugh.
Instead, a promise to myself to enjoy writing — for me.
And guess what? I found a writing group that will start meeting next month — nothing formal — just show up with a notebook. They supply the prompts.
I’m thinking this will be a hellavalot easier than losing 50 lbs.
Wait. Isn’t that sort of where all of this started?
It’s amazing how quickly time passes. Although I’d like to say that’s a good thing in some cases, for the most part, I’d rather it didn’t. There has to be a balance between wanting a phase in one’s life to come to a conclusion and simply embracing it.
In the last many months, I think perhaps that I’ve managed to do that. I’ve found things to do that matter to me, have forgiven myself for others I don’t spend quite as much time on, and have given myself time each day to look around and appreciate a few things. If you twisted my arm, I’d say that I’ve appreciated more than just a few things.
It does get more and more challenging, however, to recognize whether my life has taken yet another direction, or that I’m caught up in all the things one does when one’s trying to avoid doing what is supposed to be done. It’s convoluted, but it makes sense to me, and that’s enough for now.
Someone today said to embrace the here and now. It’s not new information, and I’ve cringed when I’ve heard others say it before. But today, the message was being delivered to those much younger than myself by someone not much older than they. Ironically, I guess that’s what I’ve been trying to do for nearly a year now. It’s hard if you’re like me and life is about planning.
I know I’m supposed to have learned something in this experience, and I’m sure I have, but it’s late and my alarm wakes me earlier than I’d like so I won’t wander down the path of that explanation right now.
What I miss most about this detour is my barely new found self: the one that laughed and had seemingly endless energy and curiousity. I’d like to find her again because I was just getting to know her. She was a bit odd, but I think I liked her.
If you see her, will you let me know?
I may have seen her this evening when it was pouring outside and she grabbed a huge umbrella and camera to run out in the rain and take a photo.
She’s still in there somewhere.
It’s Wednesday and I’m nearly wordless. Nearly wordless for someone like me is about as quiet as I get. I’m tired. It’s odd that with acceptance, energy is devoted nearly 100 % to doing what one has to do. Evenings are when I look forward to sinking into my couch and watching inane shows on the television with people I love.
At some point, whatever book that lies open on the floor next to my bed begins to call my name and often reluctantly, I give in to the fact that my day is over. As much as I look forward to bedtime after a busy day, I know that sleep just brings the next day more quickly, and so I give in to that as well.
I don’t like looking forward to the weekends. Time passes too quickly when that happens, and so I’ve begun to pay attention to what I appreciate about each of my days in a much different way than what I have in the past few years. It takes some practice considering that the effort admiring a drop of condensation on the leaf of a honeysuckle vine is much different than appreciating that the red message light on my phone isn’t lit when I arrive at 7 am.
But I have much to look forward to, and I don’t plan on missing any of it.
Happy Wednesday — even if it’s not quite wordless.
What are you looking forward to?