Monday, June 14, 2010

Life, after donuts.

I'm sitting here looking at the hills behind the Dream house.  The sun has just set.  The hills look much closer than they are. It's always startling for me to see a moving speck across one of them, just a pixel of color, and realize that it's a person.  The hills are much bigger than they seem from my living room.  It's all about perspective.

Last week my therapist brought up the idea of radical acceptance.  My therapist uses CBT, and of course, that's why I've been seeing her.  First, for the panic attacks.  Then the general anxiety.  Now it's to let go of ideas that I've hung onto tenaciously for decades, ideas that aren't working for me.  Ideas that cause me distress. 

So here we are: we've reached the point where I've been working on reframing my belief that, "the world is a dangerous place" to "the world is an uncertain place" and from "I must prepare for everything and fix every wrong," to "I can handle things as they come up, and everything doesn't have to be fixed by me."

So anyway.  Radcal acceptance is stepping back from something that is a problem, and separating your emotions from it while still recognizing it for what it is. 

I had a problem getting my mind around that at first.  To me, problems are meant to be fixed, solved.  As a former single welfare mother, I'm well programmed to always be in FIX-IT mode.  So, yeah.  I get involved at an emotional level.  She explained it some more, and a bell went off my head.

I remembered when I taught high school.  One day after about six years it was like a switch was thrown, and I no longer took it personally, the mouthiness, the opposition, the defiance - it was all just a function of them being teenagers.  Hey! I'd say, There's that black and white thinking{chuckle}

"Quit saying that!  I'm very unique!" they would protest. 

Of course you are, sweetie, I'd say with a grin, completely unique.  Like nobody else, and nothing that applies to anyone else applies to you. 

"Damn straight," they'd mutter

And that's called 'The personal fable.'

Yes, my therapist said, that is radical acceptance.  It is the idea of accepting something, or what will be, as it is.  Without becoming emotional about it.

At first I thought this was about my distress was about the back yard and what asshole dog was doing to it.  Let it go, I thought.  I was struggling.  I need my back yard.  In order for me to read case histories of children who have been horrifically abused, or who are seriously mentally ill, I need a respite at the end of the day.  That respite is the haven behind the house that Baboo has created for us.  When I go back there and see yet another areas destroyed, or dug up, or torn up, it's a little less haven-like.

But later on, I realized, my biggest fear is what others think of me.  I own that.  My distress has been about someone thinking I'm a terrible person if I get rid of Jake.

So, once I could see that, I decided he has got to go.  Once I decided it, I felt instant relief.  Some people might think ill of me.  I can't control that.  It is what it is. 


Today's weight: 159.8 - I always bloat up on Sundays.  I think it's my high-sodium day or something.

I cleaned out my closet this past weekend.  I formed 4 piles:

1) Clothes I love, but they need altering (too big!)
2) Clothes that nobody, including me, should ever, ever wear (but I'm donating them anyway) and here's a tip: once it goes in the pile do not, DO NOT, look in that pile again, or allow anyone else to. 
3) Clothes that need minor alterations, like a button moved in, or a hem.
4) Clothes that are fine, and need dry-cleaning.

I was surprised at how much I had to wear, actually.  Once I'd cleared out all the junk, I found that I had things I could put together in ways I'd never thought of back when I first wore them. 

And here's the reallllllly scary part: I'm throwing out all my fat clothes.  Nothing more to fall back on, ever.  Ulp.  My magic scale number is 160.  Once I hit that, my size decrease slows down, and I'm either a 10 or a 12, no matter how much more weight I lose.  It's like a critical mass thing.  Maybe all the spaces inside me fill up, or something, I don't know. 

Baboo, meanwhile, stood in front of me this morning in clothes that were approximately eight sizes too big.

"How do these look?"

"Well, they don't do you justice."  For some reason, Baboo only buys clothes when he's at his heaviest.  So they're usually loose, but this is New Mexico, so they look appropriate, until he dips under his magic number, which is 210.  Then, he's swimming in them. 

Everybody has to figure out what works for them.  I've accepted tried lots of ways to maintain my weight, and only Weight watchers does it for me.  That, and running up and down the hills behind the Dream house, instead of looking at them. 

I haven't completely given up donuts, by the way.

But I have noticed something.  A few months ago, two coworkers and I were standing in the break room, making air-popped popcorn.  The instructions (yes, instructions, put on the wall by a seriously passive-aggressive person) said to put 1/4 cup of popcorn in the popper, and then melt half a stick of butter in the microwave, pour on, and enjoy.

First off, I don't use butter.  I keep butter sprinkles in my desk drawer. But I figured I'd treat  myself and have a table spoon or two strategically poured on. 

So, the coworkers.  Both very seriously super nice people.  One of them is heavy.  I'll call this coworker David.  David is so heavy that I actually worry for his health.  The other coworker I'll call Michelle, and Michelle is very trim and a runner. So anway, David pulled a stick of butter and cut half off. 

"Um, really, David?  A half stick?" Michelle protested.  "That seems like a lot." 

"That's what the directions say," David insisted, pointing. 

Okay.  So we waited, and then David poured a half stick of butter on his popcorn, just like the directions said. Michelle took her popcorn with no butter, and I took my popcorn, with a tablespoon or two on it.  Later that day, there were donuts.  Michelle and I split half a donut.  I just wanted a taste.  It was delish.  I didn't need the whole thing to know that.

Accepting what is means that I have to make a decision and stop agonizing over it.  Make it and move on.   I can binge, if I want, but I have to do the long runs on the weekends to build up my "binge" points.  I'm willing to give up a half stick of butter, or a few glazed donuts, to feel like I have some control over where my body is in space. 

When I was heavy, I was constantly crashing into things.  I just never could get used to taking up so much space.  That's gone now.  Some things have become old habits for me now, like dipping my fork into salad dressing before sticking it into the lettuce and taking a bite.  Or mentally calculating how far I need to run to have that particular desert. 

So I'm not crashing into people just at the moment.  I have fewer clothes to choose from, but the ones I have all fit.  I'm still the same person, but taking up less space.  I'm fine with that for now. 



  1. Thanks for this great post. Some of your insights can be very helpful for others of us who are struggling with the "stuff" that happens around us.

  2. Another great post. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Thank you for this post. I'm doing my first ultra this weekend. It's nice to hear from people who are active and still struggle with their weight, like me. :)

  4. I think you are very wise. I hope Jake finds a home that will suit him and some magic will also click for him. I gain great insite from your posts. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Impressive that you can stop with just a taste of a donut. That's progress right?
    to your coworker who loves butter, tell him to skip the popcorn and just eat the butter- he'll eat less of it and end up with less calories overall. If he eats popcorn without butter, he'll just inhibit fat mobilization and be hungrier later. I watched myself in amazement piling butter onto a few slices of bread with dinner tonight (bread is a luxury since we are nominally low carb/paleo). Way more butter than I would have eaten on veggies (but really good). (BTW, your eggs benedict story sounded really good- I adore hollandaise).

    I wouldn't have pictured you as the sort of person who cares what others think - maybe it's all bluster. Hey, a dog like that would drive me crazy too.

    One of my kids wants to go into counseling. I'll point him to your blog so he can see what he's getting himself into. I think it must be a very taxing job.

    I know what you mean about the different sizes of clothes. Some of my favorites are just huge on me now but I can't bring myself to get rid of them. I do some of the same calculating about how much I *should* run because of overindulgences. Unfortunately, injuries and time constraints can interfere. From what I've read, you might be better off keeping the exercise moderate and watching the diet more closely. You might enjoy Lyle's series on weight loss and how to be a personal trainer. He's got some good ideas and is very readable.



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