Don't Let's Call It a Diet, Lent

Turn these scones into bread

Petite vanilla bean scone I was standing in the local coffee shop in Yarmouth this morning, waiting for two cups of coffee to go, one for my colleague, K, and one for me. I was waiting and looking at the baked goods in the glass case.

There were raspberry muffins (I've seen him eat one before) and lovely, enormous scones, scones nearly as big as my head.

Scones beyond reckoning. 

Maybe not that big, but you get the idea. 

And the tiny little bird on one shoulder said, "Oh, why not?" "You can take a muffin for K and a scone for yourself. They look delicious!"

And the tiny little bird on the other said, but only after a long moment of hesitation, "Nope."

It's not because of Lent that I've returned to the discipline of following Weight Watchers, but the Lenten themes of fasting and sacrifice certainly seem appropriate, even if we're hoping to do something that will be a life change instead of a "diet."

Don't Let's Call It a Diet. That's the category I assigned to posts about my weight loss journey when I began it in earnest in 2007. I reached a point in my life where my doctor threatened blood pressure medication unless I got myself in hand, and as those of you who've known me or been reading along for a long time know, I spent the next year following the program pretty faithfully, despite running into the roadblock of Rheumatoid Arthritis in the second part of the year.

Illness was one thing. I continued to lose weight when I first got sick. Maybe that's *why* I did, at least in part, lose as much weight as I did. Prednisone put a stop to weight loss, in the short term, but mostly feeling sorry for myself did. I spent the fall of 2008 feeling sorry for myself and eating. Around Christmas I decided it had to stop, went back to a Weight Watchers meeting in January, and got back on track. I wrote about it. I followed the program. But I didn't successfully change my life.

I didn't.

I can see it in the Weight Loss graph and chart on the WW website by looking at the last date I weighed in (March 26, 2009) and then looking at the number I had to chart in January of 2010. In between there's a vast empty place in my memory, a sort of blind willfulness about what I put into my mouth. Work was stressful, my husband's absence for work stressful, whatever whatever whatever was…stressful.

JesusIsTemptedWell.

I'm trying again, and I've been reluctant to blog about it, because, seriously, we've been down this road before, and why should this time be any different? I can't promise it will be, but I'm trying. I'd like to get back to a point I reached almost two years ago. That's my goal for now, but my real goal is to relearn eating and to have a conscious relationship with food.

It's embarrassing to think of the number of times I've read books on the topic. How many attempts are we allowed in this life before there are no more chances? 

I believe in redemption, that we can change, that where there is life, there is hope. But I know it's hard. I know the source of hunger for scones instead of bread is not some external tempter, but an inner condition. 

I know the devil that tempts me looks less like a serpent and more like me.

Don't Let's Call It a Diet

Under 550

Asiago_peppercorn_steak  I'm trying to get back on the food wagon after a period of flagrant disregard for eating sensibly. We were at Applebee's last weekend, where I will admit I ordered the "Wonton Tacos" from the appetizer menu as my lunch. I noted that they no longer have a small Weight Watchers section on the menu, though I did see some WW entrees sprinkled around the different categories (can't find them on the web menu, though). 

What they do have is a new and prominent menu section called "Under 550 Calories." 

This makes me wonder how many calories are in the Grilled Oriental Chicken Salad I order so often, which is not on the list. 

Don't Let's Call It a Diet, Friday Five

Midway through Lent Friday Five, one day late

As posted by Sophia at RevGalBlogPals:

1. Did you give up, or take on, anything special for Lent this year?

I decided, after a pancake-based frenzy on and around Fat Tuesday, to be honestly observant of my Weight Watchers plan during Lent, with two extra commitments: to eschew butter. (I really love butter and have been described as using it to "frost" bread.) (The pancake-based frenzy? Involved frosting with butter.)

2. Have you been able to stay with your original plans, or has life gotten in the way?

I have, since even when life has gotten in the way, I've made the choice to be as honest as possible in tracking the food and the points, even when I needed to approximate. This was more a question of making myself do it, in other words choosing not to get in my own way.

3. Has God had any surprising blessings for you during this Lent?

Other things feel less "out of control" as I pursue this discipline so consciously. Instead of feeling deprived, I feel I am taking good care of myself. This does include feeling hungry at times and having to decide whether it's hunger that requires immediate or near-immediate feeding, and with what.

4. What is on your inner and/or outer agenda for the remainder of Lent and Holy Week?

To continue on this path, which also helps me to feel capable of doing all the work that lies ahead of me in terms of worship planning, sermon-preparation and also wrap up of certain portions of my work as I get ready to move on to another job (more details on this soon). Taking off the rest of the weight the doctor recommended for me as an otherwise healthy person, given that I now have RA, seems very important. I see this period as an opportunity to consolidate some changes in my life that include eating more fruits and vegetables (not just bananas and lettuce!) and choosing all my food with an eye toward health, while knowing there still need to be treats in moderation or I will not keep at it.

5. Where do you most long to see resurrection, in your life and/or in the world, this Easter?

In line with my Lenten discipline, I'm hoping to get back to the weight loss I had achieved in the season of Easter last year, before beginning treatment for RA and having a prednisone-influenced and sadness-exacerbated weight gain through the summer and fall. It's not just about the number, it's about moving into a new way of living and seeing the next step ahead of me, continuing toward my ultimate goal of health, which includes but is not limited to a number. I'm close at this point, but trying not to get hung up for good or bad on any particular week's loss, rather to take the long view.

1 Cor, Don't Let's Call It a Diet

Or Do You Not Know?

(Thinking about texts for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, especially 1 Corinthians 5:12-20)

When I re-purposed this blog, which I started as a 365 writing blog two years ago, I titled it Reflectionary, hoping to do more writing on the topic of the texts from the Revised Common Lectionary. And I do that, but I also do other blogging, sometimes one more than the other. I've fallen out of some habits I tried to establish this time last year, to write about all four texts, even briefly, each week, and I'm going to start again.

"All things are lawful for me," but not all things are beneficial. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be dominated by anything."Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food," and God will destroy both one and the other. (1 Corinthians 6:12-13)

I'm thinking of a new subtitle: Reflectionary, where the lectionary has a "come to Jesus" moment with my life.

I've always resisted the notion of faith-based diet plans, in part because they seemed to come from a more theologically conservative point of view, both in terms of how we perceive God and in terms of assessing women's ultimate purpose. Their God micromanages too much. Their notion of women's worth has more to do with relationships to men than to anything else. These are my opinions, and your mileage may vary.

"All things are lawful for me." This sort of thought went through my head on Friday when Pure Luck and I met his BFF for lunch. We went to our favorite local place (MB, RDM, Ruby, reverendmother have all been there with me), and I ordered my favorite thing, the Thai Tempura Veggie Roll-up.

Now, there are many worse things on the menu at the place we call "The Bear," for short. Many, many worse things. And I chose the mini-salad instead of the delicious fries as a side dish, and I had it with balsamic vinaigrette that I carefully sprinkled on the delicious greens. It may be that this meal can be supported by a thoughtful Weight Watchers member, using weekly and activity points, and some of it even counted as vegetables and healthy oils. The wrap is full of lettuce and shredded carrots in addition to the tempura veggies and the *gasp* really wonderful peanut sauce.

But on the menu there are other choices, listed with all their ingredients and calories, and you can get a great big salad with a grilled chicken breast and a very few skinny tortilla strips with fat free honey mustard dressing, and that is delicious, too.

However.

I *love* the Thai Tempura Veggie Roll-up. I want to be able to eat it when we go there.

So I did (see above). And I had all my mental ammunition ready as to why it was a legitimate choice, and what the ramifications were, and I didn't finish the wrap part when I felt full. All good.

All good except that after the meal, I felt regret. I felt regret because I knew there were skinny choices on the menu.

The problem is not the thing I ordered. The problem is in my head. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by peanut sauce or tempura vegetables, either before or after. I can choose that meal again–no doubt, I will, we go there often, and as previously stated, I *love* it–but I will also choose the context. And the context will be respectful of the body and the mind and the spirit God gave me. The context will be within the parameters of the commitments I have made to myself, not with a feeling of guilt that will have me snuffling around the kitchen looking for dessert to sweeten the sour the minute I get home.

I may learn that I cannot eat this at all, that it triggers something for me.

Paul goes on to write about fornication, but what I'm talking about is a kind of fooling around in your own head, fooling yourself, or trying to, messing up what is a good gift: life.

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial. I get the message. Thanks.

Don't Let's Call It a Diet, I Sing the Body Electric, Mothering, Poetry

Elliptically Speaking…

The paddles on the exercise machine
like snowshoes in the woods
ease my progress…

Occasionally used heavily, but
other times for hanging towels,
it fills a place…

Actual sweat runs down my neck,
constituting moderate exertion,
lights show fat burn…

The greater efforts of many years
have been poured into children
being mother…

You cannot calculate the effectiveness
of parenting in the same way,
clearly measured…

You only hope if someone stops
to track the progress you will have
seemed to matter…

The revolutions, the level of resistance,
the elevated beating of your heart,
the things that hurt…

Don't Let's Call It a Diet, I Sing the Body Electric, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Roomy Toe Boxes, The Inner Landscape

“Martha posted Desire on Typepad”

I've linked my Facebook account to my blog, and when I post here, a little note appears on my Facebook Wall. After my last post, it skipped part of the title and announced, "Martha posted Desire on Typepad."

And it occurs to me that I gave a pretty contained review of a book that in fact roiled me.

I can relate to Susan Cheever's desire, in my own way.

I'm not a drinker, although I've been known to enjoy an anniversary Cosmopolitan or a few glasses of champagne at the Big Event. But when the rheumatologist informed me that my RA medication would not go well with alcohol, I didn't have a problem with the news.

I'm definitely not a gambler. Okay, I gambled once, when Pure Luck and I spent 24 hours in Las Vegas. He gave me a roll of quarters and I promptly lost it in the slot machines. He was more successful. When the last quarter went in, he kept his winnings and walked away with $14.

My experience with any sort of illegal substances is limited to one substance, one time, and I think that makes me pretty innocent for someone my age.

You and I know where my weakness lies. When I feel that sort of empty that has nothing to do with being hungry, I eat. Reading the addiction book opens up concerns I've had throughout the weight loss process. Weight Watchers roots its plans in a moderation approach. I've written before about my own resistance to abstinence. Cheever quotes someone who says abstinence for food addicts is like taking the tiger out of the cage three times a day. You cannot give food up completely.

I've written about how abstinence terrifies me:

Probably other times, too. I think it's possible that a person who thinks about it as much as I have may need to consider it. It might turn out to be simpler than trying to figure out some way to snack without going overboard.

"Martha posted Desire on Typepad."

Over the last year, more and more people who know me in real life, and through church, read my blog, and as I look back over the old posts from Set Free about taking better care of myself, I realize I wrote more emotionally, more openly. That stopped when I became ill last spring, so that ironically my effort to get out of the birdcage and begin something new led to very careful management of how I communicated my feelings. I didn't do it to protect my readers. I sheltered myself.

It's difficult to be clear about your feelings when you cushion them in bubble wrap, whether that means the shielding of sadness or the padding of pudding. Rheumatoid Arthritis appeared to have dashed my desires of a year ago like a piece of china flung to the floor.

Some of those inclinations and wishes seem funny now. I'll never wear high heels again, but how often had I worn them anyway? I actually like a lot of the shoes with Roomy Toe Boxes.

Others feel like a real loss. It's hard to imagine ever having the energy to hike a whole mountain again; when I think of my feeling of accomplishment and joy to be able to do that in the fall of 2007, and how I assumed there would be plenty more of it to come–well, I guess it's understandable I grieved.

Or that I feel aggrieved.

But as Snowman likes to say, "I don't want to be that guy." Or that bird. I want to be the one who figures out how to live in the new situation and makes the best of it. So perhaps that sometimes makes me too eager to skip a step, or too hard on myself for having gone through a phase in which I resorted to familiar coping techniques.

However.

I know from experience that getting clean around food, whether you follow a plan of moderation or abstinence, opens up caves I would prefer to remain sealed. I know it. My fear of RA-related deformities ties right into my fear of abandonment, with a special twist of "my mother didn't like to see people who looked different in any way."

She didn't like to see me look fat, either.

"Martha posted Desire on Typepad."

What I desired a year ago seems pretty innocent and wholesome for the most part: to keep losing weight until I reached my goal, to wear clothes that looked flattering, to hike with my husband, to feel alive, to do my work well, to support and enjoy my children. I still have all those desires.

I guess this bird's work in 2009 will be figuring out whether RA will really prevent any of those, or whether it's my feelings about RA creating the barrier.

Don't Let's Call It a Diet

“Don’t Let’s Call It a Diet”

It's a category I haven't used at this blog, but if you followed me here from "Set Free," you know that in 2007, after many hints from the Universe, I got serious about taking better care of myself.

To say that pain and illness feels like a really crappy "reward" for all that effort is to put it mildly.

And it probably will surprise no one to hear that even after I finished many months on prednisone, and left behind the steroid excuse for eating at odd intervals, I still didn't feel much like getting back to Weight Watchers, although I did write about it once and make bold promises to myself.

What I didn't do was go to a meeting.

I know a lot of people who do Weight Watchers Online and say they don't like the meetings, but for me the fellowship and the accountability help. I told my daughter six weeks ago that I would go back to the meetings in the New Year, and so today, even though my arm hurts and Sam was at the vet (finally okay, thank goodness), I went.

As is true almost everywhere else you turn, the program for the day focused on reviewing what went well last year, as an encouragement to do well this year. For me, last year stunk, as far as body things go. I spent January and February working out and losing ten pounds or so, trying hard to get toned up, whatever that means, and then by the end of February I began to have the debilitating symptoms eventually diagnosed as Rheumatoid Arthritis.

And although I can make a pretty good case for having eaten because of steroid mania or methotrexate-related low-grade nausea, I think it's just possible I returned to food as an emotional coping tool in the second half of the year.

Yep.

Because as I've stated here, I feel pretty uncomfortable with anger, but that is what I can't help feeling, unless I can shut it up and stuff it down somehow.

So. Today. I went to the meeting. They have a new program, and a new book for recording your weight, and it's like having a fresh start. The good news is I weigh a LOT less than I did in June, 2007, so I haven't lost anywhere near all the ground I gained (how's that for a reverse twisting metaphor?). But I also remember the resistance I felt to doing a program, to recording all I eat, to drinking the water, especially in winter, the barriers to exercise (different than the old ones, but still barriers) and the frustration of trying to cook for others whose needs are different while trying to care for myself, too.

Really, it's no wonder I gave it up for a while. It requires organization and discipline and a little self-denial and a significant portion of self-discipline. I didn't want those things as much as I wanted to sweeten something bitter until I could face the taste of it.

And I'm not entirely sure I'm ready to taste it now. I'll give it a week and see how it goes.