Getting the Support You Need

count-onI am thinking today about “friends.”  Friends can bolster you up, or they can drain you. It takes a certain amount of wisdom and maturity to finally see what a true friend is.  I spent many years with so-called “friends” always disappointing me until I finally realized that I’d developed a pattern of being everyone’s therapist.  I was always the friend that people told their problems to.  I developed that behavior in high school and, because of it, ran with a popular group of girls.  They were not bad friends, but they were not good friends either.  I carried that pattern into my late thirties.  It wasn’t until after my bout with thyroid cancer when I was 38 that I began to change.

I began to change because life showed me that many of those people that had always counted on me, that I’d been a good friend to, were not around or available during my time of need.  This was disappointing to me in so many ways, but the pain of that disappointment prompted me to change my behavior patterns. Soon, I became the friend that was unavailable.  People leaned heavily on me, but disappeared when I needed them to return the favor.  As a result, I was often emotionally drained and resentful.

I recall that one friend was calling me often to tell me about an affair she was having with her high school boyfriend.  I’d listened attentively for months, but then, suddenly, one day realized how selfish her behavior was.  She didn’t really ever ask me how I was doing, other than in the obligatory way, but then she’d quickly find a way to turn the conversation back to her.  She needed a sounding board and I was always there to listen.  So, finally, I made it clear that I wasn’t going to listen to her nonsense anymore.  You know what?  I haven’t heard from that friend in over two years.  Why?  She wasn’t getting her needs met anymore.  So, I’m sure she found another sounding board and, because she’d never had any real concern for me to begin with, there was no reason for her to call me anymore.

Growing and changing hurts, but it’s necessary because obesity is part of patterns of behavior that find us filling the empty hole in our hearts when we don’t surround ourselves with people who know how to love, who know how to open their hearts and who know how to give.  One thing I’ve learned from some of my “friends” is how to be more selfish.  I grew up hearing the word “selfish” as a bad thing.  Be anything, but don’t be selfish.  Now, finally, in my forties, I realize that selfish is a good word, as long as it’s not taken to the point where you no longer care about anything or anyone.  Selfish can mean that you know how to take care of yourself and how to get your needs met.

When you finally learn how to take care of yourself and get your own needs met, you can release the desire to overeat to fill up all those empty holes in your heart.  Evaluate your friendships and determine if you have the friends you need to take you the place where you want to be.  When you’ve pinpointed the friends that are truly selfish – those that you only hear from when they need something – gently pull away.  You can still be their friend because now you’ve got their number.  The difference is that, after this realization, you will also ration out how much of your time and energy you devote to them, and that means that they can no longer drain the important emotional resources you need for self love.

One other important thing I’ve learned is that you have to be responsible for getting your needs met and this means being more assertive.  Generally, I have a problem with assertive behavior.  It’s not easy for me to be assertive because of many things from my childhood.  But assertiveness is a good thing.  Assertive people do better overall in life and when you become more assertive it’s another one of the things that lessens the desire to overeat because it makes you feel less helpless and like a victim.

So, for today: selfishness and assertiveness will combat some of the underlying emotional reasons for overeating.

The Gym. Ugh.

Went back to the gym at 5am this morning for the first time in about a year.  I go at 5am because that’s before the muscleheads and skinny aerobic bitches arrive.  So, for a few hours, I can workout in some semblance of peace before the gym transforms into an early morning pick up joint.

DiamondFirst let me say this.  Oy.  I’m really out-of-shape and it’s overwhelming to think about how far I have to go to get back to a normal weight.  Second.  Ouch.  I didn’t think it was possible for the soles of one’s feet to hurt while riding the incumbent bike.  I mean, really.  Why does that happen?  It’s not like I’m putting any weight on them?  But they hurt so much that I could only do 15 minutes.  Maybe I’m just using a different set of muscles than what I use when I’m walking?  If anyone has an answer to this mystery, please enlighten me.

Other than that, nothing eventful.  I did 1 hour of cardio, but at a slow pace.  I did a few reps of strength training on different machines for my legs.  I did 50 sit ups.  I’m being cautious and starting slow because, a few years back, I returned to the gym all “gung-ho,” worked out too hard and gave myself a stress fracture in my foot and then had to stay off my feet for three months and gained back all the weight I’d lost.  So, this time around, I’ll be focusing the most on swimming.

Swimming is a bit of a bitch for a couple of reasons.  1.) I’m over 40.  So, my hair is dry and I can’t imagine that daily dousing in chlorine is gonna help that.  Also, I’d like to grow my hair long again.  So, I’ll have to live with that and find products that can help.  Anybody have any reco’s?  2.) The pool gets crowded later, but if I swim first, right at 5am, then afterwards I have to do the cardio/strength machines with the red imprint marks from my swim goggles prominently showing up on my face, which is awkward, but also funny, I guess.

Anyway, I’m rambling.  The point of this post is this.  I went back to the gym today. Yeah me!

I’m Doing This

Yesterday, I didn’t feel like juicing.  I just didn’t feel like it. And you know what?  I did it anyway.  I did it because I know that putting all those nutrients in my body in such a concentrated way will make me feel better, look better and perform better.  I know that kale, beets, parsley, celery, carrots and apples all have the power to transform me from the inside out.

I am eating clean 85% of the day and, often, it’s not easy.  It’s a nuisance to juice.  When I did it yesterday, the juicer was off balance and I ended up with a big green juice mess all over my kitchen counter and floor.  I could’ve quit right then.  But I didn’t.  I cleaned up the mess and kept juicing.  There are big green messes everyday in my life that I need to clean up and move on from….

It’s a pain-in-the-ass to buy, prep and wash all the veggies I need for the week.  It takes over an hour in the kitchen to do this.  But I do it because I know once it’s done it will keep me on track.  It’s a pain-in-the-ass to eat salads everyday, to weight and measure my meals, to log all my food into the LoseIt! app, to weigh myself each morning and to exercise.  But this is not a diet, this is a life change and change requires a commitment that I’m ready to make.  I’ve seen the alternative.  I’ve seen people in my family remain overweight, stuck and unhappy for their entire lives and I don’t want that to be my fate, or my legacy.

It’s not easy being obese and over 40.  So many people tell me that major weight loss can’t happen at my age without bariatric surgery.  Even the doctor I worked with initially looked at me skeptically and said, “Even if you lose just 50 lbs….”  I thought, “I don’t want to lose just 50 pounds….”  A therapist I saw, listened to me as I detailed my two year plan and then said, “What about that bariatric surgery?”  I looked at her blankly and thought, “I’ve just lost 30 pounds following the plan I detailed, and if I stay with it, this weight will come off in two years.  Why are you not hearing that?”

I remember once someone said to me, “Past performance predicts future outcomes.”  Well, you know what?  That’s not true.  If that were true then every team that’s had a long losing streak would never win again, yet losing teams turnaround and have comebacks all the time.

I don’t need people around me who tell me it can’t be done.  I need people around me who see the possibilities within me and know that I can do this.  I need those kinds of people because they don’t reinforce that little voice inside of me, which I fight everyday, that says, “You can’t do this, Jenifer.  You haven’t done it yet.  You’ll never do it. You just don’t have it in you.”  You know what? That voice is a cruel bitch and I don’t want to hear her anymore, either from within myself or from others.  So, no more people that tell me what I can’t or won’t do.

People without legs run marathons.  People that can’t see build successful lives.  People that can’t hear often listen better than those of us that can.  People that suffer major tragedies in their lives pick themselves up and go on, often times after the unthinkable has occurred.  Nelson Mandela sat in prison for twenty years with only his thoughts to keep him going.  When he emerged, he became president of the country that imprisoned him.  He changed the world with only two things: his ability to see an outcome that others couldn’t and his own indefatigable belief in himself.

I can lose weight.

Our world values women for their appearance.  Men are judged by how they perform.  Women are judged by how they look.  Plain and simple.  Yet that same world wants me to be fat because I’m beautiful, talented, smart and capable and that’s threatening.  If I stay fat, I’m no threat.  I’m undervalued, underestimated and overlooked.  That’s just fine with the world.  Nobody wants the competition I’d be at my best.  So, I people-please.  OK, I’ll just hide here under this rock and let all of you shine while I whither because I don’t want you to be mad at me for being the beautiful woman God made me to be.  If I were to compete with you then you might not like me anymore.

The world also wants me to believe that as an obese 40-something, single and childless woman, I have no value and that my life is over. I don’t think so.  I will prove them wrong.  My life is just beginning.  I am, simply, a late bloomer, an overcomer and a survivor and this is where my path has taken me.  It hasn’t been easy.  It’s been a struggle and a climb, and I’ve fallen often, and badly, but (slamming fist on the table), I am still here!

I have found so many people that have lost 100, 150 and over 200 pounds without bariatric surgery and I’m listing them in the sidebar of this blog as I discover them. If they can do this, why can’t I?  Of course, I can!

Naysayers. Men that only see value in a woman if she’s “hot.” Haters. Critics. Judgers. Skinny bitches. None of this is easy, but staying fat and unhappy isn’t easy either.

Vaffanculo! I’m doing this.

It’s Monday. Time to Succeed.

I-can.-I-will.I gave myself a “hall pass” this weekend from my food plan and that was a mistake.  I didn’t enjoy the “cheat” foods – pasta and chocolate bars – at all.  I felt compelled to eat them, but not driven by pleasure.  The truth is that the more I embrace this healthier way of eating, the less I enjoy the foods I used to indulge on.  Now, a plate of really good gluten-free pasta, or a gluten-free pastry actually taste better than the “real” thing.  And, salads are the most flavorful foods of all.  I love my kale salads and the salads I make with avocados.  The truth is that the more I take care of myself, the more I want to.

So, it’s Monday.  No more cheat weekends.  Maybe a cheat meal every now and then, but I’m really looking forward to that bowl of morning steel cut oats that’s heating in the Crockpot as I write this.  And, I can’t wait for that avocado and quinoa salad I’m planning for lunch.  I want this change.  I need this change.  I am this change.

What Gluten-Free Does For Me

Jenifer Mangione VogtI wanted to post this selfie I took last week because it demonstrates the benefits of gluten-free living for me.  When I eliminate gluten from my diet, my skin clears up almost over night and my complexion is more clear and the dark circles under my eyes diminish.  There’s no filter on this pic, but I am wearing a little bit of Oil of Olay tinted moisturizer foundation.  I like it because this year, I’m going to be 45 years old and have survived cancer, so not bad, right?

I’ve found that now when I eat gluten I’m assured of a breakout the next day.  I’d read about this kind of difference on the Gluten-Free Girl’s blog, but wasn’t sure if it applied to me.  I can say now that while I don’t think I have Celiac’s disease or a discernible allergy to gluten, I definitely have some type of sensitivity to it.

Now, I’m Italian, so there’s no way I’m going to completely give up my favorite foods, like gnocchi, pizza or focaccia, but I’m willing to limit them to once or twice a month because I just feel better when I do.

Update – July 5, 2014

Lose it AppJust an update post since I haven’t posted in a while.  I have hit the 30 pound weight loss mark (hurrah!!) but made a few changes to get there.  First, I’m no longer working with Dr. Hadley, though I’m very grateful for the help she gave me to get me started and to help me commit to this journey.  She provided very good advice about eliminating wheat and minimizing sugar and I’ve found that, by following that advice, the weight has started to come off.

Second, I’ve switched the apps I’m using from Fat Secret to Lose It!.  Lose It! is just more user-friendly and easier to find foods and I like the graphic interface and badges they send me when I hit my milestones.

I’m still looking for a weight loss support group that I can feel connected with.  I’ve tried a few different ones.  Weight Watchers was disappointing because their online tools have lots of technical glitches and the meetings in my area were way overcrowded, which was intimidating.  Then, I tried Overeaters Anonymous and Food Addicts Anonymous, but I just didn’t connect with either.  The former had very few members under 65, so they were just at a different place in their lives.  The latter espouses a philosophy that one must permanently delete foods like flour and sugar from your diet because these foods are addictive.  That just didn’t ring true for me, since I frequently have flour and sugar foods in my home that stay untouched for weeks on end.  Also, none of the members of either of these groups ever really seemed happy or at peace in their lives or on their journey and that made me feel discouraged.

I’ve learned that gluten causes problems for me, like I’ll break out or have tummy problems, but foods that are made with non-gluten flour don’t trigger binges and are satisfying.  While I’ve benefited greatly from almost entirely eliminating gluten and really minimizing sugar, when I tried to get rid of these foods forever it created a backlash of binge-eating that just undermined any successes I had.  The key, for me, is moderation and that’s why the Lose It! app and tracking my daily calories and exercise has been a better option for me.

Though I’m more a spiritual, than religious person ( I like to think of myself as a Zen Christian thanks to Phil Jackson ), I’ve found a lot of help from purchasing the group leader guide for The Daniel Plan, which is a Christian-based weight loss program.  Their philosophy makes a lot of sense and is about building the support you need in your life to complement your weight loss goals – friends, faith, fitness, focus and food.  You can take this and apply it to whatever your own concepts of faith and God are and that’s what I’ve been doing.

I’m thinking of starting my own support group, but I hesitate to make a commitment like that right now because of some other things on my plate that make me worry I won’t be able to be consistent.  But, I’m hoping within the next few months that I’ll be able to make the time commitment necessary to do that and maybe use a site like Meetup to get it started.

The Flu

A week ago today, I began to get sick and by the middle of the week it had escalated into a full-blown flu.  Coincidentally, I’d had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Weds and he just told me to let it ride itself out.  It did, but it got really bad on Thursday and Friday.  It was so bad that I was getting dizzy every time I stood up.  Since I’m self-employed, I was able to keep working at a reduced pace, but I felt terrible.  The good news is that I pretty much lost my appetite and what I could eat I couldn’t taste at all.  Finally today, my sense of smell is returning, except a lot of what I smell is making me feel nauseated.  Last night, on top of this flu, I had a terrible migraine and nausea.  I had to just stay in bed without light or noise and every time I moved my head, even if it was just slight, it hurt a lot.

So, anyway, today I finally feel better.  It’s funny that I never got the flu when I lived in New York and battled arctic winters, but now here I am in sunny Florida in bed for a week.