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Book Review: Cakewalk May 31, 2010

What business does a diabetic Weight Watchers leader have reading a book that is so filled with butter and chocolate and sugar that it almosts wafts from the pages? I don’t know, but I do know that I could barely put this book down. Thank goodness for the ankle injury and the 3-day weekend that allowed me to finish  it this morning.

I loved this book, Cakewalk, by Kate Moses. I LOVED THIS BOOK so much. It’s going on my Top Ten list. And for people who have seen my house and my miles of bookshelves, you’ll know this is saying a lot.

Where do I begin? Well, for one I loved it because it brought my childhood back to me, and in the sensual food-memory way that the madeleine brought Proust back to his. Only it wasn’t anything as delicate and refined as a fancy French cookie, it was her unabashed love for 1960s junk food that made my heart beat faster. And it was the way that she described the Ding Dongs and the Baby Ruths without an ounce of embarrassment or remorse: just, this is what we ate, and it gave us pleasure. She loved the badger Frances books like I did, and especially for the food descriptions: not only the bread and jam, but also ode she sings to Lorna Doone cookies.

Kate Moses is roughly the same age as I am, so reading this book was like a tantalizing time-travel through my own life. It was shocking to squeak out, as I was reading, “Me too!” even down to a bizarre coincidence involving rubber alligator toes. Reading this book was in so many ways like a channeling of my own life.

Each chapter of the book chronicles a different era of Moses’ life, her annual moves to yet another new state, new town, new school. Early on she learns to use her baking skills as a way of making friends, or of comforting herself through some new familial trauma (and there are some doozies). Every chapter ends with some amazingly droolworthy recipe: Chocolate cake, homemade It’s-Its, homemade pink and white animal shortbread cookies (which she brought in a basket to her reading: SO delicious! and exquisite), pecan birthday cake and jam tarts. I swooned and sighed over all of these recipes. (um, except the moose turd “candies”)

Although she mentions being called “fat” by her classmates in a particularly poignant fourth-grade chapter, she doesn’t dwell on this. It’s not about that.  So many memoirs of overweight childhoods are drenched in shame and guilt, and this book was refreshingly free of guilt. Which I appreciated so much.  It’s about an often terribly painful and confusing, chaotic childhood and youth that is sweetened and soothed by the pleasure of food. It’s about food as a means of connection and community. It’s about becoming a writer, which made my heart pound as much as the cake recipes. It’s a moving chronicle of family and how people change and don’t change, about forgiveness and honesty and redemption. The writing is so, so, good, and I found myself sighing over individual sentences and paragraphs. Like this:

…we bought boxes and boxes of donuts, baker’s dozens, all different flavors. Then we drove up and down the empty streets for hours, fast past the houses of everyone we knew, past our own, all night long, in our high heels and our new high-school graduate outfits, the convertible top down and our hair flying loose and tangling across our faces, eating just one bite of each donut before flinging the rest out of the car. When there were no more donuts, we reached for our silky blue graduation gowns, pulling them out from where we’d tucked them, and we threw them out, too, letting them catch in the wind we were speeding through, sailing them out into the bright lasting night, the northern lights spraying ribbons of color above us, waving like handkerchiefs as the ship leaves its anchorage.

 

On the Road with WW May 29, 2010

My WW BFF and I have decided to hit the road and seek out other WW meetings to see what other leaders and members are up to. Today we got up at 5:30am to check out an early-morning meeting about 30 miles from us. It was a real experience!!

For one, I have not attended a WW meeting AS A MEMBER in probably 9 months. We staff people are supposed to attend regular meetings but you know, we get so buusyyy and… and… and…
but it’s true, it’s a completely different experience when you’re sitting in a chair than when you’re behind the counter. Completely.

This meeting we attended has a real “rock star” leader we have been very curious about. She has PACKED meeting rooms and has quite a reputation. I have to say that none of my meetings has ever been PACKED. So I wanted to learn her secret.

As it turns out, she was very charismatic. LOTS of energy. Lots of drama. She literally cried twice during the meeting. (apparently her members really appreciate this; I was sort of taken aback) She talked during 90% of the meeting. At extremely high volume. (OK, it felt like yelling to me)

It was really eye-opening. Clearly she has a MASSIVE following. Clearly it works for them/her. I had a lot to think about. There were some valuable things I learned at the meeting that I will take with me and incorporate. Other things, not so much.

But it was valuable to go back in sit in those chairs. To remember what it feels like. To soak it in from THAT perspective. I’ll be doing more of this.

 

Lying Causes Weight Gain May 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 1:51 am



Pinocchio and the Magic Nose

Originally uploaded by moonjazz

Lying to oneself, that is. Telling yourself, “I’m getting lots of activity!” or “This can’t be too many points,” or whatever the thing is that one wants to believe.

I think that a combination of dishonesty and just plain denial contributed to my recent meltdown. And the only thing that could get me out of it was facing up to stuff with myself and then with some supportive others.

Tonight I noticed Geneen (Women Food and God) Roth’s status update on Facebook: “A last thought for the night: Truth, not force, does the work of ending compulsive eating.”

How true is that! Today I realized how “fuzzy” I had become in my thinking about all sorts of things: my exercise levels, my eating habits, and my thoughts. It was great to sit down last night and write out a list of what my WW BFF and I call “Our Unhelpful Habits” (as opposed to Weight Watchers’ HELPFUL Habits which we are constantly preaching!). It was a funny, painful, illuminating and humbling exercise.

Today I vowed to be more honest. I returned to REAL tracking of my food (as opposed to “quasi” tracking). I returned to multiple-times a day blood glucose monitoring. Now THAT was sobering. I knew that my fasting BGs had been creeping up but now I realize that so have my post-food ones. That was not happy news. But I am going to see my doctor next week and I will deal with it. What else can I do? I hope that I can just increase my oral medication a bit and not make the leap to insulin. Cross fingers, people! (for those of you who have seen my show you know this is the moment for AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION!)

My little Philips DirectLife has also been very interesting in the honesty department. It definitely lets me know (with extra commentary from my DL coach!) what I’m doing vs what I *think* or *wish* I was doing. So, my daily calorie target (based on my weight, age, goals etc) is 741 cals burned. I’ve been wearing this thing a while and have NEVER gotten to that number. So today, on top of my morning walk/run, I also: USED THE STAIRS to get to my 9th floor office; had a very active WW meeting, and THEN went for ANOTHER walk before dinner! I mean come on. I got home and the graph said I’d burned 734. OMG. I put it back on, did 30 jumping jacks, and voila! 743!!! FINALLY!

But there have been days, a lot of them, when I felt like, “I’ve done enough,” and really it wasn’t.

Hopefully this will be my 2nd wind, my round two towards better health. And I do believe that being honest about things is THE ONLY WAY.

 

New Day May 27, 2010

Filed under: diabetes,emotions,exercise,good things,health,running,walking,weight — Susan @ 11:19 am

It’s really hard to believe how one can feel SO DOWN one day and then the next day, it’s all new and different. (one of the great things about life, right?) Yesterday was truly a huge low. But it caused me to really dig INTO that lowness, to feel it and try to understand it and to make some changes.

One thing that changed immediately is that I vowed (with the help of my spouse AND my friend) to go to bed earlier. I am such a night owl but staying up until 1am was just not feeling good. So last night I went to bed early. And it made it so much easier to get up early (6am WITHOUT the alarm clock!). Mr. McBody and I went for a beautiful sunrise walk/run in the park near our house. It was so nice.

The weight that I was so freaked out about has left me, making me think it was probably restaurant-induced water retention from sodium. So I’m back to where I’ve been basically all year. Whew.

And my blood glucose? Not so great right now. But I’m going to see my doc next week and we’ll get to the bottom of it. I don’t feel like I’m the world’s most epic fail, like I did yesterday. I’m just ready to deal with it.

 

A Hand Up

So my little downward spiral continued to have its way with me until I landed with a huge THUNK this morning and ended up sobbing my brains out in my car. I guess you could call that a pretty “rock bottom” point. I really felt unbelievably hopeless, helpless and also shocked that I had gotten into this state, so quickly.

This was set off in part by my taking my blood glucose this morning and finding it HIGHER than it has been since I was even diagnosed. This stunned me. Then I went to the lab to get my blood drawn for my appointment this week. I was mortified. Here my endocrinologist came to my SHOW last week, and I’ll all woo-hoo-look-at-me!! Poster Star Diabetic Patient!! OMG how BOGUS can I be?!?!?

I sent off a flurry of desperate texts to a friend who sent me a ton of support which I could only partially receive given the pit of self-loathing sludge I was drowning in. But I did hear a little bit of it and of course the one thing I heard was, “If this was me you would not be beating me up,” or something along those lines. It was so true.

I made my way to my trainer’s gym. He asked me how I was when I walked in the door. I burst into tears. We spent the entire session stretching out my incredibly tense and misaligned body. Which was necessary. He was also extremely kind to me. Which didn’t hurt either. After I finished there, I felt like I reallllllllly needed to sweat, so I went up to the gym and killed the AMT machine (elliptical-thingie) on level TWENTY (the highest) for 30 minutes. The sweat felt good, really good.

Briefly ran into my spouse. Who had read my blog post from yesterday and offered to 1) support me in going to bed earlier so I am not so freaking EXHAUSTED and 2) take a walk with me early in the morning.  Now that’s what I call spousal support.

Went to work. Brought my new ball which is going to function as my new chair. We’ll see how this goes. Allegedly sitting on a ball is a hundred times better than a chair, and burns a lot more calories. My DirectLife was not WILDLY impressed, but I do think the little green spikes were higher than my chair-sitting hours.

Went to Weight Watchers. I sort of slunk in there, feeling like, WHO THE HECK ARE YOU to be doing this, when you are so completely messed up?!? Well. I’ll tell ya.

A member came in. She had gained (less than me). She burst into tears. Then she told me about the VERY BIG THINGS she has been dealing with lately. I said to her, “If this was one of your dearest friends in this same situation, would you be beating them up and berating them?” (Hmm, sound familiar?) I gave her some Kleenex. I almost started crying myself. It was the biggest mirror ever. In fact, it turned me right around. When she left later on, I felt like she was going to go home and be nicer to herself.

After the meeting, I met with another good friend.  She asked me how I was doing. Amazingly, I did NOT start sobbing my face off. I told her. She listened. It was so good. She told me some stuff back. We pledged to support each other. Once again, honesty (especially in the hardest times) rules.

I am so very very fortunate for my friends and community. The church I (occasionally) go to has a prayer that says “we are weaving a tapestry of love we call community” and that is how I feel about the people who are surrounding me and holding me up on this journey.  Thank you.

 

A Little Downward Spiral May 25, 2010

WOW I had a crazy tough week last week. Why do I always get surprised by hard times?

So the week started out sad because after my very exciting and fun weekend with Shannon, she went home. I went back to my hugely packed work schedule.

My fabulous trainer was out of town for the week. Instead of planning for alternate forms of exercise, I just said, “Oh well,” and I ended up just letting that time get absorbed by more work.

I was so stressed. My new job is a huge learning curve, a lot of new information and also straining to remember old information that is tucked away in some brain wrinkles that haven’t been activated in almost 20 years. I even broke down and cried at my desk on Thursday. That was a real low point.

My eating went a little haywire, off and on during the week. This ended up (of course) in a gain. I first realized this on Sunday RIGHT BEFORE I was going to the theater for my show. NICE! I felt like, oh my god, what an idiot, what a fraud, what a… freaking EXPLETIVE and who do I think I am, etc etc etc.

I woke up Sunday morning with one of my big toes all swollen and red and hot from an ingrown toenail. My mind went into freak-out overdrive and immediately I thought, “My diabetes! It’s gonna get infected! They’re gonna amputate my foot!” and the like. Thank GOODNESS in that moment for Twitter. I reached out to my dear friend Dr. Mo, who just happens to be a podiatrist. She was both concerned and reassuring in the right mixture.

I got through the show without completely melting down. I think my heightened emotions may have helped, in fact. My mom and my trainer and my doctor all came, plus some great friends.

But I’ve been feeling kinda shaky. And it scared me (as it always does) to realize how little it takes for me to “go there.”

There’s a scene in my show where I’m sort of scoffing at these Other diabetic people who have just let themselves go all to hell and they have every medical complication in the book. But this week I had a tinge of that. Some panic mixed with failure/shame/giving up. It was terrible. I even, for the first time in YEARS, almost pulled into an IHOP. I wanted pancakes. Big, fluffy white-flour pancakes dripping with syrup! I mean, it was crazy. The good thing was that I did not actually enter the IHOP *or* eat the pancakes. But the mere fact that I *wanted* to, made me upset. And it made me see how people can get into that spiral and just.. give up.

Tomorrow I see my trainer again. I have the feeling I’m gonna cry with relief. It’s going to tip back in a good way, and I’ll start climbing up those steps again. But man. I don’t like weeks like this.

 

Gadget Love May 22, 2010

Y’all know I am somewhat of a gadget freak. I’ve tried to swear off buying any new ones but when Phillips DirectLife contacted me and offered to let me test-run their activity monitor, who was I to resist?

And now I am pretty much in love with this little thingie and all it comes with. Once my four month trial dries up I might just have to continue the relationship on my own.

Before, I had a Bodybugg because I got all intrigued by that after watching the Biggest Loser contestants wearing it. And I liked it pretty much. But I never ended up getting the individual support they promised because they do it by phone. The “coach” and I played phone tag like 4 times but I am very hard to reach on the phone.  So after all the phone tag I gave up. Also, you wear the BB on your arm and it always felt like a blood pressure cuff to me. (bad connotations) It got sweaty a lot. It wasn’t a big deal, but it wasn’t the most comfortable thing ever. Also, I felt like it almost gave TOO much information. So. After a while I sort of abandoned it.

Enter the DirectLife! I like it because it’s simple. It’s a little plastic white box smaller than a matchbox. It’s very light. It’s WATERPROOF! (I took it in the pool today!) You also have three choices of how to wear it: around your neck on a light cord, in your pocket, or hooked onto your bra or other piece of clothing. So it’s very versatile. I like wearing mine around my neck if I don’t have a pocket.

How does it work? It measures your micro-body movements so it calculates if you are walking, running, whatever. MOVING. Which is basically the point of activity. It probably does not have the same physiological precision of the Bodybugg, but actually, I do not care. My husband pointed out that you could “cheat” it by just holding it in your hand and bouncing it up and down, but dude, that is just cheating yourself. It’s like doing the Wii Fit from the couch. Yeah, you COULD, but do you really want to do that??

So I love the simplicity, the ease of wearing it. When you take it off, you plug into a little USB device on the computer. This turned out to be 100% easier than BB too, which was always having glitches and technical difficulties and causing me to re-install the software every five minutes (can you say ANNOYING?). So I love it. It goes right to the site and tells you your activity output by the day. You see the hills and peaks from the most active times. Then you can see the details from each hour, which is addictively fascinating to me. (WOW that’s when I took a walk at lunch! That’s when Shannon and I climbed up Lombard Street! That’s when I… ohhhhh. SAT AT MY DESK motionless for four hours.) It’s GOOD. And yeah, another great accountability tool.

But I didn’t even get to the best part yet. The best part is the fabulous, awesome, mindblowing coaching!!!!! I was assigned a coach named Jen. I was assuming that either I’d never hear from “Jen,” or that she would send me some one-sentence sound bites like, “Good moving today, Foodie!” But NO. I got an email asking about my goals and if I had questions. I sent her an email back. She looked at my activity for last Sunday. She noted that I was rather inactive between 2-5 and 6-8.

I said, “Welllllllll, I was taking a nap at 2, and then a shower (didn’t realize it was waterproof!) and then my show, I didn’t have a pocket and didn’t want the necklace on, but darn I was VERY active!” So she clued me into the waterproof and clip-on-bra thing. (um, in my case, clip-on-Spanx) She read my blog. She had such thoughtful things to say about my return to more than full time work, my fitness frustrations, my schedule, EVERYTHING.

She has emailed me EVERY DAY THIS WEEK. And they’re not just stock emails. They’re totally personalized, thorough, and all about me me me and MY situation. It has been so amazingly, astonishingly supportive and helpful. She’s also sent me some awesome PDF articles about various things we’ve discussed, New York times article about the hazards of sitting, etc. Just SO HELPFUL.

So I am over the moon about my little gadget and about the amazing support I’ve received from DirectLife’s coach Jen. They are a lot simpler than Bodybugg but in my mind that is a good thing, a very good thing.

 

 
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