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Meet Frank, Kindred Spirit April 11, 2010

Remember I mentioned I met this guy Frank at my solo show last week? Well it so happened that a screening of the documentary film about his experience was taking place yesterday. It just so happened that I was able to make it. I was so glad I went.

I started tearing up right away, pretty much at the opening credits. There were a few moments when I was out and out crying. It was terribly moving.

This is the film in a nutshell:

May I Be Frank documents the transformation of Frank Ferrante’s life. He unknowingly stumbles into a local restaurant in San Francisco, Café Gratitude, a raw, organic and vegan café…where he feels welcomed and free from his collapsing personal life. Frank is asked by Ryland, one of the servers, “What is one thing you want to do before you die?” Frank replies, “I want to fall in love one more time, but no one will love me looking the way I do.”

Inspired by the possibility of helping Frank, Ryland invites him to come into the café everyday for the next month. Armed with a camera and a wide open heart, Ryland soon enrolls his brother Cary, and Conor, his best friend, to participate in supporting Frank’s transformation. The final agreement is made that for the next 42 days, Frank will turn his life over to three twenty-something young men committed to his healing and prepared to coach him physically, emotionally and spiritually. Frank will eat only raw food, practice gratitude, visit local holistic practitioners, and get a weekly colonic. Ryland, Conor, and Cary get to support and witness Frank’s miraculous transformation. Frank gets a new body, a clearer mind, and most importantly, a soaring spirit.

The film is pretty much a “Supersize Me” in reverse. I wasn’t sure how they arrived on 42 days for this “experiment,” but he chokes down his wheatgrass shots every day. He eats all his meals at Cafe Gratitude.

Now it’s no secret that I am not a big fan of Cafe Gratitude. I don’t think I will ever be a vegan or ever convert to eating raw food. But I AM grateful to them for what they have done for Frank and probably countless others. And I do not  think I will ever, ever have my colon cleansed. But I am a complete sucker for transformation, and of people having Second Chances, and turning their lives and health all around. I am very interested in forgiveness and in cleaning up one’s relationships in order to clean up one’s overall health. The second installment of my solo show is going to be all about that very topic.

Frank looks like a million bucks now. He’s so healthy looking, and vibrant and athletic. And he’s a blogger! (I was fascinated by his blog post in which he describes feeling objectified for the first time in his life).  I am so happy for him. And it also makes me think about being in this place, of achieving some up-until-now-unachievable goal. Health or a certain clothing size or a number on the scale. Then what? A while back I found myself feeling terrified. That I got to enjoy it for a small period of time but that it was going to be snatched away. (by home? by my own inner troll self that doesn’t WANT me to be healthy OR happy) I could see people gaping at Frank in awe and I was wondering if he ever feels that same terror. That this is just a nice dream and one day he’s gonna wake up to that other life again.

Today I am feeling like my own health and good place is not as tenuous as I feared a few months back. But that’s just today. I wonder if some of this might not be behind my continually striving and pushing that bar up: 5k, marathon, triathlon, WW staff, solo show. What’s next? If I keep doing more and more will I be immune?

No.

So I just have to keep doing what I’m doing, doing what feels right, trying to be mindful every day.  Trying to be gentle with myself.

And in the meantime it feels great to have found yet another kindred spirit on the journey.

 

Amazing Grace December 27, 2009

Today was a wonderful day. Started with a WW meeting which just felt… good. Not packed with people, but great energy. Then I went to a Nia class, something I haven’t done in what feels like a long time. (weeks?) It was one of those transcendental, beautiful Nia classes. It felt so energizing/calming all at once, and very moving. It ended with everyone sitting in a circle while we listened to a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace” by the Soweto Gospel Choir. It was so emotional for me, sitting there and listening to that music.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

I really felt those words. A year ago I truly was wretched. I was unhappy, unhealthy, and sad. I can’t believe the  journey I have been on this year. A few people were crying as we sat there. I got a big lump in my throat.  Then she played a chant of Om Namo Bhagavate, as a send off for her upcoming trip to India. As we sat, the instructor walked around and I heard a little “plink” on the floor. She put a little Buddha charm in front of each of us.  Another beautiful anchor for this year. The back of it has an inscription that translates to “Buddha bring me safety and comfort” or something like that. I felt so so happy when I left that class.

It’s truly been a year of grace.

 

thanks thanks thanks November 27, 2009

Yesterday was a wonderful Thanksgiving. I had both of my daughters home, and other friends and family. The food prep felt almost effortless, and everything was delicious. I gave some friends a few WW recipes and was amazed and pleased at how yummy and undietish it tasted. We had a creamed spinach that was absolutely decadent: and only one point!

I woke up early and went to a Turkey Trot organized by some other local WW leaders.  Around 60 people showed up and we took a lovely trot down the shoreline. The weather was chilly but sunny and really perfect. I think the course was around 5k. I walked out, enjoying a nice chat with one of the members from my Mon night meeting. When we got to the turnaraound point, I was feeling nicely warmed up and was really in the mood to try to run. I told myself, I’ll go until it doesn’t feel good. Well it felt GREAT the whole time! My ankle did not hurt or feel the least bit unstable. (I was wearing my brace) This made me very happy and something good to feel thankful for (among many).

The rest of the day was wonderful. Great food, laughing and a hilarious game of Apples to Apples.

This morning, though, I woke up and had a very sore throat. Wah. I haven’t been sick in so so so long. But here it is. I’ve had a regular flu shot but not an H1N1. I am hoping for the best. I hope I am well for my WW meeting on Sunday morning –this is not a good time to try and find a sub!

I crept out to a Nia class at 9am and took it easy- I felt like I needed to stretch and move, but when I came back that was definitely the big energy expenditure of the day.

Can you believe we had NO – I mean NO turkey leftover? 15 lbs for 15 people, and it just vanished. This made me feel bereft. All that stuffing (pans and pans!) and gravy and potatoes and EVERYthing — but NO TURKEY. So I stopped at the grocery and bought a 5 lb turkey breast and just roasted it. YUM. (why don’t I do this more often? It’s so easy! and yummy!) It was even better than the big turkey yesterday.

Is it starve a cold, feed a fever? Whatever it is, I am in eating mode.  YUM TURKEY.

And then… nap. Ahhhhhhh.

PS. Anybody have any ideas for leftover shrimp? We had shrimp cocktail as an app yesterday, and there’s about a pound leftover. I thought… shrimp salad, for sandwiches? Any other ideas?

 

Does Thinner = Happier? November 25, 2009

Tonight on Biggest Loser, Amanda (while bawling her eyes out) said, “I’m the happiest I’ve been in my whole life.” Ironic and odd, but true. I found myself nodding.

The conventional wisdom says that overweight people (who? Santa Claus???) are “jolly.” But you know, I had a cloud following me around during all of my overweight years. The heavier and less in-shape I was, the more unhappy I was. I’d say that I felt fairly grim much of the time, and had glimmers of happiness now and then.

I can pretty much say that this past year has been one of the happiest years in memory. I’m happy pretty much every single day. I’m smiling like a fool a LOT. I laugh out loud every day. I have some hard moments, but THOSE are the moments in an overall sea of feel-good. I think I must be just zipping along on endorphins or something.

I didn’t do a whole recap of BL tonight but I did watch. It was the 11th week and man was it moving. They kept flip-flopping between the before and afters.It was so moving. You know people have all kinds of disparaging things to say about this show. It’s “exploitive.” But do these people who went from wheezing, unhealthy and absolutely MISERABLE feel exploited?? Hell no. They feel like they’ve been given a second chance at life. And they HAVE.  And from previews of the “Where are they now?” show (airing tomorrow) I do think that more than 50% of them have managed to keep their weight off and stay healthy. I hope I can be one of those people, a year from now.

Speaking of a year from now, one of my newest goals is to qualify to join the National Weight Loss Registry. This is a group of people who have “lost significant weight and kept it off.” You have to have lost at least 30 lbs and kept it off for more than one year. If I can manage to maintain my loss until next August, I will be eligible to join this special group. I really, really want it. And it’s a great “eye on the prize” thing to keep focused on.

Tomorrow is my first WW group’s first weigh-in. I am excited for them, and nervous for them. I hope they get good news. I hope they had a good week. The thing that is cool about these at-work meetings is that everyone starts on the same day, so they are going along all at the same pace. I’m going to give them a big pre-Thanksgiving pep talk, but also remind them to enjoy Thanksgiving without guilt. I was interested to read the WW CEO’s take on Thanksgiving. I think it makes sense and goes along with my “be mindful and don’t suffer” motto.

I am excited about Thanksgiving. SUPER excited. My girls will be coming home, and friends and family will be visiting. We will have a combination of delicious low-point dishes, and some extra- decadent desserts (my girl is making Nutella pecan pie! YOW!). I plan to enjoy myself thoroughly.

I am so thankful this year. I am incredibly thankful. For my health, for my family. I am thankful that I chose to give MYSELF a second chance at life, instead of sinking low when I got that diagnosis. I am thankful to my awesome trainer. I am thankful to the myriad of great friends who have supported me during this journey, and who continue to stick by me. I’m thankful for my new job, which inspires me every day. And for the members I meet who are on the path. I’m just thankful for life. It’s really good.

————-Edited to Add:

I’ve mulled this over quite a bit since writing it last night. And I have come to a different conclusion. I’m not happier because I’m THINNER. I’m happier for two reasons: one, I am fit and healthy (and yes, filled with endorphins). I’m also happier (way happier) because my relationship with food has changed. I’ve been this weight before, and still tortured about food (I’m remembering this now). This is BIG. It’s HUGE. So it’s not about what size I am. It’s that my whole outlook on all of it has changed dramatically. Huh. I’ve never been in this place before, in spite of years of therapy and compulsive-food support groups and a million books read, etc.

So it’s not about being thinner. That just happens to be a coincidental byproduct. It’s more about how I approach ALL of it. Light bulb moment!!

 

 
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