I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me when people stop me in my daily life to tell me how much they enjoy reading my blog. And lately I’ve also been hearing, “You need to write another blog entry!”
You’re right. I do.
Here’s why I haven’t: From August through October I was plagued by the illness from hell. And not, like, the second circle of hell where Dante put the lustful, but like the ninth circle of hell where Dante put the four most treacherous villains he could think of–Satan, Judas (suspended head-first in Satan’s mouth), and Brutus and Cassius (murderers of Julius Caesar) who are suspended feet first in Satan’s other two mouths.That is your literature lesson for the day. You’re welcome.
I think it’s fitting that I equate this illness to villainous treachery, because I felt like this crud I’d been carting around for three months was a betrayal. My body was undermining me at every turn. And the fun part: I never knew what symptom would show up next.
In August it started as a pulsing sinus headache–not a migraine, per se, but one of those headaches where you feel your heartbeat in your teeth. That is just a world of suck. So I went to my wonderful physican and he looked in my ears and throat and shone the light against my cheeks and said, “Yup. That looks pretty bad.” And because I’d been on ten days of augmentin when I had this in July, he put me on 30–yes, I wrote THIRTY–days of augmentin. A whole month of antibiotics. The yeast in my body decided to have a party. They were the only ones having any fun there.
During those thirty days of augmentin the sinus infection decided to take a tour of my ears, nose and throat. One morning I’d wake up with pain in my temples. The next, a burning throat. When it decided to set up shop in my ear the world started to spin. That’s always fun, to roll over in bed and feel like I’d just downed a bottle of tequila when I hadn’t had a single drink in weeks. I firmly believed the bacteria in my body had the same genetic make-up and tendency toward misbehavior as Keith Richards. NOTHING seemed to be able to kill it, and it partied HARD.
The real fun came when it decided to branch out into my chest. Bear in mind this is all while I was still on the antibiotics. The coughing, the hacking, the congestion, the wheezing–I started WHEEZING, like I was a 60-year-old chain smoking asthmatic! What in God’s name was happening to me? I mean, yes, I’d had illnesses before–bronchitis, sinus infections, the flu–but this thing was tenacious. It wouldn’t. Let. Go.
By the time I finished day 28 of the antibiotics I was feeling pretty good. I had also resolved to go to an allergist and get poked and prodded with allergens to see what was messing up my sinuses. I was still feeling good by day 30. Then, two days after I finished the antibiotics I started coughing again.
I went to an allergist for testing and discovered I was allergic to . . . wait for it . . . NOTHING. Over 50 scratches and the only one that swelled was histamine, the control. My husband was overjoyed. I was bummed. If I had no allergies, why was I so sick???
Then I went to my ENT, who decided to send me for a CAT scan of my sinuses. They found . . . nothing. Again. Just nothing. I have a small cyst in my left sinus. Nothing to be worried about, just something that looked aggravated by . . .whatever was wrong with me.
But I was still feeling pretty cruddy. So cruddy that I was talking to a new mom at the school who is a fitness coach and said to her, “Something has got to change.” She and I started talking–mostly on Facebook–and she invited me to join her in her weight loss and exercise program when I was feeling better. The key was to get to the point where I could move.
So I did three things: I started going to bed at a decent hour–like 10 pm at the latest. (That cut mightily into my writing time, by the way). I started getting up early to get at least a 30 minute walk in each day. And, in my nod to allopathy, I started taking Zyrtec and using a steroid nose spray my general practitioner had wanted me to start on last year. In other words, I actually started paying attention to myself. A little bit.
I put a limit on my volunteering. Two days a week. That would be all. I had a lot more free time, and I finally met up with some awesomely cool friends at the kids’ school and we started training together for the 5K that was being held the Saturday before the church and school’s fundraising carnival opened.
Within a week, I was feeling just fine, but I wanted to feel better.
That’s when I started talking to Rebekah, my new fitness coach. She works for Team Beachbody, and she gave me all sorts of ideas about workouts and nutrition, and I decided that I was just going to actually commit to making myself healthier. Which also, sadly, cuts down on my writing on the couch time.
I committed to work with her for ten days, during which I tried to stick to a “clean” diet–lean protein, low-fat, high-fiber, no refined sugar. I replaced one meal a day with a Shakeology shake which I was told would provide me with lots of nutrition I’d need to make myself feel better and fight cravings. I drank the shakes for ten days. Within three days, things I’d normally eat five of (like cookies) tasted too sweet. My stomach got flatter. I felt more energetic. I wasn’t having highs and lows. I wasn’t falling asleep (or wanting to) during the day. Granted, I was still going to bed at 10 and trying to exercise a little each day, and that helped, too. But the eating right and the shakes were doing amazing things for me.
And then, it happened. I got on the scale. And I’d lost . . . no weight at all. I. was. furious.
So I ate stuff. It was Boo’s birthday party day. I had a slice of Chuck E. Cheese pizza. I had a big hunk of cake. I had pasta, I had meatballs, I had tomato sauce, and I had another big hunk of cake.
It should have made me feel awful, right?
But it didn’t. It made me feel INCREDIBLE.
I know this isn’t going where you thought it would. Hang with me. It will. I don’t take the easy road ANYWHERE. There are always lots of twists and . . spins. Like how I worked in the title a second time there? Hmm.
I felt powerful. With every illicit bite of food I put in my mouth I felt defiant. Triumphant. “F*** you, scale!” I thought. “You aren’t going in the direction I want you to go in? Well, fine! I’M GONNA EAT CAKE. Cake. My love. My friend. My precious. Cake. Who never fails me. Who never shows me something I don’t want to see. Cake never lets me down!” By the way, neither does pasta.
In an insane twist, the next day I was down three pounds. It had something to do with a certain female thing that happens, but that I didn’t think was going to happen that day because it was a week early. I think the antibiotics threw off my body a little bit. The female thing might have also explained the angry, insane, defiant binge. But I think there was more behind it.
I turn to food to feel powerful. Even though, in the long run, I am cutting off my nose to spite my face. Eating the wrong things, in excess, is not helping me. I know that. But sometimes it feels so GOOD to do it. It’s like flipping off THE WORLD. I should be eating salad? Eh. I’m gonna eat this HUGE HAMBURGER, WORLD!! WITH CHEESE!!! I should have a piece of fruit? Eh. I’M GONNA EAT SEVEN COOKIES, WORLD!! BECAUSE THE SERVING SIZE SAYS FOUR, BUT I’M A REBEL! I’M NOT GOING TO BE LIMITED BY SERVING SIZES! THEY WON’T DEFINE ME!!! I’M GOING TO HAVE A SERVING AND 3/4! A FRACTION, WORLD! HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT? I should drink water? I’M GONNA DRINK TWO LATTE’S, WORLD! AND THREE DIET COKES. AND THAT’S IT! WHO’S IN CONTROL NOW, WORLD? HAH!!!
I am not the first person to realize that I am an emotional eater. But I think I am different in that I don’t find solace in food. I use food as a WEAPON. And I know that the weapon really only hurts me in the long run. Which may be the point. I eat because I’m angry with myself, for what I have let happen to my body over two kids and years of putting myself absolutely last. And so I’ve decided to change things up a little bit. But I couldn’t have done that if I hadn’t realized this first. I am not a sad eater, or a happy eater, or a depressed eater. I am an ANGRY eater.
Last night I was angry. I couldn’t find something I was looking for because my house is a wreck. And as I was despairing of ever finding it I found myself heading for my pantry. Granted, I was only going to get a Weight Watchers dessert bar, but on my way I realized that the only reason I was headed to that pantry was because I was angry with myself for not being better organized. And that’s when Bill Murray popped into my head. I remembered this scene from Groundhog Day, where he has the groundhog in the car with him and he’s saying, “Don’t drive angry!” as the two of them hurtle off a cliff in one of his many deaths (hope that wasn’t a spoiler). But instead of saying, “Don’t drive angry,” I heard Bill Murray say to ME, “Don’t EAT angry. DON’T EAT ANGRY!!”
I walked away from the pantry laughing. Who would have thought Bill Murray would be a healthy inspiration? My mind is a total fun house. Never know what’s gonna turn up. But the minute after I walked away from that pantry something clicked in my head and I remembered where I’d put the papers I was looking for. And I forgave myself for the mess my house has become, and resolved to just work at it a little each day.
And when I say house, I don’t mean just this big box I live in. I mean my body, too. I have to forgive myself for the mess that I have allowed my soul’s house to become, and just work at it a little each day.
So, I ordered some more shake mix, because I am loving how Shakeology makes me feel. I also ordered a new pump workout system, because it allows me to incorporate my running as cardio but provides me with the strength training. And, to inspire me to keep running after my successful (in that I finished) 5K, I just signed up to do the DISNEY PRINCESS HALF-MARATHON in February. Boo and Critter demand I wear a tiara. I just might.
Most importantly, I joined one of my fitness trainer’s 90-day challenges to keep me in control and accountable through the holiday season. The challenge requires I follow an exercise program, have a shake a day, eat clean, and post everything I eat on a Facebook site. I also plan on blogging my workout progress. I’ll try not to make the blog all about the working out and the eating right, though. I stil have a pretty cool entry about what the kids did to my bathroom this summer that I have to write about. It’s marinating in my brain right now, but it’ll be ready soon.
So, yeah. I know there will be days when I’m gonna get angry with myself. But instead of turning to food, I’m going to turn to running, instead. Running–like a princess! A really angry princess. Xena! Warrior Princess! Now THAT’s a blog entry for another day!