January 25, 2010

Questions and Cravings

Today is the first really tough day I think I've had since starting on my journey. Well, this whole weekend, really. Is it a coincidence that it all happened right after I reached my first milestone in my weight loss goals? Possibly, but I don't think so.

You see, I don't know where to go from here. I'm not sure which goal to set next. I'm not sure whose advice to follow, or if I should follow others' advice at all. I know me best, right? Or do I?

I may as well be honest with you all. It's helped so far.

When I had the Day of Reckoning and the subsequent meltdown that was the catalyst for the change I started immediately afterwards, I bought a scale to start tracking my progress. Some encouraged me to, so that I'll be able to celebrate every little victory, even the .5-2lbs of weight loss during a week. Others said, "No! Throw the scale out and buy a measuring tape! Judge how your clothes fit you, let that be your guide!" Honestly, with the exception of the one instance of ScaleGate 2010 (I'm still not sure what was up with it that day, other than the fact that it is a $7 analog scale and therefore prone to error, surely), the scale has helped my morale. Tremendously. Seeing it go to lower and lower hash marks (even if it's just one or even in-between) has been a big motivator.

So the first time I stepped on that scale, I weighed in at....*deep breath*...210 pounds. I was just starting to have to buy size 16 pants and dresses. I am 5'3". This is not a good thing.

Yes, I cried.

Remember, this was AFTER the meltdown, in which many tears had already been shed.

However, it only served to further motivate me to get on the right track. My first goal? Get under the 2-bill mark. This is an unacceptable weight for someone of my height and build. And on Thursday of last week? The little red needle on the scale stopped just a couple of hash marks shy of that evil, wicked number.

The sense of accomplishment I felt was intense. My size 16 pants quite literally start falling off of my hips with every step I take, even fresh out of the dryer. I'm fitting back into my size 14 pants and dresses easily and without much struggle.

But the struggle is now in my head. What's next? What do I shoot for? Do I shoot for another 10 lbs? For my size 14s to start getting baggy? I don't know. I don't know what my next goal is, and I am being advised differently from all sides. Sometimes I want the advice, sometimes I don't because I think they are MY goals, it should come from ME, not the advice of others.

I also have people asking me how I celebrated my milestone. Well...I kinda did and I kinda didn't. I chose to have a McDonald's sausage biscuit and a medium Diet Coke from McDonald's for breakfast on Friday morning. Some people said "Good for you, you deserve a treat!" Others said, "I don't advise using food as a reward."

This weekend, amidst rehearsals and general busy-ness, I felt, for the first time since starting this journey, a real struggle not to just stop by Sonic and grab some fries and/or a shake. A struggle to not get frustrated with myself when I still see what i don't like in the mirror. Some of the joy has taken a backseat to my frustration with this process.

Today, I was sharing this frustration with someone I like and respect a lot as a friend, a mentor, and a fellow artist via instant messaging...and he asked me, "Why do you think you gained the weight in the first place?"

Hmmm. Good question. I am not an emotional eater, at least not enough so that I would call that a problem. I either eat or don't eat when stressed or upset...it's not consistent. So that's not it.

I answered, "I think it's because I've never been punished for gaining weight. I still have friends who love me, I still get cast in shows in lead roles...2009 being a great example, and my husband still can't keep his hands off of me."

Then, we started talking about my mother, whom I have been known to blame for my weight issues. But that's starting to become uncomfortable. Why should I blame someone else for what is, quite obviously, my problem? Yes, she has made comments about it to me since I was young...but I honestly think it's because she has no idea what it's like for me.

(Parents always say "I know what you're going through, I went through the same thing at your age." I have tried to make a mental vow to NEVER say that to my child because, while I may have been in a VERY similar situation, I am a completely differnet person than my someday child will be, and will therefore react to and be affected by every situation differently than he/she will.)

Yes, my mother struggled with her weight, a lot. The woman was anorexic. She's a health and fitness nut even now...the type of person who, with the total belief that she is being helpful, will point out to you how many calories are in what you're eating. Her struggles, while valid, are and were completely different from mine. These types of things are very personal.

So I was discussing this with my friend this morning, and it's honestly easier to just copy and paste some of the chat rather than try to summarize. He is in blue, I am in red. I've underlined the parts that really got to me.

I'm being very selective in how much of this new journey I share with her...and, God bless her, she has been very careful with what/when she asks me about it

She just doesnt' know when to stop. Example: She'll tell me that she's very proud of me, and that she's always thought I was beautiful... but then she'll put her hand on my knee and say "I was just worried about your health. You can get diabetes or heart problems late in life if you're overweight."

aaaaaaaand there was the line, Mom.

Interesting. Why is that the line? Because, from an outside perspective, there seems nothing wrong with it. A little disingenuous (sp), perhaps, but nothing more.

Because...I don't know why, it just IS. It's like she still wants to lecture maybe? Or just saying "I'm proud of you" should be enough. "I'm proud of you." "Thank you." The end

I mean, I'm one of those people that really never thought I was overweight, but I feel like SHE always thought I was.

Well. You can't change what she says or does. You can only change how you receive it.

When I was 12 and starting to hit the really awkward phase and put on some weight, she told me "If you gain any more weight, I just won't buy you bigger clothes." I mean...WTF? who says that to a 12-year old?

This is interesting. See, we've gotten at the root of your weight gain, perhaps.

It's not so much that you were being punished. It's that you were punishing someone else (and yourself in the process).

It's not just that you're rebelling against her by not being a fitness nut. You're also rebelling by putting on as much weight as you want - and proving that you can still be likable, attractive, marketable, and sexy.

And maybe part of your misery with it all is that she STILL doesn't accept that fact. So...you lose.

And now, not only have you lost that batttle, but you're now uncomfortable with your body and with your health. So you lose twice

She also always seems so close to my cousin and my sister-in-law...and I always partly felt like a) it was because they do what SHE thinks is the right course of action in life: get married, buy house, buy car, have babies, but also b) b/c they could all share clothes, etc and be all skinny together

I tend to feel like such an outsider, b/c I'm the only woman in my family who appears to NOT be predisposed to being thin, but I also choose a different lifestyle with my husband

Here's the other thing you might be doing - and I can't be sure, but I know I'm guilty of it.

Think of this - you craved your mother's approval. You felt like her lack of approval stemmed from this one issue. So now, you're spending your life testing everyone else's affection for you, in a way. How fat can I get and still be loved? Will person X behave the way my mother did - if I just gain enough weight?

It sounds ridiculous...but ponder it for a few days.

It's a weird kind of protective measure.

I will definitely ponder that...it seems a bit uncomfortably accurate

It's what we do to protect ourselves, I think.

I mean...if you're raised to believe that you can't be loved if you have quality X, it's difficult to believe that anyone could love you unconditionally. Because you're afraid of being hurt by that, you have to test it...kind of make it happen sooner rather than later.

And when it doesn't happen, when they love you anyway, you just don't know what to do, so you end up miserable.

But here's the other thing I'll throw at you.

Though you've spent your whole life thinking that it is - this is not your mother's problem. It's yours. She may very well have a problem, but you can't solve that one. Only she can. If you can solve your problem, hers will probably hardly affect you at all.

I can't keep blaming her for my weight issues. I know. She doesn't deserve that.

She can certainly be a pain, but parents are like that sometimes :)

See, but this is the thing - the weight is not the issue. If you solve the real issue, the weight will most likely take care of itself.

Because you'll like and care about yourself more and have more faith in yourself.

I always thought I WAS confident, but now that I think about it harder...I think I was TELLING myself I was confident b/c people like me...I'm funny...I know I'm talented...but like you said, somehow I still wasn't happy with myself

Well, and that veneer of confidence is also another protective measure. If you look like your happy, maybe people won't needle you about this or that. Maybe they'll think it has no effect and leave you alone.

I'm....my brain is scrambled right now. In a good way.

This whole process is so...soul-baring and sometimes uncomfortably so. I'm being forced to stop blaming other things/people (my mother, "politics" in theater/casting, society's views of what is beautiful, etc) and to face my biggest enemy: myself.

I've cried a lot in this process. Sometimes it's because I am frustrated or not sure what to do. Sometimes, like at the very beginning, it was because I couldn't believe what I was seeing in the mirror, on the video screen, in the photos. Sometimes it's tears of pure joy at the positive lifestyle changes I've made and AM making, and the subsequent healthy, light feeling both in body and spirit.

Today it was because I had to face some realities. Finding out WHY I let it get so far and so bad. And starting to think about what I need to do in my own heart and mind and soul to make sure I don't let this continue.

I'm not even sure if all I just typed makes any sense, but in the interest of complete honesty and word-vomit, I am not even going to edit it. So...the hard part is to click "publish."

Here we go.


  1. You are inspiring.

    I am so proud of you for being so open and for letting me see inside your struggle. Thank you for sharing.

  2. It can be hard hearing so many things and being overwhelmed. Take one day at a time. I personally can't do scales b/c it controls my day to day. Do what makes you feel comfortable.

    I think you are doing a great job on your journey. It's hard sharing but your are kicking butt and your a brave gal.

  3. The hard part? Pluhlease...I'm so glad you wrote this! Advice or not, what matters now is how great you're doing and how much work you've ALREADY put in. This is obviously so much more than just weight loss for you. Its a new life! Keep peeling the onion, friend, and I bet it gets sweeter each layer. I'm proud of you! (plug Komen Walk here...)