General Assembly in Spokane was fabulous, exhausting, and moving. I saw a lot of old friends – including one SSA friend I hadn’t seen in 30 years – and I made some new friends too. I am very pleased with the direction and new leadership of our faith. The backlash which bubbled up on the fringes is a bit disheartening, but there is also widespread enthusiasm. Change is hard, for everyone, but if we don’t open up our faith so that all can participate fully, then we aren’t being faithful to our principles. There is a lot that I still need to process about those days in Spokane, but I believe that true transformation is coming. Hope and love will lead us on, and we are blessed with human leadership that seems up to helping us with that task. The world, and our country, is in a dangerous place. We need to be stronger and more resilient than ever to meet the many challenges if our democracy and our planet are to survive.
After General Assembly, we headed up to the Canadian Rockies, one of my favorite places on earth. We have been many times since the mid 1970’s, but we are no longer camping.
The top picture is at Radium Hot Springs where on an after dinner walk, we discovered an adult playground full of exercise machines.
With scenery like this, it feels so good to be able to move about and enjoy it!
Even on a road trip where you don’t need to pack light, I forgot things I wish I had. I should have brought my hiking boots and a small daypack. After years of only being able to walk short distances, I walked almost 10 miles on Tuesday. Not all at once, but still! I do stay mainly on paved trails and I avoid steps because of my knees, but we went on a river float trip yesterday, and I may be ready for some mildly white water later in the trip. Who knew I would be able to do all this? Next trip, hiking boots!
Food is tricky, but I am very careful about what I have for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, and I don’t go wild with carbs at dinner. Dinner is all guesswork for calories, but I am eating what I want (Shrimp Étouffée with dirty rice and cornbread last night), choosing lower calorie items most of the time, and stopping when I get full. Most of our rooms have had microwaves, so we have done a couple of leftover meals. Étouffée for dinner again tonight!
I am actually still losing weight, even though my plan was to just not gain any while on vacation. I have increased my calories some because of the exercise and the vacation food and drink I am enjoying. I am not hungry except right before I eat. I can LIVE with this new lifestyle!
L’Chaim! Vacation stats: I have been getting my gallon of water in most days and exercising some every single day. My Fitbit report shows 82,299 steps last week. I ate approximately 10,400 calories and burned 17528. I am down another 3.4 pounds for a total loss of 126.2.
I am on my road trip and am really noticing that people (strangers) treat me differently. I am not the old fat 300+woman who could hardly barely move. At just under 200 pounds, I present more as an active senior, still overweight, but in pretty good shape. The difference is subtle, but noticeable. I have almost always smiled at people in stores, gas stations, rest stops, and hotel hallways, but now their responses are just slightly different. It is hard to tell exactly what that difference is. Do they treat me as younger and more able? Do they dismiss me less, and respect me more? Are they less protective of my comfort, and feeling less pity for me? I believe the difference is real and and not just inside my head. I do carry myself with more physical confidence, so that is part of it.
I think really, though, it is about power. I have more power because I have shed one of my marginalized identities.
A friend of mine, who grew up as female, told me that once he began to look male, the sexism he had experienced growing up went away. He’d gained male power, which he could hold as long as people assumed he was male and cisgender.
Power held by those with marginalized identities is very precarious. Trans and genderqueer folx are very vulnerable to violence and assault as are women, lesbians, bisexuals, gay men, people with disabilities, fat people, and people of color. That list could be much longer and include class and religion. The world is even more dangerous if you embody more than one marginalized identity. This culture diminishes anyone who isn’t straight, white, male, Christian, able-bodied, and wealthy.
Maybe what I have been sensing is a power surge, one that has come because I have shed (some) of one of the identities that made me more vulnerable and less respected.
Our General Assembly started last night – more on that later. I am very glad to be here with a people that believe in bringing more hope and love into our hurting world. We do it imperfectly of course, but imperfection is one of the blessings of being human.
L’Chaim (My stats this week are rougher than usual and will be for the duration of my trip, but I have been getting my gallon of water in most days, exercising some everyday -13220 steps yesterday – I am down 3.2 pounds with a total loss of 122.8)
I have begun the task of getting rid of clothes that no longer fit because they are too big. This is so much more fun than the times I have gotten rid of things that were too small. It is a daunting task, but one I need to do. Those large clothes take up so much space! Packing for a trip is also easier now as I can get a lot more outfits in a suitcase. A “Large” is so much smaller than a 3x. This is a non-scale victory for sure!
We had 10 people in group last night, with the facilitator asking us what we thought a pipe dream was. My first thought was that it is a drug induced fantasy. When I googled it, I found out the term came from the 19th century and opium dreams, so my 1960’s sensibilities held me in good stead once again, getting a definition just right. One man had an interesting definition, involving looking through a long pipe, kind of like a spyglass, so that you could visualize a goal without seeing all the distractions that surround you. I love the creativity that can surface in our group in images like that. We then talked about things we thought we could never do, things that we believed were impossible. People talked about dance classes, pilgrimages in Spain, 5k walk/runs, and European walking tours. Some of those things we are actually doing now, and others are in reach.
One woman said she never thought she could succeed in the program, and was discouraged now because she was gaining the lost weight back. I wish she would have been asked what might help her get back on track. I did catch her afterward and chatted some. This journey is a hard and emotional one. It is so easy to step off the trail, sit down to rest for just a minute, only to find yourself in free fall down the mountain’s side. If one of your friends throws down a rope to you, maybe you can grab it and haul yourself up again. I carry a lot of ropes in my backpack.
Depression, discouragement, and grief are really common. Food, overeating, has been such a source of comfort for so many of us, it is hard to give that comfort up. There is also grief and loss involved with losing weight. With every change, even positive ones, something is also lost and it is important, I think, to grieve that loss. New parents can be thrilled at having a child, but they might also need to grieve the loss of the freedom from responsibility they once enjoyed.
Some depression on this journey is normal as we grieve the lifestyle and self we have left. If we stick with the program, we know that we won’t be able, ever again, to eat whatever we want, whenever we want. We will need to stay mindful of what our bodies actually need, not just what might taste or feel good in the moment. This will be a huge change for the rest of our lives. I have grieved the loss of the “fat and happy me.” I am almost done with that now, I think, as I have fallen in love with the new, energetic, healthier me. And yes, I have occasional food “treats” after a year in the program, but I plan for them, count the calories, and don’t overdo anything. So I am not the old me anymore, and I am cleaning out my closets.
One last note. This morning I got this reading on the scale.
I think I am ready for the challenge of a road trip! We leave on Sunday for who knows how many weeks. I will try and blog when I can. It might be hard to continue my current weight loss pattern of 1-2 pounds per week with restaurant meals, but I am determined at the very least to not gain anything back during my time away. I am packing my scale so I can make sure of that!
(My stats for the last week – down 1.5 pounds, drank at least 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 870 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is more than 119.6 pounds.)
I am still startled by the changes in my body over the last year or so. It is taking some emotional and psychological adjustment. Who am I? We are so connected to our physical selves. It is the most intimate relationship we have. I believe our souls are woven into our bodies, at least for the duration of our lives. What happens to our souls when our bodies change? Sometimes the changes are really hard. If our bodies are hurting in new ways, we need to adjust, to cope somehow, and to discover new ways of being in the world. I went through some of that when my health was deteriorating. The more recent changes to my body are mainly positive. I am healthier and stronger. But am I the same person? Yes, of course, and no, not really. My focus is different. I am living a more deliberate life than I did before, making decisions, even small ones, with more thought beforehand. I still “go with my gut” when the Spirit moves me to do so, but in some weird, mystical manner, something has changed. As my body shrinks, perhaps my soul is expanding.
I increased my exercise routine this week and met my goal of burning at least 2460 calories every day. This lets me eat 1300-1450 calories per day and still lose an average of two pounds per week. That is enough calories for me. I am not hungry, but then again the calories are all from protein, fruits, and vegetables. They include some fat, but minimal carbs, just Dave’s Killer Bread (whole grain/thin sliced) and the sweet potatoes I have with dinner several times a week. I avoid white bread, potatoes, rice, and sweets. I did eat an 1/8 of a bagel last week at church. Moderation is the key.
I am being extra compulsive for these last few weeks before I go on a vacation which will involve some restaurant meals. Restaurant meals are mysteries as far as calories go. You can ask questions and try to be sensible, but you never know exactly what you are eating when you eat out. It makes the math so much less precise.
We had 12 people at the meeting last night. The group seems to go better when we have more people. We talked about how to say “no.” “No” is something I don’t usually have a lot of trouble doing, but new strategies never hurt. There are clearly cultural and gender variations that can affect how people navigate situations of being offered sweets – or wine! It can be tricky as food is so often offered as a gesture of love and sharing meals is how relationships are often nurtured. Being clear about what you need (or don’t need) and planning ahead can help. It was interesting how many people in the group had experienced having to “clean their plates” as children before they left the table. It was traumatic and did not establish a healthy relationship with food, or even I suspect with parents. I don’t remember that happening to me, other than being asked to taste things (one bite) or being told not to take more on my plate than I knew I could eat. We raised our kids the same way, although we counted and divided up the potstickers when we went out for Chinese food. There were fewer fights that way.
Food is so much a part of every culture. We need it to live, but too much can kill us slowly. It doesn’t happen to everyone, of course, but it was happening to me. My world was contracting. I feel now like I have been reborn; my life is expanding. This journey has been one of transformation for both my body and my soul.
(My stats for the last week – down 2.7 pounds, drank at least 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 840 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is more than 118.1 pounds.)