Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Change - Right Now!

I was away for a couple of weeks, so this blog has been fairly stagnant. Normally on an out-of-town trip I try to do a lot of journal-writing, and a lot of evaluating of priorities. On this trip I did neither.

It's as though the health scare I had a few weeks ago has set my priorities, without any question, without any "baby steps" about it. My outlook towards food has changed - and so far it's stayed changed for a month.

The idea of food-as-comfort is almost (not completely, but almost) gone. I seem to understand things I could never "get" before - that if half a doughnut is good, then a whole one might be better, but three is definitely worse. That if I'm hungry, but not for anything in particular, I shouldn't graze my way through everything in the kitchen, but instead think about what I've eaten so far that day, and fill in any gaps - have I missed fruits? Vegetables? Grains? Fiber?

Portion size is easier as well, except for my friend Melanie's tofu meatloaf, which I love; still, if I'm going to over-indulge, meatless meatloaf is a better choice than, say, a double cheeseburger or a medium pizza.

I'm down about eight pounds, which feels painstakingly slow but is really about normal.

Finally, I think I'm beginning to consider food as fuel, and not as an emotional panacea. Fuel can - and should - taste good and be enjoyable - but much better to eat something my body needs, that I've prepared (sometimes well, sometimes less so), than to eat something that satisfieds my head, but does little for the rest of me.

I've tried to make this kind of change before, and it has never lasted more than a few weeks. This time I think the change was reinforced with real fear - and that seems to have made it "stick."

The glucose monitor doesn't hurt, either.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Low anxiety

And this, class, is the sort of mood swing that can happen to, oh, just about anyone.

It's not a panic attack; it lasts too long and it's not nearly that severe. I told my doctor once that instead of panic attacks, I had dread attacks - but really it's "just" anxiety.

The simplest description is that I'm nervous about getting up and moving, but I can't stand the thought of staying where I am (which, in the end, is inside my own skin.) None of it is real; tomorrow I will visit dear friends in a town I really enjoy (but, the anxiety says, you have to go through Airport-Land to get there - don't miss the shuttle bus, don't miss your flight, don't miss the next shuttlebus, your luggage will be too heavy. No, it won't, I won't, everything will be fine.)

And a week (or thereabouts) at a computer conference reminds me that I have neither the brain of a mathematician nor the heart of a programmer.  More and more I think I really need to figure out another way to make a living.

Of course, being almost 50 years old, that's a terrifying thought.

Ah-ha. It's that "not fitting" feeling, I'd bet, that kicked off the anxiety. "These really aren't my people" quickly translates to "I am wrong." A friend of mine used to say that years of depression modifies your brain - where a normal person's brain goes from A to B to C, he would say, our brains go from A to B to fucked up.

There isn't anything wrong with all these computer types; like me, they enjoy solving problems; they're just more into the tools than I am. And there's nothing wrong with the idea that I'm not as into those tools - but I do have to learn to use them well enough to justify the salary I'm earning.

It's nice to know that if I stop and breathe, I can back up from "fucked up" to B, make an adjustment, and continue to C and D and beyond. Just like the rest of you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

If a change is as good as a rest, is a rest as good as a change?

I'm on a business trip - my first in some time. Conferences normally bore me to tears, but I love being in hotels - they're so clean, and it takes no effort on my part at all. Having someone clean up after you is a huge luxury, and one I greatly appreciate.

I always bring along a journal on trips like this one; it's a good time to write, to sift through my concerns, to think about what I've been neglecting and which priorities are out of whack.

Except this time.

Oh, there are things I want to improve - there always are - but I'm exercising and eating right, which is a major change (usually on the top of my "I really need to" list.) Thanks to the conference organizers for providing healthy food choices.

I was thinking earlier about conferences like this one I attended five or six years ago. Then, I was a chain smoker - and a not-exactly-light drinker. I haven't spent any time in the bar at all (which is not to say I've had nothing to drink - I'm just not holding up the bar all night.) I've been taking the stairs as often as possible (several times a day) instead of automatically heading for the elevator - not a minor consideration, as I'm on the 11th floor!. I'm skipping the desserts and the breakfast pastries, and I joined in on a long walk tonight - something I've never done before. (Of course I did treat myself to a piece of raspberry-chocolate cake afterward - still, except for a bar of Dove chocolate, that's my first sweet since Sunday morning.)

Yes, I need to be more cautious with my money, but I know I can do that; I've done it before. And I've treated myself well on this trip - there is a perfumery down the street and I spent freely there - but that's a pleasure that will last a long time.

So I think my next big "push" - along with continuing the improvement in diet and exercise - will be focusing on my home. Just before I left town a friend called; she'd had a horrible fight with her husband, might need a place to stay - could she borrow my apartment? Of course - but I am a horrible housekeeper (I take after my grandmother in that) - I scrambled to clean up but it was a reminder of how much just plain dirt and dust I never even notice. And I want my home to be comfortable and clean. That doesn't mean just vacuumed and dusted; it means doing a job my mother would be satisfied with.

I have no idea whether I'm really up to that; after all, deep cleaning is not something I notice unless I'm having unexpected company. But I'm pleased that so many of the changes I've wanted to make over the years have actually taken place, or are in progress. I am financially much more stable than I used to be. I am living a healthier life (and I was right about one thing - the glucose monitor is a much better stimulus than the scale!)

When I leave this conference, I'm traveling on to visit friends for several days, instead of going directly home. I'm hoping to write more there, without the distractions of work.

This is a rambling post, the effect of two glasses of wine. But I feel good, and I don't think it's just the wine talking.