Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Irene Branch Theory of Doing Something Different

My mom was a recovering alcoholic, a strong member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and basically a self-taught counselor.  She was actually employed as a counselor for many years by the Texas Tech School of Medicine but didn't have a college degree and had never taken a counseling or psychology class in her life, except for workshops.  She believed strongly in a book called Becoming Naturally Therapeutic by Jacquelyn Small.  And that's what she was - naturally therapeutic.  At least to some people.  To others, she was known as the Big Book Bitch because she called it like she saw it, didn't mince words, and called alcoholics on their denial all the time.

Not being educated in clinical counseling gave her ability to not get stuck in a box about how a counselor was supposed to do things.  I think many of the ideas that she came up with to help people were placed in her head by her Higher Power - since they weren't things that she had been taught in class or had read in theoretical tomes.  Or else she made it all up.

My mom talked about "doing something different" a long time before it became a popular solution-focused therapy strategy.  In fact, my memories of my adolescence are that any time I complained, struggled, feared, felt........ she told me to 'do something different'.  I'm sure she didn't tell me that often, but in my head, it was one of those sayings that my adolescence and young adulthood were peppered with.  Along with....

"Chances are if you're bored, you're boring."
"Don't give a problem to God then take it back."
"Modulate your voice."
"You can tell someone to go to Hell in such a way that they'll want to hurry up and get there."

My mom believed that if one wanted to make a BIG change in their life, one should start out with little changes in their daily routine.  She taught that these little changes would:
(1) serve as a constant reminder of the big change one was trying to make
(2) keep one in a state of awareness of their goal
(3) make "change" less uncomfortable

And she had odd creative ideas about what these little daily changes could be.  I heard her tell people (including myself) to start brushing their teeth with their non-dominant hand, to sleep on a significantly different pillow,  to wear their watch on their other arm,  to dress up everyday/dress down everyday/dress differently every day..............   She had many ideas.

I imagine I sneered every time she told me to do something different.  I think I was pretty much a sneering adolescent and young adult.  And I DEFINITELY didn't do what she suggested.

Until I grew up.  Then, thank God, a lot of my mom's wisdom returned to me.  However, I frequently wonder what helpful hints to navigate life she gave me that never made in far enough in my brain for me to later remember.

Yesterday, on Day One of trying to get my eating (and life) under control again, I took off the rings I wear everyday and put some on that I never wear.  They feel uncomfortable on my fingers and get my attention every time I happen to see my hands.  They remind me of what I'm trying to do.  These rings are like little road signs pointing me in the right direction.

I miss my regular rings.  But I will wear these until I feel more grounded, more centered, and/or weigh 199 pounds.

They are a symbol of how I can do something different in all sorts of ways.  I can choose to not put something in my mouth.  I can choose to get up and move when I want to sit down and veg.  I can choose to blog rather than watch tv.

I have lots of choices and, today, I choose to do something different.

Weight today: 204

Saturday, May 30, 2015

This is Jenn. Little Jenny has been a bad girl. A very bad girl.

This is Jenn.  Little crazy Jenny is been on the loose for the last few days and has made a mess of things.  I now have her stuffed back down inside, sucking her thumb.  It is calorie-free.

All day I've known I needed to write a blog in order to save myself.
Well, that's a little dramatic but there IS a time and place for drama.

I haven't blogged since September.  Since the last time I was here, I've lost over 40 pounds.

However, my goal was to weigh 199 by ------------------------ yesterday, the last day of school.  I actually got down to 200 a couple of weeks ago.  But by this morning, I was back up to 207.

That's not a good sign.  Summer is my hard time of the year.  Most people I know, especially people who work in education, talk about how the school year is difficult for them.  Once summer comes, they are able to make better choices, eat more grilled food and fresh fruit, get more exercise, experience less stress.... and lose weight.

I'm just the opposite.  The predictability and structure of the school year helps me.  I get into a routine.  I stay in town.  I choose one out of three or four breakfast choices all year long.  I take low calorie frozen dinners and fruit for lunch.  Sure, the teachers' lounge can be a dangerous place for me, but for the most part, the school year is easy.

Summer comes and it's "Katy, bar the door"!  I travel, I play, I entertain, I party,  I eat the size of Texas, I have BIG fun, BIG laughs, BIG playtime... and I get BIG.  Its Little Jenny Run Wild.

So, in hopes of keeping things together and not just gaining the weight back - like I have many times before - I need to blog.  I need to be calm, professional, rational, vigilant Jenn.   I need to think.  And analyze.  Little Jenny doesn't analyze.  Or even think, for that matter.  She feels, lives, and plays.  That's about all.

I've learned lessons this year.
1.  I've learned that I really DON'T enjoy eating out of control.  I've actually gotten to where I can be vigilant and conscious enough while I'm out of control to recognize that I'm not having fun or liking myself.  Sometimes - just sometimes - that enables me to stop.  For example, I recently had a Pampered Chef party.  I am an extrovert until I am in a position of actively entertaining others.  Then I shut down and want to go lock myself in my room.  That makes having parties uncomfortable.  And, of course, the discomfort makes me eat.  I sat at the Pampered Chef party with my arm moving between the cheese platter and my mouth like an oil field pump.
And I was VERY conscious that I wasn't liking my behavior.   So conscious that when Barb asked for the cheese and cracker tray (because she KNEW what I was doing), I easily gave it up.

But, I don't always catch myself.  A few days later, I was in charge of a large going away party for my boss.  It was a lot of work and stress.  As an extrovert, I took it on and had fun planning it.  But as I sat in the party surrounded by over 80 people, I turned into my introverted self and started eating.

I ATE EIGHT DESSERTS.  This is after MONTHS of basically NO desserts.  I don't even really LIKE desserts.  But in the space of an hour and a half, I ate three pieces of Baked Alaska (if you've never had it, it's basically cake, ice cream, pie, and cookies all together), two brownies, Key Lime pie, a slice of cheese cake, and a lemon square.

And I didn't feel the self-hate until I got home.

2.  I can delude myself into thinking I'm making OK choices when I'm really screwing up.  Barb and I spent a night last weekend in Albuquerque to relax and shop.  We took healthy snacks to eat in the car.  There was a certain restaurant that we wanted to go to and I made good choices there.  But.... on the way home....... First, I ate the healthy snacks.  That fixed my physical hunger.  We stopped at Sonic because Barb was hungry and I wanted a drink.  I happen to be one of those people who LOVES fast food so Sonic is a dangerous place for me.  (And speaking of that, I know it is cool and trendy to talk about how much one hates fast food.  But if everyone who says they hated fast food REALLY hated it, there wouldn't be a fast food restaurant on every corner.  So I admit that I love it.)

At Sonic, I started to get a dry, grilled chicken sandwich - remember, I wasn't even physically hungry - but I ended up getting a cheeseburger.  Granted, it was a "deluxe Junior burger", but........ I WASN'T HUNGRY!!

That was in Bernalillo.  Those of you who live here know that lunch in Bernalillo does not warrant dinner in Santa Fe.  And guess what we chose in Santa Fe.   Taco Bell.  Barb explained that they have smaller versions of their regular items now.  That's good if you just get one.  One mini burrito is less caloric that one regular size burrito.   But there is a math issue here.

I am very good at adding.  And adding.

But the funny part about being at Taco Bell is how I lied to myself.  Barb and I sat there eating and wondering what a "stuffed nacho" was.   "What do you think that is?"  "Why, I have no idea!"

Oh, come on.  Give me a break, Little Jenny.

Barb:  "If we get one, will you help eat it?"
Me:  "I'll take a bite."

Then, of course, I'm the one who hopped up and went and ordered it.  It's not like I was looking forward to this or anything....

And then I proceeded to tear this HUGE thing called a stuffed nacho in half and stick the whole piece in my mouth all at once.  It was a BIG bite.

We then proceeded to talk about how it wasn't that good and analyze it like we were food critics rather than overeaters.


It wasn't until I got home that I realized that I had been playing games with myself all afternoon - pretending that I was in control and making conscious choices when really I was trying to pull a fast one.    On myself.

I have also developed a theory that Taco Bell puts crack into their soymeat that makes me want to stuff my face and literally roll around in a vat of the stuff.  It's addictive to me.

This last week at school was crazy busy and crazy fun.  In hindsight, I realize I got myself into a pseudo-manic state where I stayed emotionally and physically rev'ed up.

Mind FULL.  Not mindful.     Very different.

Today, I got a hold of myself.  And stuffed busy Little Jenny back down inside.  What I know is that I need to slow down.  Sleep late, lay at the pool, feel the sun, feed my soul rather than feed my self.

That's what I did today.  I cuddled with my dogs until after noon.  I drank water and ate watermelon.  I had a very special senses-filled moment at the pool while I was laying on a bench drying off, listening to the water trickle off the slide like a little waterfall and feeling the sun on my body.  I laid there with my eyes closed and just basked in the feeling.  The only other sound was the sound of children laughing and playing.  When I opened my eyes, all I saw was the sun glistening off the blue water.  It was a perfect moment.  A healing moment.

I need more of those and only I can make sure that I place myself in a position to experience more of those moments.

I'm going to have a great summer.  I'm going to go to Texas, visit friends and relatives, float the river, laugh and play.

But this week before I go, I'm going to rest.  Go slow.  Be quiet.  Do nothing.  Live in the moment.

I think I can get myself back on track if I do that.

Thanks for listening with your eyes.