Bilbo and Me, trying to get to the Smoky Mountain

jake

Imagine, a young father playing basketball with his buddies on a Sunday in the gym, joking around, slapping each others butts, (because, help us, that’s what they do!) Sweat is rolling down his face. Call him Jake. He’s heavier after three kids, but he’s trying to lose the baby weight. His wife has to wear earplugs to sleep, he sounds so loud in their bed. Jake has been playing hard for about thirty minutes. He’s feeling good. He never lost his touch. He’s with his same buddies from high school. They stay in contact. They’ve got each other’s backs. They’re running down the court. He’s guarding Tom and everyone’s diverted, running, heaving and breathing hard. Tom makes the shot and they’re all slapping each other’s butts. They are throwing the ball back into play and someone laughs at Jake. “Hey Jake! Get up!”

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a leading cause of early heart attack.

I wrote this out in what may seem almost tasteless detail only because this is how it happens. I wish it didn’t and I want it to stop. It is as horrible as you imagine. Jake dies. His wife and gorgeous kids are left to live life without his laughter and counsel and noisy snoring that his wife would do anything to have again. Jake’s community is man-down. Obstructive sleep apnea is a deadly sleep disorder.

CPAP is 99% effective when used to treat OSA. It works. It is just not always the easiest treatment to tolerate for many reasons. But it is worth fighting for. The fight for CPAP might look something like multiple visits to your primary care practitioner to get that referral to go through to your sleep lab. A referral is made, and silence, then made again, silence, then finally by the third or fifth try, it goes through. Or multiple visits to your sleep specialist, exchanging one sleep mask after another and then another until you finally find one that keeps a good seal on your face through the night. There are truly a mountain of barriers to compliance that you will trek across, more barriers than Bilbo encountered heading toward Smaug, and you’ll need as much courage.

Keep on!

Questions: To start with, how is your breathing, or your loved one’s? Did you know that you might have to walk such a circuitous trail toward being your own friend? Who else will do this for you?

Self-Care Tip: When you are deflected, when you get stuck in the moment of loss, pull back into the big picture. You are your own friend and it starts with Me.

Tell us, What is the the long and short of being your own friend?

Sarah
That’s a really, really good question. At first, the hardest part was mourning part of my old lifestyle. I knew I was giving up some things—not just certain foods, but certain hobbies and ways of being (i.e. sleeping as late as the children and not exercising, baking, a coffee culture, social eating, and making excuses). My best friend put it to me this way: “You cannot be a SAHM who bakes as a hobby and not expect to gain weight.” Boom.It was also hard to get into the mindset of daily weighings and—gasp—being accountable. I had to learn calories for various foods and proper portioning. Not a lot of food it felt like at first…but after a few months, a surprising amount of food if I chose to eat veggies and to eat clean.The hardest part mid-way through was a distancing of a person close to me who is very, very much into the food culture and who knows that she is overweight. We used to be into food and overweight together. The distance partly comes from this person and partly from me. Food used to be a major shared interest…and now it isn’t. Now I think we wonder what we both still have in common… But I view food as being like a drug, at least for me. It is fine in medicinal doses, but it is like being a recovering addict in many ways. I’ve had to switch cultures, to keep my mind on the right track. This person isn’t ready to make this journey. I don’t judge that: she’s just not ready. I try not to take our mutual distancing personally, and we’re still friendly.

Right now, I am struggling to switch my mindset from “losing weight” to “maintaining weight.” In some ways, it is easier for me to be in a “losing weight” mindset than it is to be in a “maintaining weight” mindset…if that makes sense. Long term, I am scared of losing control over myself again. There is part of me that knows I won’t, because I have educated myself now about food and calories. The documentary Forks Over Knives has been huge for me, as well. But part of me knows the potential is there for a relapse, and I live with that every time I come downstairs to do dishes and feel the tug of my past late-night snacking habit.

The challenge long term is also to keep goals ahead of me. I do best when I have something to work for. I met my weight goal, but now what? I have been thinking about focusing on strength now, and performance. I have to stay hungry for achievement, versus being hungry for food.

Questions:  How about you? What have you found to be the biggest challenges long and short-term?  Please tell us, also, what is your story.  We need to hear.

Sarah McGhaugh is the auther of blog, birdinyourhand, where she describes herself as, “a teacher, entertainer, four star general, and nurse: in other words, a mom.”  Too cute!  She is also my friend :).  Thank you Sarah for engaging with us.  Keep on.

 

Purposefully Harness The Power of Social Influence

A piece of chocolate candy.

Image via Wikipedia

Hello Friends.

I’m starting the 4-week detox for sugar addicts.

I know I’m more empowered with your company, so join in if interested.  And because it is friendly to you/Me too, spread this around to others.

(#Obesity – Abstract of article: social influence affect #weight loss http://bit.ly/xn1Bjq #selfcare #community #service.)

This is my list of reasons re: my choice today as part of step 1:

Reasons why I am cutting back on sugar

  • inflammation,
  • clarity of thought and subsequent depth of experience,
  • #obesity and related illnesses (comorbidities,)
  • appearance and social stigma,
  • social influence,
  • self-esteem,
  • quality of life and
  • longevity

If you choose to participate, and are interested in what the power of social influence can do for you, please post your own reasons here.

Looking forward to connecting with you. Keep on.

Self-Care Tip – Deliberately and purposefully harness the power of social influence in becoming a friend to yourself.

Self-care is Not Selfish But You Might Feel Alone

Social circles of Influence

Many times I feel like a stranger because I don’t want to do what they want.  

Pilot was perplexed and sad. 

This is familiar to me.  There are lots of these times.  When I was a kid I didn’t know to call feeling like a stranger, “normal.”  I didn’t know I wasn’t alone.  I thought feeling like a stranger was qualified bad.  In the older Me, part of Me knows.  The rest of Me is conflicted.

Talking about self-care is like that sometimes.  I don’t know yet how to consistently teach others without hurting them.  

Self-care is not selfish, I say, but it doesn’t make sense.  

They hear me and the long anticipated enemy they knew would come suddenly wears my face and uses my mouth and voice.  People look at me in horror.  I watch their faces blanch and despair, as if they know they are holding a fork and knife to defend against magic and they will die a martyr’s death.  

No.  It’s not like that, I say.  

But they don’t hear more.  They crouch in a thicket.

Researcher, Jennifer Walters, describes how social influences such as team-based competition leads to a healthier BMI (basal metabolic index) and weight loss.  We may say, “Um, yah!?!” as if everyone knows that from Biggest Loser.  But just like holding an apple looks like crunchy food to Mary, John see’s a projectile.

It must be researched.  It must be said.

We don’t believe that taking care of Me is selfless.  We are scared.  To love ourselves means being alone and feeling the stranger.  Taking care of others “first” intuitively tells us that we are connected and right. This is a distortion.

I argue that this intuition to care for others first is not our friend.  The intuition to care for others first is not friendly when it is driven by fear of being alone, fear of being the stranger.   At some point in the timeline of selflessness to selfishness we find that we cannot.  We have ruined and thereafter cannot care, serve or do much for anyone but take. Now we, without getting consent from those same others, are in a place of being served.  We didn’t ask our loved one(s.) 

Would you like to take care of my wasted self?

We didn’t ask if it was ok with them that they be put in the position of now being our own caregivers. To answer their wants before our needs is a trick on them, an exchange for us taking care of them now for them taking care of our needs later when we cannot.  But we didn’t ask. We didn’t make a transparent negotiation.  If they knew we were taking care of their wants before our needs or wants, if we knew, would we un-crouch, step out, hear and consider?  However, we responded before we felt alone.  We gave before we felt the stranger.  We didn’t ask, we didn’t consider and now we cannot.

Growing healthy involves the sometimes happy journey towards a knowing that giving to self long enough becomes someone who gives to others; long enough a stranger to grow familiar.  And it isn’t selfish.

Caregiving for others starts with caregiving for Me.

Question:  How does becoming your own friend separate you from those you want close?  How do you survive feeling alone long enough to know that you are not?  When the stranger becomes familiar, does it make that time and difficulty worthwhile?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip – Remember, self-care is not selfish, even when you feel alone.

Supercharge Your Life Purpose

SERVE

Image by elycefeliz via Flickr

Going back to basics is one of the best tours of life. It is exactly how to supercharge our life purpose.

Truth is, we’ve been in this polite exchange between serving others and serving ourselves for the past year. It’s been nice but we are smarter now.

We all agree that “living to serve Me” sounds like a two year-old. We all agree that “living to serve others” sounds like pleasuring a martyr’s stake. Perhaps, as wise Solomon said, there is a time for everything, but most of our time is best spent where we will get our highest yield. I think of that place like a sphere, whose constitution are our basics.

Our basics are all about the wonderland of our biopsychosocial selves and including temperament.

Just as with “all” extremes, the truth is a bit of both. None of us can abandon our need (Me) to self-serve. None of us can abandon our need (Me) to serve others. The commonality in both is Me. Everything starts and ends with Me and that is our sphere’s constitution.

To review some of this, I jotted down:

health

medical illnesses including brain
hungry
tired

things we are doing to ourselves

sleep hygiene
addictive and decadently enticing exercise
food journaling
daily weigh-in’s
victim role
accountability to Me, and including Higher Power
starting over, and over, and over
community

things being done to you

natural disasters
assault/abuse
stigma
environmental milieu
the biopsychosocial condition of those we choose to be connected with

Don’t let this get past basic. If the list bugs you, throw it out. If it’s too long, shorten it.

Self-Care Tip – Supercharge your life purpose by getting at your basic needs

Questions: What constitutes your sphere of “best self?” How did you come to that? How would you describe it to someone who doesn’t understand? Please tell us your story.

One Woman’s Struggle To Shed Weight, And Shame

Joana Johnson, from CreatingBrains.com, found the following story on the NPR iPhone App:
http://www.npr.org/2011/07/25/138606501/one-womans-struggle-to-shed-weight-and-shame?sc=17&f=1001

One Woman’s Struggle To Shed Weight, And Shame

by Tovia Smith

Part of an ongoing series on obesity in America.

In her 37 years, Kara Curtis has seen every dress size from 26 to 6. Looking through old photos, in her slimmer days, you see a young girl standing tall and pretty in her tiara as high school prom queen, and strong and lean in team shots of her track and swim teams.

Growing up in rural upstate New York, Curtis and her family were totally into fitness and nutrition. Her mom used to send her to school with a lunchbox packed with liverwurst on homemade whole-wheat pita, topped with sprouts grown in their kitchen cabinet. It kind of makes sense, Curtis says, that she went a bit crazy for chocolate and cheesy stuff when she was finally living out on her own. But it still took her by surprise after college when she gained nearly 100 pounds in a year.

“I remember the first time I ever heard myself called obese — it was terrible,” Curtis recalls. She was at her doctor’s for a regular check up when he started dictating notes in front of her, describing her as “an obese 22-year-old.” “I was just shocked to hear the word obese related to me.” Curtis says.

No Easy Solution

Fifteen years, countless failed diets and another 100 pounds later, “and now I’m morbidly obese,” Curtis says. “And it’s just overwhelming.”

Indeed, as one of the 70 million Americans who are obese, Curtis has watched her weight become the overriding fact of her life. It’s why she put off buying a new car, and stuck with a less-than-fulfilling job (she worried her size would limit her options.) It’s why she bought a custom-made bathrobe and porch swing and why she can’t comfortably go to the movies or get on a bike or in a boat.

“I love to kayak, but I haven’t been in years because I’m afraid my hips will get stuck,” she says.

At 300 pounds, every day is a struggle with the little things — like chafing on her inner thighs or tying her shoes — and with the biggies — like love. With bright eyes and high cheekbones, Curtis is as pretty as she is engaging and witty. And she’s into kids and family, but totally down on the idea of ever getting back into dating.

“It’s not like I can just fix myself and be done,” she says. “If you lose the weight, you’re still stuck with the stretch marks and the extra skin, and the toll you’ve taken on your body already. And I’m probably still not going to be excited about getting naked with somebody.”

She has poured all her energy and untold resources into trying to get fit. But it’s hard to stay motivated, Curtis says, when the challenge begins to look not just difficult, but impossible.

“Really, if there was an easy solution, Oprah would have bought it,” she says.

Many Factors

There is little that Curtis hasn’t tried. Making breakfast one day — a pureed concoction of hemp and rice protein, coconut milk and avocado — she recalls the gamut: macrobiotic diets, Weight Watchers, Overeaters Anonymous, acupuncture, aerobics, meditation, therapy and all kinds of exercise — from punishing pre-dawn runs to what she calls more “joyful movement.”

She starts most days with a vigorous hour-long walk, escorting a group of neighborhood toddlers to their day care. Pulling several kids piled into a big red wagon, she breaks into a sweat just minutes into the mile-long trip. Several times a week, she sweats through a rigorous dance or yoga class.

But sitting down later to a lunch of a squash soup, Curtis concedes that what she really needs is not to burn more calories but to eat less. And yet every time she tries to diet, she ends up binging.

“This is not a simple thing,” she sighs. “There are genetic components. I mean, I look just like [my] grandmother and my aunts.” Looking back, Curtis says, she has battled serious food addiction and body image issues since she was a little girl. “Clearly, there is this piece that is programmed in.”

But it’s not the only piece, Curtis says.

She’s as conflicted about what’s behind her obesity and how to deal with it as society seems to be.

One minute she’s sympathetic and cutting herself slack, and one breath later, she’s beating herself up.

“It’s a very schizophrenic relationship we have with obesity,” Curtis says. “I understand it as addiction, but then there’s also this other piece of me that knows that there is a lack of willingness on my part. So really, who’s to blame for that? Me!”

But another moment later, Curtis will pivot again: It can’t be all her fault, she says. Those who make and serve or sell really unhealthy food also have a role to play.

Walking through her local grocery store, she points out the junk food that lies, like a trap, right inside the front door while the healthy foods section is at the far corner of the store.

“It would be really hard to walk out of here without something with sugar on it,” she says. And once she starts, “I’m never going to eat just one cookie. And there are times recently where I’ve eaten most of a box.”

The Personal As Political

What’s brutal, Curtis says, is that your failure is out there for everyone to see and judge. So, for example, at the checkout, she says, “There will be that moment of being like ‘Oh my gosh, I have ice cream on my conveyor belt.’ Like there is that pint sitting there. And I catch someone checking me out, like I shouldn’t be doing that.”

It’s the same kind of glares she gets on an airplane. These days, Curtis says, it’s like her personal problem has become political.

“Now, it’s not just like ‘You’re fat and I feel sorry for you.’ It’s like ‘You’re fat and that’s taking a toll on my life. You’re burning more fossil fuels, you’re raising health care costs.’ It’s more vigilante. It’s more harsh.”

And that tends to be counterproductive, Curtis says. It just ends up making her feel bad — and eat more. But she’s working hard to get past it. It was a huge step for example, to go on NPR and talk about being fat. It’s taken a long time, but she’s begun to measure progress by more than just her dress size.

“I’m really proud of myself for being honest about my situation,” she says, fighting back tears. “I feel like it was gutsy to come on and say this is what I struggle with, and I want it to stop.”

It’s all part of a very uneasy paradox, Curtis says. She’s got to accept herself and her body, even as she’s desperately trying to change it.

“There were periods of time when I used to hang skinny pictures of myself up on my fridge,” she says. “But that was brutal and mean. And I don’t want to be brutal and mean to myself.”

Curtis says she had a huge breakthrough recently, when she came out of the shower and caught a reflection of herself in the glass door.

“It was the first time that I’d seen that body and not been horrified,” she says. “It was not like I don’t want this to change, but it was just about standing there and seeing the entirety of my shape — and still feel loving toward it.

Curtis actually took a picture of her reflection, and she still looks at it, almost giddy with hope, that she might finally be on the way to shedding her excess weight by shedding the shame that surrounds it. But on the other hand she adds softly, “I’m also at the highest weight I’ve ever been, so that might be complete delusion.” [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

Don’t Run Away. You Might Fall In Love With Your Flaws.

DSC03321

Empower yourself by going towards what scares you.  Take it to the table and be with it.  Get to know it and openly share company with it.

Opal was throwing up.  She threw up more when she gained weight or felt fat.  Throwing up didn’t help her lose weight.  It was just a tool she had to deal with it all.  Opal was told often not to worry about her weight.  Told, she looked fine and not to weigh herself.  No one said openly, “Opal, you’ve gained weight and you’re going to get other illnesses because of it if it keeps going.”  They were afraid saying anything like that would make her throw up.  Hm.

What do you say?

We remember the three things that help maintain long-term weight loss.  Well one of the main reasons they work is because they help keep us present with “the problem” or “fear” or “shame” or however we name it.  Our natural instinct is to go away from fear but this is another example of when we don’t get help following our instincts.

What empowers Opal is to get tools to contend with her struggle with obesity.  It is probably a life-er for her and oh-well!  We can love our flaws better if we stop running from them and grow our skills in living with them in a friendly way.

Get empowered with whatever you are afraid of in yourself.  If you can’t do what you need to do to be in the place of that fear, it may be that you have a medical illness keeping you from coping better.  It doesn’t mean you’ve failed.  Staying with your journey, even to taking medication, even to naming brain illness in your life is so courageous.  You become one of the great ones.  Heroic.  It is so much easier to disconnect and lose our opportunity to love our flaws.

Have you ever heard someone call their life-er, “my old friend?”  Maybe it is arthritis?  Or recurring cancer?  Maybe it is brain disease.  Some day, we will also name our own, “my old friend.”  And we, with Opal, will mean it.

Self-Care Tip – Empower yourself by your presence.

Questions:  How do you do what is friendly to yourself when your instincts tell you not to?  What has that done for you?  Please tell us your story.