Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I hit my goal weight!!!

I woke up Sunday morning happier than I have ever been in my entire life. I feel like I am deeply in love with the PERFECT person for me and today I realized why. I HIT MY GOAL WEIGHT!! I have struggled so hard and so long with my weight and the battle is over! Seriously I never thought I'd reach this point but I know now that every diet, every bad day, every pair of pants that made me want to crawl into bed, and every scale or mirror that I accused of being "mean" have all lead me to this perfect point.

I have been made whole. I have MADE MYSELF whole. There is nothing left to fix. It's like when you start dating someone and the person you are dating seems perfect. You can't find a flaw - can't imagine a reason you'll ever break up. And you love every second you spend together, treasuring it like a gift from the Gods. That's how I feel about me.

I don't need to read another book. I don't need to start another diet. I don't need to cry another tear. I have received the gift of myself and I am not going to waste another second. I want to stay up all night on the phone with me. I want to stare lovingly at pictures of myself. I am squeezing every last drop of love into my own arms and now I can only see the perfection.

Every check I write is payable to me (no matter what it says on the "To" line)! Every bit of beauty I notice in others - my stunning mom, gorgeous sisters, friends, roommates, etc - I notice it's all my own beauty. When I meet someone who is smart - I am noticing I am smart. When I see someone (Sally, Heidi!) who is fit and strong and who loves there body - I realize I am fit and strong and I love my body.

And this week - I just can't stop seeing perfection everywhere. Nothing needs to be fixed. I can relax in gratitude and joy. The struggle was worth it. It brought me here. There is no where I'd rather be.

But you are wondering about my goal weight? Well it's the weight I am right now of course, how could it ever be anything else?

Monday, August 09, 2010

100 pounds and a stammer

I don’t remember a day in my life when I wasn’t fat. At 2, I remember hearing adults making wagers on how old I’d be when I'd lose my baby fat. At 9, I remember my grandfather being extremely upset that his calling me “Solid” didn’t offend me. I like the idea of being Solid. What was the alternative? Liquid? He kept explaining it was an insult and jiggled my thighs to make sure I got it. I did.

At 11, I remember being weighed in front of my gym class and feeling like I would die on the spot. I bought my first pair of jeans in an adult size that year – it was a size 9. That was the smallest size I ever was. I didn’t stay in it long and I have never revisited it even at my lowest post-diet weights. In high school, I was a size 12 or 14 and on my 16th birthday I weighed 180 pounds. At 19, I went on my first diet and I lost 100 pounds. In the 18 years since my first diet, I have lost 70-100 pounds 4 times.

My extra weight has been my constant companion, my nemesis, my evil twin, my nightmare. I had good grades, good friends, great jobs, a fun life, AND an extra 100 plus pounds dragging me down. I’ve theorized this extra weight was an attempt at self-sabotage (I’ve got it too good?); of survivor guilt (past life on the Titanic?); to keep people at a distance (why didn’t it work with my ex-husband?) I’ve used logic, extreme exercise, dieting, lifestyle changes, vegetarianism, raw foods, fasting, and a million other things to attack this monster, but each time I lose the weight but not the monster. And I gain the weight back – and then some!

I thought I read everything there was to read on diets, weight loss, and obesity – from medical and policy documents – self help to psychology reviews; but tonight I read a story about a guy with a speech impediment that really hit home.

“I wish I could phone up my thirteen year-old self and tell him that there is no magic wand solution,” wrote 2010 Man Booker Prize finalist David Mitchell (The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (Hodder & Stoughton - Sceptre)). “Here is my big idea,” he continues “stop trying to kill your stammer…Stop seeing it as an enemy to be vanquished: it is an integral part of the process of how you think, perceive other, and process language, and no good ever came of hating an integral part of yourself.”

I’ve heard this general message before… “Love yourself. Love your body.” But never in this way.

“Quite probably,” explains Mitchell “if I could have produced unbroken, effortless sentences like my secretly-envied class-mates, I would never have felt the need to write them down, nor become a writer.”

Did his Booker Prize recognition come, in some way, because he is a stammerer? If so, how could he possibly not feel some gratitude towards the stammer?

Now if I had a choice between being fat or having a stammer, I’d take the speech impediment any day of the week because I don’t feel like society makes big judgments about people with stammers and stutters like they do when you are fat…but OH the evidence Mr. Mitchell produces to dismiss this argument.

Like me, Mitchell was also constantly dismayed at the depth of his efforts and the lack of results. No amount of hard work or will power was able to permanently dislodge the demon. Part of the reason for people being dismissive is what Mitchell calls “The Will-Power Myth.”

“This myth cost me angry years of believing that I stammered because I wasn’t trying hard enough not to stammer…Like a force field, the more will-power you throw at it, the stronger it gets.”

So how could I make my monster into a friend? How could I see the goodness of my dragon and not feel the fire on my neck? Well, to start I guess can admit having extra weight is integral to who I am. Since I have always been overweight – even at my thinnest – there is no way I could be me without having had it as my constant companion. The way I think, perceive others, and interpret the body has all been influenced by my weight.

When you are a stammerer – apparently – you can foresee seconds before you say a word, that it’s coming up… “Oh no!" you might think. "The next sentence is going to have a word that starts with the letter S and I always stutter on that letter!”

When you are fat you learn how to foresee not just seconds, but weeks! How you ask? Well there are embarrassing moments when your body is oversized that you might never guess as a thin or otherwise normally weighted person. I can smell, for instance, a friendship that is likely to include frequent shopping or being in situations where strip poker or skinny dipping is going to be suggested. Now that sense has helped me avoid being uncomfortable; but it has also helped me succeed in marketing because I can play situations out much further than most people – I think they lose interest because they haven’t been motivated to keep playing it out like I have.

When I set up my life to avoid embarrassing moments caused by my weight – it turns out I had a lot of free time to spend in libraries and coffee shops. I find writing fairly effortless and academic research 100 times more enjoyable than a game of touch football. Give me a choice between writing a 20 page paper and going to a rave – I’ll take the paper… ANY day of the week. In part due to my obesity, I have become a voracious reader, a pretty good writer, and an amazing conversationalist. Believe me when I say -- You want me in your book group!

Tonight there is a stunningly gorgeous, interesting, and intelligent professional dancer in my house. I host dancers from a local studio that need a place to stay while they create transcendent art. And do you know why I host? Well, I think a big part of it is generosity. I am a ridiculously open and generous person and that comes from my learned ability to create social situations where I can’t be rejected because of my weight. Friends were never a big part of my parents or sister’s lives – but to me they are central. I have so many rich, deep, and breathtaking friendships and I am so grateful for them. I have close friends in San Francisco, Kazakhstan, England, Spain, Argentina, Australia and beyond. My life is a thick, international tapestry that literally can’t be duplicated.

I have lived most of my life in fear I would be exposed for being fat – which is so ironic of course because it’s pretty hard to cover up when you are over 100 pounds overweight; and yet living in that fear while being unwilling to turn my back on life has turned me into an incredibly resilient person. I am not afraid to speak in public because I walk in public every day – which to me is much scarier.

People are afraid to speak in public because they think they might say something stupid? God! That’s the least of my worries… I face the “death” of public speaking every day by exposing my fat body when I leave my house. And on most days – I face death and survive. On the few occasions I have metaphorically died, I am quickly resurrected. I have learned to pick myself up even when I am rejected or scorned.

I have spent more time in my 20s and 30s working on my spirituality, my body and my soul then most people my age have to. Many people start learning this stuff when they are much older and may feel they have lost time. This huge thing (pun intended) I’ve had to deal with has taught me about living in the moment, creating my reality with my thoughts, goal setting, and many other tools of self-care – some as basic as diet and nutrition – I’m an expert on both. This work has turned me into one of my favorite people. I love time alone with myself. I love learning about myself and I have made serious emotional and time investments into my own growth. I am hopeful the work I have done will be able to help others.

Being fat has given me the need to prove myself and my worth as it has so often made me feel worthless. In my attempts to prove myself I have built a great career, bought 3 wonderful homes, and earned 3 lofty degrees. I’ve read, I’ve written, I’ve achieved. I’ve had my own company since 1994. My own house since 2000 and my own doctorate since 2006. I’ve also earned a share of medals and certificates from triathlons and other athletic competitions.

My ability to plan, my generosity, my resilience, my tool chest of tools for connecting to myself and my motivation for success are all integral parts of myself that I love. I can strive to be a non-fat obese person but I can never not be fat. My fatness isn’t actually good or bad, it’s just me.

As Mitchell says: “Just as you live somewhere, you have to be someone, and as long as your defects, limitations, and handicaps aren’t alienating friends, why shouldn’t they be as valid a set of determinants for who you are and what your vocation is as your gifts?”

Monday, August 02, 2010

Why I Support Adrian Fenty for Mayor

A friend on Twitter whose opinion I respect tremendously tweeted something tonight that surprised me:

roopikarisam: Disappointed that the Washington Post endorsed @Fenty2010 not @grayformayor. Did they miss last week's firing of 200+ DCPS teachers?!

I've talked to lots of teachers (and parents) about the recent firings of teachers rated Fair or Poor. Generally teachers say - yes there may be some bad teachers - heck - maybe even all 241 teachers were bad - but is the process *fair*? Where as parents say - get the bad teachers out FAST and if that means we lose a few good ones in the process - that sucks, but I know people at my private sector job that were great that got fired and shouldn't have - sometimes life isn't fair but I want my kid to have the best shot.

And there is the heart of the matter.... are we ... or rather... is THE STATE ...
A) in the business of education to provide lots of jobs that set the standard for fair labor practices or
B) to provide the most efficient, high quality education it can provide.

As a mom - I vote B.

I've watched as school superintendent after school superintendent failed to improve outcomes in DC schools. It seemed the more experience they had, the slower they would move and the more careful they would be.

Rhee isn't careful - she's bullish - and she's bullish about my son's education. I was a public school kid and as a single mom I can't afford private school but I make far too much to get financial aid. I need the public schools to work and Michelle Rhee has proven to me that she will put her neck on the line to give my son - to give Jesse - the best chance at having a good education in the public system. Will it take me being a helicopter mom and fighting for the best teachers and the best schools - absolutely! But that is much easier to do when the chancellor and I are on the same page. No BS. Bad teachers go. Sorry.

This election is not - as @roopikarisam correctly observed - about Fenty and Gray - it's about Rhee or not... Gray wins... Rhee is replaced and even if the replacement is brilliant - it still means my kid loses as that new person comes up to speed.

Rhee is getting quantifiable results. Losing her would put us right back at the bottom of the stack and it will show that accountability doesn't hold a candle to tenure and frankly that is not what I want Jesse to learn.

I drive around DC and I see lots of yard signs - Fenty/ Gray/Fenty/Gray. This city is split! But for once it's not split between blacks and whites - it's split between parents and non-parents. Non parents proudly put their Gray sign out declaring a) I am sick of so much time and energy going to the schools and b) Why do they keep arrogantly firing hard working people? Parents put them out earnest begging for another 4 years to see if Rhee can turn the schools all the way around as she appears to be doing. All politics is personal and if I didn't have a kid in the public school system maybe I'd get on my pro-labor high horse but I do have a kid and I hope people without kids realize how important turning the DC schools around is for them too.

Anyway that's my two cents. I've asked the soon-to-be Dr. Risam for her input as well as her arguments are always intelligent and illuminating!

More: http://bit.ly/fentyrhee2