Last December, Claudia & I made the F*ing Agreement. A 'gentlewomen's' agreement to just be aware of what we were eating and do the best we can. Not to be perfect, not to abstain from any holiday goodies that we really wanted. Just to make sure that we were not mindlessly eating anything and everything in sight.
This month, we were joined by Beth, Vennie, and Angie. The rules were simple. There are no rules. We just have to intend to do the best we can in pursuing healthy eating habits. Period. Again, no pressure, no perfection in attitude or action required. We can be as vocal or as quiet as we want about our progress, and no confessions required.
In posting on our F*ing Agreement blog (anybody can read it, but only we can post or comment), I wondered about my own weight issues and intentions. On New Year's Eve at Richard's suggestion, I took a final weight of myself for the year. 155. Exactly the same as I rang the year in at. I even e-mailed him about it, considering the year a wash. Given how sick I've been, the kind of medications that have been pumped into me, and the lack of exercise, I did admirably well.
But then something happened. My doctors finally identified some of what ails me. Bacterial infections times three. They prescribed a whole host of antibiotics, and I started to feel a little better. Enough to start putting in appearances at Slimmons, even as I am not up to exercising at a normalized rate.
Going back - especially with a clearer head than I've had in a long time - was a sureal experience. Aside from the head trip, it was hard to look at myself in the full length mirrors. When you're at home alone as I've been for the better part of a year, your brain adjusts for what you see in the mirror. (That's how I could look at myself at 350 plus pounds and not feel fat.) Although my clothes were getting tighter, the scale told me that my weight was remaining the same. An unbiased opinion, if ever there were one. So I attributed the clothing issue to a changing shape due to inactivity. A reasonable assumption.
But the person standing in the mirror staring at me at Slimmons didn't seem to be just a victim of being out of shape. I looked decidedly larger. For the first time, I had what formerly were weight peers standing next to me in the same mirror, and they now looked smaller than I am. But the scale still said that I hadn't gained weight! Oy! It was the only objective criteria I had to judge my place in the world. Had it perhaps gotten too old, gone bad? Did I need to replace it? Or was the issue in my head?
Well, over the past 10 days as my symptoms have not completely abated, but have become less and less, the scale has started telling me different numbers. First 155... then 156, 157, 158, and 159. No, I don't think I've gained 4 pounds of fat in the past week-and-a-half. But I do think that I am not as dehydrated. And that I have also established a more normal - ahem, for lack of a better and more discreet term - gut weight.
I have mixed feelings about this. Of course. I feel much better knowing that what I was seeing in a group setting was not just in my head. But who wants to gain weight or have to acknowledge doing so? Certainly not me!
Now is a time of reflection on what I've done in the past year. For much of it, I was too weak to market, cook, and prepare healthy meals. I was "victim" of either what was supplied to me, or in absence of help, what could easily be grabbed and eaten as it was. And not kill my system. Frozen meals. Bread. Fruit & cheese & crackers. To my credit, I never fell into the restaurant delivery or fast food cycle. That's why I don't weigh substantially more than I do. But I weigh enough.
How much of the weight gain was due to circumstances? How much because I was just-plain too lazy to cook? I started a familiar cycle of self-flagulation as I analyzed what I had done and where I am at.
* * *
Last Saturday, I started feeling "funny." Not bad funny... just different. Rather than having no steam at all, I suddenly found a small amount of reserve energy, and that culminated in me purging my refrigerator yesterday, going to the Farmer's Market - Trader Joe's - Gelsons to restock, and picking up an old habit. Immediately preparing the food upon getting home. And making a subtantially healthy meal for dinner than I was used to... salmon w/ tomato, red pepper, green onion, & parsley wrapped in filo dough that was brushed with a balsamic vinegrette (on the inside), and a mixed salad. An apple later for dessert.
I also made enough salad to last several days, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and made up some cous cous as reserve. Defrosted a couple of chicken breasts which I will grill tonight and then cube in preparation for use in either salads or soup.
As I went about this business, I thought about the foods that I had removed from the 'fridge earlier in the day. Multiples of the same vegetables in varying states of decay. Eggplant. Broccoli, mixed greens, tomatoes. All sorts of other horrible looking science experiments.
I've had the energy to get through the market for about the last month or so... but then didn't have the reserve to do anything with what I bought once I got home. And so fell into old habits. But one of the noteworthy things that I discovered was that I had not stockpiled junk. Just healthy choices. Clearly my intentions were good and some habits were still in place, even as my mind and body were not clear.
I've decided to forgive myself for what's happened in the last twelve months and move on. My refrigerator is looking really good now. Not only did I get all the way through yesterday evening before my body failed and I needed to lay in bed, but I've been up-and-about for a good portion of today too. I think the medicine is working.
As my health improves, I have pledged to myself to work on my feeding-myself skills and fall back into the mindset of automatically having good choices available to eat.
Do I think that I am responsible for my weight gain, or was I the victim of circumstances? I honestly don't know. In the end, does it really matter?
It is what it is and I will just deal with it.