So, the food. Yes, the food. The food here is really good. I can’t believe how good food cooked without salt, fat and sugar can taste. I am truly enjoying it all. But because I am choosing to keep to approximately 1200 calories a day, the portion sizes are much smaller than I’m used to. Don’t get me wrong. These are normal portion sizes, the kind nutritionists tell you to eat – for example 4 ounces of protein, in some cases 6. I’m just used to plowing through more than half a rotisserie chicken by myself! Going back for seconds on practically everything. Ordering – and eating – a 12 or even 16-ounce steak.
So when my dad asked me last night on the phone if I’m hungry here, I said the only time I feel hungry is when the plate first arrives and I see just how little is on it…compared to what I’m used to. The truth is I am not hungry. When I finish a meal, my stomach feels full. It’s just that in many cases I’d like to keep eating because what I just ate was so good, I want more of it. But that is entertainment, not nutrition. So am I wildly entertained, the way I am when I feast beyond fullness on Italian food, or Thai food, or ribs, or a burger and fries? Not wildly entertained. But I am starting to feel a little less bloated and a little more optimistic about learning to eat like a healthy human being.
So I deal with the momentary feeling of disappointment that there’s no more to eat. I drink a little more water, or make myself a cup of tea. I have a little more conversation, and before I know it, the feeling has passed. I am fine. No, better than fine. I feel good. Not having seconds or more than my serving didn’t kill me. The pangs were only momentary. And I am headed in a good direction. Cool.
I went hiking today. It was a little hilly in parts but not difficult. It just felt good to be out in the woods, walking a trail, breathing the air, surrounded by the lush, cool green of the mountains.
I have always loved hiking for its meditative and metaphorical qualities. I love the act of doing nothing other than putting one foot in front of the other – again, and again, and again… It’s very easy for me to suspend all other thought when I’m focusing only on whether there’s a branch on the ground that I need to avoid or a rock that looks like it might be unsteady under foot. I love the muffled way things sound in the woods and I always think about the trail as a metaphor for life itself. Sometimes it goes uphill, sometimes down, sometimes there’s an obstacle in your path, or slippery ground, or something kind of scary or surprising nearby (our guide, Janet, who’s also a naturalist, assured us that that snake was NON-poisonous).
The point is sometimes hiking, like life, is easier, sometimes it’s harder, sometimes I feel unsure of my footing, sometimes I’m not comfortable with or even afraid of something I encounter. Sometimes I become a bit bored or impatient to get to the end, or go faster than the group, but as in a meditation where you simply observe your own breathing in and breathing out, I note the responses I’m having then let them pass. No judgment. Just observation. And in the end, keep moving forward.
I weighed myself this morning – for the first time in over a year. I didn’t like what I saw, though I wasn’t entirely surprised at the number, and anyway, I needed to see it – face it, embrace it. It’s only a starting point, nothing else. I’m trying not to beat myself up about it. Tell myself that number, that starting point doesn’t define me. It’s just part of my motivation and resolve to do better now, one day at a time. Glad I’m here to do it.
I took Yoga tonight for the first time in years – a gentle, pre-bedtime Yoga class. I felt overwhelmed with emotion as I bent, stretched, and relaxed my body in a purposeful way, tuned out everything else racing through my head and zeroed in on my breath. And as I listened to the soothing tones of instructor, Laurie’s voice, I found myself overwhelmed by emotion and I couldn’t fight back my tears. What was I crying about?
In that moment, it occurred to me how relieved I felt to be doing something good for myself – not just by doing Yoga, but in coming here to Deerfield altogether and deciding to use the trip to improve my life. I also felt sad – sad about having treated myself so poorly for so long before coming here, sad about short-changing my children by not being the best person and best mom I could be, and by setting such a poor example for them. And finally, I felt a small glimmer of hope that I might finally be able to change my life, head in a constructive direction, and take life’s usual challenges in stride. After a moment, my tears gave way to calm. I naturally slowed down my breathing, filled my lungs with air, and finished the class with a feeling of peace, completely buying into the wonderful affirmation Laurie shared with us. This is what it said:
I am gentle to all beings
I easily forgive myself and others
I am free of fear and anger
I move away from judging to loving
I embrace all, trusting the Divine flow
My heart is pure
Well here I am at Deerfield Spa. My name is Bari. I’m 40-something years old, and I’ve come here to get myself headed back to health. I’m 5’1″, at least 50 pounds overweight, and I haven’t exercised with any regularity in well over a year. Though I know a turn-around of the magnitude I need is a long-term process, I’ve set aside five weeks for a stay here at Deerfield to jump-start my journey. And I’m planning to share it all in this blog. I hope that documenting my progress will both help me stay on track, and maybe even help others who might relate to some of my struggles.
I plan to eat roughly 1200 calories a day and drink tons of water. I figure I gotta lose weight this way… but equally importantly, I want to learn how to eat. I want to break my bad eating habits and get used to better ones. I want to regain a modicum of physical strength and stamina to set the stage for continuing improvements in my fitness and vitality, and most of all, my goal here at Deerfield is to re-set my head!
I want desperately to trade in my hopeless, helpless mindset, the feeling that I’ve dug too deep a hole for myself to climb out of, that I have too many pounds to lose, changing is too hard, too painful, I can’t do it, I’m too weak, and my responsibilities, limitations, and life’s pressures make it impossible for me to do it… What I want most from my six weeks here (well, aside from a better body) is to reclaim an outlook that is positive and strong, to not feel so hungry and tired and beaten all the time, and to set myself on a path back to health and happiness.
So I’ll keep you posted on my progress and I’d love to hear from you. Anything you want to share with me about your own path… suggestions, comments, or questions. I figure I can use all the support I can get, so your comments are welcome any time. Just click on the comment link below and drop me a line. Meanwhile, wish me luck!