My Little Voice Needs Nutritional Perspective

I’ve been working with a Dr. in relation to an ongoing struggle with my health and my weight. Today, in discussion with my Dr. following six weeks of regimented foods and cleansing she told me what I should be doing in the next phase. Granted, I lost 31 pounds so something must have worked to allow me to get beyond losing and gaining the same three pounds as I have done the past two or three years. What got me, is when the Dr. started telling me how much I should eat and how I am woefully under eating.

Please, I tell her, look at me and tell me how anyone can say I under eat. The funniest part of this is that the foods I eat ARE healthy and yet I am not getting enough “calories” in and she’s worried. Okay, well. Since I don’t get hungry and I haven’t had a good feeling of hungry for YEARS, how am I supposed to eat more? I seriously am never really hungry and have only eaten socially or in a family setting for years because I literally can go ALL day without eating and not blink twice. For me, it’s a matter of I HAVE to eat.

Just to make it worse, in talking, we discover that I have deep seated thoughts about good and bad food and when I say that I don’t like unhealthy foods I really believe I don’t like them. I also think that my brain has been conditioned to think things like “cream soups and dressings are bad” and it affects what foods actually look appetizing to me. I can’t get my mind wrapped around being told to eat organic butter or ghee because I need fats and calories in my diet when butter screams BAD to me.

The whole point of this is that I am anxious about eating, I am anxious about diets, I am anxious about how to tame the weight giant and actually continue losing. But most of all, I am anxious because I KNOW that she, the Dr., is right but I just can’t wrap my head around eating so many calories without real emotional turmoil and feeling sick. Just to make sure you follow me. I am still overweight and have about 75 pounds to lose so I am not anorexic. I am, however, apparently as we discovered today, really messed up in my relationship with food and diet.

My little voice is really messed up when it comes to diet and health. In fact, my little voice has no idea of perspective about food, nutrition and weight loss. My little voice is a monster sometimes.

How can I reach calm when one of the most basic of needs for a human, nutrition, is causing such great anxiety in me? I have promised to try to follow the plan she has given me. How do I find calm in doing this?

Everything I see in the media, in my little corner of the world and in my household tells me that I need to get a handle on this. My little voice, however, keeps telling me that I am not capable of doing it. Everything out there laughs at me for not being able to deal with this calmly when there are so many big issues in the world that deserve more attention. I will agree there are huge causes out there that are begging for our attention. However, I don’t believe that I should even try to pretend to help someone else when my little voice has so much power.

People will be quick to judge and say “get over it” and even more so, label me as insecure. I say to these people that society has created our insecurities when it comes to our personal bodies. That society has created the issue, but it hasn’t readily offered a solution, just judgement. That society spends a majority of time putting people like me down and calling me weak. That society spends a good deal of time telling people like me that we don’t measure up. Why should it matter to me? I tell myself I do not care and most days I do not. It is my little voice inside me that is judging me that I cannot quiet. My little voice needs to gain some perspective on this path to calm.

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Music Makes It All Feel Okay, Sometimes

Music can have a lot of power over emotions. Some will be inspired to create great works of art, some will be inspired to push harder and sweat more and others will be inspired to relax. Everyone has that song or that music genre that does it for them.

I have to admit my musical taste depends on the day and my mood; which, I’m sure, is the same for many others. I would like to put myself in a lane and choose a genre but it just isn’t to be. When I am at work and need extra energy, I may jam with something up tempo. When I’m at work and I need to concentrate, it will be blues or jazz, etc.

Most recently, my husband found that “ah-ha” moment of searching and found the music that will help me relax enough to go to sleep most nights in a completely dark room. (I still hang on to some of those nights of insomnia regardless.) What is it? They call it “spa” music. The name alone cracks me up most days. I’ve never been to a spa and frankly I am afraid that should I go it would be an utter waste of my time and money. I picture the spa staff trying to get me to relax and myself lying there analyzing everything with my thoughts going a mile a minute regardless of the music that would be playing there.

See, that’s the struggle for me. I can feel really great listening to certain music but that alone will not make me feel okay. I have to pair that music with some sort of outside world block to be alone with my thoughts and the music. Sometimes it is a closed door, other times a dark room and most often, a set of headphones. It seems only then, for just a little while, the thoughts start to become less important and the emotional soothing will take over and I feel okay.

Short lived that it is, it is a little ray of hope. I can sometimes find a place where I can start to feel calm and when that happens I can feel for a little while the power of letting go. Let’s not over analyze it right now. Let me just relish the small feeling of breakthrough and listen to some music.

The Garden of Calm

There is nothing so calming for me as being in the garden.   I went to my little garden knowing the work that needed to be done and dreading the hot sun and the physicality of the work.  I could only see how much more there was that needed doing today.

There are so many things that I feel I must do all the time; so many things that need doing.  The list is endless and anxiety grows as I think of everything that must be done.  And so I began thinking, how quickly can I get this gardening done?

And then, I dug in the warm earth and felt the coolness below.  I felt the warm sun beating on my head and took in the smell of the rich soil.  And suddenly, the anxiety and the list faded.  This felt right and comfortable and just where I needed to be right then.

I have read often of the need to be “in the moment” and I have wished over and over to learn how to do just that.  Many have recommended meditation but I have always lacked the skills to slow it down and not think.  But this gardening, this being close to the earth, smelling and feeling it; this gave me some amount of calm and for just a little while, I believe I was truly in the moment.  And it felt good there in that garden of calm.

The Deck is Stacked but I’m Going to Shuffle It

So, right about now is when I should be clear about what I’m facing in my search for the quiet and the calm. In order to put the whole journey into perspective, I need to acknowledge the hand I’ve been dealt and search for ways to minimize the limitations and maximize the abilities. I believe all success in life starts with honesty with self.

For many years, I struggled with feeling like I did not belong at home, in school and in my community. I always felt that I was looking at things from the outside in. I had a constant script going on in my head and there was no way to shut off the barrage of thoughts that at times made no sense and to the outside observer had no flow.

Added to this was the varying degrees of pain that I woke up with day after day. Every day, something hurt, something burned or something just didn’t feel right. Those feelings worked at me; limiting what I felt I could physically do each day.

Throughout my life, I have refused to simply accept what I’m told and have always searched for explanations to things that I could not make fit with what I knew or believed. After some time I received those explanations; ADHD and Fibromyalgia seemed like a bad hand to be dealt. But at least I could make a plan.

My plan served me well through muddled relationships, a couple of children and eventually two college degrees. But through it all no matter the solutions I tried, I struggled with the constant barrage of thoughts and shiny things. I just couldn’t turn off. I ended up with chronic insomnia, stress related headaches and various other things that tried to limit me and only added to the physical exhaustion I often felt.

I have decided that where I am is not the end of my journey. I won’t settle for things as they are. I still dream of the power of calm.

Here I am with a deck full of reasons for why I should give up. Each new card I get dealt is just one more thing that could limit me or hold me back from the calm I seek. I could take the easy road and retreat, surrendering to the hand I hold and accepting that the deck is stacked. I say, however, hand me the deck because I’m going to shuffle it.

Learning Calm from a Book?

I stopped at the bookstore last night. I didn’t intend to stop there when I headed to the city to visit a specialty store for much needed supplies; it just so happened the parking lot of the bookstore was right across the intersection from the exit of my specialty store. And so I made the stop.

I have been curious to see what the experts have to say about my quest for calm and while I enjoy electronic books and magazines, nothing beats the look, feel and smell of a book in my hands. Of course, for me, the best part of seeing the book in person is to thumb through the whole book and not just the excerpts and freebies you get shopping online.

The bookstore has an entire section of “self-help” books penned by various authors of varying degrees of knowledge and experience. The range of subjects that fit “self-help” was quite diverse. In fact, the section was so diverse and so filled with options I was overwhelmed.

I weeded my search down to books that dealt with subjects of reducing anxiety and relaxing. Even then, the choices were considerable. I thumbed through a few selections and found that many of them were filled with lists of how to be less anxious, steps to begin relaxing, exercises to reduce anxiety, etc. The more I looked the more anxious and less relaxed I got.

I could see myself getting one of these books with these plans, starting it and then berating myself for not following the plan just so. I could also see myself questioning whether I was doing it right. I was getting anxious about how to live up to the expectations and plans of some author I hadn’t met in order to figure out how I could learn to relax and hopefully learn to be calm.

And then it dawned on me; you can’t learn calm from a book. You actually can’t learn how to be calm from anyone other than you. All of these books, these authors, these experts were simply talking about generalized plans and ideas. None of these books could be anything more than general ideas and inspirations for my own journey to calm.

We are all unique individuals, like snowflakes, none of us are exactly the same. There is no way a book is going to teach any of us exactly how to address our own personal thoughts, feelings and responses to the world around us. A book can give you an idea, but you must learn on your own journey what calm is for you.

I know you are wondering whether I bought a book. Yes, I did buy a book, but it wasn’t one of those “self-help” books with a plan. I bought a philosophical book that didn’t offer any steps, any day by day exercises, etc. In fact, I’m not sure it will contain anything remotely relevant to learning how to be calm. And I am at peace with that.

Does a Church Community Fit with Calm?

At one time I was an active member of a church community and thought it was the best way to get a sense of balance in my life. Throughout that time, I never really felt that I found that calm, that sense of being able to turn it off. If anything, that church community became another area of responsibility and it held no stillness or rest for me.

Throughout the past few months, my husband and I have been talking about returning to regular church attendance. He is transplanted and hasn’t found a solid base of relationships to thrive in. Having grown up in a family centered in the church, he feels a pull and I can’t blame him for that.

I’m a recluse at times, perfectly happy to withdraw from the societal responsibilities of active friendships and relationships. I’ve had some fairly negative relationships in my life; relationships that have been draining both financially and emotionally. It seems that my very nature is to give of myself to everyone around me until I have no recourse for rest having been saddled with these responsibilities that I let invade my life.

Today we attended the church that I was once an active part of. It was nice to see the old faces, to feel the belonging and the feeling of community. My husband wants to go back and I understand his pull. This I will try for him.

Today was one day, less than two hours. At the heart of most churches is a community and need to engage the members for the mission of the church and the good that the church hopes to do. Will I be drawn back into the community of the church and will it deter me from my quest for rest and calm? Will I be able to balance the church community with learning to turn off and rest?

Deciding the Best Course

In acknowledgement of the need to be calm and to learn to turn off, I took a step back to figure out if a commitment to something new such as this blog is truly in step with my desire. Powerless I started, and through self reflection determined that bottling up the thoughts and inner musings of this journey is counterproductive in learning to be calm. How does one remain calm when holding on to things internally, mulling them over, chewing and digesting them over and over? In order to let go, often, things need to be let out first.

Facing that truth, I stared down the fact that I must learn to let things out. In my world, that means not only sharing the good news but complaining about the bad in all of the ugliness that it is. And therein lies the dilemma of moving forward.

In the world I grew up in, we were taught that complaining is not a feature people most admire. Complaining was whining and it just wasn’t allowed. We learned early to hold things in and keep from bothering others with the little things. Only the older adults were allowed to complain about anything and that was only among themselves and their friends. I haven’t quite hit the age, or feel like I have hit the age, where I’m allowed to complain so just how to let it out?

I thought and thought about this and took some time figuring out the next step. (Okay, almost a month.) I’m a thinker, an analyzer, by nature. I’m also a perfectionist; which means that I must always express myself in just the “right way” and in the the correct, scheduled and planned manner most acceptable to my inner critic.

All of that thought and agonizing led me to this truth; nothing starts until you start it and nothing in this life will ever be perfect for the imperfect humans that we are. Agonizing and editing myself only takes me further from the journey to calm. There is power in calm, but I think there is a whole lot of work and imperfect attempts to get it that lead up to that calm.

It is time to start the work. It won’t be perfect. I won’t beat myself up if I go days without a visit or another musing. I won’t delete all my former posts and start over. I will take what comes, good and bad and work for the calm.