Thursday, July 15, 2010

Freeing Myself From Comfort to Sit With Discomfort

I've been thinking about how easy it is to fall into being comfortable with being obese. You just kind of lose touch with yourself--stop looking too closely in the mirror, keep wearing slightly too large clothes, don't see others besides your usual companions, and basically stick with the routines that keep you from having to face yourself.

And then something happens like it happened to me last week that suddenly snatches you out of that comfortable routine, bumping you rudely across some reality checks, like:

  • You get on a plane and realize you've forgotten your personal seat belt extender and sit through the flight with your seat belt unbuckled because you've already asked for one twice from the flight attendant and none of them seem to notice you're unrestrained, which leaves you feeling invisible (but still huge and ugly). 
  • You can't pick up the pen you dropped on the floor while you're in a seated position.
  • You see yourself reflected in the elevator door behind other women and realize your shoulders are at least half again as broad as theirs, like they are women and you are some other species.
  • You wake up with heartburn so bad that you have to get out of bed and sit in a chair until it goes away.
  • You realize you can't keep up with a friend who you used to leave in the dust when you walked together.
  • You're working on a program to help others get healthy and you're desperate to claim the good feelings you promise them.
And then, you think about what you have to do to leave these esteem-crushing feelings behind, and it dawns on you that leaving the comfort means needing to face some uncomfortable situations, like:

  • Not reaching for your standard breakfast cereal that you tend to overindulge in
  • Sitting and waiting for your slow-eating husband to take his next bite because you're determined to not finish your meal before he's half way through like you usually do, so you're pacing him (it took him 3 minutes, I watched the clock)
  • Stopping eating before you feel totally "full"
  • Drinking water when you feel hungry instead of eating whatever you can get
  • Climbing the stairs in the office even though you know you'll arrive at your next meeting slightly breathless and people may notice
  • Taking the time to plan and shop for healthy meals over the weekend even though it feels like you're stealing time away from more "relaxing things"
  • Pausing to monitor calories and fat grams before you put them in your mouth and adjusting as necessary to stay within healthy limits
  • Stop avoiding exercises that you fear might make your knees hurt and try them, slowly. . .
Once again, I think about what we learned as we trained our GoldenDoodle, Yeats. Our trainer, Wendy, told us we had to help Yeats learn to get through feelings of frustration so she would learn she couldn't always have what she wanted and would learn to respond to our "commands."

If Yeats was acting out on the leash, we were supposed to pick her up and hold her until she became completely relaxed. (This was long before she weighed 50 lbs!) The key was not get frustrated ourselves. Just to breathe, hold her, let her fidget, until she quieted and calmed down, and not to put her down until she did. Wow. What a lesson for a little puppy.

Now I have to do that for myself. It's really tempting to avoid the frustration all together.

It might help me to picture my acting out as embarrassing and frightening as our "Cujo" puppy was on the leash --imagine myself as a "mad" dog that needs to relax through her frustration to become a sweeter, more socialized being on the other side of it.

Wow. What a lesson for a 47 year old fat woman.


  1. Just found your blog; me likey! I just re-opened mine up.

    Will stay in touch; good luck! :)

  2. BTW - I love the music! Great post. I don't think enough people talk about the frustration of this journey.

    What helped me deal with the frustration was dealing with everything in small, baby steps and not thinking about ALL the things that needed to change. If I was concentrating on the one next thing, it kept the potential for frustration to a minimum.

    Have a wonderful, non-frustrating weekend!


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