DAY TWELVE


accept what i cannot change

I’m in my happy place.  The weather is turning warmer and I have shredded my heavy winter coat for my light spring jacket. I’m thinking about pedicures and flip flops and, even though there is still snow blanketing the grass, I know there will be flowers blooming in weeks. My forsythia will be golden and my lilacs will be fragrant. Spring is in the air and it is boosting me up. I’m hopeful, as Winter gets ready to fall away, making room for its beautiful sister Spring to make her entrance, that along with my heavy coat and warm boots, I will shed some of the baggage I have been burdened with for far too long.

What I consumed:

  • Cleanse Shake with strawberries, pineapple and banana
  • Chicken with lemon, olive oil and shallots
  • Grilled asparagus
  • Sweet potato
  • Lentil soup
  • 19 gigantic supplement capsules
  • 64 oz water

The addition of the protein is both exciting and scary. Each new food that gets re-introduced lifts the tightrope higher into the air for me. The delicate balance of experiencing and enjoying more healthy foods and my fear of becoming out of control because there are more options for me to choose from intensifies with each day. Nonetheless, I am beginning to feel like I am returning to normal as I get to enjoy protein several times a day again.

How I felt:

Today was another good day. I love the rhythm of my days now. I feel free and independent, unburdened from the rigidity I had enforced in my life. Making a commitment to myself and forcing myself, each day, to make time for myself has been blissful. Even though I continue to be lost in my head, I am enjoying the dialogue much more, finding homes for things that once freely floated about. Some things make much more sense to me while others are still fuzzy and challenging. I have adopted a new habit of sitting down and thinking about things that puzzle me to literally move the pieces around in my mind and help them make sense. Where before they would randomly float through my mind as if there was an absence of gravity, now they become anchored into a spot, fitting into their rightful space. It is calming and peaceful. This provides me with the space to manage the bigger difficulties that still remain orphaned and homeless, for which I need to create shelter.

Physical Activity:

60 minutes on the elliptical. I bolted out of the gym as soon as I was done to get home for a call that ultimately got cancelled at the last minute. That was the theme of my day today. I had a web conference this afternoon that we got stood up for (and I had to get all dressed like a professional person for that one!). Today seemed to be the day to try my patience. But I prevailed.

This morning I was awakened at 4am by a reminder of how overwhelmed I am by this process and how threatening the pathway after Day 21 looks. Like Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road, I am not clear which is the right direction to head in towards Oz. There are dangerous forests and villains awaiting me and I am trying to find the bravery of the Lion and the brains of the Scarecrow and use what is clear in my heart like the Tin Man in order to guide me to the Promised Land. I awoke from a dream – the first dream that I can recall in weeks – that took place at a friend’s home. I was standing in their kitchen realizing that I had been eating all kinds of junk food. As the awareness of what I had done started sinking in, I was consumed with guilt and disappointment in myself. I had abandoned my commitment. For what seemed like hours, I was retracing my steps trying to figure out where and why I had gone astray. I wailed to my friend, regretful and angry with myself. I kept repeating over and over how I had made a terrible mistake and it felt like all was lost. I woke up startled, taking a moment to collect myself and determine if what had occurred was real or, hopefully, just a dream. A deep sigh of relief emanated from my chest when I realized that I had been dreaming. For years now, my morning wakeup ritual has included an assessment of my food intake from the previous day. Each day begins with a quick check-in of whether or not I had veered off course and, on those days that I had, I felt shame and disappointment. A characteristic of the many weeks and months preceding the start of the cleanse was the disgust I felt each morning, remembering the caloric escapades of the previous day. Like a substance abuser, I had to reconcile my misdeeds and remember who I needed to apologize to. Thankfully, I was the only victim of my bad behavior.

Of course, what I realized as I lay in the dark, staring at the ceiling, is that one misdeed will not determine my fate. Mistakes and poor choices happen all the time in our lives and we seek forgiveness from ourselves or those we have harmed. And, typically, we receive the repentance and carry on with our lives. I read an article today that suggested that people who struggle with their weight actually have more will power than those who do not have to worry about what they eat. That is because we are constantly engaged in the fight. We are always standing at the front line. There is never a time that we get to turn our backs because, when we do, recklessness ensues and we risk being shot and killed. Taking our eyes off the enemy almost always results in epic failure.

When I was driving home from the gym, I thought more about my rehab metaphor. One of the 12 steps of recovery is accepting the things you cannot change. And I wondered how i might relate that to my dream. What is it that I am not willing to accept that is continuing to haunt me and make me fearful of my journey ahead? Surely it is not anything external. Those around me who might disturb me or frustrate me are only small elements of my life. I have the courage and tenacity to take on any of that. I have tackled incredible burdens with my family over the years, regaining control of my fate and walking away from toxic and dysfunctional dynamics. There is decidedly nothing on the outside of me that can truly derail me. No financial woes, work challenges, interpersonal relationships can bring me down because I have already faced each and every one of those demons. The only disruptions that truly threaten my well-being come from inside of me. As I have said many times before, the enemy lies within. Of course, the internal demons are influenced by the external environment and experiences. And, as I have progressed through this process and recognized the need to set clearer expectations and boundaries, I also need to find ways to accept the things I simply cannot change in others – or move on. This way, I can turn my attention to the real battle that is raging deep inside of me.

I performed a little exercise today that I have used with women I have coached in the past. I took a bunch of selfies and stared at them. I stared closely. I wanted to see deep into my eyes and read what was happening under my skin. I tried to look past my nose that I find too wide, my teeth that are far too crooked, my cheeks that are starting to show their age and begin to droop ever so slightly, my neck that is beginning to wrinkle. I tried to see myself beyond my features. This is not a new exercise for me and I have tried before to see myself through other’s eyes to understand what they see. I wanted to imagine what my smile looks like on the outside. How does my face light up with joy? What makes me beautiful? There is so much more to me than what reflects back in the mirror and I just wanted to see inside to understand what radiates out. I have to believe that it is something incredibly extraordinary and, perhaps, if I could see that and feel the warmth of that glow, I could wrap myself up and brave the uncertainties that lie ahead. If I could accept what I know I cannot change, I might learn to love it.

DAY TEN


kerouac

Today, as I was driving to my doctor’s office, I had the strangest feeling wash over me. While I have never had the actual experience, all I could think was that my life is like I am in rehab. My recent experience is, in my mind, akin to recovering from a long narcotic bender. It’s like Day 10 of my 21-day stint at the facility. Total abstinence from my drug of choice along with heavy evaluation of the root causes of the problem. I’m cut off from my friends, my emotions are raw and my nerves are frayed. I’ve resisted the chain smoking and am passing up the biblical verses and, instead, am digging deep into my core to help understand what ignites my behavior. And, now, I am beginning to be preoccupied with finding strategies to help me cope when it is time to depart the program. For me, there will be no halfway house or sober living residence. It will be full immersion and back to reality. Unlike alcohol or drugs, you cannot prohibit food consumption. I will have to eat. And I will have to do so in a safe and controlled manner. It’s freaking me out just a little bit because I feel really good right now and don’t yet have confidence that I can maintain the willpower to eat clean and nurture my body.

What I consumed:

  • Cleanse Shake with strawberries, pineapple and banana
  • Lentil soup
  • Grilled eggplant with fresh tomato sauce and basil
  • Cauliflower with fresh tomato sauce
  • Sauteed spinach
  • Fresh pineapple (so sweet it tastes like candy!)
  • 6 dates
  • 19 gigantic supplement capsules
  • 64 oz water

I no longer actually want to eat. My appetite is small and I fill up VERY quickly. Tonight I had a plate of about six or seven slices of eggplant and I was only able to eat three along with half the cauliflower before I was feeling really full. Tomorrow I get to re-introduce protein and I am so excited about having some chicken and fish! (Yes, this is what excites me these days…)

How I felt:

I felt great today. I got to the gym at 7:30am and started my day off strong. By the time I got home and got to work, I felt energized and pumped up for my day. I had a crazy busy schedule today, which probably accounted for part of my lack of appetite.  Even on an ordinary day, I sometimes have to remember to eat when I am working intensely all day. Now, because my hunger becomes very acute, I have to stop what I am doing and feed myself. I think that is probably a much healthier approach.

I’m far less tired now that the actual cleansing portion of the program is over but once I am ready for bed, I have to shut myself down. Unfortunately, that is usually around 8pm now!

Physical Activity:

All I had time for this morning was 60 minutes on the elliptical.  I was in a rush to get back home to start my workday so I didn’t have time for weights or floor exercises. My morning tomorrow is a bit less hectic so I am hoping to put in a little bit more time at the gym.

Along with my thoughts about rehab today, I was really focused on thinking through specific behaviors that I am hoping to change as a result of this process. I kept thinking about the impact of some of the small discoveries I have had over the past 10 days. In what appears to be such a small amount of time, I have been able to assess myself with a level of intensity that has produced a remarkable level of enlightenment. What rings most loudly in my head is my need to stop doing things for others without focusing more on myself. This has become one of the biggest struggles in my life and a behavior that tends to create the most unrest and unhappiness for me. I am conflicted because it seems so selfish to focus on myself but I am reminded of the instructions of the flight attendants about putting on your oxygen mask before helping others. You must first be able to breathe on your own before you can be of use to anyone else. If you die from hypoxia, it’s game over. I walk the very fine line of selfishness versus self-preservation. But that bell has rung in my head and, like other times in my life when I have heard the cry for change, I cannot unring it.

Prior to starting this program, I was bottoming out. Exhaustion and overwork had become a way of life for me and, as a result, I was abusing myself in a myriad of ways. My focus was directed at those around me, making sure to help them advance their own lives, without prioritizing my own needs or setting expectations for what I needed in return. Every day I was giving up little pieces of myself to those around me and not much of me left for me. And, in turn, my resentment grew. Quietly. Continuously. Consistently. The anger that I expressed on Day One was a result of that pattern of behavior. While it seems so ancient now, as I have traveled light years in these 10 days, the feeling still lies open like a fresh wound. What I know to be true is that as much as I need to be concerned about what I put into my body, I need to focus, with equal attention, on what I put out. My recovery process, if I am to truly try to change my behavior and offer myself a different outcome, requires me to stop consuming foods in order to stuff down my needs and feelings. I have to develop different relationships with those around me and set new boundaries and expectations. Admittedly, I have no idea what these look like but I have 11 more days to sketch that out. That feels exciting and liberating. And scary and overwhelming. I am up for the task.