On a Walk

Today was the first lovely spring day we’ve had in a very long time here in Portland, OR.  This winter busted lots of records with regards to rain and damp, and as you all know, I’m way too much of a princess to go out in the rain and get my move on.  That, coupled with the knee injury last month, has really, really set me back in terms of my fitness.  I was already on a downward slope from the place I was a few years ago, just before I met Ray, but as of today, I really have hit a point I am not proud of.  I’m as heavy as I was at my heaviest last year (circling around 240 pounds), and for me, that’s way, way, way too much.  My body feels just out of control, and even though I’ve been somewhat good about my diet, and somewhat good about exercise, clearly it’s not working the way it once did.

Today, after a nice chat with my pal Andy back in Denver, it sank in that I’ve arrived at my middle-age.  This means, in terms of weight and food and all the rest, that I will never have the same level of metabolism that I once did, even just a few years ago.  Decadence and indulgence now doesn’t mean just a few more reps at the gym, or even another mile of walking or movement.  Now, it means another tick up on the scale, needing a *lot* more effort to correct.

The other factor, though, that has come to light while I have been arriving at this little place in my life, is the comments that I get from those around me who have seen me change over the last two plus years.  Things like, “you look so much happier/healthier than you ever did before” are coming up in conversations across many of my friends, none of whom talk to each other.  I find this striking, considering that when I thought I was at my sexiest, I was also at my leanest and meanest I’d ever been.  What is the x-factor there that they’ve seen grow and develop even as my waist has expanded and my energy level is coasting at best?  What is that thing that they see when they look at me that I simply cannot see when I look in a mirror or catch my reflection in a passing storefront while I’m out walking?

I set off on a short jaunt this morning – about two and some miles – because it’s just so damn lovely outside and my vitamin D levels have been tanking for so long.  Out there, wandering through the neighborhood and taking in all of the glorious spring flowers and smells that come when the sun shines on land that’s been forever soaked by deep rains, I had a moment of epiphany.  Yes, another one.  YES, I know that these often come while I’m out moving around, and I know know know that they are the things I need to keep discovering as I meander along on this little path of mine.

Beneath this exterior flesh of mine, beneath the curves and stretch marks and dimples in places other than my face, there is a beast.  He’s hairy, he’s powerful, and he’s always been there.  For some damn reason, all this time, I’ve been really afraid to let him out.  I did see glimpses of him just before I met Ray, when I thought I was looking the best I’d ever looked in my life, but again, he’s slipped back into the shadows, back beneath the surface.  I wonder, perhaps, if he was revealing himself to me then as I was bracing to embark on a very, very solo journey, and preparing to have to take on the world all by myself.  Like some sort of protective shell, looking powerful and strong as an outward avatar of myself meant that I wasn’t going to take any shit from anyone, that if you approached me on the street, you might think twice about talking to me, or that you might see me as a person who was very self-involved, and therefore not needing your intervention, or your commentary.

The fact is, though, when I was at that point, I was at one of my lowest emotional levels in my life.  I had gone from living in a gorgeous house, with a man I had fallen in love with, and had this actual life of a big back yard, a full-size garden, a home to make my own, and was watching my dreams come true-to-life, to living in the back bedroom of a friend’s house who took pity on me, and wanted to help me find my feet again in this town of mine.  I had given over so much of my life to the will of another person that I had no idea who I was, or what I really wanted for myself.  My life with the now-ex-boyfriend wasn’t my life.  I was a mere accessory to his life, and facing that all down as he and I split up was gut-wrenching.  Of course, being me, I took it all out on myself – and my body.  I ran and ran and ran.  I hit the gym like a fiend.

I had given up on ever finding a person to share my world with, especially considering just how much of a mess it was – I mean, really, who could possibly want to be with a man who was only making about $1000 a month and couldn’t even really afford his own groceries, let alone a nice dinner date or a trip to the movies?  At that point, I had resigned myself to needing to be ultra-self-sufficient, and having to just say no to everything else but work and my bills.  I needed to protect myself, I needed to look strong, and I needed to wear the armor of a muscled man just to face the day.

Then, of course, I met Ray, and I was able to let down my guard.  In the process, I also let down my rabid need to wear the aggressive solo muscled look.  Ray re-introduced me to the world of eating pleasurably.  He supported us both, taking us out on dates, out to the bars and restaurants around Portland, and allowing me to enjoy cuddling up with him rather than one more hour at the gym, or even one more mile on the road.  I gladly accepted the offer to get lazy because, let’s be real, attaining a muscled, chiseled body takes *lots of effort*.  It also can be super consumptive of one’s time and mental energy, and Ray constantly reminds me that there needs to be a better balance in my life than being so obsessed about one thing or another at any one time.

So, while I am not blaming Ray for the extra pounds I’ve put on since knowing him – about 60, if I’m totally honest – I am saying that he’s helped me get to where I am today.  I am happier.  I am more contented in my life.  Instead of having my dreams given to me, I’m having to earn them the right way.  I am still carrying around that inner beast – the protective, muscled, furry, foxy man that I had started becoming as an act of defense.  What I need to do, and what I think is the health journey before me now, is to find a way to let that side of me out, without feeling like I’m doing it as an act of personal protection.  I don’t need the rock-hard chest, the powerful thighs, the narrowed waist to defend me.  What I’d like, though, is all of that as a statement of defiance against the demons of my past.  I want to have that kind of look as a way of saying I have overcome things and I have achieved a better, stronger life.

I know this is rambling, and I know it probably makes no sense, but it’s what I’m feeling, and it’s where I stand today.  I do have a massive health journey ahead of me, but I now know the goal.  I now know what it is I’m seeking.  IMG_3287

A Present and Resolution

This time of year is typically dedicated to getting things for others as a way to show appreciation for having them in your life.  It’s also to mark the occasion of the wheel of the year turning yet again, and spinning us back towards bright, sun-filled days (up here in the north, anyway).  It’s often when thoughts about the New Year are filled with promises to one’s self.  This, for me, has always been true, at least.  I know I set personal goals at my birthday (my Personal New Year), but I also set and/or re-set my goals as January approaches.  For me, it’s just a good way to start things.

This year, I gave myself a holiday present.  I bought 12 weeks worth of coaching on Fitocracy.  The plan I paid into – No Cardio Fat Shred – is a foundational reformation of how I approach food and exercise.  The coach, Jason, seems really nice.  He’s started us off on a real back-to-basics training with our relationships to food.  He’s  In the past, I’ve gone whole-hog into calorie counting, or whole-hog into “clean eating” (nothing processed, mostly “paleo”).  Each one of these diets has left me craving, and in the end, I’ve fallen back into old ruts that are doing absolutely nothing for my waistline, or my self-esteem.

This plan that I’m doing now, along with a number of others from all over the place, including my friend Andy from back in Denver, is all about meeting specific nutritional targets, or macronutrients, all while doing moderately intense activity at the gym.  Immediately after reading the intro to the program, and before shelling over any of my money, I realized this was exactly what I needed:  A way back to “eat right and exercise” advice that made sense.

On days that I’m exercising, I have set target macros.  For me, for now, it’s 200g of protein, 175g of carbohydrates, and 40g of fat. On days that I’m not exercising, I cut out the carbs and eat a little more fat.  I get all the “freebies” I want – vegetables of mostly every sort (except the starchier ones like potatoes).  The workouts aren’t too awful.  It’s about 45 mins at the gym three times a week – also very doable, and no cardio, as the name suggests.  That said, when the weather finally clears and I want to go out for a walk, I’m going to do just that.  I don’t need to do it out of punishment, or turn it into a 10-mile run.  I can just enjoy the stroll.  Just like I can enjoy my food in a reasonable and responsible way that nourishes my body.

Today was day one of the twelve weeks.  We had all of last week to get amped up for the program, and to start thinking about the planning and life shifts we all need to make.  For me, with my work schedule being what it is, meeting the exercise and dietary goals shouldn’t be a huge issue during the week.  At the weekends, when I’m behind the wheel of the bus, might prove to be a little more challenging, but I’ve got to figure it out.  I’ve got a team of people holding me accountable, not to mention my coach, and myself.

My biggest reflection today, as I sat down to enjoy some baked chicken and potatoes, was that I’ve always been ashamed of my body.  I’ve always, always, always hated it, and treated it awfully.  Whether overdoing alcohol, or smoking too many cigarettes, or running miles and miles on an empty stomach, to retching into the toilet just to get rid of anything in my belly, or downing a box of laxatives to “clean out” my insides, I’ve had a horrible, horrible attitude towards my body and form.  I need to relearn how to treat my body with dignity.  Now that I’ve cleaned out the nicotine addiction, and now that I’ve got way more control over the food that is available to me, it’s time to be an adult about it all.

I’ve made this promise and resolution to myself far too many times in the past, only to fall off track time and time again.  I’m done with failing.  I’m done with the shame and guilt of a broken promise. I am adult and it’s time I start treating myself like one.

Diet, Food, and Privilege

For the last three weeks, I’ve been embarking on a new way of eating food.  Well, it’s new to me, and it’s going to sound like a massive fad-diet, which is embarrassing for me to admit to, but it’s working.  I’ve done it before, and had massive results, but as I let myself slip, let myself fall back into old habits, the weight came back (duh).  I’ve cut out the carbohydrates in the food I eat.  Like before, I’m seeing massive weight losses already – something to the order of 12 pounds as of yesterday – and I feel amazing.  I have lots of energy, I’m feeling balanced throughout the day, and I’m simply not feeling the bloat and lethargy that came with gorging out on stuff I used to eat – like pizza, peanut butter sandwiches, bread of any sort really.

I’m also not spending my money on convenience foods.  Our break area at work has vending machines stocked to the gills with grab-and-go foods that are “perfect” for the bus driver job.  What they also are full of, however, is preservatives, chemically altered ingredients, and lots of other nasties that, simply put, my body just stashed away in the form of fat.  I’ve “cleaned up” my calories, so to speak, and am reaping the rewards from it in terms of vitality and overall goodness.

I’ve been here before, lost 25 pounds, and remember feeling spectacular.  Of course, I was also still a smoker then, and it was prior to my moving in with Raymond (a stressor that brought about the comfort-eating/weight gain).  Now that I’ve gotten rid of the smoking, and we’ve settled in quite well with each other, I can get back to me, to my waistline, and the goals I have set for myself.

Again, this is all well and good, and I’m pleased with my results, but what I’ve been paying further attention to this time around is the procurement of food.  On my last go-round with these eating changes, I was putting money into the household food pool with the fellas I lived with, and making a go of eating better out of what was available in the cupboard and fridge.  I didn’t have to hit up the grocery store, and thus didn’t have to experience what buying food was like.  In fact, I hadn’t bought groceries or gone on a proper grocery shop for a very, very long time – something like two years.

One of the pillars of this food thing (I’m still not calling it a diet – a word I rather hate), is eating as close to the source as possible.  Single-ingredient foods, actual cooking, using real ingredients to prepare meals and such – all of the ways in which making food has been done for thousands of years until very recently – are fundamental to this plan.  It also strongly suggests buying as organic/natural as possible, which I’ve done for the most part, and which leads me to the reason for this post in the first place.

I’m having the time of my life learning how to cook again.  I’m really, really enjoying the preparation of food that is nourishing, honest, and wholesome.  I love following instructions (akin to why I love buying IKEA furniture or those little plastic model cars) and achieving results that are pretty decent.  What I’m realizing as I do this, though, is the cost of all of it.  On average, for myself, I’m spending about $100/$150 week on groceries.  That sounds like a lot, and feels like a lot, to me, but when I look back at bank statements that show what I was spending on vending machine food and gas station treats, the cost is about the same.  Still, this is for one person on a decent income.  That’s about $400-$600 a month just to eat right.  That’s a lot.  A lot, a lot.

What I keep thinking about, as I shop, is why food that is better for me, closer to the actual source, and minimally/not-at-all altered by humans and science/chemistry, costs so damn much?  Furthermore, why do I feel like eating healthy and doing right by my actual body has become a privilege, and not a basic human right?  Why, because of my income level, am I afforded the ability to procure food that is life-sustaining and vital, but the person making less than me, or who is reliant on assistance to simply survive, has to then also make do with sub-par food?

I refuse to shop at Whole Foods.  I struggle with even going near Trader Joe’s, or our own locally-run semi-step-down from Whole Foods called New Seasons.  The feeling of classism and entitlement washes over me every time I enter those places.  I go to my local bigger (Kroger) grocery store because it’s not only super-duper close to my house, but because I do need to find stuff on sale/reasonably priced.  Also, it should be said, I feel like I’m shopping among my peers.  I don’t feel the arrogance that I can almost smell on the air when I do happen to pop into a Whole Foods.  I don’t feel like I’m “in the way” of some obviously more important person than I when I’m comparing items on the shelf, or whipping out my calculator to see what my running total is for the food shop while I’m at Kroger.  I’m just a blue-collar working-class schlub getting his food bag on the best way he can for the amount of money that he has.

What remains, though, is this gross pit in my stomach as I wonder why I need to spend more money on food that is actually healthier for me, rather than have that be the industry standard for all food, and made available to everyone at every economic level.  Why can’t a piece of chicken just be chicken, and not “chicken breast meat with salt, preservatives, added fluid, and some chemical that I can’t pronounce, etc?”  Why do I need to go out of my way to get vegetables that aren’t sprayed with goddess-only-knows-what, waxed, or chosen for looking “perfect?”

The point I’m trying to make here is this:  I am fortunate and lucky enough to be in a situation where I can afford to make choices about the quality of the food I eat, and that quality can be quite high, if not the highest available.  I know for a fact, though, especially since food-stamp approved food is clearly marked these days, that not everyone around me is as fortunate.  I know that everyone deserves the right to healthy, real, nutritious, body-positive food, but what I don’t know is why this isn’t so.

In my slow-cooker today is a piece of beef that smells just like the beef I remember having as a kid.  I seared it with salt and pepper, and added beets, carrots, onions, and celery, along with some beef broth that I made earlier this week, and have it set to cook on low for 8 hours.  I cannot wait to see how my first pot roast comes out.

That beef, though, cost me a pretty penny.  It is from grass-fed/pasture-raised cows.  It’s certified organic.  It’s also flown in from Uruguay. It cost me $23 for 2.5 pounds of meat.  I bought it knowing I was splurging, but I can’t seem to understand why this has to be this way.  I mean, I understand the economics behind feeding an exploding population, but surely there has to be a better way, both for the animals that are raised for food, and for the people consuming animals for food.

Step 2

I’m on Step 2 of the Nicoderm CQ nicotine replacement patch plan.  I stepped down just a few days ago.  So far, this is what’s it’s like:

  1.  I’m an emotional wreck for half of the day.  I’m irritated, agitated, twitchy, and just downright snarky to be around.  One of Ray’s coworkers likened it to “being on your period” for women.  Since I don’t have a frame of reference for that, I’ll just agree with her.  It seems about right, minus the blood.
  2. I am still coughing up crap from my lungs.  It seems like a constant stream of ill-flavored mucus is making it’s way into my mouth from the depths of wherever inside me.  I know this is a sign of health and healing, but man-o-man, it’s disgusting.  I keep drinking water to wash away the flavor.
  3. I cannot wait to be done with this silly nicotine addiction.  I’m ready to move beyond this constant, nagging, annoying craving.  I have a month left.  I can do this. I have to.
  4. I never, ever, ever want to smoke again.  No, it’s more than that.  I don’t want to be addicted to anything like this again, especially something so mind-altering and unhealthy.  Were that I was addicted to running, or yoga, or gardening, or fresh air…

I’m doing okay, all around.  I can smell and taste unlike ever before.  I know that my clothes don’t stink, and I also know that the tar stains in my mustache and beard are finally gone.  My lips aren’t coated with a brown film of cancer-causing tar.  I know this is how it all should be, and I’m committed to keeping things like this.

I’ve also put on weight.  Over the past month, I’ve watched the scale creep upwards, which is why, starting today, I’ve re-committed to getting back on track with a healthier diet.  I’m back to cutting out the overindulgence in carbohydrates, no more processed anything, and most-assuredly no more convenience foods – like the kinds I’ve been getting at work, especially.  I don’t need all of those chemicals and preservatives and added weirdness getting into my system.  I need to eat clean, I need to treat my body better – especially as it heals from the damage I brought upon it from smoking.

My last round of going low/no-carb resulted in a massive weight loss over a short amount of time.  I felt great.  I was doing well.  Then, as I needed to move house and deal with the anxiety and stress of adjusting to a new home and new life, I found myself reaching for the sugar and alcohol and cigarettes.  The fact is, I can no longer do any of those things.  I’m at that age where acting like that is both adolescent of me, and not healthy in any manner.  I *know* better.

Ray is backing me on this as well.  He knows my weight and overall health is a source of anxiety for me.  He knows what I’m capable of looking and feeling like – I was so damn fit when we first met – and he would love to see that smile and ability back on my face and in my body.  I would too.

Besides, focusing on my diet will help take the pressure off this constant, nagging, ridiculous craving for nicotine that I’m going through these days.

28 Days Later

No, not the movie.

I’ve just recently crossed the 28-day mark with regards to my old smoking habit.  It’s a thing of my past.  Well, the actual putting of a cigarette to my lips is.  The nicotine, currently delivered to my body by means of a patch on my upper arm, remains a thing for me still, but I’m on the verge of stepping down from that as well.

This morning, after being awake for a few hours and messing around on my laptop, playing Civilization V actually, I found myself with a headache.  I started getting twitchy in my chair, restless for something.  I took myself out for a coffee, and it wasn’t until the walk back, where I stopped for a second and caught myself staring longingly at a discarded half-cigarette on the ground, that the reason for my headache became clear.  The patches I am using are good for 24 hours.  I hadn’t changed my patch in nearly 30 hours.  What I was experiencing was, in fact, a nicotine craving, but I didn’t actually identify it as such for quite some time.  It wasn’t that I was acting out, or that I felt myself going mad.  It was more like this nagging need for something…something was not quite right.  Once I got home and swapped out the patch, after a few minutes, my teeth unclenched, my headache lifted, and I was feeling right as rain again.

I still have that chemical dependency to break.  I’m also dealing with some pretty hefty chest congestion and heaviness in my thoracic region.  Shortness of breath is not something I’m used to – but from what I’ve read on line, it feels like asthma, or a nondescript weight sitting right on my chest.  This is a common side effect of quitting smoking, and may take quite some time for it to lift, but lift it will.  I need to keep up on my hydration, and when I can, exercise.  I am also thinking of getting a few hours in a steam room somewhere here in town, preferably with some eucalyptus or menthol in the air.  Whatever it takes, I’m game.

Ray, for his part, is super proud of me for doing this.  All along, he’s been irritated by the fact I was smoking.  It became a block between us and something he felt like he had to just deal with, rather than put his foot down about.  Now, though, he reaches over and holds my hand, tells me how happy my not smoking makes him, and a barrier that I wasn’t aware of between us has shifted, falling away.  I do blame him for inspiring this change in me, and I’m so thankful for it.

Twenty-eight days in, my life has improved a lot.  I’m not out of money all the time.  I don’t stink.  I don’t have to sneak off and miss out on some pieces of time spent with Ray or with any of my friends – most of whom don’t smoke either.  I’m not angry at work, craving that next break, that next moment off the bus.  I’m not as short with people (I’m still a curmudgeon, though, let it be known).  I’m feeling more balanced, more in tune with my body.  I now have a little checklist I go through when I’m feeling off – tired/thirsty/hungry?  To be honest, I can’t believe I took all of those vital things as a sign just to smoke.  How much did I deprive myself of sleep, or food, or even just water?  Why would anyone be that awful to themselves?  I think, perhaps, I’ve also turned a strong emotional growth corner in my life.  I don’t hate my body as much.  I don’t despise the skin I’m in as much.

I can finally and completely smell the season around me – Autumn, my favorite time of year.  It hit me today, actually, as I was out on a walk, that I hadn’t really smelled the rot of leaves and the dampness in the air that always comes with fall, in a very,very long time.  I appreciate the smell of hot apple cider.  I can smell the rain again.  Today, on my walk, this realization made me well up with tears.  I missed this more than I realized.

 

Re:Beginning – The Gym

A couple of weeks ago, Ray woke up with gumption.  He and I got in the Mini and took off to his gym, a 24Hour Fitness that’s about two miles from the house.  His intent – to use the membership he is paying for, and in order to achieve this – add me to his plan.  He wanted to use me as a motivator to get him back into his workouts, back into the art of movement, and out of his headspace that was starting to consume him.

We’ve gone a few times now, and today, I’m going to be doing the third workout of a beginner’s 28-day plan that I found online.

What brought me to writing here, besides the fact that I haven’t shared a post here in a while, is that this feels legitimately better than any other gym experience I’ve ever had.  In the past, when I’ve been to the gym, it’s been with a sense of desperation and anxiety.  I went to workout, not only to just lose weight and feel better, but tucked in the recesses of those platitudes was the real reason I was there: control.  I have a long-standing tradition of taking out my control issues upon my own flesh.

Almost twenty years ago, I had fallen into a steep and ugly depression.  It was my sophomore year of college, and I hadn’t come out of the closet.  I had left my family behind me, a situation that was fresh off an ugly divorce of my parents, and taken off to college, where I was surrounded by energetic and enthusiastic people of all stripes, who all seemed to have this joy about them that was missing in my life.  I faked it, for the most part, but something was off with me.  I was heavy, and had used food as a means of coping with anxiety and stress about the things in my life, not least of all was my questionable sexual identity.  Somewhere along the line, though, I had the idea that if I just changed my physical appearance, then things would be better.  Changing like that meant taking control of an aspect of my life that I’d never really paid attention to, apart from when I was actually made fun of for being heavy.  I, in short, stopped eating.  When I did eat, I forced myself to expel most of the food I had put in my body using any means necessary.

At first, it felt weird, but after a week or so, and noticing some of my weight falling off, it became it’s own feedback loop.  The more I starved, the more I lost, the better I felt.  I started to mix in going to the gym as a means of speeding up the weight loss, and as I wasn’t fueling my body at all, apart from an occasional coffee and a few bites of oatmeal, and the weight just kept falling.  For the first few months of this control push, I found myself with new-found confidence.  I was carrying myself around with a head held high, all the while, keeping my eating and fasting and purging habits tucked deeply away so that no one would notice.  I knew what I was doing to myself was wrong, but the results spoke louder, and the starvation addiction grew stronger within me.

Eight months of this was hard on my body.  I lost nearly 100 pounds through starvation, expulsion, and exercise.  I was sick, and it was a lovely young lady in an English Lit class who finally called me out on it.  She suggested I get some help, and I did.  By that point, I was looking really rakish and pale.  I’d been getting the occasional, “How are you doing, Thom?” from people around me, but like always, I remained upbeat and said I was great.  I had become masterful at hiding what was really going on.

I got the help I needed.  I also came out of the closet, and was able to move through my darkness into something better.  Still, along the way, in moments of chaos and crisis, I found myself turning back on my own body as means of regaining control.  After each boyfriend I’ve had prior to Ray, I spent weeks either running or weight training.  It’s how I coped with the loss of my first boyfriend, Thomas.  It’s how I responded to the termination of my marriage with Nathaniel.  It’s how I reacted to the failure of my relationship with Caleb.  Time and time and time again, turning inward and inflicting stress upon my body in order to reshape and reform myself has always come when the world around me is in total chaos and I felt like, somehow, at least being in control of my physical form would re-establish some sort of order out of it all.

Today, though, with this renewed attempt at fitness, and moving towards health, the backdrop for it all is markedly different.  I’m in a loving and stable relationship.  I live in a stable and supportive home.  I’m not having a crisis of identity.  I’m not feeling the pressure to change my form simply to fit in, or to give myself a false sense of power.  Today, with this re-beginning at the gym, it feels better.  It feels honest.  It feels more real?  I’m at a loss for words about it all still because it’s both old and new to me.  I know that I’m doing something good for myself.

Milestone

I stepped on the scale, and registered the number there:  215.

For a couple of days now, I’ve sat with that, putting it on the back burner, and going about my life.  Things are rolling on here at the house. I’m caught up in the settling, the anxiety of a new place, still getting my bearings, and so I really didn’t let the number on the scale really take on any meaning.  That is, until today.

I just got back from a walk/run of about 10k.  While out there, feeling the endorphins and all that comes with elevated heart rate and such, it hit me.  By reaching that number, 215, which is thirty pounds less than the last time I stepped on the scale, I’ve, in fact, reached about half-way to where I want to be in my skin.  I feel my best at around 185 or so, which if you do the math, is about 60 pounds less than where I was at my heaviest this year.  The fact I’m drawing in close to that mark, that midpoint along this journey, means that, actually, I’m doing something right.  I can, for just a moment, be proud of myself, and this morning, while I was putting one foot confidently in front of the other, I felt that emotion: pride.

No, I’m never going to be a skinny little otter thing.  I see plenty of that walking around town here – tall, lanky, barely 150 pounds, able to whip off their shirts at any opportunity, confident in how their flesh sits on their frames.  Typically, this only works to make me grind my teeth and self-loathe even more because, let’s face it, we’re all a little jealous of the pretty people we see.  Today, though, for just a few minutes, I allowed myself the feeling of being among those confident, head-held-high men.  I inhabited my own body, my own flesh, and while there was still plenty of jiggling and such going on under my tee shirt and around my thighs, in a white heat of euphoric endorphins, none of that really mattered.  What mattered, and what continues to matter, is that I’m effecting positive changes in my physicality.

Giving up sugar in my coffee, cutting back on the alcohol, swapping cereal for a green smoothie or scrambled eggs, drinking more water, paying attention to my sleep, getting out for walks when feasible – these are the steps I’ve taken.  Small, incremental, and at the micro-level, barely registering as change-making.  Taking a step back, though, and reflecting on where I was when I began to regain control of my body about five months ago, I’ve come a long way, and today I am proud of that fact.  The journey continues, though.  It is my life on the line here, after all.