Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Higher Road

Sometimes in life you have to take the higher road, even if it is the road less traveled and you have to blaze the trail yourself.  I often find myself trying to take this road because in the end I believe it makes me a stronger and better person.  Sometimes it leads to a dead end, and sometimes it leads to one of the most magnificent views in the world.  Either way, I have never once regretted this decision.

When I was a kid I was bullied, a lot.  I have talked about this before so I won't go into too much detail here.  But suffice to say it made a huge impact on me and I vowed never to stoop to that level and bully someone, even if they bullied me first.  I still stick by this even as an adult, and even though I could often win a battle of wits.  Instead, I choose to take the high road.  Now that doesn't mean I let them walk all over me.  No, I take actions to stop the abuse either by removing myself from the situation, or if that's not possible making changes to the situation.

But I also try to understand the person, and where they may be coming from.  Some people are just plain mean, but a wise person once told me "Kill 'em with kindness.", thanks Mom.  That's what I do, and you know what, it works, a lot.  You would be amazed at how many people who are miserable and out to make other people miserable respond to someone going out of their way to smile and make them happy.  Especially when that person is someone they have been mean to.  Once they know their behavior is not acceptable, and that I am still accepting of them, they usually soften up quite a bit.

Now I am not saying this is the case all the time, like I said before, some people are just plain mean.  See above for the dead ends I was talking about.  In those cases it's best to just walk away and/or put your foot down and let them know their behavior is not acceptable.

For an example, I have someone in my life that I have no choice but to be in contact with on an almost daily basis.  This person has, at times, gone out of their way to make my life miserable both in big and little ways.  Sometimes intentionally hurting my feelings.  I have others try to intercede on my behalf as well as trying to confront this individual on my own.  To my credit through it all I have maintained a positive attitude towards this person where others would most likely retaliate or turn sour.  I continued to greet this person daily with a cheerful smile, and I was usually ignored.

Today I noticed this person was in a really bad mood, not just the usual sour mood either, but actually sad and depressed like something was really wrong.  I reached out to this person in an email offering my support if needed.  Now I don't know where this high road will go, and whether it is a dead end or a beautiful sunset I will feel good about myself for having set foot down it.  I will know that no matter how hard it may have been to not lash out at this person I didn't, in fact I did the opposite, I reached out instead.

In the immortal words of The Beatles "All You Need Is Love..."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Oh No You Didn't!

So this morning my wonderful and loving fiancĂ© posted the image below to me on Facebook and invited me to get out my soapbox.  After reading the article on the image the challenge was accepted.

The picture is an advice column from a Christian website where a father is asking for advice about his son who came to him saying he was transgendered and felt that he was born in the wrong body and was actually gendered as female.  The father states that his child says they still believe in God in keeping with the family's obvious faith.  The father is asking for guidance in how to talk with his child.
The advice given by the columnist is not only ludicrous, it is downright dangerous.  She says the father should tell his child that the child is flat out wrong for feeling this way therefore totally invalidating the child's feelings.  She says that the father should tell the child that the child's thoughts and feelings are even "disgusting".  This is bad enough, but then she makes the leap from transgendered to homosexual.  I am not sure how that leap was made since not all transgendered people are actually homosexual.
She blames the kid's desires one homosexuality in the media and exposure to it at school, which I would have thought was pretty funny if she weren't serious.  I really think the icing on the cake though was when she compared being transgendered to doing drugs.  Again, not sure on how that logical leap happens, but in her warped head it did.
So other than being sickly amusing to those of us who know better; this is also highly dangerous.  This right her has the potential of being the beginning of another transgendered teens suicide.  Here you have a vulnerable teenager, we all remember our teen years they suck to begin with, struggling to come to terms with feelings that are obviously conflicting with how they was raised.  This teen then goes to their father looking for help and instead of support they are about to get, if the father follows this advice, invalidated at best and humiliated at worst. 
This is the type of action from parents and the religious communities that leads to depression and suicide in our LGBTQ teens.  It needs to stop.  We need to find a way to reach out to these young people and offer them the support they need when their parents and religious communities fail them.  In some communities, like here in Portland Oregon, where there are stronger LGBTQ communities there are some resources available.  But usually you have to seek them out.  In smaller communities, and especially in the Bible Belt, resources can be scarce.
We have been making some powerful strides in equality for the members of our community.  Marriage equality has had great gains in the last few years.  The transgendered community is seeing equality in the ability to use their preferred gender facilities in public places as well as reassignment medical expenses now being covered by Medicare.  These are all great advances, and I know there have been more I have missed. 
We still have a ways to go, and we need to start focusing on our youth.  That's a hard one too.  You have legal issues there because you don't want to get in the way of the legal parents or guardians, but on the other hand we want what's best for these kids who are struggling to find their place in this crazy and ever changing world.  I don't have the answer, but I'm putting it out in the universe that we need one and maybe somebody somewhere reading this will be more brilliant than me and come up with it.  I just know that the answer given by Amber on is definitely not it. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Anti-Diet D…Nope not going to say it

I have struggled with my weight all my life.  This is not news to anyone who knows me.  Some very well-meaning people in my life have also made this struggle a whole lot worse.  I am not going to use this space to talk about that or re-hash the past.  What’s done is done.  Suffice to say my weight is still an issue, and because of the things in the past I have struggled to take it off and keep it off.  There are a lot of emotions attached to weight and weight loss for me, and my number one enemy is the scale.

Over the years I have tried so many diets, too many to even count.  I have tried low carb, no carb, low fat, no fat, don’t eat any of this, eat all of that, the grapefruit diet ( I still hate grapefruits), and every other stupid diet you can think of.  I’ve tried the programs like Weight Watchers, did I mention I have social anxiety and seriously dislike scales let alone being weighed in front of a group of people.  But in every one of them I fail, or as I have figured out, they failed me.  They were too restrictive, too controlling, and too rigid.  All things I don’t respond well too, just ask my parents.  I need flexibility, options, and more importantly I need to be in control.

So I gave up.  For years I gave up.  I dreaded going to the doctor and being weighed because the scale is not my friend.  I hate that number.  I hated hearing these well-meaning people in my life commenting on how much better I would feel if I lost the weight and how I would be oh so much healthier.  I hated the doctors’ silent disapproving stares when I tried to explain my anxieties and issues around diets and weight loss.  I was stuck at an impasse.  I knew I needed to lose the weight, but every time I think about weight loss I freak.  I get sick to my stomach and I want to cry.  It’s that bad.  I knew my health was suffering, but what could I do.  Then it happened, what I knew was coming for years.  My blood work came back that I was diabetic, Type II.  I had been borderline diabetic for a few years so it was not a real shock.  But it still stung.  I did what I do best; I ignored it and hoped it would just go away.

Then recently I got sick, really sick, like I stopped eating sick, which for me is super sick.  It turned out to be a simple bladder infection that was easily treatable, but in the course being sick I lost almost 20 pounds.  I thought ok, this is it.  I can make some changes here and make a difference in my life.  BUT, I am going to do it on my terms.  So I created my own anti-diet.

It’s pretty simple actually.  The first thing I am going to do is get rid of my bathroom scale, yes you heard me, there will be no weighing myself and no tracking of my weight.  It’s not like I have actually used it, but its presence has haunted me every time I go in there.  My unit of measurement will not be a number on a scale, nor will it be a dress size.  I am not doing this to be thinner or to weigh less.  I am doing it to be healthier.  Instead, every three months I will go to my doctor and have my blood drawn and have my fasting blood sugar panels run.  The goal is to bring them down. not by a certain percentage or number, just down.  Every 6 months I will have my cholesterol checked; again the goal is for healthier numbers.  I will only be weighed when the doctor’s office requests it, and I will ask not to know.  I am serious, the scale numbers mess me up in the head.  The goal here is just a healthier me, not a skinnier me.

So how am I going to achieve this?  Well that part is a little bit trickier.  It starts in my head, and it’s something that everyone has to figure out for themselves.  First off, I refuse to weigh, measure, or count anything.  I will not be documenting every bite I put in my mouth, and nothing will be off-limits.  I am making this about choices and moderation.  I am going to make a conscious effort to change my relationship with food one bite at a time.  It won’t be easy, and I know I will have slip ups, and that’s okay.

You see, food for me is a comfort thing.  It’s not just about fuel for the body, it’s fuel for the soul.  I need to learn to balance that, and I need to find other things to fill the gaps and holes in myself other than comfort eating.  So it starts from within.  I need to ask myself each time I am eating; why am I eating?  Am I eating because I am hungry, because it tastes good, because I am bored, or because I need something else?  If it’s because I am hungry then I need to pay attention to my body and stop when I am full.  If it is because it tastes good, like a treat, then I need to allow myself to indulge and eat slow and mindfully so I really enjoy it and then eat less than I used to.  If it is for one of the other two reasons then I should look into what else is going on around me and find another way to fill my time or that void, whatever it may be.

Again, without measuring or weighing, I am also making my portions a little smaller than they would have been previously.  The key here is I am making the portions smaller than they used to be for me.  This means that while I may have used to eaten a cup of something before maybe now I have cut it down to 2/3 of a cup, whereas a typical diet would have cut it back to ½ or even 1/3 of a cup.  I find that most diets tend to cut the portions too far back too fast for most people, especially those like me who are very heavy, and we end up feeling like we are starving and miserable.  By slowly cutting back my portions and eating just until I feel full, I feel like I am more in control of my food instead of food being in control of me.

The last piece of this is the food itself.  I am not only trying to change how I view food, but also the foods that I choose to eat.  This is a difficult one because I am probably one of the pickiest eaters you will ever encounter.  And this is one of the reasons most diets fail me.  Because of their rigidity in what you can and can’t have, and because of what I will and won’t eat my list of acceptable foods was usually pretty short and I would get bored with my menu options really fast.  With my anti-diet though nothing is off-limits so I am free to make up my own combinations and menus.  I am making a conscious effort to add more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and to eliminate as many prepared foods as possible.  It’s all about being mindful of the choices I make each day and each meal.  I am also trying to work in more meals so that I am maintaining my energy and blood sugars throughout the day.

Will this work?  I don’t know, honestly, but it sure beats doing nothing.  And for the first time I feel confident about food choices and not ashamed of what I am doing for myself.  In the past going on diets always made me feel ashamed of myself for some reason.  This time I feel good, like I am making a positive change in my life, not just a fly by night attempt to shed pounds.  Who knows, maybe if it works I will write a book and become a millionaire peddling the next diet fad with my anti-diet, HA!  I will just be happy if I can finally change my relationship with food and become a healthier me.
So I am asking all my friends and family who read this to help me out here.  If you see me and you see that I am looking better because you think I have lost weight please don't comment on the weight loss.  Comment on how much healthier I seem to be.  Tell me I look happy.  Tell me I look healthy.  Tell me anything but I look smaller, or that I have lost weight.  Don't tell me you are proud of me because I am not doing it for your approval.  I am doing it for me.  If you see me eating something you don't think fits in my above philosophy don't comment on it and don't give me any disapproving looks.  Maybe I'm having a bad day and I am going to pick myself up later, or maybe I am allowing myself to indulge because I know I have balanced it out earlier or will later.  Also, if I say I don't want something or I am done don't push it.  No matter how little I have eaten or how good whatever it is tastes.  I have to listen to my body now and give it what it needs when it needs it.  Don't judge, just let me figure it out.  I know you all mean well, and I know you love me, and I need to do this myself.  I know this is a lot to ask, and I am asking it anyway.  Please.  If I have tagged you in this and you think someone else should see it feel free to forward it on to them.  I love you all so much, and right now I need to love myself like I never have.