Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Year of....

Status Quo.

That's what 2014 turned out to be for me, even though we had the excitement of Little Helen's engagement and I started a part time job.  Pretty much, things stayed the same.

Of course there was also the inevitable deaths of our loved ones and friend's loved ones, including one awful month where there were six.  I attended three of the funerals.  Though 3 of them were somewhat unexpected and young people were involved, I suppose that's just a reflection of the time of life that I am in.

According to Facebook, my highlights in 2014 were Holidays, Home, Patio Paradise and Running.  Sounds about right!

Like many folks I have been mulling over the last year and thinking forward to 2015.  I wouldn't mind if things were status quo in 2015 as well but I know we have some exciting times ahead.

The Chinese are saying 2015 is the Year of the Goat.  At the Helen household it will be the Year of the Wedding.  Yes, we were informed yesterday that the date is set for July 25, 2015!

My personal goals are to get some bills paid off - we are seriously hunkering down financially as Mr. Helen's retirement is just around the corner in 2017.  That sounds far off but experience tells me it will be here sooner than later.

I'd like to throw Mr. Helen a birthday party, as he will be turning 60 in May.  I think that's something to be celebrated.

I want to continue my non-dieting quest for good health and well being.  I've had a couple of weeks break from the Neila Rey programs, but this tends to be the time of year when I'm so busy that I'm glad to exercise 3 times a week.  I'll definitely be starting another round of Neila Rey tomorrow.  It makes me happy that I've found something besides running that I'm willing to do.

In the midst of the extra eating/drinking/holiday frenzy I found myself in a bookstore (while buying a giftcard) staring at diet books. Not a good thing as I was feeling pretty crazed from all the extra everything.  But I held firm and I'm glad.  As irony would have it, my sister shared something by Anne Lamott that put me firmly back into the right mindset.  Feel free to skip this as I've copied it here in it's entirety so I can refer to it the next time I get the urge to act crazy.
This is the Anne Patricia Lamott Anti-Diet that I posted at this time last year. This year, I post it with an added urgency, as the new Viking Diet is upon us, the latest and hottest It diet, and since you may feel vulnerable and somewhat battered after the last few days/weeks/years of festive family get-togethers, or estrangement, you will be susceptible to its promises. And yes, young Canute, if you are enjoying the noble Viking lifestyle, raiding your neighbor's grain stores and salted venison lockers, this may in fact be the perfect new diet for you. Are you giddy with relief that Whole Foods carries so many foraged vegetables, and moose meat? Then step right up. Help bail out the ever-struggling diet industry, while you're at it. But otherwise?
We need to talk.
I know you are planning to start a diet next Thursday, January 1st, I used to start diets, too. I hated to mention this to my then-therapist. She would say cheerfully, " Oh, that's great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?"
I got rid of her sorry ass. No one talks to ME that way.
Well, okay, maybe it was ten years later, after she had helped lead me back home, to myself, to radical self-care, to friendship with my own heart, to a jungly glade that had always existed deep inside me, to mostly healthy eating, but that I'd avoided all those years by achieving, dieting, binging, people-pleasing, multi-talking, and so on
Now when I decide to go on a diet, I say it to myself: "Great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?"
I was able to successfully put on weight during my last book tour by eating room service meals in a gobbly trance in 13 different cities. So that was exhilarating, as I may have mentioned several hundred times that I have had the tiniest, tiniest struggle with food and body image for the last--well, life time. Hardly worth mentioning.
And then, after book tour, I accidentally forgot to starve myself in December, or to go back to the gym, which I've been meaning to do since I had a child, 24 years ago.
So I am at least five pounds up--but thankfully, I do not currently have a scale, because as I've said before, getting on a scale is like asking Dick Cheney to give you a sense of your own self-worth every morning.
I can still get my jeans on, for one reason: I wear forgiving pants. The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing. I struggle with enough esteem issues without letting my jeans get in on the act, volunteering random thoughts about my butt.
By the same token, it feels great to be healthy. Some of you need to be under a doctor's care. None of you need to join Jenny Craig. It won't work. You will lose tons of weight quickly, and gain it all back, plus five. Some of you need to get outside and walk for half an hour a day. I do love walking, so that is not a problem for me, but I have a serious sickness with sugar: if I start eating it, I can't stop. I don't have an off switch, any more than I do with alcohol. Given a choice, I will eat candy corn and Raisinets until the cows come home--and then those cows will be tense, and bitter, because I will have gotten lipstick on the straps of their feed bags.
But you crave what you eat, so if I go for 3 or 4 days with no sugar, the craving is gone. That is not dieting. If you are allergic to peanuts, don't eat peanuts.
So please join me in not starting a diet January 1st.
It's really okay, though, to have (or pray for) an awakening around your body. It's okay to stop hitting the snooze button, and to pay attention to what makes you feel great about yourself, one meal at a time. Horribly, it's yet another inside job. If you are not okay with yourself at 185, you will not be okay at 150, or even 135. The self-respect and peace of mind you long for is not out there. It's within. I hate that. I resent that more than I can say. But it's true.
Maybe some of us can try to eat a bit less, and walk a bit more, and make sure to wear pants that do not hurt our thighs or our feelings. Drinking more water is the solution to all problems.
I'll leave you with this: I've helped some of the sturdier women at my church get healthy, by suggesting they prepare each meal as if they had asked our beloved pastor to lunch or dinner. They wouldn't say, "Here Pastor--let's eat standing up in the kitchen. This tube of barbecue Pringles is all for you. i have my own" And then stand there gobbling from their own tubular container. No, they'd get out pretty dishes, and arrange wonderful foods on the plates, and set one plate before Veronica at the table, a plate filled with love, pride and connection. That's what we have longed for, our whole lives, and get to create, now, or or on the 1st. Wow! And God bless you all real good, as my pastor always says.
As irony would also have it, I have a nutritionist friend I've known for years via Sparkpeople, and whose specialty is working with people who have medical issues that affect their ability to lose or gain weight.  She has offered to work with me to see if we can figure out why my metabolism seems shut down.  10 years ago (this July) when I was first diagnosed with thyroid disease, I wished we lived closer so she could help me figure things out.  Now through the amazing technology available, she has set up a way to do it online.  I've decided to take her up on her offer simply because she has promised me, no dieting.

So that's where I'm at right now... looking for my happy new year via the great Anti-Diet of working on awakening around my body, paying attention to what (food & exercise) make me feel good about myself, and learning to love myself and others right where we are.

Happy New Year, friends.


  1. I shared that same Anne Lamott writing - I absolutely love it! Happy New Year, Helen.

  2. LOVE the Anne Lamott article. I remember reading it before, but needed to read it again! And I LOVE the inspirational saying you included at the end. Happy New Year, Helen!

  3. Huzzah to a wedding date!!! :)

    You know, when I think of you and your year, I wouldn't call it status quo so much as I would say you seemed much more at peace than in previous years.

    Here's to a wonderful 2015 - Happy New Year!

  4. Happy New Year Helen!!!!!!!!!! Cheers to a wonderful, albeit Status Quo, 2015!

  5. Happy New Year Helen. I honestly think you did a lot of self-discovery and change this year, which is certainly not status quo.

    I hope the July wedding is not humid. Will it be at the beach? :D

  6. I also shared the Anne Lamott article about dieting. Lots of wisdom there, and I've been living a non-diet lifestyle for more than a year, with some real weight and health benefits. Happy new year to you and your family!

  7. I love love love me the LAMOTT.
    she's gotten me through the past few months.

  8. Happy New Year!!!! Status quo is sometimes that best thing of all (as long as status quo is a good thing!)

  9. Happy New Year Helen! Here's to 2015 - so much exciting stuff going on in your life! :D

  10. How exciting that the wedding date is set, really something beautiful to look forward too in 2015.

    I wouldn't say it's a status quo year either, I think you found peace and had a great year. So glad you didn't buy those diet books: don't go there again. Hopefully your friend can help you figure things out.

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