Thursday, February 6, 2014

Random thoughts about the conference



Hello my friends!  The conference is going well and it’s good to be away from the office for a couple of days to recharge.  The hotel is lovely; 17 floors! I’m learning some good things and enjoying my stay, but honestly, I’m learning more about  myself than student retention.
 Personally, I’ve discovered that “Old Theresa” is still lurking in the background and there is still plenty of room for improvement in my thinking, and that “New Theresa” will continually be a work in progress.

Some general discoveries/observations:

I still haven’t quite figured out how much “physical space” I need to get around. When I was obese, I always needed to find a large open area because I took up so much room. I’d look for a chair that was on the aisle so that I could ‘overflow’ into the aisle way or I would try to find an empty seat that was surrounded by other empty seats because I knew that I would take up extra room, and my massive body mass would hang over the chair onto the one beside me. I also didn’t want people too close to me…didn’t want them to be touching me or in my space…didn’t want them to hear my heavy breathing due to the obesity or to see how hard it was to reach down to pick up my purse. I also couldn’t cross my legs and was in intense physical pain so I was constantly fidgeting and trying to get comfortable. 

 That isn’t necessary now, but yesterday I noticed that I’d enter one of the conference rooms, automatically choose a chair near the end and immediately move the chair away from the others so as to give myself ample room. It wasn’t until a very large man arrived late to a session and chose the empty seat next to me that I realized that I didn’t really take up that much space anymore.  Not sure I’ll ever get that.  The same thing happened when exiting the large room where the meals were served. The tables were very close together and “Old Theresa” would have had to wait until the room was virtually empty before leaving because she would have had to push chairs in along the way just to get through the aisle.  Not anymore; I managed to fit through spaces that I never thought possible.  Just a weird self-discovery moment that I will need to continually process before I fully “get it” through my head that I’m just not that size anymore.

In addition, I still cannot get it through my head that I am no longer the largest person in the room.  I’ve always been the biggest in my family; the biggest kid in the class and school; the biggest employee, etc. and when I look around the room and see that there are others that are larger than me, I still can’t quite comprehend that. I suppose it is something that will take time to adjust to. I’m constantly trying to figure out how big I am in relation to others because I don’t have a healthy self-image and I still to this day look in the mirror and “see” an image of a person heavier than I am.  I used to look in the mirror and see a different reality and didn’t really realize how big I was until I saw the number on the scale and a rare picture of myself. It works both ways.

Another personal discovery is that my tendency and preference to be alone isn’t entirely connected to my weight. I used to think that I avoided crowds and parties solely because of my size and disability, but now I’m beginning to realize that my “loner” type of mindset is deeply ingrained in my personality. I don’t think it necessarily a bad thing, just a part of my emotional make-up.  The rest of my group from MMCC were going out to dinner last night to a local Italian restaurant. Of course they invited me, but I declined, partly because I’ve yet to discover a low-calorie way to eat Italian food and pasta at a restaurant (at home I eat spaghetti sauce on spaghetti squash, green beans, or zucchini), and partly because I’m just not really all that comfortable in social or group situations. I do much better with one of two. I need to work on that. I ended up ordering a carry-out from the hotel restaurant of a 6 oz. steak with steamed broccoli and cauliflower (excellent by the way) and changed into pajamas and ate it in my hotel room while watching the evening news. I am such a party girl! Not!  Oh well, I enjoyed my evening immensely and was asleep by 9 p.m. 

So far I’ve managed to stay on track with my eating, but I will admit that I’ve eaten more calories that I would normally eat, but nothing off plan. Right now I’m eating a plate of fresh melon (my favorite), fresh pineapple, and some scrambled eggs. Not bad food choices but more than I would typically eat for breakfast. I’ve already eaten a container of plain yogurt at 5 a.m. so I’ve gone over my targeted calories for breakfast, but at least I didn’t eat a donut or one of the luscious muffins that are sitting on the table.  Yesterday for lunch they served a turkey sandwich on large buns, pasta salad, pickles, and cookies. I ate the insides of the sandwich, several pickles, and a yogurt I had put in my bag. Not bad, but I did have a protein bar in the afternoon.  My biggest splurge????   Completely out of the ordinary for me…..2 cans of DIET PEPSI!  I rarely have soda anymore, maybe a can at Christmas or something, but yesterday I had 2 cans and I really enjoyed it! I’m certain it won’t become a habit though and I looked at it as a sort of “I’m at a conference treat.”  Once the conference is over,  I’ll likely not have another soda in quite some time. I don’t even have it in the house.
The conference ends this afternoon and I’ll spend the rest of the weekend downriver visiting friends and family. Hopefully the weather will cooperate for my return trip. It’s been a good couple of days and I am just so grateful that functioning in a situation like this is so much easier at this weight. To God be the glory! 

I’m sharing this stuff, not because I think you are at all interested in the details of my days, but rather to help you see that I am work in progress and will continually have to work to change my thoughts and attitudes. Losing weight has certainly made life physically easier, but emotionally and psychologically it brings challenges. As I’ve said multiple times, changing one’s life begins with one’s thoughts and requires one to change how they think and feel about things, and to identify those emotions and patterns that may have contributed to the weight or addiction in the first place. I’ve realized that some of the very reasons why I allowed myself to gain weight….namely, to put a barrier around me to insulate me from pain and potential hurt, to have an excuse for ‘not participating in life or accepting invitations”, and unrealistic body images….still exist and still must be battled every day. Otherwise, it will become easier for me to go back to the eating habits that caused me to be 400+ pounds in the first place.

I encourage you to do some self-reflection and ask yourself the hard questions….why are you eating….why are you heavy….why are you addicted to cigarettes, booze, drugs, whatever…..why do you engage in emotionally or physically unhealthy behavior in the first place…..and be prepared to deal with those thoughts on a daily basis.

Finally…. Don’t use an event, a wedding, a reunion, a birthday, holiday, or a vacation as an excuse to go off plan. Treat yourself in a healthy way…have some extra fruit and an occasional soda or two, but don’t let anything be an excuse to go crazy and stray off track. Events, holidays, vacations, etc., come and go, but good habits become ingrained and will help you CHANGE YOUR LIFE….for good!
Have a great day and thanks for listening to my rambling “stuff.”