Wake UP

On Wednesday, I posted about being at my second-highest weight ever. That evening, I binged for the first time in 93 days. I’d almost made it a full 100 days, and it was the longest I’d gone without binging since I began to binge in the fall of 2014. The thing is, it wasn’t a huge amount of food – half a bag of natural popcorn and four chocolate chip cookies – but it was still a binge. The unstoppable urge to eat, regardless of hunger, in order to fill some kind of void. When I can identify what the binge is trying to fill, I’ve gotten better at addressing the issue rather than eating, but on that night, I had no clue. It was upsetting enough that I had the worst kind of insomnia that night because my brain just wouldn’t stop being anxious about why I’d been anxious. How’s that for ridiculous?

Anyway, because of insomnia and binging, my diet was all over the place the yesterday, coupled with heartburn and blood sugar fluctuations and all sorts of things. That was the first wake up call. I must get my nutrition in check, if not for weight loss, than for decent sleep, getting rid of heartburn, not suffering hypoglycemia, etc.

Beyond that, I’ve been taking daily photos since July 10th, wearing a pair of leggings and a cheap ribbed black tank top from Walmart. The top and bottom both will cling to my body and show its shape 100%, so that as I lose weight, I can keep longterm comparison photos in similar outfits all the way down. Yesterday, the day after my binge, I looked at my daily photo. It wasn’t much different from any of the days before, of course. I wasn’t expecting it to be. But while I looked at it, a photo popped up on my laptop, which rotates photos from my files every half hour. The photo was of me right after my birthday trip to the thrift store (for fun outfits) in 2014. And seeing those two photos together was a really huge wake up call.

There are four years and 77 lbs between those two photos. The thing is, I don’t spend a lot of time hating on my body these days. After my abdominal surgery in 2014, my shape has been pretty consistent, even as my size has changed. And I don’t want to hate my body for being big! I also know that sometimes I delude myself into thinking I’m smaller than I am because I’m used to bigger-me with a pre-surgery shape. It’s one thing to see a picture of my sister and me standing together, because with our body shapes, I will always look bigger when right next to her, no matter how thin I am. It’s another thing entirely to see a picture of myself next to the Manda of four years ago.

Both of these things together equal one thing: something has got to change. That thing has really got to be me.

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Wellness Wednesday – 26

A year ago, my family was struggling to survive after Jason had lost his job. We were stressed, tired, and eating the cheapest of crap foods from the grocery store. I had terrible heartburn from all the junk food, and the weight I’d pretty much maintained for a year started creeping up a bit. Two weeks after we’d finally settled job, moving, and getting a house here in Texas, I had a chance to see what damage was done. It wasn’t a huge gain, about five pounds above what I’d been averaging, but it was the second highest weight I’d ever been, only 26 lbs under where I was at my highest in 2009.

Fast forward about six months. I’d made some progress in that time, but in that last month, grief had undone that progress. On March 9th, I wasn’t quite back up to that -26 lbs line, but I was very close. Too close.

Fast forward another four months. In those months, I made a ton of progress. By May 15th, I’d lost almost 10 lbs from that line. I was less than a pound away from that first 10-lb celebration. I was seeing numbers that I hadn’t seen in over a year. I hadn’t made nearly that much progress in that first six months from September to March. But after mid-May, between PTSD triggers, the boys getting out of school, the chaos of construction and all the eating out, I basically let go of any progress I’d made. I stopped making healthy choices. The heat and lack of time/schedule and lack of room in my house made it impossible to exercise. I ate, and found other (sedentary) things to occupy my time, and drank far more than I needed to. Two weekends ago, my siblings came into town for my little sister’s birthday party. It was three days of nonstop eating out, junk food, and alcohol. And on the 10th, I weighed in, once again, at that second-heaviest weight line, only 26 lbs down from my 2009 self. All the progress left remaining from my three-year-100-lb journey.

(starting over – again)

I look back at this all and I question: what was it that made the difference back in March? What was it that made my progress so much more significant for those two months of diligence? Certainly I was diligent for nearly all the months from September to January, before grief kicked me in the stomach when my grandmother died. I counted calories, I exercised, I ate lots of produce…but my lowest weight in that time was a measly 5 lbs under that top weight, and I fluctuated quite a bit. The only thing that was different in March was that I gave up alcohol.

I’ve said this before: alcohol slows my metabolism and increases my appetite. It’s not difficult for me to give it up, but there’s a part of my brain that resists out of anger. I want to be able to have a glass of wine with my dad, or have a bottle of beer at my cousin’s start-of-summer party, or try a sample of something new-to-me at the grocery store. Mentally, I have a healthy relationship with alcohol. I don’t crave it or need it or abuse it. But apparently, even the tiniest amount screws up my system so badly that I have to abstain 100%. I prefer moderation to giving things up, and I tend to do better, mentally, with that mentality, but I can’t go that route with alcohol. It’s got to be all or nothing, and unfortunately, the all or nothing attitude tends to wreck me almost as much! Ugh.

Since weighing in on the 10th, back up to that second-highiest weight, I haven’t touched alcohol, and I don’t plan to do so again until my cruise in mid-September. In addition to trying to get back on track with eating and exercise, I hope the total absence of alcohol will help me to lose at a quick-for-me rate again. There are only two months left until my cruise. I won’t be where I’d planned for when I first started working toward it in March. This has been a big setback. But I want to at least be back to where I was two months ago, and preferably a couple pounds further along. Wish me luck.

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Top Ten Novellas and Short Stories

Been awhile (three months!) since I was able to participate in one of these Top Ten Tuesdays! Today, the topic is our favorite novellas and short stories. I’m not a huge fan of shorter works – prefer longer ones – but I do have a couple that come immediately to mind that I’ve loved over the years. In no particular order:

1. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka – Read in college and fell in love. What’s not to love about a surrealist story about men transforming into bugs and having daddy issues?

2. A Game of Clue by Steven Milhauser – This bizarre story splits between a family playing Clue and the make up lives of the Clue characters. It just really struck home with me and has stayed in my memory ever since first reading it pre-blogging days.

3. Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson – This is one of those novellas that would make no sense except as part of the series that it comes from. I love the series, and I love this further glimpse into particular characters’ worlds and motivations.

4. Snow Glass Apples by Neil Gaiman – a Snow White retelling that is gorgeously atmospheric

5. Amphigorey (collections) by Edward Gorey – I could never just pick one Gorey story. He’s the best.

6. Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson – I had to limit myself to two entries for Sanderson today. This one is not part of a series or related to other works (directly). Turns out Sanderson writes standalone stories/novellas just as well as ones related to series. He’s just brilliant all around.

7. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson – I can still remember the chills I got the first time I read this story. If you don’t already know the twist, you seriously need to read this one.

8. The Red Tree by Shaun Tan – I haven’t been a fan of most of Tan’s graphic short stories, but this one blew me away. Somehow I lost my copy of it years ago and I desperately need to find a new one.

9. Stars Above (collection) by Marissa Meyer – I suppose this is kinda cheating because again these are all stories relating to a particular series. However, they’re all wonderfully written and I just adored them. I couldn’t pick out a specific favorite.

10. The Apple Tree by Daphne du Maurier – Um…truth time. I was listing short stories and novellas I loved, and I came up with the above nine. And I couldn’t think of a tenth off the top of my head. I went back through my blog and found the collection by du Maurier that I read, and apparently I loved this story more than I could express. However, I don’t actually remember the story anymore. Must be time to find it again and re-experience its glory!

Are you a short story fan? What are some of your favorites?


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

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Sunday Coffee – Audio Recommendation Request

First off, Morrigan got in from Japan last night. I’ll be posting about that later this week with pics and all, but I want to give him a chance to recover from jet lag and choose what he wants to say about his trip. So that’ll come probably near the end of the week. For now, our airport selfie!

And in the meantime, I have a request from y’all. I’m starting to get a little of my reading mojo back, but I’m in the mood for one particular thing: health-related audiobooks. Health or weight loss memoirs, books about running or fitness, books about food history or health and nutrition…nonfiction, generally, but NOT in the diet-book or self-help genre. No books that try to tell me how to eat or give me a diet plan, or books that lay out a specific fitness plan, etc. Good examples of what I’m looking for that I’ve read in the past include: It was Me All Along, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Case Against Sugar, Elena Vanishing, and Real Food Fake Food.

Tell me – what’s your favorite health-living nonfiction? Go to town and tell me EVERYTHING!! 🙂

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Formative Books

We all have those books that changed the way we grew up, whether they were children’s books read to us or just something in school that made us see the world differently. I’ve been thinking about the books that influenced my world growing up and shaped how I see and enjoy things today.

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder – This is probably the youngest book I remember as being 100% formative. I got my love of the almost-paranormal from this book. Plus I discovered, when I went back and reread as an adult, that many of my writing quirks came from Snyder’s writing. It had far more influence on me that I realized at the time.

The Eternal Enemy by Christopher Pike – In my early teens, I read a lot of cheesy supernatural books, but this one stood out. There’s one particular moment that I can’t reveal re: spoilers, and it changed the way I thought of personhood, identity, and consequences. Though I haven’t even seen this book since I was twelve or so, I still remember it powerfully.

Singularity by William Sleator – I didn’t read a lot of full on sci-fi as a kid, but I did enjoy the occasional Sleator book, and this one stood out from the rest. There’s a teen who spends a year following a very specific routine in terms of exercise, including running and calisthenics, and there’s still a part of me 25+ years later that thinks in terms of “running-pushups-situps” as the ultimate fitness advice. Ha!

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner – I read this one in school for my high school junior English class. While most people find Faulkner painful to read, I fell in love. I was experimenting with different writing styles at the time, and had never read anything even remotely resembling an experimental form. This book opened my eyes to writing that not only broke the rules but made up its own rules.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – I read this book when I was 20 and about to start my third year in college. In the past, I’d spent a lot of time emotionally connecting with music and song lyrics, but had yet to come across a book that spoke to me on an individual, personal level. That’s what The Bell Jar gave me – a chance to connect with books on a level that I’d never experienced before. The experience was profound and life-changing.

I’ve had influential books since I was 20, of course, and many of them have redirected my life in some way. But I always think of the formative period mostly being confined to childhood and adolescence, with a small snaking out into those college-aged years, and so this collection of five are really the Manda-canon of formative books.

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Wellness Wednesday – Fat, Thin, Female

I had a conversation with my sister this weekend that was similar to many I’ve had before. This particular sister is two years younger than me. In some ways, we’re extremely similar in our health. We both suffer from PCOS, insulin resistance, chronic insomnia, and other particular health conditions. To look at us, though, we’re completely different. Everything from our body shape to bone structure to our coloring is different:

(2012 – I was only 20 lbs overweight here)

Physically, we take after different sides of the family. Internally, we have remarkably similar hormonal structures that cause the same problems in both of us. We also share another thing in common: a difficulty in getting doctors to listen to us.

Continue reading

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First Comes Love, by Emily Giffin (audio)

Family, torn apart by death, trying to cling together while all the resentments, regrets, and grief stuff every corner of every interaction.

This is one of those books that I have a hard time evaluating. On the one hand, the audiobook was engaging, the writing was excellent, the story interesting. On the other, I never particularly grew to like any of the characters, and there was no overall spark that will keep this book in my mind as years pass. So maybe I’ll just say that this was a good book, but I didn’t personally connect with it, though I can imagine other people doing so easily (especially if they’ve had any experiences similar to those in the book).

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