No wonder I walk funny

Yesterday I got up early and went for a nice walk in the morning. When I started out it was still quite chilly so I walked at a fairly brisk pace. As you do when it’s 8 degrees and you’ve only been awake for 15 minutes.

As I walked along I noticed a pain in both feet, on the outside edge of my sole. Curious. I hadn’t walked for a few days because it had been raining, so I brushed it off as a combination of tiredness, not having walked, and the fact that I was going up a hill at that point. I kept on going and eventually the pain subsided.

I got home, had a shower and put the same shoes back on after I was dressed. Hurried off to church where I rushed around a bit getting things ready for Sunday Club. After church finished I stood chatting for about half an hour with some friends, and I noticed that my feet and legs were really aching. “Man,” I thought, “I am so out of condition! This is embarrassing.”

At about 10pm – after I’d been wearing the shoes for 14 hours – I went to get ready for bed. I took off my runners and reached down to remove the orthotics, knowing I’d be wearing them in different shoes the next day. I love my orthotics – have I mentioned that? They completely fixed the knee pain I’d been experiencing and they helped with some other random aches as well. They’re great. They work brilliantly… except, that is, when you put the left orthotic in your right shoe and the right orthotic in your left shoe.

Let’s never tell anyone about this, okay?

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The Case of the Incredible Shrinking Containers

I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve had some disordered eating issues. Here’s the thing… because I have never had full blown anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, I tend to think I’m overexaggerating the whole thing and there’s never been a problem. Surely I’ve just been watching what I eat, right? Adding more fruit and vegetables and cutting down on fatty stuff… there couldn’t possibly be a problem with that.

In actual fact I could list a whole lot of restrictions, food rules and other generally unhealthy behaviours that have gone on for a very long time. And lots of them are still happening because I’m a work in progress, but I’m okay with that. Now, I’m not going to share the crazy by listing them all, but here’s one I hadn’t really noticed until this week. Because I live alone I do a lot of cooking in bulk and freeze it in single-serve portions. And over the last few years – and particularly the last twelve months – my portion sizes have been getting smaller and smaller. I’ll show you what I mean:

Behold the devolution of my portion size (the 50c piece there is for scale). There’s actually a larger size missing at the bottom but I don’t have any of them left. See that container at the top? It’s 200mL. So imagine getting your cup measure from the kitchen, filling it with soup or spaghetti bolognese or a casserole, tipping out about 1/5 of it and eating the rest. As your entire lunch or dinner. No extra bread or rice or anything, just that.

No, I’ve never completely starved myself. I’ve never been underweight. For that matter, thanks to the way I’ve messed with my metabolism, I’ve technically been a little overweight for years (although don’t get me started on the BMI because it’s absolute flaming crap). Despite that, I’ve been denying myself a decent amount of food for ages. And definitely not listening to what my body wants, because I think (er… thought) that my body can’t be trusted and therefore must be restrained, regardless of whether I felt hungry or full.

And that? It’s crazy. I look at those two tiny containers at the top – the second one is just 250mL (one metric cup) – and I feel sick at the thought of eating only that amount for dinner. And leaving the table nearly as hungry as I was when I sat down. Pfft. Yeah… NO. Let’s not do that any more.

The most amazing product EVAH!

For the sake of expediency (otherwise known as laziness) I recently bought some pre-cooked, packaged chicken from the chilled section of the supermarket. Kind of like this, but I bought it diced, not sliced.

And I have to say, it’s AMAZING. Here’s what’s amazing about it: they have somehow managed, with their homestyle chickeny skillz, to make sure this product tastes absolutely nothing like actual chicken. Not even a hint of chicken flavour. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t witnessed it with my own tastebuds, but I assure you it’s the truth.

But that’s not all! No, the fun doesn’t end there. Not content with merely removing the chicken flavour from the chicken (in itself a fine achievement), they went one step further and removed ALL flavour. And they did a great job – it does indeed taste exactly like nothing. Well done, Moira Mac. Well done.

I’ll be feeding the rest of it to the cats. If they’ll eat it.

Expectations

Most days I go for an early morning walk, and for the first part of it I listen to the Bible on my phone. I’m working through a One Year Bible Reading Plan which, frankly, is the Moriarty to my Holmes. The Borg to my Picard. The Malfoy to my Harry. (Er, I think I just implied that the Bible is an evil villian… oops.) Don’t get me wrong; reading the Bible regularly is a great idea. If you can do it. Me, I generally get to about January 6 before I start skipping days here and there, and then feel guilty about skipping days so I try desperately to catch up, only to fall behind again because I’ve been so busy catching up that I’ve forgotten to keep going with the current days. Every year this happens, and every year I think, “No, I’m going to do it this time! Daily Bible reading, deep and meaningful engagement with the Word, hours of prayer. EASY.”

Yeah. Easy. Except that when I sit down in the silence of my house to read the Bible and pray, I instantly pile expectations on it. “Okay, I’m reading the Bible. I have to REALLY get something out of it. I have to have a deeply significant, life-changing encounter with God. I need to be so moved by what I read that I can’t stop pondering the passage for the rest of the day. And prayer… spending time with God in prayer is going to be so wonderful that I’ll come away from it a different person. A better person. I’ll be so assured of God’s grace and wonder and love for me that it will change my whole day.”

There have been times like that, but I have to say that they are not the norm – and when I expect them to be the norm, I’m going to be disappointed, and feel like I have failed. I don’t even know why I have these expectations. When I spend time with friends or family I don’t expect it to be a wonderful, Hallmark encounter every time. Sometimes it’s wonderful. Sometimes it’s quietly comfortable. Sometimes we have a communication breakdown that ruins the day, but we work it out later on. That’s what happens in relationships.

God wants a relationship with me. He doesn’t want an anxious, expectation-laden, awkward and ultimately disappointing “quiet time” experience for 20 minutes a day. He wants me to spend time with him in a way that is comfortable and real and in line with the way I process life. Sometimes that means sitting down with the Bible, reading and praying. Sometimes it means heading off to a secluded park or beach and sitting with God in silence. Sometimes it means stomping around my house in a rage, yelling at God because there’s been a communication breakdown and I don’t understand what he’s doing. Sometimes it means listening to the Bible being read to me, and missing a few bits here and there because I’m thinking about other things. Sometimes it means writing in a prayer journal that I haven’t opened in months.

I’m enjoying listening to the Bible and working my way through a reading plan. But if I fall behind, or I don’t finish, that’s okay. It just means that God and I have been spending time together in different ways. As long as we’re in a relationship, all time spent together is worthwhile.

Intuition

I’m reading this book at the moment:

I have to say, it’s kind of blowing my mind. And I suspect this book, and the ideas within, would be challenging for anyone, not just someone with disordered eating issues. I’m still doing a fast read to get the big ideas, and I will go back and read it more slowly after that. But so far I’ve heard some pretty radical ideas – like, eat whatever you like. WHATEVER you like, in whatever quantity you choose. Nothing is off the menu. Radical? Scary? You bet! But the reality is, nothing will cause overeating/bingeing faster than taking something off the menu. Now, part of me thinks that with no rules or guidelines and with nothing forbidden I will spend the rest of my life eating pizza and chocolate. In fact, many people think this. And often, that’s what happens for the first little while… but it’s been shown time and again that once people learn to trust their bodies and understand that the food will always be available, they naturally gravitate towards the types of foods and amounts that their bodies actually need. Our bodies DO have this intuition; we’ve just learned to suppress it.

I’m talking like a complete convert, but I’ll admit that part of me is still skeptical to a degree. Mostly that’s fear – yes, it SOUNDS great, but what if it doesn’t work for me? What if I put on weight? What if I stay the same weight when I really want to lose? What if I never learn what hungry and full feel like? (One thing I already know is that, while I can recognise ‘ravenous’ and ‘stuffed to the gills’, I’m very unclear on what normal hunger and fullness feels like for me.) What if this is just another fad diet that’s calling itself a ‘lifestyle change’ just like all the other fad diets?

These are all valid fears, and it’s okay to feel them. But that’s no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater, right? I still want to believe that my mind and body has the ability to know what it needs, and to make sure it gets it. Like Albert said…

 

Finished!

See this knitting?

It’s a cardigan I’ve been working on for two years. And by “working on” I mean “I do a few rows now and then until life gets busy and then I put it away and forget about it for months on end”.  But lately I’ve been knitting in front of the TV and I’m pleased to say that I’ve FINISHED…. the back of it.

Okay, that’s not as exciting as finishing the whole thing, but hey… finishing the largest piece is still pretty good. And it’s a fiddly cable pattern – not difficult, but it takes time and concentration. I can’t just knit mindlessly. Anyway, stay tuned. In another three years I might just have done a sleeve or two.

By which time global warming will have increased and I’ll never get to wear it. Maybe I’ll sell it to a museum as a curiosity…

In Which I am Dragged Kicking and Screaming Towards New Ideas

Generally speaking, one of my most favoured learning styles is the ‘read all about it’ approach. Don’t just tell me something; show me the textbooks and journal articles and blogs and whatever else. I want to know what the research says AND what the people say. I like to read about stuff. I’ve recently realised, however, that when I feel challenged or threatened by something, this technique goes into massive overdrive.

Case in point. For a while now my counsellor has been talking to me about mindful eating and intuitive eating. When I saw a dietitian she talked about it too. I’ve read a few blogs (particularly those focussed on eating disorder recovery) that talk about it. And I have to say that  part of me would love to embrace mindful eating… but, I’m not going to lie, a larger part of me thinks it’s complete bullshit. Not just bullshit but elitist, inner-city-hippy bullshit, practised by people who refer to their steak as the ‘protein’ portion of the meal and who wouldn’t allow tomato sauce to cross their path, ever.

Now, I’ll admit that my reaction is partly (okay, largely) because I find the whole idea incredibly confronting. I don’t trust mindful eating. What I trust is calorie restriction, obsessive calorie counting, safe foods, numbers and routines. As you may have guessed, these things don’t rate highly in the mindful eating world. In fact, they’re kind of EXACTLY what mindful eating seeks to challenge. So the idea is pretty scary for me. My solution to this? Read. Read EVERYTHING.

(The Book Depository LOVES me...)

These books all arrived at my house today (where they will join a multitude of articles and blog posts). Some of them might be rubbish. Heck, MOST of them might be rubbish. But if I’m ever going to get a handle on ideas that threaten and challenge me – let alone actually TRY them (scary, scary Step 2) – then I need to go through a little information overload on the way.

Off to do some reading. See you in three months…

Everything old is new again

Lately I’ve been drawn to a number of blogs that talk about minimalist living. I’ve mentioned Becoming Minimalist, which is a favourite blog, and I also quite like Zen Habits and Miss Minimalist. There are many things in these blogs that don’t particularly interest me (I can guarantee I won’t be turning vegan anytime soon) but I find myself increasingly drawn to the idea of living with less. I don’t mean living in one room, sleeping on a futon and balancing my one and only dinner plate on a milk crate. Ha. NO. I’m currently living in a fairly roomy 2-bedroom villa and I’m quite content to stay here, thank you very much. But what I would like is to pare down my possessions. I have a double wardrobe in my room and it’s completely full. Hanging space, shelves and blanket box shoved in there – all full. I have a single wardrobe in my study – also full. Eight double-doored cupboards in my kitchen (three of them large corner cupboards) – FULL. Ask me what’s in all these wardrobes and cupboards. Go on… ask. Well, I’ll tell you. I have no idea.

Okay, I have some idea. I mean, I know there are clothes in my wardrobe. And shoes, and some spare bedding which doesn’t fit in my linen cupboard. Plus… um… some other stuff. I’m sitting in my study to type this and I’m resisting the urge to check the wardrobe in here. I know there are some board games, some sketch books, possibly a suitcase, and… nope, can’t remember what else is here. The blanket box in my wardrobe is a total mystery. The only thing I can tell you for sure is that it doesn’t have any blankets in it.

This all suggests to me that there is a lot of stuff I not only don’t need but don’t particularly want. I’m not using it, and since I don’t even know what’s there I think it might be safe to say that I’m not missing it.

I’m slowly working my way through things, one little space at a time. I’m not going hell-for-leather on it because I know that will likely make me give up the whole idea after one exhausting weekend. The bit by bit approach will work better for me. But in the meantime I’ve decided I need a little challenge to keep me motivated. And it’s this: for the next almost-two-months (ie, until the end of May) I’m aiming to buy nothing new. No books, no DVDs, no cups, no quirky little teapots, no shoes, no clothes, no underwear, no… other stuff. I have a house full of clothes, shoes, books, DVDs and lots of other things. There is nothing I need. Obviously, I’ll continue to buy food, toiletries and petrol, but nothing that I would have to pack if I were to move house. If something vital breaks and I can’t repair it, then I’ll replace it but I’ll try to replace it with a second hand item where possible. However, I can’t really think of any vital items that might break or need replacing. Perhaps if all my underwear gets stolen off the clothesline… in which case I’ll be replacing it with NEW, not used! But other than that I reckon I can get through two months without needing to buy anything.

I say this with all confidence now. Talk to me again in a month when I want to buy some cute stationery item and it might be a different matter. 😉 Anyone else up for the challenge with me?