Thursday, November 20, 2014

Today I Resolve to Be the Healthiest Me I Can Be

Tina (center) being silly in thinner, more active times.

People who have known me for many years know that I have always struggled with my weight.  It was a battle that began when I was probably five or six and my mother first started talking to me about dieting and weight loss and not wanting me to grow up the way she had, being teased for being fat. As far back as I could remember, I knew that I was the heaviest of my mother's children when I was born.  I weighed 8 pounds and put my mother through 26 hours of labor.  My brothers were all easy she would tell me -- each of them only weighing 5 or 6 pounds each, and causing her far less grief.  This wasn't the way she worded things necessarily, but it was the way my young mind interpreted her story every time I heard her talk about what a difficult pregnancy I had been for her.  I was a chubby baby -- I had chubby little legs and chubby cheeks -- and when I became old enough to begin going to school I was embarrassed by the fact that I was always bigger than the other kids in my classes.

The battle to "slim me down" began very early in life.  I can remember sitting alone in the living room many evenings, eating my "diet plate" of a hamburger patty and cottage cheese, (anyone remember when that was considered "diet food?") or a tomato stuffed with tuna salad, while the rest of the family was in the kitchen eating whatever wonderful thing my mother happened to make that night for dinner.  This was well before my eighth birthday -- before my father and mother separated and he moved out, adding my brothers and me to the list of kids in our neighborhood from "broken homes."  I was often hungry and frequently sad -- I could never quite figure out what I had done to be ostracized at dinner time, but I knew it had something to do with the fact that I was a "big girl" and that wasn't a good thing.

My brothers and me

Over the years I have lost weight and regained it, then lost it again and regained it ... each time feeling a little more depressed and a little more like there was something fundamentally wrong with me. WHY can't I keep the weight off? Time and again I have wondered if I am just doomed to be overweight like both my parents. I have lost weight before so I know it can be done.  It is just the whole keeping it off part that has me stumped.

When my mother died in 2010 it should not have come as a surprise to me.  Her health had been declining, she refused to do the things her doctors told her to do (and after falling off the wagon with exercising and eating healthy I KNOW how hard it is to get yourself started), but I have to admit that when that day came I felt like I had been sucker-punched. Hard. I still have days where I replay that day in my head and it hurts.  I promised myself that I would learn a lesson from her death -- I would take better care of myself.  I did not want to be stuck at home in a recliner watching t.v. for hours on end and spending days never venturing outside.  I did not want to live the last half of my life weak, sick, and helpless.  I had already lost a few pounds and had been walking and occasionally riding my bike, but after my mother died I knew I wasn't doing enough to really try to lose the weight I needed to lose.  I started exercising in earnest, and I vowed this time when the weight came off I would find a way to keep it off.

Me in 2011 after a workout at the gym -- damn I felt great!
I signed up for a 5K running class -- I was one of the biggest people in the class, but I didn't care. I knew I needed to do something but it was terrifying. I was just so certain that I would be that person bringing up the rear on every run, slowing down the rest of the group, collapsing in a wheezing, sweaty puddle after the first block or two. So I was stunned the first day when I was actually able to keep myself in the middle of the pack. I was never a fast runner by any means, but I did learn to love it. Me! I started doing kettlebell workouts and riding my bike (often after my husband, brother and I would return home from a hike or a run!) and we began going on increasingly longer hikes on the weekends. We were all eating healthier, and eventually I got down under 200 pounds for the first time since those 2 glorious weeks I had spent at 197 when I was 20 years old -- and this time I stayed there for several months. I should have been happy. And I was often proud of myself. But I found myself slowly falling back into bad habits and with that came a pound put back on. Then 3 ... then 6.  

I tried to stop the weight gain.  I managed to slow it down for a bit, but the fear returned and with it the sense that I was fooling myself if I thought I could ever stay slim.  At the time my husband and I were struggling financially. The house we were renting (that we had only been in for a year-and-a-half) was being foreclosed on because our landlords had stopped paying their mortgage. Around Thanksgiving we got a notice that we were going to have to move soon -- AGAIN.  Moving has always been a truly difficult thing for me, even when it is something I have wanted to do.  This one hit me especially hard for some reason, adding to the anxiety and sadness I was already feeling.  The downward spiral came surprisingly fast.  I started coping the way I always had -- self medicating with food. Then last year happened.  Without going into great detail I will just say it was not a happy year for me. I met some great people, and I did one crazy, fun thing that I never, ever imagined myself doing (see the photo below), but by and large it was a dark and awful year for me.  

Yes, that was really me playing the Stage Manager in Our Town! (2013)
So, here I am back where I started. I have been stuck at this weight for about a year now, and it is not a happy place to be. I worry that I may never be able to get myself back to the place I was.  I admit that I am feeling like that little girl who had to sit alone, in hiding because I am overweight and therefore not allowed to eat what everyone else is having. But I don't want to feel like this. Today I am truly beginning over.  I am overweight and tired and everything hurts -- but I don't have to be this person.  I am not going to focus on the numbers on the scale.  I am going to focus on feeling better.  I am going to change one thing at a time.  I will start with a short walk after work and go from there.  My hope is that this time next year I will be in a happier place -- a healthier place.  I am not waiting for New Year's to make this resolution. Today I resolve to take care of myself and to be the healthiest person I can be. 

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

My Brother Chuck

My Brother Chuck, at 51
photo (c) Tina M. Harris, 2014

When our mother died 4 years ago, I dreaded having to tell my brother Chuck that she was gone.  My brother, for those who do not know him, has been intellectually challenged since a high fever nearly killed him as an infant. As a result, he had lived with our mother his entire life, ostensibly because he needed her to look after him.  Truthfully, though, he had really been her caregiver the last few years of her life.  He was the one who had to call 911 -- on more than one occasion -- when she started having chest pains and found it difficult to breathe. He was the one that did a lot of the housework that she could not do.  Even though my husband and I had moved back across the country from DC to Oregon to be close to her after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, she leaned on him to do things for her when Brad and I couldn't be there. I loved my mother, but always worried about the pressure he was under having to care for her.  I did what I could to help, but Chuck was the one who had spent the most time with her and I knew he was going to be crushed.  He is usually fairly even-keeled, but he has been known to smash things in rare fits of anger, and I was expecting him to have a bit of a meltdown.  I told him "Chuck, I am so sorry, but I had to take Mom to the hospital and she didn't make it," and I held my breath for one beat, two, an eternity ... he put his head down and whispered, "I guess I am an orphan now." I thought watching my mother as she slowly took her final breath had broken my heart, but nothing has ever shattered it like my brother did that day.

I took this photograph of Chuck while we were sitting waiting for lunch to be delivered to our table,  He had been smiling and chattering away happily about his great bowling scores earlier in the day but for a couple brief moments he was quiet, seemingly lost in thought as I snapped  his picture.  I wonder if he was thinking about Mom and wishing she had been there to celebrate with him.

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Life on the Redwood Coast ...

I have to admit, life here in Northern California is still a bit of an adjustment for me.  Things are so beautiful and green in Humboldt County -- so WHY is it such an adjustment?  I guess it has to do with me and how I react to change.  Change is difficult for me, even if the change is something that I have chosen.

I spent the first 36 years of my life in Los Angeles County, California.  I guess this makes me a "City Mouse" in many ways, and there are many things I miss about Southern California even though I left there 12 years ago.  I can say that I do not miss the traffic.  Or the smog.  But I still have family and friends there.  I love the museums.  There are so many great ethnic restaurants.  And there's the Hollywood Bowl.  And the Greek Theater.

Ferndale is a very small town -- even in relation to the other "small" towns I have lived in.  There is something both comforting and terrifying about that.  Comforting, because you walk down the street and people wave as they drive by, or holler after you when you pass the shops on Main Street.  Terrifying, because ... you walk down the street and people wave or holler and you still can't get used to everyone seeming to know you.

Still, it is lovely here and I think I might even adjust. After all, it has only been 12 years since I left Los Angeles, and I have ALMOST adjusted to that!

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mr. Fish Presents Jaws 
(c) 2013 by Tina M. Harris

Well, who would YOU get to sponsor Jaws??

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The View from Here ... Ferndale, CA

I spotted this on Saturday night, in the field behind our new home ... good thing my camera was close by (and he/she waited long enough for me to change lenses!)

Photo by Tina M. Harris (c) 2013

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Monday, September 10, 2012

A Lovely Day in Portland

A couple of photos from one lovely, sunny Saturday in Portland.

Brad and Gracie -- two of my favorite furry critters.

My parents went to the Saturday Market and all I got was this stupid sign.

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Gotta run ...

A year ago, I was doing so well.  I had dropped about 80 pounds at that point, and I was feeling pretty damn pleased with myself.  Then, by early November of last year my forward momentum came to a screeching halt.  I was still exercising, but not nearly as much as I had been.  And I was eating more than I knew I should.  I had dropped out of the running class that I was taking, and even though I still did the Turkey Trot 5K that I had signed up for, my heart was not quite into it.  I was in trouble and I knew it, but I did what I have always done and I buried my head in the sand.

I don't know if I became depressed because I was slowly gaining weight, or if I was gaining weight because I was depressed -- and it doesn't really matter which order those two things happened in, because the result was the same.  In the course of about 9 months I have gained back 32 pounds of the weight I had worked so hard to lose.  I have spent the last several months beating myself up, hiding in the house as much as I could because I didn't want anyone I knew to see me -- even those people who already knew I was gaining weight back.  I have been so ashamed of the fact that I just gave up on myself.

"Gotta Run" (c) 2011 by Tina M. Harris

I continued to walk over the course of the year -- and I think that has helped keep that 32 pound weight gain from being 50 or 60 -- however I have done little to push myself.  That pattern stops now.  I am sick of feeling ... well, sick.  My legs hurt, my back hurts, and worst of all my psyche hurts.  I know I am never going to be a bikini-wearing size 0.  I am a big girl and I am okay with that.  What I am NOT okay with is feeling like crap when it is within my ability to change.  So, I have signed up for another running class, I am refocusing my attention on my eating habits, and I am working on being kinder to myself.  None of this is going to be easy, but I also know that I can do it. 

And with that, I've gotta run ...

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Brad and I moved to Central Oregon from the east coast just over seven years ago ... and I still cannot believe that many years have gone by already!  In our time here, we have been to many wonderful places around the state -- but never in those seven years have we visited the most amazing spot in all of Oregon.  I am talking about Crater Lake.  Brad and I have thought about driving down there on a few occasions, but today we finally decided to get into the car and GO.  To say it is breathtaking simply does not begin to explain how incredible Crater Lake is.  And my photos don't come close to doing justice to it's beauty, but I am going to post a few in any case.

If you are ever in Oregon, do yourself a favor and be sure to visit Crater Lake!

Photo (c) 2012 by Tina M. Harris

Photo (c) 2012 by Tina M. Harris

Photo (c) 2012 by Tina M. Harris

Photo (c) 2012 by Tina M. Harris

(c) 2012 by Tina M. Harris

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