A blog about body image, dance, fitness, and positivity. Reflections on learning to love who you are right now and tips for working on changing things that no longer serve you on your journey.

Friday, June 7, 2013

I'm baaAAaack....

Well, hey there! Yes, I disappeared from blogland for awhile (a semester, in fact), and while I could claim that it was being busy and especially having an 8 am class last semester that caused my absence, there were some other things going on as well. That's not to say that I wasn't busy, but really, these days everyone is busy so that's not really an excuse.

I'm still fat. Thought I'd get that out there. That's probably the biggest reason I have not been drawn back to blogging -- I made a public commitment to doing something, and then I didn't do it. I did give it a good run, though. I made it two months. I lost exactly 9 pounds. I know that shouldn't be discouraging, that slow weight loss is the most sustainable, that if I had just hung in there I would have gotten past the plateau... I know all those things intellectually, but at the time I felt like I was making a huge and painful sacrifice for very little result. So I just went back to my normal eating.

Of course I'm back to where I started now, weight-wise, and most of my clothes are getting tight. But there was an upside to the whole experiment, because I wasn't just struggling with the "diet" part -- I was also struggling with my whole motivation for trying to lose weight in the first place. I felt, and still feel, conflicted about wanting to be more body positive AND at the same time wanting to be thinner. All these issues had bubbled to the surface, just by writing this blog, and I hadn't really taken the time to process them. So the time off has been beneficial in some ways, because I feel more at peace about a lot of things.

For one thing, I feel better about my body as it is right now. I can look in the mirror and see things I like. I still have an hourglass figure (even if the bottom part has spread out a bit) that I appreciate and know I wouldn't have if I never got off the couch. Continuing to teach, take classes and perform plays a big role in that, I know, so I am also grateful to my own self for getting off the couch and going to class and hanging in there and not breaking.

I've come to terms with costuming and, to a certain extent, clothing my body as it is now. There are some things that just will not be flattering on me, and there's no reason to keep them around. There are other things that make me look FABulous, and I'm hanging on to those. I still have a hard time seeing something on the rack or in a picture and really being able to imagine it on me, so I have to be ruthless about trying things on (and returning them when necessary). Looking in the mirror is getting easier, so trying things on isn't as bad as it used to be.

Candid pictures are still hard for me to look at, but I know that it's possible to get a good picture of myself, so I just try not to think about the "bad" pictures too much. I know they are one element of the reality of how I look, but they're not the only element.

Pictures taken April 20, 2013...
...right after winning second place in a competition

Still, as I said, my clothes are getting tight. I don't want to buy new clothes, and I'd like to have more choices for clothes (and costumes) than I will have if I keep getting bigger. So while I still feel really strongly about finding ways to appreciate the way I look now, and fight against my tendency to be hypercritical, I also need to put the brakes on gaining any more weight.

So, I'm taking some steps to do just that, not necessarily to lose weight, but to kind of "reset" nutritionally and pull back a bit. One of my best friends from high school has had a lot of success -- not just with weight loss but with general health and well being -- with Advocare products, so I'm giving that a shot, starting tomorrow.

I'll probably be posting pictures of my "progress" at some point, but I really don't want (and have never really wanted) this to turn into a weight loss blog. That's not what The Fat Dancer is about, even though sometimes I felt like that was the direction I was pushing it, which made me anxious and uncomfortable. This is a blog about body positivity at any size and belly dance at any size and finding something you love and pursuing it wholeheartedly at any size, even if it means getting up in front of people and putting yourself on display.

I'd love to hear from you guys about your challenges and triumphs with weight and body image (and dance). I'm not a therapist, so I won't be offering advice, but sometimes it's nice to know you're more than just a voice crying out in the wilderness :)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

One Month Progress Report: I'll Take It

So yesterday, Dec. 31, was the one-month mark of my 13-month odyssey to the land of no carbs. While this experiment isn't about weight loss so much as getting a handle on my tendency to overload on dietary sugars, I'm not too proud to admit I hope to lose some weight as well. So I'm pleased to report that I've lost 8 pounds so far. That works out to about .25 pounds per day. At first, .25 pounds per day doesn't sound like that much, but if I lost .25 pounds per day for the next 365 days, I'd lose 90 more pounds. I don't have 90 pounds to lose, and I'm also not naive enough to believe that I won't eventually run into a plateau or even a brick wall; but even if I lost half that amount in the coming year, I'd be smaller than I've been since high school. That would be interesting, to say the least.

In other news, I've been trying to practice body appreciation instead of body hatred over the last month, and I've been surprised at how quickly some of my perceptions have been changing. It's not that I see myself differently, per se, but my internal dialogue is a little different. If I catch sight of myself in a mirror, or see a picture of myself, I still experience that shock that comes from seeing what I really look like, versus what I think I look like. But instead of feeling despair, I more often have felt acceptance. I'm more likely to think, "Well, that's what I look like, and that's ok. If I want to change how I look, then I should, but for now, it is what it is." That's progress, for me.

As for my commitment to eating no carbs, I'd say I've been about 85% this month. I've already written about the trouble with family meals, which continued on Christmas day when I was confronted with a meal in which absolutely nothing, except the roast, was LGL. So I ate, but I took small portions of everything and didn't go back for seconds. I did, however, have dessert. And my body freaked right out. So lesson learned there. If I don't eat sugars that immediately impact my blood sugar, I don't experience racing heart rate and palpitations. Seems pretty easy to figure that out.

I'm also getting much more sensitive to sweetness. I was at a meeting before the holidays where lunch was served (it was supposed to be ham, but turned out to be lasagna; I ate about half). I figured since I had already violated my "diet", I might as well have a cookie. I took one bite and almost passed out -- WAY too sweet. I also had a bite of coconut shrimp the other day at Ruby Tuesday -- it tasted like a doughnut. The only sweets I have been eating (other than these deviations) have been Cutie oranges, very dark chocolate, and the occasional CarbMaster yogurt. It's amazing, to me, how quickly things can change.

This is about as sweet as I can take right now.

So one month down, 12 more to go. So far, so good. And I promise, I'll have more posts about dance coming soon!

Happy New Year, and all best wishes for you for 2013!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Eating for Others

No, I'm not pregnant -- no, no, no, nevermore. What I'm reflecting on today is how difficult it is to disentangle the emotional ramifications of food from its purely nutritive aspects. I'm not really talking, here, about eating to self-comfort, but about how other people respond when you decline something they have made (or bought) for you that you do not want to eat. Or that you really, really do want to eat but shouldn't. Or that you've promised not to eat for a whole year (who would do something that crazy, I ask you?).

Oh beautiful pineapple -- why do you hate me so?
It's one thing if you're allergic. I'm allergic to avocados and pineapple (wah!) so I feel no guilt whatsoever in not eating food containing those ingredients. But I'm not allergic to cornbread, or cookies, or potatoes. And that's what I was faced with this weekend -- delicious, delicious homemade iron-skillet cornbread, sugar cookies made specially for us, and potatoes that couldn't, by any stretch, be politely picked out of a vegetable soup.

Nom. Nom nom nom.
So, as you've probably guessed, I ate what was set in front of me. We went to visit some elderly relatives of my husband's and she had prepared a delicious meal just for us. To be honest, health-wise it was not over the top. No scalloped potatoes or deep-fried chicken. The desserts were fairly light. But none of it was "on my diet."

Yes, I could have said "no thanks, I'm on a diet." Maybe I should have said that. But there is something so off-putting, to me, about sitting at a table where everyone is eating except one person, who is not eating by choice. It seems rude, to me. I know that our hostess would not have been offended (probably), but she probably would have felt guilty  in that good Southern hostess way, that she didn't cook something I could eat. And while I'm on the subject, I also think it's rude to require someone to change their whole menu just for you. [Again, I'm not saying that these are immutable etiquette rules -- I'm talking about how *I* feel about issues surrounding refusing food.]

So yeah, I could have lied. I could have said that I don't like any of that stuff. But that also comes across, to me, as rude, having been raised to at least try something of everything on your plate and not to refuse to eat food offered by one's hosts. I REALLY don't like seafood, of any kind, but honestly, if I go to someone's house and they serve seafood, I'm going to pretend that I like it. I was raised to believe that's just good manners.

I could have lied and said I'm allergic to corn, or wheat, or meat. But that kind of lie, besides being a little over the top, can also come back to bite you in any number of ways. First of all, all my in-laws were there, so they'd know I was lying. But even if they didn't, it would mean, given the fairly basic nature of the food we were eating, that future meals with this couple would be pret-ty limited (and also more likely to contain seafood -- urgh).

I could have said I was full. But again, that seems rude to me. If you know you are going to someone's house for a meal, why would you fill up beforehand. I get pissed off at my husband if he snacks before dinner, if I'm cooking, because I see that as disrespect for the effort I'm putting into making him food.  I could have brought my own food, but that also seems off-putting to me -- it seems supercilious and snobby TO ME. It's like saying, "Yes, I'll spend time with you, but I can't eat what all you normal people eat -- I need *better* food."

The mantra of many diet programs is probably familiar to many of you: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. But I did plan (a little). I ate some cheese on the way down, hoping it would curb my appetite a bit. But I wasn't prepared for the emotional landmine that surrounds family meals. Or formal family meals at any rate. I know some of you will say "But it's family -- they have to take you however you are." That's true, to an extent, but this is family we don't see very often, and I am very new to this family. I mean, she got out her good china for cornbread and beef stew.

I know that a lot of what I've said here reveals a lot more about my own issues with food than it has to do with the etiquette of dining.  But I also have to think that I can't be alone in this -- what is it about food, and eating in groups, and *preparing* food, that causes such intense emotional reactions?

No thanks, Grandma -- I'm just going to have a salad
In the end, I ate. I had cornbread, and soup (two bowls!) and cookies. I skipped the pecan pie, but that's mostly because I don't like it, and I felt I had earned one refusal since I had eaten everything else. I didn't go overboard. And I know I paid the price for it, both in breaking my pledge for the first time and in setting back whatever progress I've managed to eke out over the last two weeks. But I made a sweet lady happy (or kept her from being unhappy) and it seemed worth it at the time. I've been otherwise very disciplined over the last two weeks, but mostly by avoiding situations where I'd be tempted. But I'm going to have to come up with some strategies for dealing with more difficult eating situations if I'm going to manage to stick it out until 2014.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bellyfat and Bellydance -- Part I

In America, we don't see a lot of bellies in a positive context. Oh sure, we see lots of stomachs -- toned and taut six packs being used to market diet drinks, gym memberships and sex in the form of Victoria's Secret lingerie. But most of the time, when we're confronted with bellies, we are supposed to either laugh at them (e.g. peopleofwalmart.com) or be appalled/ashamed about them -- like that animated ad that appeared in the sidebar of practically every website I visited for at least a year that showed a fat belly shrinking down to a skinny stomach, over and over and over.

There have been some attempts to change this, most notably the Dove Real Body Campaign, but even then, in their most famous image, those stomachs are pretty flat. I don't see any bellies hanging over the top of those briefs:

Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

Maybe they're all sucking in really hard.

But the bellydance world is full of bellies. That's not to say that there aren't some very toned stomachs (quite a few, indeed), but there are an equal number of gushy, jiggly, wobbly bellies. And -- here's the key -- in bellydance, those bellies are presented on the same stages, in the same contexts, at (usually) the same level of celebration and admiration as the more culturally celebrated flat stomachs. 

That's awesome. Many women find it transformative. I know that I often see my own students, after a few classes, pulling their shirts up to expose their bellies -- partly because they want to see what's happening down there, but also, at least in part, because they see me doing it and see that the world didn't end when a woman showed her jiggly belly without apologizing for it. In class and in performance, we bellydancers just get accustomed to see bellies and stomachs of all sizes and within a pretty short period of time, it's often not an issue anymore.

It's unfortunate, then, that the public image of bellydance doesn't seem to incorporate the body positivity that actually exists in most of the bellydance world. I say "most" -- you don't see a lot of pudgy restaurant dancers and I know that there are troupe/company directors who require their dancers to conform to the culturally accepted standards of beauty. This is directly related to the public image of bellydance -- if you are trying to sell a product, you want to give the customer what they (think they) want. I totally get this, and I'm not judging (much). 

But there is great power in simply putting bellies back in the public consciousness in positive contexts. I was at a show recently where I was blown away by a dancer from out of state whom I had never seen before. She was a petite little thing with long dark hair and dark eyes -- the very image of what the general public believes a bellydancer is -- but she also had a very juicy belly. And she took advantage of it. When she shimmied, I couldn't take my eyes off her belly -- it had a life of its own. Much of her movement accentuated the additional motion of her belly reverberations. I wish I had written her name down, and I don't have the program anymore, but watching her dance was, in many ways, a revelation. Getting more bellydancers with bellies out there in front of the general public (instead of just out there in front of ourselves -- because we all know that the majority of the audience at most bellydance shows are other dancers) might be similarly transformative.

I'm going to a workshop with Mardi Love today as a birthday gift to myself. I've been covering my stomach in class and rehearsal lately because I've gained so much weight this fall, but today I'm going to put it out there. It is what it is, and what it is might just be ok.

But at the same time, I do wonder whether some styles of bellydance are better suited to stomachs than bellies... Stay tuned for Part II.

PS: Today marks the first week of my year-long experiment. Eating-wise I have been very disciplined (which isn't unusual at the beginning of a change). Weight-wise... well, I didn't gain (in fact, I lost a little) and that's what I have to keep reminding myself of -- the whole point of this experiment is, at one level, to just stop gaining and to get my carb addiction under control. So: Week 1 = Mission Accomplished.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Fat Dancer's Dinner: Curry Coconut Lentil Stuff

So it's Day 5 of the great experiment, and everything is going well so far. I've been doing meal planning and thinking ahead so that I don't get caught without any LGL (low glycemic load) options. For example, on Day 1, we went to a lovely wedding (congrats, Joey and Keith!) that included a buffet-style dinner. I had already heard about all the awesome food, like mac and cheese served in a martini glass, and chicken and stuffing, and baked brie -- all things that I can't imagine NOT eating. But, diets are easiest to follow the first week when motivation is high, and this was the first day, so I planned ahead. I made some soup (not this one -- this one is better) and ate a big bowl of it before we went. I truly wasn't hungry.

I did have some punch though. Everyone was in line for punch so I lined up too -- it wasn't until I was halfway through the glass (which was more like a mug) that I realized "Hey, this is full of fruit juice" (no sugary drinks for me until 2014). Then about 2/3 of the way through the glass I realized "Hey, what is IN this stuff -- whoo hoo!" But I just had the one glass. I normally don't drink fruit juice, so I wasn't too worried about this one lapse.

I do drink wine, though. Almost no glycemic load. And there was plenty of that. So -- whew! -- it's all good.

I did eat one tiny mac and cheese noodle off my husband's plate while he was busy taking pictures, if I'm being honest. BUT, I did not have any cake. It was really too beautiful to eat, anyway:

Check the cake topper -- so cute!

Anyway, on with the show. One of the main issues for me with low-carb diets is boredom. But, y'all, I found this recipe for Red Lentil Coconut Soup, and it is so versatile, and so freaking delicious, that I could have this once a week or so and not get tired of it.

I adapted the recipe a bit for my family who a) don't like soupy soups and b) don't like meatless meals, and here's what I came up with. I'm going to start with the base, because you could do almost anything with this base and I think it would be awesome. I'm not calling it a soup -- I'm calling it "stuff" because it's not quite a stew, but definitely not a casserole.

Coconut Curry Lentils -- Base

  • 2 cups red split lentils (I couldn't find *red* lentils at either major grocery in town, so I just used lentils)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (the fineness of the chop is up to you, in my opinion)
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 fresh jalapeno, finely chopped, including seeds if you want some heat
  • 1 tablespoon fresh peeled and minced ginger (about 1")
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 5 cups of water
  • 1 can light coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven or large soup pan and add the onions, bell pepper and jalapeno and cook for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables have softened and start to take on some color.  Add the garlic, ginger, spices and tomato paste and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes until the mixture is toasty and fragrant.  

At this point, the original recipe called for 7 cups of water. That's up to you. I only used 5. Add the water, coconut milk, and lentils and cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes adding the lime juice at the end of cooking. Adjust the seasonings if necessary before serving.

Now change it up...

I added three diced boneless chicken breasts when the liquid started boiling, stirring as I added, and let it cook with the lentils. You could also do any or all of the following:
  • leftover cooked chicken, chopped
  • leftover cooked roast, chopped
  • crumbled, cooked bacon
  • a bag of frozen cauliflower florets
  • a can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • spinach or kale (we are not kale fans around here -- we've tried, honestly)
  • substitute a bag of colorful lentils for the plain or red ones (our Kroger carries a couple lentil mixes) -- just be sure not to use a bean mix that includes beans that need to be soaked or pre-cooked
Garnish and Serve

Cut a little cilantro over the top. I haven't actually tried it, but I imagine some plain yogurt or even some fresh goat cheese would be good on top.

One problem for us with soups and stews is that we're used to eating them with rice or noodles. In this case, I steamed some spinach and put that in the bottom of the bowls, then ladled the stuff over that. But you could also serve this with cauliflower "rice," which is a staple of most low-carb eating.

Here's how it turned out:

Please ignore the state of my stovetop. Thank you.


Now, I realize that lentils are not technically low carb. But they do have a relatively low glycemic load -- although every reference book calculates GL differently, which is frustrating. But according to Self Nutrition Data, a cup of lentils has a GL of 13, which puts them in the "medium" range. Good for a day when you're on the low side and can afford it. By contrast, a cup of chick peas has a GL of 23, but they are bulkier and you won't get as many in your bowl if you only use a can of them in place of the lentils. Or you can cut the amount of lentils in half and add more veggies.

My next big challenge is this weekend's workshop with Mardi Love. Not the workshop itself so much, which I'm sure will be fabulous, but eating. I'm used to stopping at Wendy's on the way home but I'll have to plan better now, because I know I will be ravenous. I'll need snacks that are portable, non-perishable, and non-starchy. Making my list now -- I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The First Step...

… is admitting you have a problem.

So hi guys. I know it’s gone silent around here. Dead air. It’s not that I haven’t had things to say, but for awhile there it was hard to figure out which of the many voices fighting for attention was going to get the floor. This is The Fat Dancer, but should I focus on the Fat part or the Dancer part? Or both? And how?

There was some other stuff going on, too; just life stuff but pretty distracting and also a general time suck, and blogging had to take a back seat for awhile.

And then there’s the happy, happy fact that I’ve managed to gain 15 pounds since I started blogging. In 10 weeks. Quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself.

I’ve been thinking a lot about body positivity during the hiatus, and I’ll have much more to say on that in the days to come, but in the meantime, my clothes don’t fit. And as much as I’d like to come to terms with, and even learn to love, how I look at this weight, I am not at a place where I can own that. I don’t like feeling squeezed into everything except yoga pants, and I don’t like what I see in the mirror.

Even more than the weight, though, is how I’ve been feeling, which is basically yucky. I’ve been sick more this semester than I can ever remember being. My stress levels are up again, I’m tired, and maybe even a little depressed. Which is ironic given that I justify my carb-eating extravaganzas by telling myself that carbs are what make me happy. Gotta love irony.

I’m also tired of feeling all angsty about my struggle with weight and food (which lately has been less a struggle than a total surrender). I’ve talked before about my carb addiction, and I was half joking, but only half. Now it’s time for rehab. And we all know rehab doesn’t work without accountability.

So I came up with a solution that combines all of my non-day-job hobbies and habits -- dance, writing (in the form of blogging), cooking and body/weight/diet issues – and public accountability. Starting Dec. 1 (which was yesterday, I know, but I’ve been stuck in avoidance mode – so shoot me), and for the next 13 months, I am committing myself to changing my approach to food, and dealing with my carb addiction. With the support of my family (even my cauliflower-hating daughter who knows what she’s in for), I will be switching from the “eat whatever you want” diet (which I have clearly demonstrated is enormously successful at putting on about 1.5 pounds per week) to a low glycemic load diet, which essentially means no bread, pasta, rice, potatoes or white sugar.

I have no illusions that the next 13 months will be easy; nor do I have any expectation that this transition will occur without its occasional slip-ups and mistakes. But I will use this space, at least in part, to blog about my journey.

This does not mean that I am turning this blog into a diet or weight-loss blog. It’s still going to focus on body image, dance, and other related issues. The focus of my experiment is not really weight loss, even though I do expect to lose some weight. But I will not be tracking daily progress or pounds lost per week here. I will be focusing on the fact that I’m doing what I’m doing out of love for myself and as part of honoring the body that works so hard for me. I will NOT be doing this from a place of body hatred – I know that has to change for me to change anything at all.

That doesn’t mean I won’t talk about weight loss if it happens, but that’s not the point. The point, for me, is a) making a transformation that I believe will ultimately have a positive impact on many aspects of my life and b) sticking to something for a year, even when it gets hard.

And when it does get hard, I’ll just tell myself I can wait until Jan. 1, 2014, and then I can eat as much mashed potatoes and pasta as I want. I have some faith that on that day, I won’t want as much as I think I do, and that I will have learned to honor my body enough to not overdo it too much.

In addition to this blog, I’ve started two boards on Pinterest – one on low glycemic load recipes (The Fat Dancer’s Dinner), and one on body image (The Fat Dancer). I’ve got a new logo that should help tie everything together as well. Feel free to follow them as well as this blog.

That leaves only one thing left to do. In the tradition of all rehab programs everywhere, the first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem.

My name is Lara, and I have a problem with food. But I’m going to do something about it. Join me on my journey.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It's All in My Head

So, yeah -- I kinda disappeared there for awhile. Much craziness around here, and I've been using my blogging time to do work that should have gotten done when the craziness was happening. I've also had another mental mini-rebellion against thinking about changing my eating habits. I have to wonder -- is this rebellion a just and honest rebellion against the forces in our world that make me feel unnecessarily crappy about myself, or is it a sneaky and underhanded way for the carb-addicted pleasure center in my brain to keep getting everything it wants? I can't figure out the source yet, but I can tell you this -- under the stress of the last couple of weeks, I perceived thinking about changing how I eat as additionally stressful. So I stopped thinking about it.

BUT I have noticed that even without thinking about it consciously, some of that work I was doing has paid off. I am now the last one to finish eating, when I used to be first. I get full faster. I haven't really lost any weight, but I haven't gained any either, which is a victory of its own, I suppose. So now that things are calming down (maybe), I can imagine at least the possibility that I might get back to changing a few more habits in the near future.

In the meantime, though, I've jumped right to Step 4: Stop Sitting. Because I'm now teaching five dance classes a week. I've got eight lovely, wonderful and hard-working new student dancers in our troupe, and we rehearse twice a week; I also started a new job at a cool new studio in town, so I'm teaching three fitness classes there (2 ATS-based and 1 Egyptian-style basics classes). What I've noticed, which is sort of validating, is that even the skinny girls, and even my dance sister who is crazy strong and in Iron-Woman shape, get sweaty, out of breath, and tired -- sometimes even before I do. And I think that that, all by itself, might change a few people's perceptions about what it means (and doesn't mean) when someone is fat. I'm good with that.

Feeling like a dancer again is also really good. Spending all that time in front of the mirror has given me the confidence to agree to perform an entirely new solo for a festival show this weekend, which basically means I have three days to put it together, but I'm not even worried.

So what's the point of all this rambling, anyway? Well, mainly that, whatever is going on in our lives, 90% of the game is mental. And sometimes our brains work against us, which doesn't really seem fair, but it's a fact that seems to have been pretty firmly established by psychologists. We can't always trust our perceptions; sometimes our subconscious helps us rationalize decisions that consciously we didn't want to, or know we shouldn't, make; and a lot of stress in our lives comes from inside our very own heads, not from outside sources.

This was brought home to me yesterday, when I was yet again considering faking some kind of serious illness that would require hospitalization (which would mean *maybe* people would stop complaining, bitching and generally making life miserable for everyone around them, or at least keep it to themselves for awhile). It was so bad that I actually had to close my office door and cry for a little while -- it was that or throw up. Later that afternoon, a colleague who had heard a little bit about what was going on texted me and said, "Hey, it's not your fault." At least I thought that's what he said when I first read the text, and I felt all validated, because that's what *I* was saying to myself. But then I read it again, later when things had calmed down a little, and what he was actually saying was: "Hey, knock it off. You are not responsible for the outcome of a process that involves almost 20 people. You can't control it, so get over yourself." He didn't use those exact words, but that was what he meant.

And that's when I realized (again): Wow, everyone else sees the world really differently than I do. My perceptions about myself and my role in the world cannot be trusted. And I can't control it. So I should stop worrying about it and just get on with life. And that's kind of a huge relief.

I ran across this image the other day; I think it's pretty apropos as a mantra for this week.

I'm thinking maybe I should be working on these steps instead of my 5 S's, and focus on changing my mind first, before I try to change my body. Maybe I'll even decide my body doesn't need that much changing after all.