Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Cosmic Doppelganger Is An Evil Bitch!

So I was watching this show called Curiosity on the Science Channel. The episode was called “Parallel Universes: Are They Real?” On the show, Cosmologist Max Tegmark, speaking about repeating patterns, said: “When I say all patterns of atoms repeat, I really mean all patterns. Even the pattern of atoms that makes up me, Max Tegmark. If I go far enough away there is going to be another exact copy of me who will not just look like me, but feel like he is me.”

Wow, that’s pretty cool. So there’s another one of me somewhere else in the universe. I imagine her to be a skinny, super cool, version of me. She hasn’t had to deal with Type 2 Diabetes, sugar/food addiction, or any of the other issues that stress me out, like having to be on a really strict calorie count in order to lose any weight. I imagine she is the me who has successfully managed her weight. But then, of course, reality came crashing back down around me. Wait . . . What did he say? Another EXACT copy? Well, shit, that means she is some alternate skinny me. That means she’s probably struggling with her weight just the same as me. Wait. What if I am the exact copy? Does that mean we are connected in some weird cosmic way? What I do affects her and what she does affects me? Cool! Wait. Shit. THAT BITCH! She’s probably over there sitting on her fat ass eating fucking bon bons and watching Stargate SG-1 reruns as I type this! She is the reason I have so much trouble losing weight. That must be it.

So not only do I have all the various reasons in my universe holding me back - Type 2 Diabetes, food addiction, emotional eating, the yummy deliciousness of Tapatio flavored Doritos (damn them!) – but now I have to contend with my cosmic doppelganger sabotaging my every effort with her cotton candy eating self. How do I know she’s eating cotton candy right now? Because I am THINKING of cotton candy right now. She’s taunting me with her evil twin me eating habits! THAT BITCH!

Well, I am glad that I finally learned about her sabotaging, evil, pernicious existence. You know what, I don’t even know if ‘pernicious’ is an appropriate word for that sentence, because I can’t think off the top of my head what it means (it’s that fucking bitches’ fault – she’s overloaded me with sugar!), but it sounded good, so I using it. My point being, now that I know about her, I can work to counteract all of her evil undermining of my success. Then, she’ll be in her reality eating donuts and sucking down Dr. Pepper (NOT DIET) and telling her friends “I KNOW, RIGHT? It’s like I can eat anything and still lose weight.” Yeah, so I won’t get credit for making my evil twin me’s life bloody brilliant, but I at least have the satisfaction of knowing that my evil twin’s evil twin versions of my friends will be totally insane with jealousy.

I know that might sound a bit catty of me, but you have to remember these are my evil twin friends, not my real friends who are totally cool and amazingly awesome and supportive. I mean, let’s face it, my friends rock. But not me evil twin’s friends. They are equally as evil as she is and are probably talking about her behind her back all the time and being totally catty. So, see, I am just helping my evil twin me to not be the ‘Dinner for Schmucks’ version of me. Because I am philanthropic like that.

So the next time you are working extra hard on sticking to your healthy eating game plan or having a tough time avoiding stress eating, just think of your evil twin you in the other evil twin parallel reality and all her jealous, backstabbing evil twin friends, suck it up, take one for the team and say: “This one is for you, evil twin me!”

Yeah, she may be an evil bitch, but I kinda like her.

Monday, February 21, 2011

In Defense of Women

"Making the world a safer place, 12-16 women at a time."  That was his motto. Even while screaming obscenities in my face. Even while calling me horrible names and telling me the disgusting things he would do to me. Even while physically attacking me.

Sound awful? It was. But it was also three of the best days of my life. Who is this man who felt he was making the world a safer place while being completely creepy, verbally inappropriate and forcing me to roll over and spread my legs? He was my mock assailant and I love him for every horrible minute of it. 

I recently attended a three day self-defense course taught by Impact Bay Area, a non-profit organization with the goal of teaching women and teens not only how to defend themselves from people who would verbally and/or physically attempt to invade their personal boundaries, but also how to heal mentally and emotionally from past attacks in order to move beyond them and feel safe and strong. This isn't any run-of-the-mill self-defense course. This course trains you to use mind, body and voice to defend yourself. It teaches you muscle memory by allowing you to practice full force defense techniques with a fully padded mock assailant.

Full. Force. Fighting. = Awesome.

It was three of the hardest days of my life, but when I emerged from each 8 hour day exhausted, sore, and sometimes even bruised and bleeding, I found a new me. One filled with awe and confidence and strength. These three days were spread out over a three week period and in the intervening weeks I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. Yes, I hurt. Yes, I bled. Yes, I sustained a mild concussion. (Tuck your chin, ladies, tuck your chin. Protect your head and keep it off the ground!) But I know I'll do it again. It is a small price to pay for all I have gained.

I have not been raped or even physically attacked before, but that didn't stop me from feeling completely intimidated and overwhelmed by the thought of the emotional and physical toll this class would take. I knew it was going to be intense and would bring out fears and emotional scars I didn't even know existed. I found that I was not alone. The general agreement among all of my classmates was that while we all wanted to be there, we were all equally terrified, too. Gathering strength from that comraderie, I dove right in and was the first to openly cry. I hoped I wouldn't, but it didn't really surprise me considering I can pretty much cry at almost anything. This probably would have been less embarassing if it had been brought on by something more intrusive than "introduce yourself, tell us why you're here and what you hope to get out of this class." Yeah, to my great annoyance, I often find it hard to get through any strong emotions without tears. Did I mentioned I felt overwhelmed and intimidated? It was in that moment, however, that I decided what I wanted out of class was a way to find my voice while leaving the tears behind. I got this and so much more.

Day one we learned how to use our voices, how to hold our ground and our first core defense techniques that we would build on through the course. While I was certain that I had the physical strength to knee an attacker in the groin with the best of them, I was also pretty sure I would fail miserably in the "using my voice" portion of the training. Let me explain by saying I am NOT a confrontational person. I don't even like it when I am an observer to confrontation. It's so full of horrible negative vibes, anger and unwanted attention that I pretty much will avoid it at all costs. And in the past I have, even at the cost of losing my own personal boundaries. To say that I was shocked to find myself screaming (in front of all these strangers no less) at my mock assailant, telling him to BACK OFF and GO AWAY is an understatement. To say that it felt good to do so . . . unimaginable. Within a mere few hours I had found my voice. And it was loud and strong and empowering. But verbal attacks were only the beginning. Day one also brought physical attacks. From the front, from behind, pulling you, pushing you, grabbing your hair, picking you up and tackling you to the ground. I learned that yes, even I can immediately drop to the ground poised for a groin kick when faced with a charging person intent on hurting me. I learned that I can even do that without breaking a hip (who knew?), or feeling any pain. Adrenalin, I learned, is a wonderful thing. Addictive even.

At day two's check-in I was, mercifully, tear free. YES! We proceeded into a review of what we learned on day one and then further into new attack positions and scenarios. Foolishly, I had come away from day one surprised that our assailants didn't swear at us more. But day two introduced reversals. Think home invasion, it's 2 a.m. and you're sound asleep. Reversals are up close and personal and start on the ground, laying down, with your eyes closed. Reversals also brought a new level of verbal abuse which shocked us and caused us to cry. Verbal abuse can be more intimidating than physical violence. Day two we learned to "go to zero," one of the most difficult and most powerful positions you can be in. That's where you force yourself to stop fighting, try to ignore him as he tells you in the most disgusting way possible how worthless you are, how much you're going to enjoy this, how much he's going to enjoy this; where you remain limp and allow him to move you into vulnerable positions as you wait for that precious, golden moment when he thinks you have given up and he releases an arm or leans all his weight on you and you can finally strike a blow or heave him over and kick as hard as you can. Did I mention that adrenalin is a wonderful, addictive thing? Especially once you learn to work through it without panic and use it to your advantage.

While I expected day three to be physically exhausting, it also brought a new intimidation I didn't expect. Did you know that about half of all sexual assaults involve a demand for oral sex? Me either. Who would think that men would be stupid enough to put their penis near a pair of unwilling teeth? Actually, we were told the word in this situation is not so much "stupid" as "arrogant." They are counting on you to be so intimidated by their verbal assault and at having a penis shoved in your face that you will actually comply with this request without biting. Mind-boggling, I know, but it's true and sadly, it works. This brought a whole new level of creepy innuendo and verbal trash talk from our mock assailants. For me and my non-confrontational nature, it brought a whole new level of feeling helpless and uncomfortable. What can be more confrontational than having a penis shoved in your face? Yeah, OK, he's wearing like 3 inches of padding, but that doesn't stop it from feeling invasive and gross anyway. You know why? Because it is. But you know what it didn't bring? Tears. We had all become strong enough that even this new level of intimidation could not take away the power we had already claimed. Our response? FU creepy dude! We will bite that penis and/or administer a move aptly named "the weenie whomp." Although we were taught to strike twice with the weenie whomp before pushing ourselves away, I noticed that pretty much everyone struck about 3-4 times instead. It was just such an inviting target at that point and, well, I've mentioned that adrenalin thing right?

Day three also brought extended fights to give you the experience of fighting off an assailant who might be on drugs or in a psychotic break and who has a higher than normal pain tolerance level because of it. It's where we learned that even though your mind is telling you to quit, even though you feel like your legs have stopped working, even though you can barely gasp for breath, you find deep inside there is strength for one more elbow strike, strength to deliver a final kick to the head, pick yourself up off the ground and run for help.

Day three ended with a public celebration in which you could invite friends and family to come and see what you have been learning. A chance for the instructors to tell them about what they teach and why they shouldn't practice these techniques at home with you. (Full force = no pulling punches.) A chance to show them the fights and how you are able to defend and protect yourself in various situations. Afterwards my husband told me that even though it was difficult to see me in such a vulnerable position, he did feel better knowing now that I could defend myself if necessary. And while it was difficult to watch my daughter hide her face when the physical attacks were too uncomfortable and cover her ears when the verbal attacks too harsh, I knew she was learning that even though there are bad people who do disgusting things, you can fight back and defend yourself. She now wants to take the teen class and learn to defend herself.

I was lucky enough to not have to pay for my class this time as it was a gift from my employer, but most people don't have this option. Fortunately, Impact Bay Area offers a scholarship for women who are not able to afford the cost of the class themselves. They are able to do so with donations they receive from people like me and people like you. And there are many ways to donate. You can donate money, time, supplies and by shopping. Yep, you heard me. Click on links from their website to Amazon and 6% of your order total will be donated to the organization. How's that for easy? Impact Bay Area is part of a non-profit that has Chapters in many different locations and you will most likely be able to find one near you. I urge you to donate or at least spread the word about this wonderful opportunity with women you know and love. Helping women to become strong and confident is one of the best things you can do for them.

From this course I learned that I have the right to set boundaries and have others respect those boundaries without having to justify them. I don't have to be afraid when commuting, grocery shopping, or going out alone. I learned that I have the right to enjoy my life the way I want to without anyone taking that away from me and that I can protect myself and those around me. I learned that speaking up will not provoke an attacker, but will cause them to back down in the face of opposition. I learned that an attacker does not decide to rape you because anything you say, do or wear provokes him, but that attacker has already decided to rape and is merely looking for someone to intimidate and overpower. I refuse to be that person. I refuse to let others around me be that person. I have a strong mind, a strong body and a loud voice and I'm no longer afraid to use them.

I did not accomplish any of this on my own. I had the help of 1 lead instructor, 2 assistant instructors, 2 mock assailant instructors and 12 other women who were all equally committed to the goal of making the world a safer place, 12-16 women at a time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Plateaus to Flatlines to Hurdles

Plateaus. If you've ever tried to lose weight or known someone who's tried to lose weight or even read an article about losing weight, then you've heard about the horror of plateaus. 

It's not even a nice sounding word.  Platt Toes. Feels a lot like splat on your toes. 

My body has decided to set a flattoe of it's own and has remained doggedly persistent in sticking to it.  Oddly enough, it is exactly at the initial goal weight I set over two years ago.  My mini goal. My first goal.  I will get below xx weight.  Over. Two. Years. Ago.

It's not like I haven't made progress toward this goal.  I've lost 20 lbs to get to this goal and had to learn to change my eating habits completely. I've had to work at changing my relationship to food.  I've had to give up one of my closest friends and allies. My comfortable and safe place. I've had to venture into the world of standing on my own two feet. Alone. Without the comfort of warm buttered bread, bagels and potato chips.

It took me a few years of stops and starts and slips and falls before I figured out how to traverse this mountain at a slow and steady pace that gets results, instead of the free for all sprint to the top.  You would think the sprint to the top would work. Sadly, it just results in sprained ankles, broken bones, cuts and bruises as you find yourself back at the bottom, once again.

For the past five months, however, I have lost and gained the same 5 lbs as I attempt again and again to traverse the plateau my body has set for itself.  Last week I even came within 3 ounces of reaching that goal.  To be smacked right back down this week with hormones and bloating and a curse which doctors and the advertising industry continually try to convince women is a gift and a blessing. But as I stare at my scale showing a 2 lb gain; I know better.

I tell myself it will be better in a week in the hopes this will help me resist the urge to run to the store for that bag of Cheetos that is calling me. Good 'ol Chester. He'd never tell me I was fat. But then again, he'd never told me that 86% of corn products in the US are genetically modified either. He's not really my friend. He just pretends to be. He can stay at the store then for all I care. Last thing I need now is a faux friend!

I'm hanging in there, but I won't pretend that it's not frustrating and depressing to keep coming so close, only to be put off once again.  I know if I could get past the mental fatigue that keeps me from exercising each and every single day that I would probably break this plateau.  But, for now, that seems to be the hardest thing to do.

So tell me . . . what do you do to get beyond that mental exercise fatigue?  The part of your brain that is fighting so hard to keep every last ounce of fat that it completely incapacitates your will to spend 30, 20 or even 10 extra minutes a day in motion?  It's not physical.  Physically my body is screaming out for me to go hit that weight bench, go walk around the block, pull out the Wii Fit.  But everytime my mind just shuts me down.  How do you take a plateau that feels like a flatline and turn that into a hurdle that can be surmounted?  What works for you?

Where is it inside that you find that motivation?  Obviously, I haven't found mine yet.  I must not be looking in the right place.  Or perhaps I just need a fucking flashlight.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bionic Chicken Was A Bust!

Well, shit.  So I managed to get the heat right on my Bionic Chicken recipe.  But the flavor was not there. It was just hot.  So, I will have to go back to the drawing board.  That's good and bad.  Good because that means I'll have to eat some more of that yummy chicken.  Bad because that yummy chicken does not have my best interests at heart.  It merely wants to freeload off of me by hanging around on my hips.  Fucker!  Get your own ride. 

As soon as I can muster up the willpower.  I will buy some to take home and let my husband eat it and tell me what spices he thinks we need to add.  One day Thai Spicy Chicken aka Bionic Chicken . . . one day I will own you!

Friday, February 4, 2011

This Chicken Is Making Me Fat(ter); So I'm Turning It Bionic

This is my nemesis.  At least it's my nemesis for this week.  The chicken, not the carrots.  Duh.  The Chinese restaurant where I buy it calls it Spicy Thai Chicken.  I suspect they aren't making this particular dish in Thailand.  Do they use a lot of Jalapenos in Thailand?  I think not.  It's OK.  I can get over the misnomer.  What I can't get over is the 2 pounds I gained this week because of my "need" to eat this spicy, spicy dish 3 days in a row.  Just when I was doing so well . . . 

My mission this weekend is clear:  make a better, healthier version.  Less frying, no breading, all the great spicy hotness.  Less chili oil?  Definitely. This version is practically floating in it.  Seriously.  Before eating it, I deconstructed it so I could attempt to guess at what spices where used.  (Apparently I think I am a human mass spectrometer. Google it. Or better yet, just watch NCIS; Abby will enlighten you.)  Anyway, I digress.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, deconstructing my food.  I could see the chicken was practically infused with the chili oil.  So that tells me I should probably marinate the chicken in some sort of chili type paste and/or liquid before cooking it.

Ooh, and I'll need a catchy name for it.  I can't call it Spicy Thai Chicken.  It's spicy but it's not Thai and, well, that name's already taken.  But it needs a name that will reflect it's remarkable improvement.  Yes, I have confidence in my abilities here!  And after all, it WILL be better for me and a remarkable improvement for my health.  Hmmmm . . .  I'll rebuild it.  Better, faster, stronger . . . THAT'S IT!  I'll call it "Bionic Chicken."  Better, healthier, hotter.  OK, maybe not hotter because it's pretty darn spicy as it is, but at least as hot.  Then I'll make about a week's worth of them, bring them to work and I won't have to worry about giving into my craving for its unhealthy version.  YES! 

Oh, and I probably shouldn't forget my carrots either.  Crudites are always a good accompaniment.