The other day I was at lunch with a friend. She hadn’t seen me in awhile, for over a year actually, so a lot has changed in my physical appearance. I’m now 70.5 lbs down from where I was last Fall. I forget how much my appearance has changed. For some reason, seeing the surprise in someone else’s face makes it more real. I have of late been challenged with that very thing, allowing the change to my body to sink into my brain. So it actually makes me a bit uncomfortable when I see that look on my friend’s face. I find that certain people are looking at me differently. I am focusing on the positive, which is they notice I’ve made real changes. But it also brings up more questions beyond that, and sometimes gets me on a roll about all of the things I’ve discovered on this journey. I don’t want to hide it, I’m just not that kind of person (uh, hello, I’ve put my fat and thinner ass on a blog, so it’s out there).
At lunch, I quickly scanned the menu (and in fact I had scoped out the restaurant beforehand). I gave a brief summary of what I’ve done to release the pounds, but I’m careful not to preach. I’m careful not to go into too much detail about what has essentially become a spiritual practice for me. I ordered my lunch….a chicken caesar, sans the croutons, dressing on the side, and a liter of sparkling water with lime please. My friend remarked, “It must be so hard to always have to obsess about what’s on the menu or to ask so many questions. You really have to watch everything.” I thought about that for a moment. Was I obsessed?
A few hours later, I was in work mode, preparing for a new project starting. The project involves travel. When I found out where the hotel was, I quickly googled the nearest Whole Foods supermarket, the safest bet for me since I know the store, and I know I can get organic food. The hotel was an extended stay place, meaning I would have a full kitchen in the room. I will be staying in this hotel on and off for the next couple of months during shooting. I also googled a few farm to table style restaurants nearby, the ones who pride themselves on serving really good whole food. I thought about my friend’s comment…Obsessed. Am I obsessed? Have I gone so deeply into this “new religion” that I can’t see how laser focused I’ve become around taking extra good care of myself and setting things up to insure I’m going to stick with my plan?
I looked up the definition of obsession…an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind. To some, this may look like obsession. There are times when I may stress about it, like when I’m about to travel, or am really busy with work. I have to carve out time to make sure I’m eating when I should eat, getting enough sleep, and planning a bit more to insure I have what I need. When I look at the definition again, the word “intrude” pops out. I don’t feel like my rules intrude upon me. In fact, the rules help me to feel less stress in general. Having a plan always feels better than flying by the seat of my pants. Yes, I’m more particular about food. I don’t settle for what everyone else is having. Does that make me a diva or holier than thou, or selfish?
In the past, I remember thinking during times of stress or a heavy workload, that I should just go along. I shouldn’t set boundaries or be a pain about where I stay, or what I eat, or how many hours I put in at work. I didn’t want to be difficult. And as a woman, I think we get tagged more often as difficult than if a guy did the same things. Sorry men, I’ve seen it first hand. I think women get more props when they accommodate versus set limits. In the past, I liked being the scrappy producer with a can do attitude. I could take it. I could muddle through on a few hours of sleep or a less than stellar lunch on the go, or worse, no meals at all until the end of the day. That’s how I used to roll and how I expected others to roll right along with me. Scrappy me. The new me has a different way of seeing this crazy world. The new me feels really good most days and better able to take on whatever life can dish out. When I work, I really focus, and I find I’m better able to get more done when I’m taking care of myself. And I see the same things with others. I no longer expect the people who work with me to put in crazy hours or give up valuable down time. I respect when others set limits for themselves. I still give my all, but there’s less resentment now because I’m learning it’s OK to set limits, to carve out time to exercise and rest and cook and relax. It’s not perfect. There are still some challenges, like big expectations or deadlines or never enough time to do all that I want to do. It’s a challenge I take on each day, and I’m not always great at it. There are still times when I feel overwhelmed.
The nature of my work involves having a creative brain, to figure out story, to manage a team of other creatives and to hit deadlines. Managing time, money, talent, and lots of details comes with the territory. And most days I am thankful and grateful that I have work I love. There are always problems to solve, compromises to make, and logistics to manage. But what’s different of late is I have put things like rest and food and physical activity in the “priority” category. The black and white rules have helped me do that. And it may look obsessive at times. I think I’m OK with however it looks, because of how I feel when I do it. And while I don’t think I’ll be training for a triathlon any time soon, I do get why people do those things. It makes them feel good. It makes them feel a bit more free. I get that now. I get that self-care isn’t selfish. It actually makes me more effective because I feel a lot calmer, and better able to manage my day. At a time when people are working 50-60 hour weeks and wear that like a badge of honor, I am taking on feeling good as a badge of honor.
I wish I didn’t care what people think. I’m working on it. I still do care. I just can’t let it define me. I’m learning to accept the new me, the one with loose skin, a body that has gone through some major changes, and a brain that no longer needs to obsess about things that in the long run won’t make a damn bit of difference. And if someone judges me for being particular about things, then so be it. If someone wants to deem what I’m doing as obsessive, I’ll just have to let that be. I still take it one day at time. In my heart, I know the joy this journey has brought, and I’m not afraid to talk about that, because if it means that one more person can embrace it, and move out of their own fears and frustrations, then hell yes, I’ll talk about it. If anyone can learn from my trials and tribulations, then there is no downside to it. Warts and all, we have to stick together. We have to lift each other up. We have to create the space for others to be their best, and to celebrate a new badge of honor, the kind that supports health and balance, not how much they’ve exhausted or neglected themselves in the name of work, sacrificing their own needs. I know for a fact I am more available to be of service because I’m handling the things that shut me down in the past. If that’s obsession, then bring it on.