Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Physical Fitness

The (mental) journey from fat to fit

oh, how i wish.
Like this, but not as hot.

I was talking with Ian yesterday about how anxiety works because we’ve both experienced it in our lives. Still do, but to a lesser degree. We were talking about how worrying about all this stupid shit that you can’t really do anything about is a way to not focus on things that are actually a problem in your life, but that you don’t want to deal with. I mentioned trying to eat better–

Side note: We both realized in Malta that we were fatter than we felt comfortable with. Air France has really short seat belts probably because the French hate everything and everyone (joke/not a joke. Will never return to Charles de Gaulle), and I could barely click it. Once we were cleared, I took it off and didn’t put it back on until we were landing. In Malta, I felt even worse because I couldn’t walk for ten minutes without getting tired. Yes, part of it was the heat, but it’s also that I’m not in great shape. Anyway, back to my narrative.

I said that I wanted to eat better, but I’m not doing anything about it. Ian quickly exclaimed that I had done a lot. I paused to really think about it because he was right. I cut out gluten and dairy a year and three months ago, and that was the start of an arduous journey. Giving up wheat and dairy was surprisingly easy especially as there are so many tasty alternatives these days, and I don’t miss anything. Well, except cheese. I miss cheese a lot. And dumplings. And pizza. It’s OK, though. *sigh*

I’m also adding back in fruits and veggies. I ate a ton when I was a kid because my mom made me. It won’t surprise you to find out that I rebelled as an adult by not eating any at all. I really was cutting off my nose to spite my own face because I like most fruits and several vegetables. I eat an orange a day, and veggies in the deli food I get from the co-op. I try to eat at least one other fruit a day to get my five in.

Next up, I have cut way back on my caffeine. I drank up to sixty ounces of it a day (yes, I know that’s not how caffeine is measured, but it’s how I view it), and now I’m at eight or less (most days). Meaning, I went from five-ish cups to one. I’ve mostly stopped drinking coffee, substituting tea in its place. Currently, I’m giving up chips and other nibbles which for some reason I started eating again after I gave it up the last time. I find that it’s means I’m less anxious and jittery, which is a net positive. I don’t even miss my Diet Coke. I had a few while I was in Malta and when I’m eating out, and to be honest, it tastes weird to me now. So, yes. I’ve made big changes. I eat better overall now than I did a year-and-a-half ago. And yet, I still have so far to go.

Let me be clear. I hate the way I look. When I glance in the mirror and see all the roundness, I flinch. I look monstrous and grotesque to my eyes, especially my face and my belly. I’m not the biggest I’ve ever been, but it certainly feels that way. I had thought when I cut out dairy and gluten, I would naturally lose some weight. I didn’t. I think it’s because of the aforementioned delicious substitutes that are readily available these days that I didn’t really feel the pinch. And (and now we’re getting to the meat of the post) it’s because I don’t cook.

*sigh*

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A vague plan for better living

all tuckered out.
Were I so cute!

I’m fat. I have been most of my life except for the times when I was anorexic/bulimic. I’ve dealt with eating disorders (ED) for most of my life, and any time I try to lose weight in a sensible way, I plunge deeply into the abyss. No matter how reasonable I am when I first start, my ED-thinking takes over, and I end up in the same bad place. I will fully admit my desire to lose weight has always been for vanity reasons. I don’t give a shit about the health benefits–it’s all about looking in the mirror and feeling gross.

I’ve spent twenty years getting fatter and fatter. I lost weight more than once during that time, but it never lasted. One time it was because I was trying out antidepressants (for a second round), and they were making me feel deeply suicidal. I lost nineteen pounds in two months because every minute I was fighting the urge to kill myself. When I told my doctor, she kinda laughed and said, “Well, whatever it takes” or something like that. I immediately changed doctors because even though she was joking, that was completely inappropriate. Quick side note: SSRIs work well for me on the first go-around (Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa) for about a year. Then, the effect wears off, and I switch. When I re-try the same drug, it makes me suicidal. I don’t know why, but it’s highly unfortunate.

Anyway, I got off the Celexa right quick, and I stopped feeling suicidal, but I also regained the weight. I’m the fattest I’ve ever been, and it’s way out of hand. I would have thought cutting out gluten and dairy would have led to natural weight loss, but my guess is it’s the rice. I’ve added it back into my diet, and it’s calorie-dense. Jasmine rice because it’s delicious. It also doesn’t help that I don’t cook and mostly rely on deli food. It’s not so bad when it’s the co-op, but when it’s Cubs? Yeah, not the healthiest food of all. Also, I gave up fruits for some years even though I love them because my mom was very rigid about them when I was growing up. I’ve started adding them back. I eat an orange every day because it’s good at easing aches and pains (as told to my taiji teacher from a weightlifter), and I try to eat other fruits. I have grapes in my fridge right now, but I haven’t been very good about eating them.

I’ve also decided I’m going to do the ‘add one healthy item a week’ thing with the hopes that snacking on healthy food will slowly overtake my desire to munch. Earlier, I cut out chips and popcorn, but I added them back for whatever reason. Side note: There are two ways to deal with cutting out ‘bad’ foods. One, cut them out completely. Two, slowly wean yourself off of them. I’m more of a number one kind of gal because if it’s not there, I can’t eat it. But, I’m nominally a grown-up now, so I’m going to try a combination of the two. One, once I’m done with my current bag of popcorn, I’m not going to buy any more chips/popcorn. Two, I bought individualized bags of baby carrots and a bottle of pickle spears. In theory, I’ll munch on those when I have an impulse for the salt. It’s kinda working, but we’ll see what happens once the munchies are gone.

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Behind the Veneer of Health

I am fat. I am not zaftig or big-boned or padded or anything like that. I am fat. I say that because I don’t think fat is a negative word as it simply describes a state of being. I want t reclaim it as it were, and besides, it takes the sting out of it when it’s hurled at me. Granted, it doesn’t happen as much as it used to, but it’s almost amusing when it is. As Margaret said (paraphrased), “Why do they think fat dyke is an insult? To me, it means I’ma gonna eat fried chicken and pussy. That’s why I bring the Wet-Naps.” I can’t find the clip any longer, damn it, but I swear it exists. I’ve successfully neutralized the word, but I’ve had less success in actually being OK with being fat.

I have documented my long history with body dysmorphia and eating disorders. I have been painfully thin and grossly obese, and everything in between. Right now, I am technically at the latter stage, and I hate it. I rarely talk about it because I don’t want to feed into our society’s obsession with fat phobia, but I cannot deny it in my own head. I know how sick I was when I was anorexic, and I can see in pictures from that time that I was unwell, but a part of my mind wants that again. My thighs not touching. Wearing a size zero. Being stereotypically hot even  if I didn’t recognize it at the time. By the way, it’s a part of my EDs that when I’m at my thinnest, I don’t feel sexual at all. I think it’s because I’m so focused on food (I would look at pictures of desserts for hours–it was my porn) and because my brain is so starved, I have little room for anything else. In addition, anorexia shuts down nonessential functions, which, sex is, biological imperative aside.

I want to find a happy medium between where I am now and anorexic, but I’m not sure I can do it in a healthy way. The second time I slid into disordered thinking, I had started with what I considered to be a healthy plan. Sure, it was rigorous, but it was nothing like the first time I fell into it. As the months went on, however, I slid into more disordered thinking. I don’t know if I can diet in a healthy way, and I know that dieting isn’t the optimal way to lose weight, anyway. Which, let me be clear, is the reason I’m contemplating a diet at all. I can give you all the argle-bargle about it being for my health, but that would be a lie. I am very clear it would be to lose weight, even if it’s only in my own brain.

I keep coming back to changing the way I eat. I don’t cook, but it’s not as if I can’t. I can. I just don’t care for it. The endless prep and the mounds of dishes. Ugh. Add to that the fact that I’m now dairy-free and gluten-free….Come to think of it, that’s a good reason to start cooking–so I don’t have to rely on others to prepare reasonable repasts for me. I’ve thought about doing a cooking for dummies (me), gluten-free, dairy-free version as a YouTube show because cooking shows are popular.

I know that I need to exercise more as well, but I’m chary because of my obsessive nature. I can easily talk myself into doing twice as much as I had planned on doing and to slowly increase my exertions to the point of ridiculousness. I always move the goalposts when I set my goals, and I don’t know if I can stop myself from doing that. I also hate all exercise except taiji and dancing, so there’s that as well. I used to walk four and a half miles a day, and I hated every step. Sit-ups, push-ups, hated them. I did enjoy weightlifting, and I need to get back to the taiji weight set once I’m completely recovered.

I’m tired now. Here is an adorable video of Maru and Hana being hand-fed cat grass.

It’s Darkest Before the Dawn

Every time I think I’m getting better, I take two steps backwards. I was on the upswing last night, and I was foolishly optimistic that I would be better when I woke up. Imagine my chagrin (but not surprise) when I woke up with a tickle in my throat. Up to this  point, I’ve been mostly achy and flipping between feverish and chilly. I’ve had no strength, and I tire easily. Now, added to that, my throat is scratchy, and my nose is runny. I’m coughing as well, which, of course, makes my throat feel worse. I went to Cubs this morning to stock up on groceries, and I bought ginger, honey, and lemon so I can make my mom’s ginger tea. It feels soothing going down, and everyone knows all three of those are good for what ails you. I also bought a thing of Simply Lemonade with mango, so I’m drinking both of those in addition to my gallon of pop and my thermos of water. I’m quaffing ALL THE FLUIDS in an attempt to halt this before it gets really bad.

I also know I’m sick because my already-short patience is almost at nil. My inner sarcastic monologue is twice as bad when I’m sick, and I’m less able to keep it off my face. At Cubs, there were two elderly ladies who were blocking an aisle and didn’t move as I pushed my cart up to them. This is one of my pet peeves in the best of times, and I’m sure the impatience was etched on my face. One of the biddies slowly moved aside, and in my brain, I was thinking, “Come on, woman. Move faster! It’s only common courtesy.” Then, the cashier wanted to tell me his life story, and I was curter than I normally would have been. I think, anyway. It’s possible that it was all in my head because I’m pretty able to mask my inner impatience, but it makes me uncomfortable to be that acerbic.

Anyway, I’m keeping this short for today. I wish my Shadow would do this to me.

It’s All in My Head (and Bloodborne)

I’m sick. Again. I’m also depressed about it because it seems to be a yearly thing. I got sick around this time last year, and it lasted on and off for the next four or so months. Rightly or wrongly, I blamed going to the doctor on my further illnesses as I went twice and got sick again immediately after. This time, however, I have not been to the doctor, and I feel like shit. I’m alternating hot and cold, and I’m exhausted no matter how much or how little I sleep. I had to skip Master Choi’s seminar this weekend because I didn’t want to get anyone else sick, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through the two hours (plus half an hour driving either way). Shadow has been my little nurse, lying on my legs to keep them warm. The trade-off is that he gets in my face (literally) as I’m waking up because I’ve been a bit remiss in getting him his breakfast on time.

It’s stressful to get tired over every little thing. I have pared down my morning taiji routine because I’m sick, and I’m still spent by the time I’m done with it. Driving to the grocery store and picking up a few items exhausts me beyond my resources, and it’s hard not to feel resentful by the time I get home because I feel as if my body is betraying me. Going to the grocery store shouldn’t be any big deal, and yet, in my current state, it’s such a production. I’m lying on the couch with Shadow on my legs, thinking I need to go to the store, but having no energy or motivation. It takes me about a half hour just to drag myself off the couch, then fifteen minutes to actually make it out the door. By the time I get home, I’m ready to drop. Things that normally take such little thought now take every last bit of reserve I have.

Right now, I’m sitting on my couch with a cup of coffee and Shadow on my legs. I’m so freaking hot, it’s uncomfortable. But, if I take off my sweatshirt, I’ll be chilled in a minute. I’m someone who rarely gets cold, so getting the chills is really uncomfortable for me. I will say the older I get, the less I’m able to tolerate intense cold. I used to drive with my windows down well into the sub-zero degrees range. Now, I shut the windows around zero degrees and feel sheepish about it. It’s hard to adjust to aging, and I’m not doing it very gracefully. I have freckles and moles that suddenly appeared after I turned forty, and whoever said acne is only a teenager thing was lying through their teeth.

Shadow has now hopped up on the top of the couch in his usual spot because he’s decided he’s done enough administering to me. He might also not want to be too close to the germs, for which I don’t blame him. This is me right now:


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I Can Hear You Now!

I’ve been having sinus issues all year long. My nose has been like a faucet at times and a clogged toilet at others. I’ve had searing sinus toothaches which I’ve mentioned time and time again has been some of the worst pain I’ve had in my entire life. It would hit randomly, and I would clutch my jaw in pain, unable to do anything else for the next five to twenty minutes. My entire being was focused on the pain, and I would gladly have welcomed someone putting me out of my misery. I don’t like to use pain killers, but if I had had Vicodin or Percocet on hand, I would ave been tempted. Actually, I do have some Percocet lying around, but I didn’t remember it at the time.

At first, I thought it was a cavity or I hurt a tooth nerve or something, but then I realized it only happened when my sinus issues were flaring up, and I connected the dots. I was pleased to find research to back up my theory, and once my sinus issues cleared up, so did my toothaches. I haven’t had one in months, knock on wood.

About a week ago, I woke up with my right ear plugged. I was puzzled because it’s never happened to me before. I turned my head, but nothing drained out, so I had to walk around with my ear feeling as if it was full of water. The first day, it cleared pretty easily, but the next day, nothing cleared it. I stopped using my earplugs at night because I felt that might have been exacerbating the problem. By the third day, my ear was mostly plugged all the time. I tried swimmer strips which promised to leach out all the water from my ear. Didn’t work. I also tried ear drops specifically for this problem, and the first few applications didn’t seem to do much good. Two or three applications later, however, and my ear was clear.

Optimistically, I used my earplugs that night, and my ear was full again the next morning. My theory is that I was keeping the fluid in with the earplug, and I didn’t use it the next night. I kept applying the drops (per instructions. You’re not supposed to use it more than five times in twenty-four hours), and after a few rounds of unclogging and reclogging, my ear is clear for now, knock on wood again.

During the time it was clogged, I had no idea what would make it pop, which was frustrating. I felt as if that ear was swimming in water, and I had a hard time hearing anything from it. Then, sometimes, it would ‘pop,’ and I’d be relieved, only for it to plug again. It had liquid in it, but it didn’t actually hurt. It was a bit puffy and sore when I put my finger inside my ear, but no pain. There was liquid, but no pus, and it didn’t smell like it was rotting. In other words, it wasn’t an infection; it was just fucking annoying.

I would cock my head in order to try to clear it, which earned me weird looks from other people. I used Q-tips and cotton balls to try to sop up whatever was in it. I did anything I could to mop up the fluid, but nothing worked. If I tilted my head a certain way, it would clear up, but the minute I straightened my head again, it would clog again. When I lay down, my ear would clear up. When I sat up, it would plug again.
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Exercise, Activity, and Mood

I have struggled all my life with depression. At times, it has been chronic and crippling, to the point where me brushing my teeth was a major accomplishment. Right now, I would say I have a low-grade enduring depression that flares up into serious depression from time to time. It’s my go-to when I’m under stress, and the difference is how alien the encompassing depression feels now as in comparison to how comfortable it was back when I was in the middle of it day-to-day-to-day.

I would love to say that I worked on my depression and that’s why I’ve gotten better. I would love to be able to give a list of things you can do to feel better. I would love nothing more, but I can’t because that’s not how I emerged from the suffocating embrace of depression. Sure, I did my due diligence by seeking out therapy and medication through therapy, then starting taiji which has helped a great deal, but it was an outcome, not the main intent, but nothing I did consciously to help my depression mattered as much as the indirect results of other behavior such as the aforementioned therapy and taiji.

However, I’ve been in and out of therapy for the past thirty years, and I’ve been practicing taiji for almost nine years. Neither are an easy or quick solution, and I didn’t go into taiji with the intention of easing my mental health issues. That’s just been a nice side bonus. I will say, however, it makes me more aware now how fragile my mental health balance is. I went through a period recently of deep depression, not as bad as it was before, but still pretty intense. I knew it wasn’t from within me, which made it almost worse. Rationally, I knew there was no reason I should be depressed, but I also knew I couldn’t talk myself out of it. It lasted a few weeks, and I just gritted my teeth and powered my way through it. I was terrified it would last forever, but it faded after two  or so weeks.

On Saturday, I had to get up early to pick up Ian from the airport. Without thinking, I checked my social media. Then, I remembered that it was my day not to be on social media, and I quit. I felt bad, but not too bad. I can’t tell you how much better I feel on the days when I stay offline. I don’t think it’s viable for day-to-day life, but it’s nice to get a break twice a week. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed while scrolling through my TL, thinking that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. I mean, it is, but not more so than it has been in the past. There is a lot of shit in this world, and there always has been. Having it flash past my eyes on a continuous basis leaves me in a state of numb depression. It’s something I’ve railed about before–how overwhelming all the bad news can be. It’s easy to feel hopeless about the state of the world and think that there’s nothing you can do to alleviate the pain.


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Just Call Me Mulan

When I was younger, I used to go to bed praying I’d wake up a boy,* and I would be severely disappointed when I woke up still a girl. Even as I grew older and stopped believing in God, I thought I would have been better off as a man. Let me be clear: I never felt as if I were trapped in the wrong body. It’s all about the rigidity of patriarchy and how punishing it is to people who don’t fit in. I played with dolls, but I preferred stuffed animals when I wasn’t running around playing softball and other sports. I was what was called a tomboy back then, hating dresses and anything feminine not because they were feminine, but just because they didn’t interest me.

As a teen, I didn’t care about makeup and clothes, though I tried desperately to fit in. I had a Farrah Fawcett flip, and I’m wearing a powder blue sweater and pink eye shadow in my senior photo. I look like a freak and not at all like myself. I curled my hair, used hair products, and applied makeup like it was spackle. Also, I’m allergic to everything, and most makeup was rough back then. Literally and figuratively. I was allergic to whatever was in it, which was not a pretty scene. In addition, I hadn’t perfected the skill of eating without eating off my lipstick, which made me constantly worried about walking around with my lips outlined in lipstick and nothing else. I also was allergic to whatever’s in shaving cream, so I would get bumps any time I shaved. Imagine how fun that was the one time I shaved my pussy.

I gave it all up at some point–makeup, shaving, and trying to keep up with fashion. The shaving thing happened when I was on my semester abroad in Asia and a shower was a hand-held sprayer. Plus, I’m Asian. I don’t need to shave as my body hair is pretty sparse. I haven’t tried makeup in decades, but I know it’s better now than it was when I attempted to wear it. I wore lipstick for longer than I did any other makeup, but I gave it up when, OK, backstory. Wand lip glosses were in for a hot second, and I thought, “I can handle that. It should be pretty easy to apply.” I bought a rich plum-colored lip gloss (I prefer dark shades) and tried it on in the parking lot of the glasses shop. I looked in the rear view mirror, and it looked like someone had punched me in the mouth. I blotted and reapplied, but it didn’t look any better. I concluded I was shit at makeup*** and gave it up that day.


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Finding a New Normal

look at me all healthy and shit.
This is me now.

It’s six months since I had my first round of flu/cold/whatever the fuck I had. I would say I’m at roughly 85%, but I’m still dealing with some digestive issues. When I went dairy-free, gluten-free, my digestive issues immediately cleared up. Yay, thought I. I solved my problem! Then, a month or so later, I started experiencing other digestive problems, and now I’m back in investigation phase. I know part of it was a mystery sauce that I didn’t refuse in time that probably had dairy in it. but now, I’m having trouble digesting something else. It’s either corn-based products, sunflower or canola oil, or something in salsa.

It’s frustrating because I’m not a very patient person. The smart thing to do would be to eat only one of the things at a time so I can eliminate an ingredient or identify it as the problem. Actually, I’ve somewhat done that with tortilla chips, and they’re not the problem, though they sit heavily in my stomach. It’s getting to the point when I don’t want to eat because I know I’m going to pay for it afterwards. Like, right now, I’m eating sesame rice thins, and it’s uneasily roiling in my stomach.

I will say that one unintentional side effect of changing my diet is that I’m losing weight. I don’t weigh myself, but I can tell by how my clothes fit and how my towel wraps around me. I feel better in general, too, which is a bonus. I just hate that I have this general feeling of malaise with my digestive tract, and I’m hoping I can figure it out soon.

Taijji-wise, I’m slowly working my way back to my daily routine. When I was sick, I stripped it down to the bare minimum, but I can tell I’m getting better because it’s not enough. When I was sick, I did the first section of the Solo Form because it’s the one I know best and could do in my sleep. Lately, however, I’ve returned to teaching myself the left side of the Solo Form. I nearly finished before I got sick, so I started from the beginning again.

Side Note: I also taught myself the left side of the Sword Form (the whole thing) before I got sick, but I haven’t practiced the sword at all during my sick days. The sword is a weight-bearing exercise, and I just didn’t have the energy. I mention this just so I can reference it easily later on.

Back to the left side of the Solo Form. The way I teach myself is to start from the beginning of whichever section I’m learning and going as far as I can before I get hopelessly fucked up. When I revisited it, I was resigned to having to take quite some time to reteach myself. I breezed through the first section, which wasn’t surprising. I didn’t have to teach it to myself because we’ve done it in class often enough. In the second section, I hit a snag with Fist Under Elbow (which was the hardest posture for me to learn on the right side as well), but it was brief. I moved steadily through the second section with only a few hitches. I was astonished how easy* it was to relearn. I did the whole second section in two days, and I only stopped because I got tired. Then, the third section. Oh, the third section. I had taught myself maybe two-thirds of it before I got sick. My first trouble was with the My Fair Ladies, one of the harder postures in the Solo Form. My teacher’s teacher has refined the posture twice, once to the arms, and once to the footwork. It’s much simpler now, and the arms are much more intuitive, but I liked the old footwork better. In addition, there’s some pride in learning to do it the difficult way, but that’s not important.

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Being at Odds with My Body

This has been a hard winter for me, both emotionally and health-wise. I wouldn’t be surprised if the former is the reason for the latter, either, but be that as it may, I’m full-blown sick. Again. It started with really bad headaches and being exhausted all the time. Then, Saturday night, I felt as if I’d been hit with a hammer. Several times. Repeatedly.

My body aches. My brain hurts. My sinuses hurt. My teeth hurt. There is goo* collecting in the back of my throat. I have no energy. I’m alternating between hot and cold. I tell myself I’m going to take a short nap, and I wake up hours later, still feeling exhausted. I was only able to do about a fifth of my morning routine this morning before I needed to stop. I can tell I’m really sick when it takes all my energy just to go to the bathroom. I’m been mainlining the ginger honey lemon tea, and even if it doesn’t help, it’s a soothing placebo.

At least I was able to drag myself to the clinic so I could get my blood tested. Hopefully, I’ll know in a day or two if my thyroid medication needs to be adjusted again. If I don’t get better soon, I may have to go to the doctor.

This is my long-winded way of saying there won’t be an actual post today. Instead, a video of Maru and Hana being brushed. I can’t get over how chill Maru is lying on his back and wagging his tail as he’s being brushed.

Hopefully, I’ll feel better soon. At least we got some snow. That does bring me some comfort.

 

 

*Technical term.