26 June 2008

New Me

I have struggled with weight gain for many years. I haven't seen hide nor hair of my 'ideal weight' since about age 22 or so. With each year that has passed, I've gotten older, more sedentary, more careless with what I put in my body. The results of this have culminated in a myriad of problems in my life...high blood pressure, low energy, frequent minor illnesses that my body just can't seem to avoid or fight off, not to mention the endless cycle of binge eating, and the complete feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that has come with watching my body turn into something that can only be described as a circus freakshow attraction, and believing that I am too far gone to do anything about it. Looking at pictures of myself, I have cringed inside. I'm fairly certain that the majority of my low self esteem in the last couple of years has been a result of my negative body image issues. Going to the doctor has been torture, because, while she is an excellent doctor with a wonderful bedside manner who is very thorough, she tells the truth...my weight is causing health problems I can no longer ignore. I feel humiliated.

I have struggled with attempts to change my lifestyle in the past - dieting, trying to eat better and excercise more, using weight control products. All those attempts have failed, probably because I truly believed that I couldn't change it, no matter what I did.

Back in April, Angie and I decided to get married. As the excitement began to build, so did the anxiety. It might be a bit selfish and shallow, but I truly don't want to be this heavy when I get married. I know it's a sad reason, but I want to be at a healthy weight, basically so the pictures of our nuptials don't look crappy. Sad, huh?

It might be a sad reason, but it is a POWERFUL motivator. I joined Weight Watchers in May. I go to a meeting every week, plus I use their online tools to track my points and activity.

Then, three weeks later, I joined Curves for Women. I work out at least 3 times a week.

My initial weeks in Weight Watchers were difficult, although the program makes it ridiculously easy to change your lifestyle. I was used to eating enough food at each meal to feed probably 3 people, if they were eating correct portions. Also, I'm addicted to sweet stuff...ice cream, chocolate, whatever it is, I can't get enough. When I started following the points system, and measuring my food for correct portions, I thought I was going to starve. The group leader pointed out that I probably wasn't following the healthy eating guidelines, because if I was, I wouldn't feel hungry. She was right. I've been working really hard at it, and it's getting easier. At first, even though my weekly weigh-in's reflected weight loss, I didn't feel any different. I joined Curves in an effort to increase the efficacy of my new healthy lifestyle (translated - lose weight and look and feel better faster.) It has been 8 weeks since I started. I've lost 12.6 pounds to date, an average of about 1-2 pounds a week, give or take.

A couple weeks ago, I went to Six Flags with a friend, and got some pictures taken. It was the first time in I don't know how long that I didn't want to cry when I saw a picture of myself.

Last week I had a little pulled muscle in my arm, and when flexing it to see exactly where the pain was, I noticed a muscle...I'm gaining muscle definition. I can't even begin to describe how excited I was when I realized this.
Also last week, in what used to be a weekly event and is now a rare treat, Angie & I ordered chinese take out. Being a creature of habit, I always order the sweet & sour chicken with fried rice & an eggroll combo. The difference this time was this...before, I would eat the entire thing without a second thought. This time, I barely got through half of it before I was full, and more importantly - I recognized that I was full - and I stopped eating. Amazing.

This week, I went to put on a pair of my pants just out of the laundry..usually when I put them on they are a bit tight for awhile, but not now. This week, ALL my pants are fitting just a bit more loosely.

Yesterday, a couple of agents in my office gave me positive feedback...telling me they could really see a difference. Few things are more motivating than other people telling you how great you look.

I'm starting to see results, and I feel so good, like I have taken control of my body. I no longer feel helpless, no longer feel hopeless. Plus, now that I'm beginning to see small results, it has motivated me to continue. Suddenly, although it's still a long way off and will require discipline and commitment, my goal of returning to my ideal healthy body weight doesn't seem so out of reach. As long as I remain committed, as long as I maintain these changes in my life, I will get there...and come May of next year, dressing up won't be such an anxiety filled event...

12 June 2008

Marriage Equality, California Style

Beginning June 17th, county clerks in California can begin issuing marriage licenses and performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, thanks to the recent California Supreme Court ruling that struck down a ban on same-sex marriage, making California the second state in the US where marriage is legally recognized for same sex couples. In addition, the California Supreme Court refused requests to stay the decision pending the outcome of the November elections. This is important to me for a number of reasons:
First, I am a native Californian, and it makes me feel proud that my home state is taking steps to eradicate discrimination against g/l/b/t/q people.
Second, California is a trend setting state. By this I mean that historically speaking, what happens in California in regards to civil law tends to have a far-reaching impact; it spreads across the rest of the United States, not necessarily quickly, but consistently, and occassionally with the help of the United States Supreme Court.
Third, in November, thanks to dubious efforts by religious conservative groups, California voters will go to the polls and vote on a proposed amendment to the constitution that defines marriage as between a man and a woman only. Because the Supreme Court refused to stay their decision, Californians will have the opportunity to see the results of same-sex marriage (or as I like to call it - marriage - calling it anything other than what it is contributes to the notion that it isn't equality for a basic civil right we are asking for, but a special right or privilege in addition to the rights we already have, and that is a lie) and recognize that, just like Massachussetts, marriage equality will have absolutely no negative impact on society. In fact, the positive economic impact on the state of California is expected to exceed 600 million dollars over the course of the next 3 years. I feel fairly confident that the amendment will be defeated.
Fourth, unlike Massachusetts, anyone from any state can get married in California. It might not be recognized in their own state, but lack of current state recognition does not make the marriage any less meaningful or valid in the eyes of the couple, their friends and family, or to God, for that matter.
I admit that I have not always been much of a marriage equality activist in my lifetime. It was never really that important to me, as I never thought I would truly want to be with someone for the rest of my life. My view of relationships was this - people come into your life for a variety of reasons, stay awhile and then leave when there is nothing more you have to offer each other. Why would you want to muddy the water with marriage, making it more of a hassle to make a clean break? This is how I used to think, until I met Angie, and we started dating. Now, a year and a half later, we own a house together and suddenly I find myself looking at her sometimes and thinking things like 'This is the woman I'm going to be with for the rest of my life' and 'What would happen to her if something bad happened to me?' I want her to be protected, the same way I want to be protected. When we bought our house, we made the decision to go ahead and have a lawyer draw up our wills, powers of attorney for healthcare and general decisions, etc...$1200 for some documents that provide us about 1/4 of the rights and protections a straight couple gets just as soon as they sign on the dotted line of their $35 marriage license. When I forked over that money, I recognized what g/l/b/t/q people have been fighting for...equal protection under the law...and I deserve it just as much as my straight counterparts.
I'm going to marry Angie next year. We are planning a religious ceremony in Georgia through the United Church of Christ, which is open and affirming, and recognizes marriage equality, even thought the state does not. Then we plan to have a civil wedding in either British Columbia, Canada or California, so we will have legal recognition of our marriage, at least in those states who currently recognize it. Once again, lack of recognition on my state's part does not make my marriage any less meaningful or valid to me or to Angie, and we feel confident that it will be recognized in all states in our lifetime.