sink-or-swim the life of nan


I started writing this post yesterday. When I weighed in yesterday morning the scale reflected a total of 19 pounds lost so far. Wow.

I’ve been enthusiastic, happy and feeling good. Whenever I start a new quest, I go into it full speed ahead, unflappable and riddled with rah-rah spirit. I know this about myself. The other thing I know, is that most times I hit a wall. I lose my spirit. I talk myself out of what’s good for me. I find ways to give up on myself that somehow have “nothing to do with me.” I make excuses.

In the last couple of weeks, a few things have happened.

1. I got angry at someone this week. REALLY, REALLY angry. The details don’t matter. What matters is that I did what I’ve always done when I’m angry, bored, sad, lonely….I eat. How it played out: I was at the end of my day. Near the end of my Weight Watchers Points allotment. I was hungry. Hungry? Nope. Angry. Hangry. I ate my sanctioned bedtime snack. Used up my daily points. Still wanted to eat. Had some WW snacks in the house. I bought them at my meeting on Friday. It was time for me to stop eating for the day though. I didn’t. I got two of the snacks. An extra 5 points. I thought to myself “I’ve been exercising. I’ve got extra FitPoints. I have my weekly extra points I can use. I can swap them out for food.” But I also thought “That’s not the point. The point is that I’m eating because I’m pissed. Because I need to be distracted from feeling. Feeling my rage. The discomfort of my anger, without a substance that will dull me, take me away.” I understood what I was doing. I was clear. I chose to eat the snacks. It was a very conscious choice. Which does not mean that I felt good about it. The good thing that went along with that choice was knowing that I didn’t have to continue the trend. That I could be kind to myself about it. That I could put it behind me, and start fresh the following day.

2. I was invited to a friend’s house for dinner last night. When I’m invited out I get nervous about whether I can handle the temptation of over-eating or making food choices that don’t fit into the structure of my daily eating strategy. I decided to go, knowing that my friend Betty is a smart eater and that it would be safe for me. I brought a bottle of wine. The meal was delicious. I gave myself permission to enjoy. I ate the butternut squash soup. I ate half of my salmon and veggies. I ate the salad. I drank some wine. Then. Dessert. Pastry from a local bakery. The women who brought it chose 3 pastries. They were cut up into small pieces and presented on a platter with toothpicks. Manageable. I had a taste of each one. They were fabulous and I enjoyed every bite. Then I began to get nervous that I’d blown it. Remorse started to creep in. I tried to convince myself to let it go. Relax. I got home and felt hungry, or nauseous. Wasn’t sure which. Old thoughts kept popping up. “You blew it today. Might as well keep eating.” And I did. I ate silly things. WW snacks – which I’ve since decided to get rid of because I looked at the ingredients last night and they are a recipe for disaster. Loaded with garbage ingredients. I didn’t do terrible damage. It was definitely binge behavior even though I didn’t eat a lot. I didn’t go too deep trying to figure it out. I just knew to step back and start fresh. To keep learning and paying attention. To write about about it and post it. To come clean.

3. I finally got over it about wearing a bathing suit in public. I love to swim. I want to exercise and get stronger. I have a membership at my local YMCA. I joined on Yom Kippur this year, September 23. My new year’s resolution. Swam that day and didn’t go back until 2 weeks ago. These are the thoughts that go through my mind before I swim: “I’ll have to go into the locker room. Get undressed. Shower before I swim. Walk a very long hallway to the pool in my bathing suit. There will be other people around. They’ll see me. I’ll be really, really uncomfortable….but I’ll get to swim.”

I’ve denied myself pleasure and comfort for years. The pleasure of swimming in the summer, or all year round, for that matter. Going to a beach, a lake. Not trying kayaking because of the clothing I’d have to wear, and my lack of agility, picturing myself being really awkward just trying to get into the boat. Broiling in summer because I’m too self-conscious to show my arms and legs. Living indoors in air-conditioning because it’s too hot to be outside in the clothing I insist on wearing. Not wearing tank tops or shorts because I’m so embarrassed and ashamed of the body I’m in.

So now, even though those feelings of shame come up for me, I’m going. I put on my Speedo. Pack up my towels, my goggles, my combo lock and my two great new additions: swim fins and a waterproof iPod Shuffle so I can listen to show tunes while I rack up laps. I walk into the locker room. I strip, shower, and walk the long hallway to the pool. I feel awkward, uncomfortable and very self-conscious. I find my way into the water in the most graceful way I can. Sometimes I go with my friend Sarah and her kids, which makes it easier and more fun. This week, Sarah’s 12 year old son Jack started teaching me to do flip turns, which I was sure would be impossible for me to do. They take practice, but they’re not impossible. I was thrilled. I’m swimming.


Got up this morning. Curious about what the scale would reflect after last night’s dinner and my late night crazy. I got on the scale. Lost another pound?!? I was almost disappointed. Almost. I was looking for a chance to punish myself. Instead, I got a reprieve. Back to business.

Another pound gone. To date, I’ve lost 20 pounds. Double Wow.

  • Nina Shengold
    Posted at 17:35h, 20 December Reply

    Go, Nan! Hurray for your weight loss, but even bigger hurrays for the realizations you’re having along the way. You just found out you can overeat a little, for good or bad reasons, and it doesn’t mean you failed, everything sucks, it’s all over. It means you ate a little more than you planned to today (and thought about why) and tomorrow you’ll make different choices. Pick up, dust off, keep going. That ability to forgive yourself means so much more than being a perfect follower of orders from outside.

    Also, swimming. The best!

  • Margie Pye
    Posted at 14:45h, 20 December Reply

    The thinking is exactly like another addiction I’m all too aware of. Same triggers, different soothers. You are amazing Nan, and thank you for writing it out for all of us to share. And there are ups and downs and there is a start over every day! Love you.

    • thelifeofnan
      Posted at 16:25h, 20 December Reply

      Hey, Margie! Yes, very clear to me that this is the tough stuff and that food is my drug of choice. It’s good to know that we can begin again. I love you!

  • Ellen Zerkin
    Posted at 13:04h, 20 December Reply

    Dear Nan, Please check out Fan Cy Feast and Lillian Bustle on Facebook. They are two gorgeous burlesque performers who I think you will enjoy. Also listen to Lillian’s Ted-X Talk. It is brilliant. You and I are long overdue for a get-together!

    • thelifeofnan
      Posted at 16:22h, 20 December Reply

      Thank Ellen!

      Just watched Lillian Bustle’s TEDx Talk. She’s a lovely burlesque performer who talks about body image, size and what’s beautiful.

      Definitely worth a watch. Here it is:

      Can’t see myself doing burlesque…but stranger things have happened…

  • Hariet Hunter
    Posted at 12:53h, 20 December Reply

    Yay Nan! You are doing great!!! All that introspection brings great understanding! ?

  • Robert Wyatt
    Posted at 12:08h, 20 December Reply

    This is beginning to read like an adventure novel.

  • Nancy Jainchill
    Posted at 11:30h, 20 December Reply

    Hooray for Nan. You go girl!!!

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