Guest post written by the fabulous Tommie Jean Valmassy
Hello, this is not Laura. Laura needs a minute, so I’m filling in for her, just this week. Laura writes a blog about fitness. She’s funny, moving, honest, and cool. And humble, so she may want to delete that, but I don’t think she should. Her tiny sneakers are big shoes to fill. I write a neglected blog about being a mom. My opinions and insights related to fitness have never been solicited before. But I can share with you the one thing I am a semi-expert in: my fitness story. Here it is.
I am obsessed with food. Not in that trendy “I have a food truck and a ‘pork’ tattoo” kind of way. I’m not a foodie or a chef, or even a traditional choc-a-holic. I’m addicted to food. I took an internet quiz which confirmed this, so you can believe it. Some of the criteria I meet are: eating when I’m not hungry, thinking my life will begin after I lose weight, and eating to escape feelings. One way to explain it is that I have no idea what it would be like to NOT be thinking about food. I’ll prove it: right now I’m thinking about tortilla chips. Now, so are you. Ooh, and guacamole, and maybe a cold Mexican beer. Wait, I digress.
I don’t know how long I’ve been overweight, but mostly forever. And I don’t mean TV overweight, like the sidekick best friend who is “fat” because she doesn’t look like a leading lady. To illustrate, my weight fluctuates greatly, but right now I weigh about 205 lbs. Good thing I’m 7 feet tall! (No, I’m not).
There have been three times when I really ate myself into oblivion: my parents divorce when I was 8, the death of my father when I was 20, and the birth of my child when I was 38. I guess you could say I’m an emotional eater. I’ve also had some great weight loss and fitness successes. I lost 50 pounds, over many years, on Weight Watchers. I completed several half marathons. I was recently asked to be a Jazzercise instructor and write a guest blog for a running coach. I said no to one of those things and yes to the other.
At some point Weight Watchers no longer worked for me. I would totally recommend the program (if Oprah’s endorsement isn’t enough for you), but it’s just not for me. The thing about WW is, you’re supposed to think about food A LOT. Tracking, tabulating, looking up menus in advance. After a few years, I really just wanted to break free from thinking about food all of the time. But I stuck with it until I got pregnant. They don’t allow you to be on the program when you’re pregnant. Post-partum was a tough time for me, as it is for most, and I felt like eating was the only thing keeping me sane. But I wanted to keep trying to break free from always thinking about food.
I made an attempt at Overeaters Anonymous. In case you don’t know, it’s like Alcoholics Anonymous, or any of the other anonymous groups that help with addiction. I was really nervous and had to summon a lot of courage to go. It turns out they don’t keep their website updated well, and I was searching in vain for a meeting that wasn’t being held. I did stumble into a Sexual Addicts Anonymous meeting. Those poor men had the same reaction as someone who’s having the door opened on them in a public restroom: occupied, don’t come in! Was I like a bottle of whiskey waltzing into AA for those poor guys? Probably not, but I like to think I was just too tempting.
I decided to see a hypnotherapist. Turns out there’s one walking distance from my office in Oakland. I was rooting for this therapist, but at no point did I feel hypnotized. Instead I noticed she seemed to be falling asleep. She created an audio file for me to use at home, and I can find the exact moment when she was, in fact, drifting off.
Since I’m listing all this fun stuff, I should also say that I tried a traditional therapist through my HMO. My personal experience was that they would only see me once a month, and medication and group meetings seemed to be the only course they offered. I’m also not sure the essential oil kit I bought is effective, but I roll on that stress relieving blend and diffuse lavender like a pro! My meditation practice has completely stalled out and I haven’t even tried it for months.
I try to get good exercise as part of my fitness journey, and for a couple years now I’ve been a regular member of the local Jazzercise. I love it! I like the music and the sociability, and I think the dance moves are fun. But even loving it I barely make it there twice a week. I try not to fall for fitness fads. Though I do wonder where my fitbit is. And I’m admiring the purple Simply Fit Board I recently bought. Much cooler than that vulgar shake weight that’s collecting dust.
So there you have it, my messy, mixed up fitness story. There’s no end because the journey isn’t over. I didn’t realize, until I was writing this, how many things I’ve tried to get my food issues under control. Is there something else you think I should try? Something you’ve heard of but never had the nerve? Let me know what it is, because it sounds like there isn’t much I won’t attempt at least once. Even writing for a fitness blog!