Lack of Sleep

Martha Stewart apparently needs four hours of sleep a night. A good friend of mine doesn’t mind 3, and sometimes works through the night and and then just starts the day over. Even my brother functions just fine on 4 or 5.

NOT ME!!!! I got 5.5 last night and can barely write this post. For the past several nights, I’ve had a lot of trouble sleeping, and it’s really starting to get to me.

I’m dragging my body around and whining about how tired I am. My fuse gets shorter; my laughter infrequent; and MOSTLY I tend to make mistakes. I’m not terrible focused or detailed to begin with, but when I’m tired – fuggetaboutit.

And of course, this intuitive eater starts to confuse hungry and tired. Fatigue used to terrify me – I’d get traumatized that I’d overeat. Insomnia scared me as much as anything I could imagine.

Back in the day, I had a very childish reaction to being tired. I’d either try my best not to do anything all day OR I’d complain bitterly and constantly that I was tired, assuming no one else in the world ever felt as badly as I did.

Today, it’s completely different. Today, I understand that no matter how I feel, I still have to function and (do my best) to function with grace. Just like the rest of the world.

And if my body constantly tells me it needs energy and wants to eat, I have two choices. I can either eat and deal with that OR I can tell myself I’m just tired and move on. No biggie.

Still, I hope I sleep well tonight. I’m curious how you guys deal with lack of sleep. Of course, if you’re someone who functions happily and easily on minimal hours, no need to write. 🙂

Why Women Watch other Women Eat

Where I work, many of my female colleagues are watching their weight. They’re all actually pretty much average size, but they all seem to want to get smaller.

Many of them really watch what I eat. Scrutinize might be a better word.

“What are you eating”, they ask staring into my plate. And then they kind of hover.

Or, “How come you only eat salad”? or “Look, you’re eating a sandwich! Not just salad.”

I often hear, “You don’t eat much, do you” or “You never eat.”

They didn’t buy me the usual birthday cake for my birthday because these particular women decided I wouldn’t eat it. I would have!!!

Then there are the women who are always trying to get me to eat half of their meals. (If I’d wanted it, I’d have ordered it, right?)

Three woman have asked me what exactly I eat every day, so they can try to do the same, which is confusing as they first criticize that I don’t eat much then want to eat precisely what I eat. They tell me I have a great figure, and they wish they did too. So, would I put butter on bread?

It’s all kind of annoying. Sometimes, I choose not to eat anything to avoid the onslaught. Sometimes, I wait to eat until everyone’s gone. And sometimes, I put up with it. It’s really rare that I can eat a quiet bite.

The funny thing is – I’m a really average size myself! I am exactly the proscribed weight for my height on all the doctor’s charts. I’m not particularly thin or anything.

Through all of this , I need to take a breath and build up my best ally, compassion. I suppose these women aren’t feeling that great about themselves and what they’re eating? Maybe they don’t love their bodies and are comparing themselves to me?

I’m so lucky – I actually am very comfortable with my body and weight. And, I really would prefer salad to most other food. (If my sister is reading, she will understand – salad is the family favorite food. Truly.) I have a lot of peace. I assume my co-workers probably don’t.

(By the way for sure, there are a few women at the restaurant who are comfortable with their bodies and eat naturally. Not one of them ever comments, or even notices, what I eat. It’s a treat to work with them.)

Still, I wish there was some kind of way of asking these women to leave me alone. And to let me nourish my body in peace.

Food; Back to Normal. Maybe Better than Ever.

When I was in high school, I had friends who scooped at ice cream parlors. Now, there was something I couldn’t do. As a serious compulsive eater, I would have been binged poor Baskin Robbins into bankruptcy. Ice cream parlor loomed as one of the most dangerous places on earth.

My friends who worked there assured me that they quickly got sick of ice cream and practically never wanted to eat it again for the rest of their lives – after like, two weeks on the job!

That would NEVER have happened to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The idea of getting sick of any food (and ice cream) was so foreign to me. Mass quantities of junky food was my norm.

Today, I find myself as a restaurant manager, surrounded by food, lots of which I love, many of which I rarely eat. If you’ve been reading the blog, you know that working around food all the time lately threw me off for a minute. I knew I had to adjust, one way or the other.

I have. For my first couple of weeks on the job, food looked more interesting than usual, and that worried me. I eyed an awful lot of french fries..and ate more than usual. Plus, after being out of work and pretty poor for a while, free food seemed particularly enticing.

It didn’t bother me much – in the grand scheme of life, so what? But, I felt less comfortable than I’ve been in years. I had two choices – get comfortable with the new norm or change.

I hadn’t made my decision about which path to follow, but Sunday at work, I realized that I had, once again, lost interest in food, even french fries. I wasn’t hungry, so why eat? It’s been that way since Sunday – I don’t even want the salad bar unless I feel hunger in my belly.

In fact, I think I might be getting sick of the restaurant’s food!!! (Hallelujah, they’ll stay in business!) I just want to come home and make some eggs. When I’m hungry.

I’m not sure how this shift happened, but I suspect it had to do with knowing my truth. I know I can’t graze all day mindlessly. I know indulging in french fries and chocolate chip mint ice cream does me no good. I know I am happy AND FREE when I eat what’s best for me. Me, who’s never been a natural eater and never will be.

I feel relaxed and easy again. Far preferable.

I am glad I went through the experience of being a little edgy around food again. Whenever that happens – and it’s rare- I always come out stronger than before. I’ll take that!

On Self-Bullying

Yesterday, Wednesday, was my birthday and my choice of birthday eve activity was attending a wonderful yoga class. Usually, I work Wednesday nights but by sheer coincidence, kismet or luck, I had the day off.

I chose to spend the day alone – I have a very love/hate bittersweet relationship with my birthday. But I knew for sure that I wanted to take yoga.

I’ve only gone to this class a few times, but the teacher is amazing – so spiritual and a real healer. After the first class I took, I felt fear lift and the very next day, I accepted my current job which for months I’d been too scared to take, sure that I wasn’t good enough. But suddenly, I wasn’t afraid.

Last night, during the relaxation part of the class, ideas began floating through my mind. I thought about childhood obesity, a topic I think about a lot. Fat kids get bullied (I know from excruciating experience), both my other kids and (often well-meaning) adults. When one hears over and over that you desperately need to lose weight and shouldn’t eat this or that or you absolutely must exercise more, you begin to believe you’re not good enough just as you are. Other kids, who are left alone, seem to be more lovable and… better.

Lying there on my yoga mat last night, I began to wonder how best I could help today’s hurting kids — is the work in helping them lose weight through understanding why they overeat? helping them like themselves as they are? or is the real work with the bullies who torment fat kids?

I began to think about my own torment in being the fat kid – all the teasing and cruel jokes and how embarrassed I was by way too big body. I remembered all the diets I tried, all the clothes I bulged out of and how much I believed I disappointed my family. Just because I had a big fat ugly body.

Suddenly last night, I realized that I was lying on my mat with the biggest bully of all – me. It hit me how I’ve tortured myself my whole life. I have been nothing but cruel to my poor body for as long as I can remember. I’ve hated it my whole fucking life! Too big. Too fat. Fat pig.

Even now, I’ve wanted it so small and yelled at myself every time it’s grown. Even yesterday, buying bras, I was horrible, apologizing to the saleswoman about how big and droopy and lopsided my breasts are.

And what about how I’ve treated my body over the years? All the diuretics and laxatives and puking?

Who was the bully? ME

There on my yoga mat, I began to sob. I started apologizing to myself, over and over and experienced such sorrow for the fat child I’d loathed for so long – that lost, heartbroken, deeply sad little one who’d only wanted unconditional love.

“I love you”, I repeated over and over, meaning it for the very first time, at 54.

All of this happened without effort or thought. I feel like a different person now. What a revelation. What a call to kindness. How could I have been of real service to others without first loving and accepting myself?


On Ambien, Roseanne and Me

Sleeping drug Ambien can cause a host of side effects, but it’s unlikely racism could be categorized as one, as Roseanne Barr claims.

A few weeks ago, the comedian wrote in a since-deleted tweet that “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” The “vj” stood for Valerie Jarrett, an Obama White House aide. This led to the cancellation of her hit ABC show Roseanne, and an apology from the comedian, who said at one point she was “Ambien tweeting,” in another social media post that has since been removed.

Sanofi, who makes Ambien, tweeted a response Wednesday morning: “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”

What a great response! And I agree. Besides, Roseanne is responsible for her comments no matter when or where or how she makes them.

However, all the Ambien talk reminded me of some of my own sleeping pill (and potentially dangerous) hijinks.

Once, I took Ambien on a flight back from California only to wake up cuddling the elderly Indian gentleman to my left. Our arms were wrapped tightly around each other and my nose nuzzled the back of his turban.

My brother and sister-in-law held the seats behind me (and my apparent date.) They looked to be in pain trying to contain their laughter.

Nothing became of my affections for my seatmate, but I never took Ambien on a plane again.

I did, however, take it at home. One night years ago, right after I’d moved to the apartment over my brother’s garage, I took an Ambien and crawled into bed.

The next morning, I woke up to find myself surrounded by container after container after container of Chinese food! I couldn’t remember how they got there at all!!

First of all, I barely new my knew address and the apartment is all the way back in the woods. How did I direct someone?

Second, how did I find a Chinese restaurant in Ledgewood, NJ that delivers that late? I barely knew where to find a supermarket at that point.

And the worst question of all (and an embarrassing confession) – I don’t wear anything to bed. How on earth did I greet the delivery guy?

Happily, I cleaned my life up right around that time and haven’t had an Ambien or a naked experience with a restaurant worker since.

Wonder what Roseanne is doing these days?

The New Normal; In the Belly of the Beast

The truth about the scale in my house – if I’m not vigilant, it goes up. Doesn’t matter if I’m running around like crazy all night when once I sat sedentary; doesn’t matter if the extra food I’m eating comes in the form of dry salad – when I eat more than before, I gain weight.

Since I started my new job three weeks ago, I’ve gained five solid pounds and the scale continues to creep up.

My reaction, frankly, is mixed.

On the one hand, I’m so busy and working a lot of hours and getting home in the middle of the night – who has time to watch with the eye of an eagle? On the job, I’m surrounded by easily accessible, yummy food all the time, and it’s kind of fun to indulge. I’ve been sooo vigilant for so long, it feels kind of playful to eat french fries just because the chef knows I love them and made them especially for me. And even though I’m not really hungry, it feels inclusive and familial to join in the family meal (and seriously, I just have a little soup and salad, but still, my scale has the trots.) And to come home late at night, exhausted, and to allow myself a small snack with late night TV – relaxing. (On a different note, I can’t tell you how I resented missing Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers all the years I toiled by day. THIS is living.)

On the other hand, I miss the comfort of my old eating habits – so solid and safe. I never worried about weight gain or portions size or should I have this or that….It was completely easy not to have choice. Didn’t worry about food. Didn’t worry about my weight. It gave me a lot of freedom to just live real life. Too much thinking about food and weight gain can become too consuming.

Yet, most people I know don’t gain so much weight so quickly just by adding an extra soup and salad or two. I know my body, by nature, simply weighs more. If I’d never had anorexia or bulimia, if I weren’t a lifelong compulsive eater; if I’d learned early how to feed my body as IT wanted, I doubt I’d be any kind of sylph.

I haven’t made a decision about this dilemma. I suspect I’m having too much fun right now, delighting in food and ‘freedom’. But I also suspect that I’ll need to get back to my old ‘weighs’ – eating safe foods and only when hungry. That just feels more free, in the long run. Or so I suspect.

Well see. For now, time to head to work. And then – woo hoo- two days off in a row. I’m still so happy – and that’s good enough for now.

Why I Worried about Anthony Bourdain

When I heard that Anthony Bourdain died of an apparent suicide, the following thoughts came to mind. I, of course, know nothing about his death or its cause. This is just my own thinking:

The first time I learned about Anthony Bourdain was when I read his amazing book first book, Kitchen Confidential. At the time, I was so lost and fumbling careerwise and envied that one person could be a wonderful and successful chef and such a truly great writer. No fair – too much creative talent gifted to one guy!!!! I’ve since read all his books and re-read Kitchen Confidential several times – it’s so interesting and well-written. (And yes, OF COURSE, I envied that Bourdain could eat all the time and stay skinny. I know I get boring with this one – but that’s really how I rolled.)

Over the years, I thought about Anthony Bourdain a lot, because every day on my walk home from work, I passed the restaurant Les Halles where he got his start.

I also thought about Bourdain because we shared a common peril – addiction. Over the years, we both put down substance; however, a few years ago, I read an article where Bourdain mentioned that he’d started to drink ‘very moderately’ again, enjoying an occasional glass of wine with a great meal.

A red flag went off – most successful recovering addicts I know don’t drink. Most of us find it impossible to moderate both drugs and alcohol. Of course, I didn’t know Bourdain personally, but the revelation made me uneasy.

Recently, I read an interview with new discussing a new project, in which he planned to ‘eat and drink’ his way through some remote country.

I began to worry again. He’d gone from not drinking to the ‘occasional’ wine with a fancy dinner to drinking his way through the world.

I don’t know that this has anything whatsoever to do with his death, of course. But I do know that for the alcoholic/addict, drinking might well indicate an inner malady. And/or, it might lead us down a dangerous path.

I always admired Bourdain’s work and am really saddened by his death. Prayers for his family. May he Rest in Peace.

Kate Spade’s Death

While in my sophomore year of college, I binged compulsively around the clock, gaining 80 pounds in six months. I never slept – I just ate. I hated myself and every bone in my body. I hated life and finally, absolutely miserable, dropped out of school. And as much as I despised the home I grew up in, I felt so defeated I crawled back there, miserably.

I had a classmate that sophomore year who embodied everything I wanted to be – Elizabeth Morris was smart, interesting, open-minded, beloved and beautiful. She seemed to have the perfect, loving nuclear family. If you’d asked me who I wanted to be (certainly not myself!), without pause, I would have quickly and easily answered, “Elizabeth Morris.”

Elizabeth killed herself that summer, after apparently attempting suicide three previous times.

It astonished me that I, who felt I had and was nothing, still had the strong will to live and she, who looked to have everything, lived in so much pain she chose death.

I prayed then, and do to this day, that Elizabeth Morris finally knows peace, wherever she is.

Today, the great designer Kate Spade apparently committed suicide, leaving behind a husband of many years and a 13 year old daughter. I can’t imagine what pain she knew that lead her to that end.

I’d always actually envied Kate Spade. She’s a few month older than I, and I often compared my meager life to her ‘fabulous’ existence.

Kate Spade was so successful (her company sold for 175 million dollars! in 2007); she had a long marriage; she was soo cool and creative and interesting and seminal – who didn’t have a Kate Spade bag or at least a knockoff? Here I was a single, college dropout, struggling financially and working odd jobs. Life would grand, I assumed, if I were Kate Spade.

And, of course, Kate Spade was skinny. Back when I weighed 230 pounds and was the least cool person that ever existed, I knew for sure that Kate Spade had it all. What a life.

Apparently, I was wrong. I’m still here, living life and full of hope. She’s gone.

I pray for young Frances Beatrix Spade. And may the great Kate rest in peace.

Working with Food

Working around food has actually been harder than I expected. I’m pretty surprised, and kind of disappointed. Everything with food had felt so perfect for so long – this really is unexpected.

I work long days, in and around the kitchen and notice a fair amount of inadvertent food going into my mouth — a few french fries, soup, the mis-fired steak…And there’s a big vat of my absolute favorite chocolate chip mint ice cream right in front of me.

Also, the staff eats meals together. My shifts are long enough that they incorporate lunch and dinner. And it’s free. I’ve been living on such a tight budget since I quit my last job – anything free seems incredibly inviting.

Prior to this job, my current way of eating was strong and served me perfectly for quite some time. My rhythm’s just off. It’s just not working. Food feels a little out of control.

Because, let’s face it – by nature, I’m a food addict. Food will always be much more intriguing to me than the normal eater. If I don’t nip this in the bud, I’m going to be miserable.

As I said in an earlier post, even though I’m running around constantly, I’m clearly not burning calories. My pants are getting tighter. I’m feeling uncomfortably full. I’m never really hungry anymore.

I’m not happy. Time to jump back on board with my ‘normal’ eating, which makes me very, very happy.

P.S. I may not be thrilled with my food consumption BUT I’m still loving my job. Woo Hoo