Stretching Beyond My Comfort Zone

For all that I have complaints about my endocrinologist’s world view,* there was one thing she said last Friday that has really resonated with me. As we were going through my lifestyle assessment—job, schedule, usual meal choices and physical activity day-to-day—she sussed out the fact that the demands of my non-profit job, both in the sense of dedication to my org’s mission, and the general workload/stress, are strong contributors to my current landscape of sketchy nutritional choices and sedentary days. And the endocrinologist said:

You should be taking your health and self-care as seriously as you do your job.

And although I’d wager that she and I have drastically different definitions for what constitutes “health” or “self-care,”** it’s still a point well taken.

I’m not the first or the last non-profit professional to fall into this trap, but I do have a pattern of neglecting my well-being in an attempt to keep up with the workload and sustain an organization I legitimately, really, truly believe in and want to see succeed. And as I figure out my approach towards handling my new diagnosis, it’s worth recalibrating a little bit.

So tonight after work, I did something very brave: I went to yoga class.

Continue reading “Stretching Beyond My Comfort Zone”

The Shape I’m In

One of the main living-my-life endeavors that has occupied my time and energy during my “forgetting how to write” patch was doing a show. Yes, after all was said and done, I got a part in that Sondheim show I blogged about back in May, when I was convinced I hadn’t passed muster. Go figure.

The show was Sondheim’s Company, which, for the uninitiated, circles on a group of friends in 1970 NYC: one single guy/womanizer (Bobby), 3 of his girlfriends, and 5 married couples who use their get-togethers with Bobby as a way to ease/escape whatever tensions are going on within the marital bond.

Continue reading “The Shape I’m In”

Cold Reading

I know that the Blogging 101 assignments/prompts are piling up unattended, but it’s been another late night, so I am just going to have to write quickly about the topic that is most front of mind for me — and I’ll catch up on Blogging 101 tomorrow and over the weekend.

And why was it another late night for me?

As it turns out, that’s exactly the topic I want to be writing about tonight.

I was out late because I was auditioning for a show.

Continue reading “Cold Reading”

Taming the Paper Dragon: Again

I’ve written before about the challenges of dealing with paper clutter in the house. Well, the last several weeks of gloomy-time meant that I’d been letting all the mail pile up again in a big way — aside from those few essential bills I’d pull out and handle as soon as they arrived. So a big project for me this past weekend and the last couple of evenings has been to once again try to tame the paper dragon.

In addition to handling the most immediate paper accumulation from the last couple months, I also emptied out a couple boxes of longer-term paper accumulation. You know, the kinds of paper piles that built up in other busy times during the last year, but then got shoved into a box in some last-minute cleaning frenzy before an anticipated visitor’s arrival.*

And, after this accomplishment, I am now turning my analytic attention to the other main source of paper influx, aside from catalogs.

My overabundance of magazine subscriptions.

Continue reading “Taming the Paper Dragon: Again”

Cruise Control

So one of the things that cruises are notorious for —

Wait, did I ever mention that The Trip was a cruise? I can’t recall and I’m too damn lazy to go look it up. In case this is new news, and just to get this down on the record: The Trip was a cruise.

Display on the first cruise day, in the Windjammer (the buffet restaurant)So anyhow, one of the things that cruises are notorious for is the quantity and quality of the food you’re served. Actually, I’m not enough of a hard-cross cruise traveler to know whether all cruises are known for having good food, or if it’s more like the same rep an all-you-can-eat Vegas buffet has: food that’s notable  more for the available amount than for the flavor profile. (Even if most cruise ships have food that’s more adequate than exceptional, the ship we were on is on this list of the “best cruise ships for foodies,” so trust me when I say that not only was there tons of food available, it was tasty, tasty stuff.)

Now, there’s a whole lot of rhetoric out there about how it’s inevitable to gain weight on a cruise, with various fat-panic/fat-shaming suggestions on how to approach that “problem.” For example:

  1. controlling your on-ship behavior to minimize weight gain
  2. doing a little prophylactic weight loss ahead of time to build your “buffer zone”
  3. going on x, y, or z post-vacation diet plan
  4. deliberately infecting yourself with a parasite or the norovirus in order to stay skinny

(Okay, maybe I made that last one up. And, for once, no, I won’t be providing links to sources. I don’t feel like actively participating in Diest Culture, and you can find this kind of shit so easily with the simplest of google searches.)

It was an interesting comparison across the years, thinking back to the first-ever cruise Mr. Mezzo and I took back in 2007, right when I was at the verge of learning about fat acceptance and adopting that perspective for myself and my worldview. That first cruise also had lots of good food. I indulged, and I know I gained weight — though at this distance, I can’t recall what the number was. And I felt so ashamed for all of it. For my lack of dietary discipline, for my laziness in not becoming a cruise-ship gym-rat, and then for my inability to diet and lose the weight after I got back on land.

martinisThis time around, I decided adamantly against imbibing a guilt-and-shame chaser with any of the meals, martinis, or desserts I had while vacationing. I have no idea if my food was any less rich or sugar-laden this time around as in ’07. (I’d guess not much appreciable difference, then and now.) But I do know I’m feeling lots better than I did 7 years ago — if for no other reason than the fact that I’m not mired deep in a self-shaming and self-punishment cycle. ‘Cos honestly, when I let those voices loose in my head, it’s never to my benefit. Spiritually, emotionally, or physically.

Having said that, I am feeling a bit logy after-the-fact. I’m guessing, based on my HCG experience from the spring, that I’m mostly feeling the after-effects of the dramatic uptick in added sugar during those two weeks (read: desserts, martinis and Belgian chocolate). And I’m kind of fascinated by the way, as far as I can tell, that my spring detox journey helped me more attuned to my body so I could notice this change, but my history of fat acceptance work and my ongoing growth around overall self-acceptance has in a place where I’m not upset or blaming myself about it.

belgian-chocolateInstead, I’m just quietly moving back to some of the cooking routines and rituals I used during the spring, adopting something that’s closer to “clean eating” than I was doing recently. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not on some extreme ascetic kick. Beyond my own natural sense of fullness, I am setting zero limits on the quantity of food I’m eating.  I’m even having a little taste of “added sugar” each night after dinner (I say again: Belgian chocolate. You don’t think we were coming home without a small stash of that to enjoy, did you?)

I’m just trying to listen to my body. And if my body is craving greens and chicken rather than my cruise staples of pasta and red meat, I’ma good with that.

Plus a little of that Belgian chocolate. Yummy and absolutely guilt-free.


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Fruit buffet:







What I Learned in Grad School

Okay, so the big super-huge work project got even more intense than I’d anticipated, so I went full-out on it till Thursday night. Then, instead of sleeping and catching up on my rest and my writing, Mr. Mezzo and I have been out of town for the past two days celebrating my niece’s graduation. So, suddenly I missed an entire week’s worth of Writing 101 assignments, and the next crop of assignments is due to start up again tomorrow morning.

Now, one thing I learned in grad school is the strategic folly of always trying to go back and play catch-up.

Let’s say you fall behind on your reading for Week 3 in a particularly dense syllabus — like, say, the kind of syllabus where the professor keeps adding new articles to the reading list year after year, without taking away any of the older, less-academically-relevant ones. (Not that I ever had any grad classes like that back in the day. This is all purely a hypothetical exercise…..)



One approach to take to this conundrum would be to start Week 4 by going back to the things you missed in Week 3, hoping to address all of the backlog and all the new assignments. But, if each week’s workload is too robust to be handled in a week, the only thing you gain by that approach is to just get farther and farther behind.

So after one or two courses where I tried to do the virtuous “going back and catching up on everything” routine, I developed a new discipline around falling behind on homework.

Step one for me is to jump right back into the stream at this moment. Hit the reset button, start with the new crop of work, do all of it to the best of my ability — and then, if I do end up with some luxurious extra time after that, only then will I try to go back and fill in what I’ve missed, using my own instincts to triage out what’s most important and what’s most able to be let go.

So, tomorrow I’ll be jumping back into the Writing 101 flow with this coming week’s assignments, and I’ll go back and fill in the missed ones in whatever order I choose to do them.

I have some hope that the work week will be a little quieter than the past fortnight has been. If that turns out to be the case, I may get home early enough to manage a double-posting day or two throughout the week, which would help with the backlog. I also could get creative and see if there’s a way I can kill two assignments with one essay, as it were. Or there may just be an assignment or two that I let slide by, water flowing under the bridge of best intentions, never to be seen or recaptured again.

And I’m okay with that. Aside from the specific workflow strategies I am applying here to my bloggy-life, the main thing I learned in grad school was the complete psychic and energetic uselessness of perfectionism and how pointless it is to do that inner ballet of self-flagellation when one shows one’s humanity by doing an imperfect or fallible thing.

Admittedly, that main lesson only partly sunk in. I keep learning and studying and practicing into that one. Step by step, I continue ever onward — following the trajectory away from self-punishing perfectionism and towards maturity and self-acceptance.

Here, now, with Writing 101, is as good a time to practice that as any.


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The Value of a Wasted Day

Yesterday was somewhat rich with errands — Mr. Mezzo has a quick trip for family business today and tomorrow, so we were trying to get a full weekend’s amount of usefulness crammed into the single day. Then in the evening, I went into the final, most intense steps for the gall bladder flush, which consist of a couple of doses of Epsom salts to help “clear out” the system (as it were), and then a grapefruit juice/olive oil cocktail to encourage the gall bladder to release any accumulated stones in there.*

I had a fair amount of discomfort during the overnight hours, and thus far, there hasn’t been much in the way of internal “movement,” if you get my drift. (I had kinda hoped this particular issue would complete itself once I finished the damn HCG shots, but oh well.) So that’s been my excuse to take it kind of easy today.

There’s certainly things I could (should) be doing. I have a retreat weekend coming up starting early morning Thursday, and supposed appointments Tuesday and Wednesday nights, so I could very well be packing and getting organized. Alternately, I could be doing some UNpacking down in the basement, since I’ve lost some momentum there with last weekend’s concert and next weekend’s out-of-townness. And then there’s always the usual rounds of grocery shopping, cleaning and decluttering, checkbook-balancing, and so on and so forth.

I dare say those laundry lists of things are remaining undone. After all, if at 7 PM the most ambitious things you’ve managed with your day is to take a shower and start a load of laundry, there’s not a whole lot else that can happen at this point.**


I’ve had wasted days like this before. More than I’d like to admit. But tonight, rather than sliding into my usual funk of self-flagellation, I’m trying to be more at peace with my inaction. My choices at the moment seem to be either (1) stew in guilt and self-castigation for the next few hours, making my evening pretty darn miserable and undoing whatever self-care has been accomplished by such a relaxing day; OR (2) show myself some self-acceptance, trust in the rightness of my system needing/wanting rest today, and enjoying what few hours of awake time I have remaining for my Sunday.

So, as a change of pace, I’m going to try for Door #2. Perhaps I’ll get a little bit more done. Perhaps — probably — I won’t. Either way, that’s going to be okay.

(There’s also a whole side conversation that could be had about the types of hard work I am doing these days — between the HCG journey and this gall-stones cleanse, I’ve been putting a lot of time and energy into detoxing and that level of growth. Never mind the preparations going on for this upcoming retreat weekend. Perhaps it’s okay that some more “traditional” modes of self-care are being underplayed while I put my energy towards some things that are less readily observed but nonetheless crucially important.)

* No, it wasn’t quite as disgusting as you’d imagine. Close, but not quite.

** Especially if one is a Game of Thrones watcher and needs to be ready for that come 9’o’clock.


Going with the Flow and Against the Grain

wood-slice-walkwaySome time last week, I posted about having tickets to see Pentatonix this weekend. Considering how much I love the group, I’ve been struck, as the week has worn on, by my emotions about this upcoming event. Because instead of feeling excited or looking forward to the concert, I was feeling much more a sense of exhaustion and obligation.

There’s a lot else going on right now. Three big proposals all due next week: I’m responsible for writing two of them, and also for wrangling a lot of the extra docs in all three proposal packages. And, of course, it’s tax season, so Mr. Mezzo and I need to give attention there. Plus the usual routine of unpacking and laundry and groceries & cooking — all of which I’m well behind on due to my detox weekend out of town and last weekend’s energy crash.

With all of that on my plate, the idea of a trip into Boston’s House of Blues was definitely carrying a whole lot of pressure around it. The time that it would take. The anxiety of navigating an unfamiliar neighborhood and location. The difficulty of being someplace with food and drink I’m not currently allowed to eat, and knowing I’ll have to go hungry because I can’t figure out how to bring my own dinner along into that setting and past the door guard.

I want the feeling of going to a concert to be a happy step out of the routine, rather than another hoop to jump through. But if I was going to be fearlessly honest with myself, “another hoop to jump through” is exactly how it was feeling.

So Mr. and I have decided to take the concert off of our weekend agenda.

I feel some guilt about having wasted the money — we bought the tickets a couple months ago. And we’ve decided to back out so last-minute that there’s no way to resell anything on Stubhub or the like. So those dollars are just gone.

And I’m also aware that this decision goes against much of the conventional wisdom about how to bring self-care into one’s life and how to prioritize fun and joy in the midst of life’s many responsibilities.

But a big part of the self-care I’m learning during this detox journey is about listening to my body and discerning what is (and isn’t) in true alignment with my system. And, for whatever reason, this planned excursion wasn’t feeling in alignment for me. So I want to practice moving with the flow of my own instincts, even if that leads me to choices that seem illogical or counter-intuitive to someone else.

And this way I know I’ve got a good chance of getting to bed at a reasonable hour for all of the next three nights. Which, considering all my early mornings this past week, is a source of joy all unto itself.


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Data Points

The doctor’s office that prescribed my HCG gave me a booklet to help me track all kinds of things. Portions of food, my water intake, supplements, ketosis level — and, yes, a daily weigh-in.

I’ll admit, I toyed with the notion of skipping that last piece. Ultimately I decided I wanted to respect the protocol in every possible detail. Including weigh-ins: even if I have all kinds of associations between morning weigh-ins and the evils of the diet industry, I’m willing to take on this task in the context of tracking my weight as one among a set of data points.

02.scale_So I dragged the scale out of the basement* and threw it into the bathroom, where it and I have been having a daily, emotionally-guarded, one-on-one.

As I expected, this detox process has meant that my numbers on the scale have been going down, a little bit each day. And, as uncomfortable as it is to admit, there’s been part of me enjoying that trajectory. I spent so many years being brainwashed around the value of skinny** that I know there’s part of me that can still fall into that old model of thinking.

Aside from that, there’s been some concrete benefits. Some of my slacks had started getting a bit tight in the past few months, and even though I would have been 100% willing and unashamed to buy a larger size if need be, I can’t deny that I’m glad not to have to spend the money and to instead be feeling more physically comfortable in my current wardrobe.

I was having a similar issue with my wedding rings feeling a tiny bit tight and uncomfortable, and it’s especially nice for those to be back to fitting better.

Anyhow, today, I had my morning date with the scale and the numbers were exactly the same as they were yesterday.

This is entirely unsurprising. All the information about HCG — even from a weight-loss perspective — talks about the inevitability that some days your weight will “plateau” instead of being lower than the day before. I kinda think the diet guides make a really big deal out of this possibility just so someone doing HCG for the purpose of weight loss won’t freak out when this occurs.

But it was fascinating to witness myself when this moment occurred. In an instant, I could recall all the old tricks I would have used, back in the obsessive-dieting days, to make the scale move in a good direction. Maybe I should weigh myself starkers, or try again after another trip to the toilet.

Or maybe not.

For all that I was able to recall the ways a “plateau day” would have thrown the old diet-obsessed Sherri for a loop, perhaps the most surprising thing about this morning was really how little emotional charge today’s date with the scale held for me. I saw the numbers, saw all the possibilities for being negatively impacted emotionally, and just felt fine.

Almost like my weight is just another data point for me.

* And why did I even still have a scale? For the always-important job of checking to make sure my luggage is under the airplane weight limit.

** Oh who am I kidding? From a cultural messages standpoint, I’m still being brainwashed about the value of skinny. We all are.


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Infrared sauna

Sweat it Out

“I come from a northern people.”

I’ve said this a few times in the last couple of days. And it’s true — not just looking through the Boston/New England lens, but also taking the longer ancestral view. Half Scots, half Lithuanian. Not quite so far north that my great-great-ancestors were riding reindeer to school, but close enough.

And why has this been a relevant declaration for me to make? Because one of the techniques often used to help address the body discomfort that sometimes arises during a detox is to sweat it out. Which means I’ve been spending a little bit of sauna time in past few days.

Infrared saunaI know that the sauna experience is often thought of as a pleasurable one, maybe even luxurious. It’s never really operated that way for me. Heat hasn’t ever really been my thing — hot weather, hot tubs, hot showers, saunas — all of then pretty low down my list of personal preferences. After all: I come from northern people.


I remember once Mr. Mezzo and I were on a beach resort vacation together. Our first evening after arriving, we enjoyed the sunset together holding hands and sipping drinks across the Moroccan tile divider between the hot tub (where he was) and the regular pool (where I was). Ever since then, we’ve had a way of joking about the differences in our internal climates. He’s a hot water duck, while I’m a cold water one.

This detail actually puts a bit of a question mark in my claim that my discomfort with heat is part if my DNA. ‘Cos Mr. Mezzo is half-Lithuanian, half-Irish. Not a whole lot of difference in the ancestral geography, but quite a significant one in personal climate. Kinda makes me want to run a couple cheek swabs through a DNA test to see what else is going on in our ancestral trees.


Anyhow, question marks or no, I’ve referenced my ancestry a lot as I’ve stepped into the sauna movement this weekend. I’ve had a strong enough “no” around them in the past that it felt like I was stretching beyond my comfort zone — in a good way, but a stretch nonetheless — even to be stepping into one. So I think calling out my ancestry was an easy way to give myself permission to cut a session short if I needed to.

So far, there hasn’t been the need. I still don’t think I’m the world’s number one fan of the experience of sweating while I’m in the middle of it.* But I do know the experience has helped ease some of the headaches and body pains I’ve been experiencing — so even if I don’t feel all rainbows and joyous inside the sauna, I’m definitely feeling good because of it.

And my biggest fear about it? The one that has nothing whatsoever to do with my northern lineage? The fear of how excruciating it would be to be trapped in a small, hot box with nothing to entertain myself but the chorus of poisonous inner voices that so often run my mind?

Not the problem I had feared it would be. The voices weren’t really running all that much today.

That’s supposedly one of the detox benefits of the HCG journey, and I’m encouraged to see this small sign that this sort of internal silence might actually be kind of possible.

I am definitely curious to see if that particular trend continues. Because if it does, that would be huge in bringing my life forward.

* I’m sure there’s all kinds of body hatred wrapped up in my distaste for a natural process like sweating. However, tonight is not the time to unwind that particular piece of knottiness.


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