Shame As A Motivational Tool

My general tendency in life is to jump to the worst possible conclusion. Miss two days of study? FAIL EVERYTHING. Eat a lot of chocolate last night? OBESITY CRISIS. Mistake pointed out in your work? WRONG CAREER CHOICE LIFE RUINED. And then I take these thoughts and I use them to motivate myself to do the “right” thing.

Motivating change is a funny thing. There is a very thin line between motivation and obsession in the same way that the reasons behind the change can be productive or destructive with the same end goal. Shame is a huge indicator of which side of the line you fall on.

I am once again trying to lose weight. I am conscious of what I eat, I have specific plans on my exercise for the week, I am disappointed when I don’t meet those goals and sometimes need to white knuckle through to meet them. Some days I worry if I am slipping back into old habits and then I think of shame. In the height of my ED, I was more than conscious of what I ate. I was so consumed with meeting my deficit for the day that I weighed everything. I weighed lettuce, which is essentially water, for fear of going overboard. I measured calories burnt on my heart rate monitor and wouldn’t allow myself to stop exercising until I had reached 600+ calories burnt. I had no life outside weight loss and situations that might cause deviance from the plan caused my so much stress and panic that I often just avoided social situations.

Looking back on it, I see a lot of similarities between how I treated food and how I treated my work when I was doing my leaving cert. It was all or nothing and since nothing meant overwhelming guilt, I was going to commit all to studying and all to weight loss. In both endeavors, there was no clear end point, just a vague goal of “Get medicine” and “Lose weight.” When I got medicine it wasn’t enough. When I lost weight, I needed to lose more. And I was able to maintain this hellish lifestyle because of that voice in my head that reminded me of the dreaded alternative – a B instead of an A, a size 12 instead of a size 4.

When we look at how we motivate ourselves, it is essential to look at our driving force. Denouncing the use of shame is not the same as letting yourself off the hook and continuing with your damaging behavior (in my case, overeating.) The original damaging behavior is no better because it comes from a place of self hatred. When I am eating my third helping of Tesco brand chocolate, I can easily convince myself that I am making up for all the abuse I put my body through in the past few  years. But cut to an hour later when I am nauseous and bloated, and I feel like shit for overeating, it is all too clear that my “treat” was really a punishment. It is no different from starving myself all day and feeling really proud about it until I faint into my friend’s arms and have to explain the headaches and the hunger pains. Both situations are riddled in detrimental emotion and neither allow for a life outside the food (or whatever change you are making.)

In my life right now, I am trying to lose weight. But I am also working, studying, going out, writing, singing, having fun, and all manner of things in between. Sometimes I don’t have time and sometimes I fuck up (read: the last 10 days.) But today I am getting out of my motivational slump and am determined to push myself back onto the right track. And under no circumstances are the words “not good enough,” “failure,” “too fat/lazy,” or anything remotely similar going to be used in this process. Instead, I remind myself of the extra energy, the extra confidence, the more stable emotions and reactions I felt when my diet and exercise patterns were more balanced. Oh, and I lost a few pounds. But that’s not what is important.

The Epiphany Moment

Two amazing things happened at work today.

1. The boys showed up on time.

2. I think I finally got through to them. And with maths no less!

What the what?! As it happens, books are superfluous. As a typical academic, I have never personally needed a practical approach, perectly content to bask in the glory of the theoretical. So this was a hurdle for me to overcome: trying to think up a way to approach education in a way I have never experienced.

In fairness, I can’t take the credit for this breakthrough (the idea came from S) but it was still a sense of accomplishment. And now, to strike while the iron is hot. With practicalities such as CAD for area and perimeter, racing for speed and distance and Top Gear for literacy. Education never looked so unlike education.

I had another bit of an “oh” moment when I got up this morning. As you can probably guess, I never made it to the week sans binge. But then, I suppose I was technically restricting – albeit not to the past extent – so was it inevitable? Probably. Not so much from calorie deficiency anymore, but I am still tied to a diet mentality much as I try to convince myself I have changed. I still cling to numbers in a relatively unhealthy manner. And I had to ask myself, what am I waiting for? Am I waiting to lose 10 pounds before I start listening to my hunger cues? Do I expect things to magically change, even if my actions stay the same? No.

But I have also realised that I can’t be trusted to my own devices (without an inkling of a plan to guide me) but I also can’t depend on others to take care of me for the rest of my life. I need to start living my life in a way I can sustain once this year off ends. Otherwise, I will go to college, realise I don’t have the time to exercise 6-10 hours a week without burnout, have an utter freakout and be back at square one. And that’s no good.

If I’m going to change, I’m going to change now. For real. And I have a feeling it’s going to suck along the way. But to quote a phrase I have seen multiple times in the blogosphere of late:

Nobody said recovery would be easy. Only that it would be worth it.

Day 10: One Confession

My confession? I am the very definition of fail. Why, you ask? Because three days into living in Cork city without the fam to watch my back, my purse gets lifted. €30 down the drain, but at least the Gardaí got me all my cards back. And Sinead’s epic brother drove us which saved the ridiculously long walk home.

In other college update news, no one has properly moved in yet. Sinead and I live in an 8 person house… with two of us. We have met our Nursing student and our Psych student, but they went home. And since I haven’t even had orientation yet (it’s Monday 😀 ) I have yet to really make friends. So its a boring aul time. To fight the boredom? Domestication!

Thursday was the day of the big shop. Starting the morning with an exploratory jog, I discovered that Tesco Express is reeeeeeally close. Further exploration later in the day proved that Tesco Express was ass. So off to Wilton shopping centre we went! Nothing eases my sould more than those yellow tags on the reduced items in Tesco 🙂 Thursday was also the day of extraneous amounts of walking. We walked everywhere. Who says 1st Years gain weight when they go to college?!

Yesterday was a lazier day. In our defence, the weather was K-Rap. My small umbrella is destroyed. Thank God for Mom donating her awesome Big umbrella to the cause. Checked out Brookfield Gym yesterday (€4. Cuts me. But I don’t get my free Mardyke Gym until Monday.) Gym was grand, the lack of Arc trainer made me sad. But the showers were class! So much pressure. Plus they had hairdryers which was awesome 🙂 We also cleaned the kitchen floor (it was sticky) with the nastiest mop ever. The amount of brown stuff that came out of that mop. I was rinsing it for ages and it still isn’t clean. Just marginally less disgusting.

We went on a shplore of Grand Parade library also. Sinead is a member, I refuse to join until I get my student card. No way am I paying €20 for a library when I can get it for free in two days time. The music library in there is to die for. Hours, days, weeks…could potentially be wiled away there… I got pure emotional looking through Mozart scores. I miss my singing teacher already. Louise, one of these days I will just randomly show up at your house. Note to self: must join Choral Society.

I must be off now. We are receiving our first visitor from Limerick (Neil) and he has a car. Yert. Today will not be a walk everywhere day. 🙂

Pre-Results Coping Techniques

In 9 hours, my fate is sealed. Okay, so my results are the same now as they will be tomorrow. But tomorrow I will know. And it doesn’t help that today was the longest freaking day of all time. It’s my own fault. My hips hurt so I never went for my run, and I substituted by first playing the balls off the piano (good idea) and then nomming the house out of ice-cream, ryvita and cheese. (Not at the same time. I’m not that bad.) I then flopped onto the couch, unable to move or do anything besides gawk at repeats of Project Runway. I have learnt my lesson. Except I haven’t and then eat two servings of dinner. (Epic chicken soup. How will I survive without my Daddy’s dinners?)

So here’s the deal. I am not afraid of failing. I am confident enough that I haven’t and will even go so far as to know that I will be pretty pissed if I don’t break 500. (I am aware that sounds really condescending but I worked my ass off. It would seem a waste otherwise.) But the anticipation is killing me. I want to know if I need to move house, learn to live with strangers, constantly cook for myself, and most importantly, buy a hair straightener. (One of the upsides of Limerick would be the continuing access to my sister’s clothes and hair supplies 😀 ) I’ve been counting down the hours since yesterday.

My friend has just informed me that our school isn’t releasing the results til 10?! What the juice… Just longer to wait.

Fail.

One Step Closer

It’s been so long blogosphere. And I apologise. I apologise for taking you for granted, for being entertained by the musings of others without contributing anything back myself. But no longer. No longer will I hide behind the guise and excuse of exams, school and studying because I am now free. And whilst I don’t want to post mortem them all here to the excruciating detail I did everywhere else, I think they were fine. I was no victim of the Eavan Boland debacle, my maths went terrifyingly excellently and I got to write about the habits of the obese for my french paper 🙂

So summer hits and days are spent lounging in the park with the boy, reaquainting myself with my amazing friends who the Leaving Cert had seperated me from, listening in awe as Danny O Reilly from the Coronas sang Heroes or Ghosts as Gaeilge (actually in love…) Clubbing in Ballybunion is even more fun when you’re with your best friend with a total of €12 between you for drinks and you are the least dressed people in the place 😉

Today, I woke up excruciatingly late. Almost midday, its scandalous. Prepping myself for summer camp (what will I do with those children?!) and went to check the e-mail as per usual. E-mail from HPAT. I expected something like your results will be available in 2 days time or something, because I was full sure that they weren’t out until the 30th. But no. It was the real thing, the big shebang. I kind of stared at the screen for a while, reluctant to look straight away out of anticipation (and by anticipation, I of course mean fear.)

195. 98th percentile.

HOLY CRAP. I ran to my dad in the extension, half slipping on the tiles because I’m just lounging around in my socks. Followed by an over excited phone call to my mom. This e-mail has made my month. Because whilst this is no guarantee of that elusive place in NUI Galway, at least I know that if I do get it, medicine is the career for me. Even if I end up doing Nursing in Limerick, I know that hospital life will suit me well. I am ridiculously happy.

August can’t come soon enough.

Things I Have Learnt In The Past Week

The summer so far is looking bright. In sunshine and events. In spite of the Leaving Cert (which is going reasonably well.) And it is a week of  knowledge and tears and smiles. Which has led to me to these great realisations:

  • Eating for two hours without pause the night before your two most information heavy exams is not a good idea. You will be sick that night. And during the exam. And the first time apparently is not enough to teach naive little Kate.
  • Being wheat free is a skank when you are getting lunch in a small village shop. A flake and an apple is not enough to sustain you through a whole Irish Paper 1 plus Cluastuiscint.
  • Predictions can be good and bad. I am not an Eavan Boland victim fortunately. And my feeling that Uirchill would come up paid off. Yert.
  • The best way to get a good grade in Honours Maths is to go in ridiculously relaxed. And not clomp back through the hall in a fit of self consciousness because everyone is giving you dirty looks. (I left both papers at leasst 40 minutes early. Even the examiner thought I was a freak.)
  • Shexy is one of the searches to my blog 😀
  • Also, blogging is far more effort than I have in me atm so I continue in my sporatic rambling.
  • I love my sister. Happy Birthday dear 🙂
  • Sometimes, all it takes is a 5 minute phone call to someone before Irish Paper 2 to allow you enough scope to not have a panic attack. And for everything to go reasonably well 🙂

Quotes of the summer so far:

  • I’ll have the gingers, you have the twins and Helena will adopt the chinese baby that will eventually own this restaurant.
  • What’s an innuendo? *laughter* No, seriously. What’s an innuendo?
  • Ugh, please I don’t want any of that….

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Leaving Cert Eve

In approximately twelve hours time, I will be sitting at a desk in my school hall, receiving the 2010 English Paper 1. The first of the most difficult set of exams of one’s life. Although one notoriously can’t prep for English 1, I banged out two hours this evening of Functional Writing, the correct use of dialogue and the features of persuasive of writing. And planned a convoluted short story that is nothing like the Notebook (anymore) thanks to an inspirational and jealousy filled (on my behalf) conversation about the story writing process with the boy.

I am rationalising blogging as practice for: possible diary entries, persuasive writing, reading, and my paper in general. Mmmm rationalising 😀

My coping mechanisms for tomorrow? I slept from about 3:00 til 5:30 and once that was over, decided to take everything edible in my eyeline and nomnomnomnomnom.

600 points? So not happening. But medicine? Here’s hoping.

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