If you have been following this blog for awhile, or subscribing to my newsletter from the Feldenkrais Center of Houston, you may have noticed that I have been — missing. MIA. Absente. No esta aqui. After months not writing anything at all, I finally have something to write about here on SomaQuest. SomaQuest is about the felt experience of being alive, which should offer a pretty wide range of topics. I realized recently that I have not felt very alive myself.
I started to know that something was not quite right several months ago — perhaps as much as a year — when I became aware that I didn’t like how I looked in photos. I had been a tall and willowy teenager, but I realized it would be a real stretch for anyone currently in my life to imagine that someone had ever described me as a “beanpole.” Yet, there I was, in videos and in still shots, looking — fat. Looking back and doing the math, indeed I have probably gained 3-4 pounds a year for the past 10 years, so it is easy to see how I could be 40 pounds heavier now than I was 10 years ago, when I moved to Houston. Yikes. The pictures from my birthday this year, celebrated in May at the Houston Feldenkrais Training, took me aback. I had been trying to “eat healthy,” making sure to get lots of protein and healthy fats, choosing whole-grain versions of my favorite starchy carbs. How could I have gotten so heavy?
One day in early June, I was between clients and flipped on the TV. There was Dr. Oz, talking about three medical tests that can save your life. They were: blood pressure, blood sugar, and — dun dun DUN. . . waist measurement. I measured my waist and, to my horror, found that the number was +10 over the MAXIMUM healthy measurement, for a person of my height. I was completely shocked, and I was now paying attention.
On another day, Dr. Oz’s guest was Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of the 2002 book “Eat to Live.” He proposed a 90-10 plan: that people re-organize their eating so that 90% of all calories come from high-nutrient-density foods, like leafy green vegetables, raw and cooked non-starchy vegetables, beans, and fresh fruit. The quantities he was proposing seemed unrealistic, but I kept listening. He talked about eating for maximum health, and not just for weight loss or outward appearances. I thought, “That actually makes more sense than what I have been doing until now.”
I purchased Dr. Fuhrman’s book, Eat to Live, for my Kindle reader, and I dove right in. I began losing weight at a steady pace, between half a pound and a pound per day. At the end of the first week, I had lost the first five pounds.
When I had lost about 20 pounds, my energy began to return. It was easy to keep eating to live, because I never felt any deprivation. After another month or so, I thought I might enjoy ZUMBA to begin exercising again, and found that there was a class at a dance studio nearby. I am on a program to return to an optimally healthy weight, which will involve losing a total of 65 pounds. So far, I have lost 25 pounds.
Feeling healthier, I felt more like myself, whatever that was. Perhaps it is better to say that I sensed that I was perceiving myself with greater accuracy. This was good news/bad news. I began to perceive an undercurrent of emotional unrest. I was feeling troubled by several professional relationships, discouraged as I looked at my time commitments until the end of the year, and drained by the simplest task, like deleting old emails. I had also been involved, intensively for about a month, in caring for a friend who was dying of cancer. For the first time in a long time, I felt depleted, overwhelmed, and even incompetent.
Thus began another journey of awareness, one that is specific enough that it warrants another blog. It can be found at BurnoutBio.com, and chronicles my latest experiment and exploratory process of coming back from what I was able to identify as “Burnout.” I hope you will join me there.