Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Birthdays, Colds, Getting Slimed, Maintenance and Post-Holiday Food Plans

Been fighting a bad cold while attending and hosting Christmas parties. Nyquil has been my friend. I'm going to try to sleep tonight with out it. I may have to form a support group for those getting off the stuff. I think I'll call it Nyquit.

People keep saying their bands get tighter when they're sick. I believe that, but I don't think its the band getting tighter, its the band filling with phlegm. There's no room for food, and when you pb (puke back) it really triggers the drainage. Gives new meaning to the phrase "getting slimed." Also, your tissue swells. Your nose, your sinuses, your throat--probably your esophagus and stomach too.

I've been doing most of my writing these past few days on lapbandtalk. I post mostly on the I'm here to help thread under Mentors. I've been digging into some of the relative issues that I can't talk about here. Writing is amazingly cathartic. And I know the people on lapbandtalk really read my posts and comment on them and appreciate them. We can let our hair down about almost anything--from passing kidney stones to how we like our veggies cooked (Most of us prefer softer-not crisp).

And there are so many things that can drive us into the food. So many saboteurs to our serenity. One woman hasn't posted for some time and regained 40 lbs. She actually had too tight a band. She couldn't eat the healthy foods like meat and vegetables, so was eating all the sliders--the things with high carb and fat content that slide right through the band. So she had some of her fill removed and she's back on the bandwagon, posting and changing her food plan.

I'm approaching maintenance and will have to walk that thin line between having enough restriction but not so much that all I can eat is sliders. I really love meat, though, so I don't think I could stand not being able to eat that.

Now that the holidays and my birthday are over, I can get back on track with the food. I've given myself leeway to eat a lot of things not on my protocol over the holidays and my birthday, which was today. I've gained and lost the same 2-3 lbs and not more, which is surprising because I couldn't exercise this last week due to a heavy head cold. Did I say it was my birthday today? (I got my excercise today at Kohl's spending gift card money. I have to replace almost my entire wardrobe.)

Had to have some sliders for my birthday today, but no parties planned for NYE so far so I'm pretty safe. Also, not any $ left for going out for eats and treats. Not much left in the house either except meat and veggies. Don't do potatoes, rice, bread, pasta, or pastries unless I'm eating out or at parties, and even then I'm very cautious cause they can make me pb.

My downfall is choc or cr. chz. frosting, chocolate candy, ice cream, choc. malts, and chocolate or chocolate/caramelly cookies, fudge etc. Those are definitely sliders I could live on. So I don't keep them in the house. No more parties, so shouldn't be encountering them much except sometimes at school if someone brings a treat. Then I have a small piece so I won't feel deprived.The band definitely limits my portions on meat and veggies although I can manage to eat quite a bit of them at night.

I do drink a lot of decaf coffee throughout the day but they're about a third 1 % milk so I get at least 2 or 3 cups of milk a day. Drink it with Splenda. Sometimes I mix in a pkg of Diet Hot Chocolate for a treat.As I'm moving to maintenance I'm planning to try to eat more fruit, maybe have some plain Kiefer (like yoghurt only better for you) with some concentrated fruit juice like pomegranite and/or some berries in it with Splenda sprinkled in for breakfast instead of my protein shake on some mornings.

I also like the no sugar added little cups of applesauce for an afternoon snack at school. Or I might start taking a bag of Clementines to work and eating one of those in the afternoon. Trouble is, the kids love those and are always begging me to share with them.I do eat small amounts of lightly roasted and salted (shelled) sunflower seeds throughout the day. I often treat the students to a teaspoon of them at the end of each period if they've worked hard and haven't caused any problems. I tell them its brain food, and it actually is very good food for the brain. Keeps my brain going also.

So, that's my basic food plan. I'm not a hot or cold cereal lover, and have never been a big sandwich eater, so I keep protein shakes and small peel-off tins of 3 oz tuna or chicken at school for lunch.Then mostly meat and some veggies for supper.

This is the closest to a food plan that I get. I don't weigh or measure or count anything. With my ADHD that way lies insanity. This is very simple. I just keep the things I can eat in the house and at school, and keep the rest out of the house.

I discourage my husband from taking home any fast food and he doesn't eat junk food around me anymore. If its in the house, its so well hidden I couldn't find it but I don't go looking either.

We rarely eat out, except for Sunday breakfast after church sometimes, and then I stick to 1/3 of a feta and spinach omelette with a couple pieces of bacon and my husband eats the rest.

I'm 6 lbs from goal and should reach that by the end of January. Then I want to lose 5 more as a cushion but I'm not setting a deadline for that. I'll let that merge into maintenance over a number of months. That's my plan, and with the help of God, the band and all you wonderful people, I'm sticking to it.

I still haven't heard back from the school I want to go to--at least not from the Sp. Ed. Dept chair who would determine what courses I need to take. I'm surprised she hasn't checked her phone messages or e-mail. The Reading Specialist chair got right back to me. So I'm on hold right now for enrolling for this next semester. I'm going to try tomorrow again, but being New Year's Eve day, I doubt I'll have much success. Maybe I can find out when classes start and get ahold of someone who will set up an appointment with the person I need to contact. I hate having to do this once I'm back teaching. I have no time to spend during the day on phone calls and I can't get away to run to the school to enroll.

In some ways I'd really like to go the self-employed route if my job ends at RCS. I could get set up to tutor home-schooled kids who are struggling. I could probably get jobs subbing at all kinds of schools. Not my favorite choice. I have a grandson and a niece who would benefit from my tutoring or helping their mothers home-school them. My neice has seizures that have given her learning disabilities and are making it difficult for her to attend school. My grandson has autism and the school system is resisting giving him an IEP and making accommodations for him.

I really love the tutoring/teaching side of special education and, unfortunately, so many special ed teachers spend the majority of their time testing, filling out forms, sitting in meetings, and writing IEPs on kids. Then they advise the teacher how to meet the needs of the students in the regular classroom (which is seldom very effective). Yuck. But the credentials could get me consulting jobs or jobs presenting and training teachers in various materials, methods and techniques. That, I think, I could do and would enjoy.

School starts Monday and it seems so close already. I didn't get to do all I wanted to get done this Christmas but I cleaned out a lot of clothes and drawers and plan to sort my jewelry into the jewelry chest my husband got me for my birthday.

We also got a Wii for Christmas for each other and we have a gift card we'll use to purchase the Wii Activ. Now we'll have a way for us to exercise at night instead of watching the TV. It'll put more variety in my workout as well.

My husband is also very actively looking for a job in the security guard field and there are lots of openings. That relieves a lot of my anxiety about losing my own job next fall.

Slowly things fall into place. God has a plan and, in the long run, that plan is not to harm but to prosper us.

All things work together for good for those who love the Lord.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Maintenance Fears

Studies have shown that a subset of people with food addictions have an even harder time losing weight and maintaining than other food addicts. After testing, it was determined that these people have ADHD and use food to self-medicate their ADHD. The ADHD also prevents them from doing things like counting pts., calories, protein, carbs or any system out there. They have trouble keeping track of things on paper, or on Blackberries or any other device or system.

They are also much more likely to give in to impulses because the part of the brain that governs impulses is actually less active than in people without ADHD. In fact, brain imaging shows that the harder ADHD people try to focus on something they find difficult to do, the less active that part of the brain becomes.

It's like being a perpetual teenager where possible long term consequences aren't important enough to inhibit short term behavior. We use food to quell our restlessness, give us an outlet for our energy (biting, chewing, swallowing), and to enable us to sit still and concentrate. We have trouble maintaining anything longterm. ADHD is closely tied to almost all addictions, and makes recovery very difficult from any addiction. If you haven't experienced it, its hard to describe it.

I will tell you that my husband has absolutely no doubts about my ADHD. He used to get up and get me chocolate just to settle me down and get me to sit.

However, ADHD people can go into hyper-focus with something that really interests them and can complete a major project in a short period of time. Just like I've lost most of the weight in a short period of time. However, once a project is completed they lose interest and go on to the next thing.

Entrepreneurs are frequently ADHD. Once they've established their company, they need to turn it over to others to manage it or they'll destroy what they've created. That's like me and maintenance. Goal achieved, interest gone.

ADHD people are creative and spontaneous. Those are our gifts. But most of us are not cabable of following even a relatively rigid routine. I know that I have to do some of the work. But I need the band to be pretty tight to check those impulses very quickly. I know better than to think that I can do it myself. Right now, I pb with one or two small bites of dense protein. Especially if I've had no sliders all day long except liquids. But after five minutes I can go ahead and eat a 6-8 oz filet mignon as long as I eat small bites slowly and chew well. I could then keep eating all night long anything I want as long as I eat slowly and chew well.

Right now I'm choosing to stop eating. But that's because I have that short-term goal in mind. Once I reach it, I'll lose that hyper-focus.

Also, my band has loosened as I've lost weight, and 5-7 lbs tends to loosen the band enough so that I need another fill. Since I want to lose more than that in order to build in a cushion, I'm pretty sure I'll need another fill both to get there and then to help me maintain. Even with another fill, I don't expect it to be easy.

I could be wrong. I hope I am. But most people don't outgrow ADHD. They learn to cope with it and to find compensating techniques. Well, my major compensating technique has been food. I'm trying to figure out how to deal with the ADHD without food.

Going back to school will be a major test of that. I don't know how to study without food. I don't know how to get through research without food. I don't even want to think about writing papers and doing footnotes and bibliographies without food.

Initially, I'm hoping that it will be interesting and challenging enough to hold my attention. The school may also have help available for people with an identified learning disability. Don't know if they do at a master's level, however.

I'm also looking into a support group for ADHD. I've got the spiritual support. I've got the lap-bandtalk support. I use my blog and lapbandtalk to supply emotional support and to deal with my issues. I've got a strong 12-step background.

The hardest part is the ADHD combined with the addiction center of my brain. I may end up on medication for the ADHD. I will do that before I'll let the food take over my life and my health again.

Meanwhile, the high protein low carb food protocol I'm on is actually recommended for ADHD. But I've successfully done this protocol before and eventually the ADHD has always overpowered it. But I've never had the band before and I'm praying a tight band will make the difference.

Meanwhile, I continue to work on changing my thoughts in order to change my brain in order to change my life. I need to believe that, with God's help, this band will provide me with the appropriate tool to permanantly change my eating habits.

I also need to continue to work on getting my own life and getting what I want from my life and relationships whether others concur or not. I've got to accept people for who they are and where they're at but not let that impede me from doing what I need to do to take care of myself. That, too, is changing those old codependant thoughts that have furrowed such a deep rut in my brain that I'll probably be working on changing them for the rest of my life.

It would be really nice if God let me know very clearly whether or not I should go back to school to get my masters. But it seems he wants me to do the footwork of investigating schools and thinking about the long-term consequences of getting the degree or not getting the degree.

Just like he chose not to remove the food addiction but cleared the way for me to have lapband surgery, I have to go through the process. Just like he hasn't gifted my husband with a job but is making him go through training and job-hunting in the security field. Just like he's not letting me know till next summer whether I'll have a job next year or not, so I've got to prepare just in case I don't.

I have to believe that, with God's help, I can change my life. I can have these epiphanies, these paradigm shifts. And, like anything worthwhile, I'm going to have to work for it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life

Watched a youtube video by Dr. Daniel Amen on changing your thoughts, changing your brain, changing your life.The latest brain research shows that if you deliberately work on changing your thought patterns (you may need counseling and, at least initially, medication to jumpstart the process), you can create new neural pathways in your brain that will supercede the negative thinking ones and will help you change your life.

Your mind is, literally, in a rut. Changing your thought patterns (what some call a paradigm shift) gets you out of the rut.
That's why during a conversion experience (coming to believe in a power greater than yourself, especially one who loves you unconditionally and, for me, one who cared enough about me to become an insignificant baby born in the humblest of mangers, one who's been through everything I've experienced and can walk through it with me) people are able to make significant changes in their lives.

We all have mini-conversions and epiphanies throughout our lives. I think, for most of us, getting the band was a way to jumpstart getting out of the rut our brains have been in regarding food. I truly believe most of us were born with something different in our brains that made us prone to this particular addiction or rut. Life experiences deepened the rut until it became almost impossible to act differently when it came to food.

Thank God for the inspiration and creativity he puts in mankind that allowed for the invention of the LAP-BAND®. Now, when my mind says "Eat more!" the band interrupts that thought and says, "You can't!" Eventually, my brain will say, "I won't!" Down the road, over time, as the rut gets filled in and smoothed out by new paths, my brain will tell me less and less often, "Eat more!"

The 12 steps also work on helping to foster this paradigm shift in our brains. That's why its almost the only successful treatment for recovering from addictions. It creates that conversion experience or paradigm shift in the first three steps which have been summarized as: "I can't. He can. I'll let him." It's a system for cleaning out your old thoughts (stinkin' thinking) and behaviors and, with the help of God and other recovering people, replacing them with healthy thoughts and behaviors.

The Bible told us how to do that 2000 years ago. LOL.

Phillipians 4:8. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mixed Feelings About Christmas

Going through a divorce and changing churches and remarrying and moving really messed me and my kids all up on family holiday traditions. Haven't been able to really get anything consistant going.

I also changed jobs along with the other changes--more than once, so building friendships has been very difficult. Thus, I have few non-family parties to go to.

My husband is also a loner for the most part so haven't been able to build couple's friendships either. One friend from church left the church suddenly. Another is now working 70 hr weeks and I believe I offended her so she ignores any overtures.

I'm also in a very wierd way caught between the black world and the white world. Hanging around black people so much at work and somewhat at church has made me no longer fit the white world very well, yet I'm not fully trusted and accepted in the black one either.

Being ADHD also can get in the way of friendships. I can be too frank and impulsive in what I say and too self-revealing. Scares people away.

I used to have a lot of friends in Alanon and we did fun things together, too. But when I remarried, my new DH didn't drink and making meetings became less of a necessity.I was also in a singles group where I was developing friends and that's where I met my DH which then took me out of the singles scene.

All the things that have gone wrong with my house, as well as having DS and DDIL and baby living in my house before that really put the kabosh on entertaining, though I was part of two church community groups in a row, both of which eventually fell apart. I did have them meet at my house sometimes.

Wierdly, the work I've done on myself in Alanon and in counseling and in reading tons of self-help books, as well as the work I've done bridging the gap between black and white, and the fact that I'm a much more independant thinking and behaving woman than most church women have all combined to make me not really fit in any group and to make it hard to find issues in common with other women. I can get by superficially but I haven't made deep friendships for a long time.

I tend to avoid really needy women because they bring out my own codependency issues and I get angry at them finally for not doing what they need to do to improve their lives. Other women are so busy rescuing the needy women that they have no time for relatively healthy friendships. They let these people suck up all their time and energy. I see so much of that in women in my church.

Also, so many events revolve around food and I think I've avoided those situations in order to keep from weighing even more than I eventually did.

I'm also uncomfortable in big group social settings--and that includes family ones. I invariably stick my foot in my mouth and end up over-eating to medicate my nerves and shut my mouth. When I was a kid I would take a book and read at family events. If kids wanted to play outside or run around inside and play actively, then I participated and had a good time.

I still will frequently find a relatively quiet place and talk to the one or two people who stop by, but I often wish I'd brought a book. So many people have nothing interesting to look at or read in their houses. Or they put it all away to straighten up the house for visitors.

At my daughter's on Christmas Day there is only one room for all the adults to be in, and it'll be crowded. I think I'll play with the kids except for when we're all together opening presents.

Christmas Eve won't be so bad. My sister-in-law's house has a room or two I can wander off to and get away from the crowd for a while. They'll also have booze, and booze, sad to say, does help. However, I never have more than two drinks. I really don't like the feeling of being even the least inebriated.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about the holidays. We were so ultra-religious growing up that we spent a lot of that time in church. Christmas Eve and Christmas morning services. New Year's Eve and New Year's morning. Nobody drank at all but there was always food at family functions which occurred after church, mostly with my mom's family.

We didn't really believe in Santa, but we opened presents on Christmas Eve.So I look forward to but I also dread the holidays. I allow myself more freedom to medicate with food at parties and try to not eat the days before and after. I'm sure I'm not the only one with mixed feelings.

So I'm writing about it to acknowledge and hopefully deal with these issues at this time of year. But I mostly am concentrating on the good things.

Abe Lincoln said, "Most people are as happy as they want to be."

This holiday I'm trying to concentrate on the good things, the noble things, the pure things, the lovely things. There's a lot of brain research that shows if you want to change your life, you have to change your brain. To change your brain and create new ways of thinking you have to deliberately work on changing your thoughts. The Bible got that right 2000 years ago.

Phillipians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Curmudgeons, Stress, and Food

I must be getting to be a regular curmudgeon. There is nothing on TV worth watching, or, if there is, its so buried in the 500+ cable choices I can't find it. My husband keeps recording the wierdest movies on the off chance one of them might actually be good. If they're "good" in the artistic sense, they're usually depressing.

I just can't sustain interest in them. I'm going to have to buy some books or go out every day so I'm not bored out of my mind this whole vacation.

I go on Lapband Talk and Facebook, but I've hidden so many people on Facebook and I never play games on there anymore. Facebook is becoming really boring, too. I still enjoy Lapband talk most of the time.

Christmas is tough. I so look forward to vacation but then I'm bored most of the days. I just want to get out of the house. I'll get some projects done, go see grandchildren, attend a few parties, and wish I had friends and money so I could actually go out and do more. Activities that don't involve food (and are cheap) are few and far between.

Working really makes it hard to have friends. Being a little wierd makes it even harder. The ADHD really interferes with friendship. I can't seem to not put my foot in my mouth. It's like I put the ADHD right out there in front and challenge people to like me anyway. Mostly I just scare them.

I just looked at the courses required to get my masters in reading or even an endorsement in reading. They look horrible. It would take several years to finish it, by which time I'll be 60.

RCS, where I work, is in deep do-do with the IRS due to several years of not paying their employee's social security taxes because they just didn't have the money to pay it. Bad decision. Didn't let people know the financial trouble the school was in. Now, despite the school being very well run by a new administration, and arrangements being made to pay back the IRS, RCS assets have been frozen. Certain funding came in and other funds were quickly raised to keep the school running and the teacher's checks from bouncing, but who knows what will happen next school year, or even second semester.

I know I could teach rings around a lot of teachers with masters degrees, but that degree makes me more hirable in my field. But I really don't want to go back to school. At all, ever again. I'm about ready to forget going back to school after looking at the courses I'd need to take. Maybe I'll do what my husband did and get security guard training. That's an area you can always get a job. Joke. For me anyway. Annie get your gun. For him, though, he can get a better class job maybe working a high rise or becoming a dispatcher, which you still need the security guard training and private detective license. He's about as intimidating as Barney Fife, but for a lot of these jobs you don't need to be intimidating at all. He can supplement social security income or work full-time if things get tough and we need benefits.

The Lord is going to have to provide. I'm giving up. It is just not worth it to get a masters. I'm going to try meeting with the school, but I don't need to be taking on student loans either. God has always made a way for me where there was no way. I'm going to have to trust him.

I had a good food day today--after two days of relative pigging out (not anywhere near like without the band). My stress level has been at its highest in a long time. And food is everywhere. I'm surrounded by all my favorite pig out food.

Some things I can't talk about on my blog, like family difficulties--because some relatives read this blog or talk to others about it. I hesitate to even talk about Roseland's difficulties. But these have been high stress points in my life right now. My financial situation, the problems with my house, these I can talk about. Myself, my ADHD,and my own psychological and personal issues I can talk about. But going "nekkid" about my family is another thing.

I've been able to write about those things on LapbandTalk where anything that could make us eat is fair game. But its been a long time since I had a good personal friend with whom it was safe to talk about anything and who also knows how to have fun. When I was in Alanon I had those kind of friends. When I was part of a singles group I also found some women with whom I became quite close. We, of course, had a major interest in common-in the first case, having been married to or impacted by a relative's drinking-in the second case having gone through divorce and now cautiously putting our feet in the water in the dating scene.

Now, I resort to the internet to find people with the same interest (the lapband and dealing with food) as me. I write in my blog to deal with many of my issues. But I really miss having a friend. Or two. Or three. I have work friends. But we don't socialize outside of work. At least I don't. We don't live close. We're all busy. Some of the young teachers have formed friendships, but most of them leave after a few years. It's also been difficult to make friends at church for various reasons--which again, I can't talk about on this blog.

So I can be surrounded by people and yet feel very alone. It could be that I'm really a loner. I've been thinking about that lately. I seem very social but am I? I'm very nervous in social settings and take refuge in food. I do well around just one or two people. So I'm not a loner, I just prefer more in-depth conversations where you actually get to know people. I just don't have much opportunity for that.

So, this is me being a curmudgeon. Exasperated by the current limits on my life, stressed by the personal, financial, family, and job related problems, and I can't even find a TV show to hold my interest.

But choir sounded good today. We sang twice. My husband now has the training to get a decent job. I'm still getting lots of compliments on my weight loss.

So God is good, even to curmudgeons. And he loves ADHD semi-loners who don't want to go back to school. He holds me in the palm of his hand. He's my Daddy. My Abba, Father. And he has plans for me.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Ate a wonderful dinner at a Hibachi steakhouse. Ate slowly. Drank with the meal to help it slide through. Didn't feel pain. Drove home. Ow!

It just let up now. Delayed reaction? I wish my band had let me know sooner. I really need to get one more fill because I can eat too much at night. I mostly don't but I can. I was waiting because I didn't want problems with pbing over Christmas, and figured I'd really need the fill for maintenance stage which is only 8 lbs away.

As I lose the last eight lbs over this month and next the fat pad will shrink and I'll really need the fill. I found out my Dr. moved to California. Never did get to make a 3-month check up with him. He never did my fills. Now I know why.

I never got called back by the university I contacted to finish getting my M.A. I need to get ahold of a university that will work with me on getting my master's in reading. Unfortunately, I work when their offices work. I've got about 20 hours post-grad and tons of experience that ought to count for something.

I'm off next week but I supect the people I need to talk to will be off too. I wanted to start next semester but that might be asking too much of myself. I hate this stuff. So many forms, so many phone calls. All the stuff at which I'm no good.

However, those simple initials behind my name will give me more options if RCS goes under or the vendor hired to handle NCLB for Chicago Public Schools chooses not to hire me to work there.

I'm doing so well at my job. The weight loss has given me unbelievable energy. Now that its hard to walk outside I've been waking up early and going in to work where I walk the stairways (47 to the top floor), hallways, and around the gym. Got in 45 minutes this morning.

I'll need to go in early tomorrow to make up for tonight's dinner with colleagues. Also, I didn't eat much Monday, although I was at another party on Sunday night. Right now I'm kind of hoping to just lose a few lbs this month and not worry too much if I don't lose much else. January is another month.

Even though I'm working longer hours I have smaller classes and I feel like I'm at the top of my game teaching. I have built such good relationships with the kids. I have one good sized 7th grader who is frequently seized with intestinal issues just before lunch time. I always tell him, "Don't fall in."

Once he replied, "Don't worry, I know how to swim."

I once started laughing when I looked at one of my eighth graders who'd decided to shave stripes in his eyebrows. He'd been bragging to one of the other boys that "the chicks dig it." So I looked at him, started laughing, and said, "Chaka, I just can't take you seriously with those eyebrows." It was the first time I'd ever seen him speechless, while the other boys fell on the floor laughing. One of them came and gave me a hug after class and I understand it was the topic of lunch conversation that day. Nobody'll ever forget the day Mrs. Flory finally gave Chaka a dose of his own medicine.

My three eighth grade boys try to find more time to come to see me before they have a math test. One will show up before school. They'll eat lunch with me so I can go through stuff with them.

I have so much fun with these kids. To have to leave them would break my heart. I went to hear them play band or sing in choir at the Christmas program last Thursday. They'd been asking and asking me if I was going to come see them and hear them. I skipped my own church choir practice to do it. They were so proud of themselves. Amazingly, even the beginning band wasn't bad.

And I ended up having to get up in front at the last minute and help lead the audience in Christmas songs while the band members were changing into choir outfits and getting ready to sing. Didn't expect that. Had kids coming up to me and telling me how well I'd done. The whole thing was impromptu but fun.

God is good all the time.
All the time, God is good.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

As A Woman Thinks, So She Is

I got a shock when my husband took my picture today. I wanted a new picture for Facebook and for Lapbandtalk. I thought I'd look pretty good because I'm 10 lbs from goal and I'm exercising like a demon. I forgot the power of age and the fact that photos add 10 lbs as does camera angle and lighting.

I looked top heavy. With all my excercise my waist still does not curve in significantly and my upper tummy still is rounded. I can hide the sagging but flatter lower tummy but not the upper tummy. My hips seemed narrow, my thighs skinny, but my boobs, on the other hand, seemed huge. When I was younger I always wanted big boobs. Well, be careful what you wish for. I have been this weight before, but I have never been this shape. I used to be pear shaped. Now I think I'm what they used to call pigeon-breasted.

So now I have to adjust my attitude. I was, I admit, somewhat dismayed. Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. I really do look a lot better and I feel fantastic compared to before. I'll never be young and svelte again. And that's OK. Every time I lost weight in the past it was never good enough and I never felt perfect. Bad body image can sabotage weight loss and maintenance so quickly. You'd think that by the ripe old age of 58 (the 30th of this month) I'd be past the whole body image and beauty thing. My husband certainly doesn't seem to notice or care.

Part of the confidence with which women carry themselves is based on their sense of body image and the way men look at them and treat them. Even more important, I think sometimes, is the way other women look at them. Most heterosexual males don't really care about the details as long as the main parts are present and available. Look at Prince Charles and Camilla vs. Diana. Look at today's headlines about Tiger Woods and check out the skanky looking mistress he had.

We think if we're physically perfect our mates will remain attracted to us and will adore us. Doesn't happen. And we learn not to rely on the opinions of our mates. We look to other women and their comments on how we dress and ornament ourselves and to compliment us as we lose weight. Sometimes we get more of our confidence or lack thereof from the other women in our lives.

Why can't I get my confidence from being a great teacher, a loving grandparent, a caring person, a beloved child of God? In fact, why do I focus on myself so much or even at all?

The fact is, I'm always going to see the world from my own perspective and experience. That's also how I'll express it to others. I am important to myself. I don't think I'll ever not care about how I look or think that my opinions aren't valuable.

So, I'll have to keep working on attitude and on changing my thinking. I'm a positive thinker most of the time. I have to look at the reality of my age and of what fat has done to my body and accept and love my body the way it is. I'll never knock Hugh Jackson off his feet but I do sense men looking my way.

The trick is to love myself yet in humility to consider others better than myself and to keep a servant's heart. I had a little lesson in humility when I saw my pictures today.

I'm finding that to keep the focus off myself it helps to keep myself open to all the incredible beauty around me. I'm still basking in the beauty of the Tennessee mountains. Last night my husband was flipping channels between Celtic Women-Songs from the Heart and So You Think You Can Dance. Some of the voices and some of the dances were so overwhelmingly lovely, they gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes.

I stay away from people who are ranters. I never listen to the political pundits for example. I listen to candidates, but never those whose ranting, hating voices fill the air waves as they pour out vitriol and hazardous waste. I don't care what side they're on. They create ugliness as they twist facts to suit their purposes and try to prove themselves superior through insults and smears. I don't need that kind of ugliness in my life or the anger it raises in me.

I notice, but do not dwell on the horrors that occur in our world. Yes, four police officers were shot. Yes, 30,000 more troops are being sent to Afghanistan. Yes, there was a massacre at Fort Hood by a crazy man. And yes, children and young people are slaughtering each other on the streets of Chicago.

But I thank God for the beauty in this world; for laughter and children's smiles and beautiful voices and haunting performances and incredible scenery and a Father's perfect love.

Phillipians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.