It has been a crazy two weeks. It started when my daughter and I traveled to the East coast to look at some colleges. The trip took us to New York and Boston, and we had a ball. Sometimes I can’t believe I live in the burbs because I love big cities.
I packed my best intentions before I left: I packed my computer, of course, so that I could write and blog and stay in touch with my cheerleaders. I packed my sneakers and work out clothes and headphones. I even packed my Fitbit charger. I made sure both hotels where we would be staying had gyms. I made a plan with Heather, my weight loss coach, about how to negotiate eating out and the general lack of routine.
I knew the second week would be more challenging. I was going on alone to Kentucky. My 90 year old dad was coming home from the hospital and a rehab facility where he was recovering from a fall. My brother and sister live close by my folks and do an amazing job helping them out, so I was hoping I could come for a week and offer them respite.
The best I can say is that I walked a lot and only had a few disastrous days.
I did work out at a gym. Once. It was awesome; I did squats and arm work and even ran on the treadmill non-stop for 30 minutes. That was on day one. Things just went down hill from there. My Fitbit reassured me that I was staying active: some days I took close to 20,000 steps! I started off eating right, too: lots of protein and veggies and healthy snacks; went easy on the carbs; no alcohol. I tracked my food.
I cannot say for certain when it all started going downhill. I think the night my daughter and I were walking through Times Square at midnight, desperate for something to eat. What you find in Times Square at midnight is not going to be wholesome, trust me. My girl actually said, “Mom, next time we HAVE to have some healthy snacks in the room.”
Planning for self care has never been easy for me, but I have noticed something. As I have gotten older I move slower; I can’t keep all the balls in the air like I used to. Walking around all day in New York, while it is my happy place, left me tired and a bit discombobulated. I hate to admit to not being as adroit, but there it is, and I HAVE to plan accordingly. I need rest, and a bit more time to plan and to execute a plan. In my 50s that is just my reality. But I didn’t own up to it on this trip, and it cost me.
So once I sent my daughter home on the plane and got myself to my parents house I was white-knuckling it to be sure. I was sleeping in their living room on a mattress behind the couch. I felt completely incompetent to help two older people, even though they are my parents, sort out medication and doctors appointments, physical therapy and transportation. Watching them struggle with mobility and confusion made me almost physically sick with worry and grief. They’ve been married for 62 years and they just want to stay together in their home as long as they can, with as much independence and dignity as possible. So they might go on living independently for a good long while, or it might all be over next week. I cannot say.
So the worry and uncertainty and sheer mental exhaustion and the overwhelming guilt of dealing with all of this lead me straight to the food. Not every day, not all of the time. But the second-to-last night I was there I found myself standing in their kitchen, stuffing my face with chocolate just as fast as I could. A feeding frenzy. Or a frenzy of trying not to feel my feelings about the situation, trying to numb myself and disappear and put myself in a stupor so I could sleep. Of course it didn’t work. I slept terribly that night, and in the morning my poor little old parents were no different. The chocolate hadn’t fixed anything, only left me feeling disappointed in myself.
So I am heading home. I am so happy. I feel a certain horrified fascination to see what the scale is going to say when I weigh in later this week. I quit tracking my food for about half the trip, and haven’t had access to a scale. My jeans feel a bit tighter, and I certainly FEEL fatter, but I just don’t know. Whatever the scale says will be OK, because as I have said over and over, I am not giving up. I am not stopping. I wish I had done a better job taking care of myself, but I can’t do anything about that right now. All I can do is move forward from here. I might have temporarily postponed my success but I am not giving up.