Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Trail - Who Knows Where It Will Lead?

Ace Gap Trail - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
April, 2010

 The feeling I experience when I first set foot on a hiking trail is difficult to describe.  It's a mixture of excitement and anticipation with a certain amount of caution built in.  Do I have enough water?  Do I have my emergency kit?  Did I pack enough food with lots of protein?  Do I have my rain gear?  All those things plus many others race through your mind, but you point those boots forward and don't look back.  You know it's going to be hard work and you'll be tired, but the thought of not heading out on that trail isn't even an option.  Because no matter how hard the trail, the overwhelming sense of peace and serenity one experiences makes every rocky section, breath stealing uphill climb and knee killing downhill slide worth it.  That's kind of how I'm feeling right now.  

My last two posts (here and here) were not easy to write.  I didn't plan them and there was a lot of stuff in them I had never verbalized before, but once I got started writing, the words flew off my fingers.  I cannot thank you enough for your comments and feedback.  I have read them over and over again trying to learn something from each one knowing that there has been a wealth of kindness and some introspection with each one.  The "trail" ahead of me is long, but here are some things I feel much better about right now:

1)  Until I wrote those words, I truly don't believe I'd ever made any sort of connection between those childhood food memories and my inability to stop eating until food is gone.  Now that I have a glimpse of what is happening, I can begin the work of setting some guidelines to help me get past those moments between "I've had enough" and "I can't stop until it's gone."  

2)  Someone (sorry I can't remember who) suggested starting now talking to MIL about new eating habits and being very candid (in a gentle way) about things I no longer eat.  With FIL's health deteriorating rapidly, things are beginning to change in the way we do things anyway, so I believe there will be fewer and fewer times in the future where I am unable to have any control over what is served at meals.  I truly believe this problem will take care of itself.  But I'm actually glad it happened the way it did this year because I think the two events (with in-laws and parents) happening so close together are what helped me identify the food issues in a way I'd never done before.

3) This one may be hard to properly communicate in writing but I'll try.  In writing the post about my parents, particularly my mother, I believe some anger flowed out through these fingers that I knew I harbored, but had no idea why.  Because here is what I want you to know.  When I think of my parents and future time spent with them, there is now a sense of peace and calm, as opposed to dread, that I haven't experienced in a long, long time.  Yes, they have (and always will) their hang-ups, but make no mistake about it - I am eternally grateful to have been raised in a home where my parents loved God, each other and me.  Those things were NEVER in doubt.   Having identified this connection between food in my childhood and overeating in my adulthood, I'm ready to put it behind me and not play the blame game.  It's the way it was and I'm a big girl now - it's my responsibility to move on and treasure what time I have left with my parents.

4)  Writing is cathartic and totally therapeutic!  (But we already knew that, didn't we?)  I think this blog is going to have a long life.  Hope you'll stay with me.  I need every one of you!  Thanks so much.

Will all of this help me lose this last 16.5 pounds any quicker?  I doubt it, but it will help me understand that "good" food is always available to me and I have control over making poor choices or excellent choices.  If nothing else, I'm proud of myself for figuring this out.  I think it's significant and is a breakthrough which may prove to be even more useful in maintenance phase than weight-loss phase.  
Mentally, I feel much the same level of exhaustion that I often feel as a long day of hiking draws to a close.  There is such a sense of accomplishment and if you are returning the same way you hiked in, there is a sense of comfort and familiarity along the trail.  This picture was taken at almost the exact spot the earlier picture was taken - I was heading out instead of in.  The sun is shining differently and if you look closely, you can see my car in the upper right corner.  This day's hike was over.   It had been almost 11 miles of perfect temperatures, excellent trail conditions and an amazing display of wildflowers (this trails boasts one of the largest stands of Pink Ladies Slipper's in the entire park).  Nonetheless, it is always a wonderful feeling to look up and get the first glimpse of your car.  

My latest hike of discovery began a few days ago.  I've "walked" the path until I'm braindead and mentally exhausted, but I've had some amazing revelations, gotten some great feedback, reached a turning point and am headed in the right direction.  The sun is shining on the path and as for the trail, who knows where it will lead.  But I've laced up my boots and I'm ready to go.


  1. How wonderful that you have made some discoveries and are so optimistically moving on. Thanks for letting us be part of the journey.

  2. Isn't it amazing how therapeutic writing is? I like how you compare it with hiking. Sometimes the never-ending uphills seem daunting, but the view from the top is totally worth it. I want to see those Pink Ladies Slippers. Were they blooming in April?

  3. Hello Sharon,
    I am new to your blog, but I can already see that we share much in common. Blogging is amazingly therapeutic (I second Tish) and empowering. So much of what we are doing in regards to regaining our health is discovering why we overeat. Once we begin to the healing begins. Bravo! Michele

  4. Sharon, I so enjoy reading your posts. I love introspection and the insight it brings. As I read your posts, I gain something that I can use in my own quest to become a food-normal person. food-normal.

    Who would've ever thought we'd need a compound word like that to distinguish our stuff about food and where we want to be, which is, well, normal?!

    Someday, we won't.


  5. You rock! Blogging is good therapy and a lot cheaper!

    I love the sharing we get to do. The learning from each other and the insights into disordered eating.

    Keep moving forward.

  6. First - I love your beautiful pictures. Second, it's really amazing what a blog like yours can do. I had no idea that writing about my weightloss journey would help me so much. I am discovering things about myself that I didn't even think about before. It helps that during the day I'm constantly thinking about future topics and what other bloggers like you have written. You are on a great path, keep going!

  7. The journey of weight loss cannot be done without also having the journey of self-discovery (which you have also begun). Kudos to you for recognizing that the things you have been posting about have a direct connection to overeating. I feel the same way about some of this stuff from my own experience, but haven't really let it out on my blog yet. You are brave and I may try to be too someday!

  8. Those childhood connections are tough. I remind myself that my parents (particularly my mom) did not know what she was doing to my-self esteem when she picked on me constantly for my weight when I was a kid. (Self-esteem wasn't invented until the 70's or 80's.)