Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Telling the truth Tuesday - Don't take things personally

I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July break. Our time at the cabin was heavenly, except for the monsoon rain we hit on the way there. Never saw rain like that since I moved to New Mexico in 1994. The thunder and lightning lasted all Friday night. It was an awesome storm. Sorry there are no photos, but we forgot our camera!

We shared our cabin with good friends, a couple with whom we play mah jong once a month, and who folk dance with us. We've known them quite a few years. Here's what I want to talk about today - how I am having to learn not to take things personally when someone I care deeply about makes comments about me and my life and how I do things.

Those of you who have been following this blog for awhile know that I've lost 50 pounds over the last few years and have been maintaining that weight loss for the last two years. I'd lost and gained weight more times than I can count for over 40 years, so to be stable in this area is huge. In order to maintain my weight, I need to manage what I eat and when I eat it. There's a difference between managing and obsessing. I used to obsess about food. I'd wake up in the morning thinking about what I would eat, could eat, should eat. Now, I pretty much know what I can and can't do and what the consequences are if I do something different.

Managing my food means I don't always eat what others are eating. So at the cabin, for example, one couple is responsible for say breakfast, cooking for all. The other couple is responsible for dinner, cooking for all.
R & T were making breakfast for us. I knew their breakfast would contain way too many calories and throw my balance of proteins, carbs, fruits, fats, etc., completely off, so I brought my own breakfast.

Later on in the weekend, as we were packing up to go home, R and I sat on the porch and the conversation came around to food. I said something about being grateful I no longer obsess about food, and R looked at me and said, "I think you do still obsess about food."

Now, normal people probably would not have gotten upset about that remark, but I'm not normal. I didn't get upset the way I used to, doubting myself, getting all emotional, having a heated discussion. I simply asked her what she meant. She explained that not eating the same food as others when we're together, to her is obsessive. I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day. I also cook things in the crock pot and hubs and I eat during the week. There are two reasons for this. One, I don't enjoy cooking, so this means I don't have to cook every day. And two, I really don't care all that much about food any more. My life is not about the food. Food is just sustenance. R, on the other hand, is a gourmet cook and cannot imagine eating the same food every day.

There's one other factor for me. I'm hypoglycemic and if I don't eat at certain times, I get panicky and extremely irritable. So I frequently have to eat before everyone else. I still sit at the table and share in the conversation, but I may not be eating. For me, the meal is about the company and the sharing, not the food. Some folks have an issue with this as well. Why can't I snack before hand and then eat the meal with them, they ask. Well, it's more calories than I want in my body if I do that.

So it made me think about how our culture is so heavy on food being the center of entertainment. Am I being rude by eating my own thing in social gatherings? I told R that perhaps I needed to add additional foods into the mix, but for now, what I was doing worked for me.

What do you think? Would you be offended if we went out to eat and say, it was 7 pm and I'd already eaten at home? Or if I came to your house for dinner and I only ate certain things that were served and not others.
Inquiring minds want to know....



Vicki Rocho said...

I don't know if offended is the right word. I would be puzzled why, if we'd been planning a dinner out, you would eat ahead of time.

I lost 40 pounds last year, then had surgery and was unable to exercise for 6 weeks. I completely fell apart and am struggling to regain control. So I understand how your routine of eating helps keep you in control.

If you know ahead of time that you are planning to go out to dinner, can you tweak your daily menu so that you have more calories available at the end of the day? Even if you just had a salad at dinner you could participate with the others without throwing yourself off-track completely.

Cyndi said...

Let me guess...R is overweight? I've noticed that when my weight is up, I tend to notice when others are not eating or are eating healthier than me. It's because I feel guilty about what I'm eating and would feel less so if everyone else was eating similarly. Or maybe she's just so proud of her gourmet cooking that she wants everyone to enjoy it all. My sister is that way. I'm like you, I don't enjoy cooking at all. My sister views her preparation of fabulous meals as an expression of her love an affection. Not eating anything she makes seems like rejection to her. Although, she does make healthy gourmet meals so it's much easier to eat everything she makes.

If we had dinner plans and you didn't eat at the restaurant I would think it was odd that you had eaten already, knowing we had plans. If 7pm was too late due to your hypoglycemia then I would think you would suggest an earlier dinner or suggest we do something other than meet for dinner. I wouldn't be offended but I would wonder why we even bothered to make dinner plans.

If you only ate certain things but not others at my house for dinner I probably wouldn't even notice but if I did, I wouldn't be offended.

I think the statement that you are still obsessed with food is harsh. There is a huge difference between being mindful of what you eat and being obsessive. What you have described does not sound obsessive at all. Good for you for doing what you knew was right for you instead of pleasing your friend at your own expense.

Glad to hear you had such a nice weekend too!

Mason Canyon said...

I'd say friends should understand your eating habits (for lack of better wording), especially since your hypoglycemic. Every person's body reacts differently to when and what they eat. Your body needs certain things at certain times, nothing wrong with that. A stranger eating with you might not understand, but a friend should.

A person can go off their food routine some if they are just trying to lose or maintain weight, but when health issues are involved you shouldn't take chances.

Thoughts in Progress

Joanne said...

There's a difference between being obsessive about food, and managing food. I think it's very important to manage what we eat, for our own individual health. And I agree with Cyndi, above. As good friends planning a get-together, I would hope that either I would be aware of your routine and we would accommodate it, or that you would mention it, and maybe we'd alter the plan, say, to coffee and dessert rather than a full meal. Excess weight is responsible for so many health issues. So keep doing what works for you, Karen, and kudos to you, too on losing and maintaining your weight loss too :)

Jen Chandler said...

I find it very odd that people have a hard time allowing others to be themselves. I wouldn't find it offensive at all if we went out and you didn't eat but just sat and enjoyed the conversation. I figure I'd either know you well enough to know that you eat how you eat for a reason or that you'd say, "I've already eaten but I'd love to go and chat with you".

I guess I'm that way because I battled some food allergies in the past so I understand what it's like to not be able to eat what everyone else is eating. Also, I have to eat all the time : a touch of hypoglycemia and very, very high metabolism. I've had people joke about how much I eat and how little I am and I'll admit it gets on my nerves, but I try not to take it too personally.

Good for you for knowing what you need and sticking to it. If you body craves food when no one else does, there's nothing wrong with that. I wouldn't call that obsessive at all! And I know plenty of people who don't like to cook. I love cooking but I don't judge them for not enjoying it.

I'm very glad you guys had a wonderful weekend, even with the rain. I hope you have a fantastic week!


Ann said...

This is a hard one. I agree everyone needs to eat as best suits them and their body. I think I would wonder though, if you were invited to dinner at my house and you arrived saying you had eaten already. I could understand someone having a light snack if the meal was not on their schedule. But to have eaten a meal before an arranged dinner party, I don't know, I might be a bit insulted after going to all the trouble of planning a meal to suit all.

Karen Walker said...

Let me clarify. I would not eat prior to going to a dinner party. It's just that if the meal contained dairy products, I'd have to pick and choose how to get around that, since I'm allegic to dairy - so anything with cheese or cream would not agree with me. But I'd never arrive at someone's house for dinner having already eaten.
Restaurants are another story.
Thanks for all the comments. It is very helpful to hear what y'all think about this.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Some folks worry too much about what other folks are doing and how they do it. It probably would have helped if you had warned them ahead of time, but why they would take your eating habits personally is a mystery to me.

Crystal Clear Proofing said...

The first thing that stood out to me is your reference to "normal" people. I remember a therapist scolding me for my use of that word. "But normal people..." She said, "Crystal, there IS no 'normal'. Everyone has their own way of doing things and thinking of things."

That being said, I am very much the same way with my food. I eat slower than others. I will NOT eat after 6 pm. Certain foods my body has to work too hard to digest so I avoid them.

Everyone has to do what they need to do for themselves, their health, their minds...whatever. You were completely right doing what you did FOR YOU. Don't take it personally! My hat goes off to you for maintaining your routine even when not in your own environment.

When confronted by someone about your eating habits (or any subject for that matter), that may be an opportunity for you to explain to them the reasons why. They may have no idea what you've been through or why you do things the way you do. Enlightening others frees yourself.

You've come a long way, Karen! Keep right on going! You've done an EXCELLENT job so far! ♥

Karen Gowen said...

Maybe you should be doing a blog about eating and managing food, look at all the interest here! Course you know I said I'd like to see you do a book on this :)

Maryann Miller said...

I think it is okay to let people know about your dietary needs. Also okay to eat what you can and avoid the other things. In our family we have folks who have restrictions for either health reasons or personal taste, and nobody is offended if someone does not eat the brisket because they don't eat meat. More for those who do like it. LOL

I agree with Crystal that you should not separate yourself from 'normal' people. I'm not sure what a normal person is.

N A Sharpe said...

Very interesting discussion! I agree that a meal is often part of social gatherings. Seriously, I'm more about enjoying the company and conversation. Don't get me wrong, I always enjoy good food and good company makes it all the better, but my emphasis is on the social aspect.

Enjoyed the post very much! I haven't been online nearly as much as I'd like lately, but I do enjoy visiting your blog. I have an award for you tomorrow on my blog.

Have a great evening, Karen!

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

Olive said...

Thanks so much for leaving a comment on my blog. And I can very much identify with this post. I cannot eat most foods and therefore have to stick to a very strict diet. Like you, my diet has changed radically over the last few years and I cook everything myself. It means that I cannot eat out or at friends houses. But, I think they have become accustomed to it. They have to:) haha