Weighed in at 171lbs this morning. Rode 21 miles today. Weight is holding. Well, we’ll see what happens this weekend. I found myself wandering around last night singing ‘Ive got cheatin on my mind‘, with thoughts of ice cream & chocolate cake in my head…
Archive for May, 2009
Today I weighed in at 171lbs. Tuesday I was at 174lbs, I ate cherries on Monday. Yesterday 173lbs. I have to be at 167lbs by Monday. I’m worried about this, yesterday morning it was lightning, so we didn’t ride. We rode/ran last night. I’m scheduled to ride tomorrow morning, but Saturday & Sunday we are driving SAG for the Tour. We won’t be riding. And we’ll be wandering around, helping people & taking photos.
We are trying to come up with a plan for eating that will keep me on schedule. Every day I eat eggs all day then a small steak for lunch & a small steak for dinner. Won’t be able to do that now. I’m considering hard-boiled eggs, but they only last in the cooler for a few hours & sometimes they gross me out. I need 5-200 cal meals & 2-400 cal meals each day. I can’t eat any fruit or cheese. When I’m on the road, I can usually stay on track with my eating if I eat fruit & cheese. But those throw my metabolism off, so I can’t eat them. I’ll be having enough trouble reaching my goal with no riding. I cannot afford to screw up my calorie intake. It’s going to be a real challenge.
What adds to it is Guy gets cranky being in the car for extended periods. Then he gets mad and determines he ‘deserves‘ bad food because he’s had to suffer so much. So, he’ll spend the day eating bad food, then gets all lethargic & whiny. If I try to keep him on track with his food, he pouts and feels like I’m trying to be mean to him. It’s interesting because he is so good-natured and happy most of the time. He’s usually a joy to spend time with, except for this. And I sometimes allow this to sabotage my eating.
OK. I’m having one of those mornings. Today is not a ride day. I don’t want to ride because I’m tired, I want to rest. But I need to ride because we’re not riding over the weekend & we didn’t ride yesterday morning. So, I am going to go and force myself to ride. <leaves to go ride, is gone for two hours, then comes back> Ok, I am back. 1hr 15m. 600 cal burned. It felt good to get out there, I am so glad I went. That will make up for Saturday’s ride, but not Sunday’s.
Sunday’s rides are usually 2.5 hr. = 1500 cal burned. That’s going to be hard to make up for. At 1800 cal per day, I have to be careful reducing my food intake so my body doesn’t think I’m starving and slow my metabolism. When you ride every day, you need more base calories. 1800 cal for me is like 1200 cal for a non-rider. So, you can see I’m right on the threshold.
I think I have the food for the weekend figured out. Small, bagged spinach salads. To go with the eggs. I’ll put onion, garlic & tomatoes in them with 1 teaspoon of dressing, just enough to dampen it. I wish I could figure out some other protein I can take. I guess I could do some of those bags of tuna. If I can drain the liquid out of them and bring a little miracle whip. We’ll have dinner in restaurants each day. Too many calories. Maybe I could order a child’s steak meal, or a hamburger with no bun. This has got me pretty stressed.
I am almost at 10 lbs of loss. Very typical for the first 2 weeks. It’s weird, because your fat starts to get real loose & soft. Alot of what you lose in the first 2 weeks is water. I need to go have a massage, that would help remove some toxins from my muscles. Wow, that’s a good idea. I wonder if I post on FaceBook if anyone will tell me where they go? I will try this.
Because I’m so stressed about this weekend, I am trying to come up with some motivating thoughts to use to keep me on track throughout the weekend. We are not riding the Tour this year because of a little medical problem I’m having, but I’m actually happy we’re not riding because I’m so fat right now. It is embarrassing. [wait, is this a whine coming on??] On the one hand, I don’t want to be around alot of people because of how I look, on the other hand, I’m angry at myself for giving fun stuff up because of my weight. It is going to be so cool spinning fire as a thin person. [yep, sure enough, going into full-blown whine] I look at videos of overweight people spinning fire. As good as they are, you still think ‘wow, look at that fat girl spinning fire’. I don’t want people thinking that when they watch me spin. And going to the beach. I used to go to the beach all the time, it was so much fun. I’d rather have all my skin ripped off at once than have to go to the beach right now. It’ll be fun going to the beach when I’m no longer fat.
I can also think about my clothes. My closet is about 10′ x 17′. It’s completely full of clothes – that I cannot wear, because most of them do not fit. Because I am still fat. If I can just lose this weight, I can wear all my great clothes again. I miss going places and not feeling comfortable. Everywhere I go, I feel ‘large‘. All the time. My clothes always feel tight. I don’t remember what it feels like to feel good in a pair of jeans. Even when they’re baggy, the waist cuts into me. And that whole ‘thighs constantly rubbing together’ thing. I have a slender, nameless friend that I love to death, comment to me one day. ‘You know, Veronica, my thighs rub together sometimes too’. I just smiled & nodded. My mind was saying, ‘really, every moment of every day, sometimes to the point you get blisters??? Probably not’. I spent my whole life never knowing that happened to overweight people.[end of whine] Well, that’s all the energy I have for this today. I wonder what will cross my mind tomorrow…
I did it!!! Got on the scale this morning and am at 171lbs, my goal was 172lbs for today. If you’ll remember, last Monday I weighted in at 179lbs, so this is really exciting.
On to this week’s goal. By Monday, June 1st, I need to be at 167lbs. This is still in the first 2 weeks, so it’s the easiest time to drop the weight. Over the next 4 weeks I will become more metabolically resistant and making the numbers go down will get harder. That is when weight training will really become important. Right now I am still getting prepared to weight train.
Today I am thinking about time. Time can work in your favor, or it can work against you. You can control it, or it can control you. I’m thinking about time because last week I isolated one of my weight-loss problems, poor time management. There is another aspect of time that plays an important role in my weight-loss success. Having the right perspective on time. Time almost seems like a misnomer. It is an actual thing, and at the same time it is merely a perception. On the one hand, time passes whether we acknowledge it or not. But how time passes can be controlled by our perspective of it.
Augustine raised the following conundrum: when we say that an event or interval of time is short or long, what is it that is being described as of short or long duration? It cannot be what is past, since that has ceased to be, and what is non-existent (future) cannot presently have any properties, such as being long. But neither can it be what is present, for the present has no duration. So what then gives time its perspective?
When is an hour not an hour? Have you ever thought about this? This morning, during my 1hr 15m ride, I rode alone since no one showed up. This was a long hour. I was very concious of my pedal strokes. The distance I had traveled and distance before me. Very aware of each passing moment. Yesterday, I rode 2hr 24m. But it didn’t feel that long. It only felt like an hour. There were alot of other people riding with me, so I didn’t notice the passage of time as much. We rode in Blanco, so it was very pretty. Very distracting.
[whine alert] Yesterday I was thinking about the weight-loss and found myself getting discouraged. I’m not going to be at my goal weight until the end of the summer, so another summer being fat. 3 months, that’s 13 weeks, 84 days. It seems like a long time. That causes me to feel frustrated. [end of whine] But when you think about it, I’ve spent the last 3 years being overweight, and I didn’t even notice how much time had passed. I will need to teach myself how to keep time in perspective.
You may be wondering why I’m concerned with the perception of time or the psychology of change. What does either of these have to do with losing weight? I think what I am finding out is that successful weight-loss is more of a mental than a physical thing. Don’t get me wrong, I have to be physical to burn large numbers of calories, which will cause me to lose weight. However, since weight-loss takes time, my success or failure isn’t just about the physical aspect, but the mental aspect as well.
All of my past failures were mental failures that caused physical failures. It goes back to understanding that getting fat was caused by a series of bad choices over time. Losing the weight and getting healthy will happen with a series of good choices over time. Choices, good or bad, are mental things. Now, they may influence what we do physically, but we need to remember they happen in our mind first.
So this becomes another part of my training so I am able to be successful, this time. Controlling my mind as well as my appetite. Having said that, how do I apply this. When my kids were little, many times I would use distraction to get them through a difficult time, or help them to do something they needed to do, but didn’t want to do. It was a form of behavior modification that was successful at the time. I am going to think about this for the rest of the day & share what I come up with tomorrow.
175lbs. Rode 1hr 21m. My mind is racing, let me see how much of it I can grab.
The Psychology Of Change
Who is that little voice inside your head? I think I’ve got it figured out. But I’m going to have to go all the way around and come back to it to explain. We’ll start with a scientific approach. Here I go…
It takes 3 weeks to establish a new behavior into a habit. That is what they tell us. Ever wonder why? And ever wonder why sometimes it takes longer? This will actually be an unscientific-scientific approach. (Remember, my claim to fame is that I’m fat, not a scientist. What makes it that much more interesting is that I’m blonde, too.) Your brain is full of neural-pathways. This is how your brain communicates to your body. What keeps you trapped in your unhealthy behaviors is heavily embedded neural-pathways that were established over time and reinforced continually.
Let’s recap the whole brain function thing: The brain is made up of cells that have axons or transmitters. These cells have nerve endings called synapses and dendrites. Nerve endings release chemical and electrical stimuli to communicate with each other. This brain communication forms neural-pathways in the brain and is how the brain works. In order to make a new behavior a habit you have to first start by making a new neural-pathway in your brain. We’ll use bike riding examples because I know that best. Let’s say when you push off to start riding, you always start with your left foot, even though you’re right-handed. Here we have isolated the bad behavior. When a right-handed person pushes off to start riding with their left foot, it’s is less efficient. So the new behavior will be pushing off using your right foot instead. Ever tried that? Ever tried to get started on your bike using the foot you don’t normally use. It’s hard. You are real uncoordinated. Your fight or flight response kicks in. Your whole body goes on alert because your brain thinks somethings not right. You’re in unfamiliar territory.
But if you keep doing it over time, over & over again – you deepen the neural-pathway for that behavior and your brain gets comfortable with it. Over time, your brain prefers that behavior; so long as you keep doing the new behavior. Every time you do the new behavior, that neural-pathway actually gets stronger. What makes it take longer is when you fall back into the bad behavior. Each time you do causes delays in habit-forming. You accomplish 2 things by forcing yourself into the new behavior. First, you are making the good behavior neural-pathway stronger from use. Second, you make the bad behavior neural-pathway weaker by lack of use. It will reach a point where it’s so weak and faded, it’s almost invisible to your brain. The reason you must be strict with yourself initially is because your brain, under stress, will automatically use the more heavily embedded neural-pathway. And when you slip up and it uses the old one, it will stay strong and not fade.
So, there you have it. Reinforcing healthy behaviors over time causes new habits. Falling back into bad behaviors make habit forming take longer. Now, let’s apply this to other things and see how it works. Let’s first try discouraging talk while you exercise, which is a limiting behavior. Most people claim to hate riding hills. Most people struggle on hill-climbs. We isolate the bad behavior as ‘your thought that you hate hills’. As you approach the hill, you continually reinforce how much you don’t like hills- how hard it’s going to be- how you’re going to struggle. All of those thoughts cause physiological changes to take place in your body, causing you to be weaker and distressed. When you’re body is distressed, your pain-receptors kick in to rescue you. So now your body thinks it’s weak AND it hurts to climb.
New behavior – ‘your thought that hill-climbing is enjoyable’. As you approach the hill, you force yourself to think positive thoughts. I like hill-climbing- it makes me stronger- I’m strong enough to do this- it will only last a short time- Yes, I can do this. Now your body responds physiologically to those thoughts and prepares to bring additional power to what you are doing. Also, you’re not wasting energy in distress, so you have more energy available. As your body steps up for a reasonable request for added power, it doesn’t feel distressed, so it doesn’t send pain signals. As you climb, continuing the positive thoughts, your body focuses on being stronger and you get through the hill with relatively no pain.
How you reinforce the new behavior is to force yourself every time you see the hills, to immediately think of them in positive terms and get excited. Keep in mind to control your thoughts so you are not reinforcing the unwanted behavior so it will weaken and fade.
Now let’s attempt to apply this to dieting, because it’s a little more complex.
Being overweight comes from a lot of bad choices over time. So, we have a lot of neural-pathways to rebuild. With eating, you have to add to that the hormonal reaction we have with certain foods. Carbohydrates increase appetite. Protein decreases appetite. Malnutrition causes cravings as our body tries to regulate itself. We usually misread our cravings. (See, our body isn’t actually craving choclate cake) Many overweight people are addicted to unhealthy carbohydrates, those that cause large spikes in our glucose levels, increasing the production of insulin, causing our bodies to store more fat. It is a vicious cycle.
So, you can see this is more than just rebuilding healthy neural-pathways. (It gets even more complicated as you look into hunger hormones and metabolic reactions to decreased food intake, but I really want to find an ending point. Scientifically-accurate weight loss is the proverbial can of worms.) I’ll simplify it by stating that you have to build healthy neural-pathways and make food choices that do not sabatoge your dieting efforts by causing you to store more fat. And you need to be careful not to restrict your calorie intake so much that your body’s defense mechanism kicks in and tries to save you from what it thinks is starvation. You also have to be careful with your self-dialog….. to be continued…
It’s Thursday. *goal chart* I get to rest my legs today. No riding. Last night I did some cross-training. Biking & running. It was good. Today I’m supposed to weight-train. It’s after 4pm, I haven’t done it yet. I have been busy all day, but that’s no excuse.
I did well with the changed diet schedule today, although this is a lot of energy to feed yourself 7 times a day. Eat at 8-10-12-2-4-6-8. Eat 200+400+200+200+400+200+200 calories. That is 1800 calories total and 7 meals per day. Several times I found myself an hour behind, but not so much that I overate. I scheduled reoccurring appointments with 1 hr reminders into my blackberry for the next 8 months. It sounds an alarm every time I need to eat. If I’m busy, I set 5 minute snoozes until I can go eat, with one click. That helped somewhat.
I wanted to post my schedule so I can track the craziness.
05/25/2009 – 172lbs actual – 171lbs
06/01/2009 – 167.5lbs actual – 174lbs
06/08/2009 – 165.25lbs actual – 174lbs
06/15/2009 – 163lbs did not weigh in
06/22/2009 – 160.75lbs actual – 167lbs 7lbs over goal
06/29/2009 – 158.5lbs actual – 165lbs 6.5lbs over goal
07/06/2009 – 156.25lbs RESET SCHEDULE
07/13/2009 – 165.25lbs actual – 167lbs 1.75lbs over goal
07/20/2009 – 163lbs actual – 165lbs 2lbs over goal
07/27/2009 – 160.75lbs actual – 165lbs 5lbs over goal
08/03/2009 – 158.5lbs actual – 167lbs 8.5lbs over goal
08/10/2009 – 156.25lbs actual – 167lbs 10.75lbs over
08/17/2009 – 154.lbs actual – 163lbs 9lbs over goal
08/24/2009 – 152.12lbs
08/31/2009 – 150.24lbs
09/07/2009 – 148.36lbs
09/14/2009 – 146.46lbs
09/21/2009 – 144lbs Goal Weight
And my doctor’s appointment (I think I found a real doctor) is August 20th. Perfect timing!!
That means by this Monday I need to be at 172lbs, from 175lbs. I have a ride tomorrow, Saturday & Sunday mornings. Very do-able. Do you realize that will be the middle of August. It will still be warm for 45 days. That means I can go surf at the beach with Cass, Miranda & Sydney???? Cass & I haven’t surfed in a long time. Last time we went, I couldn’t get up. My arms weren’t strong enough to hoist my weight up to stand. [whine alert] It was a sad & dismal day. I remember standing on shore, watching her out in the breaking waves, thinking ‘why did you let this happen, how much more are you going to give up because you have no self-control’. I was 15 lbs lighter than I am now. Sad. [end of whine]
THIS IS THE FIRST WEIGHT CHART, WHICH WAS REPLACED ON 07/15/2009
05/25/2009 – 172lbs actual – 171lbs
06/01/2009 – 167.5lbs actual – 174lbs
06/08/2009 – 165.25lbs actual – 174lbs
06/15/2009 – 163lbs did not weigh in
06/22/2009 – 160.75lbs actual – 167lbs 7lbs over goal
06/29/2009 – 158.5lbs actual – 165lbs 6.5lbs over goal
07/06/2009 – 156.25lbs actual – 166lbs 9.75lbs over goal
07/13/2009 – 154lbs actual – 167lbs 13lbs over goal
07/20/2009 – 152.12lbs
07/27/2009 – 150.24lbs
08/03/2009 – 148.36lbs
08/10/2009 – 146.46lbs
08/17/2009 – 144.6lbs – goal weight
One day at a time. It’s slow. I just have to maintain my focus. I rode this morning, 1hr 20m. Interval sprinting. Cate – thank you so much for making me push myself. It felt so good to have someone I couldn’t keep up with. We did little .5 mile sprints, it wore me out. My leg muscles start screaming at .3 miles. I love that. I’m going to keep track of this and monitor how I improve. Every Wednesday, I’ll be interval sprint-training.
I cross-trained tonight. 3.5 miles on the bike, 5 minutes walk/running. Then repeated it. So, a total of 2 sets. This was the first time I’ve ran since December 2007, when I injured myself running. Tore my meniscus and fractured my tibia. My knee hurts a little, it’s kind of scary, but for now, I’m going to keep trying. I have to lose this weight. I have to get healthy.
Tomorrow I am supposed to weight-train. I am completely scattered. I don’t have a plan & I haven’t thought it through. I have a 30X20ft work out room in my house. I have a training bike, boxing equipment and complete set of free weights- curl bar, straight bar, various dumbbells. I have printed workouts for each body part. I’ve been in this house since March, and I haven’t been up there yet.
I don’t know what keeps me away. I am a weight-lifter. I have spent my life lifting weights, it’s my favorite form of exercise. I have always enjoyed it. Several years ago, when I had a gym membership, I would go to the gym and work out for 3 hours at a time. I love weight-training. As I sit here writing this tonight, I am puzzled as to why I don’t lift any more. I have riders tell me how torturous weight-training is for them. I understand how they feel, but I don’t agree with them. Weight-training has always been so enjoyable to me. I just don’t do it any more.
So, we shall see what happens tomorrow. I feel I would be amiss if I did not mention, with all this great riding I’m doing these last few days – I have not been focused on my work. I work every day, but with this much riding I don’t know that I am doing enough focused work. I say this because in my earlier post, I admitted that my favorite excuse for not riding is work. I guess I’m feeling guilty about it.
To end, let me share the weigh-in. Strangely enough, I’m back to 175lbs. – go figure.
It’s Tuesday. No posts for 20 days. I’ve been riding on the weekends, but not during the week. I have not been dieting every day. My weight maintained at 174lbs since April, until last week. My prescription ran out and I didn’t refill it until yesterday. 6 days with no meds. Now I’m at 179lbs. I guess I’m having trouble understanding the ‘you have to take this every day for the rest of your life’ part. I rode Friday, Saturday and Monday. We were out of town with the girls over the weekend. I stuck to the diet all day Saturday. Until we got to the B&B. They had raspberry kisses in our room that night. And that was that.
One of the problems with this diet is that when you eat a little sugar, your cravings go wild. So, all day Sunday, I ate really bad food. I knew I was in a bad place, so I was careful to eat smaller amounts. But the choices were bad. A biscuit at breakfast. Potato soup. A package of cookies. That’s all it takes. I know it was the medicine that was keeping me at 174lbs, but not dieting didn’t help. So, this morning, I’m back on the meds & the diet.
I don’t feel comfortable on the medicine. It gives me headaches. My moods have been different. I only had a bad problem with it once. Back in February. We were riding in Gruene. I was 3 weeks into taking the meds, losing weight, with these headaches every day. And nauseousness, every morning. That is an every-day thing & I’m getting used to it. But, at one point during this ride, my vision got distorted as a car was passing me. It wasn’t a blackout, more like the road shifted suddenly in my field of vision. It scared me. But it only happened that once.
I tried to talk to the doctor about it, but he dismissed everything I said. Which frustrates me. I know I’m going to feel different taking medicine every day. I’m ok with that. I’d rather feel a little weird than to keep being fat. But I needed to speak to someone about how it made me feel. That would have made me more comfortable with the meds. Dr. Talafuse, I don’t feel you’re as ‘brilliant’ as your nurse claims, but that’s a whole other blog post. For now we’ll just leave it at me, frantically searching for a real doctor.
Cate rode with me Friday & Monday. Cate is 5′ 10″ and slender. She runs, swims and rides. Thank you for showing up and riding with me. It helped so much. I don’t know if the people that show up and ride with me know how much I appreciate it. How much it motivates me. [start whine here] It’s difficult being fat. Putting on my bike clothes is hard… and depressing. My XL jersey is too tight, so I wear Guy’s instead. I’m embarrassed when I show up to ride. ‘Hey, there’s that fat woman that runs ‘Ride Like A Girl’. No wonder faster riders don’t ride with us. I don’t look healthy & fit. I look fat. I don’t look like I take my riding seriously. I don’t look like I know what I’m doing.
[whine continued] I’m embarrassed riding with the newer, thinner riders. (I totally don’t feel bad that they are thinner that me, that’s not it at all) I don’t feel they think my advice is any good. When I was weight-lifting, I would look for people that had muscles like I wanted, and I would talk to them about what they did to acheive that. I don’t think too many people are doing that with me. And it’s kinda funny too. I’ll talk someone thru properly shifting in a hill, but when we crest the hill, I’m so out of shape, I can’t talk at the top. I have to wait to catch my breath before I can continue with the information. I can really feel the extra weight on the hills. And it is hard having to catch up to them to tell them something. [the whine is slowly ending]
A few weeks ago, when I went to speak with an athletic store owner about joining up to do training rides together, it was really embarrassing. It was the first time we met. There she sat, thin as could be, in front of this… big woman. I could tell she wasn’t really taking me too seriously. Why, you ask? Because I’m fat and I don’t look like I ride well. I understand how she felt. I’ve been relatively thin all my life. When I was confronted with overweight people in the past, I viewed their inability to effectively manage their weight as insight into how effective they were professionally. And I still feel that way. For all of us that are great at what we do, but have allowed our weight to get out of control, something to consider – As good as I am now, if I increase my self discipline, stop taking the easy way out, require excellence from myself – that will improve my professional life, as well as cause me to be thinner.
Let’s be real. I do not apply the same determination to my work. I don’t push as hard, I give up too easily. Plus, eating bad food makes me lethargic, heavy-headed, slower thinking. I still get my work done, but I’m not as efficient. It takes me longer to get each task done. You cannot overlook the fact that being overweight is a series of bad choices over time. Then, you get into a pattern of excuses. Excuses are insidious – they defeat us without us even knowing what’s happening. You strengthen bad habits with your personal care, it creeps in elsewhere. That has an impact on the quality of my work. Enough said.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not dogging overweight people. But now that I am an overweight person, I have new insight. And this insight shows me that even with a slower metabolism, I don’t try enough. Too many excuses, not enough ‘just shut up & do it’. That’s why I’m writing this blog. To hold myself accountable. No more hiding with it. Because hiding doesn’t do any good. ‘Oh, Veronica, I never would have know you were fat unless you said something about it’. Yeah…..right.
You see, even with this blog. I’ve been too afraid to show it to anyone. I’ve been writing it in secret. No one even knows about it. No one knows that I got excited about the idea of holding myself accountable, and then stopped after 3 days. No one knows that I use work as my favorite excuse for not eating right or working out like I should. It’s all garbage. The truth is I have no plan, no set schedule for working out. I let work interrupt me so easily. ‘I can’t ride tonight because I have a meeting with clients’. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it. ‘I can’t ride this morning because I’m right up against a deadline’. Well, that sounds downright important. But the truth is, I didn’t schedule my workload properly throughout the day. So, I have to give up that ride because I’m bad at time-management.
And The Truth Shall Set You Free!!! On several rides I’ve spoken with people about the fact that I’m fat. Every single person said the same thing. ‘Oh, you shouldn’t call yourself fat’. Sometimes they modify it. ‘You’re not really fat’. Oh no? Then what am I??? I don’t understand why people have problems with that word. Fat- having much or too much flesh; plump or obese; unnecessary excess. Fleshy, portly, stout, pudgy, rotund, plump, chubby. However you want to dress it up, with all the political correctness you can muster, the bottom line is I am fat. And until I truly get my mind around that fact, nothing is going to change. Hiding behind polite labels won’t make it better. What do you say instead, anyway? ‘Oh, you’re just a little big’. What is a little big? ‘Well, you’re just chunky‘. Oh, that makes me feel alot better. No, let just be straight-up. I’m fat. And when I get tired and uncomfortable enough with it, maybe then I will make those series of good choices that bring me back to healthy. And if that makes me look more attractive to my hubby, all the better!
[DISCLAIMER: Several people have cautioned me on the title of this blog, ‘My life as a fat woman’. I am not trying to offend anyone. This is about me, not anyone else. It is a truthful statement, I don’t know what other words to use. This blog is about the part of my life I spent being fat. No offense should be taken. Maybe reading about my struggle, and hopefully my emergence from it, will be helpful & motivating for someone with a similar struggle.]