Pardon all the excessive editing done to this piece. It was the only clip I could find.
Anyway, as I was saying, "FAAAAT! Fat fat fatty."

So Matthew Broderick is moi and Nathan Lane is also moi. This is what my insides yelled at my outsides when I found myself standing naked in front of the mirror this morning. Oh yes. You're hearing me right. The Belly is back! In full force, too. But.
I just finished reading Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies this afternoon. For some reason, reading this was so insanely perfect. She has this way of praying that is so simple and full of faith. When she is scared, she says, "I'm scared. Help me." When she is frustrated with someone, she writes her name down and says, "Help me," and slips it into God's Inbox. When she is thankful, she says, "Thank you, thank you, thank you." And for some reason, this seemed so profound to me. I guess growing up in the church, I've always had this idea of what prayer is and what prayer should be for me. I felt like, at times, that my prayers should be "advanced" (whatever that means) because I'd been praying for a long time and usually when you do something for a while you get better at it. So I thought I should be better than "Help me." When I was in high school I started to write my prayers. It worked for me. It helped me to focus and to get down what I wanted to say. And it helped me be honest with myself. And also provided a record to look back at and see who had been faithful. Let me tell you- it was never me. But then it became an obsession, and I began creating rules for my prayer writing. I'm so good at making up rules. And I always think, if I can just follow the rules then I'll have it all together.
I know, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, do you really think anyone ever has it all together? Haven't you figured out by now that this all together mess is a myth? And yes! Yes I know. But somehow the knowledge that all together will never exist hasn't kept me from reverting back to behaving as if it is a possibility. So anyway, I created rules. Then I decided I would break free from my rules. And when I did that, I pretty much liberated myself from prayer altogether. And this has been a seemingly interminable cycle for me. I'll find something that works. Then I'll mess it all up by adding rules and making schedules and disappointing myself fifteen hundred times by not keeping my rules or my schedule and then I feel guilty and then I hate myself for feeling guilty and then I decide to rid myself of the rules and schedules by ridding myself of the thing that was being ruled and scheduled. (Sometimes run-ons are perfection.)
But Anne Lamott, man. She does not have it all together. And she has dreadlocks. And she wrote a chapter on her dreads. She also wrote a chapter on feeding herself. It was perfect. And she wrote about how when her car broke down, she prayed, "Help me." And when her heart was broken, she prayed, "Help me." And when her son wanted to go paragliding off a mountain she prayed, "Seriously. Help me." Her faith is worked out in her life in these tiny small bursts. And these small bursts pile on top of one another and make her faith huge! And I decided that I had put restrictions enough upon prayer, upon eating, upon how my life should go.
And fat works into this how?
I ran today. This evening, actually. I thought about running. I thought about it for a little while longer and realized that I felt like running. I felt like running. And then, I put on my running clothes (seriously, it was a squeeze. The Belly was like, in a hurry to return. No slow weight gain here.) and then, I ran. I just ran. I didn't run seriously far or seriously hard. I ran down the street with my husband trailing along, walking behind me, encouraging me with his little wave and his smile. I took walk breaks to hold his hand. And then I ran some more.
I didn't make up any rules about how far I had to run or how many other times this week I was going to run. Or how because it was Tuesday and not a Monday, it wasn't really the right day to start running again.
I could beat myself up about gaining a lot of my weight back, but really I didn't work that hard to lose most of it. I did work a lot before the wedding and I'm back to wedding size now. The weight I lost while traveling was from hiking for 5 to 6 hours a day, and puking my guts out and then eating nothing but toast for 2 weeks. I didn't get high-school thin because I wanted to. I didn't really have a choice. But this time, I'm choosing it. And I'm not making rules or schedules. I'm going to stop making excuses. And I'm just going to do it.
Anne wrote a chapter on forgiveness. And forgiving myself is something I rarely do. So, I'm forgiving myself for going a little overboard on the American cuisine and for having dessert every night and for lying around doing nothing.
And I'm praying.
"Help me."


  1. This post hit home because I'm forever making rules and schedules about exercising and losing weight. Rules and schedules I'm forever breaking and not meeting...which only adds to the frustrations. So I did a 5k race in July and loved it. So I changed my blog to a running blog... Yes, definitely less rules and scheduling about when to run and how far...it's daunting to just think about running 5 miles, just run and see what happens...

  2. Hi Danielle,

    I totally hear you about weight gain and being in America. I'm glad I was only home for a few weeks, or it would have made a difference. Your post really got me thinking about guilt and weight gain.

    I used to beat myself up for my weakness of will concerning a bad eating habits. I eat too many sweets and exercise too little. Or I would also try to convince myself that being overweight was no bad thing, even made it part of my identity.

    Now that I've lost quite a bit while in England I have a little different perspective. But when I go home, I fall right back into my old habits. Maybe it’s a comfort thing, or maybe it’s a symptom of availability? Maybe its because I'm home on a special occassion, and eating and celebration go hand in hand.

    But I think if I lived back home, the process would continue unabated. As far as exercise is concerned, there is no opportunity for it as part of one’s regular day to day activities. I don't mean that I wouldn't have time to exercise every day, I would, but it would have to be special part of my daily routine. It certainly won’t be forthcoming going to work, shopping, etc, at least not in a place like Janesville, Wisconsin.

    Add to this the fact that almost all the food on offer (unless I cook it myself) is terribly unhealthy (even the raisins in Raisin Bran are coated in sugar), and it’s beginning to look like a structural, social problem, rather than a collection of weak willed individuals. Indeed, did you read the news about the ways in which fats, salts and sugars, when combined as they are in American speed cuisine, actually trigger the brain in a way much like dopamine? I was not surprised, but this news was challening.

    Mix in terrible urban and suburban sprawl, which necessitates motorised transportation, and America's increasing weight problem is is neatly explained. In America we need tremendous personal virtue to fight this, and we feel guilty if we fail. By way of comparison I don’t think European’s are slimmer because they are more virtuous. But, I do think they live in environments in which the potential for weight gain is minimal. This comes down to the food available and urban design - social rather than personal factors. I'd say something about this in Korea too, but I haven't been there long enough. Any thoughts?

    Now I'm off to walk fifteen minutes on my way to get a sweet donut.

  3. Thank you elrohil! You articulated what I've been struggling with for ages...I'm headed to S. Korea next month to teach and am salivating at the idea that I will NOT have a car, and MUST walk to work, or to the donut store. Praying I can drop some poundage without all the trappings of US portion sizes, overprocessed foods, and high fructose corn syrup as a standard ingredient in everything.


Leave me a sweet comment and then go have a donut. It's the most fulfilling duo. Do it, you'll see!

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