Love Handles: Chapter Nineteen

9.25.2005

By Bob Merrick

Out.com is proud to present the wacky and wild (and absolutely true-although some names have been changed to protect the guilty) adventures of a 30-year-old guy in Hollywood who just wants to lose a few (dozen) pounds. And find eternal happiness and fulfillment. Is that too much to ask?

Part Nineteen: Spanking My Inner Child

About three weeks ago, I was in the pool at my spiritually enlightened friend Liz's house. "For the last week and a half I have had this horrible pit in my stomach,' I told her. Like everyone is mad at me, even though they aren't and like everything is wrong, even though it isn't."

"Have you been under more pressure or busier than usual?" she asked.

"No, it's more like that feeling you get when you are driving down the road, minding your own business, and a cop is suddenly arbitrarily driving behind you. And even though you aren't and haven't done anything wrong, you have this inner anxiety that at any second you could be arrested for having a turn signal out."

"You should visit my acupuncturist. I just saw her last week to just sort of balance myself. I was feeling a bit frantic and snapping at people and she really helps me get back to my center. I have been going to her for years and she is amazing with channeling energy."

I consider myself a spiritual person, but I don't have a congregated religion that I belong to. However, I do believe that energy is the foundation for which all life functions. I also believe whole-heartedly that you give what you get. To no one's surprise, I made an appointment the next day.

Our first appointment lasted just under three hours. When I walked into Dr. Liao's office, she had candles burning and the faint scent of what I was convinced was a joint until she lit up a branch of sage as she began talking to me.

'You have so much energy when you walked into the room, that you made me dizzy,' she said as she waved the sage in the air and outlined my body. 'What is it you are hoping to treat with me?'

I told her about the pit that had been in my stomach, and I also mentioned I was interested in weight loss (since I was already paying for the session). She asked me questions about my past, and I gave her the best Cliff Notes version I could muster.

We talked about my mother being a drug user and raising me in an unsafe environment that often found us searching for our groceries in the local Safeway garbage bin (the reason, I am convinced, I treasure food). We talked about my father that I never knew existed until I was 12 and whose relationship never really clicked. These were not new topics for me, but her perspective was.

'That voice you are hearing is your inner child speaking. He is still behaving as a child, and you spend a lot of time still babysitting him. I am going to help you comfort him and show him it is safe and okay to grow up.' I was delighted to find out the needles also came with a healthy dose of therapy.

She led me into another room, where I took off my shoes and socks and laid on a bed. She took needles that were about four inches long and began inserting them in my body. About four at the base of my stomach, three in each leg, one in each hand and finally one on the crown of my head. I imagined I would look more like a porcupine, but instead just a near empty pin cushion.

I immediately closed my eyes and got lost in my body. I could feel the stimulation of each needle as certain muscles would spasm when she would twist them. When she left the room, my brain immediately began to wander through the things that we had been talking about.

I began comparing and contrasting my childhood with my adult life. Growing up, I spent a lot of time escaping into pop culture. I was shy and awkward and found it hard to make friends. So everyday after school I would lock myself alone in my bedroom and while listening to Tiffany and Madonna, would pour over the pages of Tiger Beat and People. I would imagine what it would be like to live a glamorous life in Hollywood. Now I am not only friends with Tiffany, but recently had the joy of interviewing her for this very Web site. The lonely awkward child no longer exists as my cup runneth over with the highest quality of friendships. It was a rare moment I took for myself to sort of say, 'Well done, Bob.'

When I was done, she sent me home with a bag full of Chinese herbs that I was instructed to take four times a day. One was for anxiety, one for metabolism and one was to replenish my depleted yin to balance with my yang. She also gave me a chart of foods to eat and avoid.

On the way to my second visit, the anxiety was returning, because I was feeling that I had already let her down. Yes, I was eating more apples and had made it through the week with only two Diet Cokes and one cup of coffee. But I also wasn't eating the recommended portions of vegetables and lean meats. Her reaction to the news surprised me.

'Bob, I told you those were recommendations. Think of them as guidelines because if you use them as strict rules, the second you take one small taste of something bad, you assume you have failed, give up altogether, and begin binge eating to feed that failure and disappointment.'

She couldn't have been more correct. I never view anything that I do wrong as a hiccup and move forward. Instead, I always react to it as a failure and give up. The second that happens, I always reach for my old crutch: food. But when I am not 'on a diet', I do actually eat less and am frustrated less.

She asked me how I was feeling and I told her so much better. She told me she could tell as my energy was much calmer and not as overwhelming as she once again let the smoke from the sage dance around my body.

There has been an internal shift in me in these last three weeks. My agenda has been to go from 'flab to fab,' it says nothing about from fat to thin. Yet lately, I have been so fixated on how slowly I am dropping pounds that I have been forgetting to pay attention to what is more important: who am I as a person and what value I have in others and in myself.

For every weight that I complain about lifting, I spend the entire next day squeezing my muscles as they harden and bulge beneath my flesh. For every imperfect bite of food I eat, I need to not feel guilty, but make sure that my mp3 player is fully charged for those extra 20 minutes I will be spending on the treadmill the next day. A plate of pasta at a dinner party does not mean I need to throw in the towel.

Once on Dr. Liao's treatment bed, this time with more needles in me, I wasn't surprised when my mind began sifting through recent world tragedy. The effects of Hurricane Katrina were deep that week. I started to focus on the destruction and displacement caused by the hurricane and suddenly my waistline became increasingly trivial. Does that mean I should stop caring about my weight? Of course not. It's all relative. But my problems are mine to own the same way my fortunes are mine to be thankful for. A lot can go through your mind when you are laying on a table looking like a character from Hellraiser.

For the last two days I have stood on the scale and both mornings it read, 250. I have tried lifting one leg and both arms in the air in hopes that I would fake the scale into thinking I am lighter so that I could finally break into the 240's, but it is digital and insists on being accurate. But that is also 45 pounds that I have shed since January 1st. I am convinced a few of those pounds were emotional walls that I have been using to protect myself and I am happy to take the loss any way I can get it.

To read part eighteen, 'A Cleansing Experience' click here.

To read part seventeen, 'Suggestion Box' click here.

To read part sixteen, 'Turning Up the Heat' click here.

To read part fifteen, 'Surf's Up' click here.

To read part fourteen, 'Grin And Bear It' click here.

To read part thirteen, 'When in Rome' click here.

To read part twelve, 'Moving On Out' click here.

To read part eleven, 'I'm Getting Very Sleepy'' click here.

To read part ten, 'Who's Got the Pain?' click here.

To read part nine, 'Old Habits Die Hard,' click here.

To read part eight, 'Taking A Fresh Dip in the Dating Pool,' click here.

To read part seven, 'A Walk Down (Unpleasant) Memory Lane,' click here.

To read part six, 'Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures,' click here.

To read part five, 'Sex, Lies, and the Internet,' click here.

To read part four, 'Sweatin' with an Oldie' But Goodie,' click here.

To read part three, 'What Happens in Vegas, Doesn't Always Stay in Vegas,' click here.

To read part two, 'Let's Get Physical,' click here.

To read part one, 'Resolutions and Commitment,' click here.

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