Category Archives: weight loss

Why Didn’t I Leave Brooklyn Sooner?

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Why didn’t I leave the City sooner? This is a question I often ask myself. I’ve been living in the Hudson Valley for two years after living in Brooklyn for fifteen. My last few years in Brooklyn were like being in a bad relationship, it held so much promise but really couldn’t deliver. Like somehow if I stayed there maybe my dreams of being a writer-musician-wunderkind would come true, but in reality I was working so much I had nothing left at the end of the day to pursue my creativity.

I stayed because of my business. I just didn’t know how I would make money somewhere else. I stayed because of my ego. There’s some kind of identity of being a New Yorker that I wanted to hang onto. I had worked so hard to carve out my little niche that I was reluctant to give it up.

But I was so stressed out from the noise, crowds, constant stimulation, and work that my adrenals were shot, my system was inflamed and I became depressed. Everything looked great on paper- I had the business, husband, apartment but then I couldn’t get out of bed. The suicidal thoughts came and wouldn’t stop which led to shrinks, more and more meds, hospitalizations, and eventually ECT (electroshock therapy), which affected my memory and left me a shell of my former self.

We couldn’t keep going in the city. I somehow sold my business during all this, and while I was on my psych hospital tour of 2015, my husband moved all our stuff into storage upstate. We moved into the tiny weekend cottage in Catskill that we had been renting for a few years. No jobs and no guarantees that we were going to be ok. Nothing.

I wouldn’t have ever left if I hadn’t gotten so sick, that I am certain of. I would’ve worked myself literally to death. But now what would become of us?

The same day my husband moved our stuff into storage he got a job interview in his field up in Albany and he actually got the job. It was a 45-minute commute, but some people do that or more in the City crushed in a subway car with half of humanity. A typical NYC kid he’d only gotten his license in the past year after a lot of prodding from me. Now he had to buy a car and drive to Albany every day. Thankfully, the thruway between Catskill & Albany traffic really isn’t all that bad. His commute would be air conditioning, music, and mountains on either side, not riding in a subway car with a pair of discarded shit filled underwear across the aisle like he did his last few weeks in NYC.

I, on the other hand, was a mess. The depression was better, but I wasn’t totally out of the woods. I struggled with the trauma of the past year in hospitals and losing my life in the city, my business, etc. I worried the only job I could get would be working a Target at the depressed Hudson Valley Mall. But at least I’d have a nice view of the mountains. If I had to work at Lowes the same was true. And if I worked at Stewarts at least I’d probably get free ice cream.

One thing we held onto in this transition was the fact that none of our friends who had left the City and moved upstate said they regretted it and wished they could go back. They had vibrant lives and families and time to enjoy them.

For work I boarded and trained dogs and I opened a small gift and pet related shop in Saugerties called Dogerties. I had always wanted to have a little shop and the rent was so reasonable. I couldn’t have afforded to do it in the City. I started sewing and making dog coats, pillows, and bandanas. I had always wanted to learn to sew but never had time. While I was sitting in the slow shop I wrote and played music a little, but mainly I just recovered from the past year or years it had taken to get me to this place.

We were able to buy a house, a simple ranch on 7 acres, with a creek and mountain views. Our mortgage is less than a studio apartment in the City. We could sit out on the back deck and watch the pink and orange sunset over the mountains.

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I took my dog for walks on the different trails nearby, the Comeau in Woodstock, the Lighthouse & Falling waters in Saugerties, some of the easy hikes in the mountains near Tannersville. I read. I listened to music. I slept. I ate and gained weight from the psych meds and not walking everywhere in the City. I went to the gym.

Sometimes, I got frustrated about my weight and tried to go down on my meds or switch and wound up feeling like shit again and going back up. Some days I cried and was scared I was falling back down the hole again, but usually the next day would be a little better. I just had to be patient, which has never been my strong suit.

I met other writers, artists, musicians, and instead of them being competitive as they were in the City, they were oddly nice and supportive. They weren’t worried about who your agent was or how many books or records you’ve sold. There are a lot of sharp elbows in the City. Upstate people are just excited to meet and experience another creative.

Dogerties was losing money despite my best efforts and I knew I would close when my lease was up at the end of the year. I’m glad I got to try having a shop, but honestly, sitting around waiting for someone to come in is not for me. But I value the experience as something I wouldn’t have had in the City. I made friends with the other shop owners in town and met a lot of nice people.

I didn’t know what I would do next, but I got more and more interested in real estate since I had been looking at Hudson Valley & Catskill Real Estate for so many years in the City. The real estate agent who had sold us our house became a friend and encouraged me to study for my real estate license. I passed and got a job at her company. I really enjoy it, but it is a lot of work and you’re never sure if you’ll actually make money. I’ve done pretty well so far selling a few houses in my first year and I hope with the hustle I learned in NYC I’ll be able to make my business grow to sustain me.

I went back to Brooklyn recently for the first time in two years. A lot of friends have moved away and the few we have left there are anxiously hanging on or planning their exit. Brooklyn has become a caricature of itself. Everything is “Brooklyn” loft or “Brooklyn” coffee or “Brooklyn” mayonnaise. I don’t even think Brooklyn is in Brooklyn anymore.

When I moved there in 2000 Brooklyn was creative, rough around the edges, rife with possibility. I see all that more in Catskill and Kingston than in Brooklyn these days. It’s exciting to be a part of a community again where regular not wealthy people are starting out shops, galleries, restaurants, doing their art, and finding their way.

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I think it’s possible upstate because it’s more affordable and there is more down time, which is what Brooklyn used to be. Now Brooklyn is more expensive—the art space that used to be around the corner from me is now a gym, the tattoo shop an insurance firm, the record shop a bank.

I’ll never be grateful for the sickness that drove me out of the city, but I am grateful for the life I have today. It’s quiet, but not boring, there’s actually so much going on in the Hudson Valley & Catskills that I can’t do everything. From music shows, to literary readings, to gallery openings, to hiking, swimming, and farming. I thought I would feel isolated, but I’m always running into someone in town that I know, always meeting yet another City expat or weekender that wishes they could be here full time.

I think the best gift that this move has given me is that now I know I can hustle anywhere. NYC gave me the gift of making me tough, creative, and resourceful and now I get to do that in a beautiful place where I actually have time to enjoy it.

If I could’ve told myself anything a few years ago it would’ve been just to leave. Leave before it gets so bad you have to leave. Life is too short to be miserably hanging onto what you think you are and where you think you need to be. Just fucking leap, you will land and it may be even better than you’d thought it would be.

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Filed under Brooklyn, Catskills, depression, Dogs, Hudson Valley, Moving, Music, NY, Poetry, Spirituality, Upstate, weight loss, Writing

I’m Fat, How did this happen?

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I’m fat, how did this happen?

I just want to get real here in this blog post to start a discussion and support for myself & everyone who’s struggling. I’m 5’ 9” and a comfortable weight for my body seems to be around 165-170 and a size 12. Yes, I’d like to weigh less than that but I tried for years & despite dog walking 5 hours a day & going to the gym that was about as low as I could get.

I’m ashamed to say I currently weigh 198, and am a size 14 which is completely shocking and not ok. Other people seemed shocked by this number because they say I “carry my weight well.” That’s why I wanted to put the number out there.

There are many factors that have lead to this. Last summer I was in & out of the hospital for depression, on & off several medications. I got down to around 160. Since getting out of the hospital, I’ve been on Seroquel (known for weight gain), which I got off of. I’m now on several medications including Abilify (which is supposed to be weight neutral but isn’t from my experiences on it over the past few years). While I do believe medications can effect your weight, I also have to take responsibility for what I put in my mouth.

I’ve always had a sweet tooth. I was a chunky kid, a girl scout who sold some cookies but also ate a lot. When I got to middle school I joined the soccer team and went on a 1400 calorie a day diet per a doctor. I was hungry a lot but lost weight.

In high school I took up smoking, and drinking, and not eating much. This kept me thin but then I got sober and food once again became an issue. In college I started running a lot which helped me stay around 165-170. Then when I moved to NYC I was not only walking everywhere, I started a dog walking company which had me walking 4-6 hours a day. I could pretty much eat what I wanted & not gain weight until my late 20s. Then my metabolism bid me farewell. I started going to the gym in addition to dog walking to maintain my weight.

Last year though I moved upstate and am now driving everywhere. I continue to go to the gym and walk dogs here and there but I’m obviously not getting exercise anywhere on the scale I used to.

Sugar is my best friend and my worst enemy. A cookie here, a scone there, pie, chocolate etc. Never in huge quantities, but almost every day I have eaten something sugary, I’m ashamed to admit. I’m an addict and apparently I need to learn how to abstain from this.

In the past year I’ve hired a personal trainer, been on & off Weight Watchers, did a weekly vegan food delivery service multiple times. I got a juicer and starting drinking green juices but could never seem to have the resolve to do a full on no eating juice cleanse. I’ve watched copious amounts of documentaries from Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead to That Sugar Film to Vegucated. I’ve been to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary & Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. I know how fucked up the food industry in regards to animal products and processed foods. I’d really like to go vegetarian or vegan but I struggle with that as well.

I’ve gotten a lot of solace and inspiration from Jasmine Singers book “Always Too Much and Never Enough.” It’s a memoir about how she struggled with her weight even as a vegan and her path (which involved juicing) to losing weight and getting a better relationship with food and herself. I’d like to find more books like this.

Before I blow up anymore I’m committing to a 3-10 day juice cleanse starting Monday 9/26/16. I want to detox and get off sugar etc. I’m trying to look at the fast as a spiritual challenge not just deprivation. I’ll see how long I can go for, but I’d like to make it 10 days. It’s like I’m afraid I’ll have a total meltdown, but things have gotten dire so I’m willing to give it a try.

I’m going to go to the gym or do some kind of exercise 5 times a week.

I’m going to go back to counting points on Weight Watchers.

I’m going to try to eat vegetarian and hopefully make my way to vegan. I want to eat whole foods and a mostly plant based diet.

I also may go to Overeaters Anonymous for support.

I’m tired of hating myself so I’m committing to this publicly and will post updates. I’d love to hear about your struggles and successes as well.

Anyone want to join me in this challenge?

 

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Filed under Upstate, weight loss, Writing