Far from Home, Part 2: Dance to the Music

This is part 2 in a series about my time in residential treatment. Part 1 is here.

The schedule at TK was very similar each day. The only thing that varied was the content of the groups. There were multiple groups that met at the same time each day, and I picked the groups I wanted to attend with the guidance of my therapist.

Here’s the basic schedule for my lodge: 

7:00 a.m.: Breakfast
8:30 a.m.: Morning commitments (We had small groups in the lodge, and each morning we had to check in with our current mood and goals for the day. It wasn’t at all awkward or uncomfortable to rate my depression on a scale of 1 to 10 in a room full of other women, haha.)
9:00 a.m.: Group therapy
10:00 a.m.: Break (for phone calls, snacks, meetings with therapist or psychiatrist, etc.)
11:00  a.m.: Group therapy
Noon: Lunch
1:30 p.m.: Community meeting (entire lodge met to talk about any announcements, concerns, issues)
2:00 p.m.: Group therapy
3:00 p.m.: Break
4:00 p.m.: Group therapy
5:00 p.m.: Dinner
7:15 p.m.: Group therapy
9:00 p.m.: Mindfulness (A staff member led us in various activities meant to help us focus on the present/be mindful) 

The first group I went to at TK was called Dance Movement Therapy. When I saw this on the schedule, I immediately balked and was tempted to skip it. The interesting thing about TK and something that distinguishes residential treatment from inpatient treatment is that no one makes you go to any of the groups or activities. You could theoretically sleep all day (and some residents did that, much to my deep confusion–that’s an awfully expensive way to get in some naps). However, I’m a rule follower and schedule freak at heart, so the thought of skipping the very first group didn’t sit well with me, so off I went, not knowing what in the world I was getting myself into. 

There’s not really a good way to describe Dance Movement Therapy (DMT), except to tell you what it’s not. It’s not Zumba or Jazzercise or any kind of choreographed dance. The class is basically all about connecting the body with the mind and showing that through movement. There were 2 therapists for the session, and they played different kinds of music for us while we expressed ourselves through various movements, walking around the room, skipping, twirling, or really whatever we wanted to do. Some of it was guided movement, but a lot of it was independent. The point of DMT is to be content with your body and allow it to move in a way that is comfortable to you. That meant some people hardly moved at all but instead sat quietly, while others danced freely all around the whole room. I fell somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, not wanting to make too much of a spectacle of myself but also not able to resist the way the music spoke to me and made me want to move. Even though I felt ridiculous doing some of the things we did, it was also very freeing. I was in a safe space where no one was judging what I was doing, and no one was really even watching what I was doing because everyone was doing her own thing. I love music, and I found it very soothing to let myself get lost in the rhythms of the songs and move the way I felt like moving. I probably looked clumsy and awkward and completely unskilled, but I didn’t care, and neither did anyone else.  (If this all sounds a little kooky to you or like the dumbest thing in the world, I understand. I would feel the same way if I hadn’t experienced it firsthand.)

Towards the end of our time in the group, the lead therapist had us all find individual spaces in the room to retreat and be quiet. She put on soft music and instructed us to relax and let our minds and bodies simply respond to the words she was going to say. She named off two words I don’t remember, and then she said the word “belonging,” and I felt the tears spring to my eyes. Before I knew it, tears were streaming down my face, and I knew that the word had touched a point of pain in my heart. I have often struggled with feeling like I don’t belong and have wanted desperately to find a place of belonging, and there in that room I was free to admit that to myself and tell myself that wanting that was a natural thing. I prayed that God would help me know that I belonged–heart, mind, body, and soul–to Him, even if all else was in question. I left that group feeling lighter than when I came, and DMT cemented itself as my very favorite group at TK. I still give myself time at home to dance around to music that makes me feel happy and confident. I don’t worry about what I look like or how much space I’m taking up or how ugly or fat I feel; I dance, and I feel free and loved. And for those few minutes, that’s enough. 

Some songs that make me happy (it’s a very eclectic list):

“Calling Me Home” by Emily Brimlow
“Almost (Sweet Music)” by Hozier
“joy.” by For King and Country
“123” by Jess Glynne
“Love Broke Thru” by TobyMac
“Best Day of My Life” by American Authors
“God Is Enough” by Lecrae
“Like We Belong” by GAWVI
“Hard Love” by Needtobreathe
“Let It Rain (Is There Anybody)” by Crowder
“Love Me Again” by John Newman
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake
“Holy” by Jamila Woods
“Glorious Day” by Passion

Weigh-In Wednesday: Weekend Derailment

Last weigh-in (2 weeks ago): 200.2
This week’s weight: 201.4
GAIN of 1.2 pounds

Well, given the fact that last week was not a shining moment for me, I don’t know why I was surprised, but I was. I weighed myself on August 1, and I was 201.6. I wasn’t happy with that, but I knew I would get myself in gear and thought I could at least lose a little bit before today. I rocked the running and did another 4 miles on Saturday, along with a 3 mile walk and 2 other runs. I felt proud and strong.

If I am honest with myself, however, I know what did me in–the weekend. For some reason, my brain just shuts off on the weekend and I am not nearly as careful with tracking. I didn’t track a bite of food on Sunday, and I know I ate way too much.

If I am ever going to lose this weight, I have to be more diligent on the weekends. So my one goal for this week is to track every bite I eat. Knowing I am going to track it makes me more accountable, so I am hoping that will make me think twice about overeating.

I would LOVE to be in the 190s next week. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

Weigh-In Wednesday

Last week’s weight: 204.2
This week’s weight: 200.2
LOSS of 4 pounds

Wahoo! I am thrilled with this result. I worked hard over the past week, trying to diligently track my calories and make better food choices. I wasn’t perfect: the weekend was difficult to track everything because we ate out a few meals, and I ate over my range on at least 2 days. But even on the days when I ate over my range, I am sure I still ate fewer calories than I was before I started paying attention to my intake. I exercised 3 times, and I didn’t eat past 8 any night.

Sometimes it seems like the scale doesn’t reflect the work (or lack thereof) that is done, but today, I feel like it did. It is just the motivation I need to stay strong and keep trying.

One pound at a time, one day at a time, one choice at a time.


Just Do Something

Yesterday was one of THOSE days. I apparently left my brain at home that morning because I acted like an airhead on more than one occasion, and a bunch of little things at work added up to make one frustrating day. I came home feeling tired and defeated. Then I made dinner, which was poppyseed chicken that I had taken out of the freezer. I was so proud for having a meal stashed away that I could just whip out and put in the oven, but then I ended up cooking it too long, and it tasted dry and unsatisfying. That means that of course after dinner, I wanted something else. So I had a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and that wasn’t satisfying either. Instead of distracting myself with something besides food (like, I don’t know, PRAYER), I just finished off the container (there was probably about 2 scoops left in there, so 3 scoops in all). Then I sat there feeling weak and pathetic. I had planned to do a quick 2 mile workout using an oldie but goodie fitness DVD, but after eating all that ice cream, I just felt gross. The thought crossed my mind: “I’ve already blown it today, so why bother?”

WHY do I think this way? I am sure anyone else who has tried to lose weight has experienced similar moments (please tell me I am not alone in this!). If I don’t follow my plan to the letter, then the temptation to abandon it altogether is strong. If I don’t have time for a solid 45- or 60-minute workout, then I often skip exercising altogether because I can’t do as much as I would like. I tell myself it has to be all or nothing, and when I can’t do it all, far too often I choose to do nothing.

Of course, this whole mindset is ridiculous! As I’ve written before, I wouldn’t do this in other areas of my life. If I overslept for work, I wouldn’t just miss the whole day. If I failed a test, I certainly wouldn’t quit going to class (well, except for that one time in college when I dropped Advanced Spanish Literature, but I digress). I realized last night that the problem is perfectionism. I set these lofty, often impossible expectations for myself, and if I don’t think I can perfectly meet them, then I stop trying. Even though I know I know I KNOW I will never be perfect, I still insist on having this perfectionist mentality. The reality, however, is that I am just setting myself up for failure because perfection is not attainable. I will lose that contest every time.

So I’m changing the rules. Instead of trying to be perfect, I am just going to do something. Last night I may have overeaten, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t redeem the evening by also exercising. So even though it was 8:30, I pulled out that DVD, and I did 25 minutes of “power walking.” No, it wasn’t an hour. No, it probably didn’t even come close to burning the amount of calories needed to make up for that ice cream. But it was better than nothing, and I will take something over nothing any day.

The wonderful thing about each day that we are given is that we don’t have to end it in failure. By God’s grace, we can find redemption, whether that’s in the form of a quick run around the block, or an apology to your spouse or friend, or a much-needed phone call with a loved one.

What about you? Do you struggle with perfectionism, and if so, how do you combat it?