Cortisol plus .79 cent brownie mix + elastic waist bands = me

Recently I have become appropriately disenchanted with myself. You would think it all started with the scale because most things do in my life, but this time it ended there instead.

In the past I have taken my vanity quite seriously; I like to be skinny and have long hair and wear high heels. But for the past few months I’ve been relegated to a short thin bob, ten extra pounds and flats. I can barely summon the will to wear heels to church on Sunday. Talk about your personal crisis.

The weight gain (something I have been ignoring and avoiding and absolutely terrified about) finally put me into a bracket of clothing that I don’t currently own. Basically my closet is only offering me yoga pants, my husband’s old T shirts and underwear.

I was lamenting to some girlfriends about my current weight situation and they looked at each other then back at me. “Is it all in your stomach?” one said. Is it that obvious? I nodded vigorously and sucked in.

“Cortisol,” they said almost simultaneously. Cortisol? Is that something they put in brownies to make you extra fat around your tummy region? Or is it a phantom spirit bent on sabotaging women struggling with the hot bread and butter war? Somebody’s old boyfriend?

They went on to explain that Cortisol is a hormone that your body throws around when you’re under stress, triggered by the fight and flight reaction. In my case Cortisol is kind of  like an overweight second cousin who always wants to get pizza and soda pop and watch reruns of Seinfeld with me.

I went home and started digging (not into the brownies although it was tempting) for more information.

In a nutshell, I think my problem goes all the way back to February when I had the auto accident. It seems like things have kind of taken a nose dive all over the board since then. I hardly want to write these days because I can’t bear to burden anyone with my high-pitched all-caps whine. Between the German school fiasco and homeschooling Rex, Harrison’s attitude problem (he hates anything that might mean he has to get off his padded little bottom and work), missing my parents and Arby’s curly fries, I’ve just felt…blech. All the time. Blech blech blech.

See? I told you you didn’t want to hear it. I hate even reading that word because it’s almost as obnoxious as my life has been during the past four months.

According to the specialists, the best way to recover from said body Cortisol stress induced freak-out is to chill. Yoga, simple walks, reasonable healthy food (no crash diets), rides in the convertible (I came up with that one on my own), and anything else you can think of to snap your body out of the fight or flight mode is a crucial first step.

But the more I thought about it the more I decided that I needed more than deep breathing; it’s time to talk myself off the ledge.

And so I have reinstated Mirror Moments.

For the past week, four times a day (I set an alarm on my phone) I stop what I’m doing and go stand in front of the mirror (my skinniest one). I then read pre-approved statements of self-worth that remind me of how calm and simple and peaceful things are. I tell myself I’m skinny. I tell myself I’m happy. I make myself smile kindly for two minutes.

I fake it until my cheeks hurt.

And you know what? I think it’s working. This has been the best week I’ve had in months and it has nothing to do with the scale. I haven’t even touched the darn thing and won’t be stepping back on until I know my heart can handle the resulting three digit number.

I think sometimes we have to put the horse first. Personally my horse could use a week at the spa and a few gentle pats on the flank.


  1. I’m so sorry, my friend. I really miss you. I wish I could be there to give you a squishy hug,

  2. I feel your pain! HUGGGGG! Sounds like you’re doing all the right things.

    For what it’s worth, whenever you talk about loving the skinny life and being vain I use it as motivation to give myself permission to be nicer to myself and delight in being a beautiful, sassy, woman. Thanks for that

  3. I second the squishy hug. I don’t know anything about cortisol, but I do know a thing or two about the body’s desire to protect itself. And I say, let it do its job. Protected is more important than hot. I know you know this already, I’m just being a voice of reason in your crazy German world. 🙂 XOXOXO

  4. Man, that was me on my mission. . . and I was also somewhere in Europe (just not Germany). To say I craved chocolate was a complete understatment. I craved EATING! And it made it even worse that I had to times the kg by 2.2 to figure out how many pounds I really weighed!! BTW, for every 50 pounds on earth, its only 3 pounds on Pluto?!? You’re thinner already!!!!!