Wednesday, February 01, 2012
An absolutely rotten start to my day. Had to skip breakfast because I was getting blood tests -- no food or drink for ten hours prior to the test. That was difficult because I always eat within a half hour of rising. I felt dismal and was in a filthy temper as well.
Even though I arrived at when the lab opened at 7:30, I still had to wait an hour, under blindingly bright fluorescent lights, next to a woman who talked loudly on her cell phone while sitting directly below a sign that prohibited the use of cell phones.
But the worst was that my sacrum was out of place, so I was walking like a 100-year-old. I think it went out yesterday when I was lying in strange positions on an X-ray table. I've had this issue with my foot for a few months, and the doctor thinks it could be a stress fracture.
Let me tell you, foot pain is no fun. There are so many nerves in those tootsies!
Luckily, my physiotherapist's office is in the same building as the lab, so I went downstairs to ask him if he could fit me in. I've been seeing him for the past 5 years, and I think this is the first time I've used the elevator…but my 100-year-old pelvis couldn't manage one flight of stairs. The physiotherapist was kind enough to fit me in.
I've also been having an attack of the weepies. I think it's PMS. My friend bailed on me yesterday, and I try to forgive and be understanding but I'm pissed about it.
So, angry at friend, aching in pelvis, hungry for breakfast -- not a good start to the day.
GET TO THE HAPPY PART…. I'm supposed to be 1happywoman, right? Today, I was one unhappy woman, for sure.
The happy part is that I grabbed breakfast at a little cafe, also in the medical building, and I picked the healthiest choice, an egg on an english muffin. Then I asked her to hold the cheese and the mayo, and add some tomato, and onion if she had it. "Cooked or raw?" she asked. I saw a pan of sauteed onions on her stove, and said they looked good. She said those were for the soup she was making, and they were highly spiced with curry. Sounds good, I said. And it was! I'm looking forward to making something similar for breakfast soon.
But the big part, in case you missed it, is that I asked her to hold the cheese and mayo!!!! This is a whole new me! Dining out feels like a special occasion, so I've often used it as an excuse to eat all kinds of nonsense. But somewhere on Spark I read about a really great question: ask yourself whether the restaurant meal you are about to consume really is a special occasion.
This morning most assuredly was not. This morning was just me being caught out with low blood sugar and a surprise appointment with the physio.
I asked her to hold the mayo and the cheese!!! Pardon me while I gloat about how much I've changed!
The physio did his best, but I was still sore. I went to work. The day didn't get a lot sunnier. I was crying…at work! No, no, no! Don't want to do that. Everything hurt, and everything sucked.
My co-worker was so nice, and he encouraged me to go home. We work in a very time-sensitive, high pressure environment, and if anyone goes home sick, others have to pick up their work. So people stay even when they are disgustingly sick.
The hours went by, and I was still walking in a geriatric fashion. The physio had suggested that I come back in the afternoon if it didn't clear up, so I made an appointment, then made up a schedule for my co-workers portioning out my workload, and I left.
I didn't even talk to my boss. I was too weepy. I just sent an email and headed out.
The physio did some of his magic skeletal manipulation stuff, then hooked me up to a machine that electrically stimulated my muscles. I lay in the darkened room for a while with my back pulsing, thinking about all the things I could eat to make myself feel better.
That's what I've always done: medicate my pain with pizza and ice cream.
My goal for January and February is to see mostly gold stars on the SparkSummary Calendar -- meaning I ate within my calorie range. I just checked this month, and out of the 29 days I tracked, I have 5 days over my range and five days under. That's a little high, but next month I WILL do better. It's a moderate goal. It's not about being perfect. It's about hitting the mark most of the time, with the understanding that sometimes you shoot and you don't quite score.
The question that haunted me as I lay on the physiotherapist's table was: is it ever a good idea to soothe pain, physical or emotional, with food?
And I thought about how I would feel if I ate pizza, and how I would feel if I went home and had some veggie soup. When I thought about how I'd feel if I ate pizza, my body felt tense. When I thought about how I'd feel if I ate the soup, my body felt relaxed.
After the appointment, my back felt a lot better. I went to the grocery store, where cheesy poufs and chocolate sang their seductive songs from the shelves. I bought strawberries, fat-free yogurt, and my favourite tomato-basil rice cakes. Those are my treats now. I've been avoiding flavoured rice cakes lately, choosing to eat the plain unsalted ones. It's okay to have a treat now and then. So the salty rice cakes are my treat today.
I want those gold stars on my SparkSummary calendar because they symbolize persistence and commitment over time. Today was craptacular, but it had some good parts too. My physio and my co-worker were kind. So was the lab tech. I said, "Hold the mayo and the cheese." I chose soup over pizza. Another day of persistence: I got my gold star.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Dear Sparktacular friends,
I just wanted to catch you up, tell you all how things have been going.
I went off the rails a bit in December. It wasn't too horrific, but I stopped tracking. I did however, stay fairly moderate in my eating over my Christmas visit with family, and I got in lots of cross-country skiing -- something I can't do here on the coast.
I think I gained a couple of pounds over December. I've been using the scale at the gym, and it doesn't seem very accurate lately. I can change my weight by 5 pounds just by moving my feet to different spots on the scale!
But the scale at the doctor's office said I'm down 4 pounds, so that would be the two I gained, plus another two. That seems about right in terms of how my clothes are fitting and the food/exercise I've been tracking.
I am both happy and sad to report that the one bra I own that still fit does not fit any longer. It's a good thing I've cut back on dining out, because I will soon need the money I'm saving for a major wardrobe update -- particularly in the undergarment area.
BIG NEWS: I am addicted to working out!!!! How did this happen? Maybe you've seen my statuses about how good working out feels, breaking a sweat, etc.
Sometimes I get grumpy. I've always been a highly emotional person, though it's definitely lessened as the years passed. Working out fixes grumpiness! I also have a chronic arthritic condition that flares up sometimes, and the pain makes me sad or surly or (horrors!) both.
Working out doesn't completely fix the inflammation, but when my mood is lifted, it just hurts so much less. I love how strong I feel, how much faster I go on my bike, how stairs aren't even traumatic any more! So I'm addicted, and very pleased about it. It's not even about losing weight, because at this point, I'd keep doing it regardless of weight loss. I just love it.
Working out is also 'me' time. I'm fortunate enough to have access to a gym provided by my employer, and since I work unusual hours, I am often there when it's empty. I get on a cardio machine and let my mind drift. It's a time to watch my monkey mind swing wantonly on tangled vines of thought.
But because I am working my muscles, my body cries out for attention. So I attend to my physical self, noting that one shoulder has been tense all morning. Why didn't I notice that as I pounded away on the computer at work? Too busy, busy, busy, but once I notice, I can change the way I work in the afternoon. My attention wanders throughout my body -- how strong my legs feel, how curved my shoulders are, how rumbly my tummy.
Soon enough, the monkey mind is back on its adventure, leaping from thought to thought. I'm still working out, watching the numbers on the display screen, breathing hard, but at the same time watching myself do this marvellous, repetitive thought behaviour. I think so many thoughts over and over again without really noticing them. Those thoughts are a scaffold upon which I build my life. Those thoughts lead to actions that, when repeated, become behaviours and then habits.
When I work out, I'm examining the old thoughts, choosing new ones. Sometimes I have to tear down the old scaffolds. It all starts with thinking. Change your thoughts and you change your life.
I have been so busy living that I didn't fully give myself the time that a radical cognitive reshaping requires. Working out gives me that time. It's when I stay present in my body and mind and attend to my deepest self -- what Yeats called 'the deep heart's core.'
MORE BIG NEWS: I am now an apprentice with the local taiko troupe! The audition was fun. They are a nice group of folks. I've taken so many sets of classes now that I know them all, and we had some laughs. I was a bit concerned because I am very sensitive to group dynamics, and if there were any underlying tensions in the troupe, I would feel that hyperactive hamster doing cartwheels inside my stomach. Then I would eat too much in a futile attempt to soothe the savage rodent making claw marks inside my jittery tum. But so far anyway, the taiko troupe seems like a laid-back crew.
(This is a picture of Uzume Taiko, a Vancouver group I saw recently. They were jaw-droppingly good. That's not hyperbole. My jaw actually hung open during some of the songs!)
Near the end of that YouTube clip above, some of the women have these huge smiles on their faces. When I saw them play, one woman had that smile the entire time! And sometimes I look up from a practice drill and realize I have a massive grin on my face. That's how I knew taiko was for me.
I'll be playing twice a week, and am expected to attend all the classes too, so some Sundays will be many hours of playing! It feels so incredible to just hit something as hard as you can! (Hmmm, maybe I should look into boxing…?)
Taiko is also very challenging for the brain, as the rhythms can be complex and it requires a lot of body-mind integration. There is so much power and grace and cooperation in playing with a group. There's nothing quite like the feeling of being totally in sync with others, playing a beautiful song together. As an apprentice, I'll be expected to learn some of the troupe's performance pieces. Part of the way they fund themselves is through honorariums for performing at local events. That's a bit scary, but I love to play, so I'll just treat it as an adventure!
I have so much more to tell you! January has been a big month, with lots of ups and downs. But I have to go, so I promise to blog again soon.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
For Christmas I knit some socks for my sister and a scarf for my mom. I learned to knit as a kid, but hadn't ever done any complicated projects because I wasn't comfortable following a pattern.
But I gave it a go. The scarf is a beautiful and complex pattern -- so complex that I had to write each row out on a sticky note so I could follow along without getting lost. I also knit about four inches of it just to learn the pattern, then ripped out the awkward mess and started again. It was BOTH difficult and fun. It was a challenge, and the fun part was in figuring out how to overcome obstacles (like losing my place in the pattern) and in celebrating my success (as the scarf grew and I appreciated its beauty).
My friend taught me how to make the socks. She is such an accomplished knitter that she doesn't need a pattern. They were made with the most beautiful wool I've ever seen. I used 2 mm needles - the smallest needles there are. Those socks were a crazy project, and near the end of December I stopped sparking because all I did, night after night, was knit frantically in order to complete them by Christmas.
I was so happy to give homemade presents to the two people I love most in the world. I was so proud of what I made, too!
I wanted my mom and sister to be warm and cozy, and to think of how much I love them each time they put on their gifts.
As I was knitting on the tiny needles, I would look at the socks and be amazed. Stitch after stitch, they grew. They started from nothing but wool, and they became a tube that became a sock, and then there were two. Stitch by stitch. Each stitch on its own was nothing, but over time, they become something precious.
I thought about how the process of knitting is similar to the process of becoming fitter. One step, two steps -- they're not much on their own. Keep putting one foot ahead of the other, and the steps add up. Keep plugging away, and the walks get longer; maybe they even they even turn into a jog. Over time, the body gets stronger. Muscles, lungs, heart get fitter. Just keep at it, and you can make something precious.
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
I'm so happy to be back at home! It takes leaving for a while to show me how much I love it here.
My holidays were spent in the mountains, where my sister is raising her son, and where my mom relocated after she retired. The air is very thin there, and the low oxygen makes me tired for the first few days of each visit.
But my mom and I stayed very active, with a lot of cross-country skiing and some aquafit classes! I overindulged a bit, which is just fine.
I'm very surprised and pleased by how good it feels to get back on track. I feel SO MOTIVATED, and my healthy eating routine is so welcome, because I know how good I feel when I eat really well, and how fantastic it feels to achieve my goals!
I'm especially heartened by how confident I feel about the next few months. That confidence comes from knowing exactly what I need to do to lose weight. It will take as long as it takes, but I know what I have to do to make it happen. It used to feel too overwhelming and like it was out of my control, but not anymore!!!!
Also, fitness has a very different place in my life now. I crave movement and exertion, because it feels so danged wonderful!
I don't remember if I mentioned that the local taiko troupe has invited me to audition for an apprenticeship! I'm so freakin' excited! Hope I get in, because that would mean twice-a-week taiko drumming -- it's incredibly good for my body and also stirs my soul.
Last year was one of the best years of my life in terms of my personal development, and also in terms of my career. Spark People played a big role in helping me to make these long-sought changes, and I'm so very, very, very excited to see what this year will bring!
Let's keep sparkling! Light that flame of hope and desire deep inside! It's worth it. It pays off in increased confidence, vitality and optimism.
Spark hard! Spark well! Spark often!
Happy New Year, my darling Sparklers.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Picture a spiral, then picture yourself moving along it. Imagine the point at which you start is the beginning of your work on a particular issue.
For me, the issue I'm working on is how I use unhealthy actions like overeating to try to cope with stressful emotions. It's been a long journey, and many, many times I've backslid.
When I overeat to soothe my emotions, that's a single point on the spiral. I work on it, think about it, talk about it, try new techniques, and then something tumultuous happens in my life and I often go back to using food to try to cope. Sometimes when I emotionally overeat I feel like I'm trapped in the same deep, dark hole that I've been hiding in for years.
But it's not true. In between the tumult, I have moved along the spiral of my life. It may feel like nothing's changed. It may feel hopeless, but it's not. I have visited this same point on the spiral over and over, but in between, I am moving and growing and changing. I'm not stuck, and things have changed; I have changed.
I used to overeat every night, in secret -- rich, sugary foods and crunchy, salty, greasy foods. I used to eat until I felt sick. I used to eat and then I would be ashamed -- so ashamed I hated myself. I didn't know how to stop. I didn't know precisely why I did it; I just knew that I was unhappy and I ate. Even though I knew it didn't bring happiness, in the moment I always felt like it would ease things. I felt so trapped in my behaviour, so lonely and isolated.
So I reached out and asked for help. I got counselling and joined a support group and learned some cognitive techniques and some mindfulness techniques, and slowly, bit by bit, year after year, I turned to food less frequently.
I still eat for comfort sometimes, but not in the same way I did before. When I eat for comfort, I often become aware of new trigger thoughts. In this last bout, I watched myself eat in anger, and my trigger thought was 'nobody understands me.' I laughed and laughed when I realized that was the thought that preceded several bouts of emotional eating. After all, I'm on Spark, where PEOPLE REALLY DO UNDERSTAND!
Now when I eat emotionally, I don't eat as much as I used to. I don't eat until it hurts. I don't eat rich foods like I used to. Rich foods can leave me feeling quite sick, and I don't do that kind of self-harming anymore either.
I could despair and moan and wonder whether I'll ever be truly healed. But I got this far in part by learning to accept my imperfections and see my life as it really is. Emotional overeating is something that I do. It's not even rare; lots of people do it.
The upside is that when I make strides in my progress, I feel so proud. I have a goal and am moving towards it. When I feel like I'm not moving, I remind myself of where I began, long ago, on the spiral of change.
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