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28 days to form a habit - 21? 14? a moment?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I did a little cursory research to see what the thinking is on how long a habit takes to form because my responses to this dreadful week have surprised me a bit.

There is no doubt that this week has been STRESSFUL to the max:

husband's unexpected surgery
cousin's death
mounting paperwork at worklying undone
added responsibilities
conclusive proof of my own stupidity
cancer attacking a friend's son ... one of the little boys I used to read stories to

not to mention that I have aging parents in ill health and I'm supposed to be helping my sister care for them
and this weekend's Large Public Event
and of course the holidays are coming

oh dear - Just writing these things down is starting to make me feel tense.

so I will leap back and focus on what has surprised me so this week - my SPARKling new habits of drinking 8+ glasses of water a day, exercising daily till my heart rate goes up and tracking my meals - and staying with my nutritional guidlines. I'm amazed that nothing has broken down there - that I didn't just say "too tired to go to the gym"or "where are those durn cookies?" I did begin to forget to drink water yesterday but stopped myself in time. So - can it be? Have I actually set habits of good health in place ... and begun to ...what would be the word? habitize myself? habitually? Have I been blessed with habit-ification?

There - forgive the librarian for playing around with words. What is important is that I had the good sense on October 1 to DECIDE to make some changes and the good luck to FIND Spark People. And those healthy lifestyle habits I'm developing have really made it possible to get through this week without much more than a little sleep loss - something I know will end once the dooty deadlines are met this weekend. No weight gain. No sagging face. No lethargy.

Wow. Who'd a thought?

Oh - and btw - my cursory searching found this interesting little tidbit about habits:

"There are physiologically 2 types of habits:
Physical and Phycological. Physical habits (usually related to neurotropic substances) are ony bound by the permanence of the substance in the body.
Now, Phycological habits also vary, depending on the particular neuro-transmitter that they are caused by. Dopamine related habits (such as mood-related habits) take 16 weeks to be fully changed. And others, related to fast-acting neurotransmitters such as Gamma-Amino-Butiric-Acid (GABA for short) can be changed in as little as 7 days. "

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HARPERLADY 11/12/2009 12:43PM

    thanks , great research, I will do a healthy habit everyday until I dont have to think about it and see which one it falls into, I am bad about water cause all I do is run to restroom but I notice if I dont get my usual workouts in its almost like the body exspects it and I will start working harder at work or catch myself doing squats or something without even thinking about it.

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SEYSARAH 11/12/2009 7:26AM

    That's some pretty nice research...thanks for sharing! For some, Sparking and sticking to lifestyle changes IS easy....and for some, that reason is everything else in life is a bit nutty at the time and the only control they seem to have IS the Sparking! Thanks for the blogging about what you just Spread the me, and I thank you!

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MSLZZY 11/12/2009 7:18AM

    I loved the librarianisms LOL!
Your decision to join SP was auspicious. You made a conscious decision to focus on healthier living and you have.
Has it been easy? Probably not.
Have you made new habits? I'd say so.
Change is never easy. Stress will always be there.
But you are a winner, not a whiner! Stay focused and meet life
head-on with enthusiasm. BELIEVE! You can do this!

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RENA1965 11/12/2009 7:06AM

    It took me 6 years to get where I am, but ok if this theory works for people- I must be a slow learner lol..

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Friends will get you through hard times - and so will exercise!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

First I want to thank everyone who left me encouraging comments on yesterday's post. It's simply wonderful to feel the kindness of your thoughts - the sympathy and understanding. Thank you so much. I am substantially better today than I was yesterday.

If you have ever taken a Myers Briggs Personality Test you'll know there are E people and I people. Extroverts and Introverts - and the defining attributes aren't sociable friendly people vs. unsociable unfriendly sorts. The difference between an E and an I has more to do with energy levels and problem solving styles. E's are energized when others are around and solve problems in groups. They make superb committee people. I's, otoh, find their energy sapped by crowds and are the type to go off, like Jack Horner, into a corner, and come out with a plum of a solution to any problem. I am married to an I who can focus for months at a time on a project, in his corner office and come out with a 900 page book! I am an E. I NEVER try to tackle a problem by myself. If I don't have a committee, I'll scoop up strangers and pump them for their opinions and viewpoints.

My job takes me out into the public every day - the RANDOM public which means not just friends and co-workers, but anybody who walks into the library. But it was those friends who came in yesterday who helped me so much as I wrestled with my sadness, my mortification, and my worries. Each one of them got to hear me puke out my story and as each one listened, nodded, cooed sympathetic sounds and patted me or hugged me they lifted some of the pain out of my heart, carried it away with them, and, since it wasn't their pain, tossed it in the trash on their way out of the building.

My favorite minister just happened to walk into the library while I was standing in the foyer. My knitting group met for lunch at the library. A Virgo Sister Friend called me out of the blue and we commiserated over how the world had suddenly grown unfriendly. You - dear spark buddies - posted encouragement here on my blog. And by the end of the day I was able to stop hunching over my aching heart and stand up straight.

And after work I went to the gym and began walking around the indoor track. I didn't want to pump it up too much because I had a speaking engagement later in the evening and I didn't want to get too sweaty. But after a few laps my blood began to flow - and then surge - and after maybe a half a mile I suddenly felt the endorphins kick in. My eyes felt awake - felt like the light had gotten brighter. My shoulder blades began to pull together, lifting my chest even higher. By the time I'd done 2 miles I could smile brightly at people as I changed and checked out.

ding ding ding ding ding

That's the Duh Bess Bell going off in my head - saying Earth To Bess - Don't ever underestimate the mental health value of exercise - When your heart is in pain - walk - or run or swim or use the elliptical machine - but whatever you do - MOVE. Move your body and you'll end up moving it away from heartache.

I knew that. I was just testing you.

Love you
Mean it
Thank you for reading and thank you for commenting.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IFDEEVARUNS2 11/11/2009 3:23PM

    An E Virgo? That was my mom! LOL She used to solve the world's problems on her treadmill.

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WYNSONG 11/11/2009 9:00AM

    Beautyfully worked out.
I'm also an E, also a Virgo, and I can so put myself in your story and see myself doing the same walk.
Glad that you are feeling more of your optimism today.


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102633 11/11/2009 7:21AM

    Thanks for the blog today. You are so right about the differing personalities. Surround yourself with the right people in the right situation and solutions will flow.

As for the exercise. If we will just get out and do it we will find that so many of our "problems" drain away will just a little physical effort.

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MSLZZY 11/11/2009 7:16AM

    Excellent blog! Isn't it great when the lights come on and you see a solution that was there all the time? WTG! Plus, exercise is addictive! Beats sugar for a high! emoticon

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Calm or numb? Life crashing down on you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I always tease my husband and tell him that the best wedding gift he gave me was his cousin H. She was just a little girl when I came into the family as a 19 year old girlfriend-with-staying-power. I'm in between the generations of my husband's precious, but a little stolid and proper family. I bridged the gap between parents and children - the "glamorous big girl" who played with the little ones.

And yesterday one of those little ones died of a massive, unexpected heart attack. He was the brother of my best friend and best gift H. He was 46. We are still trying to wrap our brains around this devastation because nobody plans for something like this. To our knowledge he had no heart disease symptoms, though heart disease runs strong in his family on both sides. Eveyr man in his mother's generation has had a heart attack and two have died from it. It looks suspiciously like the DNA is active in our children's generation too.

When a death comes suddenly and to someone who hasn't yet moved into the "old" category ... a category which seems to be extending further into the future every year I add to my own Not-Yet-Old category. I laugh at myself sometimes when I remember how utterly ancient I used to think 60 was and how, when my brother in law died at 69, of a HA, I was horrified that Someone So Young should actually die. Especially someone who ate properly, exercised, was smart enough to get good health care and who had enough money to pay for it. How could HE die so young in this day and age?

Imagine the difficulty in coming to terms with losing someone 11 years younger than I?

Swirling all around this personal tragedy though, are all the Other Things that life was planning on, demanding and expecting of me, marching inexorably towards me . Things I am scrambling to do in my darling H's stead because she is the next of kin and must take on more pressing matters. Things I was supposed to have done yesterday, last week, two weeks ago, but put off because of our own health surprises. And worse than things - there are MISTAKES I have made in my haste, distractedness and sadness. Like - forgetting to name an important sponsor of a festive community event I am hosting this Friday and so angering him that he withdrew his sponsorship. No apologies will satisfy him and for that I'm deeply sorry. But the event still must go on as planned. I will plaster a glassy eyed smile on my face and plod through the weekend - it's only gift for me now the fact that, come Monday, it will be behind me instead of looming up ahead.

And so.

And so. I am going to use a trick I figured out some years ago when I had some dreadful thing I had to deal with in the public arena. I asked myself - what will be the final result if everything goes wrong. The answer? I would come home. My husband would wrap his arms around me. My dogs would wag their tails and lick my hands. My cozy house would smell like love inside 4 walls. My work would be there on Monday morning. Somewhere out there in the world there would be people who didn't like me - who thought I was worthless and stupid. But they would be only SOME out of billions of people and right here at home there would be people who loved me ANYWAY.

And what would be the result if everything went surprisingly right?

I would come home. My husband would wrap his arms around me. My dogs would wag their tails and lick my hands. My cozy house would smell like love inside 4 walls. My work would be there on Monday morning. Somewhere out there in the world there would be people who didn't like me - who thought I was worthless and stupid. But they would be only SOME out of billions of people and right here at home there would be people who loved me ANYWAY.

So the end result is pretty much the same. Out there in the world I may blunder or I may step deftly but I can always come home to warm hugs, licked palms, and cozy walls. I guess there isn't really that much to worry about after all.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IFDEEVARUNS2 11/11/2009 6:26AM

    I'm so sorry for your loss. But I love the way you deal with it - and I'm taking notes. So much to learn from my SP friends! emoticon

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WYNSONG 11/10/2009 8:19AM

What a time you are going through. I hope the stars shift, the planets move, and the energy swirling through your life now soon calms.
I'll hold space for your cousin as he passes. I'll hold space for all those so devastated by his loss. I'll hold space for your husband, and I'll hold space for you.

Your post was beautyfull, dispite the sad news.
Peace, healing and joy

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MSLZZY 11/10/2009 8:02AM

    I will pray for you and your family. The loss will ease it time.
As for you, your worth is not measured by the things you do but by those who love you, accept you and embrace your human aspects. No one is perfect and no one who thinks they are are facing reality. Life goes on and these mistakes fade in time. In a week, or a month or a year, it will not matter to anyone. Such is life! Embrace your uniqueness and know that you are special to those who love you. You are LOVED! No one can ask for more. emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 11/10/2009 7:16AM

    My condolences for your loss. And what a wonderful healing post... sometimes we have to remind ourselves of the good in life, to get past the distractions of our own desire to be perfect.

Being human is OK. You are loved. That is good.


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LYNNDAROB04 11/10/2009 6:50AM

  I am so sorry for your lost. But I love your outlook on life. My thought and prayers are with you. Just live YOUR life, everyday to the fullest as if it were your last.

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THEMINT2 11/10/2009 6:47AM

    So sorry for your loss. I pray that you and your family find some measure of comfort during this sad time

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JULJOH701 11/10/2009 6:42AM

    I am sooooo sorry for your loss. We almost lost my uncle who is the most amazing man I know... and that scared the crap out of me... My thoughts and prayers are with you...


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Whew. What a week

Sunday, November 08, 2009

My dear husband has had some serious eye problems over the past 2 years. 2 weeks ago he had what we hoped would be a final eye surgery - alas. It was not to be and when he went in for his checkup on thursday the dr. said "see you on the operating table tomorrow". Alas again - what should have been a 30 minute procedure ended up taking something like 2 hours and he gave us all a scare when his pulse dropped low and refused to climb back up.

This necessitated staying in the city over night - to be close to the doctor and to minimize the overall strain of traveling from our country home so many times.

Saturday morning's check up left us more confident than we had been - and that's a plus.

The other plus was that I was able to eat much more mindfully, much more healthily this time around. Till saturday morning that is - when I learned:

never have a Hardee's breakfast biscuit again. For 600 calories I want something that tastes a heck of a lot better than that.

Ahh well. live and learn. I sure won't do THAT again.

And now it is the beginning of a brand new week. What a gift.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THEMINT2 11/10/2009 6:33AM

    Will be keeping you and your husband in my prayers that this is the end of his health issues. Pat yourself on the back for making such a quick recovery and even learning a lesson! emoticon

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MSLZZY 11/9/2009 7:16AM

    Every day is a blessing! I hope your husband recovers quickly and your life can return to normal. Aside from the one slip, you seemed to have done well. emoticon

Comment edited on: 11/9/2009 7:17:16 AM

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WYNSONG 11/8/2009 4:18PM

    Glad to hear things are looking more optimistic for your husband's eys.

It is a b.... when you eat something and discover later that it has the same caloric input as a really good meal, all by its lonesome.

Yeah! to new weeks.


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LYRICS2 11/8/2009 2:28PM

  I am glad everything worked out for your husband.

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HEZZYCW 11/8/2009 12:37PM

    I admire your strength! I am glad to hear that your husband has had encouraging reports.

As far as the Hardees biscuit you go girl. Just think of all the other yummy things you can have for the calories... brilliant

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HARPERLADY 11/8/2009 9:09AM

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your attitude, that is a great way to look at fast food and glad things went well at dr emoticon emoticon

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Non Scale Victories

Thursday, November 05, 2009

You know what they are - those moments when you realize you can wear that pair of jeans - buckle that belt around you - look good in dangling earrings - hear a compliment. It's not something you were expecting but it fills you with triumph. And I had one this week - which is a good thing since I did NOT have a scale victory.

My triumph? Ahh well. I have a favorite jacket - it's orange corduroy, fitted, short, and it is my all time favorite piece of clothing. Because it's fitted and shaped I can toss it on over almost any garment and turn it into a serious, if casual business look. I can wear it to a department head meeting and feel professional in spite of the bright color and relaxed fabric. I am a library director - I'm supposed to be sort of arty. But because it's corduroy, I can wear it over jeans and still look sporty. And because it's cotton, I can wear it throughout our upper south fall and winter and spring as outerwear, yet keep it on indoors most of the time. It is the most versatile piece of clothing I own and sometimes I wear it every day of the week.

And sometimes I have to wear it unbuttoned because it is too small for me. It's fabulous cut means you can't tell if it's too small for me when I don't button it - but if it's chilly out and I can't button it, ahhh. Then I don't feel fabulous in it. Then I feel fat-ulous and somewhat miserable. And I know about what weight I am when I have gotten too big for this jacket - which is within a pound or two of where I am now. So, though I'd brought it out of summer storage a few weeks ago I hadn't yet put it on.

"It'll be too tight and I don't want to feel bad right at the beginning of my spark people journey" I told myself. "I'll wait till the scale puts me back in the 'fit' zone" I thought. "Not yet"

Only yesterday I really did need to look professional at the department head meeting. So I pulled it on over my skirt and blouse.

And then I buttoned it -easily.

And I let out a whoop of joy because this was a real victory. One month of working out, 3 weeks of fitting in weight training twice a week and 2.5 weeks of getting serious with the SP meal plan and nutrition tracker and look at me. That scale may have not moved a hair this week but this body is definitely taking up less space in the world and that favorite jacket fits me like it was made for me and buttons up with a little wiggle room to spare.

A True Non Scale Victory! Yippee!! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DAYHIKER 11/6/2009 6:56AM

    emoticon The REAL NSV was you keeping up every day with the program in order to make that jacket fit!! Good job!!

Stay Strong!

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WEDDWT 11/5/2009 1:06PM

    Fatulous to Fabulous, I could use a jacket like that!
Here's some matching emoticonorange emoticonworkout emoticonclothes emoticon

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JENNYLYNN45 11/5/2009 9:58AM

    LOVE those non=scale victories! You go girl!


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BUSYMOMTO3PLUS6 11/5/2009 7:07AM

    Way to go!! Sometimes those non-scale victories are even bigger than watching the scale! Keep up the great work!

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MSLZZY 11/5/2009 7:06AM

    emoticon We all put too much emphasis on the scale! You had a wonderful victory story to share. emoticon

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