Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Don't get me wrong. I am serious about focusing on Health and Quality of Life and The Bigger Picture - but all of these are made up of little bits - ideas, actions, thoughts, images ... and sometimes - a number. My personal number, for a very long time, has been 160 - as in 160 lbs - a weight barrier I've danced in front of for months. This week I finally burst through that numerical wall and boy does it feel good.
Of course, this triumphal moment didn't come about in a flash. It was the result of weeks of baby steps and avid observation, attention to my surroundings and awareness of the moment, and most of all - the result of a deeper honesty with myself.
The baby steps included almost daily exercise - certainly regular, expanding exercise. It included tracking what I ate. I'm still torn between wanting to be the sort of person who doesn't need to track and accepting the fact that I will have to track for the rest of my life. It's not important now. It's a topic for reflection at some future date.
The observation included noticing how I feel and what I want whenever I'm in a food situation. Those 21 minutes of pause, about which I wrote a few weeks ago, are still part of me. It also involved noticing bad habits - in others as well as in myself:
. The snack habit
. The "I deserve a treat (i. e. junk food)" habit
. The "It's just a taste" habit
It involved noticing good habits too:
. The "It's 5 o'clock - time for the gym" habit
. The Take Time To Plan habit
Attention to my surroundings included both noticing where I was as well as how I felt. In fact, the *feeling* part of it is more important than the where I am - though two evenings ago, when the air was sweetly soft, the last of the sunset was glowing in the west while the crescent moon pulsed a white light from above - I noticed - and I suggested an evening walk with Himself, down the dirt lane, between the 10 foot tall corn stalks, basking in the fragrance of sweet grain ripening ... even though I'd already been to the gym. Yes. I noticed my surroundings. I paid attention to the possibilities of the moment. I stored up sweet moments to savor as precious memories.
In the end, it all came down to being honest with myself. If I'm honest, I'm "here". I'm noticing things. I'm thinking. I'm not zoning out. I'm not vegetating. I'm actually desiring something and acting upon those desires. I think of how many times I've eaten More Dessert and never even really noticed if I enjoyed it because I didn't really desire it. I just ate it. I think about how hard it's been to set goals because I've not allowed myself to want anything. Heck - for all that I adore arts and crafts projects - I haven't YET made a vision board! I really do have a hard time permitting myself to play with art toys.
But for sure, this past week I was really honest with myself. I admitted that I wanted to be slender and strong, fit and energetic. I wanted to wear that pretty dress and I craved the admiration it is going to bring me. And it was OKAY to go after that. It was ... and is alright to want to fit into that dress and to choose to pass on the dessert. It's okay to spend the afternoon at work playing with the animation software ... even though it's an arts and crafts project and I have junior staff who can learn it and I'm really an administrator.
And it really is ... not just alright ... but Super Fantastically Great to be OUT of the 160's. I know it's just a number. I know I'm only .5 lbs out of there. I even know this is just a milepost along the way to another goal. But woo hoo - there is nothing that feels so good as bidding goodbye to a number you really don't want to see again.
May you bid your milepost number farewell.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Alas. The long anticipated vacation is over - and I'm looking at the world from the Other Side - and I believe I could use a vacation. LOL.
For a long time I've been dreaming of spending a week at the beach. I did this 10 years ago and came home so rested. Of course - I was 10 years younger and with a different crowd. This time I was with my sister and her husband, her son, his wife, and their new baby - and was joined by a cousin of my husband and her daughter. My own Himself did not come, nor did my son though both had been part of the original plan. In both cases, work intervened and they missed out.
Of course organizing the schedules of 4 families required compromise and I am usually the first to yield if it's possible, mostly because I like things to work far more than I like them to go my way. And while technically the 2nd week of June was an open slot for me - I knew that taking the week before the big kick-off of our summer children's programs at the library was really skirting the edge of my comfort zone. But I also knew I had good staff and we had months to prepare. I consented to the time and for the most part I think work is going to do just fine. I'll know for sure after we close the books on the fiscal year and the July programs start up. I don't *think* I'm stressed about this summer, but I'm also sure I will need aNother vacation in late August. LOL
Other stressors involved driving to an unfamiliar airport in an unfamiliar city to pick up family -a *beach* city on a Saturday in the *summer*. A city with a 4 mile back-up to the tunnel - and me an indifferent country driver. It didn't help that I caught a cold/allergy a few days before it was time to leave.
I used my classic mental tool for dealing with them, though - and it goes like this.
I am stressed out by having to do _________. i.e. drive in a big city
Blank is something thousands of ordinary people do all the time without mishap.
Surely I can do what thousands of ordinary people do.
Hey - no big deal!
We had a nice big house to stay in and lots of beach time. It was good to be with my own family since I live in the Land of Himself's Family and have been married so long that I often forget that I came from different people. Most of the people I know and *all* of my best friends are Himself's cousins. I got lots of beach time, no sunburn, even learned how to use a boogie board - though that is an activity that will so fill your bathingsuit with sand that it's almost not worth it. My own favorite ocean pastime is to get shoulder deep in the salty water and just cavort - diving beneath waves, floating on my back, swirling my arms and legs, swimming along in the troughs. I got plenty of that kind of fun in too.
Other beach fun involved shopping therapy - something I never do when traveling with Himself. The mental picture of my darling Himselfedness waiting docily in a dress shop utterly staggers my mind ... in stark contrast to the gently smiling face of my brother-in-law who slipped back inside to purchase the purse my sister admired! There are many kinds of wonderful husbands out there.
I scored big-time too - with a new hat and a new bathing suit. I will worry about the Visa bill when July gets here.
All in all it was a good time - but there was something about the whole week that had me feeling a little - different? On the outside? no. those words are too strong - I felt watchful. I think it was because I felt a little sick too - because my nose ran the whole time and though the rental place was scrupulously clean for the most part, there was mold in the ground floor and with the dregs of a cold/allergy thing - I was bound to feel it. The watchfulness had to do with eating, though. Because I was with some chunky gals and what struck me most was that there was ALWAYS someone with a hand in a bag or fingers in a mouth. These beloved family members were eating all the time.
Now - vacations are times when we like to let our hair down - kick back - chill out. But watching these dear folk nibble their way through so much stuff shed a bright light on weight-gaining behavior for me. It put snack food, and all other junk food too, into perspective for me. It redefined just what the word "treat" should mean. We stopped by a fudge and ice-cream store on our shopping foray and everyone bought some candy - including me. And we sampled a bit to see which flavors we wanted. When we got back home I went on-line to calculate the nutritional info about fudge and see how much I had already eaten, was horrified, and then packed mine up to take back to my staff - while they nibbled away on theirs the rest of the trip. I had the treat of sampling the fudge. It was really delicious. But I don't need any more. I was curious. My curiosity was satisfied. I was done.
Treat means once. Noshing means weight gain.
I did have the massive sea food dinner at the rich'n'cheesy restaurant. But I knew I was going to do that on our last night and I'd saved up wiggle room for that. And though I already knew how valuable it is to save up for big events - it was good to see me actually do it.
All too soon the week was over. The return trip involved mapping and then actually taking an alternative route through new territory - driving convoy with my cousin through some of the most lovely green Virginia countryside. We took the Jamestown Ferry across the river - ALWAYS a delight. Stopped at the outlet malls in Williamsburg - not a good idea on a summertime Saturday - though I did pick up a darling size 12 dress to wear to a wedding next month. It is very dragon lady in design and color - and feels like a million bucks.
And then I was driving across the county line - and then there was that first view of my river - and for the very first time I came home from the ocean and thought "I like my green gentle river better." Wow!
So. What does it look like on this side of a vacation?
* A vacation is time off from a busy schedule doing different things - not time off from the prison of eating healthy foods to gobble chips'n'candy
* A treat is once ... in a while.
* Saving up for something big makes enjoying it 100% fun and leaves no after effect
* East or West - Home is Best
Oh - and one final thing - there was a half pound weight loss yesterday at my WW meeting. Yippeeee!
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Years ago a friend was visiting and she had the cutest red polka dot bathingsuit. That she was a tiny, slender, delicately boned woman, in contrast to my (at the time) overweight, sturdily boned, much older woman, didn't phase me - I knew that one day I would own my own cute red polka dot bathingsuit. Eventually I joined Weight Watchers and lost nearly 40 lbs and also found that cute bathingsuit. I wore it with pride and delight for two summers.
Alas, I did not keep my focus and half those pounds took up residencce once again on my body - rendering the red polkadot bathingsuit way too small and relegating it to the far back corner of a bureau drawer. it did NOT get tossed out, though, because somewhere in my mind a picture of me in that cute thing lingered, a visual cue to remind me that there was a slender me beneath my softly padded flesh.
Since that last summer when I knew even polka dotted lycra wasn't going to stretch around me, I have bought quite a number of bathing suits. I live on a river and belong to a gym with a pool, so swimming is a large part of my summertime activity and it is always an option when the cold wind blows. I have chlorine proof suits and one very pricy thing I picked up at Nordstroms at one end-of-summer sale. But I still held on to that dotted red cutness.
I'm on a beach vacation right now with my sister's family. (Himself had to stay home, boo hoo, but at least it meant we didn't have to board the dogs) Just before I zipped my suitcase shut I thought about that red bathingsuit and wondered if, after the seriousness of my efforts this spring, I might be able to get into it. It took me a while to even find it but it was there, in the far corner of my bureau, just waiting to be loved once again - and what do you know. Yup. It fit!
I had hoped to be at my weight goal by the time I went to the beach. I had hoped to wear that size medium white dress here at the beach. I didn't reach either of these goals - but what I had not hoped for - had not even thought of - was that I could be decked in cute red polka dots - and what do you know - the reward for trying was just that - Me - in That Red Polka Dot Bathingsuit. I'll take it.
As a post script - I have learned how to use a boggie board.
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
The transit of Venus now invites you to take a small, hopeful, idea and give it a chance to become something big and brilliant. That has to be worth a try.
"But, if I'm being honest with myself, I also know I slow myself down with my food choices."
" ...life is not an all or nothing situation. It is a series of small choices that, added together, define who we are. .."
This morning I feel like some sort of satellite radio receiver, getting messages from above - or afar - or at least from somewhere besides inside my own brain. The above quotes all appeared, welcome, if uninvited, on my computer screen this morning. All three touched me in the AhHa zone of my brain. They were the reins I needed to grab, to make this week as good as last week.
You see, all this past week little odd moments of clarity kept opening up, giving me the chance to pause and ask "Do I want to do that" before I actually did something - especially in the eating arena. Tired and hungry after work and gym - yet needing to go to the grocery store while in that danger-zone mode - I managed to capture that nano-second of time when I could choose - and I chose to wait till I got home to make myself my favorite chocolate ovaltine/skim milk/frozen cherries smoothie. I was still tired and hungry but so excited about the chocolate treat waiting for me, I neither bought inappropriate stuff nor snacked on the good stuff on the way home. Mind now - it's a 25 minute drive from the grocery store to my house. Plenty of time to slip up - but the holy chocolate grail up ahead was such a treat to look forward to I didn't even *want* to eat mindlessly.
Several other times this week I had that tiny window of choosing opportunity and could actually say "No. I think I'd rather have this/do that/eat these". The result was not only a nice weight loss but a new low weight on this downward journey.
I am not sure what made them start happening but I believe it was a promise I made myself a week ago to stop half way through whatever was on my plate, down tools, count to 60 and then ask myself "are you still hungry? Could you stop now? Is this enough?" 60 seconds of clarity. 60 seconds times 21 meals. 21 minutes a week. It's so little time nobody else even notices. It's so little time I hardly noticed - except - I did - because I was counting to 60 in my brain.
So how can I keep these moments of choice coming. Well - I certainly intend to continue doing what worked - that 60 second pause - but this week, for those 60 seconds I plan to visualize what it will be like to be at my goal. I'll imagine myself zipping up those tiny shorts or walking gracefully down the street with good posture and swinging arms. I'll see me buckling a belt around my waist or completing a step aerobics routine in my living room. 21 mini-meditations while I'm eating - That's the plan - because I really really want to get back to the slender healthy weight I know is so good for me.
It's June now and my 12 for 12 choice in June is to "Select a big life goal - a big personal thing - and take one step towards it ... every day. " I posted all about it on my personal blog - which you can find here;
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Yesterday I achieved 1000 fitness points for the month of May, which gives me pause to think about fitness in general as well as my personal goals in that arena. For years I've worked out in cycles from a peak of perfection, through an injury or crisis or period of hectic 'life' issues, to inactivity, across a period of doubt or sloth, back into a tentative effort, through a steady routine and on to a new peak of perfection. Every time I get back into exercise I ask myself .... "why did I ever stop doing this when it feels so good!"
Since sometimes I quit because of an injury - well duh - stoopid question. Since sometimes I quit because back to back budget crisis meetings that went on for weeks really sucked all my energy and time away - well duh - no budget, no paycheck - so duh. stoopid question. I come from a household where movement, exercise, activity, was deeply discouraged - and I am NOT blaming anybody at all about this. I wouldn't have missed the fabulously creative childhood I had for the world. I'm just explaining that my formative years were spent in a creative, interesting, busy household that, oh yeah, deeply encouraged sit down activities and brain activities and, while not forbidding physical activity, never made it easy to move. Normal to my body may mean getting up and moving, but normal to my brain means sitting down with pencil in hand ... or book, or paintbrush, or violin, or scissors.
In fact, the question might rather be "Coming from such a sedentary childhood, how did you ever start exercising at all?" Looking back I see that I LOVED gym class, so long as we didn't have to play some competitive game. I could never care if one cluster of kids could kick a ball further than another and would have happily done jumping jacks for an hour. I do not have the type of hand/eye coordination that connects a ball with a bat, hoop, or racket. The only competitor I've ever been interested in is my former self. I started walking - then running in the early 1980's. I joined my gym the first day it opened back in 1998 - and have willingly paid the monthly fee even through months of non-attendance because, deep down I knew I'd be back. In fact - something deep inside me has always told me that movement is a good idea. It's good for me. But most important - it's fun!
Right now I'm on the rising curve heading towards a new Peak of Perfection and loving every minute of it. The intention is to keep at this forever. The past history tells me maybe I will and maybe I won't. I'm not sure if it matters because over the long haul I will be active much more than I will be sedentary. The view right now, from this 1K Point Mountain, looking back over decades of life, is of a person who loves movement and no matter what pulls her back into the big sofa in the den, sooner or later she'll be drawn back into a gym, a dance class, a swimming pool.
I'll leave you with this one clever mantra a co=worker tossed in my lap last January when I was dithering about going to the gym. "The more you don't feel like going, the more you probably need to go" he called out to me. The fundamental truth of that felt so good I have used it ever since. Maybe it will help you too.
Happy Hump Day.
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