Wednesday, January 16, 2013
While sitting in my cold house yesterday, I read the SP article “Can Money Buy Happiness”?
It’s strange how SP often emails me a link to something I really need to read.
The answer is “it depends” and the comments seem to support this.
What if I were unable to pay for a new heating system?
What if I were unable to pay my electric bill?
What if I were homeless and cold all the time?
With that kind of stress I would find it very hard to be happy.
Yesterday I wrote that I had responded to my temporary stress and sad reflective mood by consuming lots of comfort food. (Easily accessible since I live with the junk food king).
If I lived with constant financial stress, I would find it hard to live a healthy life also.
Statistics say that obesity rates are highest in areas with the lowest average income levels. Part of the problem is cost and accessibility of healthy food options. Constant stress plays a part as well. Oatmeal, potatoes and some other staples are comparatively inexpensive, but fresh fruit and vegetables are another matter. Occasionally we read about families who are able to defy the odds, but it’s not the norm.
If you can’t provide for your children the way you wish, it takes a very strong person to resist their request for a cheap candy bar or bag of chips. The recent “Weight of a Nation” documentary visited low income areas and compared the cost of junk vs. healthy food.
My comment on the SP article was:
“I think the key is "once basic needs are met." After a certain point, more money doesn't add to happiness, but it's very hard to be happy when hungry or homeless or without the ability to pay for medical treatment”
It’s hard to be healthy also.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
That’s how mystery novels used to begin and they rarely ended well. Fortunately, nothing dire occurred, only very disappointing. After a day of healthy eating and excellent workout, including navigating several potential hazards, I ate 1200 calories of junk, the equivalent of my total consumption all day long.
The day began with a grey sunrise, not at all typical for our lake. It was foggy and gloomy with a steady rain. OK, she thought positively, we need the rain. The lake level is low.
The house felt cold. Her husband announced that there was something wrong with the heat pump. The compressor was dead. OK, she thought positively, it should still be under warranty. I have the paperwork. I’ll go to the gym and call from there
At the gym all treadmills were occupied (very unusual) so the regular pre-class run was scrapped. At least, we had a heating tech coming out after lunch. Aerobics/weights class went well.
Back home the rain had stopped temporarily. She raced out the door to get a few miles in. After a healthy lunch, the technician arrived. The bad news – a whole new system was needed, inside and out, including corroded pipes. Engineer husband agreed with the diagnosis. OK, she thought positively, we’re lucky that we can afford it and it will be more efficient and better for the environment.
After a healthy dinner, it was time for choral rehearsal in a city 30 miles away. An email arrived with the news of the death of one of our singers. Who would be available to sing at the funeral?
After rehearsal the husband and daughter of the deceased arrived to thank us for singing. Our group had meant a lot to his wife. Only 30 people could fit in the choir loft. There are about 100 of us. They would practice the chosen songs at the end of rehearsal.
As one who was unable to attend the service, she hurried to leave. The weather was getting worse. She was stopped suddenly by the sound of “Amazing Grace” a beautiful arrangement and a standard part of the group’s repertoire. From the back of the church she listened. It sounded heavenly. Singing within the group, in the 4th of 5 rows, she never heard the full effect before.
She drove carefully on the way home. It was difficult to see, even with bright lights on and deer are a common road hazard. Thoughts of the day filled her brain.
Once home in a cold house, she bundled up in a heavy robe that she realized belonged to her mother. Jan 31st would be the 2nd anniversary of her mother’s death.
She made some tea and got “something to go with it.” Soon more and more nourishment was needed “to go with it.” 1200 empty calories later, she stopped. The thoughts stopped too. It was finally time to sleep.
If you’ve read this far, thank you, I know this isn’t like my normal blog. I’m feeling better this morning and realize why my lapse occurred. This is a long journey and one bump in the road won’t make much difference.
Monday, January 14, 2013
My blog entry on Saturday included the admission that I didn’t diet in the past because I didn’t feel I had to. In spite of my weight gain, my body image was fine.
Case in point: When at a family gathering my aunt remarked to my mother that ooh, Eileen got fat, I responded while gesturing around the room, “compared to whom?”
Still, there was one feature of mine that I always wanted to change – my hair color. Naturally a dark brunette like my mother’s side of the family, I wanted to know if “blondes have more fun” as the commercials said. I started dying my hair at age 15. I couldn’t easily be a blonde, but I went as light as I could with do-it-yourself home products. Did my mother object? No, she was dying her hair too. So was her sister and her daughter, my cousin. We were all “Moongold” women. We were a matched family set.
I went natural for awhile around age 40 just to see what I would look like, including the gray hair, more of which was popping up every day. Finally, my mother had enough. “Dye your hair,” she said. “What will people think if I have a gray haired daughter? They’ll know I dye MY hair.” Well, of course they would, Mom. You’re 65 and your hair hasn’t changed in 50 years.
You see, there was a time when women all claimed their hair was natural. “Only her hairdresser knows for sure” was another Clairol commercial. In our case not even a hairdresser knew for sure since we did it ourselves.
Back in the day coloring your hair was like getting some “body work” done now. It was just polite to believe whatever the remade person said.
I was 45 when my oldest daughter got married and I dyed my hair as Mom wanted. I’ve continued ever since. Fortunately, grey hair is much easier to turn blonde. After 50 years, I’ve finally reached my original goal, but whenever a form requests that I specify hair color, I’m tempted to answer “Nice and Easy #106”
Now we’ve come full circle. My daughter must decide if she wants to turn grey when her mother isn’t showing any. Her sister doesn’t have that dilemma. She started her hair dye ritual at age 15 too and never quit.
Society has expectations of how a woman should look and we can’t help but be affected by some of it. As long as it doesn’t negatively impact your life, go for it. If you prefer to defy convention, that’s OK too. Do what you have to do to keep physically and mentally healthy and happy.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
As my status says, I have new motivation to increase my distance running.
As I wrote last Sunday, I discovered a beautiful running trail 25 miles away from me.
I haven’t run a race longer than a 5K since my retirement 5 years ago since my rural roads don’t lend themselves to distance training. My definition of “long run” changed accordingly.
Yesterday morning I set off to channel my former self, the woman who used to reserve Saturdays for a long run. The day began beautifully.
It was 42* when I left the house. Arriving at the trail 50 minutes later (country roads and city streets!) it was warmer. Hmm, maybe my long shirt, vest and tights are too much?
There was a shelter house by the parking lot. (good)
The bathrooms were locked (bad)
There was a portapotty (good). It stunk. (Of course, it did)
Now, which way to run. According to the marker, I was at mile 21.8.
I went left and ½ mile later the trail ended at a city street with an arrow pointing to the rest of the trail. I guess the trail consists of segments.
I retraced my steps and went the other direction.
Very nice scenery along the river and markers every tenth of a mile. (Good).
Oops, I’m running very slowly (Bad?) Not really, this is exploratory and it’s supposed to be a LSR (long, slow run).
Lots of people are on the trail – runners, walkers, bikers, families with kids and dogs (all on leashes!). The trail is wide with lots of passing room. All bikers use their bells and faster runners announce “passing on the left” (Very Good & Safe). I’m very happy!
It’s getting much warmer (bad) so I slip out of my vest and leave it zipped around my waist. In ½ mile, I realize that I put my glasses in the pocket and now they’re NOT there (VERY BAD). Aside from the cost, I need them to drive home.
I retrace my steps, walking VERY slowly and squinting to search the ground.
On a whim I ask a couple coming towards me if they saw a pair of glasses on the trail.
YES! They found them in the middle of the trail and put them safely on a manhole cover at the edge of the grass. (VERY GOOD)
I kept walking. There were about a dozen manhole covers along the way.
Finally I saw my glasses shining in the sun, not broken or even scratched. (VERY GOOD).
Back to running. I’m wearing my glasses this time even though they keep slipping down my nose in the heat. I run/walk back to the car. The heat and stress of losing my glasses have taken a toll. Finally, a 1 mile walk to cool down.
I’m very hungry and reach for the energy bars I keep in my car. There are none left! (Bad)
People at the shelter house are having a cookout. It’s January but must be nearly 70*.
I’ve got to get something to eat and they tell me about a Co-op a few minutes away.
What a surprise! It’s a huge, healthy foods/organic Co-op. (GREAT)
I found all kinds of vegetables and products I didn’t think existed around here and bought a bagful as well as some energy bars to replenish my car supply.
So I count this as a very successful day. I know this has turned out longer than a marathon report, but it was a milestone day for me - 7.2 miles total. Yeah, I even counted the distance looking for my glasses. At my age if my feet are moving forward, I’m going to count it. It’s a benchmark and something to improve on. I hope to make this a habit.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Not once from age 35 to 61 was I ever tempted by diet plans or programs or pills.
I just accepted it as normal. I was getting older, my metabolism was slowing down and hormones were to blame. I didn’t need to diet. This is what I would be in middle age. It was inevitable. Just maybe the “small” frame that I had during my college days was really a “large” frame after all. That would account for the extra weight, right?
Fortunately, my weight gain leveled off at 25 pounds, probably because I was always active and my drink of choice was water.
However, it was that very good fortune that made the 25 lbs permanent. I was already doing the EASY stuff. – moving more and giving up sugary drinks. So the pounds stayed put – mostly on my hips and thighs.
My body image was fine. I never compared myself to movie stars or models, but to the real people around me. I made peace with my pear shaped body a long time ago. I may have been gaining weight, but my family, friends and colleagues were gaining more. Besides I was still wearing a size 10 just like back in high school. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same size 10. Because of sizing creep of the fashion industry and forgiving fabrics, I could gain 25 lbs and stay the same size even though each of my measurements had expanded significantly.
I was fit and healthy and the feedback I was getting was that I was fine. I was told by everyone that I could “carry it” – the extra weight that is. In the era of “The Biggest Loser” why be concerned with a measly 25 pounds?
My ‘aha’ moment was caused by a different kind of vanity. My 5K times were getting progressively slower. I might have accepted growing hips, but not slower running times. Here I would put up a fight. That was my line in the sand. Enter tracking, portion control and SP. The rest is history.
The stories I’ve learned here are amazing and inspirational. You’ve made me aware that losing the weight isn’t the end of the journey. If I hadn’t been warned, I may have just gained the weight back and my first experience would have ended badly. I’ve learned here from your personal stories that regaining is a definite possibility and we must continue to be vigilant.
I credit SP and the teams I joined with giving me the tools and support to maintain for 3 years. Thank you all for accepting this oddball. I know my story isn’t typical, but the “new me” wouldn’t have been possible without you.
Looking back now, how could I have deluded myself for so long? Is anyone else here in in that category - a "first timer" or am I truly a minority of one?
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