Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I am committed to losing 50 pounds. As of several days ago, I reached my half-way mark. Coincidentally (or serendipitously, as I prefer to look at it) the same weight that brought me to the half-way point also officially brought me out of the "obese" category and into the less frightening "overweight" status. I am not spending too much energy celebrating my milestones because I do not want to become overly pleased with this, lest I be tempted to settle in here. Losing 50 pounds (as if I have to tell all of you) requires commitment and energy and determination. With this in mind, I have recently decided against pursuing other things that would require a lot out of me - running a Ragnar relay (200 miles split among 12 team members, requiring each runner to do three legs over approximately 30 hours, which means running one leg in the middle of the night and one on very little sleep). I am the captain of the team, which means a lot of time spent organizing runners, supplies, money, food, and logistics in general. I did this last year so at least I have some valuable experience to use this year. Last year I determined I wanted to run this year, not be on the sidelines. I set three goals for myself before I would allow myself to commit to being a runner: 1. lose 20 lbs (done) 2. run a 5k in 31 minutes so I knew I could do consistent 10 minutes miles (done) 3. recreate the race conditions by doing the equivalent of three 5-ks in a 30 hour time span (did not do). The first of my three trial runs went very well. The second is where I gained the clarity (which is often the best side-effect of running) to know it would not be prudent for me to commit to running in the race. I have a lot going on in my life, I am already struggling with fatigue and feeling overwhelmed, and, the deciding factor: the aforementioned commitment to losing the rest of this 50 lbs. I do not want to drain off my energy and dedication, already in short supply some days, to pursue a lesser goal at the expense of the greater goal. If it is meant to be, I can hand the captaining off to someone else next year, and just focus on being a runner. Shedding the burden of obesity and figuring out how to live at my "God-intended" size, has been at the forefront of my hopes and prayers for well over a decade. I need to do whatever it takes to see this through. I am very grateful to be half-way. When I began this journey in January of this year, I was coming off a period of increased depression and anxiety which made everything, especially losing weight and gaining some distance from binge-eating, seem hopeless. I feel so much better, I look better, and I move more easily. I don't get a lot of comments about the fact that I have lost weight, and it is a relief to me to realize I don't need a lot of comments (though I certainly enjoy those that I do receive). I still struggle with my disorderly eating, with my avoidance of things like making dinner and shopping for food, with eating too many processed foods, with over-eating at times, and on rare occasions, an outright binge. This is where I remember "progress, not perfection". I have a long way to go - this is an area of anxiety and deeply entrenched habits and I am getting better slowly. This is not the same journey as when I put down alcohol and cigarettes on the same day and have never relapsed. That was a miracle I am still grateful for on a daily basis. Improving my health via weight loss and better eating habits is a series of tiny miracles and incremental successes. I eat less poorly, I take in more nutrients, I consume less calories, and I put food in my mouth less often. As I venture in to the second half of the journey, I know I will need to find the willingness to make more changes. I am so appreciative of SParkfriends who are always willing to offer a suggestion, or encouragement, or share their own experience. I would not have come this far without you, and I cannot imagine going the rest of the way by myself. While I am responsible for all my choices and ultimately have to answer to myself, I don't operate well in isolation and I am very grateful I don't have to.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Three things - this is the phrase I repeat to myself when I am overwhelmed and under-motivated. I blogged in the past about using timers, telling myself just clean for 10 minutes, or just run for 30 minutes, etc. "Three things" is what I tell myself so that I can get started in the first place. Today, one of the "three things" mantras I told myself: "get dressed, make the bed, eat something". I experienced a rough day yesterday, food and mood wise. I don't spend a lot of time figuring out the why of it all anymore - I spent/wasted too much time on that in the past. I shared with a Sparkler friend I am now spending more energy on the "GET OVER IT AND GET ON WITH IT!" part. So, getting on with it means just that. Get off the couch, shut off the t.v., log on to Spark to blog and track my food, eat something nutritious, go exercise, run errands, return phones calls. The opposite of getting on with it is being overly concerned with taking my emotional temperature, not eating anything today because I overate yesterday, not going near SP because I don't want to face up, or 'fess up. I can turn my attention to others rather than just thinking about myself. The fact is I am very tired, for a variety of reasons, so I am not feeling productive, or energetic or motivated. The nice thing about committing, whether it be to losing 50 lbs, or being married, or raising children, is that feelings are not the main driver. I need to step back and take a look at the bigger picture, rather than focusing on one bad day. If the bad days begin to add up, I will need to reassess. Overall, however, I have made good changes over the past months that I have been committed to SP. I will never approach perfection in my eating habits, or any of my habits. I have always been a struggler so there are few things I do that are smooth or easy. Even if I am struggling, I can struggle forward so that I can gain some momentum. For today, for now, I will focus on the next three things: exercise, errands, and eating nutritiously afterwards. I don't feel like doing any of these things, but I am committed so that will drive me to do these three things, and then three more, in the hopes of re-gaining some energy and momentum to move forward a little more quickly. For now, I will just move forward.
Monday, May 23, 2011
I recently had an encounter at an end-of-year picnic that my youngest son and I attended to mark the end (yippee) of one of his sports. There were a number of families there that I had never met because this is a sport (rugby) that has a number of teams of all different age groups. We had no sooner arrived than I practically bumped into a man who was screaming obscenities in the face of his young son, who looked to be about 11 years old. My own 7 y.o. happily ran off to play with some teammates and was oblivious to the ugly encounter, but I stood frozen for a second, shocked at what I was witnessing. The father was a burly guy with a shaved head and a beard - he had a menacing look but that could have been because he was enraged. Most people look a bit intimidating (and, honestly, often foolish) when they are engulfed in anger. The child's crime? He was not participating in a skills drill. I will be the first to admit, I get frustrated with my children on a daily basis. I have sworn around my children. I have spoken to them harshly, and thusly, have apologized many times when I have let my temper and impatience get the better of me. I have great empathy for parents who are having a bad day with their kids and I have reminded myself, at times, when I am tempted to judge someone for speaking harshly to a a child, "I have no idea what they have been going through". This was beyond frustration. This was bullying, plain and simple. I very quietly, so the child, whose back was to me, would not hear, said to the father "please stop that". He immediately turned on me, which enabled his son to make a quick getaway which was the whole point of me butting into the tirade. He screamed at me to mind my own business (a valid point) to which I reminded him that it became my business when it occurred inches from me. It isn't as if I broke down their door (though, if I had heard what he was screaming coming from behind closed doors, it would have been tempting to do something, anything - it was awful). He told me "I say whatever I want" to which I replied "well, clearly, you do" and, as you can tell, this was not a confrontation that would turn into a useful conversation, and so, it ended - him glaring at me, me glaring back - but no more words exchanged. Believe me, it occurs to me that he may have then taken it out on his wife (who was there but showed no sign of responding) or the son, but I have no control over that and bullies count on people remaining too fearful to act. I pray it never goes beyond screaming, and that they seek help, especially for the children so they know that it is not normal be treated like that. I have no idea what others' were thinking, or observing. For that one awful moment it was just he and I and, for a split second I braced myself for a blow because he was furious and I was now the object of his fury and I was within striking distance. I escaped an abusive marriage when I was a teenager. It was long ago, long forgiven, and taught me many useful lessons, once I had some safe distance. It was interesting to me that such a long forgotten response would come roaring back inside my body. He knew, though, that hitting me would be an instant "do not pass go, proceed straight to jail" card for him. Not too much time passed (with us at opposite ends of the picnic grounds) that I was in front of the buffet table. I chose spinach salad, no chips, no brats, and three tiny desserts. I was aware, when I was eating those petite little sugar-bombs, that I was taking them in much like, many years ago, I would inhale deeply from a cigarette, or take a pull off a bottle of liquor. They offered momentary pleasure, and then, minutes later, I felt like Dorothy in the poppy field on her way to OZ - I was so tired, I just wanted to lie down and sleep. I spoke to a friend later in the day, about what had gone on earlier. She (who is far smarter and better educated than I) said "oh, of course - you had a fight or flight response, and when the body has an acute episode of this the liver dumps glucose and goes looking for more, so the sugar is exactly what your body and brain were searching for". Well, hello, you just described much of my life, especially the past few years. I have had a lot of "fight or flight" for reasons I won't go into here (though I have touched on some of it in previous blogs). My liver has been on a glucose dumping mission for many years and I have accomodated it by being a very accomplished glucose replenisher. This was a lightbulb moment for me. I had known this to some degree, but the incident yesterday put it in stark relief. In order to truly overhaul my eating habits, and restore my body to it's God-intended size, I have to be diligent about examining and treating stressors, both small and large. This has never been more obvious to me. I have some tools that are very useful - prayer, exercise, reading, more exercise, friends, Sparkfriends, blogging, tv (a great diversion if not overused), family (when they aren't providing me new sources of stress, that is). However, I am always looking for new suggestions and willing to learn lessons from my wise Sparklers: what is your most helpful tool for reducing stress? Please share it with me - I will be grateful to lean on your experience and wisdom. Bless you.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
I just returned from a yoga class. The instructor reminds us, at different times during the class, especially when he sees some of us struggling to hold a pose, "if you fall out, step back in". Not, "you obviously can't do this so why are you even trying?" Not, "well, you've fallen out, you may as well just stay out and feel badly about yourself for awhile". Nor does he mean, "you have fallen out, so why don't you just leave and stay out?". What he says, and what he infers, is that we have struggled, and it is understandable, so regroup and, right now, resume the effort. I fell out, yesterday, food-wise. I was out of balance, and I stumbled, and basically did the equivalent of falling on my face. Did I stay on the floor, in shame? Did I slink away, embarrassed? No. I faced the facts. I was out of balance because I went to bed at 11pm and got up at 5:30 am - simple math reveals this is not enough sleep. I ran in the morning for nearly an hour, and hiked in the afternoon for over an hour. This amount of exercise requires a certain amount of fuel. I ate an okay breakfast, a tiny lunch, no dinner, and a WHOLE lot of calories in the evening. This is not a balanced way to eat. Among other random bits and bites, I ate 3 slices of banana bread, and two bowls of Cheerios. I logged all my food because not logging it would have been silly - who would I be fooling? 3 slices of banana bread with one pat of butter between them, and two bowls of Cheerios (cups - I did measure) + milk equals about 1000 calories, which is about the amount over my SP calorie range. I do not do "cash register" food vs. exercise, but I suppose that is probably what I burned, or close to, but I do not exercise to lose weight. My body does not lose weight because of exercise, though it seems to slow dow weight gain. I exercise to be stronger and gain a host of other health benefits. In any event, I was simply out of balance and my balance had been listing for days. I felt so strong after getting through a day of acute emotional distress (see previous blog) that I let my guard down a bit and found myself having a cookie here, a brownie there. This is not a disaster, just a signal to slow down and pay attention. Focusing and paying attention, slowing down and following directions, quieting the internal chatter and outward distractions, trusting my strength and choosing a focal point - these are all things I find challenging both in yoga, and life in general, especially on this journey to better health and healthier habits. I got through the hour of yoga, returning again and again despite falling out of poses, having to remind myself to breathe, struggling with some of the movements, and the endless "yap yap yap yap" of my doubting mind. I fell out on my Sparkplan, and I stepped back in. I went to bed at reasonable hour last night, and stayed in bed a bit longer than normal so that I could repay some of my sleep debt. I sought out time with my husband because he has been working for so many hours that I missed him. I fixed myself a breakfast heavy on protein, and despite any number of obstacles (kids, dog, chores etc etc) I stole an hour and a half and went to yoga to focus on strength, and breathing, and, well, focus. I also hydrated and was not patting myself on the back for that because during the downward facing dog poses I was practically sniffing around for a fire hydrant. So, my next big SParkgoal is meeting my "half-way to 50 lbs shed" mark, but it remains just out of reach. It is not personal, it is not a sign to give up, it is just reality. I fell out, I have stepped right back in.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I recently blogged about a heartache I was suffering, which was more acute on this particular day. I received comments from Sparklers filled with wisdom, compassion, encouragement, suggestions, and kindness. I received Sparkmail, and Sparkgoodies, and notes on my Sparkpage. All these Sparks came together to warm my heart on a day that I truly needed some warmth. I am a recovering binge eater, especially sugar. On that painful day I ate NO sugar - none. There was candy in my house yet none of it entered my body. I did not zone out in front of the t.v. in an attempt to divert my attention from my life. I did not skip my workout, or take to my bed. I wept but, as a wise Sparkler pointed out, tears release stress hormones so they are a healthy release. I ate a few small meals - I ate for fuel that painful day, not for numbness or in a misguided attempt to find comfort.
I had a painful conversation with my husband when he arrived home, since I felt his absence that day and could have used some support from him. He admitted that, because he did not know what to do in the face of my pain, he did nothing. He does not like feeling powerless, and because he cannot fix the situation that is causing me so much distress, he incorrectly feels that he has nothing to offer, so he offers nothing. I have once again reminded him, and he does now seem to understand, that I just need acknowledgement of my sadness, and a kind gesture. My best friend was also unavailable for most of that day, and, because of how sad and vulnerable I was, I did not want to reach out to too many people until I had had a chance to work through the rawest of my emotions. Sparkfriends really came through for me and helped me to get through most of the worst of the pain. The day ended with joy, when I received news that my beautiful grandson was born, and that he and his mother were well. Joy and sorrow truly do co-exist.
The next day, while still sad, I was feeling more hopeful. My husband apologized again for his insensitivity (his word) and I assured him that I am coping. I am not in my bed with a bottle of pills or booze, I am not eating myself into a sugar-stupor, I am showing up for my life - this IS me coping, I told him. "You can cry while you do the dishes." I learned this when I got sober many years ago and I have always remembered it. Sadness does not stop life - it just slows it down, makes everything more tender. My best friend, and other friends, showed up for me, happy about the birth of a beautiful boy, but ever mindful of the circumstances. I was so tired the next day, despite sleeping a number of hours, and I realized it was emotional exhaustion. But, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other because life goes on. Everyone carries some degree of heartache at some point. I was able to carry mine, on a day it weighed particularly heavy on me, because I had a lot of help. My faith carried some of the weight for me, my children and other members of my family showed up in the evening to lift some of the weight off of me, but, on that lonely day when I was by myself in a house full of sadness and sugar, it was my Sparkfriends who reached out their arms and lifted me up. I will never forget - you are all far sweeter than sugar, and your kind words were the loveliest of distractions for my aching heart. Bless you all. Cannie aka Carole aka Grandma Cha-Cha
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