Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I notice a lot of people are blogging lately. Is it because the end of the year is usually a time for reflection, or just because we can now earn a point for it? Who knows.
Tunisia is famous for its dramatic, ornately exquisite doors. I think doors make a good metaphor for our choices. Sometimes, there just aren't that many doors available, and as we make choices, we open or close the doors we have. Sometimes, a good decision opens more doors and even creates new ones. Bad decisions can do the opposite.
A few days ago, my little MacDuff slipped through the front door and went on walk about in a city where people don't slow down for dogs. I couldn't find him and was shaking I was so scared. Had anything happened to him, it would have been a year to the day that my sweet Kadusha died. Thankfully, my neighbor found him, attempting to befriend the neighborhood tomcat, and I got him back safe and sound. It got me to thinking about this past year. Last year, I had a very difficult Christmas. A year ago today, I was in Disneyworld, hours away from being ditched by my friend and ringing in the new year by myself. And one year ago, I weighed 31 pounds more than I do today.
Thirty one pounds is nothing spectacular. Many people on this site lost three or four times that amount this year. But for me, with my health problems, it's a victory. I think my life is moving in the right direction in more ways than one, and I don't believe that is an accident. When we take control of one part of our lives, we often discover that we can get a grip on other aspects. It takes holding on, by your fingernails if you have to, until you get a moment to breathe and regroup. And then, step by step, making healthy choices day in and day out, those tiny decisions snowball into success or failure.
2008 hasn't been ideal, but it has definitely been better than 2007. My resolution for 2009 is to stay focused on my goals and make 2009 even better than 2008!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I traveled down to the southern part of Tunis for several days last week. I was determined to stay on plan despite having very little control over my schedule, so I packed an entire suitcase full of foods I can eat. It was a business trip, so there wasn't a lot of goofing off, but we did have our moments.
One evening, we rode camels in the desert as the sun set. As we were selecting camels, I walked up to one camel, only to have the owner say to me, "No. You're too fat. I'd rather have (pointing to man over six feet tall with a big gut) him ride my camel." So I slunk off, humiliated, but I did get the last laugh. A skinny man actually rode that camel, and sure enough, going up a big hill, his camel raised a fuss and abruptly quit! Yes! He just knelt down in the sand and went on strike! The man had to walk, and I was spared the much greater indignity of "breaking" a camel!
At the summit, we stopped to marvel at the view. Some people talked about running down the steep dune. I decided to go for it, handed my things to the fat friend I've mentioned before, pretended I was Carrie Ingalls, and rolled all the way down to the bottom! In just a few seconds, I was going so fast, it was almost scary. I started to laugh but ended up eating a lot of sand -- definitely not on the food plan! I knew everyone was watching, so I made sure to laugh hard when I reached the bottom. The dune was much steeper than I'd thought, and getting back up to the top proved to be a major challenge. At one point, I even suggested that they just toss me a pillow! I'm glad I did it, though. Everyone was amazed and strangely impressed, and the fat friend just couldn't get over it. He talked about how cool I looked, and how everyone was mondo impressed that I'd casually done what they were afraid to do.
I couldn't understand why they thought it was a big deal. Later on, reading the guide book, I discovered that I'd been in prime scorpion territory, and I was grateful I hadn't known that at the time!
But it wouldn't be my workplace if coworkers (cow orkers) didn't make my weight an issue at least once. My boss displayed her trademark lack of tact when she asked about my suitcase of food and said, "Do you have health problems because you're fat? Have you always been fat? Are you even trying to do anything about it? What did you weigh in high school?" Yes. Lovely woman. Walking behind her, I couldn't help but notice that she might soon "develop health problems" herself!
My absolute favorite moment of the trip was on the final day when we stopped in a big, open air market. A man went by on his scooter, cuddling a full grown, live sheep in his arms!
Now I'm back in Tunis, the capital city, and life is getting back to normal. Unfortunately, my computer is not working at home, and I have very limited access to the internet at work. boo hoo!
I miss you guys!
Monday, November 10, 2008
A lot has been going on in my personal life. I've been dealing with setbacks - nothing life threatening, just difficult. Despite being put on blood pressure medicine and continuing to lose weight, my blood pressure was a frightening 158/112 this morning. (which makes me wonder what it would be without the meds!) My arthritis has become a real problem lately. I'm struggling to get up and down my stairs some days, and basic twist and bend functioning is almost gone. The good news is that I suffer from the waist down, so the hands are still good for typing!
On the job front, I've been working closely with some of the most difficult people in my group. I've earned a reputation as an emotionally stable, calm, "grown up." ... So my boss rewarded me by pairing me with a young, brash, arrogant, obnoxious, socially unskilled boar with whom no one else wants to work. (Hmm ... maybe we DO know why my BP is so high!)
Also at work, there is a nice man who is morbidly obese and terribly insecure. We've become friends, but he says things that shock and hurt me. He recently informed me that "we're not popular, and people don't like us because we're fat." ??? I had no idea I was back in junior high school! He has made several comments that denigrate me in the guise of commiserating with me because "we're so fat". And then he came to dinner at my home recently and spent the evening mocking my taste and critiquing my home. I know he's projecting his own insecurities, but if he's one of the nice people at work, you get the idea what the others are like!
To cap it off, I visited the company nurse recently. She's quite fat and Christmas tree shaped. (I'm an apple.) So she says quite casually, "I really struggle with my weight, too, but then when I see you, and I feel better about myself, because I know I can sort of hide my excess weight." (Umm, no, Patty, you can't.)
I guess it's human nature to compare ourselves to others, but it horrifies me to realize that I'm the person who makes the fatties feel good about themselves! And I think it's interesting that the very people who should know the most about getting dumped on and feel some empathy are the first ones to do it to anyone they think they're "ahead of".
Well, I'm using it as motivation. I am not saying anything, but I've started going to a local street vendor and getting pureed banana-strawberry shakes for lunch and then walk around for the rest of my break. It gets me out of the office, away from co workers, and burns some calories. I'm going to keep plugging away and slowly, quietly lose the weight. Then one day, I hope these other fatties wake up and realize that I'm just not "one of them" anymore, and they need to finds someone else to shore up their fragile egos.
In any event, I'm trying very hard to make healthy choices. I leave for a four-day business trip tomorrow. All meals are included, but I know that there will be nothing there I should be eating. So I went shopping today and bought apples, oranges, nuts, and cheese to take with me. Every pound I lose takes pressure of my poor arthritic joints, possibly reduces my BP, and certainly makes me feel better about myself.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
We've been in Tunis for almost two months, and it feels like home. We've developed a routine, and the house looks pretty put together. I have turned my patio into a nascent Greek taverna, with lots of flowering bushes and a nice place to sit and relax.
Life most Muslim countries, the architecture is Islamic. High walls and inward looking design give the women privacy, and it's MacDuff's whole world. Since we arrived, he has patrolled the garden and the patio, wandered around the house, but he has not gone beyond our walls, except for one brief break for freedom which didn't last long.
The weather here is gorgeous right now, and so I decided to take MacDuff for a walk. I've been worried about stray dogs, but my neighborhood has a lot of foreigners living in it, and they tend to adopt the strays, making it safer. MacDuff quivered with excitement when he realized that freedom (on a leash, but still) was his. We sniffed and peed our way up the hill to the sea and then to a fabulous little bakery I recently discovered. A dog challenged MacDuff, but he was too busy hiking himself up on tippytoe to squirt his calling card to even care.
Westies are rare in this part of the world, and the little guy drew his share of admiring glances as we toddled along. We passed an old man and his two sheep, and the man called out a pleasant greeting. Not wishing to be rude, I stopped to talk. MacDuff was extremely well behaved, calmly, slowly walking up to "meet" one of the sheep. Although she seemed to be curious about him initially, she soon grew skittish and backed up. I started to reel MacDuff in when she went on the attack, charging him. MacDuff dashed back and then behind me as fast as four inch legs can go, both putting me right in the irate sheep's pathway and tangling up my legs at the same time. Luckily, the man leaped forward and grabbed her horns! You know what? Sheep are surprisingly large and mean looking up close and angry!
The whole time, the old man smiled at me and called out apologies!
MacDuff was so shaken up that he freaked when we saw a miserable little street cat, and it was just time to go home. Now the little guy is sacked out on the sofa, no doubt dreaming about his big adventure!
Monday, February 11, 2008
I don't know what is the matter with me. I know I need to exercise. I know I don't even mind it that much when I'm doing it. I know I feel better for doing it, and yet I have to beat myself into going to the gym. Oh, and by "go to the gym," I mean get in the lift and go down to the ground floor!
I had a pleasant surprise today and got to come home early. Did I work out early and get it done? Noooo. I packed my gym bag HOURS before I finally went downstairs. Pathetic.
But go down I did. And considering my recent surgery, it was actually a pretty energetic workout. I worked out for close to two hours, doing both cardio and weight work. The endorphins kicked in early on, and I felt great by the end of it.
The concierges bake cookies every evening. As I come out of the gym, I often turn into Jerry from the Tom & Jerry cartoons, floating on the wafting scent of fresh baked, still warm cookies. (Cookies, not cheese, but you get the idea.) One evening, I was eyeing up the cookies but decided I needed milk to really enjoy them. Cesar, the concierge that evening, actually kept them in the back room until I returned from the convenience store with milk, so that they would not be scarfed down by other residents before I returned!
Cesar was on duty again this evening, as I left the gym, feeling both pride and a sense of accomplishment. Why do I struggle to do what I know I need to do, especially when there is a possibility of a cookie afterwards? One would think I'd be desperate to get down there and get cracking! Walking through the lobby on my way to the lift, I scooped up a chocolate chip cookie and called out to Cesar, "I love you!"
He grinned, and we were both happy.
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