Thursday, February 02, 2012
Image from themoderatevoice.com
The month of January started out very strong--I felt in control and like I could truly keep up the momentum I had built. Then, come mid-January, we (finally) got a blast of truly wintery weather, and my arthritis flared up with it. Between being stiff, sore, and achy, the cold made me want to snuggle under the blanket with something warm and chocolatey. I still did a lot of my martial arts classes and stayed consistent with activity, but off course had to back up a little bit because of the arthritis. And then my eating went downhill. I had several binges. I weigh as much now as I did mid-December.
If I'm honest, I actually actively CHOSE not to make good choices. There were no particular stressors leading me astray. At least with stress and other strong emotions, I feel as though I am just coping with overeating. My joints were a little stiff, but not painful to the point of being truly stressful. I couldn't identify what triggered me to binge, but the urges were irresistible, and I caved frequently.
My January plan:
Image from http://www.flickr.com/groups/firesfiresfir
The urge to binge comes out of nowhere, when I am in any mood. It seems I am just as likely to binge when I'm having an otherwise good day as I am when I am very stressed about something. I know I have made progress--the binges are less frequent and usually less severe in the amount I eat, but I still cave to emotional eating far too often. A friend told me about how meditation has helped him learn to focus and has even decreased pain. He is much more even-keeled now.
I started learning how to meditate a few weeks ago, using DVDs from Rodney Yee and Maritza ( www.gaiam.com/product/meditation+dvd
+gift+set.do ) and some downloads from iTunes. I have been trying to do some every day. I have a long way to go, but it does really help. It has decreased the racing around in my head significantly. I have still been overeating, but am much more conscious of the urges. I've been able to, a few times, re-channel that focus from the meditation session and quiet the urges. I look forward to delving deeper with meditation and doing it on my own without a DVD or audio.
I purchased a book quite some time ago titled "Enough!: The Buddhist Path to Finding Release from Addictive Patterns" by Choyni Taylor, but never picked it up. I started reading it this week and I can already say that I highly recommend it. The book discusses how meditation can be used to build mindfulness, introspection, and equanimity (or "non-judgmental thinking"). Not only are these skills be developed through meditation, they can be enhanced during "emergency" situations. The book also discusses forgiveness and denial. I'm glad I started reading this now because it will deepen my understanding of meditation as a tool to not just decrease stress, but to stop it in it's tracks by having a neutral reaction to stressors.
I have also started working on my sci-fi novel again. I had a few ideas that rolled around in my head, but couldn't find how to fit them in. I have had floods of ideas over the past week or so and have actually sat down to do some writing. I hope to write a couple hundred pages over the next few months.
I have been practicing my sax a lot more over the past few weeks, and it is paying off. I think meditation may be helping stay a little calmer when I'm playing, too. Last week I played the best I ever have at my lesson. My teacher Jeff and I played some jazz duets, and people in the shop complimented me on my way out. It is the first time that I have been complimented on my playing since I started re-playing (well, except for my mom, but she doesn't count).
My plan for February is to focus on choosing to meditate whenever I feel a craving for a certain food or the urge to binge. I don't want to meditate as a distraction, but rather, to start to more deeply understand why I get these urges in the first place. I hope to deepen my mindfulness and focus this month, and start to get a better grasp on overwhelming urges to eat.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
I was actually excited to go to my saxophone lesson last week. I had put in a lot of practice time, and had some extra practice due to working at home. I actually felt pretty confident walking into my lesson, for once. My teacher Jeff is not exactly Mr. Compliments, so I'll take what I can get from him. I blasted through one of the exercises and only made a couple of mistakes. Jeff nodded, "Huh, well that was...approaching good."
I started laughing, because I know that's about as close to complimenting as Jeff gets (although I have also gotten "not horrible" and even the coveted "not bad" before). Then again, I appreciate his honestly; I don't want someone singing accolades if I haven't earned it. I liked feeling so confident from having worked so hard the week before and to be able to show that to Jeff. I knew that even if I was approaching good, I will need to start putting forth more practice time to actually be good.
It's not just my saxophone. It's my eating, It's my Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu classes. It's my other workouts. I have realized that I have been putting in as little effort as possible with all of these things. I overeat, and then I don't track it so I can pretend that it didn't happen (somehow the scale always catches it, though...hmmmm...). During my classes, I keep wondering how much time is left. I have been slacking during my workouts. I usually dread picking up my saxophone and hearing myself. It wasn't until this past week that I realized that I have been putting forth so little effort. Well, no wonder I haven't been getting far recently.
I can't even claim that I've been doing my best or trying my hardest recently. Needless to say, I am tired of approaching good. I want to actually BE good. I have been half-assing for long enough and I need to have some conviction about eating better, about practicing my saxophone more, about putting forth more effort at the gym. I have been in denial with my "I can quit whenever I want" attitude when it comes to overeating. I am not mad at myself at all, and I would not even say I am disappointed in myself, but I have reached a point where I am no longer satisfied with the changes I have made over the past year. I need to make some new changes. It dawned on me this week that I have been approaching good for quite some time now. It is time to surpass good and move on to excellent.
"A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes."
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Hah, well, I don't know about being a big deal, but I'm glad that my coach Nate took some pictures against my will over the past couple of weeks. He snuck up on me and I turned and he had a camera pointed at me. My immediate reaction was to stop what I was doing, "No, no, no, don't take my picture!"
"Why not? You're doing a bad-ass move, everyone will see it."
Now granted, I WAS doing a bad ass move, GHD sit-ups, but I am still not keen on having my picture taken. "Come on, keep going, I want a picture." So, I continued to do GHD sit-ups, and he snapped a picture. I looked at the picture and said, "No way, you're not posting that."
"What? Why not? I want to post some pictures of you guys doing your workout." I was working out with one of my Jiu Jitsu buddies, and Nate was also taking pictures of him. I let him take the pictures, but still didn't like any of them. Nate seemed genuinely baffled as to why I didn't like the pictures, and I didn't want to say, "Umm, can't you see how FAT I am?" I don't like thinking of myself like that, and I would not think anything of seeing someone working out at any size, but pictures put reality right in front of my face, and I don't always like what I see.
Apparently Nate only saw a martial artist working out. At first I just saw how overweight I am, but now I just see someone working out. So, if my coaches and my fellow martial artists view me as a real athlete, then I guess the proof is in the pictures.
GHD sit-up ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=-k4UQtuXnXc )
A light set of clean and press with 65 pounds.
Muay Thai class (my teacher Eric is by the bag). Unfortunately, no kicking pics, and this chick is afraid of me, so it was a very light class.
My Jiu Jitsu BFF Bob--we were practicing something, can't remember what.
Practicing sit-up sweeps.
Going over techniques.
Getting ready to roll.
Rolling--this guy was getting frustrated because he couldn't break my hand grip, hehehe...
After seeing the pictures posted on the gym's Facebook page, I liked them better. They were posted side by side with my fellow gym members, and I just look like another athlete working out. I still don't LOVE the pictures, but I do like the proof of my bad-assness.
Monday, January 16, 2012
"Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced."
This week at my saxophone lesson, my teacher Jeff got mad at me. He didn't raise his voice, but he was as pissed as I've ever seen him. I'm not sure what it is about playing my sax, especially playing in front of Jeff, that makes me want to be so damn perfect. I want to hit every note perfectly, or not play at all. I totally freeze up trying to play in front of Jeff. Day-to-day, I'm not too afraid to make an a$$ of myself, but I really want to play the sax well. In any case, I kind of start to panic at the beginning of every lesson, and my attempts at hiding this probably make me look dumb. In my lesson on Tuesday, I was once again freezing, and Jeff looked at me and said, "Erin...just...PLAY."
Jeff had never talked to me sternly before, and the man is intimidating enough without the stern talk. I did my best to blast through the exercises without stopping and without worrying too much about making mistakes. Even though he had talked really sternly to me, I felt more at ease. I had driven him nuts with my desire to be perfect to the point where he snapped at me. Maybe that means I've been driving myself crazy, too. I made a sincere attempt to practice in this manner all week--just fly through the piece, not stop if I make a mistake, to just keep going.
I had an okay week at the gym--I have to say, though, I really got my a$$ kicked. I don't know if I'm getting better, therefore the guys feel okay laying into me, or if it was just an off-week. I think I am at an in-between stage with learning Jiu Jitsu--I know a few things, but not enough to be proficient, or I remember when it's too late. In any case, the guys continue to be patient and helpful. I also got in a bit of lifting at the gym this week and have found that I enjoy lifting more at the gym working out with some of the guys than being at home with a video. So, I will stick with strength training at the gym for now.
Some of the Jiu Jitsu guys and me--I'm in the purple shirt in the back row. I'm in between 2 of my Jiu Jitsu BFFs.
Mt eating this past week was okay. There was several days of "overeating," meaning I ate over the allotted calories in my tracker. However, I lost 2 pounds. I did not binge over the past week, but I burned close to 10,000 calories with my workouts, so I wanted to fuel up. On the days that I ate over my calories, it was with nutritious foods to fuel recovery. I have had good luck adding a day or 2 of higher calories amping up my weight loss. Hey, I won't argue with that.
I was at the grocery store on Wednesday and saw a beautiful bouquet of orange roses. I have almost forgotten the beauty of fresh flowers in the dead of winter. I do not normally buy flowers for myself, but I just felt compelled. They were not a reward for anything in particular...I bought them just because. Whereas I used to "treat" myself by buying a bunch of junk foods, my "treats" are now often completely non-food related, I have realized more and more.
The bouquet I bought for myself...just because.
Bouquet with my vision collage.
My vision collage--I should consider making another one.
I should just show up...play...move...do my best...buy myself a big bouquet of flowers...just because. Because it has finally sunken in that I deserve to treat myself right. It isn't that I haven't been treating myself right, but it has always been with some purpose, not just because I deserve it. I deserve flowers, I have earned the right to play my sax with some mistakes, I can choose not to get caught up in small mistakes day-to-day. Jeff put it best, that I should just...PLAY.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
"Have greater observation and less determination."
Image from http://wonderjeck.blogspot.com/2008_11_01_
I have reflected a lot about what I have learned during 2011 and over the past year and a half of being active on SparkPeople. The above quote is from yoga instructor Colleen Saidman in a video that I have. I pause to think every time I hear it. The observation contributes to the learning process in this journey for me, while steely-faced determination seems to wear me down and lead to disappointment. That quote has kind of become my mantra for this journey. I have found that just being determined without learning from the experience causes me to focus on my mistakes and makes me approach problems from a negative standpoint. With steely-faced determination, I was just trying to avoid the unpleasantness of making a mistake and the pangs of guilt from not having enough "willpower." Of course some determination is needed for weight loss or any health goal, but I have found that stepping back when that determination is not driving me towards my goals helps me see the fork in the road that will take me in the right direction.
Observation gives me the pause to see the opportunities before me and creative ways to make those opportunities a reality. I spent the past year observing what I was not enjoying in my life, and then finding opportunities to change those things. Observation has fueled creativity, and in turn, creativity has fueled problem-solving. Opening my eyes and truly seeing what is before me has helped me see what could be. After working through some major problems last year, I finally have a strong picture of myself being fit and healthy. I can see the hint of bulging biceps, the slight cut of definition in my quadriceps, the notion of a cute tummy. Just as I believe that positive thinking and imagery can help the body heal, I believe that observation and imagery can help the body improve in general. Picture it, observe the present body, pay attention...and make it happen. I have no denial...I am making it happen. This journey has been about so much more than my body, but my body is benefiting from the power of observation, balanced with the drive of determination.
“Opportunities are often things you haven't noticed the first time around.”
Image from fineartamerica.com
I started working from home over the past week and it has been awesome. Some callers are still a challenge, of course, but I have found my stress level has decreased greatly by being away from the noise of the call center and the toxic people at work. I know that I am oversensitive to noise, lights, and other stimulation, but I got tired of trying to force myself not to be. I had to say something to my boss about the difficulties I was having with being at work. I'm glad that I did, because he did finally allow me to work from home. Rather than being determined to change myself to adapt to my work environment, I stood up for myself based on the observations I had made. I had also made the request to work from home when I was standing on my last leg at my job, but I decided I had nothing to lose if they might fire me anyways. I feel like I am much better at my job now because I am not trying to help other people while I am roiling inside. A lot of my co-workers asked if I thought that I would get bored or lonely, and trust me, as an extreme introvert, I can make it through 8 hours without having people around me. My callers are plenty of stimulation and I am glad to have the quiet between phone calls. I have also gotten little chores done, cooked food, and practiced my sax between calls. I know I will continue to enjoy working from home.
I had pain in my left shoulder/upper back area this week. Since most of my joints were achy this week, perhaps because of weather, or who knows what, I believe my shoulder was acting up because of my arthritis. Sometimes my joints interfere with my workout plans, and I am mostly at peace with that. I have also found that it is best to just show up and work through the mild pain rather than wait to be pain-free, which I haven't been in many years. I missed 2 days at the gym last week because of my shoulder issue (the pain was literally breath-taking on Tuesday and Wednesday), but I was able to go Monday, Friday, and Saturday, so that is still a solid 3 days of training. I miss the workouts, but I also miss my guys at the gym when I'm not able to go. Actually, I went on Friday just to be there and maybe do some weights, but I tried Jiu Jitsu and it went fine so I stayed for Muay Thai, too. My shoulder has been slightly tender, but fine since. I have found that working out does not make mild arthritis pain any better or worse (actually, it often improves it), so I do my best to show up and work through it whenever possible.
My eating was decent this week. I did end up having unplanned deep dish pizza, garlic bread, and cake at work because our president treated us to dinner for our last day at our old office. Social overeating is not as shameful to me as the secret binging. As a matter of fact, I made a point to enjoy every bite, and I wasn't ashamed at all. I guess between eating well the other 98% of the time, I managed to pull off a 2 pound loss this past week. I still burn major calories at the gym, it appears, even when I miss a couple of days. That just confirms my drive to not be neurotic about food or exercise. Even if I hadn't lost this week, I would call it a successful week.
"All perceiving is also thinking, all reasoning is also intuition, all observation is also invention."
- Rudolf Arnheim
On New Year's day, I got together with my sax duet pal Scott and we hammered out 2 hours of practice. The time just flies when playing with someone else. My playing has improved astronomically since starting to play duets. Everything is so much easier now that I have a goal. My confidence in my playing has improved a lot, too, even playing in front of my teacher Jeff. This week at my saxophone lesson I really had fun with Jeff. He has learned that he can poke fun at me a bit, and I am (finally) comfortable enough around him to really laugh. We were playing through a couple of the duets I am working on with my friend and probably spent more time laughing than playing. Although I have found Jeff to be intimidating and inspirational at the same time, they are probably different sides of the same coin.
When Jeff started with his teacher voodoo and tricked me into all this creative stuff, I was afraid of what I might uncover. I was afraid enough that I had thought about quitting. I am glad that I did not quit; Jeff and my sax have helped many times with my observational skills. Observation has helped me to emerge, to become the person I have always been but could not express. Observation provides inspiration that plain old determination just can't provide.
"Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it 'creative observation.' Creative viewing."
- William S. Burroughs
Image from http://rittenhouserefrain.com/tag/music/
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