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Grateful for the good days! And article link to dancing yourself happy

Monday, October 04, 2010

The last week or so I've felt like my old self- I have energy and I feel better and stronger --albeit stiffer-- the day after a workout instead of feeling like death warmed over. It's been chilly and I'm learning to adjust to biking in the cold, who'd have thought I'd need all those layers when I'm pedaling at a good pace? But without that extra insulation I carried all those years, my poor body is still having a strong reaction to the cold. Cold? Heck it's only been in the 40's-- for Rochester, that is not cold!

But still, I've been talking with my favorite cycling specialists at Full Moon Bike shop and they've warned me I need to make a boost to my calories, especially eating more 'real' foods and carbs while out on the bike, saving the peanuts and proteins for after I'm done. So I've gone ahead and ordered a special bike trunk with waterproof panniers that can carry more things, from extra clothing to Tupperware with food more substantial than cliff bars and TLC snack bars. I can see me now, pulling over to the side of a snowbank and hauling out a thermos of soup and a plate of pasta, having a winter picnic mid-commute. LOL!

I will learn to make these adjustments and I'm determined to try to make it through as much of the winter without even thinking of getting a car. I'm saving money by not having one and that's allowing me to get to more theatrical and musical events, which turns out is not only entertaining but a valuable networking time. This evening I got an offer that just might be the start of something big; it's almost too good to be true. I'm not going to jinx it by talking about it just yet, I've got to have a meeting with some folks, hammer out the legalities and such but I'm hoping I might have some really good news to post here soon!

Also want to mention that a friend of mine suggested I add a magnesium and calcium supplement to the Vitamin D 50,000 units my Doctor has me taking. I really couldn't go for the expensive supplements so I opted to try the magnesium oxide generic brand even though I'd read it can cause some stomach upset and is sometimes difficult to absorb. I do think I've been sleeping a bit better, feeling more rested when I wake up, and the aching in the joints hasn't been as deep nor pervasive. However, I am experiencing the bloating and gas issues I was forewarned about, and I'm not certain if it's a side effect, but I've also seen my appetite just plummet. I've returned to eating simple foods, such as steamed fish, chicken and veggies or simple soups and that works, but I have to be careful because often times my body is actually quite hungry even though I have no sense of hunger. Anyway, I'm hopeful that this, along with a dramatic increase in iron rich foods and the vitamin D supplements will continue to help me feel more like my old, energetic self.

And I wish I could share with you all the bliss I felt tonight, biking home in the cold autumn night from a wonderful new play, feeling strong and independent and free. I am so darn grateful for those moments when I feel like the world is a giant, brightly colored kite of many tails streaming in the wind, and I've got the string held fast in my fist riding it through the skies. Those moments are just priceless and worth every single bit of sweat, frustration and times I have denied myself some small transitory pleasure (like chocolate cake or chips) in the moment for days like today. I am strong, in control of my destiny and FREE!

Speaking of feeling joyous and free, after reading this article in Psychology Today Mind Your Body:Dance Yourself Happy, I was reminded of how much I love to let my body fall into the spell of music and move with it, so I went out dancing. Now I know Psychology Today isn't the be all end all of scientific research, but this is one article I can supply plenty of personal anecdotal evidence for!

Thanks for reading me! I hope you dance yourself happy, or do so with whatever activity gives you joy!


Copyright ©2010 Cassandra Kelly. All Rights Reserved.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HANNAHSUCCEEDS 11/28/2011 7:06PM

    Congratulations! You look amazing! You are extremely articulate. If you have never written anything you might try your hand at it. I read a lot and found your post very interesting!



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REMARAHAB 9/5/2011 9:02PM

    Just enjoy making those changes! Good for you in so many ways!

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TRABOLD8567 10/5/2010 8:10AM


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DDOORN 10/4/2010 4:13AM

    OH, how I can SO identify with your biker's blissful moments! I figure they must be our equivalent of a runner's high...!

Been wanting to spring for panniers also...curious to know what you got? They can be expensive...figure you get what you pay for. Someone recommended Arkel to me...they are definitely pricier!

Feeling the cold also...BRRR! But just HATE the constraints of bundling up! So have been biking to work less often and biking later in the day on the weekends...don't want to give up my shorts & T! Dreading the day when I have to put up the bike for the winter...hoping there will be enough snow for me to tackle cross country skiing again and finally get my legs 'neath me! :-)

The BEST of fortunes to you and your "something big" developments!!


...and LOVE your PT reference! Still too self-conscious to dance much publicly, but around the house, privately I very much "dance like no one's looking!" So often when biking and otherwise, I've got my internal radio going with tunes which accentuate the moment and pump me up even more than I might already be...woo hoo!

PPS: One of my all-time favorite movies is The Visitor. Watching Richard Jenkins thaw from his grief through the power of music (performing, rather than dancing, but same point) was such a stirring, enlivening process!

Comment edited on: 10/4/2010 4:29:28 AM

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Fat cells do more than just store fat. A LOT more.

Friday, October 01, 2010

A friend sent me this article from the Huffington Post yesterday. He knows about the health issues and the deep fatigue I've been dealing with since the weight loss and thought perhaps I'd find some answers, or at least some hope, in this article. Per my usual, it seems to have left me with more questions. :)

Seems fat cells not only aren't just inert storage receptacles, they are an intricate component of the immune system and have a sophisticated communication system using hormones and proteins, several of which are just newly discovered.

My previous understanding was that once a fat cell was created the body does not reabsorb it however, if this new research proves correct and fat cells create these chemicals to affect immune system function, then I wonder if the empty ones actually are inert, or are they instead possibly still producing these hormones and proteins and possibly causing some imbalance in the body? In which case, maybe there's more than a cosmetic reason to have the skin flaps which contain the dessicated fat cells removed after a significant weight loss? Also, when you lose a significant amount of weight-- like 1/2 your body weight--I wonder, how long after losing the weight does it take for the body to regain balance and adjust to lower levels of these proteins and hormones in the system?

Anyway, there's some interesting new info in this and I'd love to hear what you think after you read it.


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LIZMVR 8/13/2014 4:37PM

    Thanks for sharing!

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PROVERBS31JULIA 9/5/2011 2:20PM

    Hey Pretty Red-headed Gurrrl!
Thanks for the article!! It's one of the clearest I've ever seen at explaining why FAT IS **NOT** MY FRIEND.

and here I've thought it would "protect me" ... somehow... you know, that whole emotional eating and all...

aaaah that's a little too deep now, must run off and drink some water and do some exercise!

Have a great day!



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JIBBIE49 9/5/2011 1:24AM

    emoticonRead Gary Taubes' wonderful book "WHY WE GET FAT" as he explains what fat cells do and why eating sugars/starches spike our INSULIN levels and make us hungry for more. It isn't about us being gluttons or lazy, but how carbs make us produce to much INSULIN which stores more fat. No wonder we can't "burn" it off.

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ONECOOKIETWO 10/10/2010 4:06PM

    Thank you, CCKELLY, for posting this blog. I've enjoyed reading it and the rest of the ensuing discussion, and learned a lot from the whole thing. Thank you!

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ROYALETBONE 10/10/2010 3:18PM

    Love these solutions to your problems... woot, woot!

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GRACEFULIFE 10/5/2010 4:21PM

    Most of those who tout "natural" health are pushing supplements. By "natural health" I do not mean eating whole foods, eating foods you can pronounce and great-grandmother would recognize, etc. I mean all of the "natural health" people who push exclusion diets, raw diets, enzyme supplements, chelated minerals, herbs, flushes, cleanses, fasting, "energy work" of any sort, or the like.

You may be right that those who eat mostly crap food could benefit from something to clear out the crap once in a while. Simpler solution, cut the crap ... as if that is likely, heh.

It doesn't take too long reviewing to realize it's trying to sell you stuff. Crap you don't need. I happened upon it when someone posted a link to one of the anti-HFCS articles there which made some baseless allegations which was, iirc, HFCS being metabolized in the same way as trans fats. While I'm not fan of HFCS I really felt that I had to put the smack down on that one.

I can't say I've gotten into measuring omega 3 to omega 6 ratios in my diet, and frankly data that would allow such seems difficult to find. But here's the article on which I base my strategy:
happiness ...basically avoid sunflower/safflower/soybean oils, specifically try to add olive oil/flax/salmon/sardines, peanut and canola oils are OK. Further, my current thinking (off topic here) is that saturated fats are neutral health-wise (note, not calorie-wise, like all fats) and to of course avoid trans fats. Also, you get omega-3 fatty acids when you eat grass-fed beef for example.

I'm guessing based on what you said that you already do fine in this area.

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CCKELLY3 10/4/2010 3:58AM

    Glad the article was enjoyed by some and I appreciate your comments.

And thanks GracefulLife for the counter info; I have to agree, I'm skeptical of those detox diet things as well. However, those of us who eat healthy as a general rule don't need stuff like that, but maybe there's some merit for those who eat mostly processed, junk and fast foods. I'm curious what you mean by natural health and why does that make you skeptical? I wonder if we're thinking different things, because I try to read a lot of natural health articles, dealing with nutrients, using whole foods verses supplements and how to combine my foods so that more nutrients are bio-available in each meal.

I don't know much about Dr. Mercola, though the name sounds familiar.
Finally, I've read a bit about what you mention of the Omega 3 and 5 ratio, though not enough to speak intelligently on it-- but I'll do a bit more digging, thanks. I do try to eat plenty, and then some, of the omega fat rich foods, but I'll be honest, I've not gotten into measuring the ratios of the types in what I consume. Wow, okay, this comment is getting really long winded and it's almost 4 am, so I'll wrap it up but I'd love a chance to discuss what you say in more depth at some point. :)

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MYOWNHERO 10/1/2010 9:57AM

    Outstanding article in Huffington Post! Thanks for sharing.

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DDOORN 10/1/2010 5:01AM

    And I thought HuffPo was mostly great for stirring up us progressively-minded folks...! :-)

Great article...will pass along! Thx!


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GRACEFULIFE 10/1/2010 2:51AM

    Not that it's super-related to your questions, which are very good ones, but it's somewhat related so I'll post it. We had a thread on fat cell counts a while back in HIT:
>Basically we came to the conclusion that the current state of knowledge says fat cells are constant after puberty (barring pregnancy) barring extreme conditions. I think there's some evidence you can gain fat cells once those you have are full (extreme), but there is also (slimmer) evidence that you may be able to lose fat cells after long periods of leanness (also extreme). The German research, at least, indicated that half one's fat cells die and are rebuilt every 8.3 years - similar to how skin is constantly rebuilt. No surprise I suppose since fat and skin are so linked. Note that I am NOT addressing loose-skin issues here ... that's another show.

I will add that I don't really trust Huffington Post's medical writers. Barrie has written a book called “7 Day Detox Miracle” and I distrust anyone who talks about detoxification of anything for any reason. They also have writings from Dr. Mercola, who has a popular "natural health website". I distrust anyone touting "natural health" anything. Mark Hyman, MD doesn't look like someone to whom I'd go for advice either.

On another note, your talk of imbalances in the body due to still having extra fat cells got me thinking. Having excess fat is said to set up a situation of chronic inflammation in the body. Also, eating too high an omega3:omega 6 fatty acid ratio is supposed to do the same thing. So I was wondering if some of your unidentifiable health problems could be related to this? I don't know enough of your diet to know if you eat much flax (good) or salmon (better) or avoid safflower/sunflower/soybean oils. So one thing you could perhaps try for a while is fish oil supplements. Also taking it with a meal or two might assist fat-soluble vitamin absorption if you eat very very low fat (though I'm not sure how that might tie in with the iron thing).

Have you considered going over your nutrition log with a nutritionist, or have you reviewed it all with your doctors enough to be pretty sure it's solid? Just trying to offer a way forward with your issues here, or maybe spark you to something you can use. Stay strong and you'll get this taken care of I'm sure.

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GWENFITNESS1ST 10/1/2010 1:44AM

    There is some belief that fat cells are part of the inflammatory response. They do produce some important hormones that regulate appetite. So, you would want hormones like leptin to be produced. Keep up the good questions!!

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ERINCD 10/1/2010 12:54AM

    Some head-spinning thoughts.

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Scale crossed back over 200 lbs today!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It said 204lbs!!...but don't worry, it wasn't just me! I was holding my hybrid bike so I could see how much it weighs. :D
Had you going there a minute, now didn't I! Turns out that sweet puppy of mine weighs almost 40lbs!

So why exactly was I weighing my bike you ask? Well you see, today as I was riding back from class I was forced to hop a curb when a truck got a bit too close and in doing so I popped my front tire. A bit annoying but I'm rather used to it, it's part of the cycling commuter's life. The lucky part? It happened right in front of my favorite coffee shop. So in I go to get a cup of Joe and charge me up to change a tire and when I went back out, the rear tire had gone flat, too! :0 Now I was in a bind since my little bike emergency bag only holds one spare tube...and I was miles and miles from home.

The next fortunate thing to happen came in the form of a city bus which, it turns out, went very close to my bike shop, Full Moon Vista on St. Paul Street. How fortuitous! But it dropped me off with well over 6 city blocks to go to reach the shop. I was worried rolling it might damage the frames so even though I had a backpack loaded with music books and supplies, without thinking I lifted it up and began to carry my bike.

Now I've done this up and down my stairs and at various times, but today I could feel it's weight, I know it's not a light bike. Yet I didn't have a second thought as to whether or not I could do it. I knew I could. It wasn't something I'd go out of my way for, but it also wasn't any real hassle. And it just seemed like common sense, wouldn't anybody carry their bike in this situation? So here I am, taking for granted something which I wouldn't be able to do a few years ago, and which I often forget is actually pretty darn remarkable. You see, I still have these moments of marvel, these times when I find myself doing something, taking some action to which I've hardly even give a second thought, until something or someone makes me realize that what I am doing almost effortlessly, and without thought, is not only something a lot of people couldn't do, it's something I couldn't do just a very short time ago.

Here I was, with a full backpack of 20+ pounds strapped on my shoulders, and with one arm, ONE ARM, holding my bike just below it's seat and striding along the city streets faster than most unencumbered pedestrians. I was actually feeling a bit annoyed having to wait for the sluggish people to get out of my way! Silly me. :) And none of this phased me-- even though today I was exhausted, my body was aching and I was having my period. Bascically feeling like something the cat dragged in, striding down city sidewalks and it turns out I was hauling somewhere between 50-60lbs. Down 6 city blocks. Me, the lady who 3 years ago had to hide how much it hurt to carry something up 1 flight of stairs or haul my groceries across half a small parking lot!

So all this hit me when I hear some smart-aleck guy behind me, sounding slightly tipsy for 3pm in the afternoon, thank you very much, yodel out, "Hey baby, hahaa, whatcha doin' CARRYING that thing? Doncha KNow u Supp'sd to RIDE it! haahaa."
So I turned to look at him full on (in all my yellow and blue riding gear glory, might I add, which even I think makes me look like some brighly clad superhero:) and after he brushed the gravel off his lower jaw and chin, he blushed a little, cleared his throat and stammered an apology. To which I smiled and replied, "I got two flats jumping a curb to avoid being hit by a truck, so I've got to go fix it."
To emphasize this, with my one arm, I lifted the whole bike high enough so the wheels were at shoulder level and nodded toward the flats. As I lowered it back nearer my waist, I made sure to do so at an angle where he'd get just a glimpse of my cleavage in the zip-down shirt -- cause I'm evil and it was fun-- and after his eyes went back in his skull and he again retrieved his chin from the pavement, he said in a voice full of admiration and respect, "Well ma'am, you're certainly in the shape to do it!"

And did I mention today was not one of my good days? I was feeling pretty weak and frazzled, and yet on my BAD days, I can do stuff like this. WOW! Actions I take for granted now, on my low energy days are things I'd have had to all out kill myself for to even attempt, and probably not succeed, at only a couple years ago. What a different 150lbs and a healthy body makes! Oh, and loving myself and taking care of myself, meaning resting when I should. Like now. Cause I'm still really under the weather. So I"m gonna go be a good little girl and put myself to bed early, so I can keep this body going strong! And I hope you do, too! You are worth it and you will get there. Just don't ever give up! :)

As always, thanks for reading me. You help keep me strong cause I know I'm not alone. And I'd love to hear your stories of things you now take for granted (or want to and will soon) and things you enjoy now because you loved yourself enough to make your life healthy. :) Put 'em in those comments and we'll revel in them together!

Copyright ©2010 Cassandra Kelly. All Rights Reserved

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROYALETBONE 9/25/2010 6:59PM

    I just cleaned out the back yard from the 'not quite moved out' housemate- got about 14 cubic feet of crap hauled out to the curb. About 1000 pounds of trash out- and lots more just moved around to clean.
Sweaty, and happy.
Not sore.
For the lady who couldn't walk 1 block with out crying myself to sleep 3 years ago.
Yum. 140 pounds off and a new hip in. Hooray!
Great blog!

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DIAMONDFOOLER 9/24/2010 11:48AM

    You got me with the title! I said Oh No! But didn't I just see her???

Great story. Wish I could have seen the jaw drop!

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183WANTS2B140 9/24/2010 5:27AM

    I loved this blog. It made me laugh and at 5 am that is not an easy thing to do. emoticon

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BLUESKY104 9/23/2010 11:59PM

    Great blog Cassandra -- how emoticon how far you have come -- and yes you did get me with the title emoticon


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GRACEFULIFE 9/23/2010 11:40PM

    There are an awful lot of casual lifts in every day life that I often don't even think about now, whether it's a heavy bag of produce, luggage, a mattress, or going upstairs with the vacuum cleaner.

As for the future, I still have to think, and work, to do a pull-up motion. That's on my list of things to make almost effortless. Sooner or later I'll get there!

Thanks for the reminder, since I'm biking more now I really should be a seat bag, extra tube, CO2 inflator, and tire wrenches. I bunny hop my bike and such all the time and am probably just lucky that I haven't had any flats yet.

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DDOORN 9/23/2010 11:36PM

    Great story!

Hey, I'm FINALLY learning to deal with flats! Had a crash course from another member of our bike club.

Looking forward to tackling my first century this Saturday and another 75 miles Sunday...MS fund-raiser in NJ...crossing my fingers I'm up for the challenge!


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When the warrior has to stop fighting & learn to make peace

Sunday, September 12, 2010

This isn't my typical blog post, I'll be honest about that right now. Normally, I like to blog about lessons I've learned and events or ideas I've gleaned on this journey which I think-- and hope-- will be applicable to others, like you, and help you on your journey. We're in this together and it's by sharing that we all do better.

I don't have anything to share right now though, I haven't for awhile which explains the dearth of blog entries of late. Okay, I've been very busy trying to do all the things in life I'm able to do now with this healthier me, such as getting my motorcycle license, learning Improv and continuing with music and my career as a performer. It's all good.

What hasn't been good is my health, and as of yet, I just don't know why. Even the Doctors are a bit stumped because they have all seen and been amazed by this "miraculous" transformation I've created. I eat very healthy, I'm active, I'm doing all the right things, and yet I'm constantly fatigued and bone weary. I've developed what appear to be very severe allergies, but to what we don't know. I've never had an allergy in my life, suddenly, I have days I wake up with my sinuses inflamed to the point it literally hurts to inhale, and sinus headaches that make me cringe even at the sound of a solo piano played softly. Any noise hurts...and for me to categorize music like Chopin as noise, well, that's just got no precedent.

The only thing we can find is that somehow my body is going through nutrients such as Vitamin D and Iron, and possibly some of the B vitamins, at rates that leave me in huge deficits. We've checked and rechecked everything from liver function to thyroid to, well you name it, and all that stuff comes back normal. I'm healthier than I've been in years, with my blood pressure, cholesterol and all that stuff well within healthy ranges.

Several months ago they had me start taking 50,000 units of vitamin D weekly for a month, then go to once a month; for a time that seemed like a magic bullet. Then I noticed fatigue creeping back, did some research and found iron might be culprit-- sure enough a few days of super iron rich foods and I'd feel better, like my old self. For a short time. That's the weird part of this, it's like my body just doesn't hold onto certain nutrients, and yet except for the Vitamin D, I don't test as 'too low' for them at random testing intervals. I'm not anemic. But once a month on 50K of Vitamin D wasn't working, my body was back to a significant deficiency by the 3rd week. So now I'm back on 50K weekly for a 2 months and then will try a daily dose from there on.

I notice that some days a supplement of B vitamins, or extra iron or other things will help in the short term. But not always, so is it a placebo effect? I just don't know. And I've never been one who's good at not knowing.

I can fight any monster, any horrible terrifying thing if I know what it is. I don't back down to things, I don't give up even when I really, really want to-- but I need to know what it is I'm fighting. I need to identify the enemy and plan an attack-- without a strategy, it's like throwing crap at a wall, in the dark, and hoping something sticks. And right now, it feels like it's just dark-- I don't even know if there's a wall out there to throw crap at nor if I actually have anything to fling. I'm just spinning around in the dark wondering why some days I have the energy to go for a long 2 hour walk and it's good for me, and other days I go for that same walk and will be in bed for two days after because of it.

I love using my bike to commute, however I'm having to be judicious in the things I agree to do because I know there are many days I simply cannot physically handle getting myself there, much less doing anything once I've arrived. And I'll be honest, I'm not good at being weak. I suck at it, weakness was something I was never allowed as a child and to this day, the hint of not being able to be independent and take care of everything -- and everyone -- all on my own can throw me into an unconscious panic. It's like a fear of death, I learned early be strong, don't need, don't expect help because it's all up to you. I still am awkward and lack grace in asking for help, it may take me the rest of my life to learn how to do it, or master the anxiety the asking can create.

But I'm hoping that by putting this out there it will help. Sometimes, just by getting things out in the light, refusing to let them remain hidden and linger in a malignant state of secrecy, new perspectives can arise. And perhaps someone else has been through this, or something similar and can offer ideas. You just never know, but you have to try. I guess that's my motto, I may do it all wrong, I may not get anywhere but I won't go down for lack of trying.

Thus, this learning the lesson of how to rest enough, to let go and take it easy and knowing when that is the right choice --and not the lazy one as my inner voice tries to tell me-- or worse, that giving up the struggle, the constant need to push forward is the equivalent of giving up and dying--well, that's not always true. But it's hard, I'll admit, to really know when is the time to take it easy and choose not to do any cardio or heavy work, and when it's time to push through the fatigue and the aching body and do it anyway. How do you learn that? How do you know? I wish I had more answers but all I seem to have these days are questions. Questions that lead to more questions.

Thanks for reading me. I'm sorry if it seemed I dumped a lot on you. I suppose it's good that people sometimes see that I do struggle, that even I who often, I've been told seem to be so confident and in control, can find a place where I am just as lost as anyone else. We all have those times. The ones who succeed just don't let themselves get stuck here. This way, when it's you maybe it will help you keep going. I hope so. Knowing you're there helps me keep going. Truly. So thank you.

Love to you all

Copyright©2010 cassandra kelly. All rights reserved.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DDOORN 9/12/2010 10:11PM are where I dread ever having to be: dealing with a body that seems to be betraying me! My heart and admiration goes out to anyone managing to deal with a chronic, debilitating condition for which there are no readily apparent solutions. There is a special kind of strength it takes to deal with this!

I think your wisdom shone through in pressing on to writing and sharing about this. There is something about putting down in writing all the rat's nest of tangled, snarled thoughts that can help one clear your mind. Plus we learn from your experience and hey! One never knows when through the network of our SparkFamily an idea may surface through the networking process that can make a difference!

Looking forward to hearing whatever you can share about your struggles, warts & all! I'm certain we (including yourself!) will all benefit!


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GRACEFULIFE 9/12/2010 9:17PM

    Wow. I don't know about laying a lot on US, but it sounds like there is a lot on YOU right now. I wish I had some sort of medical opinion to offer, but I'm no House. So all I can really offer is understanding, and maybe a little compassion. I hope you can get better and enjoy the energy level that you have earned by becoming your new self - and deserve anyway. Please keep us up to date, and no feeling bad for doing so. We - your sparkfriends - will be here for you.

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CAROLJEAN64 9/12/2010 9:09PM

    Cassandra, please allow me to quote something my dad used to tell newly widowed people. "Don't let your friends "should" on you, or your family and especially don't should on yourself."
Next, have you been checked for depression ... are you on any meds that may need to be changed or adjusted.
Further: quit beating your self. You are not required to be perfect. Take those tasks that seem overwhelming and whittle them down to something manageable.

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Looking in the mirror who do you see?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's been awhile since I've had a chance to write; it's been a very busy summer. I continue to find that the tools and discipline I learned in my weight loss and health journey apply to so many other areas of my life-- I'm slowly but steadily learning how to view my goals and dreams as a marathon, not a series of sprints. That I spent my life racing like a wild-woman at all sorts of things in the short-term, basically running myself to exhaustion with little to show for it, was one of those major self-revelations I discovered on my healthy journey and just as it stirred a life-changing revolution in how I looked at food and exercise, it is also changing how I view life and live it across the spectrum.

For all of us who have a substantial amount of weight to lose (or had), or who've struggled all their lives with food and body image issues, the underlying theme of what we learn is balance. We all need to find our own balance point, that place where we recognize who we are, what our strengths and weaknesses are, who we want to be and how we can get to the place where we live life true to ourselves.

That balance is expressed differently for every person which is why no single tool or skill or diet will work for everyone. For some it means learning to do more of something such as eating more vegetables or getting up from the television more frequently. For others, it's learning to refocus our attention-- from solely being caretakers of others to taking care of yourself, or learning how to find self love and comfort in things other than food.

For me, the balance was, and is, learning to do less, learning to relax and give my body, my mind and my spirit a chance to recover from all the intensity I enjoy and to allow what I learn a chance to absorb. I've had to learn to say no, not just to others, but to myself. I've had to learn how to recognize that every activity, every choice has a price tag and each day I only get so many 'energy coins' to spend-- I need to be responsible to spend them wisely, toward things that further my goals, my dreams and feed my self-esteem by contributing positively to my life. I also need to learn that constantly borrowing against tomorrow's energy, or spending it recklessly in the moment because somebody else says I should throws me out of balance and weakens me. It puts me, my dreams and my goals into debt.

If you'd asked me 3 years ago what I expected to be one of the important lessons I needed to learn to be successful was, it never would have occurred to me that this simple idea would be so profound; "Rest and recovery IS PART OF DOING. Rest after a push IS NOT optional, it is not passive, it is MANDATORY. During the resting phase your body recuperates and your mind takes what it's learned and moves it deeper into your understanding where it ages, like wine, to become a part of you."

Yet rest is when we balance the energy budget, it's when we refresh so that we have more to give not only to others but to our own goals, our own dreams and paying into our own self worth. Because when you take care of yourself, when you consistently act in ways that support and further what you believe in, you become stronger and you fall more in love with yourself and with all of life. Which creates this amazing loop of positivity; you have more and thus you can give more. Taking care of yourself becomes a joy and then when you take care of others, you can truly do it as a gift. When you take care of your own dreams and goals, you can't help but give to others to do the same. You fall in love with life. Love is a funny thing, unlike energy or time or even money, the more you spend of it, the more there is.

I'm often reminded of the rule the oxygen masks on a plane, in the event of an emergency put your own mask on first; THEN and only then, attend to anyone else. Some people would easily put on their own mask first, even without thinking. Some of us have to learn that reflex, especially if you're a mother. But the wisdom of this lesson has been profound in how I view life-- if I don't take care of myself first, there will come a time when I will not have anything left to give. Not to others and not to myself. And then it's over. Sure, maybe I'll get lucky and someone else who was wise enough to take care of themselves will come along and save me, but really, do I want to pin my survival on luck? More importantly, do I want to make others responsible for caring for me or should I instead learn to take care of myself first so that I have more to give in the long haul? It sounds like such a trite cliché and yet perhaps it became cliché because it is such a universal truth-- first you must love yourself.

That is what I would wish most to give you on your journey here on Spark, if I had the power to give you anything. I would give you the gift of self-acceptance, of seeing yourself as you truly are, in all your flaws and grandeur, and I would show you that amazing person reflected in a mirror of self-love. I would give you the tools and the skills to feed that delicate flower of self-love so that it would flourish into a verdant jungle of beauty and joy. The rest of this would all then grow naturally as an extension, for it's very easy to care for, nurture and protect what you love. Honestly, all the rest of it, the weight loss, the ability to do and live as you choose, the cute clothes or the attention from others-- it's just the gravy. It's good, but it's not the goal. All of that will come if you can just get to this one simple truth—see yourself exactly as you are and love that person, you will get better and you will find your balance if you can see that right now, exactly as your are, you are good enough to love.

As always thanks for reading me. I love to hear your thoughts and comments-- particularly if you've found some way in your life that you nurture your own dreams and goals, or the things about yourself you chafe at but need to (or have learned) to embrace and love.

Copyright© 2010 Cassandra Kelly. All Rights Reserved.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROYALETBONE 8/17/2010 12:00AM

    Yes, and yes, and yes.
I've learned to be loving and giving and caring- to a point- with other people. I now acknowledge that some people I can love for up to 1 minute... some people 1 hour... some people for days, years, a lifetime. I have people in my life that I enjoy very much if all I do is smile and wave and keep walking. That's been a wonderful revelation. I don't have to 'help' or give time to every one who asks for it.
My housemate is always gripping about different neighbors. I kept saying , 'wow, I like them just fine- for a minute'. He is starting to 'get' that. Learning boundaries with others, that is one of the key things for me.
I get 24/7 with me- all the time. So I take very good care of me now. Love my walks and dancing and hot tubs. Life is hella good.

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DDOORN 8/12/2010 10:12PM

    Ah yes, the toughie: quelling, stifling the relentless inner critic!

Important point...can take such persistent effort to accomplish this!

I know I still have much growth yet to accomplish in this area...


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GRACEFULIFE 8/12/2010 10:04AM

    What a great piece of writing. You're exactly right, you have to decide that YOU are worth putting the time and effort into, and much of the rest falls into place. I don't really have anything to offer in terms of ways I've learned to do that or things I've learned to love about myself since I'm really pretty early in learning how to do this myself. However, I can definitely tell you that quite a while before I joined Sparkle, when this journey began for me, I had to make that decision. And just doing it, being passionate about it, seems to inspire others around me to do so as well - which makes me extremely happy.

Forward and onward.

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PARKERB2 8/11/2010 2:54PM


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