Monday, April 13, 2009
I was thinking about this song recently as a number of seemingly disconnected events occurred. The particular lyric that I'm thinking of is this:
Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.
A few days ago my husband and I went to a local park to play frisbee. It was getting late and there wasn't a lot of light left. We'd been playing for maybe 10 minutes and would not be playing for too much longer. Just then about a half a dozen preteen kids came up, attracted by what we were doing. They all asked, "Can I try?" How can you say no to that?
So we played, a bit. They had most likely had never even seen a frisbee before, let alone thrown one, except for one boy who was pretty good. My husband and I gently threw to them and would praise them lavishly whenever anything good happened, no matter what it was. One boy mainly sat and did almost nothing, and was afraid when the frisbee came to him, but still referred to himself as The Boss Dog (my husband was called Doggie and they called me Mama Doggie). Did I mention that this kid who wasn't running and jumping was also overweight?
Then the game changed, and they started to attach conditions to catching the frisbee. One boy said, "Whoever catches this is the sky, the earth, Saturn and all the planets!" One of the girls said, "Whoever catches this is, is ... Hannah Montana!" Of course all of the girls wanted to be Hannah. Did I mention that the only two people there who were the same race as good ole Hannah were Mr. jespah and me? Eh, that doesn't matter. I suppose Hannah is as universal as Saturn to those kids.
Finally, Mr. j and I called it a day, and thanked the kids. They thanked us, too.
Then two days ago, I saw my friend again, for the first time in a good month. He asked me how Philly was. Funny, to me, it had been a long time since we'd seen each other and I had no idea he would remember -- or even care about -- such a detail. But he did. We discussed Cezanne (he, too, is evidently an art world Philistine) and I mentioned to him that I was surprised he'd remembered that I was going away. Well, he did. It mattered enough to him to remember. I was very touched by this.
Then yesterday on Facebook I got a note from a dear friend from High School, asking me about my weight loss. She asked if I could help her a bit. Well, of course.
These three things may not be obviously related, or at all related to the lyric, but they are. And here's how.
What does it mean to say that the water ripples even when there is no pebble and there is no wind? When the pebble of fate doesn't drop and the winds of chance don't blow?
It means that the catalyst is not something random. It means that the influence, the cause, the generator is none other than YOU.
Not only what you can do for yourself, but the way you can influence others. The way that you can hold out your hand and hold their lives in yours. And that they can hold yours in theirs.
Spreading the Spark isn't just about telling people about a website. It's about sharing your positive experiences, even when they have nothing to do with health and weight loss. It's about giving off the better part of yourself. It's about caring about other people. It's about using your powers for good. It's about rippling that water.
And if you're lucky, you get it back a thousandfold. You get people who remember things about you because they care about what you do. You get people who ask for your input because it counts. You get to be the sky, the earth and Saturn and all the planets.
And if you're REALLY lucky, you get to be Hannah Montana. :)
Monday, April 06, 2009
I was thinking about this song recently because Spark isn't the only place online where I hear/read people talking about weight loss. And there is a lot of despair out there, and a lot of misinformation and a lot of well-meaning kinda, sorta right stuff and all I can say is it's a good thing that there is a Spark where there is good information on nearly everything. Because out there, there are a lot of sad people and a lot of scared people and a lot of people in denial, and they look for answers and they don't always get them.
Case in point #1.
A woman came to my site (I run a general Q & A site) and asked about weight loss. Actually, she didn't ask, she just complained, and claimed that she would eat next to nothing but still gain. She said she'd weigh herself every day and see variations, so - ha! - diets don't work and life is all despair so why try this cockamamie idea of eating less and moving more when it's all going to end in ashes anyway?
A member who means well but has certain ideas told her that eating less WOULD make her lose weight, WITHOUT FAIL. Welllll, that's not 100% true, as then the extreme would be true, too, and fasting would be the quickest and easiest method of losing weight. Which it's not. I said nothing (I have discussed such with this person before and didn't feel the need to rehash it). Now, this member made some great points, that the daily weigh-in idea was insane, and that there are normal fluctuations. This member was not advocating starvation, either. But I do feel that, in order to be truly and fully informative about such things, it's more than just a simple equation of less in your mouth equals less on your butt. That's not 100% the case, and it is not a linear progression. I feel a lot of folks get hung up on that, that the cause and effect relationship is neither perfect nor simple, and then things don't work out in that perfectly simple manner and then suddenly that's an excuse to let it all go to hell in a handbasket.
Case in point #2.
There is a long-term member on my site who also weighs in (pun intended) on the weight loss topics. Not on the one I was discussing above, but on plenty others. This person is near 80 if not already there and is disabled. And this person, I suspect, has been overweight for a long time.
That person lamented that there's no good way to lose weight. And that because that person couldn't exercise, they were doomed to sorrow and despair.
The member who's into the linear progression told this person to not eat so much. And while this is true (albeit not necessarily 100% tactful), it's not, like I said above, a perfectly linear progression. And the elder member balked -- not being able to exercise was tantamount to it just not being good, ever! Nothing could possibly work, so why even try?
I mentioned hand weights. I mentioned the arm-strengthening cardio used in physical therapy (I've forgotten what it's called, but it's like a little bicycle axle; you push the pedals around with your hands). I mentioned eating fewer calorically dense foods. I mentioned eating frequent smaller meals in order to stave off hunger and binging. Oh no. None of that could possibly work. Never, ever, ever, no sense in even trying and was I ever on crack for even suggesting such insanity.
So I let it go. After all, there are plenty of people -- and I was one of them for a very, very long time -- who really just want to complain that it's not easy. Well, I'm here to say that it's easy to do it. The hard parts are getting started and then sustaining, in particular when things don't seem to be going right, despite your best efforts. But the actual weighing in, measuring and recording of food and moving your body, I mean, let's face it. This is not the equivalent of defending your dissertation. It is not brain power that is necessary. It isn't even, completely, will power. It's determination. It's wanting to do it and being receptive to it. It's opening up your mind to this experience, and letting it work, and giving it a chance, even if you're skeptical. Even if everything you ever thought, or believed or were taught said that it was impossible and that you were foolish and gullible to ever believe in it.
And I wonder -- here's where the title and song come in, folks -- who DID put those ideas in our heads? Who told us that we couldn't make it? Who told us that trying was absurd or wrong or bad or a waste of time? Was it our parents? Our teachers? Our coaches? Our clergy? Our classmates? Our friends? Our neighbors?
Who told us that we'd always be fat? Who told us that we'd never succeed? Who gave us the old line about, "she's got such a pretty face ... but .."? But what? Who was it?
But, in the end, does it really matter? Does it count that someone put a notion in your head that you were not worthy of health, and that you don't matter? It's YOUR head. Choose what to fill it with just as you choose what to fill your stomach with or your house with or your life with. My case in point #2 still laments how things did not work out perfectly back in grammar school sports. That was, what, 70 YEARS ago?
It's time to let it go.
And it's time to let all of those other notions go, too, and replace them with, with what, exactly?
With the knowledge that you can do this. With the strength that you have, even if you don't know it yet. And with the understanding that, even if you're not so sure you believe it right now, that you are so worth it.
And when you're done putting those ideas in your own head, I hope you'll do just one more thing.
I hope you'll do whatever you can to put those ideas into someone else's head.
Because they're worth it, too.
Monday, March 30, 2009
I was thinking about this song because recently my routine was disrupted. And there was a time when that would have caused a complete meltdown, and that time was not too terribly long ago.
But the fact of the matter is that there kinda is a routine, and there kinda isn't. I mean, I get up, I go to work, yadda yadda yadda, but things are radically different from what they were two years ago. They are even different from last year as there is room for a gym in my life now.
This experience has been one long routine-disruptor. And that's all to the good, because the old routine was pretty dull. Sure I still got up, went to work, etc., but would come home, go online and gorge myself in front of the PC. Then it would be time for dinner and more food. Then TV and, you guessed it, more and more and more. When I was cold at home, I'd grab a blanket or turn up the heat, not move myself. My husband did much of the laundry. It wasn't even so much that I was incapable or refused, I was just so slow.
So different things have happened, and life has changed in about a thousand ways and it will a thousand more, I am sure. And while I attempt to put a lasso around some things, others just won't be corraled. I do have a lasso around my eating, and if there is one thing I can impart it is to record the food before you even eat it. Check the numbers and work them out. And if that eclair doesn't fit the numbers, either live with the consequences or select something else. Know before you bite. That way you won't be surprised. That way you won't be blindsided. That way you won't be a victim. That way you won't have an excuse.
But there are other matters that just won't stay put no matter what. For a control freak like me to be able to let go of them is no small feat. But there are days when the weather does not cooperate. But I go out anyway. Or someone is jogging on my favorite treadmill. So I pick another one. Or someone is using the rower. So I do something else while I wait. Or I forgot to bring Cheerios into work. So I grab from the emergency oatmeal stash. Or the restaurant is all out of something I want. So I get something else, or we get up and eat elsewhere.
I've recognized that not everything can or should be tamed. And sometimes going around is one way to get there, and another is to go through, or go later. And those can work, too.
How do YOU handle the curves that life throws you?
I mean, I figure, I might as well jump.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Okay, kindly ignore the oh so saccharine cutesy frolicing of the Olsen twins, circa their eight year old cuter than dirt period, and just concentrate on the song. Thanks.
Today's post, just like last year's on this date (see: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=1101364 ) is dedicated to my wonderful husband.
One of the things they tell you on Spark is to surround yourself with positive, supportive people. If you're really lucky, you get to live with or marry them.
I am very lucky.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
In this case, the island is not Jamaica (although there is a Jamaica on it, go figya). It's Long Island. Er, sorry, Lun Guyland. I have worked all my life to not have that accent.
I was there last weekend in order to see my parents and then have a small family reunion with people from my mother's mother's side and then seeing her sister and the aunt's family (the aunt had been recently hospitalized and needed to stick close to home). There were fitness opportunities -- with my father, at age 77! -- half an hour of walking every day. Plus I brought weights and resistance bands and used them every day. Eating was okay considering all of the restaurant eating that went on. I stayed within calorie range but it was not easy.
I came out of it with a truly minimal .4 lb. gain which probably isn't even a gain at all as by the time I weighed myself yesterday it was after 4 PM. I figure it's more likely that I either maintained or even lost a little. My measurements are in line with last week, including hitting a new personal best in the keister area. It's all good.
But let me tell you about the family reunion, which is kinda the origin of the title of this post. There were 14 people there. Keep in mind that the generations are a little skewed because my grandmother had six siblings. Hence my mother has first cousins who are closer in age to me than to her, and I have second cousins who are somewhere between my and my nephew's age.
The attendees: my parents, who are in their 70s. My mother's first cousin and his wife. They are near 60. These four are in the first generation as they have common grandparents. The second generation is me and two sets of second cousins, two of whom are the kids of the aforementioned first cousin, plus the other two are different second cousins (her parents are in Florida so did not attend). Plus the girlfriend of one of the first cousin's kids, plus me. These six are the second generation. We all have common great-grandparents and range from about 25 to 55 years of age. Then the remaining four are the daughters and sons-in-law of the second cousin couple where her folks are in Florida. They are third generation, with a common great-great-grandparent. Their relationship to me is called second cousin once removed. They are my nephew's third cousins and are about 25 - 35 years of age. Confused yet?
First generation was two people over 300 lbs., one of whom walks with a cane. One is over 200 lbs. The other (my father) is under 200 lbs. and walks like a fiend.
Second generation was two people in their 20s who are over 300 lbs., one person in her 20s who was over 200, one person in her 40s over 200 (me) and two people in their 50s who are over 200.
Third generation was three in their 20s or early 30s who were under 200 and one who was in his late 20s or early 30s who was probably very close to 200 (hard to tell; may have been just over or just under).
And who was watching their diet? Me, my mother (kinda) and one of the second generation people in their 20s. Plus most of the third generation (hard to see what was happening at that end of the table). Who asked me about alli? One of the first generation people in their late 50s and one of the second generation people in their 50s.
Everyone else ate. And ate. And ate some more. And talked about food, too.
The reunion was conducted at a Ben's Delicatessen. Understand that these (they're a chain) are a landmine of fat, salt and cholesterol. Immediately, you sit down and every three to four people are given a bowl of sour and half-sour pickles and cole slaw (in all fairness, the slaw was not slathered in mayo). My cousin who walks with the cane? He was complaining about too much salt in the food, all while eating pickle after pickle after pickle.
A cousin in the second group ate cole slaw by the ton. So did other people. Metal bowl after metal bowl of cole slaw was brought to the table, as it seemed no one could wait to be served, that it was too much to be expectant.
Then the ordering began. I ordered a mesculun salad with chicken. My mother ordered a half a sandwich and a small (it was a bowl -- you should see the large) soup. The third generation mainly ordered like she did. One of the second generation ordered a cucumber salad. Everyone else had huge full sandwiches or pots of soup. Yes, pots. The large is called a shissel. It is a pot. As in, what you cook dinner in. For four people. Yet this was a portion for one, and none of those people shared.
Food food food.
My salad was the biggest salad I have ever seen. I ate a quarter of it, then my folks and I ate the remainder for dinner the following night and there were even enough leftovers after that for my folks to make it lunch yesterday. Imagine what the sandwiches were like. You could not get your mouth around them.
Knishes. Soup. Sandwiches. Pickles. Cole slaw cole slaw cole slaw.
More more more take take take gimme gimme gimme.
I love my family.
Do not misunderstand me.
I am not here to judge them or to pity them. They are all over the age of 18. They are all perfectly capable of making their own choices. They are educated and are able to tell what is good to eat from what is bad. Except for the guy with the cane, they are all physically capable. They can see who is fit and who is not. They can tell that my father can get around better than people who are 10, 15, 20 years younger than he is. They can see my own transformation. Some of them have been able to make their own transformations as well.
I am not writing this to hurt them.
I am writing this as a record of my own reactions to what was happening.
I felt -- I don't know what I felt. I stuck to the plan. I was not tempted. Nothing screamed at me -- cheat now! Nothing whatsoever. I sat and watched it all unfold as I slowly ate my salad.
And it's funny.
When he first saw me, one of the second generation guys grabbed my waist and said, "Jes*, you're hot!" The third generation all told me how great I look, as did, well, pretty much everyone.
I ate my salad.
PS With all of the walking around the town, my Dad and I were bound to be seen by someone. Theirs is a small town, so people are watchful but also a tad busybodyish. And a woman who has known me for some 35+ years called my mother yesterday and told her that my Dad was walking around with some strange young blonde woman. You know, in case she wanted to know. My mother said, "That's Jes.*" "Oh my God." replied this woman.
Hence I believe I have achieved young chippy status. Holy moley.
*They used my real name, obviously.
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