Monday, March 12, 2012
Most of the country (er, the US) yesterday went on Daylight Savings Time. I recognize that this is no big news to any of you, even if you're from some skeery country like Canada. ;)
In any event, what does this all means? Well, of course, daylight isn't actually "saved". I have read innumerable semantic arguments about that. That's nice. Now go play with your dictionary some more. Sheesh. It's really just a quick and dirty term for what happens.
The reality is far subtler. It's actually a large experiment (and a successful one every year, I might add) in behavior modification. Even the states that are unaffected ARE affected, for what happens when you drive across the border and into a state where DST is practiced? Or you call someone there? Truth is, it affects the entire world, for I have worked in more than one company where a call from a colleague overseas had to be rethought because suddenly the time difference was an extra hour, or it was one less than before.
So, behavior modification. We all get up an hour earlier. We wake up (as of now, although that's going to change in a few months) in darkness. We come home in light. And we change! Truth be told, the transition occurs over the course of less than a week, and over 300 million people (yes, really!) are transformed. The experiment is a success, and it is undone every autumn, when another experiment is conducted and the clocks fall back an hour and we are suddenly waking up an hour later than before.
And so I ask you - if you can do this - if you can change your behaviors based on a little old CLOCK, can you change them based on something else? Can you change them based on test results? Or on a scale? Or on what a friend says? Or on how you feel? Can you change them based on the latest research? Or on what the government says the food pyramid should be?
Can you change your behavior and, by definition, your life, because of outside circumstances and influences? Yes? Then, good.
And now for the harder question.
Can you change your behavior and, by definition, your life, because of inside circumstances and influences?
What do I mean by inside versus outside influences?
A lot of us think of weight loss in the context of what our doctors say. Or it's in the context of wanting to fit into a favored pair of jeans or the like. Or the context is how a person we love feels, or what they say. And these things are all well and good, and any weight loss that comes from them is, naturally, real weight loss.
But what happens when the doctor's message is garbled, or the research is inconclusive? Or the jeans are fit into? Or the person we love turns away, or leaves, or changes their mind? If we lose those exterior motivations, I think a lot of us lose ALL of our motivations.
So we need to cultivate inner motivations. The ones where we feel better, and not just because we fit better in our clothes. Where we feel healthier, and not just because a doctor shows us a bunch of studies and numbers. Where we feel that we've accomplished something, and not just because of a stack of finisher medals and commemorative tee shirts.
When you change from standard time to daylight savings, they always tell you to change the batteries in your smoke detectors.
What I am suggesting to you is to also change the batteries in yourselves, for the times, they are a-changin'.
Monday, March 05, 2012
This song is here for fairly obvious reasons - the lyric makes a great weight loss title, plus, of course, there is Davy Jones's recent death. I didn't think it would affect me but, it did. It reminds me of youth.
And with youth comes a lot of great stuff, such as far, far easier weight loss. And getting in shape is easier, and you spring back from injuries more quickly. And, I don't have to tell you how your skin looks.
This does not mean, as we hit 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 or 70 or beyond that it's time to slack off, that it's somehow too late to do anything. Actually, what it means is - do it now.
And allow me to emphasize that.
DO. IT. NOW.
Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next year.
Tracking? What, you haven't done it? Do it now, while you're thinking about it.
Cardiovascular Exercise? What, you haven't done it? Then do it now, while the weather is okay or at least not awful, or you're not too tired or it's light out or the kids are at school or you don't have a deadline at work or the stars are properly aligned or whatever. Whatever is the excuse for not doing it, assume that that excuse is in invalid and nonexistent. So do it now.
Water? What, you haven't drunk any yet today? Time's a wastin'! All of the things that we hate about water drinking (and I am speaking of many, many trips to a certain little room) are worse the more we delay. Start early, and you can spread it around better, so that there's less urgency. Do it now.
Strength training? What sort of invitation are you waiting for? Here it is. Engrave it if you must. Today is a perfect day for weight training. If the weather stinks, you're going to do it inside anyway. If your favorite show is on, you can do it in front of the TV. If the kids are bugging you, pump iron and I think they'll lay off a bit, eh? ;) So do it now.
Watching the salt intake? Start with reading labels, and watering things down when they can be, and stop shaking on excess. Change your grocery list to include more lower sodium foods, and build in an extra 15 minutes to check labels, or see if you can check any labels online and maybe do that legwork early. Do it now.
Counting calories? You guessed it, you can do that, now, too, by checking out just how many calories are in what you were planing to have for your next meal. Yes, your next meal, the one in a few hours. Spark has probably thousands of food in its database by now. And anything that isn't on Spark can usually be found online. Search. Decide whether a certain item is worth it. Change it up if you have to, in order to get the numbers to fit. Yeah, do that now, too.
Now, I know, life intervenes. So do it when you have those little snippets of time in your life. When you're waiting - if you've got a smartphone, just use the Spark app. No smartphone? Try a pen and paper and record for later what you're going to do. Everybody has little snippets of time. They can be used.
I rarely get insomnia. Wanna know why? 'Cause I walk almost every single day, and I think about my problems THEN. I don't wait until I'm lying in bed. So I'm tired at night, and I'm not seizing the moments when I should be winding down and trying to sleep and misusing them, for time to think about upsetting stuff. Time to worry is budgeted, and so is exercise. Multitasking, I end up doing both at the same time.
I know I have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Don't wait. Don't hesitate.
Do it now.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Alli experiment about to come to an end (I am done with alli on 2/28, at the end of the day). It has been completely meh. Today I lost the weight I gained during the experiment and am now down .6 overall for the five weeks. I'll check again Wednesday morning, when I'll be completely done, but I don't honestly think I'll be suddenly running around and screaming that I lost five pounds.
So, meh. Compare this, BTW, with the prior 5 week period, where I went from 213.2 to 212.2. Yes, folks, I weighed less and I lost more without it. This is not to say that people new to the drug will not see any effects. But I had taken it for a good two years or almost two years there. And it's been a good year and a half since I had last taken it. It remains decidedly ineffective for me.
But that also begs the question of what is really going to work? I walk every single day, and for 80 minutes or more, with hills. I do weight training. I lift 40# for 20 minutes every single morning. My intake numbers are all good, as can be seen on my tracker. I drink not 8 eight-ounce glasses of water per day, but 11. I am in training for my 26th 5K. I eat every few hours. I get 8 hours of sleep every night. I eat breakfast every morning.
In short, I do every single thing that SP tells me to do - and I mean EVERY.
Yet the weight and the measurements have stopped moving.
I also refuse to be a vegan or live insanely. And by insanely I mean, I already watch my food like a hawk. At some point, I do need a few conveniences. I rarely go out to eat. I rarely drink alcohol or soda, even diet. A super low-carb diet is not in the cards. I already don't eat red meat.
And I am tired, tired of being a hawk, tired of being isolated with my choices, tired of hypervigilance and in no mood to become even more vigilant. Bumping calories down by 200 - 600 calories will essentially remove a meal from my diet. Yes, a meal - and would likely kick me into starvation mode, not to mention building yet more isolation into my food choices.
I am tired.
So, while it's an overall loss, it reminds me that this race is not to the swift and sometimes it's not to the slow, either. And here I am, a little over 6 months before my 50th birthday, and I am tired.
Hence, hope is different.
Hope, right now, is not for big, glamorous losses. It is for staving off decrepitude. And I think that that can become the goal, in some ways, in and of itself.
Keep it going.
Keep the streak alive.
Keep on keeping on, no matter how tired, no matter how fruitless it may seem, for fruitlessness is, well, it happens. But going backwards is worse, far, far, worse.
Don't go backwards.
You'll get what you get. You'll get there when you get there – and "there" might be a different "there" from what you had originally thought you wanted, or could do.
Here's to the new "there".
Go forward. Don't go backwards.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Tomorrow marks four years since I started Spark.
That is one LONG time.
I'm not so sure how I feel about that.
I feel good that I am a lot lighter than I was when I started. I don't feel so fab about being more or less stuck where I am. But I am also not interested in becoming overly sacrificing again, in order to move along. After all, it would have to be a LOT more sacrificing (see the article The Fat Trap, in the NY Times ( www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/magazine/
ted=all ). I just don't have it in me these days.
And so I am here, at 214 or so, and this number is (like every single other number on the scale, ever, since day one) of my own making. I am responsible for my pretty good cheekbones and small waist just as much as I am for my butt that, while it no longer needs its own Zip code, is still not as awesome as it could be. Me, and me alone.
I did this.
Not my parents.
Not my friends.
Not food manufacturers or farmers.
Nope. It's all me.
Being responsible for the less than wonderful means that credit can be taken for the great stuff. So let's take a gander at some great stuff, okay?
Last week, I had a dental cleaning. And it was super early in the morning. I got on the wrong bus. In my own defense, that number bus is not scheduled to stop there (really; we checked). So we're going along and, so far, so good (and keep in mind that these buses have an intercom system which automatically tells you the stops. This one was - incorrectly - set to the stops for the bus I normally would get on). Then I begin to notice - the neighborhood's declining.
I finally get off. Ewps.
Not a huge panic as it is still early. It was some work, to take a trolley, then walk over a few blocks to change to a different line, then get over to where I needed to be, and then several more blocks, as that stop wasn't so close, either (I made it with 5 minutes to spare).
I was not tired. I was not winded. I was not in pain. Nope.
In fact, it was all less time and distance than I normally walk.
I remember when just the last part of that (because I'd be on the right bus, of course) was a chore. I remember when I would have shin splints for days afterwards. I remember being winded. I remember feeling worthless, that I could not do it and why the hell was I in my mid-forties but feeling, acting and behaving like an old lady of twice that?
Way back when, four years ago, the seatbelt in my car was getting to be too short. I would breathe in, in order to get it around me. The idea of buying an extender was a bit attractive, but it also scared me, for I realized that to do so would be to admit defeat. And it would give me more inches of play. I could remain safely ensconced in my denial. So I continued to take a deep breath, pull the belt as far as it would go, and pray I could get it to click.
Four years later, I pull, click and start the engine, just like the vast majority of automobile drivers on the planet.
I do not take a deep breath. I do not pray for the belt to fit. I just click, start and go.
It's the same car. It's the same belt.
The part that has changed is me. It is what is within.
After four years, what and who am I?
I'll tell you.
And I will shout it, for some things need to be shouted.
I AM THE FACE OF MAINTENANCE.
I AM THE BODY OF TRYING HARD, AND NOT ALWAYS SUCCEEDING, AND NOT ALWAYS WANTING TO TRY, BUT STILL HERE AND STILL PLUGGING.
I AM THE SOUL OF QUIT YOUR WHINING AND DO THE DAMNED TRACKING, AND THE WEIGHT TRAINING, AND THE WALKING AND THE WATER AND THE MEASURING AND THE WATCHING BECAUSE, EVEN IF IT HAS STOPPED WORKING FOR OVER A YEAR IT IS STILL BETTER THAN SITTING AND DOING NOTHING AND BEING BACK AT SQUARE ONE AND FEELING HELPLESS.
I AM THE ESSENCE OF COMMITMENT.
I AM A SYNONYM FOR DOING IT.
So let's open up ourselves. Our true selves. Together, or as individuals, but either way, we do it. You do it and I do it. For however long it takes and however steep the climb and however far the road.
WE. DO. IT.
Monday, February 13, 2012
I wanted to write a little bit about the woman singing this song, as she recently passed, but I also wanted to write about myself, and all of you. I am the woman in the pic, which is from 2 summers ago.
This is not her biggest hit. It is not even her first hit. It's just, a sweet, danceable song.
And it's funny, because you talk about a celebrity death (and I am talking about Whitney Houston, if you can't access the link) and a lot of people project themselves onto it. I have seen her death as a railing against drugs, but also used as a justification for taking them. I have seen it as a lament of a wasted life and thanks for getting what we did, that we should somehow be grateful that we were graced with her presence for as long as we were, as if 48 years old (over a year younger than me) was somehow enough. I have seen it as people worried for the well-being of her daughter and railing against her ex-husband.
And amidst all of it is a big mirror. We see a mirror, and it reflects what we want to reflect, and so often that mirror is distorted.
And it got me thinking about our own demons. And while they are less flashy, and they don't act as quickly, they are still there. What if she had died of some obesity-related illness? Would we be reacting in a similar fashion? Would we be railing against Bobby Brown for leading her down the path of too many Snickers bars? Would we be worried that Bobbie Kristina would take to too much fried chicken? Would we be using her death as an excuse and a rationalization for our own overindulgences, or as a motivation for kicking ours to the curb?
One thing that isn't talked about too often here on Spark is that this is your lifespan we are talking about. It is its quality and its length. And I say that 48 is too young. I am not demanding more songs from someone like Whitney. Rather, it is that I am demanding more life from her, more surviving. Because, aside from things like HIV and cancer, a gunshot or a drowning or a poisoning or a car accident, well, 48-year-olds generally don't just up and die.
She committed suicide with a pipe and a needle and a spoon.
Are we committing it with our forks?
I know, I know, that was over the top. It's not the same. And that's true. I totally get that and you're right. It is not the same. But we can stop it, yes? We talk about food addiction but, truth is, I doubt it's on a par with the kind of drug addiction that Houston battled.
I believe that we can put it aside. I am well aware that it is not the only reason for weight gain or for the stalling of weight loss. Oh, I know that all too well, my friends. But a part of this journey is the food that isn't eaten, the calories that don't have to be burned off as they are never consumed in the first place. I am not talking about starvation. I am talking about having enough, and knowing when it is enough and knowing when and how to stop.
For that is what I take away from her death. I take away a thought of – she did not know when to quit. But I do.
And so do you.
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