Friday, March 19, 2010
Ever feel like you are looking at the world through a bowl full of green Jell-O? Okay you can put your hands down now. Looks like itís been most of us.
Whatís the first thing we usually do? Ok Iíll answer because I am a pro at this. We grab the food of choice. And we grab and we grab and we grab. Then we feel guilty and despondent and then we give up because the almighty cookie, cake or brownie has assumed its control over us once again.
It reminds me of the riddle: Where does a 500 pound gorilla sit in your refrigerator? Any where it wants.
Up until this week my journey into Sparkville has been relatively stress free. Oh Iíve been tempted by that scent of chocolate and the sweet seduction of blackberry cobbler with a pure lard crust has tickled my fancy. I have been strong. I have survived. The past few days I have been looking at the world through Jell-O!
The phone rang at midnight, Wednesday. When the person on the other end begins with ďJohn, this is Joe. (My wifeís twin brother.) Iím afraid I have some bad newsÖÖ..Ē You sort of know he wasnít calling to see how youíre feeling.
In a nutshell Joanís oldest brother died in his sleep sometime between Monday night and Tuesday night. He had been in poor health for the past year, was single and lived alone. The best guess is he had a heart attack and peacefully slept away. So I hang up the phone. I sleep with one eye open, Joan sleeps like a rock. It would be even money if the second coming would wake her up or not.
So I have to wake her. Now imagine how you feel being woken up from a sound sleep to begin with. Imagine being all groggy and having someone tell you your oldest brother just died. Not a good feeling.
My daughters hear her crying, come in our bedroom and suffice to say we were up until four am. Emotional exhaustion causes us to crash for about three hours or so and then Joan gets busy communicating with her remaining seven brothers and sisters who are flung out across the United States. I am trying to reschedule my appointments until next week and well you know how you feel when youíre looking at the world through a bowl full of green Jell-O.
Somewhere in all of this Joanís youngest brother calls to say ďGuess what? He didnít have any life insurance and no other money to speak of.Ē Now grief has a twin, itís called massive stress. You are sitting there and thinking all sorts of evil thoughts about how someone could not have any life insurance, and then you think about the poor guy all alone. You go back and forth. You wonder who is paying for all this and then you mentally slap yourself for thinking like a butt head. Your wife is wondering the same thing only she must feel ten times worse than you do because it is her brother!!!
Why do I share all this?
In the past Iíd head straight for food and rationalize about a five pound gain from the fact that no one should or could blame me for eating. I am under a lot of stress and we just lost a family member and the list goes on and on.
I didnít. There were a couple times I wanted to but I didnít.
See, I think I am genuinely maturing. Yeah I reached age twenty one eons ago but now I am maturing. In the lesser moments I told myself it wasnít worth it and in the most stressful I went down stairs and did some meditation to relax and regain control of myself. I went out and cleaned the garage, picked up junk, picked up the back yard. I have stayed busy. I knew if I didnít stay busy, I would suffer the consequences.
Anyone here recall how Americans grieve? Yup, itís with food and lots of it. Iím not talking about wholesome, whole grain dishes with plenty of veggies. I am talking about Mac and Cheese, strawberry shortcake---------- stuff like that. I could throw my hands up in the air and blame the stars, the cosmos and anyone else who crosses my mind or I could have a plan
Slowly adult John took over. I suspect that for the rest of my natural life, when times of supreme stress arrive and I am looking at the world through green Jell-O I will want to eat. Each time I will be faced with a choice and each time I will succeed. In my mind there is no other option. Itís like breathing.
I am packing my own food. If someone throws a hissy, thatís tough. The good news is one of my sister-in-laws is a vegetarian. I will lean on her. My lap top goes with me so I can track my food and yes we are staying at a hotel with a workout room.
My wife needs my support. I will concentrate on that. I am a lot more mature today then I was a few months ago. The temptation is there but I will not give in. I am on the road to success. Just because I am stuck in some green Jell-O right now is no reason to give in.
I owe many of you a word of thanks. You are the people who have really supported me and encouraged me and when I needed it kicked me in the rear end. It will be a big help.
Like the James Taylor song says ďAint it good to know you got a friendÖ.Ē
I will see you all Monday. Be safe and God bless
I want to apologize if I didnít respond personally to everyone who posted comments on my blogs the past few days. I tried to get to as many of you as I could
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Before I began this journey towards health I lived under the misperception that there were all kinds of things and people that I needed in my life. I clung to that notion like a drowning man clings to a life raft. I drew lines in the sand. Either you were for me or you were against me. If you were for me, you had better agree with what I say. If you didnít, well you were history. What you had to say contained little to no value if you made the choice to not agree with me. Of course I never spoke any of it out loud. It all swirled around in my head and the harder it swirled, well the more I ate. My name is John and I am an emotional eater.
HappyÖÖÖÖ. Pass the pasta. SadÖÖÖÖ. Send in the burger, fries and beer. AnxiousÖÖÖÖ there is a cake with my name on it someplace. I clung to those beliefs with a tight fist. We all do. We all have those beliefs inside of us that motivate us. Yes I said motivate us, but in the wrong way. Instead of pulling us closer to a healthy life style they push us further away. They teach us to say the right thing so that everyone around us nods and smiles. Thatís because we are scared that if those people knew what went on inside of our heads they may not like us. My name is John and I get scared.
Sometimes I am scared of being scared. Some days Iím scared and I donít know what I am scared of but Iím so used to being scared that itís just ďwhat I do.Ē I canít tell you any of that. You may not care for me, or support me or cheer for me. Itís all about control.
Then there came a cross roads of sorts. Itís time to go one way or another. ďTimeĒ that voice said inside of me. ďTime to let go.Ē My name is John and I was petrified.
I know how to be fat. I know misery and I know people that will tell me anything I want to hear just so Iíll go away. Let go? There are people who ďsayĒ they care but in the end their actions speak differently.
I let go. For me it was one freaked out moment.
Health in every way shape and form means that I let go of the toxic and embrace that which challenges me to grow. As long as we cling to the toxic, whether itís a food, a thought or a person, then we are only fooling ourselves. We live in a society that encourages us to be toxic, to make excuses and to deal with symptoms and not diseases. If you donít believe me go into a book store and look what two sections are the largest? They are the sections on dieting and on self help. We are encouraged to get smaller and smarter without really ever coming to know ourselves or the person sitting next to us. We are encouraged to polarize.
This whole Spark process breaks that mold. It tells us to be healthy and to be happy. But I learned in my own life that until I consented to let go and let other people help me attain those two goals I would never reach them. Itís meant I had to admit that my way wasnít always the best way and that there were other people who knew more than me.
The amazing thing is that as I dig deep I am less and less concerned with food. I find myself stressing less and less about what I eat because what goes in my mouth is benchmarked against the growing sense of excellence I have concerning myself. What I work on with a dizzying diligence is my perception of my health and establishing relationships with people who can help me do that. I am breaking the mold.
There are people who do not have my best interest at heart and I had to say good bye to them. It hurt, it was painful but at age fifty six I figure I got a good fifty years left and there is a bunch of stuff I want to do. I am not ready to concede. This chrysalis I have experienced is due in large part to you who sit and read this. If I was the kind of person who liked to embarrass other people Iíd name you one by one and then write forever about the unique part of you that you have shared with me. Yes, I made the choice to listen to you. I get a gold star for that, but it was you, right there, sipping your coffee or water that helped me learn to let go by your life.
The past is behind us and beyond our grasp. Time to let go of old ways and come into the healing light of healthy self awareness.
In the most sincere sense of the word, I love you all.
Itís only been three months. My God how good will it feel in three years?
Have a blessed day.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Of my top ten things to do in life, walking outdoors in the morning is right up there. Once the weather warms up for good in mid-April, I enjoy getting up around 5:30 and taking a walk. It is cool it is quiet and I use the time to think, meditate, pray and plan my day. As it gets close to mid-April the more excited I get. Itís one of the things I really look forward to. Thatís not why I am writing about my morning walks although I certainly love the benefit.
Every morning I walk the same route. A few summers ago I would walk down a street that had a bus stop. As I did I would pass the same person walking the opposite way toward the bus stop each morning. I would always smile and say hello to them. I am not a quiet person by nature, nor is my voice soft. If I say ďgood morningĒ to you, most likely you will remember it all day as will people in surrounding counties. I always make it a point to give a person eye contact when I talk to them. When Iíve said hello to you, you know youíve been said hello to. I enjoy smiling. I know if you smile at me I feel good. So along with hello you get a smile.
So each morning as I passed her at roughly the same time each day, I said ďhelloĒ or ďgood morning.Ē One Friday, towards the middle of August I performed my usual ritual and continued my walk. As she passed by me I heard a small voice say, ďExcuse me, sir.Ē
I thought maybe I dropped something so I stopped and turned around. The woman smiled slightly and said;
ďI wanted to thank you for your kindness these past few months. I have had a rough summer. I wont get into it but things havenít been good for me. But there was one thing I could always count on, your smile and your ďhello.Ē It made my day seem that much easier to bear.Ē
She smiled again and turned around and walked towards her bus stop. Talk about your major life lessons!! You and I never know the impact, positive or negative we are going to have on a person simply by what we say or what we donít say. I was being friendly and polite. I had no idea my good morning meant that and a lot more.
The lady taught me a huge lesson. If you ever meet me, youíll know itís me. Youíll hear a warm hello and a get a pleasant grin. Oh, I know, some people think Iím a stalker but you know what reaction I get the most? Most people sort of let their guard down and smile back or say ďthank you.Ē I can tell by the look on their faces they mean it. Someone recognized them.
We all want to be recognized, whether we admit it or not. We all like to hear our names spoken or written. It singles us out as special. And, um, well we are!!! When we take the time to acknowledge another person we never know the full extent of the good we do.
When I love you, I love me, plain and simple. There is a lot in you to love because there is a lot in me to love and the more I practice that notion the more I grow and the more dependant I become on myself and the less dependent I become on food and other destructive habits.
This morning I am going to start randomly finding Sparkies I do not know, introduce myself and encourage them. I encourage you to do the same. Ya never know when that little push might be the best one someone ever gets.
Oh Yeah GOOD MORNING
Monday, March 15, 2010
As of yesterday I have been a Sparkie for three whole months. I would like to share what I have learned so far.
First, I deserve to be healthy and with that I deserve to be happy. So do you. Health is not something reserved for the bright, the beautiful or the privileged. It is my God given right, if I choose to take advantage of it. By being healthy I open the door to so many possibilities in my life and BTW: very few of them have to do with how I look. They ALL have to do with how I feel about myself. When I feel healthy and pursue happiness in myself I can see it in you. Itís a bit of a balancing act, but the more I see it in me, the more I see it in you.
Second, I am not doing anything but I am becoming a whole lot. I am not on a diet I am in the process of changing how I look at myself and when I do that I start to look at how I see the rest of the world and all the very beautiful and talented people that are in it. I am simply, tastefully and wonderfully becoming myself. The journey I am on is not about doing things it is about becoming the best me I can be.
Third, I have a responsibility to share the insights, the gifts and the talents I have been given. They were given for a reason and that reason is to share what I have learned about life, through my experiences with other people. If I can cause you to smile, to laugh or to simply look in the mirror and appreciate yourself a bit more than I have succeeded. I am learning to be less selfish because the more I give, the more I get.
Fourth, I am learning not to judge. If I refuse to judge me then I canít judge you. We come in all shapes and sizes with all kinds of recipes and exercise ideas and notions that are very effective for each of us. I have learned we are like a huge field that goes as far as the eye can see and in the field are flowers and plants and trees of different colors and shapes and sizes that make up this amazing tapestry called life. I am learning to be open to learn from you. My youngest Spark friend is nineteen and my oldest is well into their seventies.
Fifth, I have learned that if I can make excuses not to do something I can create a reason to do something. Sitting in front of me in the mirror each morning is a gift from God, that gift is me. With that gift there is an opportunity to do many things, if I choose to do them. I can be tired, cranky, and low on funds. My mother may have been mean or one of my friends cross with me. Those are excuses not to honor my commitments. The reasons for me to do things are simply that I deserve my health and my happiness but in order to cross that bridge there is always a toll. That toll is my commitment to a healthy life. It means I track my food and when I want to eat a bag of cookies, a chocolate cake or an entire pie, I understand I will not be healthy and that as an adult I have a choice. It means I eat the grapes or the apple instead and enjoy it just as much. Yes, it is hard and I get really mad sometimes. Itís a commitment.
It means that I get on the treadmill or bike or elliptical every day for forty minutes whether I really want to or not. I donít always do it cheerfully but I do it. I have learned to be flexible. It means I work out at five am one day and eight pm the next day because thatís what my schedule permits. In a nutshell it means I am honoring me.
I honor you. I honor you for your guidance, your friendship and your understanding. I stand up and applaud you for the events in your life that have knocked you low and then you have risen up again to continue your journey. When I want to stay home and watch the television rather than work out I think of so many of you that put your heads down and make the effort to be healthy and I begin to feel small. I think of those of you who have persevered through the most trying of situations and I begin anew. Believe me when I say each of you is my prayers on a daily basis.
Saturday afternoon I got an email from the Spark Team. My first reaction was ďOh, oh, what have I done now?Ē
ďThe SparkPeople Community thinks you are a motivation to others!
SparkPeople Members can vote for SparkPages that are motivational, based on Community involvement, personal accomplishments and more. You have received enough votes to become a "SparkPeople Motivator." Congratulations! For recognition, your SparkPage now has a special "SparkPeople Motivator" icon, and your SparkPage will be featured more prominently on the main SparkPages section of the site.
Thank you for inspiring other members through your own hard work and dedication! ď
I read it to Joan and I started to cry. To those of you who felt touched in some way by what I have written and thought enough to take the time to recognize me, I thank you. I should say so much more but I simply canít. If you can imagine what is written on my heart, suffice to say it is extreme gratitude mixed in with a lot of awe.
Finally you will no notice of weight loss mentioned here. If you are interested go to my Spark Page and read the ticker. My concern is health and happiness, both mine and yours. My weight loss is a byproduct of my desire to be a happier and healthier me on all levels and that is what I will continue to work on. I will be honest with myself and others. I will pay the price and grind it out some days when Iíd rather not. Iíll link arms with you and walk down that road where we donít always know where the next turn is but where we can see the sun over the next rise.
A Spark friend wrote a few weeks ago that if we arenít careful the scale can become Satan. It cabn rule your life if you let it. I choose to let me rule my life.
That is what I have learned here in the past three months and you, (Yeah YOU!!) I learned a lot it from you.
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