Monday, March 22, 2010
I saw a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long time this weekend. Funerals usually do that to you. I hadn’t seen one of my brother-in-laws since his mother’s funeral and that was almost ten years ago. People read a death notice, see a name and come to the funeral home to show support and to rekindle relationships. It can be a very bittersweet sort of experience.
Most people I talked to commented on my appearance. The usual “Gee you look good.” Or “What are you doing?” or “How much weight have you lost?” While I didn’t think a funeral home was the place to spread the Spark, I basically told them “diet and exercise.” The reaction I got from most of those people went something like this:
They would lean over, grasp my arm and whisper “You know, it’s ok if you let go this weekend. No one would blame you.” One well intentioned person suggested to me that eating was an integral part of the grieving process and I should just go ahead and drown my sorrows, so to speak.
There was a lot of food there. Friday night at the funeral home there were all sorts of meat trays and cheese balls and cookies and coffee cakes, stuff like that. After the wake everyone “went out to eat.” Try convincing forty people that eating at ten o’clock at night isn’t the best thing in the world for you. Saturday was more of the same.
It was a real challenge for me. I had to pick my way through a minefield of dietary disaster and my emotions ran the gamut. I’d get angry that I just couldn’t dig in to a plate of frosted brownies. I would feel a bit of frustration when I looked on a menu and didn’t see much that would support my commitment to being healthy.
I made it though. I stayed within my calorie levels and when we got home Sunday once I unpacked I headed for the gym. I made it for four reasons.
First, I refused to accept excuses for my behavior. Those well intentioned folks who tried to put a burrito in my hands may not be emotional eaters. I am. If I ate the burrito I’d be in rehab for a month. No one controls my thought process but me. That happens because every single day I feel better about myself, my health improves and so I become much stronger. One thing feeds off the other and so I develop this resolve that keeps me from doing things that will slow down or stop my progress.
Think for a moment about a strong belief you have, whether it be religious, social, or political, one that you hold very dear. If you walked into a room full of people who felt the exact opposite of the way you did, would you change your mind about that belief that was part of your core being just because a group of people wanted you to do so?
My journey towards health has become one of my core beliefs. I do what is necessary for me to remain healthy and get healthier. Any other behavior would suggest that I don’t believe I am worth the effort. It would strike right at the core of my self image. It would mean I was a fraud, saying one thing and doing another.
Second, I have a plan. (Thank you Spark Team for that!!) The consistency of my diet and my exercise made it easier for me to navigate the mine field. I believe it’s why we click on the tabs marked nutrition and fitness three or four times a day. It’s a habit and it’s a good habit to develop. When it was time for breakfast I automatically knew there would be some sort of whole grain and fresh fruit involved and “BTW, John, you don’t have to eat until you are full.” Lunch and dinner had chicken or turkey and veggies involved in them. I didn’t get the cardio in but my granddaughter and I took a few walks. At the wake Friday night I didn’t hang around in the “food room.”
Without the plan I would have not had any real direction and then come Sunday afternoon I would have been despondent because I would have wrecked the ship.
Third, I am learning not to take myself seriously. I am not going to become the food police. I am not going to tell people to get that “away from me.”
My granddaughter is four. She and her mom baked some oatmeal cookies for the wake. She was very proud that she got to help and showed me the tray of cookies when we were walking around. I was sitting down later and she brought me a cookie. She reached her hand out and smiled. One of my loving daughters said “Pappy can’t have that!!! He’s on a diet.” She got that look four year olds get.
“Pappy,” I replied. “Can do anything he wants.” I smiled at her and took the cookie. She sat down next to me and told me step by step how she and mom baked the cookies. Then she waited till I tasted it. I told her it was the best oatmeal cookie I had ever eaten; she smiled, hugged me and ran off to feed her cookies to another person.
I have come to believe that if you do not bend once and a while you are going to snap like dry kindling and then all you worked towards goes in the toilet.
Loving yourself is supposed to provide pleasure not pain. If I really believe I am changing the way I live and am not on a diet, then I know I don’t have to reach my goal weight tomorrow. If I became the kind of person who other people didn’t want to be around because I was always preaching, I wouldn’t have a support system.
It brings me to my final point and that is you guys. I felt each of you was right there with me. I felt the prayers; the love and the support and that in itself helped me so much this weekend. Again, thank you so very much.
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 it’s been most of us.
What’s the first thing we usually do? Ok I’ll 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 I’ve 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 “John, this is Joe. (My wife’s twin brother.) I’m afraid I have some bad news……..” You sort of know he wasn’t calling to see how you’re feeling.
In a nutshell Joan’s 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 you’re looking at the world through a bowl full of green Jell-O.
Somewhere in all of this Joan’s youngest brother calls to say “Guess what? He didn’t have any life insurance and no other money to speak of.” Now grief has a twin, it’s 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 I’d 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 didn’t. There were a couple times I wanted to but I didn’t.
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 wasn’t 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 didn’t stay busy, I would suffer the consequences.
Anyone here recall how Americans grieve? Yup, it’s with food and lots of it. I’m 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. It’s like breathing.
I am packing my own food. If someone throws a hissy, that’s 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 “Aint it good to know you got a friend….”
I will see you all Monday. Be safe and God bless
I want to apologize if I didn’t 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
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