Wednesday, July 28, 2010
There’s that old saying that goes; “Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.” Well, LOL, yesterday, at the end of my blog I offered to share with anyone who was interested in the process I used for relaxation during my “me time.” I thought I’d get two, maybe three responses at the most. So many of you were interested in what I did and how I did it that if I tried to answer all your Spark Mails it might be sometime Saturday before they all got answered.
I am going to try to explain what I do and how I do it. If you got an email from me please disregard it. This blog will go into much greater detail.
I use relaxation techniques to center myself and to get rid of the stress or negative feelings I may have about something or someone. I have found when I do this consistently that my emotional eating will dissipate. Different people use this technique for different reasons. I have a close friend who uses it as an opportunity to pray and discern God’s will in his life. Another friend uses it as a visualization tool to see himself doing the things he enjoys doing well. Regardless how you use it I will tell you this:
It’s not magic and it takes an investment of time. It can be frustrating at first but if you stick with it, I have found amazing results especially as it relates to calming and centering.
First get comfortable. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting up or lying down, just get comfortable. If you have to adjust during the relaxation don’t worry, the most important thing here is that you are comfortable. It’s self-defeating to try to relax when you are in pain or uncomfortable.
In order to get myself into a state of what’s called “complete physical relaxation” I use a yoga breathing technique. It involves taking a deep breath through your nose and counting “1-2-3-4-5” As you do this you should visualize filling your lungs from the bottom , through your rib cage and then to the top of your lungs. I try to visualize my lungs as a balloon filling up. Once filled up I hold the breath for a count of “1-2-3.” Then I slowly exhale through my mouth, counting “1-2-3-4-5” as I do. It’s in through your nose out through your mouth.
I use a track a friend gave me called Meditation Yoga – Sounds of Nature. I am not sure where you can obtain it but there is music and a person guides you through the relaxation process. If anyone knows how I could share this by uploading or any other process I’d be more than glad to do so.
This part takes the longest to master because as you concentrate on your breathing your body will begin to relax. In the beginning this takes the longest to accomplish. Just be patient. A lot of people give up after a few days because they aren’t seeing immediate results. It usually takes ten days at about ten minutes per day to get yourself totally relaxed.
One you are relaxed you can use this technique to do a number of things. Because I am an emotional eater and my moods, attitudes and feeling affect what I put in my mouth, I use this time to brush away any negative thoughts I might have about myself, other people or situations in my life. I may simply be stressed or over whelmed and I use it to decompress and relax. It does always give me a boost of energy and I often use it before I go to the gym or do my C25K.
Once relaxed, I stay in that state for twenty minutes. Don’t be daunted by this. I have been using this technique off and on for close to five years.
The music I use is as follows and it is available on ITunes:
Quietude by Peter Kater & R. Carlos Nakai from the album Migration
Winter Walk by David Nevue from the album Overcome
Ocean Shores from the album Ocean Dreams
Another option would be to use Pandora Radio on the internet. It is free and I sometimes use a station called New Age Mix. You can access Pandora Radio at www.pandora.com
Finally, I will see if I can do a video blog incorporating what I wrote about here and walk you through a meditation. I know you all don’t have access to video blogging so any other technological suggestions would be appreciated.
Hope this helped
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I am an emotional eater. A lot of you reading this probably are too. Food is our drug of choice. Anxiety, depression, fear, any gamut of emotions sends us scampering towards a tube of cookie dough and we don’t quit eating until, exhausted and guilty, we sit in our chair, feeling worse than before we indulged. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s a self-defeating cycle. It can put up a wall so thick that we simply throw our hands up in disgust and walk away from all our health plans. We are addicted.
I spent yesterday reviewing my last month. What did I do well? Mostly that fell in the exercise category. Where did I slip? That one took a bit longer, LOL.
One thing I have incorporated into my regimen that has suffered recently is “me time.” Some folks may call it meditation or relaxation or creative visualization but regardless, I use it as an opportunity in the middle of my day to disengage from everything. My stressed out time is the middle of the afternoon. It’s the time when anxiety, boredom, weariness and a host of other emotions creep into my mind. To fight them off I eat. When I eat I feel guilty and when I feel guilty I eat more because what’s the use, right?
That’s the time I use for “me time.” This isn’t a planning or a goal setting activity. There is no thought process involved here. I am taking a break. It’s time to let everything good, everything bad and anything else drift away.
I had stopped using this balancing technique for over a month. So yesterday afternoon, I sat down, closed the door and dimmed the lights. I got comfortable, the position doesn’t matter. I know some people who do it lying down and some who do it sitting straight up in a chair. I have play some music that is soothing and relaxing and once, I close my eyes, take a deep breath and slowly exhale. I let my body and my mind relax. I concentrate on my breathing. I slowly inhale through my nose, hold my breath for a second and then slowly exhale. The combination of the music and my breathing creates a deep relaxation that restores me.
Remember when you started Spark? Remember how you were asked to be active for ten minutes a day? What’s your activity level currently? I started my “me time” at ten minutes each day. It takes some getting used to just like walking, running or cycling does.
No one teaches us to relax. No one teaches us how to remove negative distractions from our lives. This technique allows me the time to purge those self-defeating and destructive thoughts from my mind. When I open my eyes I often find I have a new surge of energy that carries me through my day.
I was surprised to find that when I opened my eyes yesterday I had been relaxing for well over thirty minutes. It helps me create a much needed balance in my life.
I started this blog by talking about being an emotional eater. As I learn to balance my life I find that I have less of those episodes occurring. I get sloppy sometimes, but I think that’s different. My emotional eating has a lot of sources, LOL, and one of them is lack of balance.
Along with diet, exercise and rest it is important to me in maintaining that balance.
If you are interested in knowing more and what kind of music I listen to and the breathing technique I use send me a Spark Mail and I’ll be glad to share.
So many of you have helped me in so many ways, I am trying to return the favor.
Monday, July 26, 2010
About a month ago I began acting like I was on a diet. Every morsel of food that went in my mouth was weighed (No pun intended!!!) against what the dreaded scale might say every Sunday morning. I could go on and on but suffice to say I was driving myself crazy and, according to my beloved wife, was becoming a real pain to live with. Joan and a few Spark friends suggested I “step away from the scale” and concentrate on healthy living and less on weight loss. I didn’t weight for four consecutive weeks. I continued to track my food and exercise. I weighed yesterday morning and had 3.8 pound gain. I didn’t freak out. I put on my running shoes, stepped into the heat and ran a mile and a half. While I ran I asked myself what I learned. Here it is:
Valuable Lesson One:
No amount of exercise eradicates French fries, chocolate chip cookies and beer. One thing I noticed after a week or so is that I would have cookies and add twenty minutes to my cardio that day. After a while it became a bargaining tool inside my head. “Wanna beer? Get on the bike for thirty minutes.” Bargaining or rationalization never works. I might want it to work in my favor but it doesn’t. That leads me to;
Valuable Lesson Two:
If it is in the house I will eat it. I am not going to stare at a sleeve of Oreo’s and muster up some weak semblance of will power, turn around and walk away. Besides I think it is cruel to intentionally tempt yourself just to see “how strong you are.” If they are in the house, they get eaten. If they are not in the house, they remain a fantasy. If there are apples, grapes, blueberries in the fridge they will get eaten as well. It’s a law of physics. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I am in control of what goes in my grocery cart, garbage in, scale creaks!!!!
Valuable Lesson Three:
Patience is more than a virtue.
A gain, is a gain is gain but I learned a lot about John. This month of riding the bike without any training wheels has been an eye opener. I have been here before. I have lost this much weight and then everything sort of stopped and didn’t move until it moved upwards and then I lost all faith in myself and then…….
I have roughly weighed the same for the past three months. I saw foods that weren’t good for me “creep” back into my diet. They are food high in fat, sugar and carbohydrates. I slowly allowed those foods to creep in here and there. Even my good foods tilted toward excess a bit. I started eye balling measurements rather than taking them exactly. Things must change.
Positive Out Come:
Even though I did it for all the wrong reasons my cardio workouts have increased from roughly fifty minutes a day to roughly seventy minutes a day.
I am going to begin working with a personal trainer next week. For the past three months I have realized I needed some help taking things to the next level. I finally decided on a trainer and we start work together next Monday.
I am in Week 6 of C25K. Running has become a real joy and I look forward to it.
Summer is a great time to take advantage of fresh fruit and veggies! I pulled out the massive Cooking Vegetarian Cookbook the kids gave me for Father’s Day and planned menus for this week using some of them.
My confidence level has never been higher. I learned a lot about me in the past months and now I am putting things into place to make sure I reach my goals. This was a small setback but in a lot of respects one I needed to regain my focus.
I am worth it
I deserve it
I AM who I hang around with. Wonderful people like you.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I was reading the newspaper at lunch about a man who had been coaching little league for the past twenty years. Testimonies to his coaching ability said his greatest asset was preparing people “for the real world.” This has always bothered me. What world do you live in until you are ready to enter the real one, a fake one?
I know what conventional wisdom says. That statement is directed at young people who have a distorted sense of reality or people whose lives are full of unrealistic expectations. Sort of like a overweight fifty six year old running a 5K after really never running in his life at all. Yeah, that world.
“Wipe that smile off your face kid and welcome to the real world.”
In a couple of my blogs I shared a secret a friend of mine once shared with me. He said as you get older you should surround yourself with friends who are ten years, twenty years and thirty years younger than you are. It helps you maintain balance and perspective in your life. I have pretty much followed his advice and to those of you, who are fond of using the term “real world” I got news for you, it’s there in spades for someone sixteen or twenty six just like it is for someone fifty six.
Does anyone here recall the pain of adolescence? Convince me that’s not reality, go ahead, try and tell me that the shyness, the awkwardness and the absolute obsession with being liked isn’t real. Tell me that leaving home whether it’s to go to school or start a new job isn’t chock full of anxiety because there is no one there to tell you what to do, how to do it and when to do it. Shoot fire; take it as far back as age five. My granddaughter is scared that when she starts kindergarten in two weeks kids may not like her because she has red hair. We laugh and say it’s cute. The look on her face told me it was very real to her. I guess I should have told her it will be a lot worse in the real world. Ask a single parent, with a minimum wage job, no health insurance and a couple kids about reality.
The real world is the one you live in every day of your life. It is the world that is special and unique to you. We let ourselves get sucked in to someone else’s version of life and the minute we do we begin to compare ourselves to everyone else around us. Once the comparison starts the insanity starts and we feel as if we are running a race in quick sand.
The real world is your world and no one has the right to suggest to you that it is otherwise.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I have come to admire a lot of people in my life but none more so than my wife. I bring this up because of the hope chest in our bedroom. We finally moved it from the window to the foot of our bed. My daughters said they had never seen its interior and so Joan opened it. Along with her wedding dress, baptismal gowns and other family keepsakes was a stack of papers. The papers weren’t valuable. They were in there because, as she explained to my daughters, “That’s how your father used to clean up the bedroom!”
Some of the papers were put on my dresser. I went through them the other day. One caught my eye. It was the hand written agenda of a PTA Board Meeting circa 1991. At the time the elementary school my children attended had no PTA. Joan was asked to resurrect it. Literally. So she did. She assembled a board of enthusiastic and energetic people and while I am somewhat shaky on the dates two years later when her term of office was over the PTA was viable. I’ll spare you the hardship and anxiety she went through in resuscitating it. She handed the reigns over to the VP. That’s how it was all structured. Two years later both the pastor and the principal gushed over the current outgoing president. If it hadn’t been for her hard work and diligence etc there would have been no PTA. Privately Joan was hurt. Publically she handled it with grace. When her term had expired she received a small planter and some thanks. No one recognized that four years earlier the people taking bows treated the PTA like the plague. If you were not part of her family you would have never known it.
A while later the pastor came calling again. He had an after school care program that wasn’t viable. It was losing money. Would she run it? I would have told him to go pound sand. People were behind on their fees and the current director couldn’t seem to collect them. Ninety days later the program was in the black and prospered thereafter. The next summer Joan started a summer care program that was a huge success and other churches and schools would call to see what her program was doing right. This was in the days when after care was in its infancy and not a lot of resource available.
We moved to Owensboro a short time later. Moving from a large town like Louisville to a small town like Owensboro is a bit like having cold water poured on top of you. In short, her services in child care weren’t required. She wasn’t from here. I seethed. She went and got a job working for a national department store chain. She had never worked retail sales before. Three years after accepting the position she was their first employee in the state of Kentucky to be inducted into The Presidents Club. The chief requirement was one million dollars in sales for the previous year. That might be easy to do in New York or Chicago. Try doing it in Owensboro, Kentucky, population fifty thousand. The store merged with another retail giant and she left to be the office manager at a grocery store. While she always enjoyed math and numbers and the like she never held a formal book keeping position. Within three years’ time other office managers in the grocery store chain were calling her for advice.
Joan did all of this while raising six children plus me. She worked some awfully long hours and always had time for the kids. She never wrote a book, a blog or conducted a seminar. She just did what had to be done when it needed to be done and did it all very well. If I hadn’t written about it most people would never know about it because she has never, ever called attention to herself. It has always been no big deal. It’s just life.
She did all of this with a significant handicap. She is blind in one eye and has limited depth perception. She’s never been able to drive a car. Well into her fifties she took buses, walked to work and got rides when she could. Few people outside of her immediate family know about that either. I think her reasoning is that’s its not relevant. You commit to a job and you find a way to excel.
I am not exaggerating any of this because she’s my wife. This is not some sappy sort of testimonial to someone I have been married to for thirty six years. I never linked all those events together until I picked up that old piece of paper that sat in our hope chest for close to twenty years. Then I was amazed.
Here’s my point: If you think long enough and look hard enough you will find people like Joan in your life. They are heroes and one day, hopefully a long time from now they will be legends. If you do this, if you look for them in your home, your neighborhood or your place of work and you emulate their everyday success than you and I will be better people for it.
Through thirty six years of marriage, six kids and a lot of change, the lady still fits into her wedding dress. Today I celebrate thirty six years of love, joy and inspiration. I am very lucky
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