Monday, August 08, 2011
It crept up on me this year. I guess the older you get the more you have on your mind and then suddenly one day there is a clue and you feel a bit cheated. You really wish someone had been giving you an update on a regular basis, like those apps you can get for your phone that tell you about bad weather or your bank balance. It came crashing down with a large “thud” last week when I went to Wal-Mart to buy pool chemicals. After playing a cross between Where’s Waldo and Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego, I found them tucked away in a corner near the lawn and garden department. It was just yesterday, wasn’t it, that they had their own aisle, festooned with all sorts of floaties and the like? Now the chlorine tablets were consigned to a bottom shelf in a dark corner.
Our neighbor, Vanessa, has been going back and forth for the last week or so and has that determined look on her face when she waves as she motors past. She teaches English at one of our middle schools. It’s a good sign things are gearing up when I see her running errands. School starts tomorrow.
I’ve been so busy fighting disaster and trying to stay above water that I almost missed the sign my birthday sent. It can really be a challenge when you were born in the hottest month of the year. Your gatherings are around the pool and you pray it doesn’t rain. No one feels much like eating so you put in a DVD and everyone watches a movie.
It was cooler this morning and I watched the buses make their practice runs on my street. Tomorrow there will be kids huddled on corners, parents snapping photos of the Sammy or Sally’s first day ever. College football begins in earnest and the NFL begins preseason play on Saturday.
Wasn’t it just yesterday we were buying sunscreen and insect repellent? Hadn’t we just aired out the tent and made sure there were no rips and tears before we set off on a season of camping? Gosh, I just opened the pool last week, didn’t I and why were we having such a big barbecue only a few days after the Fourth of July?
Summer slipped through my fingers again. Like a friend you plan on calling for weeks and weeks, summer left without a forwarding address. Oh, it’s no cooler, and I’m not breaking out the fall and winter clothes just yet, but all the events that mark her slow withdrawal are clamoring for my attention. I think about my summer “to-do” list and vow that next year I’ll complete it.
Thank goodness there is always a next year.
Friday, August 05, 2011
You will not find any before or after photo’s here, nor will you find secrets to success. If you have any to share, secrets that is, I am open and willing to listen to them. Most of what I’ve done has crashed and burned. Oh there have been a few moments of enlightenment and many, many good friends, but if you came here to find a magic potion, I apologize. You can close your browser window and move on to something you may deem a bit more fruitful. This isn’t a rant or a cry for help. It’s not even a “poor me.” It’s the best testimonial of why Spark People works. It’s because I am living proof.
When I joined Spark no one made me any guarantees or promises. There was no “quick start” program. There was “fitter and healthier me” in thirty days. No one tried to sell me anything. I was, however, fed a steady diet of support and common sense. Along the way I have made some really good friends, some young, some old and some in the middle. I’ve found that these folks endure the same challenges I do; they do not live in The Magic Kingdom and I have yet to meet the perfect person. At least I know I’m not.
I began my journey here at Spark weighing three hundred twenty six pounds. That was in December of 2009. By May of 2010 I weighed two hundred sixty pounds, by July one of that year I was down to two hundred fifty. I was a rock star!!! As quickly as it started, it stopped. I hit the dreaded plateau. So being the amazingly intelligent person I was I worked harder and exercised longer. Thanks to Spark People I discovered the C25K program. I ran my first 5K in September of 2010. It wasn’t enough. I had to run more often and much longer. I saw people running five miles and decided it had to be me. Never mind that they’d been running a year or more!!
I started to yo-yo. I’d gain five lose three, gain eight lose six. In late October I made a spectacular fall during a 5K that took the skin off my knee very close to my knee cap. It took three months to heal. I gained a bit more weight. I started running again in late December. I ran about a half mile and as I planted my left foot on the track I felt a pain shoot up my knee. The doctor said it was similar to an injury a thoroughbred horse receives when they plant their foot the wrong way. I was just glad they didn’t shoot me.
My PT gave up on me. She’s in business to make money and the results weren’t headed in the right direction. I still love her like a sister and daughter and I understand. Instead of resting and accepting the fact that a fifty seven year old heals slower than twenty seven year old does I decided it was time to train for my first triathlon. (No fool like an old one, right?”) That led me to spinning class. Not wanting to ease into things I decided that I would take three classes a week. The end result was an aggravated preexisting back condition that I didn’t know existed causing a slight bulge between my L2 and L3 vertebrae. I have a hard time walking more than one hundred yards and if I see a set of steps I almost cry. My legs are stiff.
While all this drama is going on guess what happens? I am slowly regaining most of my weight. As I write this morning I weigh two hundred ninety four pounds and yes I am scared. But I’m here. That’s why I’m a living testament to the effectiveness of Spark People. Every morning, right after I say my prayers and balance my check book I log on to Spark. I get up early to read blogs, tips, share with my friends and gain a bit more confidence each and every day. Have I thought about quitting Spark, sure have, about a hundred times a week? Honestly I embarrassed to have lost all that I gained in success. Being a terminally ill people leaser I worried that my one thousand plus Spark friends would drift away.
I’m not going anywhere. I will not give up. It may take a long time but I will regain my balance and equilibrium and I will solve the riddles and dilemmas. I may have regained most of my weight and be unable to exercise much right now but I look back and I know that it was all of my own doing. I threw caution to the wind and over did it!!
Before I joined Spark People I would have simply walked away and been bitter. This is not a cry for help or sympathy. In many ways I write or say what most people think and won’t say for whatever reason. I’ll get this and if you are feeling a little blue or down or defeated today well guess what? So am I!!! But ya know what?
We’ll get this. Stay here, and work the process. I promise.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
I always use the same ice breaker with every class I conduct. I ask people to write down the two most popular title sections they notice when they walk into a book store. Seventy five percent have no clue and are amazed when I tell them those titles are “Self Help” and “Dieting.” (Just as an aside I find it amazing that the section on “relationships” is a measly two book shelves while the section on “Sex” spans an entire wall!!) Everyone, including your truly, seems to have an opinion on health, whether it be spiritual, emotional or physical. I ask the class why there are so many titles, so many approaches and opinions. It’s because there are so many of us.
I can’t count the times in my life that I’ve run out and purchased the “latest and greatest” book title that was guaranteed to solve all my woes and even possibly help me grow a bit of hair to boot. I can’t count the times I’ve been really disappointed in the results. Whether it’s a thirty day plan to change a behavior or a life time commitment to eating nuts and berries, I always end up disappointed in the results. As brilliant as I am, it took a really long time to figure out why. It starts and ends with me.
Everyone has their own path to finding fulfillment in their own lives and that journey starts and end within ourselves. A close friend shared something with me a few days ago. He’d read it in a magazine. It simply said “What other people think of you is really none of your business.” At first I was a bit shocked, alarmed and confused all at the same time. Hadn’t I been taught that other people’s opinions of me are what REALLY count? Shouldn’t I be speaking, teaching or writing so that I gain notice, attention or support? This short sentence literally turned my whole world upside down. What had I been struggling for my entire life time? (Honestly, if he weren’t such a good friend I would have put my fingers in my ears and began singing “I can’t hear you, I’m not even listening.”)
For two days my world was upside down and inside out. Last night I lay in bed, thanking God for the return of AC when a few short words entered my mind, “It starts and ends with you.” Beyond me there is nothing finite I can really grasp. My experience is mine and yours is yours. We are all fruit. I’m an orange, you’re a banana. (Please don’t tell me we can make fruit salad, please!!!) There are things I do, think or say that will fit well in your life and vice versa. For the most part my life experience will teach me so much more than anything I can watch on TV or read in a book.
I’ll keep sharing me. I’ll keep sharing my path with you and slowly but surely even though you have a right to think what you choose, when the day ends its none of my business. If I believe in me and what I profess, I’ll continue to live it in a way that helps me make this planet a better place to live in.
My list of wisdom gets a bit longer all the time and I worry that when I indeed finish my book it will be eight or nine volumes. For what its worth:
“You are who you hang around with”
“You deserve to be happy, healthy and successful”
“I am worth all of the effort I put into myself”
“I am what I believe I am”
“It starts and ends with me.”
You too. Be blessed today in whatever way you choose to be blessed.
Monday, August 01, 2011
Sometimes I stand in line at the grocery store and while I’m waiting to check out I look at the magazine covers. It’s become a reflex action, hardly noticeable, but I find my hand going across my bald head feeling for something that resembles hair. My belly automatically sucks in a bit and I stand a little taller. I start to compare myself to the image staring back at me. As I load the groceries into the car I start making all sorts of mental resolutions and set some fantastic goals. I’ve compared myself to someone else and I’ve come up lacking. All the way home I curse my last bottle of beer and last carb loaded lunch. I rationalize that it’s all in my genes and that I am always going to be this way. I lock my jaw a bit more firmly. “I WILL do this!!!” And I do. At last count, to the best of my recollection, I’ve done these things eight or ten times in my adult life and each time I end up back in the same spot, heavier, less healthy and more frustrated. Want a laundry list of the things I’ve tried? I’ll skip that part because you’ve probably tried them also. It’s really frustrating isn’t it? You reach a success plateau, celebrate a bit and watch your success slowly unravel.
The answer came to me of in all places Sam’s Club yesterday morning. Joan gave me one of those “Wait here,” commands while she walked down an aisle to look at something. I was staring off into space when this massive revelation entered my mind. “You can’t change what you don’t believe in.” Most of my life I’ve been really good at “removing” things. Bad habits, weight control, you name it. I ferret those little buggers out and attack them head on. The missing integer has simply been taking a deep breath and accepting and loving myself just as I am, right now! If I never change another thing, never lose another ounce, never eat another healthy balanced meal or run a 5K, I’ll be the most wonderful and cherished person God created. We were born as we are and then as soon as we were able we began comparing and changing. We wanted to look more like……… We wanted to sound more like……………… It hardly ever worked.
I sit here today, overweight, in a bit of physical distress because of my back and legs and it dawns on me that maybe all of this happened because I am being shown that my worth and my value has nothing to do with a scale or how fast and far I run, but in accepting who and what I am right now, today, and loving me as is, no extended warranties, no promise of an updated model, just me as me to be loved and to love. It comes down to looking at me and accepting what’s in front of me, not running away, getting lost in magazine images but simply and purely loving me as I am. I cannot begin to create any sort of action plan until I dig deep and look at ALL that I am and accept and love me.
I’ve been Sparking for almost twenty months. This lesson is the most important one I’ve learned to date. Accept who I am, learn to love myself as I am, and then and only then can I see any real change. Once I know I am happy with me as I am, right now, only then can I create a vision of my future.
Many years ago, a wise man told me “Where you are is where you are supposed to be, right now” I didn’t understand that message until yesterday in Sam’s Club.
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