Friday, January 06, 2012
[DISCLAIMER: This blog is going to be a bit brutal, so you might want to keep moving and find a more motivational one.]
As some of you may have already seen, I’ve had a rough week this week, and my feed has reflected some of that. Now let me tell you some of why I’ve been a tad ornery. I finally realized why. Or at least part of the reason why.
I guess it started about three months ago when my former boss, who has since become a very dear friend, sent me an e-mail that her husband had had a stroke that morning. What was so shocking to me was this was a 54-year old man in apparent good health. It came like a bolt from the blue. Strokes don’t usually happen in someone so young.
Flash forward to last week, and I get ANOTHER e-mail from someone else, with the subject line reading, “Pray for D”. Reading further, I discovered that HER husband had been found in full cardiac arrest on the living room couch that morning, and was rushed to the hospital and placed in a medically-induced coma as a protective mechanism. His age? Fifty-four also.
Two men. Fairly young. Two serious events. The second time being on the receiving end of all this, I felt like it was “déjà vu all over again.”
I went to the hospital last Tuesday night to check on Friend Number Two, and while waiting for her to talk to the nurses, I called my best friend and found HER barely able to speak to me. She said that she barely was able to drive herself home from work, and told me she had severe chest pain. I know her to be a relatively practical person, not usually given to histrionics, so I took this quite seriously. She said she was waiting for her husband to come home so he could help her go to the bathroom. Now I am speechless. She’s 60 years old, not 90. Her husband told me that she had made an appointment with the doctor, but after taking two aspirins and feeling better, she canceled the appointment and instead went to work the next day. What I love so much about all this is, she gave her husband a stern lecture about losing weight and getting into better shape. In other words, “Do as I say, not as I do.” In fairness to her, she is in good physical shape, but I would like to know the reason for her symptoms, not just that she was feeling better. From where I sit, the symptoms were just too bizarre, and I still believe there is a need for medical consultation (we have yet to talk about that, but we sure will).
All these recent cataclysmic events got me to thinking. There are some things for certain within our control, and others as my boss wrote to me tonight that we cannot control. I agree, but I do know one thing, and wrote this to a friend the other day: The only way we can help avert a catastrophic event, if it is at all in our power to do so, is to be in optimal shape physically. The genetics, we cannot conquer. Our age is immutable, but being in prime form is the only thing we can do for ourselves to maintain a semblance of good health. So why is this so hard?
Do we have to be in denial until something horrific happens? Or as a friend’s husband did, when he was told about his health, drop to the floor and do major pushups to prove that the “powers that be” are, indeed, wrong?
In Case Number One, cited above, it is now believed that this man’s heart was enlarged (discovered on further work up for the stroke) secondary to nutritional supplements he had taken to lose weight (He is stable, by the way, and was discharged from the hospital the next day, with almost a complete recovery). His wife had gastric surgery (the non-reversible type) a year and a half ago, and is still suffering the effects of it, with persistent vomiting. I just have to ask: Do we have to die to be thin or thinner? What price is too high a price for a “killer beach body”? Must we go and resort to extreme measures to be healthy?
All major diet plans on the market today share the same structure: Caloric reduction, more physical activity, lifestyle alterations for life.
We know quick fixes don’t work. So many people on SP have been blogging lately, chastising themselves for weight gain over the holidays. This is for the long haul, and a lifetime of bad habits are fighting back with a vengeance.
So I guess my question to you folks is, what exactly will it take to arrive at good health permanently? I sure don’t have the answer either.
Monday, January 02, 2012
New year new beginnings, right? Everyone is all revved up to get going with their New Year's resolutions. You can actually feel the buzz in the Spark community. With this being a leap year, we actually have one extra day, so if we falter, we just got a natural "get out of jail" card. Sounds too good to be true.
Now here's the obverse of this coin (you had to know this was coming): According to the Mayan calendar, the world (or the calendar, take your pick, there seems to be some debate about that point), is going to end December 21, 2012. Just when you thought things were going so well, you just got cheated 11 days.
So, if it all blows up on December 21st, are we going out as hotties or as blobs? Still something to consider, no?
Keep in mind, this is all in fun. The last time the world was ending (see previous blog), my only consideration was what to pack for lunch on the last day of the world. This time out, I want to go out with a killer body (one that is healthy, of course), or something close to it.
What plans do you have for this year? And how are you planning to reach your goals?
Sunday, January 01, 2012
As part of my latest trek, I'm going to try and blog weekly on my progress across the country. It will help keep me accountable.
The “NY To LA Or Bust! Virtual Trek”, got off the ground on December 28 and ended December 30, 2011 for a total of 4.74 miles. Nothing earth-shattering I know, but it's a start. I'm doing this in 100-mile chunks, and right now hope to be in Pennsylvania just past Stoney Hollow Road, east of Fern Ridge Bog Preserve (why not?) by mid-March. We’ll call it a birthday celebration if I’m on schedule. And I hope to be!
I'm also going to try and blog about areas of interest as if I were a tourist, just to keep it more interesting.
Where I am from in New York, the area is steeped in history, having, at various times, been settled by the Dutch, as well as earlier by various tribes of American Indians. Names of streets and area subdivisions reflect these origins. The purchase of Manhattan for $24.00 in trinkets, supposedly took place a stone’s throw from my house.
Inwood Park, nestled in upper Manhattan where the Hudson and Harlem Rivers cross, is located on the other side of the Hudson River Bridge, which I just “crossed” into Manhattan. The park, called by local historian, James Renner, the “last remaining primeval forest in Manhattan”, has 196 acres, and still bears arrowheads from the time of its previous Indian tenants, who lived in the caves found in the park and fished the local waters. My father collected them as a young boy, and in his drawer there is a box of them. The park has many hiking and jogging trails.
[View facing west from the park: The Henry Hudson Bridge is in the background]
Bordering the park, according to historian Renner, are remnants of huts and oven pits used by Royalist forces during their occupation of the area during the Revolutionary War. In the nineteenth century, wealthy landowners made the park their country residence.
The Hudson River borders the park on the west. It is named for Henry Hudson who discovered it and traveled it trying to find a passageway to the Pacific, only to end up in Albany where the waters grew too shallow, forcing him to go back. During the American Bicentennial in 1976, the river was flooded with “tall ships” which created an incredible pageantry, and many people lined the river banks to watch the ships plow up the Hudson. Quite spectacular, indeed!
Currently, I am traversing, virtually, the George Washington Bridge, an elegant span completed in 1931. At the time of its opening it was the longest main span in the world. It still is beautiful when it’s lit up at night.
This week we’re heading into Fort Lee, New Jersey. I hope to blog at the end of each week, where this adventure is taking me. It’s going to be a very long trip. Anything to keep the motivation going!
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Doing a virtual trek, I have learned, has helped me reach goals utilizing a visual of a map, and careful planning. I thoroughly enjoyed doing the virtual trek on Cape Cod, and it kept me quite focused. And it was completed pretty much on time (a few days after Thanksgiving - the original projected date, which was within reason), within the three months originally planned. Sometimes life intervenes, but that's OK, too.
Now that I know I can do 80 miles, I'm thinking more ambitiously: What about cross country? I can stop in and *see* the Sparkers virtually as I pass through their states.
Doing it with others is nice, but if there are no takers, I know I can motivate myself enough to do this. I've already proven it to myself on Cape Cod.
These are my tools if anyone cares to join in (the more the merrier!):
(1) Yahoo Maps will give turn-by-turn directions and a ballpark of how to make the trip:
(2) MapMyWalk is a great site for posting the trek's progress, and of course, it is a free site:
https://www.rochesterymca.org [1-16-12 Edit: This link may no longer be working. Below are two others that are as of this date:]
Having a goal and having a destination helps when the exercise we are doing over time becomes mundane. It's going to take a while, but what's the rush? Like losing the weight, this is for the long haul, not a weekend sprint.
Here's to seeing you in LA!
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Yesterday, I came across an article in the Huffington Post briefly reviewing a book, published in England this past fall [“Dear Me: More Letters To My Sixteen-Year Old Self”], and it got me to thinking and remembering what I thought was so important then. “Sweet Sixteen” is a major turning point for an American girl. I was no exception. But looking back on it, I would love to whisper in my sixteen-year old self’s ear, that all that surrounded me then, found no place in the future at all. I know she wouldn’t believe me. After all, Jerry Rubin’s “Don’t trust anyone over 30” had big play in those years, and I am now well over 30.
The requisite party I had back then, with all the important peers in my life...most of those girls came (remembering now, two who I thought were important, never even bothered to tell me if they were coming or not, and me calling and calling the morning of the party, to find out what happened and if they were still coming, with no one answering the phone. That memory, even now, makes me cringe.). Even the “best friend” was there. I look back at that day, and I can still see the faces. All gone. With one exception: The one I didn’t even regard as a best friend then, has still stuck by me, even in the worst of times, some forty-four years later. Sixteen-year old self, how foolish were you?
One of the comments left on the Huffington Post thread, resonated so strongly with me, I had to copy it and send it to myself in an e-mail, the words were so wise. To wit, and to give the appropriate credit (from someone calling herself SMA1):
“1. I know you don't have any confidence; pretend you do, and make a serious step-by-step plan for a successful, independent, prosperous life, and live it!
2. Surround yourself with wise, authentic people.
3. You are intelligent, gifted and worthy of love and respect. Don't accept any less from yourself or other people.
4. Look closely at a man's family. They, especially his parents, will reflect who he really is and who he may be destined to become. I'm sorry that you've been so hurt by the people in your life. If the 50 year old me had been there, I'd have had your back. If it helps at all, your daughter is all the things I wished we could have been.”
And rereading those lines now, makes me think of the movie I just finished watching: “The Help”. One of the many poignant scenes involves a black maid, who apart from her other duties in a southern household of the early 1960’s, is charged with the care of a two-year old white toddler. This occurs by default, because the mother of the child shows no interest in mothering her, or loving her. The black maid fills that breach. And at the worst moments where the child is forced to interact with her mother, only to receive her mother’s rebuff, the maid takes her to her lap and tells her these all-important words: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” This, to serve as counterpoint for a neglectful mother.
If that were instilled in us daily, from a tender age, how many of us (especially the women) would still be struggling now with the physical manifestations of low self-esteem: “the weight”? What if we heard things to instill in us, self respect, worthiness, and belief in ourselves at a young age, would we be here on SP now?
As I googled the source of those movie lines, I came across an interesting article about the author, Kathryn Stockett. I had listened to the talking book as well, before the movie came out, and it was exceptional. Last night I learned that she received sixty (60!!) letters of rejection before she found someone who believed in her words and got the book published. How does one do that? Shoulder that much disinterest, and yet still believe in the product? At which point do you just give up, as the endeavor appears to be so foolhardy? Here’s the link (well worth the read):
www.writersdigest.com/online-edit or/60-rejection-letters-didnt-stop-kat hryn-stockett-and-her-bestseller-the-help
I remember, too, Sally Jesse Raphael, also encountered about 23 firings from jobs which did not deter her from her goal of becoming a radio and, subsequently, talk show personality. She noted that what kept her going was a mother who believed in her very early on, and that inner talk and belief she kept, throughout many lean years, until she arrived at her chosen destination and personal fulfillment.
So here we are now on SP. From many blogs that I have read, many are very broken, from events in younger years that I can only begin to imagine. And yet the common thread for us all, is the will to improve, which still shines through, or why else stay on this wonderful site? I think for the moment, before the flashlights shine in the darkest of corners, the thing to remember is that the past is gone, the present is fleeting, and the future is waiting its turn. The future that we all commonly desire is filled with hope. It’s the present that needs to be altered, the past properly addressed and then boxed, to attain our greatest desires for a better future. The weight is just a physical manifestation of what is broken which lies within. For now, I am content to focus on the physical, to make my 60-year old self, the best that she can possibly be. I know, too, as the weight comes off, the reasons for this physical “fat wrap” will have to be examined and answered. It’s the only way for this to not repeat, and be a continuing vicious cycle.
It’s the end of the year. I’ve done some serious cleaning in my life, ridding myself of people who were only dragging me down, for reasons only they know. People who cannot rejoice in your successes have no place in your life. People who love and support you, even when at times you don’t agree, get to stay. These are the pillars that prop up our lives when things go south.
Remember, too, that we are worthy (that requires a lot of internal positive talk, I know, but it has to be done, until we believe it). That with effort a lot can be accomplished. That planning is simply the first stage, it is not the end by any means. Keep goals in reasonable proportion: Small goals that are measurable and attainable, medium-term goals, and long term goals. Keep a journal, as I am starting to do (SP has one that is private), to measure your progress. I love writing down on my four-month “war board” (my blank calendar), all the items I need to do for that day, and then checking it off with a red pen once that task is accomplished. It may sound stupid, but it works! I can physically see what I am accomplishing especially over time, and to me that is important. And if I break it down in four-month chunks, especially what I need to do professionally, it makes it more attainable. Then month-to-month, in that four-month period, week-to-week, then day-to-day. I also need to remember that once planned, I need to stick with the plan, and examine and revise repeatedly what doesn’t work and keep what does.
Success feeds on success, I believe, and once the habit is firmly fixed, it becomes part of the routine. It takes about four weeks, per research, to have a new habit stick, but once it does, it just gets incorporated into our lives.
Forgiveness of self, as many have noted before me, and probably more eloquently, is a major part of a healthy new lifestyle change. It does not happen overnight, and the inner voice will fight us every step of the way. We just have to push back more.
So the final question one has to ask oneself: Are we worth this? Because if we don’t do this for ourselves, no one else will. It’s great to have support, but in the end we need to build our own internal dialog and be our own superhero.
Do you agree?
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