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MMX: Fill in the Blanks

Friday, January 01, 2010

MMX -- people of my vintage who had to learn cursive writing in school -- and how to tell time on clocks that actually used hands -- will remember that MMX is the Roman numeral notation for 2010.

And in 2010 I'm planning to fill in a few gaps in the MMX of my life. Here are my plans.

I will:

I: MMiX it up a bit more in the cardio department. Now that I've got my oomph back, I'm gonna experiment with some variations on that familiar elliptical theme!! Would a gradual return to running again (even occasionally) be a possibility?? And experimenting with different times of day for workouts ; intervals of higher and lower intensity? Sounds like fun, and exercise makes me feel so good that I've got to set about it with an attitude that celebrates all the great fun that it is.

II: MMaX it out on occasion: sometimes increase my weights to point of exhaustion, once a week push the boundaries on the cardio minutes, alternating shorter and longer cardio sessions? Because that's the way I can find out what I can do; by playing around, see what it's possible to achieve. It has to be fun to keep expanding my possibilities and find out how far I can push my potential.

III: MMinX around a little more: This it really the biggy. I will be more playful, more spontaneous, more joyous: and above all sillier!! Discipline is good, but discipline doesn't have to mean grimness, deprivation, or gloom. Life is to be enjoyed; seriously, if I learned anything in 2009, it was how important it is for to me to enjoy life as much as possible. So: I'm all for more fun in 2010! Which focus on fun will for me (paradoxically) demand utmost discipline. So this means that I will require myself to be more playful, more spontaneous, more joyous: and above all sillier!! In a good way.

MMinX. MMinX. MMinX. I'll goof it up more, minx it up more -- way more -- in MMX.

And so no, I didn't make like an ancient Roman and climb to the top of Mount Ellie or carve any of this in tablets of stone. Cause that would be completely contrary to the spirit of the whole thing.

If these MMX Roman numerals are putting me into an ancient Roman mode, then I'm thinking more along the lines of an unrolling scroll. Where i pay attention as the possibilities reveal themselves to me. In all of their luscious juiciness.

Change is good. Openness to the process of continuous change which is life: right now, this is the approach I crave.

Resilience, optimism, nimbleness, zest.

As The Spark tells me, maintenance isn't about stagnation, anxiously clutching on to weight loss in a death grip as if that were all that counted. It doesn't. It was never about a diet. It's always about transformation. Continuous transformation. And fun.

And so I will

Measure Maintenance as fluX

And have fun. Did I mention fun??


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PHEBESS 1/9/2010 2:30PM

    Ooooh, I like the minxing around, LOL! Maybe I should go wake up DH (he's napping) and practice my own minxing!!!

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STLRZGRRL 1/5/2010 9:14PM

    MAXIMUM Minxing all around, I say!

YAY YOU!!!!!!

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CMB2048 1/2/2010 2:30PM

    Wow! this was really creative! Enjoyed reading it and hope your new year is off to a great start!

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DARLENA3 1/2/2010 2:04PM

    It is amazing how we have to go through something and come out on the other side to realize how valuable life is. Enjoy it, be silly, get your ears pierced emoticon.

Happy MMX

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TRYINGHARD1948 1/2/2010 3:50AM

    Living life to the MMAX is the only way to live Ellen, Enjoy MMX.

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BRIGHTSPARK7 1/1/2010 3:17PM

    Live life to the MAX, my friend.
I love your plans. Even in maintenance there is the potential for inner transformation. xo Usha. emoticon

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JOPAPGH 1/1/2010 3:07PM

    Ellen, check out ChiRunning or POSE running. The focus is on a mid foot strike with as little impact on the body as possible.

Happy future running,


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Fifty Thousand Dollar Body

Thursday, December 31, 2009

I love to joke about my $50,000 body.

Because, of course, it's a 58 year old body. And although it's as good as I can make it at the moment . . . . that's a pretty big number.

Snickering? Eye rolls? OK, I get it. Haven't had any offers in that price range recently. And maybe not everyone would think it was worth that much.

But if I were to be working and billing all of the time that I spend at the gym -- that's a rough estimate of how much more (gross) I'd be earning.

Not that the $50,000 would be going into my pocket: not at all. I'd be paying hefty taxes on it. Big chunk would be going to overhead. And I'd be working less efficiently, with less sanity. All of that.

But IPA-RAY's terrific blog today called this truism to mind for me again: if you want to know what I value, check out how I spend my time and my money.

I value my health. It costs me money to be healthy: money for a gym membership, money for fresh fruits and vegetables, most of all money in foregone income.

And: it's worth it to me.

Being healthy makes me happy. I'm loving my $50,000 body!!

This year, 2009, was very Sidney Carton: the worst of times (serious health problems) AND the best of times (we got through it, both me and my sister: recovering very nicely thank you). Great family, friends, co-workers. Great medical care. But the experience of being ill and unable to work very much at all for quite a period of time (in the midst of a recession, no less!) reminded me again that poor health is costly. In every possible way.

The best of times too because: I found SparkPeople. Which helped me immeasurably, both physically and otherwise, in the recovery of my health. I peeled off the 20 pity party pounds while undergoing treatment. And since then, I've regained my energy and oomph.

So I'm spending quite a bit of time at SparkPeople. It keeps me motivated and grateful; and I try to give back some of what you've all given to me.

SparkPeople doesn't cost $50,000. But although SP is (amazingly) free it's also (just like they say) priceless. The trackers, the articles, the motivators and above all the community of people add incredible value.

So thank you.

And Happy New Year. Together we're going to make 2010 HEALTHY (which by definition means HAPPY) for all of us!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DARLENA3 1/2/2010 1:55PM

    It is all very much worth the journey! We just have to enjoy the ride. I am so thankful you and your sister are doing well. Your friendship, inspiration and encouragement are priceless.

Love ya!

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JOPAPGH 1/1/2010 3:02PM

    It's all about the balance and quality of life. It has been fun sharing the journey since day one. My SP waters have been a little choppy of late, but I have a map to calmer waters for 2010.

Hope you have a great 2010 too!

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CMB2048 1/1/2010 2:10PM

    What a great way to start off 2010! You are correct. That old saying when we have our health we have everything is so true. I always remember how our family life changed when my father got sick. He had a heart attack at 42 and was ill for the next 20 years. He died at only 62. But the day of the first heart attack changed our world and family forever.

So focusing on that $50K body and realizing what a good investment that is, guarantees to get you a great 2010 full of wonderful new beginnings! Happy New Year!

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DSHONEYC 1/1/2010 12:37PM

    As always, friend, you are an inspiration. January 1st is inspiring in itself. We need motivation to make it through each and every decision we make, whether it is eating or spending one's tine or being with people or even working. Figuring out the best motivation for doing everything is a challenge and it deserves thought. So I am picking the best motivators (behaviors) in 2010 is my New Years resolutions. Should help with so many aspects of my life that is "out of control"...learned much from this past year. Thanks for helping me learn more about myself. Happy New Year!

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WALKINGANNIE 1/1/2010 11:22AM

    Thanks for sharing your determination and positive approach to life. It's very reinforcing.

I identify so much with your Sidney Carton year - and your gratitude for SP's therapeutic role. The impact of lost oomph can be devastating but it's a fantastic feeling when you regain it and then get more than you ever imagined.

Here's to an extra oomph-ful 2010!

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BRIGHTSPARK7 12/31/2009 8:25PM

    I'm so glad you are better, Ellen. Health, friendship and community ... all priceless. Cheers to you, emoticon and to a happy new year! emoticon xo Usha.

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RAYLINSTEPHENS 12/31/2009 7:42PM

    Happy New Year Spark-Buddy!

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NORLANA 12/31/2009 6:39PM

    CHeers to you!! *clink* Ain't this place aweseome?? Have a wonderful New Year with all the happiness you dream and the health and prosperity to enjoy it exactly as you wish!

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TRYINGHARD1948 12/31/2009 5:40PM

    It is amazing how the most marvellous things in life are priceless and often unable to be bought with money. Health, family, support, kindness, an optimistic outlook and love to name just a few. May you have all of them Ellen. Fify thousand body maybe but your friendship joins those things that are priceless. Thank you for being you. Have a great 2010.

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STLRZGRRL 12/31/2009 5:31PM

    Hours spent sparking instead of whatever it is I did before SP: Immeasurable but apparently 9,000 points worth.

Really cool people I found here who I would never have otherwise known ever ever ever: Cannot be counted but I seem to have friended 75 of you.

Number of cool people who are Watermellen: JUST ONE!!!

You are the very very best, E!
HAPPY!!! New! Year!
emoticon emoticon

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The contentment continues . . .

Monday, December 28, 2009

I weighed myself today for the first time since Christmas dinner -- and I'm doing fine, actually at the low end of my maintenance range. Middle number still 5 and I'd prefer a 4 of course, as I'd temporarily achieved earlier this month. But in truth, that temporary middle 4 may have had something to do with a medical procedure requiring fasting AND purging, and giving new meaning to the term "purgatory"! You don't want to know any more details, truly. Way TMI. Didn't expect that middle 4 to last and it did not; that's why I didn't permit myself to change my weight tracker. Just a mirage . . .

What about this water thing that STLRZGRRL is all about big time? TWELVE cups a day?? Would that be the ticket for a "real" and sustainable middle 4? Yikes, my immediate reaction is: can't do that. Twelve cups of coffee, now: that would almost certainly be achievable! (and yes, I do understand: not at all the same thing. Counter productive even, maybe, even if some of it were decaff. But coffee is my only remaining sin. Almost, anyhow). But it works for her. So: I'm pondering more water. And contemplating how there would be any time whatsoever to work in between mad dashes to the little cubicle!!

Feels very very good to be at the gym. Caught up on my sleep over these few more relaxed days and I'm feeling something like the old energy. Excellent sensation! I enjoyed my elliptical and my weights and my abs today, and even feeling pretty svelte in the old gym tights also!

The mushroom turkey barley soup simmering on the stove is something I actually prefer to the roast turkey Christmas dinner. It's frugal -- I made the broth yesterday from the turkey bones, chilled it and skimmed off the fat this morning. And it's healthy: lots of veggies. I put in a touch of that "dill in a tube": never tried that before, but a big bunch of fresh dill does tend to go bad in the fridge before I can use it all up. So: now I'm looking forward to a big bowlful.

It's snowing gently and I've got one more day before officially heading in to the office tomorrow! A fire in the fireplace . . . a good junky book . . . life doesn't get too much better!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CMB2048 12/30/2009 11:21AM

    The soup sounds wonderful and sounds like your holiday is going really well. Good for you!

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JOPAPGH 12/28/2009 10:13PM

    Great news on the exercise. I know it has been a long road for you...

Agree on the water. I could never drink that much and still be productive, drive, run (except to the WC), etc.

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PHEBESS 12/28/2009 4:30PM

    Mmmmm, love turkey soup! Though mushroom barley soup is one of my faves too!!! Yummmmmm!

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TRYINGHARD1948 12/28/2009 3:35PM

    I can almost smell that soup, a fantastic way to finish the holiday.

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WALKINGANNIE 12/28/2009 3:26PM

    Your soup and relaxation after exercise sounds so comfortable. Lazy reading is always better in the knowledge of a job well done beforehand. Svelte is a terrific word to be able to use! In fact, it prompted a train of thoughts that I ended up blogging about.

Comment edited on: 12/28/2009 3:55:21 PM

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FRACTALMYTH 12/28/2009 3:06PM

    Mmmmm your turkey broth sounds great! On your recommendation I actually got out and cleaned the bird poop and spiderwebs off my sorely neglected elliptical yesterday... now to get out there and actually use it instead of sparking the morning away!

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In Contentment

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Work is winding down a bit, which gave me time to work thoughtfully and carefully on a very interesting problem today. The fridge is full (last grocery run on my way home tonight) and nothing urgent left to do. There is snow on the ground and our Christmas lights across the front of the house look beautiful as I pull in the driveway.

Life is feeling good enough: no call for imperishable bliss today! .

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PHEBESS 12/28/2009 2:12PM

    Contentment, like satisfaction, is vastly underrated. Too many of us strive for permanent happiness, which is impossible. Contentment is closer to Nirvana than we think.

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WALKINGANNIE 12/27/2009 12:41PM

    I love your positive attitude.

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CMB2048 12/25/2009 1:52PM

    I know that feeling, when everything is done and you can finally relax. Wishing you a wonderful holiday week!

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DSHONEYC 12/24/2009 11:39AM

    Getting there, too! emoticon

Without the snow on the ground!!! emoticon

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BRIGHTSPARK7 12/23/2009 10:55PM

    Life is good! Contentment is a state of grace. emoticon
xo Usha.

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JOPAPGH 12/23/2009 10:52PM

    Hope you enjoy the Holidays! I plan to go easy on the desserts.

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GEODAWG 12/23/2009 9:25PM

    Christmas is so wonderful.......

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Mary organized the first Christmas . . .

Friday, December 18, 2009

and of course that First Christmas involved labour and delivery in a stable. After a long journey.

Those of us who've ever done labour and delivery, even without the preliminary donkey ride, are prepared to concede: that's an element of the Bethlehem saga which could not have been so great.

But once that part was all over, is it frivolous to suppose that the donkey plus an ox or two and maybe a few other farmyard extras must have made for pretty effective seasonal decor? A little lowing, a little clucking. Nice manger, swaddling clothes, some straw on the floor: simple.

No need to steam clean the carpets or arrange the Victorian ceramic village in drifts of cotton batten on the mantelpiece or polish the silver. No recalcitrant Christmas tree to be fitted into a stand that leaks water and then tips over; no ornaments with hangers requiring untangling; no tablecloths to be freshly starched; no preparation of guest bedrooms; no cleaning of bathrooms to meet the standards of a visiting mother-in-law: none of that.

The angel Gabriel handled all of the First Christmas greeting requirements: "For unto you is born in the City of David . . " That was pretty much it. No drafting and photocopying of a detailed newletter describing everything that had happened the previous year. An absolute absence of last-minute envelope-licking or rush trips to the post office. Not even a mass email.

In lieu of animated lawn inflatables and Christmas lights perilously strung from the eaves, the Heavenly Host supplied an effortlessly dramatic exterior lighting effect. One bright star in the east: enough. Although -- and again courtesy of the HH -- there was also a full program of entertainment: all singing, all dancing, all night long. Quite divine, actually.

What about food? Here's the insider information: not everyone realizes it, but it was the shepherds who handled the catering.

Shepherd's pie, that's what I've been told. Of course those one-dish casseroles are way easier than fiddly hors d'oeuvres, carving a turkey, timing all the sides, pouring the drinks, organizing the plum pudding and brandy sauce and shortbreads. An assembly line of shepherds prepared an ample supply of shepherd's pies well in advance and then just re-heated them as required; they apparently used some kind of celestial precursor to the microwave.

A healthy recipe, of course. Balanced fats, carbs, proteins: low sodium; extra calcium worked into the whipped potato topping; lots of veggies in the filling. After all, those Heavenly Host dancers were working up quite an appetite, each one aiming to enter a huge calorie burn into their individualized fitness trackers. Enough calories, in fact, that after the main course, the shepherds felt completely justified in passing around candy canes. Just small ones, naturally. Still, a very nice touch.

But that (washed down with copious supplies of plain water) was the whole menu. Really. And Mary was responsible for none of it. No menu planning; no grocery shopping; no fridge stocking; no cooking; no serving; no clean up; no stacking the dishwasher; no unstacking the dishwasher; no putting the dishes back in the cupboards. None of it.

Biggest job not on Mary's list? For sure it was the gift shopping. Because the wise men (yes: the wise MEN! Can you believe it??) handled all of that. The wrapping too. And then they tracked the gift receipts, just in case of returns.

But as it happened, possibly because they were WISE men, there were no problems with wrong sizes or duplicates. Gold, frankincense and myrrh: one of each, all good. Not a single trip back to the mall was required. So neither Mary nor the wise men experienced second-round shoppers snarling over a short supply of parking places in the parking lot. No items were dropped in the slush. And there was no anti-climactic day-after-Christmas delivery to ungracious recipients of the replacement "gift" they had signalled should have been selected in the first place.

Sounding good, isn't it? But that's still not the whole story.

Because most significant of all: we have it on excellent authority that Mary only did Christmas once.

One time.

Never to be repeated.

Whereas over a lifetime, most women organize Christmas for their famlies how many times?

OK. I'm just saying. Not suggesting that we don't love every blessed minute of it, of course.

And: Merry Christmas to all!!

emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WALKINGANNIE 12/20/2009 2:18PM

    A nice, original take on the season! Thanks and enjoy the celebrations.

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FRACTALMYTH 12/19/2009 3:50PM

    MMMM you made me hungry for my homemade shepherds pie - made with leftover lamb roast with lots of grated carrot and tomato in it :D

Great post! Mary sure was the lucky one :P Though more seriously, I do find myself stopping in the middle of whatever I am doing and imagining what it would be like to give birth in those circumstances. Even with divine assistance... all those choirs of angels hanging around... the expectations of generations past and future... talk about pressure to perform lol.

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CMB2048 12/19/2009 2:53PM

    Right on target! Happy Holidays!

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DARLENA3 12/19/2009 1:21PM

    Thanks for helping us remember the true reason for the season in relation to, the total masquerade it has become. We often get so carried away by all the "have to's" that we don't have time to just celebrate properly.


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MARIE625 12/19/2009 7:17AM

    Great blog!

Merry Christmas!

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TRYINGHARD1948 12/19/2009 1:18AM

    Merry Christmas Ellen. Mary must be wondering what on Earth she started.

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FOSSE_OF_LOVE 12/18/2009 10:09PM

    LOL that stable is sounding pretty good. Have a great holiday season my friend.

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STLRZGRRL 12/18/2009 9:52PM

    As my dear Mother used to say... "See?"

ONE star on high... No coupon sales the day after Columbus Day, three presents, no waiting. Like it or don't.

Some things just can't be improved no matter how many sparkly things you hang on it, how much money you throw at it, how many cookies you bake or presents you wrap.

Like this one:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

*she said having gotten all her packages wrapped, boxed, addressed and shoved at the post office clerk this afternoon. Done. Ha.*

Oh, and merriest holiday of all to you, best dearest Ellen....

Comment edited on: 12/18/2009 9:57:30 PM

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BRIGHTSPARK7 12/18/2009 9:15PM

    Merry emoticon Merry emoticon Christmas, Ellen!

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