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WATERMELLEN's Recent Blog Entries


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Right up against the warm red bricks of my house, on the south side: snowdrops!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

STLRZGRRL 3/25/2010 5:12PM

    Ah, the sure signs that we will yet put this winter into the books... and SLAM THAT BOOK SHUT!!!

Jeeze Louise!!!

emoticon emoticon

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TBANMAN 3/22/2010 8:06PM

    We're a little ahead of you here on the west coast - my tulips are blooming already. Glad spring has sprung!

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FLOWINGWATER 3/22/2010 9:49AM

    Always nice to see those snowdrops, as they bring the hope of spring. Thanks for sharing!

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DSHONEYC 3/21/2010 11:41PM

    Its San Diego, sunny and warm.. Working in the yard, walking the dog...I hope the sunshines for you, my friend.

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FOSSE_OF_LOVE 3/21/2010 8:18PM

    I know most of the country is benefiting from the springtime sunshine but I have to say the extreme of the snowflake against a warm brick is rather nice. Thanks for painting that picture.

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TRYINGHARD1948 3/21/2010 7:38PM

    Harbinger of Spring, gorgeous.

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BRIGHTSPARK7 3/21/2010 2:18PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
LOVE it!
And glad you are feeling better.

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CMB2048 3/21/2010 1:23PM

    Nice and sunny here in PA. I had the golf clubs out yesterday!

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Inside the Mind of the Thin Self

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I've just read a remarkable blog by DEBRA_T called Inside the Mind of the Fat Self. Here's the link.


Please take a look -- it deserves to be voted "most popular" just because it's so clear and unblinking about all of the insidious and toxic "right now" excuses which are characteristic of the "Fat Self".

I know these excuses intimately. I battle them every day, and always will. I read them with that flash of self-recognition that signals "This is good stuff, this is true stuff".

So DEBRA-T's blog made me think. What goes on instead inside the mind of the Thin Self?

Maybe some of these thoughts:

I'm guessing that you're becoming a Thin Self when you require yourself to postpone food-based gratifications most of the time.

That would be because the Thin Self defines gratification more precisely as something other than unlimited french fries right now because everyone else is having them and besides I've had a really bad day and besides I've been so good and besides I don't want everyone else to think that I care about being fat which they might think if I didn't have them too and besides I can't enjoy myself unless I do and I deserve to enjoy myself right now because it's hard to enjoy myself because I'm so fat unless of course I'm eating so I'll have them right now.

Breathlessly scarfing them back so fast I scarcely taste them before I think about what I'm doing.

What does the Thin Self get out of this willingness to postpone instant caloric gratification?

When I achieve it, I recognize the thrill of NOT feeling bloated, out of control, despairing.

For example, waking up without experiencing self-loathing first thing.

And falling asleep without experiencing self-loathing last thing.

Although I'm pretty sure that the Thin Self cannot be noble and exalted at all times. Not likely. Because in my limited experience, a significant percentage of the Thin Self's rewards are relatively trivial --

For example, being able to buy pretty clothes. Silly shoes. Looking good. Hearing compliments.

All superficial, sure. And probably not enough to sustain the Thin Self when the new wardrobe becomes taken for granted. Or when the compliments, stop as the compliments will when people around you come to take it for granted that you're not fat. Have forgotten you ever were fat. Maybe never even knew you when you were fat.

Which is why there has to be some other much more important stuff that the Thin Self experiences. The stuff which is key to maintaining weight loss, which means the stuff that is key to maintaining postponement of instant gratification.

Because the Thin Self does not live merely Inside the Mind. The Thin Self is a Mind. But also a Body. And a Spirit.

The Thin Self is a Body which delights in the uniquely personal sensation of moving within your own skin. The delicious pleasure of toned muscles. Strength. Resilience. Balance. Endurance.

The Thin Self knows the spiritual benefits of doing everything possible to stay healthy. Because that is how we experience self caring. Which is the foundation of the ability to care for any other person or community or cause -- the bedrock of caring about anything else at all.

The Thin Self feels happy. Which is not beer ad euporia. Not a temporary instant fix kind of self-indulgence. Not complacency and self-righteousness. Because this is tough. A constant battle never won: a constant battle worthy of being constantly fought.

There are evitable disasters and irritations. These are, let's face it, an inevitable part of everyone's lives. But the Thin Self has the strength to weather those, to wait them out. To weight them out, according them the attention that they really merit, without the false comfort of eating to excess to get through them.

And so some of the time -- increasingly more of the time -- eventually most of the time?? the Thin Self experiences contentment. Conscious contentment.

An integration of body and spirit and mind.

An awareness of the intense potential for pleasure that surrounds each of us all of the time. Which is there for the noticing, there for the taking, there for the experiencing.

Just for being fully alive.

I aspire to being a Thin Self!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 4/5/2010 5:05PM

    What a great blog to read. I smiled at the breathless paragraph as yep it's exactly like that at times, all those thoughts at once or one after another of the "reasons" I ate Easter candy yesterday and today too! Ugh! it really is a journey and so much easier to just be in my size 8 jeans though I SWEAR I'm happier in my 6's! Somewhere in between is good I think...moderation and catching that moment of breathless mindless eating. Thanks for sharing :).

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TKADEEPBREATH 3/27/2010 8:25AM

    I know you wrote this almost a month ago, but I'm just now getting caught up (a little). I know I'll always find something on your page to challenge and encourage me.

Your words speak the private "self talk" I have experienced on both sides. The undisciplined "fat" talker makes excuses and puts off till tomorrow. The determined voice that is willing to fight the never ending war overcomes by the knowledge of the benefits. The rewards are too numberous to mention.

I hope the Thin Self overcomes for all of us that are trying so hard to learn about the truth and put off the old fat ways.

About 3 months in now, I have learned that it the uncounted "bite here and bite there" that can be a problem. I've started paying attention to what I think is almost nothing and have discovered there is no such thing. It all counts and makes a difference at the end of the day.

What a great blog and great way to start my Saturday morning.

emoticon Jan

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FLOWINGWATER 3/18/2010 9:30AM

    Thanks for the food for thought, Ellen!

I really like this paragraph: "There are evitable disasters and irritations. These are, let's face it, an inevitable part of everyone's lives. But the Thin Self has the strength to weather those, to wait them out. To weight them out, according them the attention that they really merit, without the false comfort of eating to excess to get through them."

What resonates with me is that the thin self leaves behind the need for food as healing. The thin self recognizes temporary gratification for what it is. I think that's exactly what I've been struggling with since I entered maintenance. It's that I'm stuck in the superficial phase of the "thin self". The place where, the big achievements have stopped, the complements have slowed, the pleasure of new clothes is only temporary, and I'm left with a "what now?" kind of feeling. Thanks for helping me pinpoint the issue!! It's been nagging at me for a while.

We never stop learning, even after we reach our "goal". Ultimately, the thin self isn't about weight at all. It's about spiritual awareness.

I love how the spark people journey guides one through weight loss not only for the body but for the soul as well!

Excellent blog!!! Thanks for your insightful words. They have inspired me!! emoticon

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JOPAPGH 3/9/2010 10:22PM

    Clearly I'm somewhere in between the two worlds:

I ran 6.5 miles on my lunch break.

Then rewarded myself with cookies.

Then got irritated with myself and rode 45 minutes on the exercise bike tonight so I would end the day with a calorie deficit.

Still a journey...

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MSSNOWY 3/4/2010 11:52AM

    Excellent post, Ellen. Thank you. I'll go read Debra's now, but I really wanted to say how much I liked yours.

. emoticon

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CMB2048 2/28/2010 7:52PM

    I am in constant search of the Thin Self you write about. I've never been able to find her. My entire life I've always felt fat, even when I'd lose weight and actually be thin. But I'll keep searching!

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    Great blog! Even though I'm not a "Thin Self" yet, I'm on my way...enough so that I can identify with the changing thought patterns. Well done. :)

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WALKINGANNIE 2/28/2010 2:25PM

    This is so very good Ellen and a perfect match with DEBRA_T's.

I've voted for them both.

SP Friends just keep getting better and better at writing 'sticky sense' - things that make points clearly and in such a way that I can 'get'. My perceptions are changing as I'm prompted to look at old issues from new angles. I've never had this sort of reinforcement of ideas. It's all very powerful.

Thank you.

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PHEBESS 2/28/2010 12:05PM

    Wow - a lot to think about!

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VALERIEMAHA 2/28/2010 10:20AM

    This is such useful wisdom for me. I have not climbed back up to the 205 lbs. that I lost many moons ago, when I carved down to 125 lbs. on Weight Watchers. But I have been dangerously yo-yo-ing with about 25 lbs. in recent years. I know that, at 68 years, my heart likes this less and less (and I'm actually experiencing some odd symptomatology that slightly concerns me). All this to say that I CONTINUE to THINK FAT, I continue to behave addictively. I have difficulty delaying gratification in great Americana "I want it ALL...and NOW" style.

In addition to that, my life is multi-layered and interesting, but it also has a "heaviness" brought on by some external circumstances that I'm currently dealing with. Unfortunately this has resulted in some of my out-of-control behavior. The fact is that I have some intense challenges in my life, and for that reason good food takes a special seat as a pleasure that I appreciate and enjoy. But with the larger vision, what a crock to think that this temporary pleasure fills any deep-seated needs!

Thanks immensely for this soul-searching blog, Ellen.

Love ALL Ways,
P.S. Oh, and I LOVE following Debra!!!

Comment edited on: 2/28/2010 11:01:12 AM

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DEBRA_T 2/27/2010 10:19PM

    Lovely ending for a battle well fought, to be integrated, to know self-care, ffeel contentment and have something left over to give to others. You know you've left the Fat Self far behind when you don't need to constantly worry and obsess about yourself so that you are free to care about something else besides yourself.

You have a wonderful appreciation for how fleeting the superficial rewards are for being thin and an even better appreciation for the truly great ones.

Thanks for the Spark Goodie and for taking the time to write such a lovely complementary blog to the one I wrote this morning.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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STARRY-EYEDGIRL 2/27/2010 9:57PM

    Yes, the other stuff does go hand in hand with the trivial stuff. You have described the Thin Self so well – an integration of body, spirit and mind, yes indeed, and feeling good is the desire that drives us on, I believe, in every aspect of our lives! Therefore, I especially relate to and agree with, your last paragraph:

'An awareness of the intense potential for pleasure that surrounds each of us all of the time. Which is there for the noticing, there for the taking, there for the experiencing'.

I can’t think of anything more pleasurable, in this moment, than the thought of you, not only aspiring to be a Thin Self, but actually being that fully alive, Thin Self.

What a wonderful blog, Elle, emoticon

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ANNIEONLI 2/27/2010 9:10PM

    Great blog!!! I absolutely loved it!! A job well done! I've thought about many of these things and you put many of my thoughts onto the page for me. I'm sure the other blog has bits and pieces of my mind there as well, but truly, this is spot on for me in the moment, right now. Wonderful.

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ONEKIDSMOM 2/27/2010 8:05PM

    Great "other half" to Deb's morning post! I think this one deserves to be voted a favorite, too... so the population of Spark People can see them side by side.


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    Great Blog - and I also read Inside the Mind of Fat Self!

Thank you for your wonderful insights! Great of you to share!!

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SLENDERELLA61 2/27/2010 7:45PM

    Wow, what a blog! So much to chew on here! (Excuse me, I think in food terms. I wonder why.) In search of self care and self love, deeper things, things that will last.... To the thin self!! Thanks for your insights, Marsha

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's official: one year post dx, all tests normal and I'm healthy!

Big sigh of relief. (Didn't entirely realize how much worry I've been ignoring, more or less successfully!)

And big thanks to all SP friends who have been so kind and so supportive.

One year ago I had received the bad news, was scared, waiting for surgery, wondering what would happen next, and stress eating to the point of adding 20 pounds in a matter of about eight weeks. Once I'd recovered from the surgery, I signed up for SparkPeople in May, started tracking my food diligently and rebuilding my fitness with cardio and weights.

Here I am: the twenty pity party pounds peeled off again (since July), completely recovered from radiation therapy (including fatigure) and in week 6 of 9 in the podrunner intervals training, steadily working my way back to a 5 k steady run.

There are pink and yellow tulips on the kitchen table. Despite fresh snow in the back yard the days getting longer and spring is around the corner.

Life is good, I'm feeling good, and did I mention how grateful?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 4/5/2010 5:13PM

    Pink and Yellow tulips - so pretty! awe..I am so sorry I missed this blog Ellen. You've been through so much it sounds yet are perceiving even stronger. I love that...you're a great person to know here and...I too am very happy for you, your children and your Mike! emoticon

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VALERIEMAHA 3/18/2010 8:27PM

    I too am just seeing this and in wishing you the joy of immersing yourself in each moment, I send you this special blessing, from John O'Donohue's book, Anam Cara (Gaelic for Soul Friend):


May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path.
May the flame of anger free you from falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

-- John O'Donohue
http://www.johnodonohue.com/> emoticon

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JOPAPGH 3/9/2010 10:17PM

    Somehow I was unsubscribed from your blogs and missed this.

What great news!! Glad the running is going well and that we had the luck of starting SP the same week. It has been a thrill following your journey.

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WHOLY_FIT_48 3/4/2010 6:19AM

    Just now getting caught up on some SP reading. Soooo very happy Ellen that you are doing so well! As others have posted, here's to our health and healthy living. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself with the rest of us. emoticon

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PHEBESS 2/28/2010 12:03PM

    VERY good news!!!!!!! And yes, you should be ecstatic!

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STLRZGRRL 2/27/2010 7:57PM

    OMG, Ellen, how happy am I for this wonderful news... Happy for you... for your DH and DCharlie... for your kids... happy for all of us who are so lucky to have met you here... for all the many lives you touch...

That squashy feeling? Yep, it's me hugging you SO hard...
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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TBANMAN 2/25/2010 10:14PM


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CMB2048 2/25/2010 8:45PM

    Your blog is so wonderful and I am so happy you had such wonderful news. I loved the end of your post about tulips, pounds gone, gearing up for a 5K and life being good! You sound very happy!

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WALKINGANNIE 2/25/2010 1:07PM

    What wonderful, wonderful news Ellen. Life is indeed good.

Your friendship has been a source of great inspiration to me as I knew that you had faced such big health problems and were doing all that you could to secure your own fitness and vitality.

You're an amazing, strong, determined woman who has fought to be fit. You have set a fantastic example and I'm sure that you give hope to many others.

Thank you and here's to your very good health!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SLENDERELLA61 2/24/2010 9:25PM

    Congratulations! Hooray!! Wonderful, wonderful. Here's to health and healthy living! -Marsha

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TRYINGHARD1948 2/24/2010 9:21PM

    Ellen, that is just the most wonderful news. I am so happy for you. Life is good, and you enrich every other life you touch. emoticon

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LYN-EDWY 2/24/2010 8:46PM

    I am so happy for you.
Thank YOU for being such a supportive part of SP.
emoticon emoticon


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STARRY-EYEDGIRL 2/24/2010 8:27PM

    Oh Elle, that is such good news. The whole family will also be relieved!

emoticon emoticon emoticonMarg xox emoticon

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    Great blog! So happy you are doing so well!

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IMAGINE_IT 2/24/2010 7:23PM

    Life is very good..and especially with wonderful people like you in it!! emoticon I am so happy to hear that all the tests came back normal emoticon emoticon
P.S. Yellow tulips are my absolute favorite flowers!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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TRAVELGRRL 2/24/2010 6:46PM

    Congratulations to you! What a WONDERFUL DAY!!!

With flowers on the table, the snow outside is bearable, is it not? I know that got me through many a Michigan winter!

You have accomplished so much in one year!

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KRDRAPES 2/24/2010 6:38PM

    so happy for you!!

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

I've been thinking quite a bit about a recent FRACTALMYTH blog on focus, the necessity of deciding what to do and moving ahead etc. etc. This seems to me to be a perpetual problem for women in particular.

We women are told, unceasingly, that "we can have it all". And that apparent opportunity to have it all then becomes translated into "we MUST do it all". With incredible pressure to be superb at everything all of the time: be a wonderful daughter, sister, wife and mother; look like a model; be the "hostess with the mostest", entertaining beautifully in an immaculately decorated and maintained "home"; hold down a significant and "meaningful" job; contribute to the community and its charities; be spiritually engaged; and on, and on, and on.

So as I listen to my podrunner intervals and "hummingbird" my way lighly around the track at the gym working my way back towards a continuous 5 k, I've been thinking about these demands. External and internal. And how impossible it is to fulfill all of them. And how crazy we make ourselves trying. Or permitting others to require us to try to do them all. That is, all at once.

I've probably been thinking about this because the wooden track -- quite beautiful, actually -- is suspended above the gym. And I've been working out at this YMCA since 1975, when I was (ahem) quite a bit younger than I am now, oddly enough. Which means that as I jog around watching teens shooting hoops or kids tumbling on the mats or adults sweating through fitness classes they all remind me that this place -- this gym -- is layered with my own prior ages and stages. Points at which I did all of these things . . . but never all at once.

Back in 1975, I had just started work as a college teacher, was commuting to Toronto and exercised mostly during my lunch hours. I was married but (although I didn't know it) that was coming to an end. H1 and I had had no kids, which was a good thing. The teaching gig was my first "serious" job and I was getting up at about 5 am, doing a little yoga and hitting the road from Toronto. I had taken the job, then got my driver's licence on a stickshift VW without a heater or a defroster, then started commuting -- soon driving through raging white-out snowstorms -- and teaching lots of stuff I knew absolutely nothing about. It was a pretty stressful time. The gym workouts commenced because my stress eating resulted in me rapidly outgrowing my two new "young professonal" suits. I cetainly could not afford to replace them!!

Forward a few years: I'd jettisoned that early marriage (not without significant pain); was a newly single woman again and taking a few Jane Fonda style aerobics classes in that gym, legwarmers and all! Also swimming in the pool. And I signed up for an evening course in weightlifting -- at that point, one of the very few women venturing into what was clearly dsignated to be an "all male" territory. But I loved that cramped, dark and smelly little weights room, loved feeling strong, needed to feel strong, and somehow stuck it out.

A few more years: I had remarried, and could be seen angling through the gym towards the squash courts for early morning games with H2. (Yup, I call him that occasionally, just to keep him on his toes 30+ years later. And he doesn't seem too worried, actually).

Add a few more years: there's a young mum just like me back when my own two small children were zooming around at tot time gym. Little people trying out the low balance beam, bounding tentatively on the trampoline and crawling through the tunnels. During my young mum incarnation I was serving on the Board of Directors. I'd also become a certified fitness instructor myself, leading the early morning group class one day a week generally with a jazz tape playing in the background. We volunteer fitness instructors were a bunch of happy amateurs and enjoyed a wonderful social life too, meeting monthly for a potluck breakfast at someone's home. Now other much better qualified instructors lead those classes who are certainly way more professional but (when I happen to catch sight of one of the classes) I'm not sure they're having as much fun as we did!

Those long-ago fitness classes got me running, at first just around the gym and then small loops outside the gym around the Y grounds, but gradually further and further, building up to 10 k departing from the gym and returning to it, until I was no longer participating in the group classes at all. I overdid it for sure, and forgot about keeping up the strength and core work -- but I loved the running.

There were a few years I was absent from this gym while I went back to school; working out at the university gym after rolling off the commuter bus didn't keep my weight from soaring up to 230 pounds. But what I was learning at law school inspired me to initiate a human rights complaint. Why was our Y back home continuing to offer better facilities for men than for women? a private men's fitness facility with whirlpool and steam room? There was a glorious new weights room open to men and women, but surely it was time to redress that other historic inequity. It took eight years but it happened; the women at my gym now have an equivalent facility and the "damages" I was awarded went to my law school to fund a small human rights scholarship.

Called to the bar, practising law for the first time -- so much to learn that school had left out -- and back to the gym. Now I had young teens still at home who needed me to get them off to school in the morning and be available for homework help in the evenings: the only time slot in the day for my workout was right after work on my way home. I'd put my gym bag in the front seat of the car so I couldn't miss it, my husband worked out at noon hours, and we made that arrangement function for a few years. I wasn't running but instead using the elliptical cross trainer and the weights room. I had 80 law school pounds to peel off. That happened, too.

And very soon our children were off to university. Once again H2 and I could go to the gym together first thing in the morning, as we'd done in the pre-kid years of our marriage; then home for breakfast before heading off to work together.

Hit some health bumps. Found twenty pounds. Peeled those off again. A few more blips, a few more adventures -- and here I am back on the track floating above these years of memories. The people below in the gym are living out their own independent lives, of course: but in my glimpses of their lives I can't help but be reminded of my own experiences over the past 35 years.

And of course because it's a Y and not just a fitness club for the young and gorgeous, I also see people in their sixties and seventies and older. Still healthy and looking happy. Grandparents with grandbabies too. What I confidently expect and hope will lie ahead for me if I keep doing this. Keep on being fit. That is what I'm planning. That is what I'm preparing for.

Have I had it all? Not yet. Thank goodness, not yet. Because there are still good times to come! I'm vividly grateful for that. And I'm grateful also for the support from husband and kids over all of the years I've spent at my gym to be a wife, mother, born-again student, and born-again worker.

So one thing I'm pretty sure about: the answer to "Can we do it all at once?" is "No". Not simultaneously. Not well.

But life is long. There is time to try on many roles. We can take our time. Have more fun. Experience more depth. Can we do it all? Who knows. But we can do enough.

We can do enough, have enough, be enough. Sequentially.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 4/5/2010 6:37PM

    Oh this made my heart almost ache yet a happy ache. ...wow Ellen...wow. I had tears in my eyes for a moment, happiness for you and sadness for times that are difficult as women. There are too many pressures....yet you're exactly right - slowly, not all at once we can achieve enjoyable days. I love that you played such an active role in the womens gym at the YMCA!! How cool is that?!! Going back to school is pretty darn amazing and law school at that! Keep those bright sunny days coming..love to read about them, you're a great inspiration :).

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TKADEEPBREATH 2/22/2010 10:41PM

    I really enjoyed getting to know you through your candid well written blog. You make some very well taken inferences.

I know I can't have it all. I have to pick my "haves". They are enough for me. The rest, well, we're still working out what comes next. Guess that's what keeps life interesting.

Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy it.

Take care Ellen . . . Jan

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CMB2048 2/21/2010 10:15PM

    This blog was wonderful. Truly enjoyed reading it. Not only because I can relate to it so much but I also learned so much more about you.

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STARRY-EYEDGIRL 2/21/2010 8:42PM

    Oh Elle, I identify so strongly with all of this, even though the circumstances of our lives are different, the time and essence is similar.

I have drifted in and out of all that you have written and along the way, found many doors which were seemingly locked, but flew open effortlessly by thinking them gone. Like the lyrics from Already Gone, by the Eagles on their 1974 On the Border album: ‘So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains and we never even know we have the key’.

I feel so privileged to be peacefully and joyously meandering along on this part of my journey with you.

emoticon emoticonMarg

Comment edited on: 2/21/2010 8:44:07 PM

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FRACTALMYTH 2/21/2010 4:34PM

    WOW! You know what I miss most about running and podrunner (even from just five weeks experience of it)? The way it cleared my head and got me thinking. The way it sent my mind freewheeling over my whole life this far and all the future to come. Thank you so much for bringing that feeling back to me. I know the time will come when I can get there again for myself, but for now it is lovely to go there vicariously - and to learn more of you. I love the sound of your suspended wooden track - I think I would even swap my rough bush path for it - would be easier on the joints, but I'd miss the birds and the sunrise. I have certainly been scrabbling around in the mist lately, searching for focus, trying to work out what is important, what I want for this stage and what I need to do this sequence. It's new for me. In the past I just leapt in without thinking, blindly following a dream (that's how I got Honours in English) then drifted along following other people's expectations (that's how I got Honours in Law) but now the stage has come to bring it all together and tie it up in a package that works for me and that I can carry into a happy future. Thank you so much for accompanying me in my search and for giving me the benefit of your wisdom and insight along the way! LOVE!!!

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PHEBESS 2/21/2010 3:12PM

    Very well said, very insightful, and very poignant - thank you! As always, you are inspiring as well as eloquent.

And, well, some of us opt to not have it all because the dream just doesn't seem possible. I guess I never really thought about having it all sequentially.

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WHOLY_FIT_48 2/21/2010 2:19PM

    Ellen, a most wonderful, thoughtful and encouraging blog. I love the balanced perspective you have and appreciate your willingness to share the wisdom you have gained over the years with the rest of us. I needed to read this at just this time. Thank you. emoticon

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SLIMMERJESSE 2/21/2010 11:59AM

    I agree. Thanks for the reminder. Have a wonderful day.

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MSSNOWY 2/21/2010 11:50AM

    Thanks for a wonderful reminder that life doesn't come in one large clump, that thank God there are stages and we can participate in all of them and that they will be what we make of them. Great blog.

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FOSSE_OF_LOVE 2/21/2010 3:04AM

    I loved your blog. It relates to my own life and I see patterns of my parents in what I do today like wanting to be creative, wanting to travel, and to be significant as the numbers of years add to your life. Your blog title is totally right on.

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TRYINGHARD1948 2/20/2010 5:26PM

    Ellen, you give so much in your blogs, such insight, such honesty, such rich understanding of the life of women. I, like Stlrzgrrl, (gee that's hard to get right) had tears in my eyes as I read.
One of the things that I thought about was how driven some women are to achieve, to be something, while having to retain all the other jobs that seem to have been handed to women. Fortunately many of us see sense and come to a compromise in order to enjoy our lives. When I worked I was driven to be excellent at what I did, but now that I am retired I know I loved what I did but gee, I love being retired.

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STLRZGRRL 2/20/2010 3:35PM

    I have to go back and read this but FIRST: You CAN'T have it all. I've tried to have it all... and after I got the almond butter wiped off my face, I was VERY sad at the scale... You really need to leave some stuff for other people.

I'm going back to read now...

Ok. I'm back...

Aw, Ellen... you're making it tough on me here... it's hard to type with tears in my eyes... but thank you... for the lovely images of a gorgeous, full, multi-layered life so far...

Such a great piece of writing and another WONDERFUL slice of your life...
"So much to learn that school had left out..."

Now, isn't THAT the truth and something you don't understand while you're still young and snotty and know it all... before you're in the thick of what comes next...

I will stand on my initial comment... you can't have it all... not at one time... I remember the blog I did about multi-tasking: "The single best way to screw up both jobs" Remember?

What you are feeling right now is me hugging you SO HARD.

Comment edited on: 2/20/2010 3:51:53 PM

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TBANMAN 2/20/2010 3:07PM

    You are absolutely right. I've often said that women CAN have it all, they just can't have it all RIGHT NOW, or at the same time.

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WALKINGANNIE 2/20/2010 2:36PM

    It's lovely to learn a bit more about you and your life story in this beautifully written blog, Ellen.

I'm so impressed to know about your postive action to end discrimination at the gym and to establish the human rights scholarship. How rewarding for you to know that you have made a difference in these ways.

I agree that we can't have it all at once, but, like you, I think we can have quite a lot if we take things sequentially.

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JOPAPGH 2/20/2010 12:36PM

    Like this!

W and I will be empty nesters in about 18 months. I have lots of fitness goals ahead of me, hopefully stretching for decades.

Here's to great productive futures for all SPers!!

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I Can Never Exercise Enough to Eat Whatever I Want

Sunday, February 14, 2010

OK, this should be self-evident by now, right? But apparently it isn't. I have to keep reminding myself. Or the scales will remind me otherwise very quickly!

I am exercising more and experimenting with a return to running which I am very much enjoying. But: getting back into running is something it's safe for me to try because my weight is down . Not something that can justify me stopping nutrition tracking or stopping my weight tracking. Completely the reverse. If I want to run, I've got to stay light.

When I was running 10 km 5-6 days a week 16 years ago, always outdoors and in all kinds of weather, I was probably 20 pounds heavier than I am now. Not fat -- not at all, about a size 12 -- and I generally felt healthy and happy because of the endorphin rush from running. If you could bottle that sensation and sell it you'd be rich: and if it were universally added to the drinking water, you'd probably achieve world peace. Really. Or at least that's what I think.

But I was relying upon the then-new technology in running shoes (cushioned soles, air pumps, etc.) to pound along with a lengthy stride, landing on the heel, jarring all the way up my leg through my knee to the hip. I didn't think of it that way, of course. My mental image was a kind of gazelle-like motion, soaring and bouncing (maybe from a viewer's perspective not so much). Because I simply didn't get it -- that the effect of even a few extra pounds is multiplied about seven-fold by the thump thump thump thump thump. Gazelles, of course, ARE light.

I loved running then: my town has beautiful running trails all around the lake and many other picturesque street routes. Loved running with a group of friends from the gym. Loved participating in 5 km races from time to time. And truly believed that running as much as I did meant that I could eat whatever I wanted. So I did eat whatever I wanted, more or less: mostly more. Never tracked, never counted calories, just kept on running.

Thought also that running was the only exercise I needed. Well, maybe a little stretching AFTER the run -- if I felt like it -- but no need for strength training, or abs to strengthen the core: running did the entire job, running was everything.

Shoulda known that my knee and hip joints would eventually rebel. Eventually I had to stop running altogether. And I've missed it ever since. (Also went back to school, commuting three plus hours a day by bus, reading reading reading, getting insufficient sleep, marinating myself in stress and got my weight up to 230 while I was doing that --which is an entirely different story!!).

Last summer when I saw how much some new SP friends were enjoying their running adventures, it all came back to me: I celebrated for them, yes I did, but also admit to feeling envious. But the more I followed the running postings, the more I got the sense that running has changed -- that there are new approaches and new techniques. And that maybe if I tried these new approaches myself I could run again too. Did try it: and so far, so good. I'm having provisional success using some of the resources I found on the Rookie Runners Team site plus specific suggestions from some SP friends (JOPAPGH, thanks again).

As I've blogged before, the main tech tool has been podrunner intervals (downloaded free) which is a 9 week programme gradually increasing from mostly walking to all running of a continuous 5 km. With considerable self-control (would like to be doing this every day) I've been permitting myself podrunner just three days a week with rest days in between, never two days consecutive. At first I used podrunner on the treadmill but quite soon switched to the track at the gym (wooden, cantilevered, very forgiving) which is where I'll remain until we have at least slightly less snowy streets. Again, outside would be my preference but I don't want to slip and twist my knees right at the beginning of this process.

Progress has not been continuous. I'm now only in week five. There was some delay due to right knee and right hip pain (I slowed it down, took extra time before increasing the running) plus a lingering bout of flu which set me back. But no matter, I knew that the flu at least was only temporary and I was determined to accommodate the knees and hips.

Shoes this time: retro Adidas type with very thin soles -- I'm using navy blue Terry Fox specials, actually. And I'm thinking about trying running socks, eventually; they look totally cool!!

In addition I'm using the POSE technique of running; vertical posture, short stride, rapid cadence, landing as lightly as possible on the mid-foot. This took me quite a while to get used to and feels somewhat like running barefoot -- also, at first, somewhat like just running on the spot! Had to resist the impulse to speed up whenever I was lapped on the track (we triple type-As don't like being lapped, not at all!) but stuck with it. And now that the technique is more instinctive, the speed is coming back too at least a little.

But I've discovered that even a small amount of extension of foot in advance of the knee makes my right knee, in particular, quite uncomfortable. I get a locking/clicking/grinding kind of response that seizes the joint and almost immediately radiates pain up into the hip joint and the sacroiliac too. A warning, and I'm paying attention. There is lots of osteoarthritis in my hands (no, I'm not old enough for that, not at all -- but there it is, hereditary). I've had painful left hand surgery which did no good and required intensive physio just to regain the former level of diminished hand function, so I've gotta assume, osteo in hands likely means osteo in many of the other body joints. DO NOT want knee or hip surgery.

The erect posture for verticality means in addition I need to make sure to keep the core strong, with regular abs at the gym. Plus this time I'm keeping up my strength training programme of upper body and lower body weights alternate days: and a special focus on the hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings to keep the knee and hip joints as stable and secure as possible. To increase the resilience and shock absorption of the forefoot I've added foot exercises, pressing the balls of the foot alternately into the floor and lifting the toes, and also raising onto the toes and lowering to the heels. Plus lots of post run calf, quad, and hip flexor stretching.

A cautious old lady runner? Maybe so, but I absolutely refuse to think of it that way. The gazelle may have gone, but my preferred new mental image is the humming bird moving lightly from flower to flower: I focus on barely touching the earth with each step.

Supposing it takes 20 weeks instead of 9 to get to 5 km? That's OK with me; I don't mind if it takes me even longer. I'll pace the progress as slowly as necessary to control the pain.

Supposing I can never run more than 5 km? Ditto.

Supposing I can only run 5 km once a week and have to revert to the elliptical for the rest of my cardio? Ditto ditto.

The best (running every day; running 10 km instead of 5; blasting ahead by signing up for races again) for me would almost certainly be the enemy of the good.

Because this is good. Already I've had some of that euphoric joy of running again. And I'm optimistic that so long as I keep moderation in mind, back off and rest if I experience problems, and then resume again only very slowly if I have to, that this time I will be able to continue running.

Now: about the food part. Today being Valentine's day, my husband made his marvellous double boiler scrambled eggs with sharp cheddar and buttered whole wheat toast for breakfast: an amazing treat, but not low calorie! And then I made an early dinner for him and our son (daughter is away in Australia at school): cheese pastry appetizers; herbed lemon salmon with a couple of giant shrimp on each portion; steamed carrots and broccoli; heart-shaped red peppers decorating the plates; a glass of good chardonnay; a generous wedge of bittersweet chocolate mousse torte for dessert; and really good coffee. (Because I don't cook very often, it's quite appreciated when I do: and reassuring to everyone. me included, that I haven't completely forgotten how!)

Yes I tracked it all -- and that WILL be all for today -- and of course I'm well over the day's maximums in calories, fat, carbs. Which is fine. The first time I've been over since Christmas Day, and it won't happen again for quite a while. Not feeling stuffed either -- just self-indulgent and celebratory.

But: I can never ever exercise enough to eat whatever I want. Tomorrow it's back to the track at the gym with podrunner week five session two, lower body weights, abs, stretches.

AND it's back to nutrition tracking WITHIN my calorie range to make sure I stay in my 150-154 lb maintenance zone.

Nothing tastes as good as running feels!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 4/5/2010 5:32PM

    To read about your past days running in comparison to now is remarkable. While u may have achieved different goals then, now you seem healthier in so many ways - your running posture, your breathing, slowing things down enough to enjoy running even more. Pretty amazing blog Ellen! I really loved reading this. I totally agree, not one food can equal the feeling after a great run. I hope your knees and hips continue to cooperate. I think about mine too every time I run. Wondering if that little twinge I feel here or there is something more serious. Keeping your core strong is very important - you're doing great!! I totally agree, exercise always carries my mood so much further than a tasty meal. Catching up on your blogs :)...backwards and forwards I go...

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FRACTALMYTH 2/19/2010 10:27AM

    I am feeling that envy right now! I LOVED podrunner...loved it loved it loved it - having never voluntarily run in my life before I was amazed that it could feel so good and be SO addictive. That's why I kept pushing even after my hip warned me to stop. Oh well. At least my Yeti seems to have steered me right (as usual) in terms of footwear - he refused to allow me a pair of bouncy bouncy shoes and got me thin-soled retro Adidas Attitudes :D and I love them so much I wear them daily, in all their gold and white glory. I draw consolation from the fact that even though I am banned from running and can hardly walk without pain at the moment, I am daily learning more about strengthening my core and improving my posture - both from the physio exercises and reading the experiences of others - THANKS so much for sharing :D

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JOPAPGH 2/18/2010 8:46PM

    How did I miss this entry? I have been traveling like crazy and Valentine's was a busy weekend.

So happy you are getting the running groove back and are enjoying the new approach. I still have your DVD. This blog will be the kick in the pants I need to send it out.

I have been runnin in the snow and ice, albeit slowly. Last Saturday was 7.25 miles, with a couple more runs outside since, including 5K this morning.

My run at least a mile a day streak continues. I started on New Year's Eve.

Can't wait for the first race report, whenever that may be.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/18/2010 8:47:11 PM

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    You know what this blog title reminded me of? Michael Phelps. I remember in the 2008 Olympics, they kept talking about how much he ate - and it was a riduclous amount. Even then, he ate in a day as much as I ate in probably 4 or 5 days. Apparently when you are Michael Phelps, you CAN exercise enough to eat as much as you want...LOL.

Great blog. And great job getting back on the running horse.

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PHEBESS 2/16/2010 10:06AM

    Unfortunately, our bodies wear out more quickly than our psyches - we may feel youthful and ready to run a marathon, but those joints (and in my case foot pads) just wear out from usage, whether we use correct form or not.

On the other hand, I'd much rather wear out parts and know I've lived a good and active life than end my life with all body parts in pristine condition due to lack of use - right?

That being said - be easy on yourself. Maybe you need to think about a triathlon rather than a marathon - work on swimming and biking along with the running, so that you can ease back on the running and do more non-impact cardio. Just a thought. Or speed walking, with that funny foot placement and hip wiggle, also lower impact.

I was hoping to run on sand, to avoid the joint issues similar to what you're having - but I've been told that the sand running is ever worse for the body. So I'm back to walking and swimming. I guess that's why I thought of throwing the idea out there for you to ponder.

At any rate, good luck with it all - and go slowly.

Oh - and both meals sound wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!

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STLRZGRRL 2/15/2010 7:11PM

    Ah, the truth again comes out... experience and treachery beats youth and enthusiasm EVERY time!!!!

If only we had been smarter sooner... but you offer hope that even the stupidest of us (me) might find a way to again race lightly across the earth...

El, you're doing it all right... and being kind enough to share it with us...

What you are feeling right now is me hugging you to bits...

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CMB2048 2/15/2010 10:59AM

    Wow! I never realized that running can be so technical. I tried running a few times but just put shoes on and went, not really thinking about all the different approaches to it. Needless to say, I hated it. So I'm sticking to walking and biking! Sounds like a great Valentine's Day!

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TRYINGHARD1948 2/14/2010 10:38PM

    Ellen, I really enjoyed your blog, so pleased you are listening to your body and going at its pace. You will reap the rewards by going forward "as lightly as a humming bird" - gorgeous metaphor as I see you flitting lightly over the countryside.

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BRIGHTSPARK7 2/14/2010 7:29PM

    Wow, Annie has said it all!

I really like your image of the lightly flitting hummingbird, barely touching the ground. They are such exquisite creatures, aren't they? And I love your strategic analysis of what is required, from maintenance of abs to ankles, hips, knees and so on. You have thought of the whole ... and you're working on the parts.

And I especially like how you are pacing yourself and tuning into your body's needs, rather than setting arbitrary goals. This way, the journey is the reward.

Delectable celebration today!
Happiness and hugs,

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WALKINGANNIE 2/14/2010 6:39PM

    Wow, Ellen, you've really thought about what you want and gone for it.

It's great that you're able to find joy again in an activity that you love, albeit by being cautious and careful about how you go about it. Your determination to overcome physical challenges is very motivating.

You meals today sound very tasty!

Hope you enjoy podrunner week five.

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PURPLEBRAIDS 2/14/2010 6:11PM

    Absolutely agree! I myself, am a newbie runner, but have to keep in mind that none of us can out-train a bad diet. Moderation and balance are key. Best of luck to you.

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