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Resilience, Optimism

Monday, August 01, 2011

At stressful points in my life . . . and this is one . . . I focus on optimism.

Willed optimism.

Because: optimism is the essential ingredient of resilience.

What helps most in willing optimism? For me, it's a deliberate "paying of attention" to how beautiful the world is. Persistently beautiful. Consolingly beautiful. Fascinatingly beautiful.

I know that I can be irritatingly Pollyanna-ish. A bit of a Victorian botanist lady in my love of flowers. (Purple phlox, nasturtiums sitting beside my computer: powdery and peppery fragrances mingling).

But it's noticing the world which works best to take me out of myself, my own pesky stresses and trivial (or not so trivial) problems. And I can choose to do that.

The full grown speckled seagulls squawking at the parent seagulls on the beach, demanding to be fed. And the exasperated parent seagulls flapping away.

A little girl proudly showing her daddy how she can swim. But wanting to make sure she doesn't have to swim too far. "Don't move back, Daddy." And plunging confidently towards him, kicking vigorously. The dad, thirty years younger, grins over at me: he knows I'm remembering.

Charlie, sitting on the verandah with his chin resting on the fretwork, watching a Russian blue cat (the neighbour's) crouched on our lawn. Tail thumping lazily as I tell him what a good dog he is. But never taking his eye off the cat. Which is watching a chipping sparrow under the mock orange.

The golf course sparkling with dew. Sparkling. While over our shoulders to the west, thunder mutters low. And then the sky is black. And we race for the clubhouse. Coffee on the balcony till it's over, and we can head back out. The heady scent of soaked grass. Soaked cedars. Soaked lavender and thyme and salvia. Racing clouds. Then sunshine again.

"The world is so full of a number of things/I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings."

(Or maybe queens).

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MSSNOWY 8/4/2011 6:31PM

    Totally agree. Too tempting sometimes to focus on me, me, me. Much better -- and saner and healthier -- to realize that there's a big world out there with lots of fascinating stuff going on in it.

Tell Charlie I'm impressed he sat so still and just WATCHED!

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PENNYAN45 8/4/2011 4:30PM

    Getting out of one's own head is a great way to deal with stress. And noticing the beauty all around is a lovely way to do that. And you are noticing not only the physical beauty - but also the beauty of loving interactions (as between the father and daughter).

Optimism and positive thoughts are strong remedies for just about anything that ails us.

Let me add my own positive thoughts and wishes for you - as a friend.

emoticon emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/3/2011 9:18PM

    Love this blog... it so captures one of the best tools for remaining motivated... noticing the good in the moment! emoticon

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SLENDERELLA61 8/3/2011 1:37PM

    Willed Optimism is a great concept. I love it. And your poetic writings about the earth, our world, is just beautiful. Thanks for writing. Long live Willed Optimism!!

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FROSTIERACES 8/2/2011 5:28PM

    awe..I SO needed to read this right now. Thank you...

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DDOORN 8/2/2011 1:26PM

    Sometimes when cycling I'll find myself so self-absorbed and pedaling away like crazy. I have to remind myself: hey! You are out in the great wide open! Look around! Soak up all that Mother Nature has to offer! The sun, blue skies, clouds, warmth, breeze, lush nature of all shades and varieties...! There: THAT'S better... :-)


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NANCY- 8/2/2011 9:34AM

    May I come visit you?
Just reading your blog made me feel better. I think you said it best when you said the world is consolingly beautiful. The beauty that surrounds us soothes and heals us in a way that nothing else can. It redirects us. We can realize that all will be right.

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KALIGIRL 8/2/2011 8:42AM

    Here's to chosing positivism! emoticon

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PHEBESS 8/1/2011 6:29PM

    NEVER lose that optimism, that ability to enjoy the little moments, that outlook that life CAN be good, even in our worst moments - that is what makes us human, what gets us through the darkest nights.

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CARRAND 8/1/2011 4:50PM

    I love your optimism! I'm sure optimism is what's carried my Dad through to 97 and counting.

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Up a Pound: GRRRRRR!!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Today's weight: 138.

I've been pretty steady at 137 for a couple of weeks.

But: yesterday involved two (2!!) glasses of wine and some cheese and crackers with DH on the patio after work before supper; some vanilla icecream with my berries for dessert. Total "score" for the day less than 200 calories over my "high end" range: and I'm generally at or a few calories below my lower end range (because that's what it actually takes for me to maintain).

So: the scales were quick to record this indulgence. Which seemed worth it yesterday. But: I know it will likely take a week or so to see that pound drop off again . . . And I also know, if I'm not vigilant I'll zoom up to middle number 4. Quickly.

Not happening.

So: I'm reading my Beck cards. Reminding myself: hunger is not an emergency. Sitting down to eat everything, slowly. Rearranging my environment to hide the peanut butter and cheese (no chips in the house at all, thank goodness).

Doing what I did to LOSE weight is not necessarily what I need to do to keep it off. Still learning what my lowest sustainable weight is, and what I have to do to keep it there.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DDOORN 8/2/2011 1:24PM

    Your bulldog vigilance is MOST IMPRESSIVE!

I've got to build a better bulldog for myself...am getting there...! :-)


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NANCY- 7/31/2011 12:15PM

    hmmm... cheese usually involves salt. Salt likes water.
You are being attentive and mindful.

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PHEBESS 7/31/2011 10:23AM

    While 1 lb isn't that big a deal, it can bring friends along quickly - so being proactive is good! And we both know you can do this!

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SLENDERELLA61 7/30/2011 4:19PM

    Good plan, Ellen! Taking action now and recommitting are smart moves. I find that when I am near the top of my range the best move for me is to cut back just a little, not all the way to losing calories. I find that easier and it works.

Your willingness to take a week is good. Since you only went over a little, though, I bet it doesn't take that long. Cheese and crackers have quite a bit of sodium, so drink a little extra water and that will help, too. You'll find what works best for you. Take care.

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CARRAND 7/30/2011 3:58PM

    Yeah, I was up two pounds this morning. Maybe the snacks I ate yesterday, maybe skipping the gym the last 2 days. I'm back at it today and I'll be fine. I have a colonoscopy on Monday, so only clear liquids tomorrow, with a strong laxative in the evening. That should take care of the two pounds!

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DBCLARINET 7/30/2011 2:07PM

    Wow, if I worried about a pound, I would go nuts!! I put two back on from over-indulgence, myself. You obviously have better discipline than I do -- I tend to over-indulge, and then when the scale goes up, work my butt off to get it back down. Your way is definitely more practical!

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ONEKIDSMOM 7/30/2011 2:03PM

    What Contagieux said! You're doing great, and consistency is what counts, long term.


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CONTAGIEUX 7/30/2011 1:42PM

  Keep looking forward. Don't hold on to the guilt. What you ate yesterday doesn't matter anymore. What's important is that you make better choices today . . .

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LRK4CHRIST 7/30/2011 1:39PM

    I pray God gives u good success!

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Shoplifting, Overeating: Compensation for Loss?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I read an interesting article in the National Post last Saturday about shoplifting. Nope, shoplifting doesn't tempt me at all . . . but this was a review of a book by psychologist Dr. Will Cupchik about the reasons why people shoplift. Cupchik says shoplifting is not just addiction. Here's the link if you want to read more:


Cupchik thinks that all of us can be pushed to do too much of something in order to cope with various stresses. The stresses that interest him arise from losses and especially when there is a perception that such losses are unfair. Some of us eat too much, or work too much, or run away too much, or party too much; some of us shoplift (any amount of that would seem to be too much). In other words, if we don't cope with our losses appropriately we're going to "act out" -- inappropriately.

So: even though I'm not a shoplifter, it's absolutely the case that I ate too much for a very long period of time. Worked too much maybe as well.

To compensate for losses? Doesn't entirely resonate with me, frankly.

Shoplifting as a compensation for loss: there's a pretty clear connection. And Cupchik says that shoplifting is most strongly associated with otherwise upstanding citizens coping with the ultimate loss: death.

Eating too much or working too much as a compensation for loss? Hmmm. Of course Cupchik also acknowledges that some stealing is just rebellion: not all stealing is the loss-triggered "shoplifting" phenomenon. So presumably that's also true of some over eating, over working etc. etc.: there are other motivations for these behaviours.

Just helped my DH with a couple of 20 kg (44 pound) bags of salt for the water softener. Hard to believe I used to weigh 2 bags of salt more than I do now!! The loss of 90 pounds?? A good loss!! No compensation required, really: and especially not overeating!!

(Although come to think of it, and given only about 5% of losers actually maintain weight loss . . . maybe there's something there! A return to overeating to make up for the "loss" of all that food that other people can unfairly eat without gaining weight? )

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TEENY_BIKINI 7/29/2011 7:18PM

    Really great read. I love when you review things. You and Cupchik make some interesting points.

Look at you hauling salt. You go girl!!

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CARRAND 7/29/2011 3:24PM

    Very interesting. I've never even thought about shop lifting, so it's hard to comment on that. Overeating for me was more of a habit than anything else. I just like food. I like the taste and texture and smell of food, in large quantities. If I'm compensating for the loss of something, I'm not sure what. I did manage to lose 70 pounds through SP and I've kept it off for seven months now. I still love food, but I'm making better choices of what to eat, and I've come to love exercise, too.

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PHEBESS 7/29/2011 9:58AM

    I LOVE comparing my weight loss to something tangible, such as the salt - it makes it so much more real to have that object(s) in front of me!

So good for you on this LOSS (which needs no compensation, and instead needs to be embraced and rewarded, which you do continuously)! Way to go!!!!!!

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PENNYAN45 7/28/2011 9:24PM

    What a great physical reminder (the salt) for all the weight you've shed. (Please note that I didn't refer to the weight you 'lost.')

I do agree with the author that dealing with stress inappropriately can lead to all kinds of acting out behaviors -- and certainly overeating is one of them.

Shoplifting is something I have no personal experience with - thank goodness. It seems logical to me that it could be related to a feeling of lacking something.

It's an interesting subject.

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SMILINGEYES2 7/28/2011 4:18PM

    I attended a conference back in the 70's where the presenter indicated that some persons who engage in shop lifting have problems with low blood sugar. The person does not eat breakfast or eats foods with high sugar content emoticon that causes their blood sugar level to soar. After a couple or so hours, the sugar level in the blood drops to a critical level. emoticon If the individual does not get another sugar fix, they may seek alternatives to give that spike and shoplifting releases loads of adrenalin with the "Can I Get by with This?" mentality. I have not heard much on this since but the presenter used multiple illustrations and did a demonstration on the impact of even a little sugar on the body. It's food for thought anyway.

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ECHAVEZ2 7/28/2011 10:22AM

    I have no advice, but would like to send you some emoticon Hang in there! emoticon

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DDOORN 7/28/2011 9:42AM

    Food can represent just about ANYTHING to food addicts. It all depends on what you struggle with. Have difficulty with anger, boredom, loss, anxiety and even good things like intimacy, joy and celebration? Food to the "rescue!"

Building new ways to meet our needs and deal with all of our emotions: That's the challenge for many of us...yours truly included!


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NANCY- 7/28/2011 9:41AM

    if you look hard enough you can find an explanation for everything.

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BELLEFAITH42 7/28/2011 9:15AM

    I am reading this book called Shirran's Solution and he talks about how using the phrase 'losing weight' implies that something is lost and will need to be found again. We should think if at as getting rid of the rubbish!

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KALIGIRL 7/28/2011 9:01AM

    Great blog - interesting how we hold on to 'stuff' - loss of what? When you think about it, our attitude is everything - if we let it go, 'it' (whatever it is) doesn't cause us stress...
Namaste my friend.

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DREMARGRL 7/28/2011 12:14AM

    Interesting.....We are all so unique and complex. There's a good book on why we do the things we do that I've read a couple of times. It's called "The Moral Animal" (Why we are the way we are: The new science of evolutionary psychology by Robert Wright. Your post just reminded me of it.

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PUDLECRAZY 7/27/2011 9:55PM

    Sometimes I think things get oversimplified; we have fairly complex psyches and response. Interesting ideas, though... I'll have to ponder that. I am definitely a workaholic, and even in play I continually challenge myself. From loss?? The thing is, there are no control groups. We all suffer losses. Can it be biological? I have one driven son, and one who isn't. My driven son was very active throughout my pregnancy, crawled early, walked early, talked early, went to Brown, got a great job, has many of his ideas patented, plays music, loves to tango. My other son was less active before and after his birth and is far more laid back. I have to think that some of this is nature, not nurture or loss of nurturing. Darn it, Ellen, you made my brain tired! emoticon

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New bathing suit(s)!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Scored: two new tankini style suits, identical (one purple, one black) so I can "mix and match. And at half price! Two for the price of one.

Wore the purple one to the beach yesterday and it's much more "swimmable". I hadn't bought a new suit for at least 10 years -- and at least 20 pounds ago!! Even my smallest was a size 12, and with the loss of elasticity over time as well as the weight, no longer doing the job. Droopy. The other three were 14s, even older, and even droopier. Especially in the bosom area.

The new suits are snug and secure. Simple v neck top with a bit of a twist at the front. Lingerie straps, so adjustable, and with a pretty chrome buckle. Decent length so the belly button isn't hanging out. Decent coverage in the bottoms too.

Not mumsy, not matronly. Really really exciting? No, probably not. Pretty plain, actually.

But still, giving me a lift -- literally AND figuratively!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FRACTALMYTH 8/5/2011 12:02PM

    Where's the photo proof????? :D

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TEENY_BIKINI 7/29/2011 7:20PM

    Go hot stuff!!

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DSHONEYC 7/28/2011 3:18PM

    You beat the odds! 90% of the women who try on bathing suits don't get too excited looking in the mirror! Just seeing how you are doing, as I have been a neglectful emoticon.

I settled on a couple of the cutest summer dresses last Saturday. Size 12, though the 10s fit but I thought a little too snug on the top. Also, half-price from my favorite dress shop - Steinmarts. Yippee! Retail therapy is good on occasion. And I threw in a pair of red $6.99 sunglasses just for fun!

I bet you look great in your 2 new tankinis! How about posting a picture!

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PENNYAN45 7/27/2011 4:58PM

    AAhhh! Enjoyment and swim suit purchasing were two ideas that have not co-existed in my mind for many years now. How exciting that you are reaping the rewards of your determination and hard work. Congratulations to you! Thanks, Dr. Beck!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BARBIETEC 7/27/2011 5:16AM

    sweeeet! It is so much fun buying clothes when you are happy with yourself!

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PHEBESS 7/26/2011 8:23PM

    YAY for new swimsuits - I bet you get followed home!!!!!!!

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FROSTIERACES 7/26/2011 2:47PM

    Yay!! I love new swimsuits! So much fun with mix and matching and colors! Fabulous!...and you sound extremely happy too which is just great to read! :)

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PUDLECRAZY 7/25/2011 7:55PM



I did that last year; it felt great! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!


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NANCY- 7/25/2011 11:18AM

Ah how wonderful to find a fit.
I think it is extremely exciting.

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KALIGIRL 7/25/2011 9:21AM

    Love it - bet you looked HOT!

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CARRAND 7/24/2011 11:13PM

    They sound perfect!

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JOYFUL711 7/24/2011 6:07PM

    Congrats, that is a major milestone!!Yeah, I had to go through my bathing suit drawer, funny thing, I had thrown one in my gym bag to go in the sauna, when I put it on at the gym it was like a sack, especially in the chest...LOL I wore that one last time, then went shopping! All new suits this year, and all bikinis! Even one from Victoria's Secret. I am 50 and I don't care who thinks I am to old to wear a bikini, I worked hard to look acceptable in one.

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BESTSUSIEYET 7/24/2011 4:00PM

    Hooray! What fun! I got 2 new ones last summer, and found one I really like on dry land isn't actually "swimmable" -- the over blouse thing floats up like a water balloon! Been so long since I bought a suit I never even considered that! Sounds like your choices will be good in and out of the water! Enjoy!

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SLENDERELLA61 7/24/2011 3:51PM

    Hey, you passed a BIG test! I love clothes shopping -- for everything but bathing suits. If you can love yourself in a bathing suit, you are doing really, really well. Celebrate! Celebrate!!

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_LINDA 7/24/2011 2:11PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
New swimsuits are fantastic, especially with a bargain!! Would love a photo, sounds fabulous!!
Enjoy strutting your stuff!!

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TBANMAN 7/24/2011 11:21AM

    I love getting new bathing suits. Especially smaller ones!


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Chillin' Soup

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chilling in my fridge, a big pot of summer soup. Should be icy by the time I get back from the gym!

Found in my fridge and cupboards this morning:

2 cartons Imagine chicken broth, low sodium
a full tub of fat free Greek yogourt
2 raw beets
1 pound of asparagus, lightly steamed and chilled
small bag of shredded carrots
package of mini cucumbers
tube of fresh chopped dill weed
half a large tub of baby spinach
two fresh ripe tomatoes

I used the food processor with the pulse chop feature sequentially, so there's still plenty of texture. Added some water at the end.

It's a pretty pink colour thanks to the beets! I'll stir in a little salt and grind fresh ground black pepper onto each serving . . .

No idea, of course, of the calorie count -- but it's gotta be low, and relatively high in protein, and full of vitamins.

And I'm betting pretty delicious too.

OK: 400 calories to burn on the elliptical (about 34 minutes probably) and upper body weights workout next!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

Post sampling report: yes!! delicious!! I picked up some crunchy sea salt with my groceries . . . and I also stirred in some red chili pepper flakes for a bit more zip. It was fun to serve over ice cubes!!

(Spent a couple of hours at the beach, too: gorgeous sizzling hot day!!)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DDOORN 7/25/2011 10:47AM

    Yum! I often do a quick mix of baby spinach into my yogurt...sort of a spinach pie on the fly...! :-)


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NANCY- 7/24/2011 10:19AM

    How yummy, healthy and refreshing!!! What a wonderful way to enjoy summer.
I'm still looking out for those tubes... a store a few towns away is supposed to have them, I'll check it out when I head out that way.

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PHEBESS 7/23/2011 10:27PM

    Must be a gorgeous color!

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CARRAND 7/23/2011 8:38PM

    An interesting recipe. I wouldn't have thought of using raw beets, but it does sound good and healthy.

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JOHAL52 7/23/2011 1:06PM

    Sounds refreshing and delicious! Hope that the drought there isn't hurting your gardens!

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IMAGINE_IT 7/23/2011 12:24PM

    Your 'chillin' soup sounds refreshing Ellen!! Enjoy!

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TKADEEPBREATH 7/23/2011 11:20AM

    Very good, may give this a whirl too if I can tear myself away from gardening. Let us know how it tastes!!

as always, love, Jan

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BOOKWORM27S 7/23/2011 10:54AM


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SLENDERELLA61 7/23/2011 10:38AM

    Wonderful!! That's just great. Thanks for sharing your recipe for summer soup. Today with my sore throat I'm still wanting hot soup, but maybe next week I'll go for the cold!!

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