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The Most Difficult Muscles To Build & Maintain

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My apologies over my extended absence from the blogosphere. It's not YOU, my wonderfully supportive SparkFamily, but it has been ME!

My summer has been off to a lackluster start...my Spark has been waning...but am working really hard to turn this around! My biggie? Food & pounds. Workouts continue to be pretty solid...but you can't work off ongoing bad food choices. I'm getting back to tracking (got WAY off track) and limiting my sugar / grain-based carbs.

While I've stayed dedicated to working out almost every day, I've SO strayed from exercising the same diligence with my food choices and instead of using all that angst toward motivating myself toward HEALTH and QUALITY OF LIFE (thank you for the important thoughts in your blog, 2BMYOWN!) I've done WAY too much self-bashing. Those old, negative pathways are just SO EASY to slip and slide down. It really takes some extra vigilance and effort to take the better, healthier path. THESE are by FAR the most difficult muscles to build and maintain!

But the deeper thing have been the "blahs"...having really hit a wall. It's even taken a toll on my love of cycling. Too many workouts and solo cycling outings have felt like pointless hamster wheel spinning...music on my mp3 player at the fitness center seeming like mindless nattering... It's been too easy to back off on the cycling: "oh, a chance of showers? 90+ degrees?" Last year I wouldn't have thrown in the towel anywhere NEAR so readily as I've been!

It's all wrapped up in the backslide and the pounds, unquestionably. Every hill climb out on my bike reminds me of these extra pounds and there's a part of me bashing myself. Even while receiving a compliment from another bike club member yesterday! He's one of the speedier members and does long distances on a regular basis. He cycled 40 miles before catching up with the club and joining us for OUR miles of riding after which he would be cycling back home his 40 miles!! Anyhow he cycled up beside me while I was churning those pedals around, too hyperfocused on the ground beneath and immediately before me and not paying enough attention to the beautiful summer's day through which we sped at the head of our club ride. Breaking my attention he said: "Don, you're an ANIMAL!" Made me smile, but while I thanked him I had to qualify it as I immediately flashed to thoughts of my pounds and said in self-deprecating humor: "Yeah, talk to me on this next climb we have coming up!"

And this is happening in the middle of SUMMER of all things when I should be BURSTING with joy over the ample opportunities to get out and soak up the great outdoors! I've been busy doing a lot of things, a lot of cycling...even racking up over a THOUSAND miles over the past 4 months. And at the same time while reflecting on that my automatic counter-thought is: yeah but imagine what that number would be if you weren't holding yourself back so much!

My sun sign is Libra...and sometimes I find the back and forth balance of the scales, seeing all the pros & cons, to be so IMMOBILIZING!

Obviously I've got to get on to taking care of business with my food. And while I'm sure this will help my mood to some extent, a part of me is semi-stuck on the thought of "what if it doesn't?"

So back to my absence: feeling like a "fallen angel" after beating myself up the way I have I have a great deal of shame and feel very embarrassed, thinking I'd better just go away, get my act together and come back when I've reclaimed my momentum.

But that hasn't worked! So here I am, pushing through all my inner muck and determined to publicly slog it out! Fighting through the "domesticated despair" O'Connor speaks of: "At its best our age is an age of searchers and discoverers, and at its worst, an age that has domesticated despair and learned to live with it happily." - Flannery O'Connor

I liked this quote and am trying to hold onto this at all times. Getting out of my own way...but Lao Tzu says it better:

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
-- Lao Tzu

Here's to re-joining you "searchers and discoverers" and becoming "what we might be!"

Don

ps...Thx you SONGBUDDHA for your support through this...been listening to U2's "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of"...thx for pointing me toward another great song!

pps...perhaps I might dust off some of the pics I've gathered and share some of my adventures from the past several weeks. Sometimes it may FEEL like my life has ground to a halt, but REALLY there have been things happening...!
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SONGBUDDHA 8/6/2011 5:37PM

    Awesome, awesome, awesome!!! Just caught up with this today (yep, STILL on vacation!!).
No other words--you are phenomenal!!!!!
annjie

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MISS_VIV 8/6/2011 11:09AM

    When I see your new profile - and think (and look) back to when you first started I cannot believe it is the same person. Bad food choices.. watch it.
I'll be givin' ya' da boot ya kno wher emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KINSBAILE 8/4/2011 11:02AM

    Don, you're too hard on yourself! You are doing SO well but I have to admit, I have been feeling a bit of the same thing! So, I think we must change it up a bit perhaps?

At any rate, I know you'll be back on the SP Bandwagon in no time :)

Keep on truckin' my friend!

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BAM-MA 8/3/2011 10:35AM

    Ready for this...?

I am GLAD to see you wrestling your Demons!

Cause, if you aren't wrestling them... then they are winning!

None of us are perfect every day.
None of us have motivation and positive outlook every day.
It is not how you get through the good times, but how you battle through the bad times that are the true indicator of your strength.

Kudos to acknowledging your troubles and allowing US to boost You instead of it always having to be the other way around!

Hang in there, and thanks for sharing!

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WATERMELLEN 8/2/2011 9:28PM

    Terrific blog: I "liked" it!! Sure do get that "lives of quiet desperation" thing and: just not good enough for us, is it? Plus I simply never can exercise enough to eat whatever I want: it's not possible. Have to face the reality that I'm going to have to track nutrition for the rest of my life to keep my weight in maintenance mode. And catch the weight creep at the beginning of the "climb" . . . not when it's up 20 or so. Yeah.

Looking around at the world helps me so much: and I can tell, it works for you too!! Sunshine, blue sky, green grass, birds: simple stuff, the stuff that counts the most: the stuff that I want to remain healthy enough to enjoy for many many years to come. Worth the "price" of eating less . . . permanently.

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MRDPOLING 8/1/2011 10:05PM

    I think many of us have issues with the old self not wanting to die from time to time. I know I dealt with it most of winter and spring but I've been back on the waggon for a while now.

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VARMINT3 8/1/2011 6:09PM

    Don, you are really amazing and inspiring... even when you don't think you are! Take care of yourself and do what you need to do to get back where you need to be - and I hope we can support you through this half as well as you've supported so many of us! You're still WAY up there on the BAL exercise minutes leaderboard even though you're struggling - way to go!

It is really easy to see this uncharacteristically warm weather as an obstacle - I hate it & want my nice cool summers back! And I'm trying really hard not to just pack it in until fall (mostly successfully, but I have canned a few workouts because "it's just too hot!"). But hey, people not too far south of here have this every day, all summer, every summer & seem to like it, so it can't be all bad, right? (OK, maybe I'm trying too hard LOL!).

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CCKELLY3 8/1/2011 4:23PM

    Hey, you're noticing the trends of backsliding and that's good. Honestly, what worried me most was not that you've put on a few pounds (that's a problem simple enough to fix when motivated) but the underlying things-- the lack of joy and fun and how negative you're being about yourself-- you're seeing all you're doing wrong. No wonder you feel unmotivated!

I know for myself, whenever I start to feel the old habits of putting myself down, focusing on my weaknesses and that horrible beast, perfectionism-- creeping back into my life, I'm learning that means it's time to give myself a break and focus on joy and fun. For instance, I am trying to defeat a lifelong anxiety of swimming, due to a near-death drowning when I was a toddler. Anyway-- there are days like today when I can't seem to get my body to relax and I am thrashing around like an uncoordinated beast-- if I 'yell' at myself, it just gets worse. So instead, I try to lie back, focus on the blue sky, the gorgeous day, the sounds of the children in the kiddie pool laughing and feel the joy of the cool water holding me, lifting me and the freedom that's almost like flying when I let my body relax.

It's not easy when you're really driven to just enjoy life-- my best friend and business mgr tells me I'm the worst relaxer he's ever met. And I'm infamous for being my own worst critic on everything-- but after a point, that is self-defeating.

Maybe try pampering yourself a little, treating yourself to something special and telling yourself all the things you have accomplished, and continue to accomplish-- how wonderful you are. And maybe, just maybe, take a few days to only do fun activities, without counting any calories burned or logging the workouts-- just be in the activity and feel the fun of it. If it isn't fun, then do something else till you find something fun. The laugh, sing or shout WHEEEEE!!! going downhill (yes, I do that, it really lifts your spirits!) until you completely forget you're working out and you find your play. Go get your PLAY on!!! :) You deserve it.

Okay, that's my 20 cents worth-- sorry it's so long. :)

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ZELLAZM 8/1/2011 2:26PM

    You are so right - the most difficult muscle to change and maintain is the BRAIN! Just by posting you've told that muscle that you mean business and that it's time to stop the negative self-talk and move on. As others have said, it takes guts to share the bad and ugly (referring to those slimy thoughts!) along with the good.

I'm so impressed by some of the wisdom shared here by our fellow Sparkers! What a great community! And you, Don, are a major player in that community if you ask me. Sure, there are others who've made phenomenal progress, but I've had the privilege of knowing you from Week 1 and seeing it happen. Besides that, you are one of the biggest Share-the-Spark Sparkers of all time!

You're gonna make it!

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REYVE01 8/1/2011 1:04PM

    It's amazing..... regardless how far we come or how well we achieved, this is an ongoing battle. A lifestyle change doesn't just happen. We need to have continued adjustments and renewed spark to keep up with the changes. You'll push pass this phase... you have come to far to turn back now. emoticon

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L*I*T*A* 8/1/2011 10:24AM

    we have all been there done that too......
remember where you were and where you are going....
struggles come to us all....keep on keeping on....
you are an inspiration to so many here...
we are here for you....
blessings and hugs...........lita

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LADYGWEN25 8/1/2011 9:49AM

    glad to see you back on here blogging Don... If you ever need someone to cycle with.. I'm game :) are you doing Bike Tioga this coming weekend???

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SKINNYPOWELL1 8/1/2011 7:38AM

    Be kind to yourself DON, you are truly amazing. When we feel like we are backsliding, we must get back to the basics. You know how it's done. Congrats on the 1000 miles.

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FERRETLOVER1 8/1/2011 7:04AM

    Don, I've have been where you are. It really takes guts to admit publicly that you're struggling...I am very proud of you for being able to do that.

Acknowledging that you are having troubles is a HUGE part of winning that battle!

I know you will be able to come back even stronger.

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JLITT62 8/1/2011 5:29AM

    It's when you're struggling the most that you NEED us the most. Backsliding doesn't make you shameful, it simply makes you human.

Please don't beat yourself up, you are so much better than that & you WILL turn things around.

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DAISYBELL6 8/1/2011 3:45AM

    Up and down. That's the way it goes. But consistency and perserverenhce will make the difference. You have what it takes and you will pass through this period. We are all rooting for you.

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TOPAHI 8/1/2011 2:02AM

    Thanks for sharing Don.

Just so you know, I'm in almost the exact same situation.
It's nice to know I'm not alone.
My workouts have been good, but my nutrition has been poor, and my cycling has been lagging too.
I've felt terrible for not being able to stay on track.
I'm up about four pounds.

Thanks for being braver than I am and blogging about it.
This blog and others you have posted have helped me a lot.

I am trying to work my way through this period by telling myself that I actually only have to fix ONE thing... my nutrition.
I'm doing really good at everything else.
It seems that you're in the same place

So tomorrow is the start of a new month... the perfect opportunity to re-focus.

Soooo... time to get back to losing weight.



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MS_SWEETHEART 8/1/2011 1:48AM

    Don't be so hard on yourself, you have had wonderful success, and you look amazing. Just in case you forgot, nobody is perfect, we all stray a little from time to time. You'll be back on track in no time. emoticon emoticon

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2BMYOWN 8/1/2011 1:00AM

    You're just in one of life's hang-ups, Don, and it's all just a part of life in an imperfect world. Everything changes on a moment-to-moment basis.....and the valleys always come as a result of that constant change. Nobody is capable of keeping it going ALL the time, that's just the way it is. Our feelings change by the minute, our circumstances change by the minute.....life changes by the minute (or nanosecond, which is prob more accurate! lol). Has nothing to do with you being 'less than' at all...just has everything to do with hitting one of those valleys that we can't help but hit along this path. So to rake yourself over the coals because you are in a dip only adds psychological self-defeat, because you know we are always our own worst critics, and it makes us feel even worse than we do already and puts a whole new burden on your own shoulders that shouldn't even be there. Just go out on a beautiful day with no intent other than to enjoy the beautiful day....let the miles slide by, feel the wind in your face, and enjoy the sunshine. And if you wanna stop to enjoy a drink along the way, then just stop. Do it for the sake of doing it, and not for the exercise or for the calories or anything else. Sometimes you have to go back to the beginning to re-find the joy 'cause in the midst of working it, we tend to lose the joy and only concentrate on the work. You are totally awesome, and I don't wanna hear any comeback to that statement! LOL

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BARBARA_BOO 8/1/2011 12:13AM

    Don, no one thinks any the less of you for doing what every single solitary one of us does from time to time. You have witnessed me struggling through some rough spots, I know.

I think the whole thing might be somehow tied to goals. We lose steam, or at least I do, when we aren't moving toward something. SparkGuy has said, in many different ways, that we are goal-seeking creatures and that when we knock down one goal, it's important to find another.

You achieved a lot with your biking. Could it be that you are just in the throes of finding the next thing (big or small) to get excited about, whether it has to do with biking or something else that interests you? Any "someday I'd like to" goals floating around? If so, even a small beginning on one of them might be a pleasant surprise.

In addition to the goal-seeking thing, there's always that bugaboo, perfectionism, that flies around us like a hoard of gnats, whenever we think we've made a mistake. You obviously know better than to beat yourself up about taking a break and letting things slide. I'm interpreting your blog as a decision to forgive yourself and move forward from where you are today, with a big smile? We all have our moments of sloth. Be proud of your humanity!
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I would also ask that you consider losing the self-deprecating humor. What good does it do?

You are the same terrific you, regardless of what you weigh on any given day. It's great to hear from you.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MJREIMERS 7/31/2011 11:36PM

    Balancing the Libra scales can be difficult! However, you're on the right track and I like the Lao Tzu quote. Print it out and put it on your fridge, your bathroom mirror and next to your bed. Keep reading it, meditate on it and it will come true. Good luck! emoticon

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