Monday, March 31, 2014

Feeling the Love

Today I posted my most current progress on my weight loss...which is finally under the "100 pounds left to lose" mark.  I was pleasantly overwhelmed by the folks who "liked" the post and added words of encouragement in messages that made my heart smile and picked up my determination to stay at it to a whole new level.

I'm very grateful for that.

Here in the South...we call that "feeling the love."  Sometimes we will do something for someone else and they don't seem to notice.  Which is okay since we were probably going to do it anyway...but every so often...we just want to feel the love.  Hear the words.  See the time spent in stopping to acknowledge it.  Not all the time...but sometimes.

Other times, we'll just do something for someone that seems like no big deal to us...but is a huge deal to them.  Their thankfulness spills over and makes us feel like we were meant to be a blessing to them.  I love that feeling.

Today, I felt the love.  Read the kind words, the encouraging words, the "I'm doing that too!" words.  I loved seeing the vast array of friends and family who took a few minutes to read that post.  People who have all touched my life in some way.  It was very humbling...yet very uplifting.

A week ago, my friend and instructor, Allyson, told me that I should be putting more about my journey out here.  Maybe that will let someone know that they aren't alone...or may convince someone to get off of the fence and in the gym.  That it isn't too late.  That it is possible.  That there is a way out.

I think it goes without saying that the way out is not easy.

Yes, there are times when it is hard.  There are times I want to hurl my scale across the floor.  Times when I catch a whiff of something awesome but that whiff is the only partaking of it that I'm going to do.  Times when I focus on how much further I have to go instead of how far I've come.  Times when I curse my metabolism and my stupidity.

But losing weight is not that hard.  Relatively speaking, anyway.  People going through chemo have it hard.  People who have lost a child have it hard.  Learning to eat in a way that honors God, my body, and my family...was not hard.  Confusing?  Absolutely.  Frustrating?  You betcha.  Same with the exercise.  The water consumption.  The logging of every bite.

This is actually more like pregnancy and childbirth than anything else I've experienced.  At first you're tentative, sick, tired, and your body feels foreign.  Then you go through months of learning how to cope...but instead of getting're getting smaller.  You make changes because you have to.  Things aren't as important as they once were because your focus has changed.  And we all know that what keeps any mother going through labor and delivery is knowing that there is someone worth it on the other side.  That's pretty much the way that I feel.  There's someone worth it on the other side.  Someone who has been in hiding for decades.

Yes, for years, I believed that there was no way out.  Once you've flunked out of Weight Watchers more than Lindsay Lohan has flunked out of start to get a little touchy.  Every program brought answers...or failure.  A year of exercise only without a handle on the food intake helped some...but not enough to make a lot of headway.

I finally figured I'd make the most of life and just live it.  I'd quit trying to do something about the problem.  I'd just be me and if people didn't like it...well, that was their problem.

Except it wasn't their was mine.  Nobody was shoving food in my mouth.  That was me.  Completely me.

Once I accepted that there was no way back, I just started walking through one day at a time.  As I kept showing made it easier for people to be supportive.  I'd take that support and use it as a shield when temptation struck or I was at a low point.

Support has been wonderful...but nothing really prepared me for today.  It was so positive that it made me tear up a few times.  In a good way, of course.

We all need to feel the love sometimes.  To know that folks are standing with us or cheering us as we go by.  To feel like the battle is worth it.  Every sore muscle.  Every time something was passed by.  Every time a good decision replaced a bad one.

I cannot really adequately describe how it made me feel...but for the most part it was...loved,  encouraged, and supported.

Those are pretty good words, yes?

This is the first leg of a very long journey.  There will be days when I'll need to remember why I'm doing this.  What I hope to accomplish.  Who I am.  And when I'm tired and disheartened and wondering if it will ever be over...I'm going to remember the love that was shared today.  The encouragement and those who took a few minutes to hit a "like" button or share a comment.

And the ongoing help from the teachers that have appeared exactly when I've needed them.  I hope to return the favor for someone else someday.

For those who shared kindness with me today...I felt the love.  And I cannot thank you enough for that.

For me, the goal is getting the weight off...but the real work comes when there are more choices.  Right now, I have two: do this or don't do this.  When there are more choices...there are also more pitfalls.  I'm girding my loins - so to speak - to deal with that part when it comes.

Which is, obviously, not now.


Friday, March 28, 2014

About Choices

This week, I have been following the program, and had to cut out artificial sweeteners and the small amount of coffee creamer that I was using - and logging - but which made the morning cup of joe exactly the way I liked it.  I cut back from three to one cup of coffee a day (during the winter...during the summer, I only had two cups anyway) - and was hesitant to give it up.  Some people are anti-caffeine...but not me.  It is a simple pleasure of life that I don't intend to give up.

Until my sweetener and creamer was taken away.

There is nothing like learning to drink coffee black.  Unadorned, plain, hot and boring.  Some people like the taste, but I found that I really liked the effects enough to try to make it work.  Five days later, I can tolerate it.  It isn't nirvana...but that's fine.

I won't get into what oatmeal without sweetener or almond milk is like.  I just praise God for cinnamon and blackberries.

Why I am here - as of today 99 pounds from my goal weight - is because I made a whole lot of bad food choices.  I chose convenience over cooking my own meals.  I chose to eat my feelings instead of working them out.  Chose to mindlessly not give a rat's behind what I was putting in my body or care about how it was responding.  Chose to give in to the notion that I was middle- aged and I may as well look like it.

All c-rap, by the way.

Don't think I'm some kind of super-human disciplined mega-star of Paleo or anything, because that's not the case.  I'm not even eating Paleo...although there are some similarities.  What I have done is decided that I have two options here.  Two.  Not twenty.  Not several.  Two.

And to quote Yoda...they are "Do or not do.  There is no try."

Do or not do.  I can do whatever I need to do to lose this weight in a healthy way or I can slip back into old habits.  I don't have the option of a "cheat meal" or a "bite of something" or anything else.  I have DO.  I have "log the food."  I have "eat what I planned."  I have "weigh daily."  I have "take a whole food multivitamin."  I have "exercise...including cardio and weight training."  I have "showing up."  I have "limitations on what I'll eat - both in scope and in volume."  I have "drink at least 64 oz of water a day up to 120 oz."

While that may seem difficult or burdensome to some me, it is freedom.  It is the peace of knowing that I am doing all that is humanly possible to get my weight off.  It is the determination to do all that I can and trust God, my teachers, and the program to do the rest.  Basic science may tell you that you have to eat less than you burn off, but what it doesn't address is the quality of what you put in...and your output.  I'm addressing those too.

I'm down 41 pounds as of this morning.  I have 99 to go.

To some people, they might think..."well, I could do the water...or the exercise...but I like my glass of wine every night."  Well, fine.  That's a choice you're making.  A compromise.  As for me, I don't have that luxury.  No alcohol.

Others may say, "Yogurt is healthy, so I'm not giving that up."  Fine.  But dairy is off the table for me.  I'm actually allowed to eat plain Greek yogurt.  Uh, no, thank you.

Others may think, "I don't have time to go to the gym, and even if I do go...I have no idea what to do once I get there."  Well, my response is that showing up is half of the battle.  Taking the "walk of shame" past the mirrors and lifting your head up anyway.  Getting to a point where you are okay with modifications to your program because you simply are not ready for certain things.  In my case...that's lunges.  Mine are more baby lunges.  Squats?  Yes.  Lunges?  Working on it.

It is my contention that when you are ready...the teachers will appear.  Mine did in the form of a very encouraging instructor, another who makes me cool with driving in 25 minutes to attend an 8:30 a.m. Saturday class, a trainer who just offered to help...and he is, and another gym member who told me about isometrics.

If you ask for help, you'll probably get that.  My husband cooks breakfast and most dinners.  He eats what I eat (and has lost 10 pounds in the process and had to wear a belt to keep his jeans up this morning.)  If he wants to eat a Costco hot dog for lunch...that's his business.  I'm just extremely grateful that he makes the rest of the day so much easier for me.

Also keep in mind that I'm an "empty nester" and I work near the it is convenient to just swing left out of the parking lot for there instead of right to go to the house.  Plus, my daughter is my workout partner.  Knowing that she'll be there with me adds extra incentive.

Speaking of incentive, I have a pair of bright yellow-green tennis shoes waiting for me when I hit 50 pounds off.  Cannot wait to wear them.

Just remember that the choices you make every day are taking you down one path or another.  If you need help...ask.  If you failed at something...try something else.  If you start getting weak...get yourself back on track.  If you wonder if it is worth it...know that it is.  Just choose to quit doing the things that you know are not in your best interest.

I'm not saying that it is an easy choice.  It isn't.  I am saying, though, that there is a lot of peace and joy in having the monkey off your back.

For me...I choose peace and joy over disgust and hiding my shame (which was always ridiculous since anyone with eyes could see that I was out of control) any day.

It is a new day and you can choose differently today.  If you don't know where to start...start with the water.  Anyone can do that.  Then start reading labels and looking up what you are eating.  Find a good program and a host of people to support you.  Give yourself a break.  Look for the teachers to appear.

They'll show up.  Promise.

Choose to be the best you possible.  Choose healthy over easy.  Choose pushing yourself over the couch.  Choose tenacity over apathy.  You can do it.

I can too.  Let's do this.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Sometimes on the journey of life, we'll find out that there are roadblocks.  One minute we are coasting along admiring the scenery with our trip plugged into the GPS and the radio blaring our favorite music, and the next...we are at a complete standstill because something has gone awry up ahead.  Our inclination is to assume that the something up ahead of us has gotten off track but it has nothing to do with us...such as some poor soul crashing into someone else or a vehicle malfunction.

Other times, it is because there's too much trying to crowd into a space not equipped to handle it so it is a bottleneck that will sort itself out eventually.  Like rush hour traffic or roadwork that is necessary but often scheduled at the worst time possible.

But occasionally, it is because we have a detour.  Some bridge is out or there's serious road construction going on that requires all lanes to complete it.  And on your GPS, you'll get the dreaded "recalculating" with a new path that is 30 minutes out of your way.

Okay, maybe I'm just recalling past trips to the beach.  Which is on my mind right now since both children are visiting the beach this week and I keep seeing everybody's beach posts on Facebook.

But why am I thinking about roadblocks?  Because some days my scale is not kind and other days I just keep wondering if I'll ever get to the point I want to get to because if it is this difficult this early...then the rest of it won't be a cake walk.

Roadblocks.  Specifically, attitudinal roadblocks that we set up for ourselves or that jump out at us at a vulnerable point in time.

Every person who has tried to improve their lives has encountered these.  It's like making a cake for someone and getting every ingredient mixed together except the last one that cannot be flour or sugar...only to find out that you're out.  You have to find someone to borrow from or schlep into town to get the MIA ingredient, finish it, and then find yourself up at midnight waiting for it to cool so you can put the dome on and sleep for five hours before you have to get up and face another full day.

Oh?  I'm the only one who's done that?

Right now, I'm running into a few annoyances in my weight loss plan.  Trying to eat oatmeal with only a few berries and a ton of cinnamon instead of dolled up nicely with a little almond milk and sweet n low.  It's doable, but not ideal.  Drinking coffee black instead of with some carefully measured sugar-free creamer and a little more sweet n low.  Hopping on the scale and not seeing much of a difference because - after all - it's the weekend and I did eat a filet mignon last night.  Knowing I'll be at a baby shower later today and the food table will be impressive...and all I'll be able to eat is some fruit if it is there.

But these aren't really roadblocks, are they?  They are like lovebugs all over the front of my car...annoying and with the potential to damage the paint of the car - or in my case my resolve - but not enough to make me throw in the towel by any means.  I did, however, obviously think about it.

Over time, though, if we focus on the damage and the will spoil the whole idea of travel or change...or of staying on the right path.  Collectively, that can sometimes become a roadblock because all of us have a level that we can contend with before we scream, "Enough!"

We've all done that.  Had poor service with a company or a restaurant and vowed and declared that we aren't going back. (I'm looking at you, FTD.)  We'll never be able to get past the experience to be able to form new impressions.

I think that's what happens with a lot of people in trying to lose weight or do anything that is going to take awhile is that there are going to be times of doubt. We can be "all in" for a respectable period of time, but after gets too hard.  Too annoying.  Too time-consuming.  Too everything.  It is at this point that people quit.

For me, however, quitting is really not an option.

So, just as you must address the little annoyances in life before they become a cluster of great magnitude, it is necessary to examine what your original purpose is for being on the road in the first place.

For the beach...that's easy.  You want to hear the waves, feel the cool breeze, put your toes in the sand.  Eat fresh seafood.  Have no distractions.  Enjoy slowing down.  Spend time with people you enjoy, float on a raft and stare at the blue sky, or get a major infusion of natural Vitamin D.  You want to kick back and take in the beauty of God's masterpiece.  Watch the sand pipers...hunt for shells or shark's teeth.

For weight's a little different. You want to feel better, look your best, and be free of the monkey on your back.  You want to honor your body, your God and yourself by embracing discipline.  You want to push yourself to be better than you were and to set those little goals that make it possible to endure the long race.

Long race is an understatement in my case.

I know people that have been successful by focusing on the end result.  Who have done well because they've had to for health reasons or were able to pull on that invisible reservoir of strength, dedication and determination that it takes to get there.

I want to be one of those people.  After years of being a "horrible warning"...I am yearning to be a "good example."

But there are roadblocks.  Times when I step on the scale for days in a row and nothing moves.  Days when I have "movement" problems of another less couth variety.  Days where I work out beyond what I think I can and I'll wonder if I can keep up the pace.  Days where I am stuck between two sizes and neither fits.  Times when I think eating the same breakfast and lunch every day is going to eventually wear thin.  Times when I think I'm doing well and then I catch a glimpse in the mirror and am reminded of the fact that I'm still a long way from my goal.

Any of those could be roadblocks.  At any moment, the towel could be thrown in, and I could sit down with a lovely cup of coffee fixed the way I like it and a plate of chicken salad, crackers and a piece of chocolate cake.

But not today.

Knowing that there are going to be roadblocks keeps me on my toes.  And much like the Christian is instructed in Ephesians 6 to "put on the full armor of God" - I have to arm myself for the possibility of slipping back into bad habits EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  Sometimes every hour.

Occasionally, I am caught off guard by how they pop up out of nowhere.  Finding myself out of oatmeal one morning.  Wanting something other than chicken for lunch.  Wanting a big bowl of chili when tomatoes are considered a fruit (and I don't part with my fruit easily).  It can be frustrating.  And if I think about it too can become unbearable.  Fortunately, I am aware it's coming.  Maybe I won't know until I'm in the midst of it, but at least I open my eyes and begin fighting it back.

To do so...sometimes I'll review how far I've come and how close I am to my next mini-goals.  Or I'll treat myself with a movie or a nap.  Anything.  Usually after that, I'll look up and see the roadblock for what it is...a figment of my imagination.  A denial of the fact that things take time...including undoing years of bad eating decisions.  In time, it'll work out.  I just have to not get so frustrated with the process that I find myself eating a cupcake and then berating myself for it for weeks.  Only to promise to go back on a strict plan...on Monday.

For me...EVERY day is Monday.  Except steak night.  :)

I don't know what roadblocks other people are facing right now.  Maybe it is a job they didn't get that they hoped for or a house that won't sell so they can't move.  Perhaps it is a class that they need to graduate that isn't offered again until Fall.  Or maybe it is a lack of money, creativity, initiative, time, other resources or research that is making the roadblock seem so ominous.  I don't know.

All I know is that today...I have to do what I have to do to get where I want to go.  If I keep working on it that roadblock will move.  Sounds awfully familiar to a mountain moving, yes?

I hope that your path will be smooth...and that the journey will be filled with a lot of joy and good memories.  I hope that my path will be as well.  Yesterday felt a little like a trip through the briars...but I'm not bothered by that.  Been here before.  Will be here again.  But this time...I have a little perspective.  So there's that.

Today is another day.  So far, all is quiet.  Hope it stays that way.  I could use some smooth sailing.  And a trip to the beach.  Definitely a trip to the beach.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Recently, I received a very nice phone call from a friend wishing me a Happy Birthday a day or so early because she is the kind of person who not only thinks "I should do that..." but she also does it.  She has never failed to be an encourager, positive about anything I'm trying to do, interested in what is going on in my life, and a true friend.  She also reminded me that our group that met once a month for two years after our children graduated needs to get together.  After the first one was planned, I became the unofficial instigator of such because I tend to be pretty good about keeping a calendar and it took a whopping five minutes a month to send out the reminder e-mails.

Then life started intervening and we had to cancel a couple of times.  Our large group trickled down to just a few.  More time passed.  And then it was finally just a distant memory.

Now we just look back fondly on those lunches where we got to keep up with what was going on. Oh, we talk about it...but we don't plan it.  And I - as the keeper of the e-mails - let down the community.  Until last week...when I sent another one out.  It has been nearly two years since we last went to lunch...but by gosh...we're going...even if it means I'm dining alone.

Except I won't be because a couple of them have already e-mailed that they are planning to be there.  Yes!

I love the sense of community.  Of feeling a part of something.  Interacting with people.

Believe it or not, I score pretty much on the line between "introvert" and "extravert" on the Myers-Briggs tests.  I love people, but don't particularly gain energy from being around folks.  Facebook is really ideal for me because I can plug in when I want and can communicate in writing.  It's why I prefer e-mail to the phone at work, and why I love sending and receiving cards and letters.

But sometimes, you just have to see people and enjoy their company.

Like yesterday...when I had lunch with a good friend who always cracks me up.  She knows my heart, so I don't have to filter anything.  I can be "tacky" and she knows I'm just venting.  Or I can say what I really mean instead of cloaking it in such a manner that I don't come across as being kind and politically correct.  I can filter things through her when I'm fired up and she'll tell me if I need to take it down a notch or pour it on.  She's one of the first people I want to tell when something great happens or something that is so hideous that it will make her laugh at the sheer awfulness of it.  Yes, misery loves company, but there are times when we are thrust into something that is so bad that it actually becomes hilarious.  She gets that.  So do I.

Community is something that some of us take for granted.  Maybe our family is all of the community we need.  Or simply rephrased...all we can stand.  Perhaps we spend so much time at work that the people there become not only our co-workers...but our friends.

Church is an excellent place to plug into a it a Sunday school class, a ladies group, or serving in a specific ministry.

It may be the gym that you find your community, or the internet, or your high school girlfriends.  It could be people who share mutual interests (i.e. choir, community service, a running group, your sorority alumnae group) or because you live in close proximity.

Doesn't matter.

What matters is that you are interacting with other people...because it is there that you find your mission field and your purpose for being here.

I know that there are times when I've felt on the outside of things.  I don't get the inside jokes.  I have no idea what happened to certain people I knew when I was young because - hey - it's been over 30 years since they crossed my mind.  Sometimes I'm turned off by one person in the community who annoys me for some reason...or I do the same to them.  That's life.  And it is rarely enough to keep me from attempting to interact.

When we go through the busy years...which I loosely define as "when you have children living at home" - you'll find that you tend to gravitate toward other people in the same boat as you.  Your friends become those who sit on the bleachers with you, are trying to put together a Pilgrim costume with no sewing skills whatsoever (just like you), or those that you sit and chat with at the dozens of birthday parties that seem to go on for years and years.

And then the kids graduate...and you might run into each other in the local Publix, on jury duty, or in passing.  You might say, "let's do lunch soon..." or "I miss seeing you!" or even catch each other up as to which of your kids is doing what and how they are doing.

Then you walk away and that lunch date never happens...and you don't cross each other's mind until your next chance meeting.  Rinse and repeat.

I think that most of us have people in our lives that we know were just there for a season.  To raise the children together or to learn a new skill set.  To be there for each other at a critical juncture and then to kind of ebb away and flow toward another community as you grow and change.

Yet, there is a lot of value in keeping those old ties.  There is equally a lot of value in being open enough to create new ones.

When you are going through something difficult in life, it makes all of the difference in the world as to whether you have what is deemed a "support network."  What that really means is "a community of people who can stand in the gap with you."  If you are experiencing my friend who has a daughter getting married this is that much more wonderful to share it with others.

The older we get, the more open we have to be to some "off-the-wall" communities if we're going to really enjoy life.  Some people decide to isolate themselves, others find it impossible to muster up the enthusiasm or the time to interact with others, and yet others are so let down by the path that their lives are on that they are a bit trying to be around.  As for me, I'm going to enjoy seeing who God brings into my life.  Those to which I can minister and those from which I can learn.  I want to be open to having friends from all walks of life.

Because it's fun.

So, go out there today into your communities and just breathe life into those forgotten friendships, and be the friend you would like to have.  Support people without reservation, or hesitation, or conditions.  Just love those in your path.  Quit looking for the perfect "friend group" and instead be the person everyone wants to bring into their circle of friends.

Get up tomorrow...and do it all over again.

Thank you to all of you who read this and support what I write.  Who stop me and tell me that they enjoy reading my thoughts.  Those who call me and wish me a "Happy Birthday!" or who want to share something funny in their day.  Those who invite me to do things I might not think to do on my own.  Those who push me to be better, to stay on the right path, and to be a better version of myself.  Those who love me in spite of the fact that I'm not perfect...because they don't care.  Those who are generous with their time, resources, spirit, love, and affection for my family and for me.

Love you.  Mean it.

Have a great day and reconnect.  You won't be sorry.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Taxes, Dust, and Flying Time

Last weekend, I did my taxes like a good soldier and only wailed about it for 48 hours.  I think that's appropriate.  I mean, for a person with a 20 question limit, just dealing with the likes of TurboTax for hours is enough to make one want to do something that seems more cleaning toilets or wrestling hair out of the tub drain.

That 20 question limit quirk in my personality is due to being raised by an inquisitive female who loves the details of life.  She tried desperately to converse with her grumpy, hormonal teenager (ahem, me) by asking questions about everything from the people who were there to the type of food that was served.  I used to find it a little intrusive...until I had kids.  It is one revealing way that I can most assuredly say that I've turned into my mother.  Which, honestly, doesn't bother me in the least.

I'd say that it was awesome to finally get finished with the taxes...and the FAFSA form for Brian (the nightmare of every parent of college-aged children)...but that joy was short-lived.  Because after a couple of weeks of just keeping the kitchen clean and letting the rest of it go because it was imperative that I get this paperwork out of my life, my house was (and still is) crying out for attention.

Fortunately, I was (and am) able to ignore it.  For the most part, anyway.

I've been spending the past few days trying to get back into my normal cleaning routine...which has clashed mightily with my fervent desire to pick up the pace a bit at the gym.  When you come home feeling like you've been in a fight and sweating like it's August in the South, there is nothing less appealing than the prospect of cleaning the bathroom.

Except, perhaps, doing more taxes.  Or another FAFSA.

Now that Big Dave and I are empty nesters, the issue isn't so much it is dust.  For whatever reason, we seem to attract dust, and as soon as I beat it back, the dust fairy comes back by and sprinkles what feels like a garden Hefty bag of it all over my house.  Big Dave says that the "dust fairy" is actually named Dixie (and Riley), but this looks like some insidious plot to make me call in the reinforcements.

Merry Maids.

Except who can afford that?  Answer: not me.  Plus, I don't know if I could handle the embarrassment of having someone else all up in here thinking we're the laziest human beings alive.  We're about two weeks away from the annual Spring Cleaning ritual...which can only happen if something totally ticks me off...because I clean like nobody's business when I'm working off angst.  The rest of the time?  More like the people who clean every office I've ever worked in (which can loosely be described as "half-a er...whatever.")

Other than the two inevitable things in life: dust and taxes...I'm also dealing with something called "muscle soreness."  That's normally perceived as evidence that work is being done to move me ultimately toward my goal...the short version of which is "to no longer be morbidly obese and to get out of size OMG."  But sometimes Pharrell (my scale) doesn't seem to appreciate all of that effort.

No, I'm not angry with Pharrell right now.  He's doing what he's supposed to be doing...measuring my relationship with gravity.  And over the past couple of days, the numbers have been headed in the right direction.  But every so often, I'll get upset that I'll notice a tick up for a couple of days and have to weed something else out of the garden of choices that remain to me.  Last week, it was avocado.  I'd been using it with lemon juice to make salad dressing.  Apparently, after two days of upticks...I had to realize that daily avocado is not my friend.

Not that it isn't an excellent option for getting fats in my diet.  I just can't have it every day.  I learned the same thing about potatoes, wheat, and the newest "superfood" - quinoa.  Which, honestly, I don't really need to be eating something I can't pronounce anyway.

Enough about all of that.

I have been stunned this week at how fast this year seems to be blowing it is in a hurry to get to 2015 or something.  I realize that this is nothing new...the looking up and realizing that it already mid-March...when I just took the Christmas tree down what seems like a month ago. (It was actually two months ago because I was a slacker and left it up somewhere between "fashionably late so I can still enjoy it" and "major fire hazard.")

Before I know it, it will be mid-June and then August and then back to the holidays again.  In fact, I received the first message about the annual "Girls of 1981 Beach Trip" yesterday...and in some ways it seems like we just got back.  I'm already looking forward to it.  I always enjoy them so much...and one year was advised by a roommate that I needed to have the fact that I quit breathing in the night checked out.  So, also educational.

Which may explain the dust.  I think I've dusted just a few days ago...when in may have been January since I dragged out the Pledge and attempted to shine everything up.  Okay, FINE, it probably actually was.  I've been working on these *#@* taxes since February, so it is entirely possible.

So, this week, I'll be trying to make time to do a little bit more around here instead of whining about it.  Plus, all of that "moving" has got to help with the muscle soreness, yes?  I certainly hope so.

On the downside, I have a lot in front of me.  And since I'm easily distracted, I'll probably do something less awful like clean out the spice rack than something that actually needs to be done.  I mean, until Dixie writes "dust me" with her paw in the dust on the side's all good, right?


Have a great and productive week...and dust something in my honor.  Maybe all of that Pledge in the atmosphere will inspire me.  Hope so.  :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Journey

For the past several weeks I have been on the journey to better health and fitness.  I realize that the last line just read like something you'd find on the cover of "Shape" and it is a little odd to call something a "journey" when it only involves darkening the door of a gym, but work with me here.  I finally came to the end of the excuse making and the whining, the shaking my fist at the thunderous sky, and the regret of the Ghost of Bad Food Decisions.

There were many of those.  It took awhile.

If this was indeed a journey, and the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, then you must know that the two inch step onto a scale was the hardest one of the journey.  It is one thing to know that you are outgrowing your clothes.  It is obvious not only to you, but to everyone around you.  But to actually see the extent of the damage is like seeing that Visa bill in January after a big-hearted Christmas buying binge.  A little shocking.  Some quick denial.  Some berating and moaning.  Then acceptance.

The number I saw was - thankfully - lower than my worst fear.  Not much lower, but lower.  It was heavier than any so-called "healthy" female ought to weigh, and there was no longer any wiggle room to do anything my way.  My way involved doing really well for a time and then failing.  My way was to celebrate everything.  My way was to wonder what I'd have for dinner that night because I hadn't planned or defrosted anything and usually meant a stop somewhere on the way home.  My way was not getting me anywhere I needed to be.

So, I found somewhere that made sense, received some help and advice from a friend who has walked this path, and then I drove up to the gym.

I suppose I should note that in spite of my weight, I spent the better part of 2013 at the gym.  I did an hour of cardio four days a week that involved 30 minutes of an elliptical machine and 30 minutes of a recumbent bike.  I did the occasional class.  I hit at the weights but didn't advance my weight up as I got stronger.  I don't know if it was ignorance, laziness, or the fact that I lost my gym partner (Jill) in July when she transferred to another branch and worked a lot of nights.  But somewhere in there, I just gave up the dream of being able to chip away at the poundage.

Basically, I didn't hurt myself, but I didn't really help myself either.  Plus, I've since learned that you cannot out-exercise your food.  If you aren't losing isn't the exercise.  It is what you are eating.  Unless, of course, you are running marathons or something.

I have no immediate plans for that.

Yet.  Okay, FINE, ever.

The truth is, I resented having to worry about this at all.  I wanted to be free to eat what I wanted, to be free of this extremely large monkey on my back that keeps me from wanting to go to reunions or even see family sometimes.  It makes me not care about shopping for clothes because nothing fits well and I'm basically limited to knits in size OMG.  I became that person who worries more for the concerns of others because caring for myself just seemed like a lost cause.

Maybe you've been there.  Maybe you've just seen folks with weight problems and wondered how they could possibly not want to lose the weight.  Perhaps you have someone in your life that you love dearly and cannot seem to convince to put down the potato chips and get off of the couch.  I just know that I was lucky enough to have people love me in spite of it, and who prayed and waited for me to come to the conclusion that doing something was mandatory and not optional anymore.

It is difficult sometimes to explain the changes in what I am doing because I'll either launch into a detailed explanation that is more than anyone really wants to know...or I'll keep it close to the vest because I'm still just starting out.  But what I'm doing doesn't matter as much as the fact that I'm doing something that doesn't involve drugs, shots, or anything wacko.  It is a solid plan that keeps me accountable and so far, it is working.

For years, I have joked about Weight Watchers being "rehab" for me because I'd tried and failed at the program so many times.  My first introduction to it was in 1977 at the tender age of 14 years.  I lost a few pounds and then got active and it came off.  I succeeded once - in 1987 - and actually hit goal, but didn't make it through the maintenance program.  The problem was not so much losing weight.  It was much deeper than that.

I have unsuccessfully tried to manage food addiction by myself for the past 42 years.

In this day and age, every syndrome and weakness of humankind is called a "disease" or an "addiction" - so bear with me here.  There really isn't anything else to call what I've been through and like people addicted to alcohol or drugs, it isn't something that I'll just get over.  It is an ongoing project.  Although I'm "on the wagon" - so to speak - right now, all it would take is a toe in the water into the realm of some foods that set me off every time, and I'd be back on a spree to regain the poundage that I've lost over the past several weeks.

I'm not kidding.  And it's not pretty.

People talk about being addicted to chocolate.  For me...that's child's play.  I won't even go into my list because it is quite extensive and embarrassing.

And yet, I'm grateful that it is food rather than something worse.  At the same time, I'm angry that it is this because it is so incredibly hard to balance.  You must eat to live.  Every day is a tightrope.  Events can send you off the rope and into the gutter, so to speak.  It can be as simple as a holiday, a funeral, or a birthday.

My birthday is Saturday.  I've requested a fruit tray as a cake.  People just sigh.  But that's okay...because the fruit tray will be tempting enough.  Not because I can't have fruit...but the fact that I must limit how much of it I can eat.  The whole tray is actually no problem for me.

Sad, but true.

I'm already down a size and working toward being down another.  I feel better, I'm working extremely hard at the gym (5-6 days a week) and I have decided that I must not fail.  Not that I have to be perfect...I just have to stay faithful.  If I do something stupid like misinterpret the amount of something I'm allowed to have and it's an honest mistake...fine.  If I know better and do it anyway...not fine.

One of the things that is the most difficult to do is keep changing routines to keep my body guessing, do things that my body doesn't really remember doing - like running - and keeping my head straight when Pharrell (my scale) doesn't cooperate.

Back to the journey is beginning to feel more and more like one.  In fact, if I may borrow from my experience doing Avon Breast Cancer 3-Days (1999 and 2000), it is exactly that.  Just like I couldn't walk the entire 60 miles in one day, I cannot get through this journey in short order either.  There's too much to learn and too far to go.  Fortunately, I have good coaches, friends, and cheerleaders along the way.

And a few people I'd like to set straight.  But I won't.  That happens anytime that you start to see any success.  They are there to be "buzz kills" so you won't get too full of yourself.  They shoot flames of doubt and bad advice and horror stories so you begin to wonder...even if just for a moment.  Since I know they are coming...I'm ready for them this time.   Not that it doesn't hurt...and not that some of them don't mean well.

I'll keep you posted on the progress and I plan to keep writing about it...whether I actually post it or not.  Just know that I'm in a season of trying to get straightened out and that I don't expect anyone to be on board with me just yet.  My family is tired of watching me get to a point and then give up.  My close friends have been as supportive as they can be when they've been down this road before.  My work associates have seen me do this for six months and then gloriously fall off the wagon and gain it all back.  And then some.

Why is this time different?  Actually, I don't know that it is...other than the fact that I am willing to pull out all of the stops to make it happen.  I've given up my pride and just told a couple of them how extensive the damage is.  I've requested and received help in food preparation, encouragement, exercise, and keeping me accountable.  So good.

Yes, it is good that I am able to finally leave alone foods that I know will set me off instead of flirting with disaster.  It is good that I don't dread the gym and because of food planning don't have to think about what I'll eat today.  I already know...I planned it last night.  I have my workout partner (Jill) back and am receiving help from someone who knows what I need to do in what combination to make the most of my time in the gym.  I have a husband who is delighted to support this endeavor in any way he can.  And he does.

If you are out there in the same boat I've been in before I started trying to swim for shore...take heart.  Put down the processed foods, the sugar, the foods you "can't live without" and the excuses.  Just start imagining the freedom you will have when you are under discipline.  It is very real...the peace and the knowledge that I'm doing all that I can do - today, anyway - to make it to the shore.

If you know someone who needs to be out of the boat and in the water, then learn all that you can about nutrition and just start living that path.  Make it so attractive that someone will willingly hop out of the boat to join you.  That's what did it for me...and I'm very grateful to my friend, Beve, for not only NOT pressuring me to follow her...but actually trying to discourage me from it if I wasn't serious.  It made me understand that this was "for real" in a way that I wouldn't have had I done this in a halfway manner.  (I had another word for "halfway" beginning with "half" but keeping it G-rated, here.)

Thanks for reading about where I am so far and for any prayers that I'll be successful.  I honestly have given myself no choice but to make it this time.  No backing up.  No giving in.  Not an option.  Advice is sometimes welcome, but I'm really just doing all that I can to get through the day on the right dealing with jackwagons who tell me stuff like "be good during the week and then eat what you want on weekends" and "don't push yourself too are 50 years old, you know..." is exhausting.  I need folks who give me a "high-five" or comment on my dedication to showing up and doing my best much more than telling me that they can tell I've lost weight.

I don't just want to lose weight - I want to eradicate it.  Losing something leaves the chance that it can be found again.  I don't want that option.

Off to another day on the wagon.  Hope it's a good one.  :)