Saturday, December 12, 2015

Finally Free

Today on my way home from the grocery store I heard a commercial, a jewelry store boasting that they have more stock of rings over 1 carat than anyone else in the area.  They enthusiastically drove their message home by ending with something like, 'Imagine bringing home a 1 and 1/4 carat ring for only $8,000!' I am not a jewelry person, so to me, it sounded completely absurd that people pay that much for a ring.  I get that diamonds are rare and cutting them is a skill.  I don't understand why women care so much what size stone they have. Sure, if status is important, a huge rock can make a statement that you've chosen someone financially secure.  But I think it goes deeper, I think some women equate the size of the stone to how special or important they are.  Some people attribute their self-worth to their belongings.  And it's not just women, think of how some men are about cars.  But it made me think about what I gauge my self-worth on and I think it's on attention.  Sure, I have accomplished things in proud of in my life, but when I feel attractive, I feel more self-empowered and worthy of good things in my life.  I feel more special and important.  I equate the attention of someone else to my self-worth.  I have known that I'm sensitive to this for a long time.  It doesn't even have to be anyone in particular.  It could be my boss, when there's more than 2 of us working and I feel like he takes someone else's ideas but not mine, it can be our receptionists, when 3 of us are talking and I can't seem to get a word in or finish a thought, it can be my husband, if I feel like his attention is diverted or that he's disinterested in what I'm saying.  It has been my sister, my parents, even my friends can have an effect on my feelings of self-worth.  And then I realized that, whether it's a diamond ring, a BMW or the attention of someone else, we essentially give that power to something or someone else, when the power belongs to us alone.   We have been so brainwashed to believe that someone else's ideas of what is good, bad, desirable or grotesque is the law.  We all but abandon who we are for the sake of measuring up to unrealistic ideals of things that will never fulfill us, we lose sight of what it really means to be an individual with our own ideas.   The thing that will truly make us happy has nothing to do with the outside, that's someone else's idea that we all latched onto.  we need to look beyond why want to look a certain way, because it tells us what we are really lacking.  Is it attention?  Approval?  Love? The truth is, nothing outside of ourselves can give us what we feel is lacking because it comes down to roots so deep in our own lives that we have to be the one to confront those demons and overcome them knowing that we are worthy of doing so.  If we don't feel good about ourselves or feel powerful from within, nothing outside of us can do that for us either.  Being a perfect size six doesn't mean you're a "good girl" who now deserves affection, you deserve it at any size, and it has to start with getting it from yourself.  If you rely solely on others for self-assurance, you are guaranteed to be let down.  If you fulfill those things from within, it will never let you down.  We have to become our own caretaker, nurturing all the magnificent things that make us a rockstar.  When we are strong in our thoughts about ourselves, our self-esteem and self reliance can't be swayed by others.  It can't be stolen from us in the memories of our past or given away for someone else to destroy.  We will find that we are too good to agree with the 5 year old versions of ourselves who cowers in the corner desperate for something from someone.  We heal from within when stop judging ourselves by someone else's standards.
Diets are someone else's ideals.  We have a choice in whether we listen to that chatter or not.  For me, since reading the Spinardi book, I have felt a really huge sense of calmness wash over me.  I've let go of the "should" and the "shouldn't" and have resigned to trust my body.  Nothing is charged with positive or negative, I eat exactly what I want.  I am paying attention to cues that tell me when I'm satisfied and I don't feel deprived or like I have to sneak "bad" food when no one is looking, I don't stress about it much at all.  And I am feeling really happy.  Better than happy, it's as if I have just gotten out of a noisy amusement park where all my senses were overwhelmed, and come to have a rest in the middle of a plush, serene garden.  Finally I can stop being my own worst enemy.  Finally I can stop seeing food as torture or reward.  Why did I spend so many years buying into the whole diet/body hate lie?  I am so much happier this way.  My body knows what it needs, I just have to listen.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Apologies

My semester in college is winding down in the next couple weeks, which has me dreaming of sweet, sweet personal time. I've begun reading a book:
It is pretty interesting, based around similar concepts as Geneen Roth in that the diet mentality only makes us gain more weight, sets us up for body image problems and is slowly killing us from the brain down.  There are some interesting studies that back up what she is saying.  The only way to break free from the diet/deprivation mentality is to let it go and listen to your body.  We create our food obsession by denying ourselves what we really want, once we give in with the knowledge that we can have whatever we want whenever we want it, it has a lot less charge. She includes the method of stopping when you've had enough.  That's a tricky concept for me.  I'm so used to diet mentality of portion size or food-numbing potion of "never-enough", even if I'm uncomfortably full but  I'm not numb yet.  Geneen says that "enough is not an amount, it's a relationship to what you already have."  It's a lovely sentiment, but it doesn't make a compulsive eater stop eating during a binge or even during a regular meal.  One of Josie's tidbits of information is that there is a distinct time while you are eating(providing you were eating because you are genuinely hungry and not emotionally eating), when the food doesn't have much taste anymore.  This is one of your body's biological signals that you are PHYSICALLY satisfied, you have the right amount of fuel.  I never realized this was a signal, I just attributed it to my mouth getting "used to" the flavor.  If you keep chasing food looking for the elusive flavor delight, it just won't ever be as satisfying as the ideal you have in your head.  So we consume a bucketful of extra calories because we don't stop when the food stops tasting outstanding.  I'm a multitasking eater, I prefer to be watching the morning news or looking at Facebook while I eat.  So I never notice the signal.  I eat until it's gone or until I become disgusted at the thought of another bite.  So I  learning new things to try.  
I recently had my yearly physical exam and my nurse practitioner confirmed what I already suspected, that I am in perimenopause.  And my vitamin D levels have dropped again despite supplementing religiously.  I had to have an ultrasound done for pain I've been having and it turns out I have a fibroid or polyp in my uterus.  They wanted to do a procedure to remove the growth but said it wouldn't help with the pain so I opted not to do it.  It's uncomfortable but ibuprofen helps a lot.  I was happy to see my blood pressure is in a great, nice normal place (maybe due to the fish oil I've started taking??) and the rest of my blood work was magnificently normal except for vitamin D a little low and my triglycerides slightly high but nothing crazy like it once was.  It was a relief to know I'm not killing myself while I try to figure out my head.  
I saw this awesome pic the other day:
And it really struck me.  I have been so caught up in trying to heal the ways I feel I've been wronged in the past by comforting myself and breaking ties with what I thought I was and am that it never even dawned on me that I could accept an apology that was never given.  Tonight when I began to pull the same image of myself as a hurt child into my mind, ther is a moment where I get off the steps to go talk to my mom and usually there is a lot of tears and hurtful, dark things that transpire next, but this time when I went to talk to her the whole room was basqued in brilliant sunlight, specks of dust danced on the sunbeams jubilant.  Even before I started to accept the apology I felt total peace, wonder even euphoria rush into me.  My mother and father both apologized for not being more attentive and warm.  I didn't get much chance to stay in meditation due to interruption, but I think this is an area I will revisit because it felt really healing.  
So that's where I am.  Still trying to figure myself out.  I'm not ever going to give up!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Full Plate

All too often I come on here and talk about how chaotic my life is, juggling work, college, being a wife and tending to every whim my sons can dream of; meetings and appointments and planning a cross-country move and helping to train a new girl at work while trying to start looking for a new job in a city more than 2,000 miles away; not to mention trying to figure out why I eat when I'm not hungry, why I can never stick to things that are good for my health and why my knee hurts this bad for this long after surgery.  My mind is always darting from one topic to another, making lists of "have-to-do's" and "don't forgets" without ever feeling like enough things have been done to rest and settle down; stop looking for more stuff to add to my lists.  
I used to look on my situation with apathy, woe is me, I never get any free time to myself but tonight I realized that I do get some time to myself, I just usually spend it on Facebook or playing a game on my phone (assuming I have done my other tasks).  It calms me to a good degree, but it doesn't fix the lump of junk in the pit of my stomach that I am trying to smother with food.  I pass it off as happy indulgence, pleasure and rebellion, but a bloated gut doesn't feel good physically, and yet I still try mindlessly trying to convince myself that there is some definitive amount or type of food that will make that stupid coal-tar-black-mass of doubt, guilt, and self-irritation and disgust leave.  I know the weather change plays a part, and the mood of so many people around me has been so foul lately too, I internalize it unnecessarily.  Yet, I'm always feeling like I need to try and find a way to fix things when they aren't ideal, and that affects me emotionally, despite trying to numb myself with withdrawal and food.  I know this is a defense mechanism and I do feel like I have to have my guard up right now but I think I'm only getting a small glimpse of why.  It will take some meditation to figure out what's going on. I tried to meditate tonight, after a long break from it, and it was pretty fruitless.  It will take practice to be able to calm my mind again.  
I am not making any major proclamations about change, I know by now that I don't have enough order in my life right now to start going that route just yet, but I am thinking about myself, my unsuccessful mechanisms and things that genuinely make me feel good.  I'd like to say I'm going to start meditating consistently again, but it takes a lot of energy to go to these places inside that are dark and so very emotional, yet leaving things on autopilot isn't working for me: I don't feel good about myself, I feel like I'm hiding from someone or something and not just the stuff I'm ashamed of is hiding, but I've stashed away the good stuff too.    I don't want to use my busy schedule, escapism or food to try and shove down my feelings or cover up emotions or perceptions.  I know I won't feel better until I figure out what is causing all this hiding and defensiveness.  So this is where I am.  It's a continuation of stuff I never healed and fixed from the last attempts at sanity.  I know this is a lifelong journey but oh!  What a roller coaster it has been!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Untended Garden

I've been noticing how affected I am by all the emotions swirling around me; people spewing their angry, mindless colors around me and I am like the shiny garden fixture, reflecting shades of moon-glint and bitter.  I am getting myself tangled in everyone else's thorns because I am allowing myself to take on their work while my own garden cries of neglect, of soil-rot and dry stalks left untended too long.  The sky is losing all its color like it had the stomach flu and the sun is on vacation.  I am ready for some quiet but the wind just won't die down, it keeps blowing my noisy, dry leaves in my garden like angry whispers, feed me, nourish me, give me attention, love me!  I have neglected, deflected and reflected so many things that I am lost somewhere behind all of that, in the quiet of a sleepless midnight or the hum of traffic on the highway.  I am that goose who didn't fly south, still looking for something good despite the laws of nature, but I'm not a goose with a broken wing, I'm different; I have a choice.  I allow myself to feel trapped by not realizing I am already free, I just need to stop ignoring my own garden.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

All-or-Nothing-Smasher

I work in a health clinic.  It is a health clinic who has famed quarterback Aaron Rodgers as our spokesperson, so health is a big deal.  So we get rewards for doing healthy things (yep, cash), but we also get emailed snippets of health news, tips, tricks and trivia.  Last week I got this video in my email.  I watched it at work and immediately felt a mental change, a wake-up of sorts.  It made me refocus on that area of my life that has been dead since school started again and my life is chaos.  I am not sure the slant on the research/data, but to me, it doesn't matter.  For years we have been told that diet is more important than exercise (the old 80/20 stat that's been hanging out forever) and I do totally agree that it is important, but this video does a couple things for me.  First, it alleviates my all-or-nothing mentality of if I am doing it, I have to also be on low-carb diet or it's not even worth it.  And maybe the slant is that this video is talking about health, and I believe the whole 80/20 thing is from the bodybuilding/weightloss arena, which is concerned with physique over all else.  Secondly, it makes me feel like I have been overcomplicating things.  I can stop overthinking the eating thing and just get out there and move, and that will equate to a much healthier body than eating super clean and not exercising at all.  Now something here makes sense.  When I was diagnosed with high cholesterol and high blood pressure, I went on the South Beach Diet, per my Dr.'s recommendation, and I lost a boatload of weight and my cholesterol was *sPaRkLiNg*, but my good-to-bad cholesterol ratio was still not ideal.  My Dr. told me the only way I could get it to reverse was to exercise.  So I started exercising and the next labwork came back so good that even he couldn't believe my numbers.  Now it makes sense.  For me, I saw the numbers right in front of me, the proof was in the sugar-free pudding, so to speak.  But the kicker is this; those numbers didn't matter as much to me as the fact that I was losing weight.  I took my health for granted when I was younger, but now I get so nervous and worried every time something feels a little different in my body, I think to myself, I am slowly killing myself with food and laziness!  And the thought depresses me and makes me want to comfort-eat. 
I have been making some healthier choices since watching this video, swapping out more water for the Diet Coke which has been irritating my stomach lately, walking more, eating smaller meals.  But I have also been eating some carb-heavy foods in between.  Forever caught in the in-between, I am struggling to not make such a big deal out of the food so it will lessen it's affect on me, but most of my meals and snacks are sensible.  My knee feels bad, and I don't know if it's the carbs or the colder weather, or if it's because I haven't been doing stretching of any kind lately.  I won't know if the carbs are truly what is affecting my knee unless I go back on a ketogenic diet for a bit to single it out.  I have been eating that way most of the day, but more out of habit by now, not so much that I'm making an effort to lose weight.  I may try it out next week or for two weeks.  I was going to do it last week, but after getting the flu shot my stomach was feeling so aweful all week.  I know you can't get the flu from the shot, but something made me feel bad last week and I ended up needing to eat bland food.
Anyway, I hope you like the video, and I hope you're doing good!

Anything for you, Betty

Yesterday I helped an elderly couple.  This is not them, nor is this my photo, but the lesson they taught me from their short time in my office spilled over me so I feel like I should share.
Now, I am going merely on speculation and observation, so I am drawing my own meaning from what I witnessed, but sometimes that's the message we need to hear being projected onto someone else's situation.
The lady (we'll call her Betty) came to order some glasses.  She seemed in a hurry, wanting me to show her exactly what she wanted without telling me what features she likes/doesn't like.  I chose a frame as a starter, hoping she'd tell me what she did or didn't like about it so we could help narrow down from nearly 700 choices in my store.  She immediately took the first frame and sat down.  Her husband sweetly told her that she looked beautiful in the frames and that she should get them.  With a deep scowl, Betty made a comment about how she'd likely chosen the most expensive frame in my store, but her husband told her, "Get exactly what you need, you are worth it!" and he reached over to lovingly pat her hand.  I asked her if she wanted all of the same features on this pair as she had on the last and she hesitated and her husband chimed in, "Anything for you, Betty.  Get some nice glasses!"  Betty sat quietly with pursed lips and waited for me to calculate her total, and when I told her the price, she nudged her husband to get his credit card out to pay for them, without looking at him.  He smiled brightly and handed me his card and I proceeded to charge them for the glasses.  As I got up to get the receipts off the printer, Betty's husband confirmed that the glasses were really becoming on her and started whistling happily.  When they were finished paying, I thanked them and they got up to go.  Betty, obviously more agile, started walking toward the elevator, saying she didn't feel like taking the stairs again, her husband slowly straightened out to standing nearly upright, I could tell he was stiff or in pain, and smiled at me so sweetly and said, "I could really use the exercise but she thinks I'm too slow." Upon which he caught up to his wife at the elevator and they left.
During the course of the day, my husband and I were discussing something and there was a heaviness in our conversation, an unpleasant undertone and it made me think back to Betty.  She seemed to have a husband who is attentive, compromising and cares for her on such a deep level and yet, she seems completely miserable.  How can you be miserable when you have such a sweet, caring person in your life?  Does she not see the good thing she has?  Does being treated like a princess make her irritated?  What kind of bitter things do you have to hold in your heart to get to a point where you are just never seeing the good in your situation?  But some of us live that way because we hold on so tightly to what we think life should be like that we are disappointed when it doesn't turn out that way.  We didn't get the promotion or the house we wanted, we didn't finish college or make the cut in some other area of our lives; we didn't get down to a certain size jeans or we weren't successful at our weight loss goals.  Our spouse said "I love you", but they didn't take out the trash like we'd wanted.  What Betty's story reminded me of is that happiness is a choice, it's a choice to see the good things you have in your life despite any shortcomings, real or perceived.  It reminded me of this Geneen Roth post:
So true.  When we allow ourselves to get caught up in what's bad or wrong, it is a hard place to get out of.  I don't know Betty or her story, not really, but I know when I get to a point of feeling miserable, it is usually because I am failing to see the good things in my life, and from experience I can tell you that a miserable person attracts more misery to themselves. 
In the end, my husband and I talked through what we needed to work out and we are fine.  And despite my gut reaction to feel bad about myself for what I saw as my shortcoming in this situation, I felt better that we talked about it.  He loves me enough to want to work through stuff, that is a huge deal.  If I chose to only think about all the bad stuff then I guess I'd think my life is a pretty miserable one to live.  But, right here, and this day; this week, this moment, there are a multitude of things that are not miserable in my life, and I'd rather try to look at those for a while.  I think the more practice we get appreciating all the things that are "not wrong" with our life, the easier it becomes.  Whatever mindset you have willed will prevail.  If you allow yourself to see the positive things you already have in your life, you will be a more positive person.  If you have decided to focus on the things about your life that you are disappointed in, you may miss out on the joy of the things that have the potential to truly make you happy, like a husband that lovingly touches your hand and says, "Anything for you!"

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Adjusting

I think I am starting to find my groove where the school year is concerned.  My kids are having an easier time adjusting this time, which makes it easier on me.  Things have settled down for me as I wrapped up my final "friends trip" and only have two more small trips planned now until we move in spring.  I love to go see and do things but there is always a compromise in being gone a lot, having to work ahead in my classes in order to keep up, and housework left undone.  I will take what rest I can get on the weekends that we aren't traveling and have been working hard to get ahead in my classes so I don't get too overwhelmed when a deadline approaches.  
This is my last year of college, I'll get my Bachelors degree in May, shortly after we move to California.  I saved my speech class for my last year because it is something I've been dreading!  I know it is quite common to not like speaking in front of others, but I think it is much amplified in people with low self esteem, and I am in that category, at least when it comes to public speaking!  Since my classes are all online, my speech course is modified so one speech is done via a recorded video and the others in a virtual classroom where we log on and give our speech via webcam.  It is going to be uncomfortable for me regardless, and I am really hoping this semester goes fast. I noticed myself stress-eating yesterday, before recording my first speech and later when I was thinking about my next speech in two weeks.  At least I am aware of it and can control it to some extent, I told myself I am being silly, that everyone else feels nervous too and that in the long run, no one will remember my speech, they'll be thinking about their own.  
I can feel bad things happening to my body since I have lost my drive to fix what is broken.  The exhaustion has returned, my body is stiff and sore and my clothes are fitting more snug again.  I don't like feeling so old and tired.  I don't like feeling heavy and hurting, especially my knee.  In order to change it, I need to focus on this more.  My knee is getting swollen for a reason.  I have found a formula that makes it feel better, eliminating processed carbs.  I have been ignoring that and slipping back into auto-pilot.  But it's on my mind, my knee won't let me forget, and I know at very least, getting the carbs back under control will help me tremendously, especially with the mornings getting chillier.  It's one thing to say I need to do it, and another to put my words into action, but I realize that my choice will yield the expected results no matter which way I go.  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Where does the time go?

I have been writing blogs in my head the past few weeks, and they have been as contrasting as my own thoughts about my journey to a healthier place.  Some blogs I didn't post were about a sort of breaking apart, things just not going according to plan, me withdrawing from certain things and feeling more stressed and less happy.  Some of them would have been about how I worked out and felt great, and how I know I'm not that far off track, and can get back to my diet-or-die mindset.  But there's a reason those blogs never made it on here.  I have been  refocusing on happiness and calmness and what it takes to have them.  The reasonable part of my mind knows that losing weight won't make me happy and that the size of my jeans amounts to nothing in the scope of a life lived.  I know this because my friend is dying of cancer, and with six months to live, guess what she's not thinking about?  Her weight.  And guess what no one else who loves her is thinking about?  You guessed it.  But there is this irrational, gut-reaction ugly little pre-teen girl in me who is certain I am weak, lazy, unattractive and unworthy of good stuff unless I either am thinner or trying to get there.  These two sides make war in my head.  But lately I have been finding a little bit of the calmness I've been seeking and the funny thing is, when I am calm, taking a walk to see the way the sun kisses a field of green life is such a magnificent treat for my senses that it becomes about something bigger than me.  In those moments I feel bigger than my problems or worries, powerful, connected to the ancient life in the roots of the trees and weightless as the fuzzy things floating in the breeze.  I am of this earth, what could I have to feel bad about?  
My diet has been consistent except on the road, which is not a big deal.  I have been walking a few times a week and strength training only once a week or so. My knee was really irritated last time I did my Jillian Michaels workout, if it continues I'll have to find plan b.  But for now, I'm not really stressing out over my weight.  How much time I'll have for any of that is questionable once school stars for me and my kids next week.  It usually means all of my free time is gone, and I seriously falter the first month or so until we fall into our groove.  I am going to try and really enjoy fall this year instead of dreading what comes after.  Sometimes I think I hate the thought of winter more than the actual thing, but the first time I have to drive on slippery roads I will remember quickly why we are moving to California!  And that move will be happening sooner than I think, the way time flies.  That is something really positive to think about and a great thought to end my night on.  
Hope today was great for you!  

Monday, August 10, 2015

Pulling Myself Up

Sometimes I write blog entries in my head throughout the day, thinking through what I did and what I want to say about it and trying to make sense of it all.  When I sit to write, it is somewhere between a journal and a letter to a friend.  Maybe none of it matters in the long run, but it helps me sort my thoughts and sleep better.  So I'm grateful for a space to do this, and grateful for the people I've met along the way.
I haven't meditated in a few weeks now, not with any success at least, so trying to meditate after a long break from it feels like starting over from the first time I've ever tried.  It feels a bit like trying to hypnotize yourself, foreign and making you question if you are even doing it right, or doing anything at all.  But now that I have had a few good experiences with meditation, I can say that I typically get at least one little morsel of information even if it isn't a very productive session.  And when I am really not able to meditate I think it is often a sign that things are either too congested or too vague and I need to pin them down in writing before I can free up head space.
The message I got from my meditation is that I can just fight for what I want once, or for a short time, but that I have to keep reminding myself what I want every day.  I got a really clear image of my family and I hiking way up on a huge mountain edge.  The weather was absolutely perfect, a beautiful blue sky with a few puffy clouds and a sharp, clean sun above.   During our mountain hike, we came to a spot where the mountain split, leaving a huge 4 foot gap between one wall of the mountain and the next, with a gap that lead straight to certain death.  My family had all cleared the gap easily and were prodding me, cheering me, even slightly annoyed at my hesitation.  As I tried to jump, I came up short and was left trying to cling to a smooth rock on the other side where my family was, clawing at me trying to save me.  I knew I didn't have the strength to save myself and that I would certainly fall to my death, but the overwhelming sense of guilt washed over me.  I felt bad that I was weak, that I hadn't made myself stronger but allowed myself to become soft and weak.  I felt helpless, and feeling that way made me feel like a compete burden.  I felt ashamed of myself.
While I realize this was an extreme way of my mind trying to make sense of what is bubbling beneath the surface, I took the message in.  Feeling helpless may have been a normal part of being a kid, but as an adult, I am not helpless.  Helplessness and strength are options we have, and we choose them with our actions.  I have been acting helpless lately and I am not.  I have been acting unaffected lately and I am not.  I have been silent, I have been guarded.  I am slowly turning away from myself in seek of comfort from places where it has never been.  I am more aware that I am trying to give up on myself and I am fighting it harder this time than in past attempts.  I want to make sense of all of this so I can stop yo-yoing all over the place.  I am not back to where I started, but the patterns I am sliding into tell me it won't be long, if I keep up what I've been doing.  I have stopped moving more than I have to and started to let unhealthy food creep in more than it should.  I know better.  My knee feels aweful today, part of that was the walking and climbing I did over the weekend on a beautiful island with my family, but part of it is eating out, the salt and sugar that I'd been cutting back on recently.  My body is sending me signs and I am ignoring them.  That needs to stop.
I went for a little micro-walk with my son tonight.  It was so short and slow that it doesn't qualify as cardio for me, but he needed that walk more than I did and I felt good that I could do that for him.  I will try to get things back on track with exercise this week.  I miss having the drive to get out and get moving, sometimes you just have to create that from the inside, change the motivator and focus on it, use it to drive you when it feels like everything has gone off course.  For me, I don't want to be helpless or weak.  I want to fight for physical strength.  That way, should I ever find myself dangling from a mountainside, I'll simply just pull myself back up and enjoy the view.

Monday, August 3, 2015

A positive step

This morning I woke earlier than I wanted, but when I woke up and went into the living room, the curtains were drawn open inviting bird songs and a cool morning breeze in to greet me.  Everything felt fresh like fall.  Despite it looking and feeling lovely I still fought the idea of getting out there for a walk.  I sat back in the chair for a minute, watching ducks milling around my patio, looking for birdseed that may have fallen from the bird feeder.  The early light making their feathers look as though they were glowing.  I thought for a moment about how good it would feel to just enjoy a cup of coffee and watch the ducks and birds outside, but then my thoughts turned to the event we were having at work today, I imagined throngs of people and just my boss and I to handle them, stressed and starving, trying to be five places at once.  I knew if even a fraction of that image was true that I'd rather feel alert and energetic than stressed out and lethargic, and I knew the best way to make that happen was to get out and get moving. 
My entire lower body was pretty sore form yesterday's workout, but walking actually made them feel better.  I walked 2.5 miles with ease and it did help me feel more energized.  It turns out, I didn't really need to super amped up anyway, we didn't have quite the turnout we'd hoped for, but I was OK with it.  
Tonight I feel really tired, but I know it's from all the good stuff I've been doing for my body the past few days.  I like that when fighting with my mind, how I will feel if I workout vs how I will feel if I don't is a factor, it means is not about losing weight so much as it is about feeling good and being happy.  That's a step in a positive direction!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Productive

I made an effort today.  I didn't want to, I could have very easily spent the entire day in a chair playing games on my phone but about an hour into doing that, I started to feel restless.  My kids were occupied, my husband at work, what better opportunity is going to fall into my lap.  I was considering going for a walk, but I knew I was avoiding the 30 Day Shred video because it kicks my butt, so I decided to do the video.  I was breathing hard and sweating immediately, and it was hard, but it went fast.  
I finally got some housework done too.  It was nice that we were home this weekend so I could get that done.  Not that I would rather clean than go do something fun, but having a clean space makes me feel calmer, like everything flows how it should.  I even cooked dinner tonight, it's the most productive I've been in a while, but I still had plenty of time to relax with my family tonight to.  I can't say for sure, but I don't think all that housework would've gotten done if it wasn't for the energy I got from doing that workout.  
So I can say that August 2 got its butt kicked by me.  Feels good to be tired because I did something instead of being lethargic from doing nothing, and because I was busy with tasks I didn't think about food at all until my stomach was growling.  I can't speak for the future, but today was successful.  It might not be the most dynamic story to tell, but it's one I like to tell.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Not Checking Out

I jumped off the wagon after that last post, going back into "Quasi" mode, kinda eating OK, kinda thinking about working out but nothing is at all committed.  I had a really excruciating "monthly" this time, that made me want to spend a week in the fetal position in a dark room with lots of drugs.  Coupled with a couple weeks of heavy relationship stuff to get through, stuff that left me feeling stripped-bare and questioning myself more than ever, it has all meant I am worn down and grappling for any bit of self-confidence I can imagine for myself.  
I imagine myself working out, getting back on track but then I wake up and feel burnt out, like I need to soothe myself and it all slips away.  I have been noticing my mood has been slipping ever closer to depressed and just when I was about to blame it on the emotional roller coaster I've been on lately, I saw a clip about how effective exercise is on regulating our emotions.  Yes, I've been through some heavy stuff but even when things are good/happy I still feel a cloud of sadness following me.  I didn't feel that way when I was working out everyday.  The part that sucks about it is, the feeling good doesn't happen until you start working out, so you have to start when your energy is already kind of low (assuming you're like me) and then the rewards of more energy and feeling better make an appearance.  I keep learning about myself each time I make an effort, and each time I have more tools to use.  
On Friday night, before I fell asleep at a ridiculously early time, I sleepily thought to myself, August is going to get its a$$ kicked by me, I'm going to work really hard and get this thing back on track!  Well, maybe starting tomorrow.  One month left to get into some good habits before my life gets a lot more chaotic.  I'm battling my mind, I don't have a real strong track record in this situation, but I have more tools now than I did before.  Let's hope it makes a difference!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Slow Moving

This morning I had to drag myself out of bed and through my day.  It was just a day with low energy, it happens to everyone I suppose.  I did take a walk this morning, more than anything, just to get some blood moving in the hopes it might make me feel more lively.  The birds were chirping so happily that I could only stand to have headphones on for a while before I had to let the peaceful sounds of sunrise fill my ears.  I listened carefully to all the different bird songs and  took in some deep breaths of fresh air.  I felt better for having done it, not because I torched a bunch of calories but because I reconnected with the environment around me.  I was still tired all day and crabby, but that little morning gem was worth every minute.  I snapped a few pictures to remember this street by when we move.  I'll leave 2 here and bid you goodnight!  Hope you all had a great Tuesday!
Turkeys in a field
My favorite tree enveloped in sunlight 


Monday, July 20, 2015

Healing

Last week was one of the toughest ones I've gotten through in some time, a lot of things got turned on their heads, a torrent of maddening emotions flooded me, broke me, then lifted me.  I have come through something that's made me question and doubt why losing weight means so much to me.  When it came to the weekend and I was sharing time with my husband, connecting over shared time and experience I was able to put some things into clearer perspective.  
I have agreed with Geneen Roth that dieting and obsessing over weight is a distraction to keep us from thinking about the areas of our life that feel unsatisfactory or out of our control.  My mistake was that I was attributing everything that I was trying not to think about to my past, my childhood, and completely ignoring my present. I would make passing comments about how I felt disconnected in my marriage and how I knew I had to work harder to close the gap between us, but I never really attributed my comfort-eating to that.  But I am suddenly aware that it is a huge part of it, and a bunch of the other nonsense I've been thinking about in the past few months has been just the same thing as diet-obsession; a distraction from the fact that I wanted to feel closer to my husband.  This past weekend I didn't stress about carbs or calories or any of that crap, I simply enjoyed being in the moment with my husband.  His attention and warmth made me feel so loved and suddenly the thought of being restrictive about certain foods and needing to get a workout in no matter if it's 90 degrees and humid seemed so arbitrary to me.  I enjoyed the weekend more than any I've had in a long time. 
The fact that I let all weekend remain lax was OK with me, but I was feeling some familiar aches this morning when I woke up, the knee, the tailbone.  I definitely think it's worth keeping my diet sane in order to keep those issues at bay, so I got back on track with my plan today, and did my 30-day Shred workout too.  It has been nearly a week since I did it, so it still kicks my butt, in a good way.  I got really run-down feeling last week after doing it two days in a row, which could have been due to a whole plethora of things, but I think from now on I'm going to keep things simple and aim for an every-other-day switch between the DVD and straight cardio until I figure out what my body can handle without having negative repercussions.  
So that's where I'm at, still working at the physical stuff, the food stuff and the mental stuff.  I'm grateful to have the time to focus on these things while I'm young enough to make some changes.  Those aches I woke up with went away after I got my sweat on, I want to keep making that happen.  That's why I started all this in the first place, things just got over complicated along the way.  Sometimes you have to face the complications on a deeper level in order to break them down to their elemental form, but sometimes you have to live in the moment, appreciating all you have.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Am I Shredded yet?

Last night I was reminded of my workout every time I switched positions, my muscles reminded me just how hard I worked out, despite not really being "into" Jillian or the lack of modifications.  So it kind of defied logic that at 6am this morning I would find myself slipping it back into the DVD player to give it another go.  To my surprise, it felt more doable today, my muscles didn't complain as much as I expected, and I modified for the ridiculous jumping jacks.  I did high-knee marching in place with jumping jack arms.  That's what I'll call it, I'm sure it's real purdy  to watch too!  But it did the trick.  I guess I gave it a pretty bad rap, it's not a bad DVD, her personality just rubs me wrong.  But I am getting something out of it for sure, I can tell by how my various muscle groups feel, a good kind of sore.  Not sure how many days in a row I'll be able to hang before taking a rest but I'm going to push myself to see.  Then cardio will feel like a breeze.  I may have to take to the treadmill so I can change the grade.  All in good time.  I still like taking walks outside while the weather is this beautiful.  The DVD says that doing it replaces countless hours of cardio but I'll still aim for low-intensity cardio on days I don't do the DVD.  
I haven't had any problems cutting back on carbs, I still eat 1-2 servings of fruit per day but for now I cut out the grains.  I am starting to get sick of eggs a bit, but I'll try to stick it out a little longer before figuring out what to replace them with.  I haven't been able to tell whether or not it's making a difference in how I feel, knee or otherwise, because of my wacky schedule the past couple days.  I was starving all last night while trying to sleep, and after 3 servings of cashews I was still up starving at 1am, so I figured my blood sugar must be low.  I ate a banana and slept like a baby after that.  I will probably have to add a few extra calories and carbs on days I do that workout, it's pretty taxing on the system and it has my metabolism revved up.  
So I think I'm going to give this DVD a fair shot and see how it pans out.  I like the structure of someone telling me what to do, I like that its routine so I can keep up, and I like that it's challenging enough to assure me that good things are happening.  And it's only 20 minutes.  It's an intense 20, but still.  If I can make my body change and get stronger with just 20 minutes a day, why would I kill myself doing it another way?  Seems pretty straight forward to me.  
I'm glad I didn't let my negative judgements keep me from giving this program another shot.  I think it's going to kickstart a whole new fire in me.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

I May Live to Regret this!

So I did a thing that I've been going back and forth in my mind about:
I bought this workout DVD.  Ugh.  I am not a fan of hers but I know a few people who swear by this particular DVD so I figured I'd give it a try to help me get over my mental aversion to weight training.  I'm glad it was not expensive, there are some things that bother me about it.  
First, she has a girl doing modified versions of movements, that was a good start I thought, acknowledging that people are at different fitness levels.  The program is set up as intervals, 3 minutes of strength, 2 min of cardio then 1 min of abs, and then straight into the next interval without rest.  I knew it would be challenging.  It starts off with a "stretching" session, I use that term loosely because it is basically swinging your arms around for 15 seconds and a couple hip swivels.  Then it's into jumping jacks to warm up.  If you are a woman of moderate endowment, heed my advice and double or triple up on the sports bra, there's a lot of fricking jumping in this workout.  And, no modifications for them, no accounting for the fact that some people have bad knees, hips or back.  Jillian says that she wants no excuses, she has "400 pound clients that can do jumping jacks, so can you".  Ummm, I lost 40% of the cartilage in my right knee, if running isn't smart, jumping probably isn't either.  But I did my best as I held my flailing pieces together.  There wasn't a lot of forewarning as to what the next thing would be, which made me lose a slight bit of the workout catching up.  It's a minor complaint, I'll catch on the more I do it.  I didn't feel there was a lot of instruction on form for the strength stuff, or maybe it came in too late after we'd already begun a move.  There was one move that I was really uncoordinated with and I would have benefited from having clearer form instructions earlier on.  I just kept thinking that she reminded me of a far less charming version on Susan Powter.  
Remember her?  I did her videos so much back in the day, and one thing Susan had all over Jillian is that she understood that everyone is starting from a different place, not everyone can do what you are asking and that's totally cool as long as you're moving.  I trusted her to guide me and think about ways I could still participate even if I didn't have her healthy knees, or fitness level.  "Modify and keep going." She would say with an uplifting and understand shrug.  
To be fair, Jillian advertises that you can lose up to 20 pounds in 30 days and explains that if she's going to make big promises, she's got to give a program that delivers.  I can appreciate that.  I purchased it, used it and kept it by choice because it kicked my booty all over the place!  That is its intention and it makes no false pretenses.  I just wish she were a little more mindful of those of us who have injuries to deal with.  I will keep using the video, it has merit and I think it will help a lot with weakness in my core, which is the stem of all my lower body issues I've been having over the years.  My knee was a little irritated afterwards, but there was a lot of leg work, squats and lunges. I think I'll try the jumping one more time to be sure and modify the cardio sections to something lower impact of the knee continues to bother me. My other gripe is that there was virtually no cool down, we went straight out of the final interval into three static stretches, each being held for what felt like only 5 seconds.  I had to walk around to cool down.  
 My muscles were so shakey and tired for so long after, I was wondering how the heck I'll ever reach a point where level one isn't challenging enough and I have to move to level 2.  Then I thought of Susan Powter's words, "Modify and keep going!"  Thank you, Susan, I think I will!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Turning Around

It has been a bit since I have blogged.  I'm still in the game but having to force myself to focus.  I've been here so many times, having to fight against the urge to just be lazy and stop playing the mind games with myself, and it hasn't ended well for me in the past.  But I'm not going to give up this time, I'm going to think myself through the roadblocks that are threatening to derail me.  
Friday was a less-than-stellar eating day for sure.  My husband called in sick which he never does unless he's on his deathbed, and since he sleeps in the living room, I didn't want to wake him by making myself breakfast so I grabbed a low-carb protein bar from the gas station, then realizing I also didn't pack a lunch, grabbed another in case I had to eat it for lunch.  Low-carb protein bars usually have a ton of sugar alcohols which can cause gastrointestinal distress, so I try to limit them and only eat them in rare occasions.  It was so busy at work and a few people were on vacation and a few more called in sick, it ended up meaning I didn't get a lunch break and was forced to eat another dry, unappealing bar in between customers.  By the time I'd left work at 5pm, all I'd eaten all day was two  protein bars and a bunch of Diet Coke.  I felt like I had a brick in my stomach.  That evening my younger son wanted to go to eat and a hot meal sounded so good so he and I made a date of it.  We went to Olive Garden and ate like kings!  The salad is so killer with that tangy dressing and cold crunchy lettuce.  I ate cheese ravioli, breadsticks and for dessert we shared a plate of piping hot zeppolis with warm raspberry sauce.  The service was so outstanding and the food and atmosphere so inviting, it felt like food-experience-heaven.  That's a dangerous feeling when everything lines up perfectly around food, we chase these perfect moments and rarely catch them.  After dinner, we went for a walk and watched the sunset on the river.  It was a great night with my son.  I didn't feel guilty for eating all those carbs, I felt quite fantastically full, physically and emotionally.  
Saturday we made a mid-afternoon decision to find a beach about 40 minutes drive away.  It was hot at home but felt cool and comfortable at the beach.  It is actually on Lake Michigan which was choppy with some decent sized waves and my sons don't know how to swim yet (sensory and coordination issues due to autism) so I was on high alert since the water was too cold for my husband and I to swim.  At one point, after being in the cold water for over 2 hours, my younger son Zach was not prepared for a wave and it covered him and knocked him down.  I was expecting him to come right out of the lake but he didn't so I figured he was Okay.  On our way home though, he was complaining that it was hard to breathe right, and when he tried to take a deep breath it felt like his throat wouldn't let him.  I'd recently read about secondary drowning and knew that these were symptoms so I brought him to the ER.  Luckily his lungs were clear and he was ok, but as soon as we got home I ordered pizza.  There were several factors involved with that decision.  Of course stress was one.  It was really difficult to watch my son feeling like he couldn't breathe right and to think of losing him.  Second was that I had only eaten a handful of honey roasted peanuts in the 6 hours we'd been out of the house.  And third, I was pouting and disappointed that we didn't go out to dinner afterwards, which we always do.  The pizza didn't really even taste that great.  
Today we went off on another adventure outdoors, which meant I had a couple meals of nuts again, which is not ideal, but it's tricky when you're road tripping.  We were trying to catch two lighthouse tours on opposite sides of the peninsula, and ended up missing both of them.  But we had fun anyway, going to our favorite spots and discovering some new ones too.  We had our feet in the water a few times which was really refreshing on a hot day.  On our way home, we were trying to decide where to eat, and I kind of wanted to eat on the peninsula to cap off our day, but we ended up heading home because it was getting late.  I was disappointed that we were potentially going to skip another meal out, it was 6:30 pm and I'd only had one real meal all day, and the thought of eating healthy stuff at home sounded boring and unfulfilling to me, especially after being disappointed in not getting to see the lighthouses.  We did eventually end up eating at Qdoba and everyone was full and happy and ready to get home.  Again, for a vegetarian, the food wasn't the best thing I've ever eaten, but it was hot and spicy and not low-carb and I didn't have to cook it.  I'm noticing a huge problem with the family outings always equating to eating out, it is so embedded into our weekend activities that I get disappointed if we don't include it, like part of the experience is missing.  It's a bad habit and hopefully we can make some changes. I at least have the option to eat healthier when we do eat out, but I've been really lax.  
Tomorrow I am cutting back on carbs as a bit of a reset.  I want to experiment with how less carbs makes me feel vs what I'm doing now.  I have been letting things slide way too much lately, handful of tortilla chips here, bagel there, restaurants and such.  Tonight as we were ordering our food I heard two younger guys in line behind us talking and for a minute I thought one of them sounded like Elliot and I wanted to sink into the floorboards. Not because I was there with my family, but because I felt really dumpy and unattractive.  I was in a hot car, on a windy beach, and wearing clothes that made me feel unfeminine and fat.  Fat Ugly Brain was in full effect!  Luckily it wasn't Elliot, but I paid attention to that feeling, I think it's going to be a key to reassessment and regrouping.  Not because I want to impress him but because I didn't feel beautiful through one part of me, and that's a sign that what I'm doing isn't making me happy.  
It's a start.  I'm not saying I have the whole thing figured out, but sometimes you go down the wrong road and have to turn around to find the right way.  I think I'm turning around before I lose sight of the road I was on.  No shame in my game, I just let the balance away a little too far from the middle. I'm still learning which means I'm still trying.   

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Happy Place Rant

I barely slept a wink lasts night, so you can probably guess that I didn't follow through on my plan to get up early and walk before work.  I was so sleep deprived today that it affected my patience level with one particularly difficult customer and by the time my shift was done I knew there was no way I was going to be good for much tonight.  I have to be OK with skipping a workout here and there, I just don't want it to become a habit.  Right now I am almost the extreme opposite, afraid that if I skip a workout I will instantaneously regain any weight I may have lost.  I'm trying to get away from that all-or-nothing thinking this time.
I saw something that irritated me a few days ago, and the more I think about it, the more it bothers me:
Now, I know this is all for fun and laughs, and people wouldn't find it humorous if it wasn't something many people can identify with.  It bothers me because it is making light of something that so many of us find torturous.  When I am compulsive-eating I am miserable.  On the surface, for a quick moment the pleasure I get from eating the food is a bit of a high, but mentally I am suffering.  That is why many of us turn to food for comfort, to try and numb ourselves or shove down the feelings so we don't have to feel them.  Food gives us something to focus on other than the darker stuff that is on our minds.  And, hand in hand with that, while we are eating and belittling ourselves for doing so, we are promising we'll get back on track or start a new diet on Monday.  Diets and plans to diet are distractions from all the stuff inside that makes us feel like we are not good enough.  Our parents didn't love us?  Must have been because we were fat.  If we could just not be fat anymore, everyone would love us.  So, the fat is what is making me miserable, right?  That's what we believe.  Building yourself from the inside, editing the beliefs we have about ourselves that just don't make sense as an adult, those are the ways to stop using food to try to numb ourselves with food or constant thoughts of dieting.  Willpower alone will not save you from turning to food as a coping mechanism, our emotions are too powerful.  Sometimes when I am wanting to eat like crazy I stall myself by thinking through what has happened since I woke up, to see if there is a particular trigger to why I want to eat (referring specifically to eating when I'm not physically hungry).  Sometimes just thinking deeper about what I'm trying to avoid feeling is enough to make me stop the conditioned response to the food stimulus.  We do create habits from our conditioned response.  When I am stressed out, I want to eat.  It triggers feelings of inadequacy and weakness in my personality, and food doesn't make me feel better, fixing my mind about those things makes me feel better.  Once I affirm to myself that I am not inadequate or weak, I start to release the stress of the situation and stop wanting to try and put anesthesia on it with food.  These are not my own ideas, this is what I have learned from reading Geneen Roth's books, especially "When Food is Love".  I knew I was eating emotionally, but until I started reading her books I didn't really know exactly how to work through the situation.  I used to feel like food had all this power over me,  why can't I stop wanting chocolate?!I would whine to myself, and my blogs were full of wondering how to get back on track with healthy habits.  Once I began meditating, I started to see some of the ways that I was reacting on gut instinct; being triggered by emotions that stem from childhood and how that shaped my concept of self.  Many of those things have turned out to be so false, I just never took the time to examine them closer.  To my "hurt child" brain, I had a pretty rough childhood, was really lonely, had parents who ignored me and degraded me and didn't love me, and were just not very present.  In reality, my parents do love me, and they did then too, they were doing the best they could in their situation, which wasn't so great to begin with.  Our perceptions, when viewed through the eyes of a child, are not always accurate, so it is really essential that we go back and examine the ones that are a trigger for us, and reassess their validity.  Yes, some things about my childhood were dark and lonely, but I have been misinterpreting that to be my weakness, when in reality I think that is admirable that I can come out of that a decent human being who is warm with others and open-minded and rises to a challenge.  I am not that little girl anymore, desperately wanting my parent's attention and acceptance, I am a grown, beautiful, powerful woman.  Perception is everything.  Introspection and examination are crucial if you are to get to the core of habits you wish you did or didn't have.  Without putting in the mental work, I think it leaves us prone to becoming Aunty Acid in the meme above, where the fridge is our default "happy place".  I don't think anyone who turns to food for comfort can be said to be happy.  Then again, perception is everything.  Rant over.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Another Monday in the Books

Today was a nice even day, nothing was too crazy or too boring or too anything.  Sometimes that's exactly what I need.  I felt much better physically, which was nice because I didn't start work until noon so I had time to get a few things done and see my kids before work.  
I had been formulating a plan to strength train Mon-Wed-Fri, but when it came time to do it this morning, I just didn't feel like it.  So I dusted off my yoga DVD I bought about 20 years ago and did both 20 munute sessions.  There were a few things that were challenging (ab work was) but I ended up feeling like I need to find a better program.  By the time I was understanding a pose they'd be switching to the next.  So I will seek out a yoga DCD I can do for strength and conditioning.  I was also considering a Jillian Michaels DVD, I have heard a lot of positive feedback on her programs.  Maybe an organized workout would inspire me more than the same tired moves I've been using for years.  
I'm happy to report that my tailbone hurts much less lately.  I noticed during my walk last night that it took far less time to stop hurting once I began walking, and when I was about ten minutes from home, something popped deep in my back and it suddenly felt much freer in my lower back.  Maybe something was just pinched or out of place.  It was nice to get through the day and not have to think about my tailbone!  Hope it lasts!  I will do some more psoas stretches before bed.
I couldn't meditate tonight.  I tried for about ten minutes and just couldn't turn off my mind.  I wasn't thinking about anything heavy or deep, just going through the day's events in my head.  Sometimes it just doesn't happen and I'm ok with that, I still felt relaxed and at peace when I got up.  
Tomorrow I am going to try to get myself up early enough to walk my 3 miles before work instead of saving it for evening.  I want to see how it makes me feel at work.  
I am kind of boring myself with this babbling post so I'll stop here and wish you a good finish to your Monday!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Who do you Think you are?

To build on my past post, you may be wondering how you figure out who you really are.  There may be more than one way, perhaps hypnosis, psychotherapy, or simple introspection, but for me, meditation is what works.  I use the term loosely because I don't sit in a certain pose, don't burn incense and chant or do certain breathing techniques.  I guess I'm lucky in that I feel I can get answer from my subconscious without having to have a ritualistic technique involved.  For me, meditation is a deep focus on a particular thing that I dont understand, and it begins with a question.  For meditation, I sit in my room with the door closed, I find low light works best, either two tea lights or I have a strand of dim paper lanterns in my room that works well too.  I sit in a comfortable position, sometimes I lay down, but usually I have better focus sitting with my legs out straight in front of me and my hands relaxed in my lap.  I prefer to close my eyes because I am a visual thinker and I find keeping my eyes open allows me to be distracted by things I am looking at.  Once my eyes are closed and I am comfortable, I focus on the sound of my breath as it goes in and out, to help take my mind off other sounds in my environment.  Once I have pretty stable focus on my breathing, I usually start seeing images in my mind, sometimes it is a place, many times it is a person.  Don't be alarmed if you see the image of a person, they are there to help you find the answer to your question.  Sometimes the person who appears is a little creepy looking, but realize that all of this is a manifestation of your own creation and it will be helpful in the end.  When an image appears I am ready to begin asking my question.  Here's how tonight's session went for me, as an example.
My image was first a set of mountains, I could make out the peaks against a dark sky but I could sense the "presence" of a wise person which I assumed was the Dalai Lama.  Before I asked my question that I had planned, I noticed how ominous I felt the mountains looked and asked why I feel this way when I'm around mountains.  The answer was "You are worried that they will fall on you, but you don't realize you can climb over them.  You see?  You have the power, not them."  This was in the Dalai Lama's playful voice and I almost laughed when I heard this answer.  How simple and true. Perception is key.  As that question faded, I asked the one I have been struggling with, why do I crave the attention of other men, why does it affect me so much and what does it mean?  I was given my answer in images this time, a mother too busy to play a game, a dad who was always working, a sister who didn't want me to tag along with her and her friends, friends wo moved away and didn't keep in touch.... The answer came I my own voice this time, "You don't feel like you are loved."  Then I went back over those images again and asked again because it didn't feel like I got to the meat of the answer and then underneath the surface answer, it finally bubbled up, "you don't feel like you matter."  An image of my younger son, Zach flashed into my mind, he is now ten, and for the first time he's becoming less emotionally needy of me.  I haven't taken time to address it with myself but I think this is part of my issue.  Whenever possible, I try to stay in focus long enough to cross-question my "answers" to assess how reliable they are so tonight I addressed the idea of feeling that I don't matter to anyone and the Dalai Lama's characteristic chuckle accompanied his answer to me.  "Matter?  Yes!  You mother, you matter!  You wife, you matter!  You friend, daughter, worker, patient, writer, you matter!"  He chuckled at the absurdity of me thinking I don't matter and for getting tearful at the thought of it.   Then he told me, "Every person matter, every person makes a difference."  And my session ended with a loud noise from my kids' room which made me lose my focus.  
I have been trying to think my way through the Elliot thing to no avail, tonight's meditation is a huge step toward resolving some of the things that have kept me emotionally untethered recently.  These answers come to me without forcing them, almost like word association, and many times they surprise me because it is stuff I don't or can't access freely without that level of focus.  This is how I find out who I believe I am, and why I do some of the things I do.  Being open to the concept is tricky for some, but it's not much different than having a stimulating conversation with someone and they bring up a point that you never thought about in that way, it immediately expands your concept of what is possible.  I think of it as seeking answers from my subconscious, which is just a layer of thoughts and perception behind the closet door of your mind.  It is helpful for me.  I don't think there's anything to lose from trying meditation, even though it might take a few tries, the worst that can happen is you won't be able to shut off the outside world enough to get into deep focus.  At very least, you get a few moments of relaxation, who would argue with that?  
I know I bring up Geneen Roth a lot, but she was instrumental in my understanding of why I couldn't break some of the habits I have had from early on.  As children, we interpret our world based largely on interaction with our parents, and that is a huge part in shaping our view of ourselves.  As adults, we have the opportunity to revisit those ideas and rewrite our own story.  It takes meditation for me to discover what the belief behind my emotion is.  Yesterday it was that I was sad but the reason wasn't because Elliot didn't reply or because a friend did or said something-that was the surface stuff.  That surface stuff bothered me because it triggered a feeling from childhood, that I didn't matter to my parents.  The feeling was and is unfounded, just as many often are, and letting it continue to affect me is counterproductive.  
Taking care of my health has to include working through these mental roadblocks if I am ever to overcome my obstacles with obesity.  When I find myself reverting to autopilot I know I'm trying to block myself from an emotion, then it's time to investigate what's behind it so I can move on.  It has saved me from comfort eating and made my mind stronger.  And when I do comfort eat, I try to assess what's causing me to want to numb my self.  
So last night's meditation was a big step toward one of my key triggers, feeling like I don't matter.  I will continue to meditate about this, reaffirming the lack of validity in my gut feeling by reflecting on all the ways I do indeed matter.  This is how we heal the mind.  Now I will be able to recognize  when this feeling crops up, and be able to discount this feeling as invalid because I already know I do matter.  Brick by brick we rebuild our structure until we are mentally indestructible.  That is how to know who you are.  Not from the judgment of others, but from our own confirmation of our own truth. 

Part 2

This morning as I was trying to shake off the morning funk, I clutched my cup of coffee and scrolled through my Facebook feed making small comments here and there about the things I was seeing.  A girl I went to school with years ago was going off about how she's "had it with everyone" and how they could go (...) themselves.  Perhaps everyone knows someone who does this on Facebook, airs their issues vaguely on a forum so that others ask what is going on.  This particular person does this every few days or so, interspersed with posts about how drunk she is or will be and how much fun she is having, all with horrific grammar/spelling.  One of the posts she wrote was about how she was outside somewhere and some kids made a comment about her weight and she was really hurt by it.  My husband I were talking about some friends we know who were in a big financial mess, mostly due to buying a house they weren't prepared to afford should their luck turn, which it did, and now they are our age and feeling really stuck in a really negative situation that seems impossible to get out of.  To make matters worse, neither spouse is truly happy or supportive of the other, the marriage is not good, the house situation is not good, the kids are witnessing it all and learning what marriage is like from their parents who fight and bicker and put each other down all the time.  So my husband and I were discussing being stuck, or the deceptive thinking behind the belief that we are stuck in certain positions in life.
It is true, we all have cards we are dealt that we have no control over.  We are born to our parents, who are in a certain financial situation, and have certain personality and set of coping/parenting skills and who have a past that likely continued to affect them after having kids.  Some of us have real disabilities in life, physical, mental, emotional.  All of us have challenges and some have extraordinary challenges, but we also all have choices.  The minute we start to view our situation in such a way that we feel we are trapped, or a victim of catch-22, or a victim at all, then we are choosing to ignore the fact that we have choices and that we have control over our lives, now and in the future.
When we look at the situation that I mentioned with the overweight girl getting teased by some strangers she didn't know, there is an immediate emotional response to that, whether you sympathize, empathize or feel that the strangers were justified in their actions.  I would venture a guess that many overweight people have faced some form of being put down in their lifetime, and most of us would rush to her defense and say that she is a human, she deserves respect and I agree with that, but what happens after we come to her aid?  Does she take our kind words of defense and move on with her life or do the harsh words spoken by these strangers linger in her mind?  What about the boys who said the mean thing to her, are they still thinking about it a month later?  The truth is this: she might feel hurt, wronged, like in 20 seconds of time, they stripped her of her dignity.  But it wasn't the boys who took her dignity, she gave it to them because she made an unconscious decision to agree with what they were saying about her, and to base her own opinion of herself on their judgement.  We have a choice in our opinion of ourselves, we can choose to not base our self-worth on such external crap as what we look like or how many expensive items we can buy.  We have the power to define who we are inside of these bodies, to celebrate the mind the creativity, the emotions that make us who we are when no one is around.  We have given the power away because we've been swept up in the propaganda of what we believe skinny women have that we don't.
Thinking about this as I walked tonight, I became a little more aware of what happened with Elliot, and what is happening with Tim too.  I am giving them the power to define who I am by my interpretation of their actions.  When I was seeing Elliot regularly and he was responding to me, I based my opinion of myself off my interpretation of his actions toward me.  When he was acting attracted to me, I figured I must be some hottie to have someone so attractive interested in little ole me.  After he figuratively stood me up, I felt really unattractive and less energetic, older and fatter and less worth being around.  It isn't pretty, but it's the truth.  Part of me knew that this over-emotional reaction was absurd, but that was the initial emotional response I had to the situation.  With Tim, our history goes back twenty years now, to the time when we were both single and I was desperate for his attention and approval.  Now that we are both married, I told him I want to see him one last time before I move 2,000 miles away and he cheerfully accepted.  He has suddenly been on Facebook more, liking and sharing many of the things I post, commenting and posting similar things, etc.  It made me feel good until a few days ago when he shared a post that's been going around Facebook lately.  It is a picture of a naked woman from behind, swimming and it says something to the regard of how many industries would be out of business if women suddenly woke up and realized they love their bodies.  Another of my male friends posted this too and I respected him so much for the sentiment as he has an overweight wife, has always been more attracted to women who are not thin, and has a daughter he adores.  I respected the post when Tim put it up too, but when one of his other female friends commented on how absurd it was that the photo was of a woman that societal norms would deem extremely attractive (and naked, but tastefully so) Tim commented something to the affect of that if he was younger and single he'd be thinking about swimming (with that girl in the photo).  I had an immediate emotional reaction to that.  He has never pretended to not be the kind of guy who cares about looks, we have discussed it many times to my dismay, but I guess I would have assumed that he would have matured since we used to talk about it 15 years ago.  And maybe he is just being brutally honest, I respect that.  But why does it bother me so much?  I turned it over in my head as I was walking.  Because I don't look like that; because that's what he likes/finds attractive/ attributes beauty and worth and attraction to, and I am not that.  In short, if that's what is beautiful, I am ugly.  I am short and not skinny or even "normal" by society's standards, I don't have long, flowing hair and a perfect butt.  So my assumption is that he will not see my worth because I don't look like that, so I am not worthy of his acceptance and attention.  I know him enough to know he doesn't feel that way.  He is allowed to be attracted to a beautiful woman and still find worth in others.  It doesn't affect who I am if I know who I am.  That is the key in everything.  If you know who you are, others' actions won't be able to make you feel any certain way.  You already know who you are, why would their opinion change that?  If I already knew my worth, the Elliot things wouldn't have bothered me.  If I already knew my worth, the Tim thing would only affect me positively.  If I already knew my worth, I wouldn't beat myself up for eating a bowl of chips or for skipping a workout when I have a headache.  None of these things should have any power over my emotional state, but they do.  That's how I know I still have work to do on my mind.  We can work and work to change the outside, we put so much of our emotion and energy into what we believe about our exterior and the external world around us, but the true key to our happiness lies in knowing ourselves.  Knowing who you are and what that means, and living it despite any real or perceived judgments around you, means taking back the power we all have to make choices about how we want our next chapter to be written.  We are only trapped if we truly believe we are trapped with no choices.  Everyone has choices, some might not be easy to face, but we have more power than we know.  If we hold it instead of giving it away, no one can touch us.  
"She figured out, all her doubts were someone else's point of view." From the song "She" by Green Day

Listening and Learning, Part 1

The long 4th of July weekend is drawing to a close, and I am in a bit of funk.  Don't get me wrong, I had a great time yesterday, and was grateful to have the long weekend, but today I was in a bit of a funk and it is ending up being kind of an off day for me.   I'll try to recap things without having a ridiculously long blog, but I make no promises!
I posted Friday so I'll skip that.  It was a productive enough day, still relatively on-track other than the dinner we had, which was mixed veggies with white rice for me, no idea what was in the sauce other than a mountain of sodium.  
Yesterday was July 4th and the weather was so perfect.  I took advantage of a relatively quiet and open morning and went for my 3.2 mile walk.  I was in such a good place walking, listening to the Bouncing Souls and feeling cool, wanting to sing along with the songs as I walked at a brisk pace.  By the time I hit the spot where I turn around, I was contemplating going further because I was feeling like it took such little effort to get there.  But I was sweaty and hot and decided to turn around anyway.  By the time I got home I was really hot and sweaty and I'd almost run out of the water I'd brought along.  I also had more blisters on the bottoms of my feet.  Can I tell you how annoying this is?  I have never had to contend with blisters  there before.  Must be the new shoes, which aren't that new anymore.  Maybe they are the culprit of the tailbone issue too??  
The kids and I went to my mother-in-law's house for a cookout, and my husband met us there after he finished work.  It was a great time, and I don't usually say that about the obligatory holiday celebrations.  My husband finally told his mother that we are moving to California in March.  Last time we moved away, she put him on a huge guilt trip, so he wasn't relishing the thought of telling her we were moving again.  She took it much better this time.  So seeing as how this was our last 4th of July all together (unless we happen to visit at this particular time of year) it felt a little more special.  I'm guessing all the holidays we celebrate with family for the remainder of our time here in the state will feel that way. 
We'd barely been home a half hour before we headed out to see fireworks.  I didn't want to go, it is not really my thing and I knew we'd be eaten alive by mosquitoes and I was right.  We parked in an obscure place and walked along the river path for what felt like forever, and finally found a clearing in a tiny park.  My younger son was whining about how bad the mosquitoes were and how miserable he was, and my older son was disappointed that we were too far away to get good video footage for his YouTube channel.  Then the long, itchy walk back through the dark wooded trail.  I was exhausted by the time we got back to the car, and happy to be home.  I took some time to unwind after all the festivities (the moon has been a hazy red due to the wildfires in Canada).  Just as I was about to get some rest for the night, a centipede-type bug crawled across my bedroom floor.  EWWWW!  I have heard their sting is extremely painful and I killed it thoroughly, but it was still on my mind.  As I went to dispose of it's remainder, I saw another bug in the corner, a cockroach-looking thing with wings.  I'm told we don't have real cockroaches in Wisconsin, and it was too small to be one, but it crunched when I squished it and I was just as disgusted as I was when I killed real cockroaches in Las Vegas.  All the bug stuff had me unsettled, and I ended up staying up later than I wanted, and getting less sleep than I prefer on the weekend.  I took some nighttime sinus medicine as I am going through another bout of vertigo, which strikes me a handful of times each year.  I slept deep, but when I woke up this morning I felt hung over and I hadn't been drinking.  I was exhausted, my head felt thick, my nose was stuffy, my eyes were watering non-stop and I had a dull, nagging headache.  I melted into a tub chair with a mug of coffee while my husband was trying to figure out what we should do for the day.  When he asked for my input I said, "I feel like do exactly this all day long.  Sitting in this chair with some sort of caffeine or another, and maybe playing games on my phone or watching a movie.  And I worked hard at doing that too!  I did have a few household chores to take care of, cleaning the hamster's habitat and a load of laundry, but I made good on the sitting in a chair and being on my phone most of the day.   I simultaneously beat myself up for not doing any exercise and excused myself because everyone needs a break from time to time.  I was at war with those thoughts for most of the day, even when I was taking a bag of trash to the dumpster across the complex.  My head started to pound and I knew that was my body telling me to take a day of rest, but my brain was fighting it, telling me the only way I was going to feel better was to get a little exercise in.  My metabolism was absolutely dead today and I ended up only eating brunch and then some snacks.  My first snack was about 1/4 bag of rice and bean chips, and my second snack was some lime flavored chips with salsa.  All the food in our house seemed boring and I couldn't be bothered to cook anything.  By late afternoon, my headache reached a point where it was irritating me enough to take an ibuprofen, which finally helped a little.  Then I decided to take a walk to see if it could refresh me a little.  When I first headed out, I wasn't so sure I should go, and doubted whether it was sound judgement to go the whole 3 miles due to how I'd felt all day, but as I walked a little, it made me feel a little better so I continued until I hit a point that was closer to the turn around spot than home, so I just continued.  The trip home felt more like a moderate cool-down pace, but I was OK with that.  I am not on any time limit or trying to impress anyone.  It didn't fix whatever is wrong with my head/energy level, but it made me stop feeling bummed out that I was eating garbage and not working out, and gave me a chance to think about things.  It's never bad thing to think things through on a deeper level.  Some of the things my husband and I talked about today were really inspirational and worth some deeper reflection on, but this post is already really long, so I am going to split it up into a second post for those who are interested.  In the end, moving is therapeutic and helpful.  I've already discovered that, but life is reminding me again and again.  I feel like this time I am finally listening.  

Friday, July 3, 2015

Wobbly Tree

Well I am happy to say that my grumpy mood did improve a little on Thursday.  It certainly helped that I was looking at a long weekend, that has a tendency to lift the spirits and create a celebritory feel.  Work was crazy busy which ended up throwing my eating schedule way off, and I actually ate less than usual.  By the time I got home after work, I was trying to think of what to have for dinner and none of the usual stuff sounded good so I made a nice spaghetti dinner with fresh tomatoes and garlic for topping.  We had crusty artisan bread and strawberry shortcake for dessert.  It was a great meal, and felt good to have the family eating together, it's pretty rare in my house.  
Today I was off, my work was closed, which I find odd because we are even opened on Christmas Eve, but I'm not complaining I guess.  I got grocery shopping done, which was like a kamikaze mission on a holiday weekend! By the time I got home and got everything put away, there was 2 hours before my husband would be home from work.  I was trying to get up ambition to do housework or a workout before he got home, and I was just really unmotivated!  I mean, horrifically unmotivated.  At one point I sat on my bed trying to convince myself that I just needed to start and then I'd feel better.  I eventually got off the bed and started doing some squats.  Once the blood got going I was ok, but I still looked forward to being done.  My leg training is still a lot of the stuff they had me doing when I was getting physical therapy after having my knee surgery, but one thing I have been skipping is the very first exercise they showed me, balance.  I was to balance on one foot for 30 seconds.  It sounds easy but I never knew how unsteady I was until I tried it.  I am still not the best at it, I don't practice regularly enough, but today I challenged myself to do tree pose and with the exception of a few bobbles, I did pretty well.  That pose made me very aware of just how many muscles were activated just to keep my balance.  I will keep it in the mix for now.  As I did the rest of my workout, I thought about yoga and how I've heard of people who use it for strength training.  I might check into that, it sounds more enjoyable than lifting weights.  Plus, the added flexibility is a bonus for sure.  
I had Chinese food tonight as yet another family meal.  Being vegetarian it was a pretty boring meal of mixed veggies with rice, probably not worth all the white rice carbs, but we were trying a new restaurant and they didn't have tofu.  Can't win them all!  Tomorrow we are going to a cookout at my mother-in-law's.  She's a good cook, I will try to keep my plate reasonable, but I really need to chill out on the extra junk after that.  I don't want my achy knee issue to come back.  There is still some discomfort in my tailbone, I am stretching my psoas muscle a few times a day, and it seems to help some.  I'll be glad when it is resolved.  It's not funny but maybe a little amusing, every time I start making positive changes and am doing good I end up hurting myself!  It sucks getting old!! Haha. 
I hope you all have a fantastic weekend full of relaxation and a lot of laughs and memories!  Happy 4th of July to those who celebrate!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Grumpy but still Mindful

Boy was I irritable today!  Not sure where that came from but work was challenging to get through trying to be nice to people when everything irritated me.  Not even the beautiful perfect weather lifted my mood.  But, my tailbone hurt less today so that was a huge victory!  I stretched my psoas muscle this morning before work.  I must just have a really tense psoas!  
Tonight I was feeling wishy-washy about working out.  I was hungry and tired and cranky.  But when I thought about being out there walking with music, sweating and breathing I knew it would make me feel better, so I went.  I went a different way tonight so it was a shorter, 2.5 mile walk but with hills.  I did feel better.  Still kind of crabby, but better physically.  
So tonight I had to pull the whole mind-over-matter trick out of my bag, and it worked.  It's not like I torched hundreds of calories and will get a fitness model physique from cardio, but what it does for my mind is magic.  And it can't hurt my heart either.  I saw a cardiologist say (on the movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2) that a half hour of exercise daily can help prevent clogged arteries from getting worse and and hour of exercise daily can REVERSE blockage.  How amazing is that?!  I thought once plaque was there it was a ticking time bomb.  My dad had 5 arteries opened (surgically) less than a year ago heart disease is the main cause of death in my mom's side of the family.  I will never discount cardio for that reason.  
Tonight I am going to get some more psoas stretches done and do some meditation to help improve my mood.  Hopefully I'll be back to my cheerful self in the morning.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tricky Little Muscle

Today was a pretty good day.  I woke up sore from yesterday's workout, I actually like that feeling much more than the shakey feeling.  When my alarm went off at 5:30 am I noticed my friend Tim commented on one of my Facebook posts and also sent me messages regarding our visit in September.  It woke me up and I was considering going for a 3 mile walk but I started to worry about having enough time to get ready for work.  So I stayed home and danced for a half hour.  It was fun, but I didn't feel like I got as much from it as I would if I'd walked.  It did lift my spirits though, another reminder of how big an impact exercise has on me emotionally.  
After work, the weather was cool and cloudy so I decided to go ahead and get a real walk in.  I'm happy that the 3 mile walk is still challenging enough to me that I feel proud when I complete it. I shaved 5 minutes off my usual time of an hour.  My tailbone is still being funky, which annoys me but I figure, that thing's going to feel funky whether or not I go for a walk so I might as well just do it.  When I got home I searched some videos on how to stretch the psoas muscle and did a few stretches.  It made a big difference in the tailbone.  Hopefully that is going to be a great discovery I can continue to get success from.  I might make it part of my morning ritual, psoas stretches with some meditation and something hot to drink after.  If it doesn't get better with psoas stretches I might have to see a chiropractor.  I am going to try and avoid that if I can help it.  I know stretching is essential to vitality and it has been the missing link in my quest for a healthier lifestyle.  I think if I make it routine I'll be grateful I did.  The hardest part of developing a habit is starting, once it becomes part of the norm you're not fighting against it so much.  
I feel like I put a lot of effort into my quest for self-improvement today.  Now I'm going to go pamper myself with a mud mask and a little reading before getting some beauty rest.  I can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Questioning and Awareness

Wow my work 5K was 5 days ago and that's the last time I posted on this blog.  Usually that means I've either fallen off the wagon or started school, but neither are true, thankfully!  I have just been in my head, caught between many different emotions all at once it seems, and maybe that kind of stuff isn't meant for this blog. I have been journaling on a private blog and it is helpful in sorting out my thoughts.  
I had a longer weekend, and Not much of it was very productive as far as housework goes!  I spent time at some caves with hotel ruins that looked like a castle on Saturday 
It was a ton of walking, after I'd just finished a 3 mile walk beforehand, and it was so bloody hot out that I think I drank two gallons of water on my own that night.  We had sushi afterwards so that made it feel extra special!  
I didn't work out at all on Sunday, which was a bittersweet feeling but against my First instinct I decided to go for a drive with my husband.  The only reason I was reluctant is because with him it's never just a drive to a destination and then home, it always ends up being a whole day thing.  But we had a good time together, we went browsing antique shops on the peninsula near our town, spent some time looking at the bay, and had a pleasant patio dinner at a charming restaurant.  My kids didn't feel like coming, so it felt like a date.  I was exhausted from everything and fell asleep early.  
Today I had to force myself to work out.  It was strength training day and I just  have a mental aversion to it that I need to get over.  I trained shoulders, chest and triceps and I wanted to throw the towel in  halfway through my workout when my arms started getting shakey.  I don't know if I'll ever enjoy that feeling, it reminds me of being really sick.  I think my iron is low again, I've been pale and tired a lot, so I'll have to schedule my yearly physical soon to have all my blood work done.  
Before I worked out today I was trying to decide what to do, go for a walk, weight train or skip it altogether and enjoy what little free time/me time I get before my world gets crazy again when the kids and I go back to school.  Mindset is so crucial.  I could feel myself starting to sink back into that place where I question why I do any of this, who it is for and why it matters.  That is an excuse to not care in disguise, I found that out today as I was trying to decide whether or not to even work out at all.  I could feel myself thinking about there not being an Elliot to impress or affect anymore and my husband apparently doesn't care one way or another because he keeps telling me how one shouldn't attach themselves emotionally to how they look.  And when I really thought of how I was trying to get out of putting effort in just because there wasn't a guy behind/motivating me, I felt disappointed that I let these times make me feel weak and unimportant instead of using that energy to make me push harder.  I have work to do, especially in regards to men and the attention they do or don't give me.  I suspect it may be Daddy issues that are manifesting as "men" issues and attention issues.  It requires a level of introspection that I don't have the energy for at the moment, but knowing it is an issue is a great place to start.  Buddhism teaches us that as a human being, you are already complete, a universe unto yourself.  I need to start believing that I am reason enough, worthy enough to make the effort, and great enough to command the space of my vast, personal universe!  Everyone else in my life is a bonus and a blessing.  And those who choose not to be in my life are a blessing too because they make room for my universe to expand.  
I'm glad I didn't let myself down today.  It isn't as much about shrinking my body as it is about helping my mind grow.  I will not be happy no matter what size I am if I cannot find happiness at any size.  If my mind is constantly thinking about external things I will put my entire value as a human being into the way my exterior changes.  A house does lose its purpose because it is painted a different color, so why should the value of myself change because of how I look?  In the end, Geneen Roth has been right about so many things.  Questioning and awareness are the best ways to conquer auto-pilot actions.  If you feel like giving up on making your body healthy, investigate why you are trying to let yourself off the hook.  Questioning and awareness saved me today.  I'm sure it won't be the last time.