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


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.