A Lesson from a New Twitter Friend: You’re a Work of Art in Progress

Tana ArtI have a new friend on Twitter, @TanaBevan. She describers herself as a “Writer. Blogger. Doodler Extraordinaire. Encourager bar none!”

That’s one of her fun little doodles  —>

Since I’m all about positive energy and enthusiasm, I had to check out her blog. The first piece I read really resonated with me. It’s about how being perfect isn’t possible, so why not just accept that as a fact of life? Tana says:

“The pursuit of perfection is an exhausting exercise in futility. Better to embrace your imperfection. (Agreed, this is easier to handle in theory than reality.) Still, why not go for broke? Decide to view yourself as a Work of Art … in Progress!”

Since I’m always trying to be better/do better, I love Tana’s energy. Nobody’s perfect and nobody has to be. Do what you can and enjoy your life. And that’s all there is to it. You can check out her blog: Tana’s World

 

Walking is the New P90

LJVSince December, I’ve been suffering from piriformis syndrome, a condition that can be roughly described as an ongoing pain in the ass. Basically, the piriformis is a muscle that runs across your rear end, from the outer hip. It’s hard to believe that this little muscle can send you to the ER in an ambulance, though that’s exactly how it started for me in December. After x-rays and an MRI to rule out other causes, I was diagnosed with an unruly butt muscle.

Since then, my piriformis has decided that it likes to cramp continually, one side or the other, causing me continual early morning pain. It’s not fun, though with muscle relaxants and pain killers, I’m able to get it under control most days. Then, fortunately, as the day goes on, it warms up and feels better.

It’s put a huge damper on my exercise program, as every time I feel like I’m back to something resembling normal and can get back to P90 or even yoga, it flares up again. This past week, I’ve decided to go back to basics and just walk for 30 minutes every day. It’s something I can do consistently, it doesn’t seem to cause a flare up and it’s a great way to clear my mind every morning.

It helps that I have my FitBit, too, as I can gauge my activity by steps and stairs. It also helps me realize how few calories a woman my age and weight burns when we’re not active. Yikes!

Sometimes, going back to basics is the best way to get back on track.

What about you? What exercise helps you maintain a consistent level of activity? 

 

Taming My Squirrely Brain

large__4053123799My brain can be so squirrely sometimes. (Is squirrely really a word? I’m not sure.)

I keep telling myself that I can lose weight with a few minor adjustments. In reality, it’s going to take lots and lots of minor adjustments. So far, I’m consistently exercising more, drinking more water or iced herbal tea, and eating more mindfully. Letting go of snacks between meals, unless it’s an apple or something else healthy. Avoiding the donuts and bagels in the kitchen at work. No more snacks on the couch while watching TV. No cream in my coffee. No more donuts on Sunday morning. Reducing gluten-based foods and white carbs.

And the weight’s not coming off. I lose a few pounds, then a few pounds come back. Then I lose a few more. Then they boomerang back and apply themselves to my belly.

My squirrely brain wants to give up. It keeps telling me, “See? You’re stuck. You can’t lose any weight, unless you torture yourself and starve yourself and make yourself miserable. Might as well give up.”

In the past, I’ve lost between 20 and 30 pounds at a time, though it’s always been through that eat-very-little, feel hungry all the time and punish myself kind of way. Then I go back to my normal self and the pounds come back.

Since I’m focused on losing these stubborn pounds in a healthy and sustainable way, I will continue to make changes and keep adding healthy habits. Go take a rest, squirrely brain. I’ve got this one.

What about you? Do you struggle to stay on track when the pounds don’t come off quickly? 

photo credit: Tomi Tapio via photopin cc

 

A Post-Father’s Day Contemplation

On Father’s Day, my social media accounts are always flooded with pictures of men who are lauded for their support of their children – what they taught them, their jokes, their constant strength, always being there. And while I’m happy for those who celebrate, I also wonder why I had to miss that type of connection with a “dad” as a child.

I actually had two “fathers.” My biological father, who left our family when I was five, and my stepfather, who was an ongoing presence, though he sexually abused me when I was eight and was the root of the constant destructive chaos that overshadowed any happy moments I had as a child.

I tracked down my biological father, Gary, more than once over the years. When I was in my early twenties, I had a year or so of visits and phone calls. Then a few phone calls in my thirties, and five years of once-in-a-while emails or phone calls in my late forties. Strange, though, how I never felt like I was getting the connection I really wanted. While we talked about the whats and whys of his disappearing act, he always seemed so removed from any emotional expression. The conversations were never any deeper than those I have with the cashier at the grocery store, as she’s scanning my groceries. It was unfulfilling and empty. And somehow, I always always always hoped for more. Emotionally, I wanted to have a loving relationship with my father, even though intellectually, I knew it would never happen.

My stepfather Tommy, on the other hand, joined our family when I was in first grade. I remember that I loved him at first, and that I asked him if I could call him “Daddy.” I was so happy when he said yes. A few weeks later, he and my mother got in a fight and he told me I wasn’t allowed to call him that anymore. By the time I turned eight, he was coming into my bedroom at night. It was a confusing, shameful time and when it was discovered, a huge fight erupted and he moved out, though just for a short time. When he came back, my sister and I were vigilant in our attempts to stave off any nighttime “visits.” When it almost happened again when I was twelve, I told. He was arrested and we went to court. I was so ashamed that I minimized what had happened and the case was dropped. (I’m sure the lawyer asking me what I was wearing probably didn’t help my feelings that it was all my fault.) This sick man was a part of my life until I moved in with an aunt at fifteen.

Last month, both of these fathers died, within three days of each other. It was a very strange time. I felt sad for a short while, though overall, I somehow feel safer.

Has this lack of any father figure played a part in my relationships with men? Absolutely. My early relationships were yearning crushes on men who weren’t as interested in me as I was in them. I felt a gaping hole where there should have been self-love and self-care.

Did the sexual abuse play a part in my ongoing weight issue? Yep. If I’m the chubby girl, I won’t get inappropriate attention from men.

Fortunately, I’ve married a man who is able to give me the unconditional love I never had from a father figure as a child. A month after the deaths of the two men who should have been positive influences in my life, I have an interesting sense of finality that actually feels pretty good. It’s finally time to move on.

What about you? What has your experience with fathers been like? 

Trying the FitBit

fitbitFor my birthday – yes, it was the big 5-0 – I asked my husband for a FitBit One. It’s a tiny little electronic device that helps you track your movement, including the number of steps you take throughout the course of your day and how you sleep. It comes with an account on the FitBit website and it synchs wirelessly through your computer or iPhone.

I clip mine onto my bra strap or put it in a pants pocket, depending on what I’m wearing. After using it for the last four days, I’m actually having fun tracking my food, my activity, my blood pressure and heart rate, and my sleep habits. (Surprise! I’ve never found tracking anything to be fun.)

These first few days, I’ve simply been tracking my normal eating and fitness habits. I’ll use it as a starting point for improvement over the next 90 days to see how it works.

I’m really pleased that my husband got one, too, and seems to be even more interested in using it than I am. We’re enjoying comparing our numbers and trying to figure out how the FitBit knows when we’ve gone up stairs. (Yes, I’ve tried to imitate walking up and down, which looks really goofy, though I can’t fool it.)

I’ll keep you posted on how the FitBit works, since this week, I will be using it to upgrade my activity and nutrition stats.

What about you? Have you ever used an electronic device to help improve your fitness efforts?

 

 

 

A Change in Focus: Let’s Get Real

LJV Get RealWhen I first started this blog, I was feeling enthusiastic and frightened at the same time.  I wanted to lose 40 pounds and I figured I could do it in six months, if I made a concentrated effort. I was excited about the accountability a blog would give me and about putting my efforts out in front of the world. I was six months out from my 50th birthday and afraid of getting older. I wanted to make a major life change in a very short time. I knew I could come up with 40 bad habits I needed to give up and I figured I’d throw that in there, too. I would drop 40 bad habits and 40 pounds before I turned 50. No problem!

Not so fast.

Right after I started this effort, I injured myself doing P90. Basically, I got a major pain in the ass, literally. My piriformis muscle decided to act up and I ended up in the ER twice, on some pretty heavy pain meds and muscle relaxants for three months, and unable to exercise, or even focus my thoughts very well. I’ve since recovered to about 85%. I’m grateful that it wasn’t a permanent injury and I can now go back to working out, though I must do it slowly and carefully.

Sure, I’ve made some positive changes. I’ve changed some habits – I drink more water and cleaned off the kitchen counter that’s been covered with paper for at least a year. I’m more organized with my tasks. I have more self-love and less self-loathing. I’ve lost 3 pounds. (Nowhere near the 40 I’d hoped to lose, though I’m not giving up. I just know that it will take me longer than six weeks to do.)

I turn 50 in three days and I’m here to tell you that – in my dropping 40 effort, as I originally envisioned it – I failed. Brilliantly! So, I’m starting over.

I’m going to refocus this blog and my future efforts to be more realistic. Moving forward, I’m going to put my effort toward dropping those 40 pounds and those 40 bad habits, as I let go of my 40s. As I practice becoming comfortable with my age. As I reach for, and achieve, the goals I’ve set for myself. And I will keep failing, as needed, until I get there.

 

 

In a Rut Rut Rut and Trying Something New

First meal on my first week of Diet to Go plan - Low Carb Option

First meal on my first week of Diet to Go plan? Breakfast – Low Carb Option. Great tasting, huge portion and visually appealing, too.

I love getting inspiration from people who do the cha-cha. Of course, I’m not the only one trying to lose weight and get fit that’s sharing my story on a blog. I came across “The Weight is Over” a few months ago on Facebook and she’s doing something similar. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following Wendy, the blogger, because she’s authentic and fun and HONEST.

Her post this week resonated deeply with me. She’s braver than I am and posts her true struggles and fallbacks (and actual weight!) on her blog. Yikes. AND she’s lost 35 pounds in her effort so far!

This week, Wendy posted about her “one step forward, two steps back” journey and made a commitment to get back on track. I’m going to follow her lead and own that what I’m doing hasn’t resulted in much weight loss. A few pounds, sure, though that’s it.

Yes, I’ve been exercising, drinking water, eating better, avoiding most carbs most of the time, though it’s not working. I’m eating better and exercising more. And the weight’s not coming off.

Fortunately, today I’ve gotten a gift that will help me jump-start my efforts. I’ve been selected to be a Diet to Go ambassador and my week of meals came yesterday! I’ve always wanted to try one of the meal services, figuring that perhaps I’m not gauging my portion sizes or selecting the right foods that work for me, and if I take those decisions out of my hands, I might be able to lose some poundage.

This week, I’ll be posting photos of my meals and information about the plan and hopefully, dropping at least a few pounds.

PLUS, I’m considering asking for a FitBit for Mother’s Day. I keep hearing that one of the keys to weight loss is tracking your intake and physical activity, though I’m SOOO resistant to it!

What about you? What are you trying that’s new? How’s it working?

Searching for Inspiration for Self-Love – Another Stream of Consciousness Post

I’ve read – over and over – that the first step to losing weight is to love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, you won’t lose weight. Over the past several months, I’ve been watching women I know, who appear to be comfortable in their skin and happy with who they are, in spite of the fact that they’re not “thin.” While I can’t see their thoughts and the truth about what they really believe about themselves, I imagine that they’re perfectly content and wish I could be, as well.

“Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.”

~ Margo Anand

The thought is – if you don’t love your body, you won’t care for it as you should. If you don’t accept yourself the way you are, you’ll soothe your feelings of angst and anger with food. There’s even a woman (Laura Fenamore) whose work is all based on this who says you can start with One Pinky. If you can love one pinky, you’ve gotten a start on loving your whole body and you’ll start taking better care of it.

I’ve also made a new friend, Ursula, who was featured in a fashion story in one of the major metro Detroit newspapers. She’s not the typical fashion model type, though she’s learned to love herself, for who she is, and celebrate her body and her beauty with fashion. She’s bold, fun and enthusiastic about life. I had brunch with her this weekend and was inspired on my journey to self-love.

I’ve come to the conclusion that one of my biggest fears, which holds me back, is that I won’t be safe if I’m not the chubby girl. I’ve mentioned previously that when I was in my teens and early 20s, weighing in at what I thought was a very heavy 109 pounds, I got way too much inappropriate attention from older men. They took advantage of my naiveté and I look back in shame. Research has proven that shame contributes to eating disorders and other maladies, like substance abuse. While I don’t believe I have an “eating disorder,” id do believe I have a tendency to soothe myself with food. While I’ve worked on this issue a few times, it still needs some more exploration and resolution. Shame is a strange and unproductive emotion, which can cause all kinds of problems. Now, in addition to shame from my teen years, I also carry shame about my body.

As I looked into shame to discover what I could do to resolve it, I found a Ted Talk by Brene Brown, who (coincidentally) Ursula had mentioned to me during our brunch last week. It’s an amazing talk and you can view it here: The Key to Overcoming Shame. I love how she brings humor and lightness – and extraordinary depth – to what can be a dark and difficult topic.

Just another stream of consciousness post…hope you find a nugget of good information here.

Why Does Losing My 4 Feel So HUGE? A Stream-of-Consciousness Post

the_power_of_now1In about six weeks, I will exit my forties and hit the big 5-0. While no birthday has bothered me since I turned 25, this one’s going to be tough. I can feel it.

My 25th was painful because I felt like people would expect me to act like a responsible adult from that point forward and I was SO not ready to be considered anything resembling responsible. I was  bit of a wild child and had way too much fun in college and my early 20′s.

Since then, every birthday’s been a breeze. I celebrate and enjoy the day, then move on. I don’t linger on the number and don’t fret about my grey hair or wrinkles.

Why, oh why, does this one seem so different? It has me remembering when a woman I used to work with turned 50. She was (and still is four years later) gorgeous and youthful. When we celebrated her birthday at work that day, singing “Happy Birthday” with cake and candles, I remember feeling sad for her. Her age seemed like a landmark that wasn’t necessarily a cause for celebration. In my mind, 50 was, and still is, a big step in the aging process.

A few months back, I read a quote that said, “40 is the old age of youth and 50 is the youth of old age.” Somehow, that made me feel better. I can still consider myself “young” compared to some, even though I’m “old” compared to others.

I’ve pondered this subject for the last several weeks. I’ve also been doing Deepak Chopra’s 21-day Meditation Challenge for the last three. I was gifted with a “centering thought” for one of this week’s sessions that really resonated to me: “I am ageless and timeless.” It was a much-needed reminder that all I really have is now and I’m better off accepting my pending birthday and celebrating every day that I’m given.

The meditation reminded me of a book I read several years ago, “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. It’s a fascinating book, focused on changing the reader’s focus from worries of the past and fear for the future to a laser focus on the NOW. It’s really all we have and we waste it when we keep looking in the mirror or trying to predict what’s going to happen in the future.  I think it’s time to pick up that book again.

What about you? How do you manage your feelings about aging? 

30 Years Later and 40 Pounds Heavier – Now What?

I had an interesting experience the other day that’s still hanging a dark cloud over my head, though I hope to turn it into inspiration. I had a business meeting in the early morning on Wednesday, as I’m serving on a committee for a trade group. This was the first meeting I’d attended, so I wasn’t sure who was serving with me.

After about 15 minutes and a half cup of coffee, in walked a man I immediately recognized as the ex-boyfriend of one of my college roommates. We’d not seen each other in 30 years. Though he looked a bit paunchier than I remembered, he’d held up well.

The meeting was fun and energizing and the two of us stayed a few minutes afterwards to catch up. As I was driving away, my thoughts turned to what he may have thought of me. I had gained a significant amount of weight in the last three decades and it’s my experience that when you’re heavier, you generally look older. (After all, I was only about 19 when I last saw him. Oh. how I’d love to have that metabolism back!)

I felt sad. And a bit ashamed. While I’ve not “purposefully” allowed my weight to get out of control, I’ve allowed it. I also realized that I’ve been avoiding reconnecting in person with some friends that I’ve recently found on Facebook, people I’d really like to see, if only I didn’t feel shame about my weight. Shame isn’t helpful and it feels awful, so I’m turning it into acceptance and motivation. And inspiration. And hope.

First, it’s what happened. Right now, I’m about 30 to 35 pounds heavier than I’d like to be. I’ve had a child. I became hypothyroid, so my metabolism has slowed down. And I’m in that icky time of life when a woman’s hormones start to fluctuate and weight loss becomes even more challenging.

Second, I’m very aware that I’ve used my weight as a protective garment. When I was thinner and significantly younger, I got way too much of the wrong kind of attention from men. As a teenager, older men were way too interested in me in the wrong ways. It was confusing and damaging. It’s an issue that I’ve attempted to resolve in therapy, though it’s a tough one to completely let go. There’s a confirmed link between weight gain and sexual abuse, linked to production of the stress hormone cortisol, so I’m going to do a bit of research to see what I can discover about reducing that hormone.

Third, I’ve been talking/planning/writing about weight loss with an airy-fairy overly-optimistic attitude that I can do it without “dieting.” Yep, I’ve lost a few pounds, though it’s not getting me anywhere close to my goal of forty pounds by the end of May.

So, what’s next? I came across a Facebook group that encouraged fans to post pictures of everything they ate. Hmmmm…that could be interesting, I thought. I asked a friend if I could send her my pics and over the last week, I’ve either been sending her photos (when I remembered) or a list of what I’d eaten that day. It was eye-opening and it makes sense,  now that I’ve observed my overall eating habits, why I’m not dropping the pounds I’d like to drop.

I’m continuing, with the goal of losing as much weight as I can, in a healthy fashion, by my 50th birthday. It’s not easy and I’m having to peel away some significant denial to get there. It’s not necessarily about what’s on my plate. It’s really what’s going on in my brain that’s getting in my way.

What about you? How have you managed the mental roadblocks to weight loss?