Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 23

Earlier this week I wrote about setting the bar high for my exercise classmates.  Today I feel the need to make sure expectations for my weight loss progress are down in the dumps where they belong.  For the entire rainy month of April, my weight has remained consistently higher than it was at the March weigh-in.  The problem is – as always for me – eating.

I've been asking myself why I'm stuck in eating cereal or cookies or granola bars when I know they're not what I need to be eating – when I know they're my Achilles heel – and today I awoke with this song lyric in my head.  It's from Ragtime: The Musical, and is sung by Mother as part of a trio – the other voices are of men traveling to or from America.  Mother is at home:

And what of the people
Whose boundaries chafe…?

Undoubtedly I'm not the first person to struggle with a lack of fulfillment.  It's crazy to even think that I can be unfulfilled when I have my arms full of a family to love and my hands filled with community projects.  But the fact which is stirring up tears while I type is that with the exception of twice weekly weightlifting sessions, I'm not regularly involved in anything which brings me the joy of accomplishment. 

I wish I could find fulfillment in a tidy house and that I was adept at creating dinners which every member of my family would find pleasing every night.  Maybe if I didn't plan for, shop, and prepare meals only to have "What is that?" be the nightly chorus, I could at least take pride in my cooking abilities. But just as many people go to their offices each day and go through the motions of a boring job in exchange for a paycheck, lately I'm finding myself barely being able to force myself to go through the motions.  (Yes, I do realize that people are lucky to have jobs, even boring ones, and that I'm fortunate to have a house and a family.)

Maybe this is all about cabin fever tinged with loneliness.  With all the rain, my kids and I have been stuck indoors, which means I haven't done any of the things I've wanted to do: organize and store our photos in a place out of our youngest's reach; work on a quilt; bake a treat for my family.  Due to very differing internal clocks and differing commitments, my wonderful husband and I sometimes seem like ships passing.  And because many of my friends' kids attend different schools with different spring breaks, I haven't even been able to reliably use the Phone-A-Friend lifeline.  I was housebound with kids this week; they'll be housebound with kids next week.

I suspect that until the sun shines again, I need to pursue Ignatian spirituality: seeing God in every moment, every task – from watching Wiggly Christmas on Good Friday to praying that my son's upset stomach passes quickly to letting the dog out for the 84th time.  Until that dreaded day when my kids are too busy for me, I need to buckle down and appreciate what I do have. 

Perhaps the best I can do sometimes is make sure the kitchen counter is uncluttered, books are back on the bookshelf, and there's no old lettuce in the vegetable bin.  Better to be proud of having it done than to be embarrassed by having it not done. 

I need to find joy in playing Pokemon Monopoly again.  I need to not mind making a mess (I'll just have to clean up) with finger paints.  I need to rather do anything with my family than long for a snooze.  I need to teach my kids to find joy & fulfillment in unexpected places.

So today I commit myself to the challenge of finding joy in chores, of being a more involved parent when my kids need me to be so, and to being really present during those beautiful but fleeting moments when my husband and I both have five minutes of nothing else that has to be done.

There'll be time for fabric and photos later. 

While I'm at it, I have to use some of my weightlifting strength to turn away from using comforting carbs as a solace drug.  Graham crackers won't cure boredom, cereal isn't a friend, and eating a cookie is not an accomplishment (though if it were one of those giant chocolate chip ones ones…).


Friday, April 22, 2011

April 22

Sometimes it feels like I'm having an affair with my gym – in order to get there, I have to sneak out when the rest of the house is asleep.  It didn't work this morning.  My youngest just moved from crib to Big Girl Bed, and she happens to like me very much and to enjoy being where I am.  As soon as she's awake and knows I'm awake, she's my happy little sidekick.

So I for the past two nights I've slept horribly: half sleeping, half listening for her all night long.  Then I start worrying that if I try to sneak out of the house, my movement will alert her and she'll be on my heels, which will result in me not being able to go to the gym since no one will be up to watch her.  Have I mentioned that I'm good at worrying?

I don't know how I'm going to resolve this challenge.  I guess I'll just have to try, and if she gets up to follow me, tell her to get back in bed and be on my way. 

This little scenario led me to realize how lately I have not worked to uphold The Year of Karin.  I'm not taking care of my own needs (I've got to buy smaller pants; I need to get to sleep earlier; I need some time to recharge my batteries), so I'm letting my family down (laundry's piling up, dishes are stacking up, I feel overwhelmed at the thought of planning next week's meals).  This attitude results in my not being able to help support my family in their daily challenges. 

I need to find a way to get me back on the map so that I can steer my family through choppy waters and enjoy the calm waters with them.  Abandoning ship is not an option.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 21: A Doggy Dog World

A couple new classmates joined the latest session of WOW (Women On Weights), and one of them has let it be known that she's having me set the bar.  She lifts immediately after I do, sees how much I lift, and challenges herself to lift just a bit less.  I've been unnerved by that, not because I feel like I have to be the best in the class, but because I feel like someone's gunning for me.  I've kept quiet about it, just trying to ignore it and focus on my doing my own thing.

Today she and another classmate good-naturedly commented loudly enough I definitely couldn't miss it that I set the bar for them, and that they'd try to do what I do.  I sighed to myself and decided, "Alright.  If I'm setting the bar and they're after me, I'm setting it real high."  I invited them to set my goal, which they did – a lofty goal, indeed. 

And I raised their challenge. 

And then I made good on it, putting everything I had into it. 

As David counted it out and I got within spitting distance of the end, I could hear him pulling for me with every number.  I dug in and held on and worked and fought and breathed and lifted, and worked some more.  And I did.  I did it, I killed it, I rocked it.  And when it was time for the young pups to have their turn, they couldn't do half of what I'd done, and I helped them up afterwards.

You may not be able to teach old dogs new tricks, but this dog is going to work like mad to remain the leader of the pack.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 19: HELP!

As I posted on fb, WOW (Women On Weights) was HARD today!  I was the only person so I got extra lifting and extra tired.  For a while I was this close to seeing spots in front of my eyes.  I had choices: push through it; take a walk to the water fountain; tell my trainer what was going on.  I went with choice number 3 and told David what was going on.  He asked questions, I gave answers.  Details, details, blah blah blah.  He shifted gears and I was able to complete for my full hour of WOW (and I've got the sweat – even from my head!!! – to show for it).  My muscles are still the stuff that squids are made of!

Today's WOW experience reinforced a lesson I've been learning during this Weight Loss Journey (I really loathe that term in application to me, but can't think of a better one): asking for help.  I'm getting really good at it – recognizing and appreciating my need for help.  Needing help is not to be confused with waiting around to be rescued.  I'm actually trying to do more things than ever before, and I think I'm able to do more because I'm not trying to shoulder a burden beyond my abilities.

Once upon a time I convinced myself that I was helpless – everyone else was smarter, stronger, wittier, and prettier than I – and that therefore I shouldn't embarrass myself by even trying.  I'd sit on the sidelines, support other people, hold people's purses, and watch life go gaily by.  But then one day I was at the playground with my then 3-year-old son.  Another little boy had climbed up on a piece of playground equipment and couldn't get down.  His dad said to him: "What would you do if I wasn't here?"

I used that phrase as a touchstone when there's been something that's needed to be done.  I started by trying my darndest to do it.  Like that little boy atop the monkey bars, I figured that I couldn't wait to sit around waiting for someone to do things for me.  Somewhere along the way I heard the phrase "It it's meant to be, it's up to me."  And then I found that I'd let the pendulum swing too far that way, and I jumped into the deep end of Control Freakdom. 

As the fat is being burned away from my body and my muscles are being nurtured and challenged, I'm finding that I'm finding center or balance or moderation or whatever you'd like to term it.  I'm getting out there and trying things (new recipes, new clothes, harder exercise) and asking for help when I'm not sure what to do or if I can do it.  The difference is profound: I'm recognizing that I am strong on my own, and that asking for help or guidance is not a sign of weakness but of strength and inevitably leads to good things.

It's a good thing I'm learning to ask for help.  After today's workout, I'm going to need it!


Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18: Walking

I live in Euclid and am so happy that I do – it's a walker's paradise.  A couple weekends ago I reported that I was walking at Euclid Creek Reservation, creek on one side, walls of the valley reaching high, hills, old stones lining parts of the path.  This weekend I stayed closer to home and walked a track near the lake.  The wind was coming in off the lake over which the sun was starting to set.  It was magically uplifting.  And since I'd planned to walk at the track, it seemed silly to drive there on such a beautiful evening, so I added about a mile of circuitous route through neighborhood streets.  This morning my mind overrode my body's protests and took it to the Y, where I worked up a sweat on several machines before finishing with a walk on the treadmill.  I definitely prefer walking outdoors on cool days with sun & breeze, but for the dark and rainy hours, the Y will do just fine.

Three days, three very different walks.

I'm fortunate to live in Euclid; from my growing up years here, I knew that I would always want to live near the water.  I spent countless hours at the beach and grassy areas of Sims Park (where I still take my kids today – now with disc golf!).  I've enjoyed those step-ups (I swear the posts haven't changed) on the fitness trail at Euclid Creek ever since elementary school (now Euclid Creek boasts a mini walking tour of the solar system!).  And as a child I took gymnastics & ballet lessons at the Euclid Y (where today I lift weights).

Part of my weight loss journey is about appreciating what I have, looking at who I am – in all my imperfection – and accepting it.  It's about taking what I already have and working to improve it, rather than chasing some ready-made dream.

So, to anyone out there who feels anxious, I say "Go take a walk!"  Sweat away some calories & bodily toxins, and see your community – wherever it is – and believe that L. Frank Baum was correct in writing "There's no place like home."


Sunday, April 17, 2011

April 17: The Spider

For me, healthy eating is like riding The Spider at old Geauga Lake Park – up and down and around and around.  There's the ground I see below: calories in/calories out.  There's the stationary center of the ride: tracking.  And then there's me in the car at the end of the spider's foot, spinning and flying, sometimes aware of the ground, sometimes aware of the center which holds the legs together, but far too often disoriented by the highs and lows and the endless spinning caused by demands made on me by family, friends, church, school, and community.  I can go for days and weeks able to not merely ride, but master and thrill to the ride.  Eventually though I get so dizzy from being tossed about from request to request that I lose sight of all of it.

The past few weeks have been filled with spinning, practically careening out of control.  And somewhere in my mind I'm reaching for the center, for the ground.  It's one thing to get on an amusement park ride for the fun of it; to be stuck on the ride is quite another.  I'm searching to find the calm which will help me to plan & track my eating.  Lately I haven't wanted to track because even the paper and my handwriting distract me.  I haven't had a moment's peace, and it shows.  Everyone wants something from me, and all I want is to find that center of calm again, and to maneuver the ups and downs and spins without losing sight of the ground, the center, and me.

It occurs to me that people use rolled up newspapers to smash spiders (though I prefer to carry the spiders outside).  Perhaps I need to use this newspaper, this newspaper's contest as well as a tracker as tools to halt the spinning feet of my spider ride.