Friday, July 15, 2011

July 15: A screw loose

Here's what I wrote before this morning's bike ride:

  Since it seems life's not bending over backwards to get easier, it's up to me now to change my attitude of waiting to be rescued (a recurring theme in my life).  So, what are some positive things going on?


·         I've got one of the best families anyone could ever hope for;

·         I've got some pretty amazing friends, too;

·         I found and tried my first energy gel for breakfast just a few minutes ago – it tasted better than I'd feared; I tried it because…

·         My bike is all fixed, and I'm about to try a route I noticed the other day.


After my bike ride:

  Yippee!  That was the best bike ride ever!  I had a plan in my head that included a hill along a main street.  But then I thought, "I want to ride along the lake," so I deviated from my plan and rode some side streets to the lake shore.  I found myself in Wildwood Park, went up and down the rolling paths, then kept heading west along the beaches on a path I never knew existed.


  It was fun and I couldn't help but smile all along my bike.  I smiled because I was able to climb the gentle hills on my bike and because I cruised down the slopes to a facefull of life and energy and sunrise.  I smiled because I saw a baby bunny and successfully navigated a place over a beautiful bridge where some bricks are missing.  I smiled as I imagined biking there with my son or taking my whole family there for a beautiful afternoon.


  I'm so thankful I took my bike to be repaired yesterday.  A swift turn of the screwdriver and all my gears are fine again.  As a bonus, I had my rusted out brakes replaced.


  And now with my screw no longer loose, I can bike to my heart's content.  There's huge metaphors about taking care of my body as I take care of my bike.  But the day is calling, and I'm happy to face it.  At last.



Thursday, July 14, 2011

July 14

  I'm drowning in noise & drama.  I can hardly complete a single thought, let alone write anything.  My two favorite places to be have turned out to be swimming laps in the pool and riding my bike.  They're the only chances I get to hear myself think, or to not bother thinking.


  I miss my husband like crazy.  We can't get our schedules and commitments to balance, and we both feel stress coming from every possible direction.  I'm becoming snippy and crabby as a result of stress and worry.


  The best news I've got to offer is that I got the brakes on my bike repaired.

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.  It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 12: Goal-less

   What if we our goals suddenly went away?  What would we see when we turned around and examined where we came from, the steps that led not to a finish line of cheering throngs, but rather to an abrupt end of the road, a cliff edge where the only life nearby was scraggly trees?


  We're going to veer off a little bit, but stick with me.  I'll get back to the point.


  Ever since last week's breakwall swim I've been nervous about this week's swim.  What bothered me the most during the swim was feeling lost at sea.  There I was, pulling and kicking through the water, making what felt like miniscule progress toward a goal I couldn't see.  I couldn't even see the swimmer with the balloon tied to her back, let alone the turn-around spot on the breakwall.  I remember looking towards some structures toward the west (couldn't tell you what the big blur actually was) and feeling like I was making no progress toward my goal.  Of course, despite all this, I completed the task, so yay me.  J


  But that feeling of not being able to stay with my group was extremely unsettling.  Were it not for the guard in the kayak next to me, at best I would have turned around and headed for shore before reaching the breakwall; at worst I would have started crying and treading water till someone came and led me ashore.


  What bothered me most after the swim was an apparent overdose of ingested lake water.  Let's call it intestinal distress and be done with it.  I spent lots of time trying to figure out when in my stroke I was swallowing water so that I could fix that problem today.


  Now, I'll get back to the point.


  Despite these very large and very real concerns, I gathered my gear, packed my bag, and set my alarm clock last night.  This morning I awoke on time, dressed  for the swim, and ate a bowl of raisin bran and milk for energy.  I acknowledged how scared I was, even hoping for a thunderstorm, but wasn't about to turn my power over to my fear.  I was going to swim in the lake again.


  And then Fate stepped in, and my car won't start.  Instead of standing on the sandy shores with butterflies in my stomach, I'm sitting at the computer, waiting for the mechanic's shop to open so I can get my car towed there.


  I worked so hard all week, doing extra arm work in WOW for the pulls through the water; biking hard to ensure strength training with my cardio; pushing myself on the elliptical machine to increase my endurance. 


  And suddenly the course in front of me isn't there today.  Suddenly I'm left asking myself whether the work I did was worth it.  Would it have made any difference at all in the lake this morning?  I'll never know.


  All that I can do is what I've already done this morning: make arrangements for baby-sitting so I can get a big swim in later today and wait for the tow truck.  When I think about today's swim, how can I make it most like the lake swim, to continue to prepare for the triathlon (that isn't necessarily guaranteed; it is subject to storms)?  I think I may swim in trusty Memorial Pool with my eyes closed.  Maybe I'll wear my tri-shorts in the water so I can get used to that as well.  I'll try to not swallow pool water.


  But what if there was no Lighten Up finish line?  What if there was no prescribed weight goal?  How would I live my life?  What would I eat?  Would I go to the gym all these mornings?  Who really makes my food choices: my doctor, food shows on tv, the grocery store, magazines, the internet, my taste buds, my muscles?  Who makes my body movement decisions: pop culture, perfection-obsessed society, television programming, or me?


  Last night my son's fencing instructor, Sara Kass at Cyrano's Place, kept coaching to the students to work like their goal is to make the Olympic team, even if that wouldn't happen till they were 150 years old.  The point was that no matter what, they were work to get a little better each time.


  Truth to tell, there really is nothing more than the next decision.  Tomorrow may be miles long, or it may end abruptly.  All I can do is make the best decision for the next bite I take, the next step I take. 



Monday, July 11, 2011

July 11: from despair to beauty

  The good thing about being "in the depths of despair," as L.M. Montgomery's Anne Shirley would say, is that it gives one the chance to look for a way out.  I haven't necessarily been in the depths of despair, but I have been the short side of completely happy.  I feel like for a while I've been approaching a transition point, and I believe I've arrived, thanks in part to a book I've mentioned a few times, Operation Beautiful by Caitlyn Boyle. 


  The mission of Operation Beautiful "is to post anonymous notes in public places for other women to find.  The point is that WE ALL ARE BEAUTIFUL.  You are enough… just the way you are."  The book Operation Beautiful is a collection of photos of post-it notes placed all over the world with affirming messages of encouragement and strength, and of stories from women and men whose lives have been affected by writing or finding these notes.


  One of the goals which Operation Beautiful sets is to "change the way you see, not the way you look."  The book is filled with stories of women who stopped counting calories and stopped allowing their self worth to be dictated by the scale.  These women have learned to eat mindfully and intuitively, and to treat their bodies as athletic and beautiful creations capable of anything.  The two, I believe, go hand in hand.  The book is teaching me and giving me permission to learn to eat mindfully, to challenge my body, and to develop an actual love for myself.  (That said, I don't feel strong enough to give up recording what I eat yet.  But no more being manic about it.)


  When I first started reading Operation Beautiful I had to pause after every story or two to wipe tears from my eyes; something way down deep inside was being nourished.  I could practically feel the seed breaking open.  I think the loving acceptance of the book is what got to me.  Fr. Greg Boyle, in his book Tattoos on the Heart, writes about loving other people, "no matter what."  From Operation Beautiful, I'm learning to love myself, no matter what.  And that love is what allowed me to feel the sadness and frustration I felt yesterday from a distance.  Those feelings didn't consume me, I didn't beat myself up, and I didn't lose hope. 


  I'm grateful for these experiences that teach me that I am worthy of love, no matter what.  For as many "I love you"s as I exchange with family and friends, it's hard to believe I'm good enough to be loved by anyone at all.  And yet that's the message I find in the books I mentioned above and, as I wrote several weeks ago, in watching Bob & Jillian hug overweight people. 


  If, like me, you need help battling lifelong negative self-talk or pop culture's debilitating messages of perfection and beauty, then I hope you'll find your way to Operation Beautiful.  The book is available at libraries and stores, and there's a website (   From one of its first pages:


"Spread the truth

Spread the hope

Spread the love

You are so beautiful,

just the way you are."



Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 10: ordinary

  It's not easy to be left behind.  That's just the position I find myself in.  Compared to the other contestants, I'm an underachiever: my weight has remained unchanged over six months.  Compared to my sister (I'm so proud of you!), I've done nothing.


  As always, I'm left behind asking myself "Where did I go wrong?"  As always, I think the answers are that I don't push myself enough in the gym and I don't consistently manage what I eat.


  The contest will end in a few short weeks, but until this extra weight is off my body, my contest continues.  My struggle won't end with Lighten Up's final weigh-in. My journey will continue with every decision I make, and every fear I face for the rest of my life.


  I've got work to do.