Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Good Exercise

  It’s good to sometimes be asked “Why do you want to lose weight?”  It’s a question Weight Watchers asks of its new members, and it’s a question on the application for The Biggest Loser.  I just filled in and submitted that application, knowing there’s no way I can be chosen since I have no DVD of myself to submit. 

  (Perhaps there’s a safety in knowing I won’t be chosen.  If I’m not chosen, I don’t have to be away from my family for months on end, and I don’t have to worry about seeing myself on film.  Despite my best efforts at positive self talk, while I’m able to see some strength when I look at my reflection in the mirror, when I think of how the world sees me, I shudder.)

  On the application for The Biggest Loser, I found two questions: Why do you want to lose weight NOW?  And Why do you want to be on The Biggest Loser?

  Think about it.  Sure, many of us want to lose weight, but why NOW?  I’ve already begun doing things which 50 additional pounds and lower self esteem previously kept me from doing.  I wear swimsuits in public, I ride at amusement parks, I completed a triathlon.

  Why do I want to lose weight NOW?  I want my body shape to be different that’s for sure.  More than that: I want to improve at and enjoy activities like swimming and biking.  I want to know that rather than wonder if I’ll fit in the harness at the Rock Gym or through turn styles or in a stadium seat.  I want to continue the process to internal peace.

  Why do I want to be on The Biggest Loser?  It’s easier to think of why I don’t want to be on the show.  Number One is that I don’t like to think of my family living without me, the stress it would put on their schedules and emotions.  Number Two is that I would fear exposure to ridicule and mass temperament.  (Though Lighten Up was nothing but a positive experience.)

  But why DO I want to be on the show?  What would I get at the ranch which I don’t get here?  I’d have trainers to push me, counselors to work with me, and staff to evaluate me.  I wouldn’t have to figure out how to schedule my weight loss needs in and around the needs of the other parts of my life.  Someone else could do the thinking for me, and I'd be left with only the steps to follow.  I feel like if I were in a vacuum, maybe I’d make good headway.

  So why am I not doing it here?  Why do I still find myself overeating the Whole Grain Cheerios? – the box with the cast of the Biggest Loser on it, no less!  Why am I afraid to push myself in the gym, exercising to the point of puke or collapse?  Is it fear?  Is it ignorance?  Is it weakness?  Is it poor planning?  A combination of these and more?

  I don’t know.  But the fact is that since I’ll never be a Biggest Loser contestant, with trainers & dieticians free of charge, it really is up to me to make this happen.  I’ve got to plan, I’ve got to set some goals.  I need help.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Calendar Craze

  This morning it took me 6 tries before I was able to communicate my thoughts in an email (sorry about that!).  When I look around the house, I see endless tasks which need tending to: toys to weed out, floors to wash, clutter to purge; and don’t even mention the garden!  School starts in two weeks and I’ve barely even thought about purchasing school supplies.  After a fairly schedule-less summer, I now find my dance card filling up with 2 PTAs, church volunteering, and doctor appointments; classes and committees are picking up for my wonderful husband; and school, homework, and extracurricular activities aplenty await my kids.  Even with allowing the older kids just one extracurricular each, our calendar still finds its way to overflowing.

  And what about exercise?  Where does that come in?  Where do I find the energy to exercise at 5:30AM when our 3-year-old has recently become a social butterfly in the wee hours of the morning?  If I’m just getting back to sleep when I’d normally be getting up to go to the gym, where to I squeeze in treadmill time?

  Spiritual renewal and growth?  I’m getting pretty tired of my prayers sounding like shopping lists of things I need help with.  “Where do you keep the financial security?  Do you carry patience?  I’m running low on inspiration, I’ll take two.”  I start out with thanks for the good things I have – even those I may not recognize as blessings – but I end up praying for this, that, or the other, and then worrying about this, that, and the other!  I wistfully remember retreats I’ve attended in the past: candles, running water, perhaps making a mandala.   

  This blog helps.  Forcing myself to write forces me to examine what’s going on in my life.  And what I find is that I need to take some deep breaths and not try to make it all happen at once.  I need to show my family how much I love them and that I appreciate the joy they bring into my life.  I need to slow down, light a candle, play some soft music, and teach my kidlets how to find peace even in a whirlwind.  When I find my way to that calm, I’ll restore my temporarily off-kilter world.

  Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.  – Prayer of St. Francis

  I can already feel joy stirring again beneath the earth of life.  It just needs some quiet, water, and light.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Spirit of Adventure

  Were you to ask me what’s changed the most in the last six months, my answer would be that my spirit of adventure has resurfaced.  This adventurous spirit was my birthright.  Not only did it help me in the usual ways, such as toddler explorations, but it led me to Australia, Germany, and Wales.  For our honeymoon, my wonderful husband and I flew to the UK armed only with train passes, a guide book, and one night’s lodging booked.  We winged the rest of the trip, and it’s one of the best trips I’ve ever experienced.

  Somewhere along the way, I buried that spirit.  I’m pretty sure that part of what pulled me to Australia was the push of getting away from painful high school experiences.  When on my own in Wales, it was easy to be a different me, an outgoing me.  I was among strangers who’d never have the opportunity to tell me how foolish I’d looked.

  Going through cancer and having children began to soften the scars beneath which my adventure lay.  Seriously, after all the doctors, nurses, and interns got done poking, prodding, measuring, examining and exploring me top to bottom, inside and out, there was little space left in which self consciousness could hide.  By the time child number three came along, I was well on my way to dealing with the fact that there was part of me that still wanted to try new things.

  And finally this year, things have clicked into place.  With the permission to forgive and love myself, I’ve gained the strength to accept myself.  I’ve learned to not think of how goofy I look, but how do set about the task at hand.  That’s how I rode the rides at Waldamere, that’s how I completed a triathlon, and that’s how I found myself in an Abs Lab at the Lakewood Y last night.  I had some time on my hands, I had a Y membership, and I listened to my spirit of adventure.

  The instructor was great at her job, the music was lively, and the facility was beautiful.  Here’s what was so great about last night: I had confidence.  I was confident that I belonged.  No matter how my body compared with anyone else’s, I knew and felt that I had every right to be in the class.  It’s an awesome feeling which I won’t take for granted. 

  Did I do all the moves perfectly?  Nope.  But so what?  I did them to the best of my ability, and I could feel my muscles being worked.  And I practiced some self-coaching, reminding myself that I had completed X, Y, and Z, and that I could do this, too.

  I’m excited to experience this spirit of adventure again, and I’m looking forward to creating memories and stories to share with you here.  From scary foods to exciting rides, I’ve got a life to live.  Hopefully you’ll be inspired to set out on adventures of your own.

Monday, August 1, 2011


  Today we're going to look at Using Food For Purposes Other Than Its Intended One.  I've got a problem with cow's milk; you could say I'm a recovering cow's milk addict.  I used to joke that I could be quite happy with a cow and a straw.  Cow's milk is yummy and sweet and has calcium.  It's wholesome.  I was happy to drink it instead of water. 

  Let me make one thing clear.  This isn't about the ethics of drinking cow's milk; this is about my body and my addiction. 

  From as far back as my single-digit years, I've loved drinking cow's milk.  After t-ball and softball games, I'd ride my bike home and proceed to quench my thirst straight from the plastic gallon jug.  I'm sure that I must have been conscientious enough to only do that when there was little enough in the jug that I could finish it; but, still, let's not tell Mom.  (Hi, Mom!)

  In high school, peer pressure led to my conversion to skim milk.  Skim milk is lower in fat and calories than its 2% counterpart.  Since I was lowering calories in the milk, I had room for, say cookies.  What goes better with milk than cookies, cereal, and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches?  As a matter of fact, sometimes it was nice to eat extra cookies or brownies just to make myself thirsty for more milk.  Talk about comfort!  Make thirst -> Quench thirst.  See the red flag?

  At some point I heard that water is for hydration and that calories belong in food, so I made heroic efforts to up my water intake.  But I didn't stop my milk-n-goodies minimeals.  Now, the milk on its own would have 90 calories per cup.  But think how many cookies or graham crackers you can enjoy with a cup of milk.  And if there were cookies on my plate but no milk left in my cup, well then!, it was time to refill the milk cup.  Oh, the calories!  Oh, the fat!

  Recognizing the tremendous hold this duo had on me, I literally prayed for help in breaking this addiction.  And, true to the form of "be careful what you wish for," I began to suspect that my innards were beginning to boycott cow's milk.  So I began to experiment.

  I tried – and my taste buds hated - soy milk.  But my innards were okay with it.

  I tried – and my taste buds tolerated – almond milk. And my innards were okay with it.

  I tried – and was utterly repulsed by – coconut milk.  But my innards were okay with it.

  While somewhere between blech! and repulsive on their own, these three varieties of milk tasted okay in a bowl of cereal or hidden in a dinner recipe.  And it struck me.  Haven't I just ended up where I wanted to be?  I've wanted to use milk as a source of nutrients rather than as a cookie conveyor.  And so it's happened.

  Since the spring, I've been retraining my taste buds.  At dinner last night I craved milk, so I poured a cup of soy milk, I drank it, and I liked it.  Am I in danger of slipping down a soy milk & cookie slope?  Absolutely not.  It's satisfying on its own – it doesn't need the sweetness of cookies! Besides, it's far too expensive for my taste.

  When it comes to drinking (along with swimming and bathing), it'll be water for me! With water, I don't run the risk of drinking it for the sake of flavor or texture.  It doesn't pair well with comfort food.  The only risk is drinking too much of it, and that's not even a realistic risk for me.

  To misquote a Garth Brooks song: Some of God's greatest gifts are mis-answered prayers.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

7/31/2011: Transition

  You're probably aware of the three parts of a triathlon: swim, bike, run.  Did you know there's a fourth event?  It's called transition; it's how you switch from one event to the next.  The transition area is like a locker room; it's where you keep all your gear laid out in a precise grab-n-go manner.  Bike, goggles, socks, bike shoes, running shoes, energy gels, water, hat, helmet, and towel are some of the equipment you'll find in any given transition area.  Triathletes practice this fourth event just as they do the other three.  For triathletes, every second counts.  They don't want to come in second place just because they took an extra second switching their shoes.


  For the past couple of days, I've been preparing for transition.  I think the biggest change is returning to my efforts being about me, rather than about how my results compare with those of anyone else.  Changes ahead: my kidlets will return to school alarmingly soon, and heavy duty surgery awaits me.


  But beyond those legs of the race is my finish line: healthy and strong body, mind, and soul.  I've got to plan how I'm going to get from the starting line of right now, through these upcoming challenges, to that goal of health.  To that end, I've spent time this week evaluating a host of options: food logs, exercise options, and support teams.  I've returned to reading the stories of people who have worked toward and achieved similar goals. 


  We've all heard that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.  I'd like to offer that my success will be 1% inspiration, 95% perspiration, and 4% preparation.  Gotta be prepared for those transitions.