Saturday, September 10, 2011

They can't all be about sweat

  As much as I’m enjoying reruns of Laverne & Shirley, I’m afraid I haven’t found much fertile ground for writing there.  Sure there’s their indomitable spirit (“There is nothing we won’t try, never heard the word impossible!”), but those are for another day.  Those are for when I can get back into the gym or on my bike.  My body is too busy recovering and prone to napping these days, so I need to find something else to celebrate & motivate. So here it is: 

  I tried a new food!  Well, a new beverage really: prune juice!   Plums aren’t the least bit scary - there were 3 plum trees in my childhood backyard - yet somehow the image of a tarlike beverage derived from these wonderful fruits has always made me squeamish.  But I figured that as long as I’m already dealing with bloody bandages, why not throw something un-fishy and un-fungusy like prune juice in for my first food phobia challenge.

  The verdict?  It tastes nothing like plums!  If I could keep the juice toward the center of my tongue, away from molars and the taste buds hiding out there, perhaps I could drink prune juice without shuddering.  But once the juice finds its way to those unsuspecting taste buds, it turns from questionable fruit juice to… ugh… black licorice flavor.  I’m not talking about anise, a spice with a lovely flavor; I’m talking about the skewed anise flavor that’s turned into the jelly beans I won’t eat and the licorice I won’t touch.

 {I’ve no doubt that I’ll be hearing from people who have suggestions for making prune juice palatable.  So be it.  I’m not saying prune juice is a bad thing (it’s high in antioxidants, potassium, Vitamin A, and of course fiber); I'm just saying I tried it and it made me shudder.  Nonetheless, because of its healthy properties and the fact that it's neither fish nor fungus, I promise I’ll make myself drink what remains in the bottle rather than pour it away.}

  What matters here is that despite imposed limitations, I challenged myself to try something new.  It wasn't a new piece of equipment in the gym, it wasn't a new bike route, and it wasn't a new class.  It was a challenge of will and mental strength, and I succeeded!

  In conclusion, here are three victories I’m counting today:

1.      The prune juice thing.
2.      I stood long enough to fold two loads of laundry!
3.      I’ve been drinking all the water I challenged myself to (have you?).

Mental:    Identify hunger, and eat in response to that, rather than to sneaky feelings like boredom or tiredness.
Physical:    Walk to the far end of my street and back.  I’m allowed to rest on the bench if I need to.   (You may wish to choose a more relevant goal than walking to the end of my street; perhaps you can walk to the end of yours?)

(I love that song!)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Are you ready?

Here's me, bandaged after Wednesday's surgery.   

Knocked down a few pegs after surgery, prohibited from exercising, and with no interest in chewing solid food, this is a great time for me to connect with any beginners who may be out there.  

Have you wanted to work toward losing weight, but been afraid to try?  I understand.  Once upon a time, I was afraid.  Taking those first steps toward getting healthy can be very intimidating.  You know you’re going to have to make changes of all sizes, from what you eat to how you think.  Just the thought of being seen in exercise clothes or trying new foods can be unsettling.

But believe me when I say how worth it the process is.  You’ve got internal strength and joy within, just waiting to spring to life.  Don’t be afraid.  Let’s do this together.  I’m picking up my little plastic gingerbread man and going back to square one of the rainbow path. 

I’m forgetting about the 55 pounds I’ve lost, and thinking instead about my goal: 229.

We can do this.  You’ll help me follow doctor’s orders to go slowly, and I’ll feel strong when I help you move forward.

If you want to, hop on the scale today, take some body measurements, and maybe even take a picture.   You’re going to want to remember where you came from, to compare and see how far you go.

Today’s assignment for us:

1.      MENTAL:   Think about why we want to lose weight.  Are there feelings or situations we want to move from?  Are there feelings or goals we want to move toward?
2.      PHYSICAL:  Drink six cups of water sometime today.

That’s it! 


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Let's GO already!

  I want to start healing NOW!  I want to be pushing the stroller a few miles through falling leaves.  I want to be trudging through snow in my boots.  I don’t particularly want to jog, but I want to be training for the 2 triathlons I’ve sets my sights on for next summer. 
  All I need to do is be sliced & stitched, then I can back get to the good stuff.

  Hey!  Wait a minute.  That reminds me of something.  Before I get the reward, I need to go through the hard stuff.  Just like in losing weight.  In order to get the joy of smaller clothes, more amusement park rides, and the self-confidence that comes from accomplishment, I need to do the hard work of self-discipline and meeting challenges head-on.

  Maybe it’s good that I’m being forced into a little time off.  Perhaps this is the way The Man Upstairs is reminding me to gather rosebuds while I may.  Take it for what it’s worth:  Part of my heart who lives a few streets away likes to caution me against (cue REM) losing my religion.  She reminds me that when I focus on exercise or on writing or on food, I run the risk of elevating those things to God Status. 

   Am I being called back into balance?  I am a Libra, and here we are getting ready for the stars to align.  Perhaps I’m being forced into quiet recuperation because Someone Out There wants me to do some spiritual work, to listen and to discover.

  Of course, I do my best spiritual work out in the woods or near running water, so I’m gonna start lacing up my shoes. 

Monday, September 5, 2011


From the moment Mark Beaumont's comment sprang up in my computer earlier today, I'd have liked nothing better than to have been able to thank him for taking the time to post.  Unfortunately, the computer has outwitted me (as do tightly closed jelly jar lids and certain local intersections).

So, if you're not Mark Beaumont and you intend to never post a comment: Thank you for reading anyway and please forgive this entirely off topic posting.

If you do intend to one day post a comment: I thank you in advance, especially if you're kind.

And if you are Mark Beaumont: Thank you for taking the time to post today, even from glamorous Newark, NJ.  I'll bend Santa's ear about the Americas book (if I can wait that long).  In the meantime, here's wishing you a joyful homecoming and resting-up followed by safe and bountiful adventures. 

And, oh yes, congratulations on that whole World Record thing.  J Seriously, yours is an amazing story and I thank you for sharing it.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

How I got scared, depressed, and over it

  Whew!  I'm glad that’s over.  Ever since last Thursday, I’d been down there in the dumps, vaguely aware I was there, vaguely aware of how to pull myself up, yet oddly unable to do so.  Was it a little depression, a little fear?  Yes and yes.  Today, as promised, is a new day, and those helpless feelings have fled with the suffocating humidity.

  Here’s how I got out, in 5 Easy Steps. 

  Step 1:  I used my support network.
  It so happens that in the midst of Hurricane Anxious, I got to spend time with a piece of my heart who’s lived on the West Coast for the past six years.  As if just getting to chat in person a while wasn’t treat enough, she brought me a little present.

  It choked me up because it was just what I needed: a reminder of inner strength I’d built and used this summer.  (During the running portion of the triathlon, I actually sang aloud to myself The Sound of Music's "I Have Confidence.")  And I thought again of Shoftstall’s words, “You really can endure… you really are strong.”  Oh yeah.  I made it through cancer treatment years ago ("with a little help from my friends"); this time there’s no cancer and no radiation – just surgery and recovery.

Step 2: Ask for help. 
  I asked for help and my Friends rallied and volunteered to such an extent that if I persist in worrying, it’s not only gratuitous, but an insult to them.  My world is filled with Friends who’ll guard my kids, feed my family, listen to and share with me, drive me where I need to go, and hold my hand every step of the way.  Days before my newest incision, I already have a Get Well card cheering me on.

Step 3: Distraction

This is what the other day’s musical edition was about.  It's also what my new title, Queen of Lists, is about.  Doubt me?  Just check out Friday & Saturday’s stacks of papers as proof!  I made lists of every shape and size: shopping lists, dinner lists, helper lists, book lists.  I stopped just short of making a list of all my lists. 

 I had to make the lists.  The Control Freak in me disagrees with the human part. The Control Freak in me would prefer to administer the anesthesia, look over the surgeon’s shoulder (though I really don’t want to see what’s going on in there), and line up my cells in a formation to ensure Efficient Recovery.

Step 3A: Wallow

Despite being Queen of Lists with occasional bouts of Control Freakishness, I’m human and needed to feel my fear and sadness and to wallow for a while.  I didn't track what I ate and I ate a couple things I really "shouldn’t have."  I know it doesn’t seem like something productive, but I firmly believe that when faced with Something Scary, gummy bears in small quantities are permissible.  

Step 4:  Inspiration. 

  With my new present in front of me and thoughts of my triathlon state of mind, I remembered the book I wrote about yesterday, and I borrowed a little of Mark Beaumont’s courage and planted it in my soul.

  And this morning I awoke to find myself free of aches & pains, and completely untempted by the open package of Oreos sitting on the dining table (Don’t worry  - I didn’t buy ‘em, I didn’t chug ‘em; Littlest has been making them into snowmen.)  When I opened the curtains and saw neighbors biking by in their neon yellow tops, I was happy and didn’t feel left out.  (After a few garage incidents, my bike needs some work, but that’s okay, because of Step 5.)

Step 5: Make a Plan

Not merely a list, I'm talking Goal here.  I already know all the things I won’t be able to do in the weeks and months ahead: all the things which could really derail my weight loss efforts.  So I had to come up with a plan to ensure the best mental and physical health possible.  Here’s the plan.

  A.  Since my body won't be as active as it's been of late, it won't need as many calories, so I'll eat fewer calories.  But that's just boring.  SO...
  B.  I'm going to (heaven help me) work on overcoming some food phobias.  I'm not kidding when I say I've got a fish phobia.  Once in Australia, I tried to be a good guest and eat a prawn (urgh!).  The prawn only made it to the top of my esophagus before my body pitched a hissy fit.  I've refused point blank to eat mushrooms (they're FUNGUS, people!), yet menus persist in offering things like portabella burgers -- Blech!  -- so they must be safe.

  I hereby challenge myself to... ugh... eat a bite of fish and piece of *erp* fungus and other healthy foods I'd normally be repulsed by. 

  Oh, and if I can choke it down, I'll track it.

  Exercise (don't tell my doctor)

  By the end of September, I’m going to begin posting photo accounts of things I see when I’m out walking.  Inspired by one of my favorite blogs, I’ve long wanted to follow her example, but know full well I’m not one to pedal, point, and shoot at the same time.  But confined to walking?  Well, I can shutter away!

  I’m also putting out an open invitation for company on my walks.  Walking can be fine and dandy, but walking with companions is finer and dandier!  AND I’ve picked up a copy of the schedule for The Cleveland Hiking Club.

  So if you’re out and about and see a woman pointing a camera at something like an earthworm, a cloud, or a church, please smile encouragingly.