Archives for posts with tag: eat less and exercise

Today wasn’t hard. The morning commute was unusually easy, and there seemed less traffic for no obvious reason. I got to the office and got to work, and it was, in most regards, an utterly ordinary work day. A bit busy.

I managed to be fairly pre-occupied with internal matters, my own agenda, my continued dogged consideration of my health and fitness. I returned to SuperBetter; it has worked so well for me before. It’s not an “issue-specific” tool customized to address matters of weight or fitness or health, generally, but… it is (for me) a fantastic general purpose tool for managing cognitive change – and like it or not, treating my weight issues (as in: I’m fat) and health concerns (as in: I’m not 100% well, and I’m aging) as solely physical matters has not served me well; my brain keeps getting in the way. So. Brain first then, is it? Apparently, it is.

There are a couple “cheats” – “life hacks”, if you will – that I find reliably helpful. One of those is so old school I feel a little hesitant to bring it up – you might laugh. Accountability. Yep. Visibility. The awareness of a goal even existing – but not just any awareness. I mean, mentioning my intention, say, to the very pleasant woman living next door with whom I share only a very limited association, coming and going as we do, would not be likely to increase my own ongoing moment-to-moment awareness of my goals, or make me self-conscious about my choices. That’s what accountability does; it increases my awareness, and makes me more (self)conscious – it pushes choices that might have been made on auto-pilot back into the bright light of conscious will. My conscious will. Friends, though? That works sometimes – depends on the friend. Depends on the trust and the intimacy and the honesty. It depends on how authentically I choose to live – and how authentically my friend chooses to live. For me, respect and vulnerability, a shared journey – those things help, too. “We’re in this together”, on positive terms – even with different goals – really “lightens the load”, emotionally. So, I reached out to a friend. It’s hard to do that, too. It’s hard to deal with the baggage on life’s journey, right up until it becomes apparent that setting it down is also an option. This particular bit of baggage has gotten way to heavy. (lol lol lol lol lol lol omg. I’m sorry, sort of. 🙂 )

It’s evening. It’s not as quiet as one my expect, particularly reading my work for any while. lol South Park episodes are playing on the TV in the living room, but I’m not there. I’m in the studio, at my desk, with you… and I have headphones on, because I meant to listen to music…but I’m not listening to music, just my tinnitus. Sipping coffee, writing, and ignoring the random video on autoplay on another browser tab. Fucking weird creatures, we human primates, aren’t we? When I realize the distracting buzz of noises may have been intended in some way to drown out the emotional intensity of facing the big bad scary issue of losing some weight, no spin, no filters, no safe space, I get annoyed/amused with myself, and turn off all of the noise and listen. Just that. Just… take a moment to be here. Be okay. Be okay with being here. Be okay with being here, still fat. lol All of that. More. There is work to do. The “heavy lifting” isn’t in pounds – it’s all in my head, or in my chemistry, but – probably manageable? Changeable over time with practice? No miracles. No games. I expect to get angry, sad, frustrated, blue – but I’ve felt those emotions before, and they’re part of my experience, too. That’s not so scary, looked at that way. I look my fears in the face and laugh (bravely?) – my fears gently stare me down with the confidence of years of kicking my ass without effort. Still. Change is a thing.

I finish my coffee.

In life, generally, there is an implicit expectation that we each “pull our own weight”, or “handle our share of the load” – basically, to do our part in our family life, our community, and even our world to create, maintain, and nurture the world we want to live in, and that we want to provide for our loved ones and descendants. That seems almost effortless compared to the more practical, less metaphorical, pulling of my own literal weight around each and every day.

I weigh more than I’d like, more than I find beautiful based on my own aesthetic, and more than is ideally healthy for me, personally, based on my own experience of movement, fitness, and comfort each day. This morning I am sipping my coffee and rather rudely chastising myself for finding losing a few pounds (and keeping it off) more difficult than building world peace, or overcoming poverty, privation, and disease. Ludicrous. So… while we all work on those other much larger issues, I’ll also work on making my issues with my weight much smaller – and thereby making myself somewhat smaller, and probably quite a bit healthier, and even reducing the burden on global resources in some minuscule way simply by consuming less, and more wisely. Some of my chronic health concerns would be eased, possibly resolved, if I lost the excess weight I’m dragging around, too… which sounds like a great way to reduce my health care expenses, as a further “value add” to getting fit.

So. Another journey begins again. This is a hard one for me, for a number of reasons that are intertwined with the chaos and damage. It’s time to set down more of the baggage, shed unnecessary pounds, and walk on. I even know I can do this – because I’ve done it before; I haven’t always been overweight. This morning, I practice bringing more mindfulness to my yoga, and to my physical therapy routine. It’ll be an every day commitment to be successful, and I expect to begin again any number of times… there are verbs involved, and I know my results vary. I’m very human. Still, it’s a worthy endeavor, so I begin again. Again. I fall back on practical basics that I know work: gamification (SuperBetter is a great tool!), accountability (talking about it reduces ‘get away with something’ opportunities), and mindfulness – both with regard to consumption and with regard to tracking data. “What gets measured gets managed” still works for me. And… there are still verbs involved.

…In the three plus years I’ve been writing this blog, I could easily have reached my fitness goals several times (and got really close once). I’m frustrated by that, sure, but I understand that incremental change over time does really work – it’s those pesky verbs! The verbs are not avoidable, and must actually be lived, done, performed, acted upon, otherwise they remain only words in sentences, becoming, perhaps, thoughts and never becoming achievements. It happens. I know – I happened it. 🙂 (Or, rather, I didn’t.) It’s time to begin again – it’s nearly always quite an ideal time to begin again. It’s not necessary to save it for a Monday, or first thing in the morning, or perhaps on the first of the month, or for a New Year’s resolution, and in fact I’ve often been surprised to find that handling something that way (by selecting some opportune seeming beginning point in the future) resulted in failure more often than success. Failures are okay – steps on a journey – but they can be quite a buzz kill, and that’s more to deal with.

Each time for the first time, each moment the only moment. ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

Each time for the first time, each moment the only moment. ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

It’s funny something so practical as losing some weight can be such a challenge… I think we probably all understand that doing so requires fewer calories, more carefully chosen to meet nutritional needs, consumed in the context of the most active lifestyle we can comfortably maintain for our overall fitness. So many verbs…but hey, no fancy diet is actually required, and it doesn’t cost anything more to eat far less, generally. Choices. Verbs. Incremental changes over time. It’s tempting to see this journey as being “about” the destination (losing the weight), but this too is more about the journey itself, is it not? 😉

Practical thoughts on a Thursday morning, likely the result of practical thinking generally as I begin to shift gears from living largely at leisure, painting and writing, toward something more commonplace, with a commute, regular hours, an income, expectations… and yet another beginning. It’s enough to be who I am, in this moment. It’s enough to be here, now, content and relaxed, and still aware that there is more to do on the journey of being the woman I most want to be. I’m okay with that; it’s about the journey, after all. 🙂 Today is a good day to begin again.

I’m sitting here, awake early, watching the slow lightening of daybreak becoming a new day, stormy skies overhead, the sounds of traffic muffled and distant. I was sitting here thinking something or other… and like a jigsaw puzzle piece which has an obvious placement, without searching for it in this moment, I recognize that the verbal form (figure of speech?) to say that something is or is not “supposed to…” is an indicator of an assumption being made. Damn that is so entirely obvious. I mean, by definition, I think I “knew that”…only… now I also “get it”. Well… An improved understanding on any terms is nonetheless an improved understanding. Maybe I also actually already understood that fairly deeply… and only this morning experienced the ‘a-ha!’ moment of “getting it” – detached from the actual experience of making the connection at some other point? Perhaps the feeling is simply a feeling, like so many sensory or emotional experiences, and potentially prone to error?  I don’t know how all the variables of learning, understanding, reasoning, and the sensations of experience epiphanies actually work, and admittedly, I am also aware that my “novelty recognition circuitry” is pretty impaired. 🙂

I do think, in this moment, that I now understand more easily and with a greater sense of clarity that assumptions don’t work (than I had previously), and the understanding is based on also understanding that using the phrasing “supposed to” straight up shouts that one or more assumptions that do not align to reality are being made. It’s a helpful thing to be aware of in conversation.

It’s not the first time I’ve been slow to catch on to something, although quite commonly it’s something humorous that I’m not getting, specifically. There are any number of little quirks and oddities of character that result from brain injuries. Like Witzelsucht or “Gourmand Syndrome“. It often gets me wondering how many “eccentric” or “quirky” people historically actually had some sort of brain trauma? We have barely scratched the surface of what there is to know about the brain… and… we’re using the brain itself to do the work of learning more. I wonder if “conflict of interest” ever comes up… I mean… consciousness itself may have a stake in how much we understand. And then, too, if everyone – or approximately almost everyone – has some sort of brain trauma, over time, what is “normal”? Who decides that? Why do they get to decide for everyone else?

A stop along memory lane, Cafe Schenk, Pfersee.

A stop along memory lane, Cafe Schenk, Pfersee.

I continue to sip my coffee quite contentedly. It’s a Monday with a couple appointments, and some hang out time with my traveling partner at day’s end. I don’t have much on my mind, aside from my health, and that mostly because I am over 50, and didn’t do a great job of taking care of my health when I was much younger, rather than due to diagnosed illness. (You! There are on the couch, 20-something me, you do not need that additional tasty slice of torte, and you’d do well to try to get some damned sleep. Please?? And please leave out some reminders for 30-something me to get off her ass and get some exercise! It’s all going to matter so much, later.) Pretty routine stuff for now; I’d do well to lose a few pounds, and to get into better shape. Physical therapy and keeping an eye on calories and nutrition, walking more (more than that), and getting enough rest are a good starting point. So many damned verbs.

It's a journey.

It’s a journey.

The challenges of the past few days seem less threatening in the cool morning air, with the security of fresh hot coffee warming my hands. How much of my experience is illusions built on emotions, sensations, and assumptions? How much of that can I replace with observation, mindful acceptance, and non-judgmental awareness? Questions for a Monday. Today is a good day to be the change I wish to see in the world – I say it often; this morning I hear the words, and listen to the meaning. There are still verbs involved. I know that my results may vary. I’m okay right now – I can begin again, any time. 🙂

I woke early this morning, but refreshed and rested. I started the morning with meditation and a longer than usual hot shower. I am thinking about a particularly personal ‘math problem’ this morning, while I wait for hot water to become coffee. I am, in fact, thinking about a ‘math problem’ a lot of people deal with, in a lot of different ways, and hoping that being in this healthier place puts me on the path to a healthier solution. I am heavier than I’d like to be, and it affects my health, my fitness, my comfort with myself, my comfort with my appearance, and silly small things like whether or not my favorite jeans fit. (Wake up call: they do not.)

I moved into Number 27 as a size 14. I’m a size 16 now – and I’ve been much bigger in years past – and much smaller in years still further in the past than that. I’m kind enough to myself these days to refrain from tearing myself down over gaining some weight, but I’m also done making any sort of excuses about it, because that’s not one of the steps on the path to meeting my fitness goals, or taking care of me. It’s honestly not a complicated process to lose the weight; I need far fewer calories than I am consuming, and consuming fewer calories, over time, will result in weight loss. Boom! Math homework finished! Now on to the biology, and physics of the thing – which require verbs – and the psychology of it, too (yes, still more verbs). Actual self-restraint, actual commitment to practices being practiced, and following a plan, a path, and making that journey… Sounds so easy as words  on a page… It’s still pretty simple stuff in the abstract, but whole industries exist because humans are poor at these simple practices, and good at reaching for shortcuts.

After my long hot shower I resumed a practice I had dropped without noticing, one I find helpful with regard to maintaining a healthy weight; I spent time looking at my body. Not berating myself for being fat, no criticism, no hostility, I just took a few minutes to really see myself – curves, fat, lines, silhouette, shape, where things are tighter, where things still sag from losing weight over time – just a few very real minutes, while also acknowledging how well this body serves me, and how much I have put it through over the years. I run my hands over curves that please me most, and those that please me least. I make a point of being grateful for how much I get done in this body, and how far I have come with it – in some cases, real mileage, on feet. I take time to ensure I feel loved by the woman in the mirror – and she feels loved by me. (No, we’re not separate people; it’s allegorical of the mind-body separation we so often seem to experience, that’s all.)

I’ve missed the day-to-day encouragement and reinforcement I got living with my traveling partner; when we met we were both working very hard to get fit and lose some weight, and it was a joy to share that journey, because we treat each other well, and with consideration and respect. We took time every day to notice progress and offer loving encouragement, and compliment each other’s physical beauty as we experienced it; encouragement is a far less damaging form of motivation than criticism. I do miss that, but it doesn’t make sense to let the pounds pile up waiting for more. So, before a size 16 becomes a size 18, it seems worthy to stop waiting around and grab some verbs.

I’m eating too much for the effort I exert day-to-day. I’m gaining weight so that’s a given. “Eat less and exercise.” There it is – the one sure fire path to weight loss. Fitness requires a bit more – and by fitness I don’t mean ‘big muscles’ or ‘super lean’ or ‘ready for a marathon’; any of those things may require fitness, but fitness does not require that those things be among my goals. 🙂  ‘Fitness‘ for the purposes of my discussion here means being at a comfortable healthy weight at which my pain is more easily managed, I feel good, am not prone to weight-related health concerns, I fit in my clothes well, breath and move more easily, and am likely to reach or exceed my maximum actuarial lifespan without suffering from diet/poor nutrition-related ailments. So. More simply? In good health and feeling comfortable with my appearance. There’s no one ‘right’ answer to that math problem.  A good starting point is basic good nutrition.

I am fortunate that I was quite slim for many years, and have a good idea what that looks like on me, and at what weight, and other sizes in between; for now I am shooting for getting my weight below 150 lbs, and being quite comfortable in a size 12. Some of you will read that and think I am not being sufficiently ambitious – others may find that to be a pretty aggressive goal – I am, myself, hoping to get there by my birthday in June. It’s achievable – but it’s also quite fail-able; there are verbs involved, and some practices, a lot of commitment, and the will to begin again is likely going to be necessary at several points – almost a certainty because I am approaching this endeavor during the holiday season. lol (Did you wonder sooner why I’m not waiting until the new year to start on this? Because life isn’t going to wait with me; I’d keep gaining weight and have to start from an even less comfortable place with myself!)

I am sipping my coffee black, and appreciating the awareness that there is presently no cream, no half-n-half, and no whipping cream on hand; it’s back to black coffee not only in the mornings (when I always drink it black these days) but also when I am enjoying a coffee in the evening (when I often add cream to my decaf…because it’s decaf). It’ll be awhile before that treat turns up in the fridge again. lol It’s those small things – and being consistent with them – that works best for me. My injury is a hurdle here, and saying ‘no’ to food-related impulses requires something more, for me – it requires mindfulness. I allow myself a moment of good-natured humor at myself on this one, and pause to appreciate how many lovely creamy coffee beverages I have enjoyed ever so mindfully…after quickly skipping past the moment of mindfulness that would have halted me having it at all, because it was more than I really needed, from the perspective of calories (and sufficiency). Oh, hell yes this path is strewn with debris to step over and around – and life always has more curriculum ready. lol I am still a student, and clearly on this one I need to begin again. Again. 🙂

So it’s back to some basics that ease this process for me; simple morning calories (a small serving of yogurt with a handful of nuts – measured – or oatmeal, similarly portioned out with great care), and no letting myself skip breakfast – the consistency is helpful for me, and also manages my blood sugar more efficiently. This small detail is important – and complicated by not being able to have food for about an hour after my morning medication. Mindfulness really matters. (Setting an alarm as a reminder helps, too.) Measured calories from that point each day, focusing on whole healthy foods, limiting dairy and sugar, and serving with a generous helping of mindfulness, even encouraging myself to stop eating sooner and avoiding the sensation of ‘feeling full’. It gets harder in the evening, after work. I find myself relaxing and munching more often than is healthy for the amount of physical work I do each day. There’s really only one answer to this one for me, generally; “no”. Mindfulness is the win here, too; being awake and aware and able to refrain from taking that next step to the kitchen takes practice, mindful practice, committed practice, and a connection between this moment now, and the actions needed to meet my needs over time. So…still easier on paper, and as a thought-exercise, than in practice…which requires practice. 🙂

Time isn't waiting for me on this one. :-)

Time isn’t waiting for me on this one. 🙂

Today is a good day to begin again. Today is a good day to love the woman in the mirror, at any weight. Today is a good day to be real – and be okay with reality, too. Today is a good day to walk another mile in my own shoes, and enjoy the journey; it has no destination other than to take the damned journey. 😀 I’m ready to walk on.