Archives for posts with tag: eat right and exercise

I’m sipping my Monday-morning-before-work coffee, and contemplating the days preceding this moment. Festive. Lovely. Warmed-through with loving intentions. Merry. So very merry. 🙂 I will admit to lower-than-average expectations – I mean, seriously, there’s a pandemic going on, and American politics are a disappointing ethical shambles presently, and I could every bit as easily have found myself focused on all that mess, instead of the delightful holiday interlude I shared with my Traveling Partner. I chose to focus on the holidays at hand, though, and the outcome was precious and will be cherished for the lifetime ahead. 🙂

…So merry…

Gifts were opened. Coffees and sweets and jokes were shared. Holiday tunes played in the background. I took winter walks along muddy lanes (rain here, no snow). Texts and emails were sent to family and friends (cards were mailed, probably too late to arrive in advance of the holiday). Cookies were baked. Recipes were tried. We reminisced over old times, good times, other times. It was a sweet and romantic connected holiday for two, in The Time of Pandemic. We didn’t go out. We didn’t have friends over. The car has the same gas in the tank it did more than a week ago. lol Sweet strange little holiday that managed to make my “top ten” lifetime fantastic holidays. 🙂

I feel fortunate. I sip my coffee smiling this morning. Half days in the office this week… I’m not expected until later on. Ample time to write… and to read. Maybe to paint? Do some housekeeping. 🙂 One life being lived.

My Traveling Partner woke minutes after I did, this morning. We both seem to be sleeping very well lately. We’re both less grumpy in the mornings as a result. It’s nice. I make room in my thoughts for a moment of compassion and understanding that it can be difficult not to be grumpy when one wakes in pain, and starts the day fairly certain that it’s not going to change. I consider my physical wellness this morning; I am in less pain because I am more well-rested? Maybe. It’s important to be mindful and note any changes in that sort of thing. Allowing implicit memory to smooth out changes that could indicate improvements (and it will) can make it difficult to enjoy and live a reality of less pain… I mean… I’m not going to be able to enjoy what I am not aware of, right? 🙂

Solstice…Giftmas…then, New Year’s… 2020 is almost over. It is an ending layered with more than typical meaning and significance for many people. What will we do with the opportunity ahead to make 2021 more meaningful and significant for ourselves, our families, our community, and for the world? What will I do with that opportunity?

…Then again (and also true), it’s just another change of day-month-year on an arbitrary calendar. It could be any day. It could be any moment – we can each choose to begin again when we will. That’s pretty powerful stuff. 😀 (Does tend to leave us without excuses, though, for why we have not embraced an important change we know we need to make for ourselves.) S’okay. We’ve got a few more days to consider the new year ahead. 🙂

It’s time to begin again. How will we change the world?

I hurt today. Soaking helped some. Medication helped some. Morning yoga helped some. I still hurt. I’m cross, and finding it hard to deal with people gently. Pain is not visible – still complicates my interactions. Everything from a partner’s heartfelt well-intentioned fitness reminders that seem to overlook how much pain I am in to a colleague’s pleasant inquiry whether I am “having a bad day” (nope, just pain) that lacks any context regarding the one thing truly amiss (pain). I am as frustrated with the lack of ability to really drive the message home in a way that sticks with loved ones (it’s almost always just pain) as I am with my lack of ability to do anything substantial to reduce my day-to-day pain in a reliable way. Neither bit of frustration is the slightest help for actually improving anything whatsoever.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let go of the frustration. Let go of being annoyed by the fairly steady lack of any real helpfulness involved in asking me what can be done to help. Let go of being annoyed with being reminded to do things that are good for my physical wellness, but so very difficult to embrace because I just fucking hurt. Let go of the whining about any of it (while I whine about all of it, right here). Just… let it go. Feel the love instead of the futility. It’s a tall fucking ask, I grant you that. One more thing to do, it sometimes seems…and sometimes I just feel so… tired. I take a breath, and let that go, too. Even that. Let it go.

There are tears in my eyes. Less the pain than the frustration with the pain. Sometimes it’s hard. Challenging. “The struggle is real.” I try to stop struggling and just surrender to this moment, here, now. It’s not a bad moment. It’s got some nice points to it. The work day almost over. Nice. Warm cup of noodles next to me waiting for my attention – a satisfying small bite of lunch, once it’s ready. Nice. The rain has paused and it looks like a good day to walk – I even have a purposeful destination in mind that should be within my fitness “reach”. Nice. All of that is good stuff. None of that is specifically about the pain I am in. I sit with that perspective instead, for a while.

…These noodles are ready, and it’s already time to begin again. I put the work in front of me on pause, and take care of this fragile vessel. For now, that’s enough.

I woke last night abruptly, sometime in the wee hours. My brain was working overtime on something that was on my mind; my weight. I find managing my weight difficult. It’s a common enough challenge, and I won’t bore you with bitching and fussing, we’ve all got our own Tale of Awful with regard to beauty challenges of one sort or another, and other writers write well and powerfully about how our self-image is affected by culture, advertising, internet trolls, our upbringing… all that. I won’t bother to re-hash it.

I had gone to bed irked because I gained some weight that I’d fought hard to lose. Again. I woke up because my busy brain continued to contrast, compare, filter, collate, and sort information from a number of areas of life where I have (or have not) progressed and how I understand things to have worked in that instance. I woke because my brain got finished with that project and urgently needed to get my attention back on it asap. lol Peculiarly (encouragingly) I woke feeling hopeful and aware – aware of how I affect my progress (or lack of it) – and how I can get control of it (and myself) and make more powerful gains toward my goals. Nice.

Yeah. There are gonna be verbs involved. 🙂 I can even sum it up pretty briefly; I need to eat mindfully. No kidding. It could be literally that simple – and will likely be every bit that difficult. I know the quantity of calories I must limit myself to, daily, in order to lose weight. I have a decent understanding of my nutritional needs, and what the content of those calories must be. I want very much to be both healthier and more attractive, and I like it when my feet don’t hurt just from hiking a couple miles. I have the means to ensure my pantry has the type/quantity of basic ingredients needed to meet my needs day-to-day. I miss my goals when I fail to approach food and meals mindfully. It’s so easy to take my eye off good portion control simply by being casual about it, eye-balling something I’m ‘sure of’ now and then… which quickly becomes ‘so much easier  than’ measuring things all the time… which ends up with portions easily three times what I need to be healthy. The small mistakes add up in pounds. Damn it.

I dislike constant oversight, and living alone I don’t have any… but oversight is something that has value, if I am not willing or able to manage my life with that level of detail… so… can I do this, or do I need help? My brain says I can do this – and what woke me is how similar what needs to be done is to all the other tasks and processes I’ve worked to improve on over the last couple years. Mindfulness matters. It’s not even fancy or complicated – be here. Now. Show up. Be attentive. Be present. Enjoy the thing I am doing, in this moment I am doing it, awake and aware. Mindful. It’s the opposite of ‘mindless’ – it’s the opposite of ‘auto pilot’, and the opposite of ‘eye-balling something I’m sure of’. Mindfulness requires that I step through each routine, and handle each task, so entirely committed to it that those ‘I didn’t realize I…’ moments are minimized.  Before I go to far down this exciting garden path of feeling encouraged… It’s clearly not ‘easy’, or no one at all would need to have it pointed out, or would need to learn mindfulness, or practice it – we’d just do it!

I woke up realizing that a lot of what I struggle with in life would perhaps less difficult, less trying, less awkward, less painful, less embarrassing, less regrettable, less aggravating altogether if I were more mindful. It seems a given simply because at each opportunity to be more mindful on which I have been indeed more mindful, there has been a lot less struggle. Case in point; shortly after the new year, my new physician was fairly blunt that I need to take off some weight to overcome some of my pain management challenges. That’s pretty motivational… if that’s all it takes… right? Well, and for about 8 weeks I reliably lost 2-4 pounds a week, seemingly without real effort, by being very mindful about all matters related to food. Then… I got distracted, took my attention off the details, and gained some of that weight back. Again. Damn it. Fuck this gets frustrating. I went to bed last night being pretty hard on myself about it. I woke remembering very specifically that the emotions that surface through ‘being hard on myself’ about my weight quickly undermine my progress; depression wants calories, fancy soothing dessert-y calories. So does loneliness. So does yearning. Shit.

Practicing mindfulness with regard to food and eating allows me, as an emotional human primate, to feel what I am feeling, and continue to practice good practices. There are, as it happens, verbs involved. Yep – and my results vary. It’s why I’m still practicing – and probably always will be. It’s why I have to begin again. Again. 🙂

This? This is not a tale of failure – it’s just a few words over coffee about a common source of frustration in a very human experience, and what I will do about it, myself. It’s the doing that’s the real challenge, and it can be done. I’ve done it before. I’m eager to begin again, and I’m feeling fairly fearless about approaching the matter. I take a moment to appreciate that I know what needs to be done, and what works for me – that’s an excellent starting point on any journey.

An obstacle - or something to see along the way?

An obstacle – or something to see along the way?

The sun is up… Time to begin again. 🙂

 

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.

 

It’s a Monday morning, and I woke rather reluctantly this morning. I slept well and deeply, and I suspect that without the alarm going off I’d have slept much later. The apartment is comfortably cool. The morning is a quiet one. My coffee is hot – and untouched, thus far. My medication has my made my stomach just a bit upset, so for now I am drinking water and waiting for that feeling to pass. Coffee soon.

I woke in pain, a sign that autumn is coming. Yoga, a hot shower, more yoga…I feel less stiff, and the pain is reduced, but still present in the background. I remind myself to be kind to myself and take things slowly as the day begins. I am smiling in spite of the pain this morning; the weekend was just that good. No stress. No drama. No frustration. There were plenty of verbs involved, and more than one opportunity to handle things differently. The choices matter.

“Perfect” is not a thing I’m likely to find becoming a defining characteristic of self, and by keeping my goals more practical I avoid setting myself up for failure. I keep practicing – simple things, too, like kindness, compassion, graciousness…basically, I keep practicing treating people well, including myself. I am learning the differences between self-indulgence and self-care, and learning the value of being authentically myself moment-to-moment, fearlessly. My results vary – on the whole, my results are profoundly positive improvements in my day-to-day experience. I find that good practices still require the practicing; it is short-sighted to see good practices as a means to an end, or an achievement to be mastered.

Whole, fresh, healthy, nourishing...good qualities for food to have.

Whole, fresh, healthy, nourishing…good qualities for food to have.

Yesterday I spent some time contemplating dietary changes for improving my health and fitness based on the most current science, and putting myself back on track to reach my fitness goals. I could keep making excuses about how I got here (having gained a handful of pounds in the hot weather), but honestly it’s neither required, nor of real value – it’s time for verbs. Thinking things through, and making adjustments to how I plan to eat going forward is the easy part. The real challenge isn’t even bringing the vision to life; I find getting started down a better path to be fairly simple, too. For me, the challenge comes later – after work, when I’m tired and don’t feel like exercise, or cooking, and find myself faced with the temptation of effortless calories – but the lack of effort, itself, is a hallmark of calories that are likely not the healthiest for me. I know to avoid heavily processed food products, and that’s easily done all day long…until I am tired. Honestly, at that point, I am generally not in need of additional calories anyway. So I’m shifting things around, switching up what I keep in the pantry, and adjusting both my everyday menu, and the timing of my meals during the work week. I finished the evening satisfied with the changes I’ve committed to – one of which is to be sure to get the rest I need. That’s a dietary change? Hell, yes it is – the science suggests inadequate rest affects how efficiently we process calories, and how our metabolism works.

As with so many things, living alone requires that I be very attentive to my diet, and the amount of exercise I get (or don’t) – I’m the only person facing the outcome day-to-day, and the first person who is going to notice and the only person who can act to change the outcome, at all. I’m not surprised that I gained a couple of pounds in the heat of summer – I could have chosen differently and potentially avoided that, although my thyroid does have something to say about it, I still have verbs to call upon so no excuses. I’m not being unkind with myself; boundaries, once set, need to be enforced – even with myself.

I take a systematic approach to these sorts of things, and I spent a couple of hours reviewing data regarding where my grocery money was going, and what sorts of things meet my current needs, and where there was waste, room for improvement, or potential to make small changes for the better that will have immediate benefit. I find change that is positively reinforced with results is easiest to maintain, personally. Learning to cook for one more skillfully will have benefit, primarily in reduced waste. Refining the staples in my pantry is another easy win for immediate benefit. Spending time looking at the most recent science on diet and nutrition, as well as taking a look at how my needs at this point in my adult life are different, result in better decision-making along the way. Taking time to recalibrate my eye to appropriate portion size relative to my size – and my goal weight, and where I am in life – will simplify portion control, which also has immediate benefit. These are good places to start, for me.  I’m even excited about it – and that’s also part of the success; it’s hard to act on change if I don’t want to manifest the change I am considering in the first place. 🙂

Sometimes starting isn’t as easy as it looks ‘on paper’, and to help myself along I also commit to repeated acts of ‘positive self-sabotage’. When I stop by the grocery store tonight, as I move through the aisles, everything I consider will be met with a silent question. “Does this choice meet my longer term needs over time, consistent with the changes I have mapped out?” If the answer is not a firm and obvious ‘yes!’ then whatever it is stays on the shelf. Sounds simple enough. There are still verbs involved.

Today is a good day to live life by my own rules. Today is a good day to take the very best care of me, and preserve a comfortable ‘now’, while also taking a long view about the journey ahead. Today is a good day to consider change – and embrace it. Today is a good day to change my world.