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No More Stalling:

Embracing Inspiration and Choosing Wellness

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Memories count more than calories

We recently spent a long weekend in Asheville, NC. My 12-year-old son and I spent a few hours each day doing the “tourist thing” to pass the time. We both admitted to falling in love with the city and surrounding area, so much so that we could readily envision living there – and liking it.

The real clinchers? The people are super nice – or, as my son stated emphatically, “well, it IS the South” – and everything for the most part is dog-friendly.

Keagan and Sara at Biltmore

The Biltmore? We agreed we were glad we scheduled time to visit, but as for the house, we both liked Mount Vernon more: the ceilings weren’t as high, the house was more ‘lived-in’ and cozy, the walls and tapestries weren’t so dark, and there was a panoramic view of the Potomac, a huge selling point for both of us. My son thoroughly enjoyed Antler Village, a retail area located within the Biltmore Estate featuring restaurants, gift shops and the most delicious ice cream shop, The Creamery.

Side view up at Biltmore

 

Parks and green space? Asheville has enviable options abounding for hiking, disc golf, running or walking, community space, and areas for all sorts of outside activities, and that doesn’t even include the French Broad River, prime real estate for tubing and kayaking. My son heartily admitted he was glad we braved the intermittent rain showers to hike  the trails of Richmond Hill Park, an out-of-the-way forested setting offering several hiking trails. We followed a trail that took us near or over several small creek-type waterfalls, eventually leading us to a double railroad tracks. Upon crossing over the tracks, we reached the French Broad River in all its glory. Both my son and I had a field day taking pictures, and my son climbed a few trees, threw rocks in the water, and captured more than 70 photos on his camera. He was bubbling with enthusiasm and excitement.

Graffiti along the French Broad River_Asheville

 

Nature is God’s masterpiece.

The following day we covered several miles of walking trails through Carrier Park and the adjoining French Broad River Park, both of which follow along the river. Numerous groups were paddle-boarding, kayaking or tubing, letting the rapid current spin them along lazily down the river. People readily smiled and offered friendly greetings as we passed by along the path. Children rode bicycles and tricycles and numerous folks jogged or walked their dogs. Others grilled their Sunday afternoon meal or sat on blankets reading or sharing a picnic on the grass. We passed by a lawn bowling court, watched as two softball teams battled it out on the field, and witnessed a group of 50 or so youngsters as they fenced off with a few adults using plastic and paper swords and shields in some sort of mock battle. Birds chirped and sang and a light spring breeze rustled through the leaves.

And the food? We didn’t take advantage of all of the eclectic food options available in a foodtopia such as Asheville, but that isn’t to say that I didn’t eat more than I should have over the course of the weekend.

Yes, I fell off the wagon. The hard part has been to stop kicking myself endlessly about it and getting up, dusting myself off, and hopping back on to continue along the journey.

I can’t get anywhere by standing still.

The scales don’t lie. Six pounds. Six stinking pounds. Ugh. One would think that after losing more than 60 pounds over the past six months or so and adopting new eating, wellness and activity habits, that I wouldn’t be so hard on myself.

I felt like a failure. I ate ice cream.

Yes, it tasted so. damned. good. I also ate an 8-ounce steak one evening. And a shaved beef sandwich on thick-crusted bread with horseradish and a Vidalia onion marmalade…with homemade potato chips…and homemade pickles. And a vegetable fettuccine dish with thick, creamy homemade Alfredo sauce.  And a huge breakfast all three days with scrambled eggs, an English muffin with peanut butter, and oatmeal or raisin bran cereal. I still wrote everything down. I still walked or did some sort of activity each day. Of course, it didn’t help that my family members teased me about “eating too much” and “pretty soon your clothes won’t fit anymore” and “didn’t you already have ice cream once today?” (Needless to say, I cancelled my order.)

The morning after we got home, it dawned on me. Something so simple, yet so profound. What will I remember about our trip? I’ll always remember the time my son and I spent on the trails and walking along the river, taking selfies and other photos, and watching a young couple’s dogs chase sticks their owners threw in the river to them. We’ll remember all those moments, those MEMORIES, that will live on forever. Yes, I enjoyed eating all those calories – but what is important, and what I’ll remember, are the memories my son and I created WHILE we ate.

Old habits – and feelings of inadequacy – die hard.

Dig the hole and, once they’re buried, leave them there.

How does that saying go, “don’t let the classroom get in the way of your education?” The same can be said for letting yourself experience the moment. Create memories. Live life.

If it wasn’t for the side trips and detours, what’s really the purpose of traveling the journey?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sixteen years: remembering a beautiful spirit

April 21, 2000

It’s been 16 years.

It was a solemn day. Our beautiful college roommate Karen was being buried that day. Three of us – Paula, Lisa and I – were there for the service. It was beautiful. It was the first time I ever touched a dead body, even though Paula would later tell me she thought I’d done it many times before because it didn’t seem to bother me. I’m not sure “bother me” is how I would describe it – it was the moment I realized that a dead body is more than hard and cold. It’s empty. There’s nothing there. There’s no soul. There’s no spirit. Nothing. Hollow. Empty.

Elvis has left the building.

Oh, Karen. She was so beautiful. She was so full of life. She glowed. Her laugh was robust and spirited. She would turn the head of any breathing man simply by swinging her long blonde hair, flashing her smile or showing off her voluptuous curves. That wasn’t who Karen really was, though. She had a full heart. Twinkling eyes. And that laugh.

Karen was Aqua Net and hot rollers. She loved chocolate-covered Oreos – I could always tell when she’d taken from my stash while I was gone, even though she went to great lengths to replace what she’d borrowed.

But Karen always had my back. I suffered from low self-esteem way back then even more than I do now, and probably it’s mostly because I hadn’t been diagnosed yet with depression.She would always remind me that I was a beautiful person inside and out. She’d build up my good qualities, wanted to see me succeed, wanted me to think more of myself than I did. Kare-Bear was more than a pretty face; she had a beautiful heart.

After Karen was diagnosed with brain cancer, I always seemed to have a dream when something had changed. I’m not sure why I had those dreams, but I always knew when her health had taken a turn. After one such dream, the summer before she died, I called her. We talked for over an hour. About everything. We laughed. We talked about God. I told her how much I valued our friendship. We said ‘I love you’.

This memory is one of the most priceless gifts I’ve ever received in my life, and I treasure it. It survives in my heart.

I still remember my final dream about Karen. She was sitting in a room. The walls were painted bright orange. There was a window to her right and the sun was shining. Karen was sitting in a chair, her long hair hung wavy over her shoulders without a strand out of place, her eyes were bright and she had a smile on her face. She was telling me something, but I couldn’t understand what she was saying. The next morning I called her number. Her older sister answered. She sounded just like Karen. She became rather agitated when I called her ‘Karen’, and once I told her who I was she softened. Apparently Karen had taken a final turn for the worse a day or so before.

I didn’t realize I had any tears left to cry, but I bawled like a baby as I wrote this post. 

It’s been 16 years, but I still sense Karen near me. I envision her surrounded by a golden glow. She has a smile on her face. Sometimes I even hear her voice, and she’s telling me something I need to hear, something to boost my spirits or self-esteem. She’s still got my back.

And that laugh. I can still hear Karen’s laugh. 

And it makes me smile.

SONY DSC

 

No one gets anywhere by standing still

I admit I was pretty proud of myself when I charted a 55-pound weight loss at the five-month mark (March 5). I quickly lost sight of that accomplishment, however, as the rest of that month wore on and March turned into April…and the six-month anniversary – and one month after I was so happy to reach that 55-pound mark – I had only added another two-pound weight loss to the total.

How quickly a major accomplishment can lose its luster.

What had taken me months of hard work, resilience, commitment, sacrifice, attitude and lifestyle changes, and grit to achieve was all of a sudden not good enough.

I compared myself to a truck stuck in the mud spinning its tires and not getting anywhere.

There is no denying that often our worst enemy is right smack dab in front of us – all we need to do is look in the mirror and there it is staring right at us. So what do we do? We (often) let it demean, degrade and chastise us into believing something that isn’t true. Instead, what would happen if we stared it down and challenged it? Dared it to back off? Demanded that it offer encouragement and support? Provoked it to have your back during the toughest part of the fight? Summoned its inner knowledge to provide stamina, strength and strategy?

Don’t underestimate the depths of your own personal strength. Without struggles, fatigue and questions we don’t – and won’t – grow and evolve.

Nope, it isn’t easy. Would we really want it to be? We say we do, but really? We would have very little, if anything, of which to be proud. We wouldn’t even realize we had accomplished anything of merit.

This month? Yeah, I’m still swinging like a pendulum. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

It’s frustrating as He**.

But I’m moving. Physically, mentally, psychologically.

And I’m still miles ahead of where I was such a short time ago.

I may not be making progress at the same pace as I was in the beginning, but I have not failed.

No one has ever gotten anywhere by standing still.

 

Blog Post 4-12-2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mindfulness is only one part of the process

Cant see plants growing

If you’re like me – and millions of other people out there in the process of trying to lose weight and adopt more healthy living practices – the following phrase might grab your attention:

“Think Yourself Thin: Mindfulness can help you fight obesity, other bad habits”

This was the front page headline of the Life section in this morning’s newspaper. I figured I should read it.

Making the decision to even attempt to lose weight is the first step, and that is a mindful activity, right?

The entire decision-making process around this life-changing event should incorporate a bit of “why am I doing this?” and “why do I need to do this?” and “what is the root cause for why I am doing this, and am I willing to slay that beast?” – again, all mindful questions that really dig down to the core.

The article’s author (and sources) likely assumed the reader would realize that “mindfulness”, in and of itself, is not a cure-all, but instead one tool or approach that may aid someone tackling a difficult issue – in this case, weight loss. At least I sure hope so.

A text box was strategically positioned touting these “proven tips for success”:

  • deep breathing
  • don’t judge yourself
  • use smaller plates so the appearance of smaller portions look more substantial
  • don’t eat at your desk or in your car.

Okey-dokey, then. What’s the saying about not being able to make a purse out of a pig’s ear? Yeah, that. Those four tips are nice, but they aren’t going to get it done for me, boys and girls.

I’m not sure why this article ticked me off so much. 

But it did.

The best I can figure is that losing weight is hard.

I know. I’ve tried – and then stopped for one reason or another – many, many times before starting again this past Oct.

Just the process itself for trying to lose weight is intimidating as Hell.

And it requires a whole lot more than being mindful.

At this point in the game – five months in, and only five months in to what will need to be a lifetime change if I want to appreciate the results – I’ve become a lot more critical of “advice” and “tips”. Especially from experts who have never had weight management issues or lost a major amount of weight. I’m sorry, but even though losing 10 pounds may be a big deal and should be applauded because it is an accomplishment…I’m not going to consider that person an expert.

Am I an expert? Hell, no.

BUT I have lost 50 pounds (so far) in less than five months.

It just means I have experience and can relate.

And adopted healthier eating habits. And initiated a personal exercise program. And battled cravings. And caved a few times. And gotten back up on my feet the following day without beating myself up – too much.

I’ve taken the initiative to make it happen. One day at a time. One step at a time.

“People who succeed at the highest level are not lucky; they’re doing something differently than everyone else.” – Tony Robbins

This right there is the “secret”, if there is such thing as a “secret to losing weight”.

Losing weight is hard work. Very. Hard. Work. 

It takes a lot of things. Commitment. Initiative. Growth. Drive. Compassion. Willpower. Forgiveness. Faith. Willingness. Curiosity. Acceptance. Strength. Patience. Perseverance.

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races, one after another.” – Walter Elliott

The take-home message is simple.

There is no one easy way to accomplish a major goal, especially weight loss. No quick fix. Not one thing alone will do it for you. It takes time and effort. What works for one person may not work for another. And that’s OK. Do it anyway and do it for yourself. 

Be inspired. You’re worth it.

 

Picture a change: step by step

I made a pact with myself that I would share photos as I went through various phases of this “wellness process” – not a very comfortable thing for me to do. Nope. Not at all.

And honestly, there aren’t very many of them to show, either.

But, sometimes you have to do what you really don’t want to do. 

This is one of those times.

So, here goes.

The first photo below was taken Sept. 30, 2015, at World Dairy Expo in Madison. I started my “wellness journey” the following Monday, Oct. 5.

(Photo credit: Randy Blodgett, All-Breeds Blog)
WDE 2015

The photo below was taken Feb. 14, 2016.

What a difference four months and losing 48.7 pounds makes. 

 

Photo 1

I’m not quite halfway there yet, but I’m still making steady process.

I’m all about transparency and full disclosure. Is it embarrassing to share details about my weight? Nah.

 

I’ve done far more embarrassing things than losing weight, let me tell ya’.

 

Succeeding is not embarrassing: it’s freeing and humbling.

And pretty awe-inspiring, actually.

 

Weigh date Weight
Monday, February 15th 189.0 lbs
Tuesday, February 9th 190.4 lbs
Monday, February 8th 192.5 lbs
Tuesday, February 2nd 193.8 lbs
Monday, January 25th 195.4 lbs
Monday, January 18th 198.9 lbs
Monday, January 11th 200.0 lbs
Monday, January 4th 202.5 lbs
Tuesday, December 29th 206.7 lbs
Monday, December 21st 205.8 lbs
Tuesday, December 15th 208.7 lbs
Tuesday, December 8th 210.6 lbs
Tuesday, December 1st 212.2 lbs
Monday, November 23rd 213.0 lbs
Monday, November 16th 216.6 lbs
Monday, October 26th 222.4 lbs
Monday, October 19th 223.4 lbs
Tuesday, October 13th 226.0 lbs
Monday, October 5th 237.7 lbs

 

This personal experience is like so many in my life and, most likely, yours as well.

Taken alone, as a single incident, each step exists as only a blip on the screen.

Steps taken together, however, form a pattern, create a fuller picture, and write a more complete story.

I may be halfway (or more, who knows?) through my life, but damn it, my story has just started. I have many more steps to take, some on a mapped path and others unscripted.

It takes courage to put one foot in front of the other. To move forward. Step by step.

Fear can force you to fall backward. Or simply not to move at all.

I’ve stood still so long that I’m surprised my feet aren’t permanently affixed to the ground.

It’s not just about losing weight. Losing weight, choosing wellness, any or all of that – it takes a certain amount of courage. One can physically see the difference when one loses weight. What one cannot physically visualize, however, are the other changes happening to a person. The process often exposes things that one may not immediately see or want to accept.

But if you’re at that point where you’re ready…then do it.

Is it easy? Nope.

Is it worth doing? Yes, it is.

Be courageous. Be honest. Trust yourself. 

Pull together your inner circle

You’re worth it.

 

Supporting success

Not too many (smart) people will argue that starting with a solid foundation is pretty important if you want whatever it is that you’re building to last.

Having a solid support network is a key ingredient to success.

A solid support network encourages, empathizes, cheers, assists, listens, or does whatever it is that needs to be done. Without questions. Without judging.

 

Friends should motivate and inspire you

Maybe you can do whatever it is that you’re doing alone. But why would you want to?

When I completed the first week of my “new me” lifestyle back in October, I chose a handful of friends to whom I would be accountable. These friends know my story and the battles I’m currently waging. I know on any given day, and for any given reason, I can reach out and they’ll be there for me. No judging. No questions.

Members of my inner circle know, unless I’m on my death bed, I’m willing to move mountains for them. When I go in, I go all in. We all need to have at least a couple of these types of people in our lives. Who are these people in your life? Even if you’re not currently pursuing a major event in your life, whether it’s healing from a health issue or losing weight, caring for an elderly parent or dealing with a challenging relationship, identify those people who belong in your inner support circle. Nurture those relationships.

What’s the next step? Ask, “In whose life do I play this role?“, and then be there. No judging. No questions.

Who do you inspire? 

 

 

It’s going to be hard, but hard is not impossible.

I love this image from Ranch House Designs.

(A fun piece of trivia: Rachel Cutler of Ranch House Designs was an intern in ANR Communications when she was a grad student at MSU. We knew her before she became famous. 🙂

Its going to be hard but not impossible

The message can symbolize whatever it is that you’re attempting to do: losing weight, mustering the courage to speak in front of an audience, practicing a new language, learning how to tie your shoes….

And, if experience has taught me anything, it’s that regardless of how good we actually become at doing whatever it is that we’re doing, there will still be those days when things just don’t turn out quite so well. But don’t give up.

Don’t give up.

I wrestle with self-esteem issues and have for as long as I can remember. I’m assuming it traces back to middle and high school since I wasn’t overly popular and was made fun of and stuff. I really have no idea why, looking back now, but it was what it was. And I was shy deep down to top it off. I’m still an introvert, but I’ve been known to disguise that trait when I’m in comfortable surroundings. It can be a hoot to watch or scary as Hell, all depending on which side of the road you’re standing.

I mentioned to my son last week that I’ve always struggled with low self-esteem.

He said, “I know you have Mom. That’s just sad. You need to just get over it.”

Talk about getting a comeuppance. And from a 12-year-old.

But he’s right.

In all seriousness, I will never tell you – or imply – that making changes is easy. Or for the faint of heart. But I will tell you that you won’t fail. I repeat: you will not fail. Even if you have to start over again tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that, trying again is still an act of moving forward. Find that little nugget – no matter how small it may seem to be to you – that is a positive, something that you have learned from the experience, something that you can build upon. Sometimes that means digging deeper and stretching the meaning or correlation.

You won’t fail. I repeat: you will not fail.

Here’s an example. It may not be the best example, but it’s an example. I have always struggled with emotional eating – and frankly eating anything that’s just “there” and looks appetizing. I’m not hungry, but damn!, that chocolate chip cookie looks good and one won’t hurt me. Oh, what the heck, I’ll have another one, two…you get the idea. And donuts. My goodness, I love Quality Dairy donuts…and Tim Horton’s donuts and Meijer donuts. And cake. And let’s not forget ice cream. My God, I like ice cream. So…I guess I have a sweets problem. Now I have a coffee addiction. Instead of eating any snacks throughout the day, aside from an apple if I must have something, I’ll grab another cup of coffee. Let’s just say I drink a lot of coffee. A. lot. of. coffee. But I’m not eating sweets.

What’s the takeaway? I was not going to be able to pass up the stuff. (For those who say, “well, just don’t have it in the house!” OK, you can handle that conversation with the others living here. 😉 I’m not going there. It’s a fight I’m not having.) I realized this after taking and stuffing “just a half cookie” into my mouth. And then marching my butt over to my phone to type into my Weight Watchers app that I had just eaten half of a large cookie…4 points. I did that twice. I don’t do that anymore.

Same goes for portions. I like to eat. A lot. And by “a lot”, I mean great big quantities. Or, I should say, I used to like to eat a lot. It took me about five or six weeks from when I first started my weight loss journey, but now I simply don’t require that much food. I simply can’t consume it; I don’t need it. The night I only ate half of my steak and saved the rest for the next day? One would have thought I’d won the lottery by the way I was whooping it up that I hadn’t eaten it all. I had never, ever not finished it all before. It was on my plate and I was supposed to finish. But for some reason, I had this little chat with myself.

Conscience: You don’t need to eat all that. You’re not hungry anymore.

Me: Yeah…but it’s there. It’s cut into pieces.

Conscience: But are you hungry?

Me: No. But it’s there.

Conscience: But you don’t need it. You’re not hungry.

Me: Hey! You’re right!

Pan off to watch me patting myself on the back.

Examples for you might range from realizing you need to save up points – or your regular serving of fruit or whatever (if you’re on WW) – every Tuesday night because when you’re favorite TV show comes on, you ARE going to want to eat something, to packing a portable breakfast to eat on your way to work so you don’t end up binging on other things before lunch.

The idea is for you to identify the issue or problem, acknowledge it, and then address it with a possible solution.

With the second example, it might look like this:

  • Identify: I binge mid-morning because I’m hungry.
  • Acknowledge: I binge mid-morning because I don’t eat breakfast or the right kind of breakfast.
  • Address: Pack a breakfast that I can eat on the way to work so that I’m not hungry mid-morning.

 

Sure it’s going to be hard. If it was going to be easy, you would already have done it!

Challenges have their rewards.

And you are not going to fail. 

It’s time.

It’s time.

Time to dive in head-first and do this. I’ve talked about starting a blog/website for a long time now, but you know how it goes: one spends more time second-guessing and planning and editing and so on and so forth that, in the end, nothing gets done and the next thing you know it’s a year later. Or two.

I’m not even sure how this is all going to come together and/or turn out, but you know what? I’m just going to do it anyway. Because, well, it’s time.

I’ve got a lot to say and share and I’m not getting any younger. And maybe that’s what is finally prodding me the most. Not just on this blog thing, but on a whole bunch of things in my life. I’m 47 years old – 47 years old! – yes, I’m rolling my eyes. And what have I done with my life? Besides the typical things we do day-in and day-out. Bet I’m not the only 47-year-old who has ever asked that question! Wasn’t I just like 25 or 27 or 30 years old? What the Hell happened? I’m on the downhill ascent now! This cannot be happening. But it is.

I’m actually thankful that I’m a spiritual person – not religious, but spiritual. If I wasn’t, I doubt I’d be as positive and excited about looking forward to what God has still planned for me. That is, if I listen up and do what He directs and guides me to do. I’m typically pretty good about that – and that will all really come together for you and you’ll understand once I share the “car accident” story at some point – but sometimes I am too afraid to take a step forward in Faith and do what I need to do. Or should do. I worry that I’m going to do something wrong and destiny will be all screwed up. As if I could screw up God’s Plan! Ha! He’s got this. Right? Right.

I’m going with it.

Since Oct. 5 (2015), my entire life has done a 360. I had been sensing intuitively for quite some time that change was brewing, but I didn’t know when or how. To be honest, I still don’t know much. I just know that before that date is “before” and after that date is “after” – and I’m traveling down an entirely different road. I’m not sure where I’m heading. I’m not sure what awaits me. I’m not too sure about anything these days.

I’m trying to live for me. I’m trying not to be too selfish about it, but after taking care of everyone else and feeling as if I was simply trudging along for so long…. There was the lung deal, the not-so-fun recovery from that, a difficult pregnancy, three miscarriages, gall bladder surgery, my dad’s health conditions, my mom’s health issues, financial disruptions, walking away from a difficult workplace situation, more parental health challenges and then figuring out the entire eldercare dynamics with nursing homes and Medicaid and this and that, my mom’s car accident and subsequent issues with that, my dad’s death, my mom’s emergency heart procedure, my mother moving in with us because she could no longer be on her own after her accident, remodeling (all within six months). And then there are those things that I simply won’t put in print. But, you know what? It’s all good. Really. My son just told me that I’m having a mid-life crisis. Sure. Why not? Sounds good to me.

Where is this headed? I have no idea. I guess it’s called “back story”. Those who know me know that it takes a lot to rattle me. I have shoulders of steel. And a heart of gold. Usually. 

With all seriousness, one thing I will be sharing are stories related to my wellness journey.

Since Oct. 5 and as of Feb. 1, I have lost 43.8 pounds. I’m going to be transparent – and show vulnerability by sharing details about things such as my weight and stuff “ladies aren’t supposed to talk about” – but if relaying how I have done this leads just one other person to take that first step to making a positive change in his/her life, then it will be worth it.

It’s time.

Hang on. It’s going to be a fun ride.

 

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