Monday, May 25, 2009

#45 My Dash List

During a presentation at a luncheon I recently attended, the guest speaker showed a slide asking this question: "What have you done with your dash?" On the next slide there stood a lone headstone with a person's name. Below the name was the year they were born, a dash, and the year they died. Ah, the "dash". Ok I thought, I'll go home and write down what I've done with my dash. That evening while lying in bed flipping through the channels, I came upon the movie Gladiator just when this line was spoken, "What you do in life echoes in eternity". Oy, I thought. This writing down what I did with my dash isn't going to be as easy as I thought!!!

I'm going to spare you my dash list, but I would like to share with you some lessons I've learned during my dashing.

The All or Nothing Rule

Not long ago, I had [another] wake up call on the "all or nothing" rule. I've used this mumbo jumbo prescription over the years with dieting -- you know, the whole day is blown if you eat one bad thing... it's all or nothing. I can happily say I no longer have this all or nothing mentality when it comes to managing my weight, however, I recently had an experience that made me realize that I still use "all or nothing" in my life. For the past 5 months, 3-4 days a week, I've been taking a 90-minute yoga class. In my mind, I should be as flexible as cooked spaghetti, but I'm not, and am frustrated by my inflexibility. I mean stretching to touch my toes still starts my hamstrings singing. One day before class, I shared this with my instructor. His response was totally not what I expected. He told me that as the months have gone by, my practice has changed. I'm able to go deeper in my poses and have revved up my intensity, albeit, my point of pain or tightness has moved with my newer abilities. I never thought to see it that way. I thought it was all or nothing when it came to [for example] your hamstrings -- either they were loose or they were tight. I'm glad my hamstrings were tight that day so that I could relearn this lesson.

It Takes Time....

You've heard the saying, "Rome wasn't built in a day"? I think we sometimes forget those important ground breaking steps -- especially when it comes to weight loss. We all want to lose those 10, 15, 20 pounds tomorrow. Where weight loss is concerned, this is just wishful thinking. Small attainable weekly goals are much more successful. Dr. John Demartini says in his book The Law of 7's, A Fitness Program for the Mind, "by the inch it's a cinch, by the yard it's hard and by the mile, it's a pile". This lesson was reiterated last week when my 16 year old son received his driver's permit. Although he says he has no interest in driving, I think his non-interest is really due to feeling overwhelmed. So, the other day I told him to get in the car and all he needed to do was just drive up and down the driveway so that he could get the feel of the brake, accelerator and the steering wheel. After 7 minutes the two of us were nauseous and dizzy and had to stop, but more important than our troubled equilibrium, was the fact that he took his driving baby steps and felt more comfortable and confident and less afraid. I think he's ready for his next lesson.... I'm thinking we both may need Dramamine. The point, don't set yourself up for failure - work in stages and allow yourself time.

The Pleasure's in the Doing

Why do I write this babble? I'm sure there are a lot of reasons, but the most meaningful one is because I really enjoy it. I started this babble to inspire the members of my women's group to keep focused and on track with their dieting and exercising. What I learned was that by inspiring them, I was inspired too. I've also learned over the years that doing things for personal joy is sometimes more rewarding then having kudos from an "audience". I believe I truly learned this lesson during the summer when I was eleven. My bunkmates and I were out on the lake in rowboats when a storm came in. The wind became fierce, the water got rough and choppy, and it was, to tell you the truth, very scary. Our counselor jumped out of our boat to help another boat in trouble and picked me to row our boat in. It was very hard and I was chilled and exhausted when we docked, but I felt so proud. At assembly every evening, the head counselors would call out the names of all the campers who did something special that day. I kept waiting for my name to be called, but it never was. Although I was disappointed, I still remember feeling exceptionally happy. I told myself that I didn't need an announcement with my name to recognize my own achievement. I recognized it. Although we all like to be appreciated for the things we do, from that day on I didn't "need it" anymore, I just [of course] enjoy it when it happens.

Think about your dash. For me, it brought back memories and events that I had long forgotten. It also allows you to design a blueprint for how you would like to see and mold the rest of your dash days. Dr. Demartini says, "... that we were not put here on earth to be average, that there is power and greatness within you waiting for the wake up call". Since I'm leaning towards the other side of the dash, I am middle aged you know, what better time than now?

Quote of the Day: "Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts" ~Author Unknown

Friday, May 15, 2009

#44 Where To Go For a Splurge

This mother's day, knowing what a Trekkie I am, my son decided that we should all go see the new Star Trek movie. I was happy to oblige, and so I didn't have to cook dinner, it was decided that we would would eat at a restaurant near the theater. As we drove past a line of eateries, the kids pointed to Red Robin and asked if we could eat there. I have never been to a Red Robin and so was willing to give it a shot. If you ever pass a Red Robin, heed these words -- "just keep going".

If there is one place where you can go on this earth and get everything and anything BAD [that tastes so good], that would be Red Robin. I'm jumping ahead of myself by saying I felt like a bloated cow after dinner. Moo! I looked over the menu to see what wouldn't be too horrible and then looked over the menu again trying to find something that would be just horrible, but not too horrible. In the end, Marc and I decided to share a salad and a burger. I told him to go ahead and pick whatever he wanted and I would be fine. Well it's weeks later and I'm still dreaming about that burger... and the dessert I was too embarrassed to admit that I wanted.

Now for the good news. The burger was amazing [groan, sigh] - especially for someone like me who usually orders a plain burger with lettuce and tomato [hold the bun, no fries please]. It was a buffalo burger [that's right, the animal] topped with a gigantic onion ring and barbeque sauce. Honestly, the flavor of those three ingredients was enough for me to ponder asking Marc to hand over his half of the burger. When I started typing this babble, I decided that I would post photos of the food we ate and the dessert I was still craving. As I was perusing the Red Robin menu, I came across a link that offers the nutritional value of the food items on the menu. BIG Mistake.

Now for the bad news. I decided to only post my half of the nutritional values because if I was to post the total values, I might have a return of the heartburn that plagued me most of that Sunday night. Here goes: The 1/2 burger: 503 calories, 49 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber and 40 grams of carbohydrates. Add the 1/2 salad to my half burger and the few fries [ok, more than a few, less than a lot] and my meal came close to 1200 calories, 93 grams of fat, 9 grams of fiber and 78 grams of carbs. No wonder America has a problem. Had I gotten my dessert, the mile high mud pie, which we would have [potentially] split 4 ways, add another 300 calories and another 17 grams of fat. Oink!. I had a collosal freakout when I saw this - considering that I eat between 1200 and 1400 calories a day.

Allow me a minute or two on my soap box. The salad that Marc and I shared had shredded fried onions, grated cheese and chicken with some kind of sauce on it. A 1000 calorie salad? Let's get real. Did you know that Red Robin offers seconds on fries for free? Eating this type of food is BAD!! Let me just say for the record that I'm not picking on Red Robin. It's all restaurants that serve food like this. Let me also add here that the restaurant was so crowded that there was a 20" wait for a table. I think there should be some type of warning at the door that tells you right up front that this food is dangerous, risky and perilous [if eaten more than once a month] to your health. I don't care if there are 2 or 3 or even 4 "healthy" items on the menu. Obviously, it's not those items that people go to these restaurants for, and if I'm going to order one of those healthy meals, then wouldn't I want my kids to have something healthy too?

Alas, my soap box raving isn't going to stop anyone from going to the Red Robin or any similar restaurants, nor stop them from eating 1200-2000 calorie meals. Perhaps, though, I can instill this thought with those reading this babble. A splurge every once in a while is fine. I like to splurge. Actually, I love to splurge!! Red Robin, and other restaurants like it, should be considered a place where you go for a splurge. However, I worry. My worry is that people who go to Red Robin, et al. treat these places as their home away from home. In any case, what I have learned from my RR experience is this; NEVER go on a restaurant site to search for nutritional information... after the fact.

Quote of the day: "I haven't failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work"
Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

#43 A Mother's Day Babble

I wrote this letter to my mom on her 65th birthday. To honor her this Mother's Day, I am sending this letter out into cyberspace for all to see. I try to be a good daughter. Sometimes I can be a bit 'trying' I'm sure, but hopefully in her heart, she knows what she means to me.

Dear Mom,

Being a mother myself, I understand you much better. Mommies make sacrifices, although I think sacrifice is a bad word. When I sacrifice, it is something that just comes naturally. I feel the stress of these sacrifices, but not the regret nor anger at having to give something up for my children. I never felt this emotion from you. You taught me well.

Mommies love unconditionally. I've never really expected anything from my children. Well, maybe good behavior, honesty, politeness, hard work and kindness to name a few, but a lack of these things wouldn't take away my love from them. In my eyes, they are perfect. When I wasn't doing well in school, was overweight, or let you down, I never felt your love leave. You taught me well.

Mommies spend time with you when they really want to be doing something else. I feel lucky that you weren't a "working" mom. It was nice to know that you were there for me, even when I didn't need you to be. I never really felt "unavailability" from you. I try to do that for Logan and Erica, although I do believe they are busier than I. You took the time to teach me things that you enjoyed while at the same time, teaching me to find the enjoyment in doing. I hope to pass this on. You taught me well.

You taught me about marriage and family. You told me the type of man I should look for.... even though I ignored your advice for almost 10 years. You told me to get rid of the Romeo romances and find a best friend. You never gave me classes or homework, but by example, you showed the give and take in a working relationship. I learned from you the importance of making time for your family. You showed me that a united front builds confidence in one's children so that they know that they are safe. You taught me well.

As life is a collection of memories, some which fade and others that last, the strongest are those examples of your character that have made me the complete person I am today. Thank you mom, you taught me well.

May you continue to teach me well for many years to come. Happy Mother's Day

Saturday, May 9, 2009

#42 Are You, You?

I just read a review about a book called Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken, by John Robbins. I just love that title and I love some other things the author said. He says that when you talk to people about being authentic, they respond with answers like, "I don't have that in me", or "I care too much what people think". It's that last sentence that caught my attention. It got me thinking about, well, me.

Do I care what other people think? Uh, Yeah! Am I authentic? I could probably debate that I'm more real than some and less real than others. Interestingly, during my last 5 hour marathon yoga history/philosophy class, one topic discussed by the visiting grand poobah was The Authentic Self/Selves. People say that things come to you when you most need them. Well, maybe there's some kind of cosmic phenomena directing me to revisit my authentic self. I mean, I think I have one ... although I may have to peel off some "public" layers first to find her.

As children, we don't have roles to play and so we are truly authentic in every emotion. Do you think a child having a tantrum is caring about what others are thinking, or worrying about how she must look to those watching, or that her nose is running and she's farted out loud? I think not. Robbins says that if we are authentic in our actions and interactions, we might get some odd reactions, but at least they're real.

A few weeks ago, I had a "real interaction". I was in a class with other members of my immersion study group when I was asked what I thought of the 5 hour class the previous week. Although I was a little worried about sharing this with people I didn't know that well, and who have years invested in Anusara yoga, I was able to share how lost and bewildered I was during the lecture, and how much I didn't want to be there after the first hour... and yet I sat there feeling stupid and sorry for myself. I shared how I slowly scooched my way behind a large person sitting in front of me and that for the remaining hours I hid in the sea of 50 attendees, taking notes and not making any eye contact with the Yogi nor with anyone else. There was dead silence after I was done speaking. After a minute or two, another person let out this long breath and thanked me for speaking so openly because she too was feeling lost [in a different way than me] and needed to share. I'm 99% sure that had I not been so open and honest first, she would not have confided in us. Robbins tells us that if someone shares first and from the heart, then the reaction from others is often "Thank God I don't have to hold up this mask [any longer], it's exhausting!". I truly believe this is what happened.

Recently, I was at an occasion where our hosts stood in the center of the room and thanked those of us attending. The husband spoke beautifully and from the heart, and told everyone how glad he was that his wife's cancer was treated and how happy he felt that they were together to share this wonderful day. When he said the "C" word, it caught my attention. Usually, talking about cancer is caged in euphemisms like tumor and illness and malignancy. He said the word cancer - out loud and at a party. I leaned over to my husband and said, this is a man who isn't scared of the power of a word. Authenticity, Robbins says, "is practicing whatever it is you're feeling" at that moment. Our host, at that moment, felt that he [and his family] had fought the C-devil and won. We, his guests, heard his heart sing out with gratitude for his family's good fortune while he praised the bravery of his valiant warrioress.

I was going to try write this babble about my search for the authentic me, but I decided, it was more interesting to discover the authentic me while finding and seeking it in others. This is what I'm telling you [and me too] -- I believe that societal constraints make it hard to create a life that reflects the true you 100% of the time. However, the idea of the person you want to be, feel good being, and want to wear in front of others, should be like your most comfortable pair of sweats... something you've had for years and feel at ease wearing anywhere and with anyone. Mr. Robbins says, "On our path of growth, we need to trust ourselves". This, for me then, will be where I begin.

Quote of the day: If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves. Thomas Edison

Monday, May 4, 2009

#41 kirstie, Kirstie, KIRSTIE

I was watching Oprah the other day and one of my [used to be] favorite actresses, Kirstie Alley, was on. She was talking about her stint as the spokesperson for Jenny Craig, why she left Jenny, and her subsequent weight gain. Bypassing all her reasons for leaving Jenny and her reasons for gaining back her weight, this is what caught my attention... drum roll please..... not only did she gain back the 70 ish pounds she had lost, but she put on an extra 10 lbs.

Do I sit here and judge her? NO WAY!! Want to know why? Because once upon a time and a time and a time, I too dieted myself fat. I'm not sure if you have heard this saying, "dieting yourself fat", but it means exactly what it says. You go on a diet, you lose weight, you work diligently to keep it off, but somehow at some time, your dieting stamina leaves and KABAM! What took hard work, will power, determination and six months to lose -- found its way back in only 3 months. And just to make you feel even worse about this regaining, another 5 or 10 lbs has joined the ranks. Dieting one's self fat is a perplexing thing.

Dieting oneself fat is discussed much amongst my friends who diet, or who have dieted and maintained, or who have dieted, maintained and gained back their weight. I can't tell you how many times a new member comes to my Trevose group saying something like, "I never thought I would be this weight, I mean I've been dieting my whole life". We group members sit there nodding our heads 'cause we understand -- been there, done that.

Since I started writing my own blog, I try to visit other blogs dealing with weight, diets, food issues and other topics of interest. I've read numerous blogs of successful dieters and working dieters. However, at some point in their blogging, they mention that they never thought they would see, for instance 170 on the scale and the next thing they know, 190 pounds is peaking out from between their stubby toes.

So, I decided to do a little research. I found a website [Fitness Tips for Life] that says fat people stay fat for a number of reasons. I read through them, thought they were really good, and decided to share them with you. The author explains and expands on his 5 reasons, but I'll give you my babble version in a nutshell:

1. Fast Food - it's everywhere, portion sizes are ridiculous, and it's marketing to our children with toys and fun play areas makes it hard to say NO! It's also inexpensive [for what you get], so it attracts those with a hurting wallet.

2. Not eating [enough] fresh fruits and veggies - six or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day... need I say more?

3. Using starches as your main food group - guilty...sometimes

4. Not exercising - the author blames hours of tv and internet playing, I concur.

and my favorite.... second drum roll of this babble

5. Bouncing from diet to diet - as I've said before, you can't live on a diet. If you find an eating regime that works with your lifestyle, YOU CAN lose and maintain IF you don't go overboard on those items called "treats".

To be successful at anything, you need to commit time and energy. I once read that people are more committed to losing weight than they are to changing their lifestyle -- they want to go for the home run before they really know how to bat correctly. Others stay heavy because the known is always a safer bet than the unknown, and of course fat also covers a myriad of insecurities. BUT, if a person doesn't deal with those problems, the weight will keep coming back. So, after the 6th or 100th commercial break [I really can't remember], Kirstie tells Oprah that she has created her own weight loss program and will be marketing and selling it [I guess, perhaps, who knows, oy vey] soon. Part of me wants to call Kirstie and say, "Girl, conquer your demons first". The other part of me, the scale devotee, the worrier of body mass, the desirer of the secret to eternal thinness, is of course curious as hell.

Quote of the day: "Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself"
George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, May 3, 2009

#40 Call Me the Fertility Angel

One method of exercising that helped me lose weight, and now helps me maintain my weight loss has been power walking. Sometimes I intersperse it with some light jogging. Most of my friends and co-walkers know that I am religious about this and that I "pray" during all seasons and in any type of weather. Luckily for me, there is a park near my home that has a paved 1.7 mile walking and biking path. Even when it's raining, I can do 2 or 3 laps and be protected by the tree canopy. When I don't go to the park, I have a 2.5 neighborhood walking loop. I also clock my times so that I can work on improving my speed. However, prior to becoming this psycho-techno-power walker, I was just a young woman who loved to walk for the great feeling it gave me and for the enjoyment of doing it with my walking buddy. Ok, maybe also for a little bit of assistance in the weight department.

Back when I first started walking, about 13 years ago, I didn't really know that many people in my neighborhood, and when I met a neighbor who lived down the road, I pretty much pounced on her and begged her to walk with me at 6:30 am 3 days a week. She agreed [oh happy day] and to this day, Fran is the fastest walking partner I've ever had. Off we went and depending on the weather, we were either bundled up in our ski coats or stripped down to shorts and tanks. Over the 2 years that we walked, we really got to know each other. Alas, Fran [and I guess her husband too] decided that they wanted to have a third child and no matter how hard I begged her not to [and trust me, I came up with every reason not to have another], they went along and had their Jenny. I lost my walking partner, but gained a wonderful friend.

A couple of months later, Marc and I were at a function at my son's preschool and I saw this woman who I had casually met weeks earlier. Pointing at her with my chin, I said to Marc; "See that women over there? She just had a baby about 6 months ago. I bet she would be a good walking partner". I was too shy to go over to her, but sent Marc instead to "pick her up" for me. He went over, started chatting and then brought her back to where I was standing. To this day Marc and I joke that -- 'he snaked her and I baked her'. Anyway, I digress... so this woman and I chat about the kids and school, and then I hesitantly ask her [probably on my knees, but I really can't remember] if she would like to walk with me at 6:30 am 3 days a week. She said she would love to, and off we went. I'll admit, what she lacked in Fran's speed, she made up in entertainment. Our 45" walk flew by with her stories and laughter. About a year into our time together, Beth [and I guess her husband too] decided that they wanted to have a third child. I begged her not to get pregnant and told her how great she looked a year after her daughter's birth, and how hard three kids were and everything I could think of, but to no avail. I lost my second walking partner to baby Jordan, but gained a "summer sister".

I began to feel like the fertility angel. Just walk with Bobbie and you'll have a baby. By this time, I was very into walking and really liked all the benefits I derived from it. I could eat almost anything I wanted [within reason], still maintain my weight, keep my legs toned, be outside and I could exercise pretty much on my own time. I'll admit though, it did get lonely after a while and so I started to hunt for my next partner. I'll cut to the chase, Donna was almost as fast as Fran and was a great conversationalist, but after about 18 months, she too decided that a baby she must have [and I guess her husband felt this way too], and once again I lost my walking partner to baby Ruby.

Walking, with jogging intervals, has become so much part of my routine that I really miss it when I don't go. There are mornings when it's still dark out and I just want to curl up and go back to sleep, but I know if I don't get my walk in before 9 am, it will never happen. And, once I'm out there and on the go, I know my that my reward is a cup of McKinley Market coffee with a dollop of 1/2 and 1/2, a wonderful endorphin high, and most important, knowing that I did something healthy and good for me. These days, my walking partner is a book on my iphone and Iggy, my energetic willing-to-go-anytime-anywhere mutt. He never oversleeps, is always ready and waiting for our power walk, and keeps the pace up by gently pulling on the lead when I slow down. What more could a person ask for in a walking partner? By the way, no worries, Iggy's neutered!!!

Quote of the day: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" Maya Angelou

Friday, May 1, 2009

#39 Don't Stuff Your Face, Face Your Stuff

My sister in law suggested that a good topic for women in their 40's trying to age with grace and giggles would be to babble about sex. Well, since this babble is about me [and my kids, husband and parents read this], I need to be a little careful with what I share. However, I do feel comfortable talking about a certain topic -- Promiscuity.

I am promiscuous. I admit it. I've been known to change my love interests on short notice and my enjoyment of "the act" is always tempered with the knowledge that I am doing something wrong. Sadly, my release at the end of each encounter is short term and always a letdown. Over the past couple of years I have been pretty in control of my dalliances, but every once in a while, I lose my self control and let loose. My last indiscriminate act, I'll admit, is a little humiliating to share, and when my son reads this, and my friend Michael too, they are going to be a little [ok, maybe a lot] angry with me. Anyway, to go directly to the "dirt" of this story, I found my son's stash of Mallomar Cookies and had an afternoon delight with 6 of those dark chocolate covered marshmallows on a graham cracker cookie. Each bite was amazing and wonderful and during the 5 minute act, I was in heaven. Alas, the letdown quickly followed, and I once again was angry at myself for being so weak, and since my body wasn't used to so much lov'n, I could hardly keep my eyes open and had to lie down for a 20- minute afternoon nap.

Ok, you got the idea. I'm promiscuous with food. Sadly, I could go on and on with all my indiscretions, but suffice it to say, I'm glad they are fewer and more far between then they used to be. A little promiscuous is bad, but a food slut is the pits!! So, let's discuss a different kind of relationship, one of cause and effect. I want to share a wonderful saying with you that I received in an email from a reader commenting on one of my babbles. The writer shared a saying she heard years ago at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting -- "Don't stuff your face, face your stuff".

The act of overeating and/or binging and/or closet eating, for many, is due to unfinished business. Somewhere, sometime during a person's life, food became the way to deal with issues that couldn't be dealt with in a normal way. Ah, the cause and effect. I wish I could say that I eat to live, but I know that I live to eat. I guess WHY is the question? I do have little bursts of insight as to my past and why I do what I do, but the problem is that I have used food for so long for almost every reason and mood, that I'm not sure where to start. Sometimes I find myself eating [like alone, in the car, guiltily] even when I am feeling fine and good. So, why do I eat alone or eat when I'm really not hungry, or overeat until I'm stuffed and sick and nauseated? The reason behind this type of eating has somehow gotten lost . I think it has something to do with comforting myself although it does seem more like punishing myself.

The positive, if you can see past all the food wrappers, is that although I have this issue, everything in my life is good. I'm still able to keep the weight off in a healthy way, I have a great relationship with my kids and husband, a wonderful circle of friends, a fantastic dog, a car with seat warmers and a house with central air conditioning. It's a conundrum. Whatever the reason, it has become a habit and as we know, habits are very hard to quit. It would be the discovery of the decade if I could figure out what exactly that unknowing "IT" is and vanquish it, but I've also learned that knowing why you do something, doesn't necessarily mean you can stop the behavior.

And so as not to beat a dead horse, I shall end with this idea. In January 2009, ABC reported on a study comparing men's and women's brains when tempted with different types of food after a 3 day fast. The brain scans showed that where the men's brains looked calm and worked less, the women's brains lit up in all the emotion and hunger desire areas. As is common knowledge, the sex drive of [most] women in their late 40's begins to dwindle. Wouldn't it be great if the brain area that controls our sex drive is also the same area that gives us our cravings and drives us to eat and eat and eat?

A girl can fantasize.... can't she?

Quote of the Day: "Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get" Dale Carnegie