Weighty Matters

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Things People Say

I don’t understand what leads some people to say the things that they do to people who either need to lose weight or who are already in the process.

A woman I know shared on Facebook that she’s facing the challenge of losing weight. She posted a video of herself getting onto the scale, even showing her weight on the scale. I don’t know the whole story but she received some ugly comments, including people telling her that other people don’t want to see what she was showing.

I was shocked and then pissed off. I thought the woman showed real guts, posting a video of herself including her weight. It completely sucks that anyone gave her crap for doing so.

Over my life, I’ve noticed that many people think nothing of commenting about someone else’s weight or weight loss efforts. My feeling is that if you aren’t going to be supportive and positive, it’s best to keep your words and opinions to yourself. If it is so difficult for you to keep from voicing your criticisms or potentially hurtful observations, you might try creative visualization. Picture yourself picking up a sock, stuffing it in your mouth and effectively stifling your impulse.

Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. – Plato (According to a few quotation sources.)

If you can’t be kind, be silent. – Mary (According to me.)

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Going off the Clock

For three days in a row, I didn’t set my alarm for 6 a.m. I made the conscious choice not to get up super early for a hour of exercise to start the day. Frankly, I needed sleep more than I needed the workouts first thing in the morning.

This does not mean that I slacked off. I might not have made 10K steps every day, but I still moved my body enough in beneficial ways. For example, when I rolled out of bed closer to 8 a.m. yesterday, I went out for a 10 mile bike ride. Today I walked the dogs twice and went to a three hour Tai Chi intensive. Okay so “tai chi intensive” sounds like an oxymoron. It isn’t the same as power aerobics, but three hours of movement is still movement. We did two full sets to begin, each of which takes 15-20 minutes. These were followed by “foundation” exercises. Among these are something called danyus which are similar to squats. I’m sure we did 30 of them alone.

Honestly, as focused as I am on my physical fitness, it is not a bad thing for me to skip a couple of days. I don’t have to go full out seven days a week. It’s good for me to remember this and create balance. Sleeping a little later each morning for three days definitely created much needed balance. Whatever the case, doing so really helped. I feel much more rested tonight than I have in the last three weeks.

Overall, I feel terrific. My mind feels as rested as my body and I’m still riding that stress-release wave. Going off the clock turned out to be another useful form of self-care for the weekend.

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Relaxed to the Bones

For the first time in a couple of weeks, I don’t feel any part of my body holding onto stress and tension. Oh, the wonder of a really good, healing massage.

Mary Day has been wonderful so far and there are still a few hours remaining. I slept past 7:30 and then got up and took a 10 mile bike ride. I came home, ate breakfast and cleaned the pool. Then I caught up with a friend whose mother is in the hospital to see how everything is going with them. After that it was time to get ready for my hair appointment — the first self-care activity of the day. I always enjoy going to the salon. My stylist is also a friend so we generally have a good time chatting while she does the color and cut.

I had some free time afterward before my massage appointment and decided to go to that woman’s clothing store in town — the one that I couldn’t shop in until the last six months or so because they didn’t carry sizes big enough. You know what? Having a clothing store with good quality garments in such close proximity could be deadly on my budget. Thankfully, they usually have a great sale going on or, at least, weekly coupons. Such was the case today. I found two great tops and a pair of good navy pants. One of the tops will be absolutely perfect for a trip to New Orleans in a few weeks!

It’s a big deal for me to be able to look in the mirror and honestly, truly, deeply, be happy with how I look. I think I’ve touched on this before, but I’ve gradually stopped regarding myself with “fat eyes”. Instead, I can admire the drape and fall of a garment, the way a neckline flatters me, and just overall be truly pleased with myself as I am today. This is a huge gift and a dream come true, particularly when I can also tell myself that it’s only going to get better.

The aforementioned massage was pure heaven. Knots and tension just relaxed and eased away under D’s experienced, gifted touch. I didn’t exactly fall asleep but I dropped deeper and deeper into relaxation so that maybe only 10% of my mind was aware and semi-alert. My teeth and jaw are so happy to no longer be clenched, too.

I thought about going out to the movies tonight, but it felt like too much effort after my really good day. I am far happier just hanging here at home with the dogs while watching a Phillies game on television.

Oh, I did spend a chunk of time watching a DVD of the MusiCares tribute to Bruce Springsteen as the organization’s 2013 Person of the Year. Several artists performed Bruce songs for the audience, including Bruce, his family, and the band. Then Bruce gave a great acceptance speech and played five songs. This set me up just fine for the Springsteen concert my friend and I are going to soon. Given my almost 40 years as a Springsteen fangirl, it was definitely an appropriate part of my Mary-Me Day!

Hope your Saturday suited you!

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Random Thoughts Heading into the Weekend

I’m watching today’s episode of General Hospital. There’s a lot of drama with the delivery of a very premature baby on the side of the road following a car accident, two seriously messed up people having angry sex in the family crypt where the man they shot was just buried, and a fair amount of angst, anger, lies and manipulation.

The stories are complex and involved but for some reason, instead of fixating on the tales, I am absolutely riveted by the shirt one of the characters is wearing. It’s snug fitting in purple jersey with sleeves that go from wrist to mid-bicep but that leave the shoulders bare. There’s this sort of criss cross of metal studded strapping. I tell you, I have serious wardrobe lust for this shirt. I want it. I think right now my shoulders look great, and so do my collar bones and neck. Those jazzy sleeves would cover the skin sag of my upper arms. I wonder if I can find out the designer and where it was purchased. Maybe if I write to one of those soap opera magazines? I think they do features like this.

Anyway, that totally distracted me for a bit, but I’m back paying attention now. It’s Friday night. TG-to-the-max-IF! These last two weeks have been crazy busy, stressful, often emotionally draining and just good old garden variety exhausting. I’ve craved more sleep and, honestly, have slept a little later than usual. To me on a weekday that means 6:20 am to 6:30 a.m. instead of getting up between 5:45 and 6. Trust me, I could easily have convinced myself to sleep even longer, but I was determined to keep up my exercise. The wind stayed down pretty much every morning, so even if I started out later than usual, I still got in good bike rides of 8 to 10 miles before getting ready for work.

I have designated tomorrow as a complete Mary day. I have a hair appointment at 12:30 which will take care of the lovely gray stripe I see on my head when I part my hair. Every once in a while I consider letting my roots grow out completely and just embracing the gray hair. That consideration lasts about five minutes before my vanity comes to its senses and I banish the thought. I’m not ready. When I reach that point, I plan to first cut my hair really, really short so that it doesn’t take that long for the gray to grow in all of the way. If I’m still writing this blog when I get to that point, believe me, I’ll chronicle the transition.

Since I already had a mid-day appointment, I knew I wouldn’t be going out for an early boat ride. I’ve not only felt the stress and tension in my emotions in recent days. I’ve begun to really notice tightness in my neck and shoulders and in my jaw. Plus I’ve had some tension headaches. Yesterday, as I was eagerly anticipating the weekend’s approach, I texted the massage therapist I go to. Luckily, she had an opening later tomorrow afternoon, so I booked the appointment. Other than these two events, which are relaxing, feel-good experiences in self-care, I don’t have a single place I have to be. I plan to sleep in tomorrow, even if I have to get up and feed Nat and Pyxi at their regular time. I can always go back to bed. I won’t neglect my exercise since that makes me feel good too. Then I’ll just enjoy my hair appointment and my massage. If I spend the rest of the day lolling around on my porch, and take a nap or two, it’s absolutely okay. I’ve worked hard. I deserve it.

I spent a couple of hours at a friend’s new town home this evening. In the course of the conversation, we touched on how we and other people often internalize our perception of a situation or relationship and it becomes our truth. Sometimes the other parties involved really don’t feel the way we think and their actions and attitudes aren’t motivated by what we think. Still, our perceptions are strong. We often reinforce them. Once we form those “truths”, it is extremely hard to change our emotions and thought processes.

This made me think of when I was about 21, 22 and working at this radio station right out of college. Even though I was very good at my job, overall, my self-esteem still hovered about ankle high. That’s how awful it was. I always felt less than or lower than everybody else, even within my family. I don’t remember how we got onto the topic, but I clearly remember very tearfully telling my Dad one night that I felt like I was his biggest, actually only failure. Daddy was aghast, appalled, and pretty devastated that I felt that way.

He asked, “How could you think that, honey? I’m so proud of you. To hear me talk, you’d think you owned the radio station!”

I told him the truth — that he might tell other people, but he didn’t tell me so I had no sense that he was proud of me at all.

Honestly, I don’t think for a minute that my father ever intended to convey that message that I received and then internalized. He was proud of both of his offspring. He deeply loved us, too. However, somewhere in the mishmash of adolescence, I perceived that I was not as good as my brother in our father’s eyes. I just wasn’t good enough by any comparison. I didn’t think that I measured up to Dad’s expectations.

It’s a helluva burden to carry, that weighty false self-perception.

When I was on my cruise, I heard singer Ty Herndon perform a not-yet-released song called Lies I Told Myself. It’s all about a young man’s life and the lies he told himself throughout — like he was too small to play football, he’d never get anywhere playing music, church and praying were a waste of time, and so on. The hook is that those things were lies. The lies he told himself, he’s glad he didn’t believe. I heard the song again on the radio when I was driving home from my friend’s place. It dovetailed neatly with the conversation she and I shared.

It got me thinking all over again about how we make our perceptions reality and hold onto them and then just how many lies we tell ourselves that keep us from pursuing or realizing our dreams, that prevent us from trying or those that make us feel like we aren’t good enough. I know I have them and, while I can’t say that I don’t believe them, I can say that I’m learning to not take them as Gospel truth. I need to pick through the lies and find the kernels of truth and wisdom.

Okay, this sounds terrible, but I am literally dropping off to sleep while I’m typing. Sorry to bail, but Mary Me Time starts right now. I need some restorative sleep!

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Feeling the Gratitude

On Easter, I had dinner with friends. On the way up to their house, another friend and I stopped at the store and ran into one of our senior managers and his eldest daughter. I haven’t seen the daughter in about a year. We all chatted for awhile and then went our separate ways. Monday morning when I got to work there was a message from the daughter on my voice mail. She literally hadn’t recognized me when we were talking! She said a lot of really lovely things to me in her message.

Easter was a great day of exploring a state park island, hanging with friends and sharing a meal. I don’t see the husband of one friend very often. Monday when my friend and I were back at work she said that later in the evening, her husband told her that he hadn’t wanted to embarrass me but he thought I looked great. Then she said that when we were all together, she really noticed how my bad knee didn’t stop me at all. I jumped on and off the boat, into and out of the golf cart, and did all of the activity without it hampering me. She and I have worked together for more than 10 years, so she’s seen me at my heaviest and all of the times that my knee presented challenges.

Of course I felt good in the moment of hearing these things from her, but even nicer, the good feeling has stayed with me. This morning I was riding my bike back from the beach and thinking about these two things. Then I started thinking about all of the friends and family members who are so happy for me and, also, proud of me for doing the hard work of regaining my health and fitness. As I thought of this, I was swamped with gratitude.

I have so many people in my life who have loved me unconditionally and supported me through good times and bad for many, many years. Some of them are family by blood or marriage; others are my family of friends or my work family. Whoever they are, they are always in my corner. They’ve loved me through pain and loss and sometimes even more than I loved myself.

I’m blessed and grateful for each and every one of them.

Some of these people come here and read this blog. Some don’t. To those who are here, please know that your choice to be part of my life means the world to me. Thank you for your love and support and know that I appreciate you deep, deep in my heart. Even though I may thank you in person, I don’t know if the words truly convey how I feel. I hope you and every person who isn’t here knows this.

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P.A.C.E.

I’ve had two good days back to back and they both started with morning exercise which produced endorphins and general positive feelings. I carried them with me through the days and this helped me deal with the regular old annoying stresses and complications. No big surprise, my food and eating have been more on track — and keeping them there has been less challenging.

Have I ever shared the acronym P.A.C.E.? It means Positive Action Changes Everything. This is a particularly good reminder for me. The rightness of it is illustrated by me making sure that I roll out of bed early enough to get in a morning workout. When I experience the difference in how I feel on days like today versus a few days when I don’t get in enough physical activity, it sure makes sense.

I won’t always do these things perfectly, but I sure can keep making the effort on most days. Again, it makes sense to, ahem, P.A.C.E. myself.

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Getting Moving

For the last week, I’ve been sluggish. Even though I got out on the bike several times, I fell off on my steps and didn’t get in my longer walks for a few days. I was exhausted at the end of every evening and craved even an extra half an hour of sleep in the mornings.

When I fall off of my game for even a few days, it affects how I feel about myself. Not only does my body weigh down, but my mind and emotions also experience their own kind of sluggishness. The more days that I go without significant, or at least fully adequate, exercise, the more I feel like a slug and the more difficult it is to self-motivate.

This morning, my alarm went off at 6 a.m. and I completely did not want to get out of bed and exercise. I scolded myself, laced on the sneakers and went out for a 40 minute brisk walk, followed by another 12-15 minutes of more leisurely walk with the pups. One the way home I realized how good I felt emotionally. My whiny ‘tude evaporated, I had more of a spring in my step, and I was smiling while I sang along to the tunes on my Nano. I not only no longer felt tired, I was rejuvenated.

After so much time, it shouldn’t surprise me that positive energy first thing in the morning sets me up for less stress and more energy throughout the day. The better I feel about my body and my self, the better I do with everything or anything that comes my way.

I’m really glad that A) I got my ass up and out of bed for the walk and B) that I was aware of how I felt when I started and then how great I felt with the endorphin release. I’m going to remember this tomorrow at 6 a.m. when the alarm goes off. Getting moving is a positive on which I can, and need to, build.

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My WTF Week

By the time last Thursday rolled around, I had officially proclaimed that I was having a WTF (What the _ _ _ _) week. Random, strange, unexpected or otherwise stressful situations and people kept happening. By the time that I got home every night, I was wiped out. Hence the four days between blog posts.

Before I go further, I would like to ask for some positive energy, good thoughts and prayers for one of my aunts. She’s in the hospital in critical condition. She went in with an infection that started in her skin and went septic. This led to renal failure. She’ll be 88 in October. This is a bad situation. We hope that her kidneys will regain their function as the infection is cleared up. Thank you in advance for your good vibes.

So with all of the stress stuff going on, I’m thinking a lot about how I’ve used food and overeating to cope for all of my life. More to the point, I’m really working on not using it in these ways any more. It’s become a different kind of WTF week, as in “Why the Food”? I’m still building on the realizations and acceptance and all of the other emotional work I’ve been doing recently. In thinking about all this, I’ve tried to check in with myself and ask, “What does food and overeating do for me? Why do I keep going back to these coping mechanisms? What’s the positive payoff?” The overriding question in all of this then becomes, “Why do I think I can’t give it up?”

Actually, I know that I can stop doing it, but sometimes it just feels like I can’t, or it scares me to think of letting go of my security blanket. I don’t know what I think will happen to me if I do. I’m not sure what the source of my fear really is.

Then sometimes I think that asking all of the why, why, why doesn’t really get me far. What matters most is that I stop doing it. Understanding might just be the bonus — or maybe the booby prize.

So, instead I’m trying to reframe the discussion and tell myself new truths, as in, “You know, you really don’t need the food to cope. The food isn’t going to help you cope. In fact, it’s a detriment.” I am also reminding myself that I am stronger and more balanced and that I have different, healthier methods. I can take a walk. Dance around the room. Cuddle the dogs. Go for a bike ride. I can do almost anything other than overeat or eat inappropriately that will help me in ways that food and overeating never did.

These are things that I need to reinforce within myself. The whole mindset is a valuable tool to carry around with me the next time I need help coping.

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Not Letting Disease Win

Yesterday at work I experienced a scene with a person (not a co-worker or friend) who went from 0 to 25 on the anger scale in the space of three heartbeats. I tried to diffuse it, did my best to work with this person, but the bottom line was that I could not give him the one thing that he wanted and nothing else mattered to him. He was completely unable to see reason.

I’m a fairly tough cookie when needed. I’ve had people yell at me and attempt to bully and intimidate me and it doesn’t work. I have my coping strategies firmly in place. (This wasn’t the case 20 some years ago, but I’ve learned since then.) For whatever reason, maybe it was the lightning fast reaction of his, this situation really got to me.

It affected me all day. I could feel it in my clenched gut and the constant ache behind my eyes. Driving home with a friend, we talked about it and I mentioned that I’d love nothing more than to dive into a half of a pound of chocolate walnut fudge. My friend wisely reminded me that doing so would mean letting the guy and the situation win.

I’m trying to hold onto the concept of not letting my disease win. (I didn’t dive into a vat of fudge last night, but did indulge in some cookies, unfortunately.) I think it will do me good for the time being to think of my disease as an opponent battling me for my health and envision myself as a warrior. I like that kind of self-empowerment.

So, for today, I am waging war against my disease, against the compulsion to eat inappropriately. I will not let my disease win.

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Good New Days

The good news about tough times is that they don’t have to continue forever. Each day is an opportunity to do better than the day before, to make healthier choices, to reframe our mindset, and rebalance our emotions. It’s another chance to reconnect spiritually with whomever or whatever we decide is our Higher Power.

Today wasn’t perfect for me, but it was so much better than the last week. I’m relieved and, trust me, when i went to bed last night I anticipated a complete suckfest. As tired as I was, I could not shut off the mind chatter. Situations, worries, and drama kept repeating in my head. I believe that’s what psychiatrists call “inefficient worrying”. Whatever the name, I experienced it to the point where it took two hours and a change of scenery for me to go to sleep.

Change of scenery sounds weird, but sometimes when I can’t fall asleep in my bed I get up and go out in the living room to my recliner. For some reason, when I do that I can then drop off. My sleep in the chair usually only lasts for an hour to an hour and a half, but when I sort of wake up and return to my bed, I immediately fall asleep again and go through until morning.

Despite only getting about five hours of sleep, my mind was clear when my alarm went off. I spent some time connecting with my spirit. I said the Serenity Prayer. I mused on the things that I need to disconnect from and let go, then made the conscious choice to turn them over. With a calm mindset and a serene spirit, I actually experienced some good energy — like I’d relieved myself of things dragging at me. So I went out, jumped on my bike, and rode eight miles before breakfast. I rode to the beach and had the pleasure of seeing bright brush strokes of lavender, rose, and gold sweep across the sky. It was glorious.

The positive state of being remained throughout the work day and when I got home. Situations that last week threw me completely off of my game, today rolled off me without causing me difficulty. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that my food and eating through the day were also on point. I feel off some tonight and that’s my bad. I didn’t make my house “clean”, meaning I still had some junk food around

That’s one of the worse aspects of being a compulsive eater. I don’t have to be in a poor state in order to eat off plan. Sometimes I eat compulsively just because the food’s present. Anyway, it’s gone now. With my new found balance and positive, healthy attitude, I can withstand bringing any of it back into the house. that will help pad the likelihood of stacking up some successful days.

My takeaway reminder lesson from all this is to remember that no matter how far off I slip, it is always possible to climb back up, shore up my defenses, and reconnect with what I need to do in order to not only survive but thrive. I will never lose hope.

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