Learning how to Walk

Walking seems to be such an easy thing to do, doesn’t it?  What if you’re someone like me that thinks that if you CAN run, then it’s just wimping out to walk… that makes walking less easy.  I’ve long since battled with the kind of competition within my own mind and soul that tells me that nothing is worth doing if it’s not worth doing as fast and as hard as you can.  It can get to be a problem because there’s no middle ground.  I either do something full on, balls to the wall or I don’t do anything at all.  This type of thought pattern has infiltrated my entire life and while it’s not reasonable to repair that way of thinking in every aspect of my life in a day, it IS reasonable to work on changing it where I can.

This 3 week commuter challenge that I’m doing at work is a perfect time to work on ‘middle ground’.  I made a commitment (a rather loud, noisy, braggerty one) to commute home from work under my own power 3 days a week for three full weeks.  That’s a total of 24KM (15miles) per week and I quickly realized that if I didn’t find any middle ground in order to get this done, I would be doomed to failure.  It does the competition, the commitment and me in general no good whatsoever to push my body to excess the first week and then be completely unable to continue on to the next two weeks.

So on Monday I ran most of the way home, having not yet discovered this need for middle ground.  On Tuesday I forced myself to walk the entire way.  To be honest?  That sounded like torture to me.  I really believed that walking home was just a cop out and that it didn’t ‘count’, regardless of how hard I worked at it.  Well, as my sister so rightly pointed out, it’s not like I was strolling through the park with an ice cream in my hand… I push HARD all the way.  The mental battle to ‘just run a bit’ was strong in my mind for a good portion of the 8K… So about halfway through, I decided that I would try running and see if that felt good… if it felt like I was flying then I would run. Well it felt like running with lead shoes on…. And I realized that I liked the middle ground.  I was working hard, I was sweating and felt a good burn in my quads and the moments of drifting out of my own head into a meditative state.  I’ve never been very good at shutting off my mind, regardless of how hard I tried.  I’m easily distracted and I have a tendancy to have ‘thought trail diarrhea’ where I realize I don’t even know how I got from the original thought to the current one… I don’t particularly like that feeling of mindless thinking and every once in awhile it’s nice to not have your mind going a million miles an hour.

On Wednesday I walked home again… no thought of running entered my mind and I enjoyed the meditation and the free feeling that not being in constant competition with myself gave me.

Day 5 of my Whole40 is drawing to a close and I’m pleased to report that I am firmly on board for the full 40 days.  I’ve also discovered again that sugar, even from grapes, makes me incredibly itchy.  It’s interesting actually because sugar, when eaten with other crappy dietary choices, doesn’t seem to bother me as much.  When I am clean eating and consuming too much natural sugar from whole foods, I get ridiculously itchy.

In the first five days I’ve noticed some de-puffing, better sleep (I wake up at 5:27 on the dot every day… like WIDE AWAKE) and better… um… bathrooming… ahem.

This coming Wednesday marks 10 days on W30 and ¼ of the way through. It’s an interesting journey to take this time because I know what to expect as far as feeling lousy (I haven’t yet) and as far as potential non-scale victories (as mentioned above). I’m keeping an open mind to new things to learn about myself and my body and food and the way my mind and body interact with food.

No choice in life but to just keep going forward.  So forward I go!

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Just Be Yourself

My mom always says that lessons are taught until they are learned.  This one keeps coming up so I guess I’m still learning it…

The way that I perceive myself and the way that others perceive me is not the same.  My friend always tells me to just be my authentic self and that every good thing and good person that is meant to be in my life will come along… drawn like a moth to a flame.  Just be yourself.  Yourself is amazing he says.  Sometimes, when I’m alone and thinking through things, I remember what he says about being my authentic self… and I over think it… I was saying to my counsellor yesterday that sometimes I wonder what ‘self’ that I’m supposed to be to get the best response from people.

Well this morning I was reminded again, that the ‘self’ that I am when I’m not overthinking it is the self that my friend is talking about.  

Be you.  Be silly.  Be friendly.  Be crazy and goofy and loving and happy and joyous.  Let your real, authentic personality come out and play and the people that don’t like it aren’t people that you want around you anyway… 

This morning I was taught (again) that being all those things above pay off.

I missed my regular bus by about 30 seconds… however, not being in the mood (or with the energy… damn this ridiculous fatigue) to run a block or so, I decided to just wait the ten minutes for the next one… So I stood outside in the cold, playing on my iphone… freezing my digits off.  And then a bus arrived.  ‘Not in Service’ said the flashing sign on the front of the bus. But then the door opened and the driver invited me aboard and said that he’d take me as far as he could down my route and try and catch up with the bus I missed.  He said that he remembered me from when he drove my route in the summer. 

Now… think that through… That’s someone who remembered me from six months ago… someone who has seen easily thousands of people in the last six months and he remembered me enough to know that he wanted to stop and do something kind for me.  We chatted and laughed all the way until we did catch up with the bus that I had missed earlier and my Not in Service Hero pulled in front of that bus so that it would have to stop and then wished me a happy day (in French I think… it was definitely not in English) and I got off his bus and walked back to the one I’d missed.  And then something else incredible happened.  The driver of the bus I missed saw me… 50 blocks from my usual stop and looked surprised and confused.  Opened the door and asked how I got ahead of him and all the way down here…. So I told him I’d missed him by seconds but that I didn’t have the energy to run and then my NIS Hero picked me up and brought me this far.  And you know what he said? ‘I looked for you when I went past your stop and I thought about waiting a second but I didn’t see you so I had to keep going.’.  I was so touched that he knew I should have been there and he actually looked for me… what a kind sentiment!

When I got to work I went to the coffee shop I always go to and saw my young barista friend… our faces mutually light up when we see eachother and we always share a chat and a smile before going about our days.  Today we laughed about taking over the world and then that’s when the events of the morning sort of hit me.  I’ve left a lasting impression on these people just by being me. 

Sometimes our self-perception gets in the way of being able to see how others perceive us… I can say for certain that I need to be reminded constantly that the ‘real me’… the ‘self’ that my friend encourages… she’s the key to my happiness.  At no time am I more joyous and friendly and silly and loving and happy as when I am being shown that being those things consistently start a perpetual circle.  Being joyous and happy and silly and loving makes me feel those… which make me want to be those… It takes practice to let ‘real me’ out of the dark because it hurts more when ‘real me’ is rejected or wounded, but oh my… the rewards when ‘real me’ is welcomed by the world with open arms and good deeds and smiles and the kind of human love that boosts my spirit! 

It’s difficult to not bring all of this back around to health and fitness.  When your body is quiet and content, it’s just enormously easier to hear the other things going on.  I remember my sister saying that when she switched her diet to the paleo/primal way of eating, she could hear her own thoughts easier… it was difficult to understand and I’m sure it was difficult for her to explain, but boy, she wasn’t wrong.  When Body is taken care of and not a massive urgent concern to Mind, then Mind gets to focus on other things. Mind gets to have epiphanies and process ideas and information in a pure uninterrupted way that is not feasible when Mind is too busy worrying that Body is a train wreck. 

So I’ll go through the rest of my day… week… month… trying to remember that being authentic is the key and I will be duly rewarded in my life by authentic people and experiences.  And the rest will just fall away like dust in the wind…

Not Making a Choice IS a Choice

I was chatting with a commenter on my last post and one of the things that came up is that not making a choice is a choice.

It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it?

Wouldn’t it be nice if by simply not making a choice… not choosing a path when presented with options, that we could stop time?  That the world wouldn’t keep going around us until we had decided what we wanted and were able to take our step down whatever path we chose.  The unfortunate reality is that because time passes, regardless of what we do… regardless of whether we make an intentional choice or not, there’s always a default path that we just end up down because time doesn’t wait.  The other unfortunate thing is that it’s very rare that the default path is anything other than a negative… Maybe it’s not a clearly negative thing right away but dollars to donuts, letting life just happen around you isn’t going to net super positive results.

Nowhere is that more evident than in finances and health and fitness.  I don’t claim to be an expert on either but I have no sage wisdom to give about finances other than ‘pay your bills’ and ‘don’t ignore things’. 

Health and fitness is just one big choice that we make every day.  And putting off that intentional choice until ‘tomorrow’ or ‘January 1’ or ‘after some big event’ is a choice to let more time and more opportunity slip away. 

 Every day that comes along is an opportunity to just let life happen to you and delude yourself into thinking that not making an intentional choice means that the outcome is ‘out of your hands’.  And every day that comes along is equally an opportunity to take responsibility for yourself, and your life and your wellbeing and make a choice.  Sure, maybe it won’t be the best one, or maybe you’ll have to make many choices in a trial and error type of method in order to get where you want to go.  But that means that you are intentionally living and choosing and growing and trying.  Not just letting the default ‘happen’. 

Again I come back to the motto of this blog.  ‘Time passes anyway.  Do something useful with it’.  Every day that goes by is a blessed and golden opportunity to do something purposeful.  Make a choice.  Make many choices. 

If given the choice, which we always are, I choose to choose.

Delinquency is not really an option here…

Do you know what’s annoying? Making a life choice that stinks.  Oh sure, my life doesn’t stink and the choices that I’ve made probably don’t really stink either. But it’s really annoying when you put restrictions and boundaries in place for yourself and then they come back to cause you trouble.

What the heck am I talking about?  Why food, of course!

In the good old days of not caring what I put into my body, I could spend an entire Sunday laying on the sofa and not give a flying rat butt about the next day’s meal, let alone week.  I could always just run to the store and grab a bag of bagels and a hunk of cheddar cheese and that was dinner.  Breakfast wasn’t even on my radar unless it was a muffin… with chocolate in it!  And lunch could be anything or nothing… I’d eat a brownie for an afternoon snack if I was hungry…

Since I’ve put restrictions on myself that include not eating brownies and chocolate filled muffins (seriously!) and not skipping meals, it’s made my life harder.  What’s that about?  I thought we were supposed to do things in our lives that made them easier… more navigable… work smarter, not harder…

I can no longer spend an entire morning and afternoon lolling around in bed taking naps… I mean, I can, but the chicken is not going to cook itself…the salad dressing will not blend itself and the kale and eggs can’t steam/cook themselves.  And before any of that even happens, I’m required to spend a significant amount of time THINKING about food… what will I eat… How much should I cook.  I’m only one person, so cooking huge batches of anything doesn’t really work well unless I want to eat the same thing for dinner 12 days in a row.  Even cooking a pork roast… the smallest one I can find, means that I’ll be eating pork all week.  Last week I prepped/made pork roast, a chicken curry and meatza crusts for dinner.  Uh, for one person, that is a LOT of food… the crust and the curry all ended up in the freezer. I might have to consider looking up what other singles do because unless I just eat the same thing/two things in a week, which I already do for every breakfast and lunch, it’s kind of hard…

I did spend almost all of yesterday in bed.  I know when my body is tired and I am not out of the woods of this incredibly emotional time right now so I didn’t feel bad about it.  It’s just that it’s kind of stressful knowing that the freedom of eating whatever you want (or nothing) is not there… I have set up my life to force responsibility around certain things and that can’t be let to slide…

I’m very tired and I hope any of this makes any sense… In a nut shell: 

I’m tired.

I can’t eat bagels and cheddar cheese.

Food won’t cook itself.

That is sometimes stressful.

This makes me tired.

The end.

True Beauty and a Pair of Pants

I don’t have time to write this, but it’s necessary, because sometimes people need to know they’re on the right track and that they have people who understand.  So I’m writing this letter to my sister.
 
In my years as an adult, I have gone down the road of obsession with food and exercise… who of us hasn’t.  None of my memories of that time are particularily pleasant… I didn’t ever feel beautiful or sexy… I felt ‘never good enough’.  All.  The.  Time.  And yet before years of unpleasantness, I thought that was happiness.  Being strong enough to say no to any temptation… strong enough to battle at bootcamp or the gym… happy that when people looked at me, they saw ‘fit’.  All I saw was ‘getting there’ and yet that was my version of happiness…
 
When I went to the bad place for about 7 years and knew at the end of that time that I needed to make a change, I found it incredibly difficult… nay impossible to force myself to go back to the old place of obsession.  I’d felt TERRIBLE for years… emotionally and mentally brutalized… both from my ex and from myself for allowing it to happen.  When I was finally free of those chains, I couldn’t get behind putting new chains on myself just to be thin again. I didn’t want to go somewhere I’d already been… I wanted to go somewhere new.  I knew that where I’d been wasn’t going to work for me because in the face of trauma and difficulty, it didn’t back me up.
 
I tried and tried to explain it to you… I couldn’t seem to express it in a way that you understood.  I just wanted to be kind to myself… I wanted to eat good food because it was good for me and do some sort of exercise when I FELT like it because I WANTED to.  I knew all the ways I could make schedules and diets and rules in order to catapult myself to a place I used to live… and I didn’t want to live there… I couldn’t force myself to live there… much as I mentally tried to tell myself I’d be successful if I did.  I didn’t want to be obsessed with food or calories… I didn’t want to abuse myself for an entire day just because I was too tired or cozy to get out of bed at o’dark thirty to go to the gym.  I wanted to show myself love by being loving… and I knew that the changes would come slower because I wasn’t doing ‘everything I could’ or ‘had done’ in the past to get immediate results.
 
I think that we do things repeatedly because it gives us results that we like and we’re willing to put aside the negative impacts because the positive results wildly outweigh them.  I think we do things at certain times of our lives because it serves those times.  But we are dynamic human beings living in a dynamic world and to think that the same solution will fit every changing problem is to be in complete denial of our authentic selves…
 
When I started in February to really make an effort to love myself is when my whole world started to change.  When I ate good whole food because I wanted to, it made my body feel better, which made my mind feel better.  It was never about my size or a pair of pants… it was always about how I could best show love to myself.  And that didn’t include beating myself up about it… it definitely takes practice… as a well-established obsesser, it’s hard to let go of the need to punish yourself for not being ‘perfect’, but attempting to be perfect never works out.
 
The most amazing part of choosing to approach my health and fitness from a place of love, is that I truly do love myself.  I remarked to my friend the other day that altho I am much older now than I was the last time I fit into these pants, I am much more beautiful.  It wasn’t said to sound full of myself or to fish for compliments.  But I look in the mirror and look into my own eyes and see love and beauty.  I appreciate every day that the hell I went through actually polished me and made me shine.  I could have punished myself with the gym and a strict diet and obsession and gotten into these pants, but the beauty that I gained doing it out of love is worth more than the size of my pants. 
 
This is not to say that your years prior of being regimented and strict were misplaced.  They taught you how strong you can be and how hard you can push yourself… so you know that any task or situation in life you can take on.  But now it’s time to teach yourself how loving you can be… and how balanced… because ‘health and fitness’ doesn’t just refer to the health and fitness of your torso and extremities…  it refers to the health and fitness of your heart and soul… and maybe those are the areas that need the dedicated work now.
 
I’m overjoyed to see you making this journey into a new chapter of how you approach your overall health and fitness… of your body and your mind!

35 Things before I’m 35

My 35th birthday is coming up on December 18th.  That’s 71 days from now.  It would have been much better if it was 70 days because then that would have been 35 x 2, but I’m not that anal retentive about stuff like that… (or at least I pretend not to be).

This birthday will perhaps be the first birthday in many years which I approach from a good place in my life.  I am happy, I am healthy and I am calm.  It’s not a fluke that I am approaching my birthday with these feelings, it’s a product of a lot of hard work, both mentally and physically.  It’s a product of having people in my life that are supportive and loving and encouraging.  It’s a product of removing from my life people who are NOT supportive, loving or encouraging.

The last birthday that I remember being happy for was in 2005.  That’s 8 years ago.

To celebrate and to hopefully enhance the feelings of happiness and joy in my life, I’ve made a list of things I’d like to achieve in the next 71 days.  It’s kind of an offshoot of the Journey Plan I do every year, so some things will be the same… and then there are fun new things. I realize that usually people make these types of lists years before milestone-esqe birthdays, but I had other things on my mind in the last few years… So I’m making a modified, achievable version… altho not without some challenges! 

Mail 35 postcards/greeting cards/post it notes to friends and family

Get a ‘makeup makeover’ at MAC

Run 60 miles

Finish reading a book (any book will do!)

Be the subject of a photo shoot

Get a facial

Write another Future Me letter

Get two massages

Write a thank you letter to three people who helped me out of my dark time and into the light

Dial down the potty mouth (that’ll be hard to measure…how DO you measure that?)

Take out the compost weekly

Go on Snowshoeing adventure

Plan the continuation of my tattoo

Take a bubble bath once a week

Make two skirts

Reconnect with an old friend… I’ve got a few candidates in mind

Fill out daily postcards

Join ‘The World Needs More Love Letters’ and then write love letters

Shoot guns

Play in the studio

Knit a pair of mitts

Do one Whole30 (at minimum… keep going for as long as you can)

Get a haircut

Drink at least 30 oz of water at work and 30 oz of water at home.  Per day.

Wear jewellery every day

Get a manicure 

*UPDATED ITEM*  Do the ‘Plank Challenge’ and be able to plank for 8 min by Dec 18th

Okay… this is 26.  I have 9 more spaces, so if you have any suggestions, bring them on!

Not quite as planned

I have a very romantic and beautiful post in my head about finding the rest of me and falling in love… but since I’m at work where someone is actively trying to get me fired today… well, let’s just say I’m not in an entirely romantic mood.

I have three more hours of this crap and then I’m going to go home and run in the rain.  What I really want to do is eat a burger and a cake but I’ve learned that while it seems like a GREAT idea right now, it’s actually the opposite of a great idea so I’ll exercise instead.  Then I’ll do a load of laundry and go and get cash for my hair appointment tomorrow.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll write about finding the rest of me.  Or maybe I’ll write about how I actually did get fired, in which case I’ll have TONS of time to write about whatever I want!