Appreciate the Now

A lesson is repeated until it is learned.  I heard that from my mom about a million or so years ago and it’s always stuck with me.  Especially in times of frustration when I feel like the same things keep happening over and over again and I can’t figure out why, that little eight word sentence pops into my mind and I’m reminded that maybe the same thing is happening over and over again because I don’t ‘get it’ yet.

Back on December 30th, I decided to detox from my Christmas Binge Extravaganza and do a Whole 30.  The purpose of my involvement at that time was to try and detoxify all the chemicals and sugar and inflammatory foods out of my body that I had willingly (and joyfully, no shame!) jammed in there over a month.  At the time I was also running about 2.5miles every second day in an effort to get ready for a big run (5K) that my sister and wanted to do (and did).  I took a before picture as per usual and then took the after picture.  Now, here’s where the lesson returns with a vengeance.  That after picture… I was dressed in my yoga pants and my favorite hot pink tight fitting yoga top.  Looking back on that photo four months (and a considerable amount of stress later), I’m very proud of the girl that stood there. The problem is that that girl didn’t appreciate the results of the hard work and dedication that it took to get her there.  And that’s the lesson.  I’ve seen pictures from when I was much younger and I was told (and believed) that I was an overweight cow and should be on a perpetual diet.  To put that overweight cow in perspective, I was a size 8/10.  For 5’10 that’s a pretty healthy, in shape size.  In the photos from then and from January, all I could see at the time were the flaws.  A roll of belly fat here, an arm that ‘seemed’ too fluffy there… a poor angled photo that implied a double chin or some other ‘ghastly’ flaw.

What do I see when I look at those photos now?  Wasted opportunity.  I see wasted opportunity to be loving and compassionate to myself.  I see wasted opportunity to be proud of myself and confident that I am worthy of wearing shorts and tight fitting tanks.

The reason that this is coming up is because I’m frustrated with the body shape progress I’m making in my current Whole 40.  I’m looking at the pictures from January, where I was much slimmer than I am now (truth be told… it’s not MUCH… it’s some) and wishing I would have appreciated the place I was. I’m looking at those pictures KNOWING that I didn’t see the progress and didn’t see the victories.

I actually believe that my stalled progress (if it’s even stalled… it’s only been 15 days) is BECAUSE of my current obsession with photographing myself and then comparing it to January.  Stress like that can make you hold on to fat and adipose tissue.  It can keep you inflamed and puffy.  I’m sure there’s science behind that to back up the statement but I’m not about to go look it up.  I’ve read it before, I know it’s true.

So my next 15 days (the duration of a standard W30) will be dedicated to appreciating where I am exactly in the moments that I am there.  I really want to work on appreciating that the reason that I have puffed during Puffer Fish Week is because I am a health and presumably fertile woman. I want to appreciate that the size of my quads makes easier work of propelling myself home on foot 3 days a week.  (dudes, at the end of today, I’ll have logged 60KM in 15 days!)  I want to appreciate that my favorite hot pink tanktop fits, looks good and makes me feel powerful as I motor down the street.  It’s really hard in this day and age of exceptionally high beauty standards for women (even for those of us that know that health is first and foremost) to appreciate your current place. I always say that if someone is working toward making themselves healthier, then I will give them all the kudos in the world because they deserve it.  So why then, would I not give myself that same appreciation.

I don’t know what this next 15 days looks like in terms of actual measurable success, because it’s pretty hard to measure appreciation.  I do think that it’s reasonable to not take another body selfie to compare to January until at least the 30th day.  Right now I’m comparing a 30 day accomplishment to a 15 day accomplishment… how insane is that!!!

If anyone else out there is doing a Whole30, rock on with your bad self!  You’re (we are) doing something that presumably 99.9% of the regular everyday people around you (us) wouldn’t attempt.  That’s huge!

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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.

A Lesson I didn’t know I had to learn

You are not supposed to weigh yourself on Whole30.  It’s right there in the rules and if anyone knows me, they know I like rules… especially as it pertains to food.  The idea is that if you don’t weigh yourself during the 30 days, you’re more likely to be aware and appreciative of the other things that are improving from the experience.  Well, I generally live my life to the W30 code.. I know all the amazing results that are beyond weight… it’s why I keep to it for the most part even when I’m not officially on Whole30.

My skin is better, my sleep is better, my mood and tolerance is better.  My tummy is happy, I’m more energetic, more alert, less likely to cry.  I don’t think about food obsessively, I have no problem turning down treats because I am not sugar/simple carb addicted.  I’m less puffy and waxy looking which is something that I loathe…

One new thing I learned about the W30 and myself so far this time is that when I’m on it, I crave being outside.  There must be something about all the fresh food that makes me crave the fresh air.  I want to walk for miles, climb a mountain, run around the block all at the same time just to get outside and breathe as much fresh air as possible.

These are all things that a number on a scale can’t give you.

So all that said, it’s a very good idea to weigh yourself at the beginning of your W30 journey and then at the end and no where in between.  You need to learn these things and being obsessed by a number isn’t a good learning environment.

I was going to say that I broke that rule because as a person who generally lives on the Whole30, I didn’t need 30 days of no weighing to understand all the other benefits… only if I found this new ‘fresh air’ benefit in the last 9 days… what could I find in the next 21 days that might also be eye opening or interesting or worth learning… Such a silly goose am I that I actually thought that there was nothing left for me to learn.

Well, I have broken the rule.  I was going to tell you about the numbers in the last 9 days and pat myself on the back, but I think instead, I’ll just keep that little tidbit to myself and use it as a learning experience.  I learned that when you do the right things… what your body wants… you are successful.  And for the next 21 days I will remove the batteries from the scale and try and learn whatever else this program has to teach me this time.  I’m not going to start my W30 over just because I weighed myself… My intention was to extend it anyway so it’s likely I’ll make up those 9 days…

So I guess the lesson I learned is one I didn’t know I was supposed to learn… which is that there is always something new to discover and we (I) should never be so arrogant as to think that I know it all.

That’s not the way I thought this blog post was going to go but the writing of it has been eye opening and cathartic.  Win win I guess right?

Just let go

Last week we went to the lake in Squamish.  It was amazing… I swam and sunned and ate and laughed… really an amazing time.  And yet the one thing that has stuck out more than any of that is a moment that didn’t even happen.  There was a rope swing on the shore… way high up in the trees and I believe I declared as we were discussing the swing that there was no way on this earth I would ever partake in that activity.  No.  Nope.  Nu uh! 

I did picture myself doing it tho… I pictured climbing up to the top, grabbing on to the rope swing and in some feat of heroism, actually jumping off the platform and swinging out over the water.  And then swinging back, too frozen by fear to let go and smashing back into the platform… Once you jump, you just HAVE to let go of the rope… you have no choice… because not letting go of that rope means certain and epic injury. 

If you were holding a million dollars in your hands and someone said if you gave it up and trusted that they’d replace it with two million, would you do it?  What if you trusted the person with your life?  Would you give up the million and your control to momentarily have nothing before they provided for you and came through on their promise? 

I used to wonder what it sounded like when God spoke to you… is it a voice?  A feeling?  How do you know?  Maybe for everyone it’s different… I assume so.  I’ve realized that for me, it’s the sound of my own voice… but wise and impactful. It’s in my own head, saying the things I need to hear… I argue with it… It makes me cry… because that voice… that sounds like me but smarter and wiser and divinely blessed… that’s God.  And He’s telling me to let go…Let go of that which I know is holding me back from something better.  I need to let go of something… of someone.  

This voice in my head… this divine message from God… 

Just let go.  I promise I’ll give you something better to hold on to.

You can’t have what I want to give you while your hands are full.

Just let go… I promise it won’t hurt…

Just.  Let.  Go. 

I’m standing on the platform… arguing… saying I can’t.  Knowing I have to… It’s so obvious that what I’m holding on to is not right… not meant for me… not the plan… It’s so obvious… and yet, I’m standing on the platform, refusing to make the jump because the second you jump… the second you trust that the rope will hold you, you HAVE to let go… 

I’m moved to tears grateful that my God is patient.  Oh boy, am I ever.  I know that this is important… to let go of what I’m holding on to and trust that something better is in store for me.  My fear, keeping me on the platform… keeping me from letting go is that that better thing is still a ways off… and I’m so weary of being alone.  To be honest, I’m mostly alone now… Just to mix analogies… instead of being covered by a big thick and fluffy blanket to keep me warm… I’m holding on to a threadbare tatter of a blanket that is doing nothing for me but getting in the way of the big thick fluffy one.  I’m still as cold as if I had nothing… 

As I’m writing this… I can hear the Voice of God… in my own head… in my own voice… Stand up there for as long as you need to… hold on to that threadbare tatter for as long as you need to.  I’m patient… but you’ll eventually have to let go… you know you do.  And when you do, I promise there’s something better for you. 

I’m not a trusting person… I’ve known this about myself for a long time now… I used to be… I’d put my trust in anyone that even hinted around at it… but I’ve been burned here in this mortal world and it’s hampered my ability to trust at all… 

As I sit here… with tears in my eyes and the most giant lump of what can only be grief in my chest, these are the words repeating in my head… 

Just let go.  I promise I won’t let you fall. 

I’m going to have to find a way to trust that.  Soon.

How do you push back the fear, let go of your own control and trust?

Tagline

The daily prompt from about a week ago on Daily Post was to discuss the tag line that we would assign for our lives… kind of like you would assign for your blog.

Well, I guess I didn’t do a good job of separating my life from my blog because the tagline from my blog header is actually the tagline for my life.

The time passes anyway…  do something useful with it.

Time doesn’t hold on for us to get our shit together, make decisions or plans.  Hours and minutes go by at the same rate regardless of whether we’re ready for them to pass or not. It’s a cruel game when you think about it. A week could go by… not much in the grand scheme of things… a week to make a decision… a week to make a plan… but you’ve got to be careful because one week turns into two and two turns into twenty and before you know it, half a year has gone by and you could be no closer to your goal, your new path or your future.

This passage of time is no more obvious than when you want to change your body.  One day in December you decide to ‘start tomorrow’ to get your beach body for the following summer.  The holidays happen, you indulge… always tomorrow you’ll start.  January 1st rolls around and you say that your first day back at work will be the day.  Tomorrow never really comes, even tho it comes exactly every day. And before you know it, you’re in the same body as you were in December (or worse), only it’s beach time.  Beach time came and your beach body didn’t… And the worst worst worst part about the passage of time in which time changes but you don’t is regret.  Where could I have been today if I’d started six months ago like I planned?  Why did I let every day slide by only to end up halfway through another year and no where near where I want to be.

The time passes anyway.  And it can hand you an aching regret if you’re not careful.  I wasted a LOT of years letting time pass around me… by me… with no input from me as to where I wanted to go.  I let five Christmases pass where I didn’t see my family because the choice to not see them was easier and less painful than the alternative of trying to stand up for myself.  (Imagine that!  My situation was so acute that the pain of not seeing my family at Christmas was LESS than the pain of standing up for myself.  THAT is hard to live with). The time passed.  Every moment of that time is a moment that I want and can’t have back.

Do something useful with it.  Useful is the word I used.  I could have chosen myriad words to put in the place of useful.  I could have said productive, loving, effective…  Or I could have said the following simple statement. Do Something.  We all know that not making a decision is making a decision (we all know that… right?!?).  Well not doing something is doing something.  Not making a plan, not making a change and not making an effort are all doing exactly the opposite of what you think you want to do.  I say ‘think’ because the reality is that if we wanted change bad enough… if we were ready for change enough, we’d make the change. Making wholesale change in your life is not the same in reality as it is depicted in the movies.  I have a burning memory of watching some Ashley Judd movie where she’s in jail and she decides to put her ‘time’ to good use and turns herself into an athlete.  Of course the 35 seconds of a film compilation is ‘exactly’ the same as real life right?  No where does it mention that it takes her two years and some, if not all of the time, it hurts.   Real, wholesale change of your life is a dripping faucet… not a firehose.  It’s a tiny bit every day that is moving in the direction you want to go in.  It’s a dollar in a jar every day.  It’s no snacks in the evening every day.  It’s a kind word said to yourself in the mirror every day.  And as time passes and you spend a moment every day when that six months finally passes, you’ll see just how far you’ve come.  But because change is so very slow and methodical and each day builds on the next, you really must waste no more days as time passes…

I want to say that I found the last thing on Instagram or some other ‘inspirational’ poster site, but really, I just made it up, so if it sounds stupid, that’s why. This is what I ask myself every day.

If I won’t do it today, why would I do it tomorrow?

Ask yourself that.  And then get out there and do something.  Because time is passing.

All By Myself

Years ago I joined up with a Military Boot camp style fitness program.  It was one of the best 18 months of my life.  I worked out 3-5 days a week at 530am-7am with people who would become some of my best friends.  It was incredibly motivating to know that I was going to go down to the picturesque Jericho beach to hang out with a group of friends.  The work was hard and sometimes intimidating but I gave it my best and I got into some of the best conditioned shape of my life to that point.  I had people who counted on me and who I counted on.  It was a surreal time in my life to say the least.  When the owners of the program pulled out of Vancouver to focus their time and energy on working in their hometowns of Edmonton and Calgary, the dynamic changed with the new head trainer and then when the dynamic changed too much, it was all folded up and closed down.  I tried a couple other boot camp style programs and I tried to get along with the head trainer that had set up his own shop but the magic had gone.  Around this same time my personal life started its long slide into hellish oblivion… not good timing.

What I realized just recently is that even though I was motivated and consistently worked out… even though I was the one that had to get out of bed every morning and go do the work… I never learned how to rely only on myself.  Many times I went because I wanted to see my friends… because I knew they would miss me if I wasn’t there and because they were counting on me.  I didn’t go because I had any sort of mental strength or fortitude.  I didn’t go because I wanted to get stronger.  I essentially had a crutch to lean on to keep me motivated and when that crutch was gone, I was in trouble.

I came to this realization two days ago when the head trainer contacted me on twitter and invited me back to his program with the ‘enticing’ note that my friends were waiting for me and that they missed me.  Besides the fact that we do NOT get along, I know things about him I can’t get over and it’s not convenient or in my budget, I realized that this journey I’m on… I have to take it alone.  I have to know myself and know my own motivations and know my own strengths and weaknesses.  Leaning on a group of friends again would be great…it would be easy but it wouldn’t help me grow as a person and it wouldn’t teach me what I need to know about myself.

When I run after work or on the weekends, or go to my weightlifting coach, I do so under my own power.  No one but me knows when I do or don’t run… my friends would never know if I said I was running or working out and then didn’t.  And that’s the way I want it.  I want to be accountable to myself and only myself.  I need to nurture the strength I’m developing to be able to stand on my own in the face of everything that life chucks at me and be firm and grounded in what I value.  And one of the things that I’m coming to value most out of anything is my own personal strength.  I can hear my thoughts, I can be still and quiet with my contemplations and processing of information and stimuli.  And I can love myself enough to do something for me that is only for me.  I eat the way I want and work out the way I want because in the end the only accountability I have is to the voice in my head and in my heart.  And the last thing I need right now… in the fledgling state of learning to hold myself up… is an easy way out.