Archive for January, 2009

I found an interesting line in a Stephen King novel (Bag of Bones, I do believe, [and incidentally I’m a bit excited that they’re making a movie based on it] though I’ve read about four of his lately and I can’t swear to that) that I had to share because it’s funny, but could potentially be inspirational if you chose to make it so.  His character remarks to himself that he’s heard the statement that FEAR stands for “Face Everything And Recover” (I think this comes from AA but I can’t swear that’s original provenance) but that he actually thinks in this instance it may stand for “F**k Everything And Run”.  (Also from AA but again, may not be original provenance.)

(Note:  For the record, the first version does appear on the FreeDictionary list of acronyms.  The second, however, does not…it appears in what is labeled a “polite form” of “Forget Everything And Run”.  Hmph.  I like Mr. King’s version better.  It’s funnier.  I also like “Failure Expected And Received” because that is exactly what fear is.  Self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.  End parenthetical ramble, back to topic at hand.)

It’s a giggle, I gotta admit.  But if you want to be the Sage instead of the Cynic, you could stick with the first acronym, because that’s really sort of cool.  Face Everything And Recover.  I like it, because I think that as humans with busy daily lives and lots on our minds, we tend to do a lot of sweeping of things under the proverbial rug.  We don’t have the time or energy to deal with all our hangups and idiosyncracies and mental rubbish; we’ve got jobs to do, dinner to cook, kids to bathe and bills to pay.  Oh, and workouts to do…and on and on, ad nauseum.  But that mental rubbish doesn’t go away; it just lies there, under the rug, that lump getting bigger and bigger, and here’s the part that sucks:  it’s not just dust-bunnies.  There’s garbage in there, not just trash – and after a while, it really starts to smell.  It’ll stink up your whole life if you let it.

Pulling back the rug and dealing with the crap underneath is pretty nasty, because once you pull that back, the smell is even worse.  But it’s only worse for a little while, because once you deal with it, the smell is gone.  And it’s never going to be gone if you leave it under the rug.  You have to go through the Face Everything part before you get to the And Recover part.  If you try to do it backward, all you get is RAEF, and that doesn’t mean a damned thing.

So I just thought that was sort of interesting.  As I keep telling people who are facing things and looking to me (and other people) for answers – it’s like lancing a boil.  (Sorry for the visual.)  It hurts, it’s nasty, it’s messy and gross, but until you do it you’re never going to get rid of that boil.  You have to face the nasty crap, clean it out (gritting your teeth against the pain, sometimes) and then you get the blessed relief that comes afterward.  (And then, once you’ve lanced it, STOP PICKING AT IT!)

Facing our issues sucks.  It’s hard and it sucks.  But there’s not much in life that feels better than having them faced, dealt with, and cleaned away.  Maybe they never really go away completely – there’s always going to be dust under the rug, and probably you’re going to get a whiff of the bad smell sometimes, when it’s really hot and the wind’s coming from the wrong direction – but at least you’re not being driven out of your home by the all-pervading, choking stench of un-addressed problems.

Lately, I have the feeling that maybe I’ve got some rug-cleaning to do.  I’ve cleaned out a lot of crap over the years, and I wouldn’t think there’d be much of anything other than a dust-bunny or two, but there’s a faint aroma of spoilage rising from that general area.  So I am going to have to lift the corner at some point and see what’s waiting for me. (And the really funny part of that?  I know what’s under there.  Sure I do.  I put it there, after all, and I can smell it.  I know very well what it is.  I’m just not sure what to do about it.)

The problem is, right now, I’m way, WAY more into “F**k Everything And Run”.  Which is very self-defeating, because the thing that sucks is that the rug goes with you, no matter how fast you run.  And that sounds bleak but honestly, it isn’t, because I have this mental image of me running and running, panting and sweating and panicky, and this enormous room-size rug rolled up, attached to one leg by a chain, bumping along behind me, and that’s sort of a giggle too, if you let it be.

I need to stop running and just clean underneath the stupid rug.   I need to stop worrying so much about preserving the status quo and just deal with what’s bothering me.  I need to stop whining and start dealing.

I need to go have my morning snack, and get some work done.


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Just Keep Swimming…

Okay, you’re all my witnesses.  I am, at this very moment, consuming my “morning snack” – the second of my five to six small meals of the day.  I am drinking a V-8 (low sodium, and I know whole veggies would be better but I’m currently mixing up my routine and I just can’t face raw veggies at 9:30 in the morning, sorry), eating almonds (that one’s never a struggle at any time of day, I love my almonds) and a clementine.  (That’s my nod to the Zone – I eat a small amount of fruit with every one of my mini-meals now, and I have to say it actually seems to keep me more level and less hungry.  And that could be psychosomatic, but I don’t even care as long as it works.)

What I am not doing is walking across the street to the drugstore and buying one of everything carb-and-sugar-laden or drenched in salt and fried in massive quantities of oil of unknown provenance.  I am not drinking a Diet Coke.  I am not looking up the number for the pizza place a few blocks away that I love so much, to order a pizza for lunch.  I am sticking with, and will continue to stick with, a healthy meal plan for the day.

But I’m forcing it, and that bothers me.  Sure, there are tons of times I have to force it – that’s part of building a new lifestyle, and if you aren’t prepared to force it, you might as well give up and go back to old habits, because no matter how many people you ask for an “easier way”, the sad fact is there isn’t one, and no one can give you what doesn’t exist.  So forcing it is not, in itself, disturbing to me.  What is disturbing to me is that I don’t understand why I’m having to force it.

There are a few reasons why I will sometimes have to force it.  Cravings are a big one – one of the biggest.   Just a desperate longing for some particular food that I love.  Another reason is boredom – just flat being sick of the healthy stuff I eat.  (I am an extremely picky eater, so there’s not a hugely wide range of healthy stuff I will eat.  I have built in as much variety as I can, and the range widens every day as I acclimate myself to new foods, but the fact is sometimes I just get tired of it all and want something different, meaning fried and salty.)  And laziness is a big problem as well – not wanting to “fool with” the whole process of putting together healthy meals, but rather just grab something packaged/processed/cooked by someone else and sit with my feet up, noshing away while I’m absorbed in my latest novel.  (Reading or writing, either one is fine.)  Those are the three worst.

Then there’s extreme stress – comfort eating.  That’s not as compelling, but it’s on the list.  Or depression – same coin, different side.  Cockiness, arrogance – I’ve lost weight, I can afford that doughnut or bag of chips.  Joining in a celebration – somebody’s birthday, gotta have a piece of cake, or a Christmas party, I’m going to join in and enjoy the goodies.

The thing is, none of those really apply here, except maybe boredom.  I haven’t really been going strong long enough to be bored with it though.    I’m not overly stressed, or at least I don’t have any real reason to be.  I’m not depressed, though I’m starting to get that way because I don’t get why I’m struggling and I hate not understanding things.  I’m definitely not craving – one of the only things keeping me from falling off the wagon is that even the bad stuff doesn’t sound all that appealing.

I just have this overwhelming sense of futility about everything right now, and I know that sounds like a hallmark of depression, though it doesn’t really feel that way.  Everything just seems so pointless and pretentious – it’s like I step outside myself and look at me, at everyone around me, at the whole stupid melodramatic messed-up world, and think, “You’re kidding me, right?  What an enormous load of BS.”  Everything seems false and fake and silly…I guess my inner cynic is in rampant ascendancy.

The thing is, I recognize the essentially false and self-defeating nature of this process.  There’s a piece of me that is outside the part that is outside…and while the Cynic thinks she’s seeing the truth, shorn of its glitter and paste and glamorous trappings, this other piece – let’s call her the Sage, shall we? – is watching the Cynic and shaking her head.  Because the Cynic is still looking at life through a veil – it’s just a veil of disillusion, rather than illusion.  And neither is valid.

I think the Sage has a greater and deeper understanding of the truth; the problem is, the Sage doesn’t talk much.  She sort of sits back and waits for the conscious me – I don’t know, we’ll just call her the Fool, let’s go all Tarot here, why not? – to figure this stuff out.  She espouses the “trickle-down” theory of consciousness-raising.  So she’s sending me messages, but they’re soft and subtle, and sometimes the Cynic’s harsh observations drown them out.

And then there’s the Romantic, the part of me that watches Barack and Michelle Obama dancing at the inaugural ball and cries because it’s just so beautiful and there’s such a sense of love there.  The part that can watch movies where love saves the day and achieve willing and total suspension of disbelief.  This is also the part that reads books like Twilight, saves every picture my children have ever made for me, and wakes up in the middle of the night after a particularly disturbing nightmare and immediately reaches out to find my husband, because if I can just feel his skin on my fingertips, I’ll be okay.  The Romantic has been sort of quiet lately, and I think she needs some air time.

The Romantic also regularly gets the ever-loving shite beaten out of her by the Cynic, who thinks she’s a putz, but that’s okay.  The Romantic is resilient.  And she empathizes with the Cynic, who undoubtedly just had a rough childhood.

(For the record?  I had a pretty sweet childhood.  But hey, there’s no reasoning with the Romantic.)

Someday, I hope to achieve real mental health – you know, where I’m just a person, instead of a diverse and complicated concatenation of mutually exclusive component parts.  But for now, I’m going to just try to make sure none of those constituent elements achieve total ascendancy.  Keeping them in balance is the tightrope-walk I like to call life.  Cause the Cynic’s just a bitch, the Romantic really is a bit of a wide-eyed putz sometimes, and the Sage…the Sage, for all her insight,  is waaaayyy out of touch with the necessities of everyday life and can’t manage to remember to turn off the curling iron.  So the best scenario is one in which they are all in perfect balance, but right now I’ll settle for no overwhelming imbalance.

There are other elements bopping around in my minefield of a psyche too, but I’ll spare you the introduction to those today, except to say that I really, really need an appearance by the Drill Sergeant.  (My inner Jillian.)

Thanks for touring the Glorious Schizophrenia that is Me.  Next time, we’ll discuss my fascinating collection of neuroses, each one neatly pinned and labeled for your viewing enjoyment.  Until then, have a wonderful day.  🙂

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It’s finally Friday, and I will say I am very glad.  It hasn’t been a particularly bad week, but for some reason I feel that I’ve fought for every step I’ve taken.  I think that honestly, it’s just the fact that I’m finally settling back into a “normal” routine, and that’s always hard for a little while.

Last night’s workout was such a surprise for me.  It was another one of those nights where I had such a mental block against doing it.  I didn’t feel particularly tired (no more than usual), and I certainly wasn’t sore, coming off a rest night, but I just didn’t want to do it.   When I feel that way, I am always reminded of the “old days” (which I guess means before I started working out regularly) when every jumping jack was a struggle because it felt like my a$$ weighed a ton.  (Um, it did, actually.)  So that’s what I always expect, when I’m back to working out after a hiatus and having trouble feeling motivated or energized.  And generally, I get what I expect to get.

Not lately, though.  Both Monday night and last night, I forced myself into a workout I didn’t want to do – and breezed through it.  Last night, I had increased my weights, because of the ease of the prior time – and it was still easy.  Yes, easy.  Sure, I broke a sweat, but it wasn’t a cascade.  Yes, I felt the pull in my muscles – but I completed each circuit with ease, without feeling any real strain, and my muscles weren’t shaky and weak when I was done.  I managed the full minute for my cardio intervals without much effort.  And when the workout was finished, I had energy to spare.

I know what this means, and it fills me with dread.  It means two things, actually.  First, muscle memory is an amazing thing, and I haven’t regressed as far as I’d feared.  That’s a good thing.  But secondly…I should move up to Level 2.  Two weeks sooner than I’d planned.  And that sucks.

I’d love to keep sailing through these circuits, finished up feeling nicely warmed up but not really worked.  I’d love to toss those weights around without thinking twice and feel all lean and mean and butch.  But I know that if I do that, I’m so cheating myself and wasting my time.  If I’m not challenging myself, I’m not working at my full potential.  And I’m not going to see any change, or any improvement.

I have seen improvement, in the week I’ve been back on the circuits.  The ease of the workout is an obvious one – it sure wasn’t that easy at the beginning of last week! – but it’s not the only one.  I haven’t lost much – barely anything, really – but there’s a little more breathing room in my clothes.  [Which is good – they were getting tight.]  I’m more energetic.  I’m sleeping so much better.  My body feels cohesive and tighter and more coordinated.  I’m not significantly sore after my workouts.  Also, I am more aware of every fiber of my body during my yoga sessions, which is a really good indicator of progress.

That’s one of the things I adore so much about strength training – you see results so quickly.  At least, you do if you’re aware of the different kinds of results you can see, and don’t limit your idea of “results” to a number on a scale.  That’s the downside – it doesn’t pay off in actual dropping numbers as quickly as a more cardio-intense program, at least for me.  I’m okay with that, though.  The numbers will drop, eventually, and meanwhile the body is benefiting in ways that straight cardio just can’t make happen.

So anyway.  I probably won’t move up to Level 2 yet, but I will increase my weights further.  I will do longer cardio intervals.  And if need be, I’ll do extra reps.  And I’ll keep doing my XC cardio after, if I’m able, because it’s definitely not going to hurt.  One thing cardio does do for me is increase my stamina and lung capacity, and that’s always a good thing, especially in winter when the cold air is so hard on my lungs.  And it is freakin’ cold.

In other news, there is a mouse in my office.  I know this because he was camped out in the desk drawer where I keep my hand lotion, my rubber stamps, my odds and ends like Tylenol and (until today) a small roll of emergency Rolaids.  I bought them one day when the drugstore was out of Zantac, and never opened them.  Mickey Jr., however, did, and evidently he liked them.  Or perhaps he simply overindulged at Mouse-Fest 2009 last night, and needed a little something.

Regardless, Mickey Jr. and I are now officially at war.  He emerged, at speed, from the drawer when my friend opened it.  (I refused; one glimpse of Mickey Jr.’s pointy little nose was more than enough for me, thank you.)  He scuttled off, we knew not where, but evidently it was through a hole and into the walls, where he remains.  And now, evidently he has decided that since he’s been discovered, he might as well not try to hide, because he’s scratching.  Incessantly.

The building management laughed at us when we called and said they didn’t have any traps.  Guess what?  They’re going to find some.  Ordinarily I don’t really like traps or poison either one.  I’d prefer some more humane solution.  But this little b@$tard is mocking me, and that I will not tolerate.  There will be tears before bedtime for Mickey Jr. and his friends (who I am quite sure are there, somewhere).  No mouse makes me jump on a chair and survives to snicker about it to his rodent buddies.

[Yes.  I jumped on a chair.  And I screamed “EEP!”  No, I am not proud of it.  I am not the jumping-on-a-chair-and-screaming-EEP type.  Normally.  But I wasn’t expecting a mouse to pop his head out of my desk drawer, and I was startled, okay?]

In other exciting news…there is no other exciting news.  That’s pretty much it.  Except that I am very moved and thankful about this.  There are so many bizarre things that can go wrong in life, and so often there is no chance to salvage the situation, or no one handy with the right skills and a quick mind.  It is a wonder to see a situation that turned out well.  I’m giving thanks, because while it wasn’t me or a loved one on that plane, it easily could have been.  Or in a house underneath it, or on a street underneath it, or a ferry boat near it in the river…so many possible tragedies, and all averted.  What are the odds?

So today, I think I’ll hug all my loved ones, reflect on the essential fragility of life, and give thanks for all the disasters we narrowly avoid, every day.

Have a great weekend!

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(Yes, it’s a song title.  Quick, who’s it by?  I’ll give you a hint:  one of my favorite female artists of all time, a queen of the 70s and 80s who just keeps hanging in there, and someone whose voice seems to defy the ravages of age.  Also, think long blond hair and floaty sleeves.)

Thursdays are fast becoming one of my least favorite days.  When I’m doing the circuits from Jillian’s website, as I am now, my scheduled rest days are Wednesday and Sunday.  And trust me, with these workouts, you need two rest days a week.  Okay, I do anyway.  Maybe you are different.  🙂

Sunday is always a very welcome rest.  I am always worn out by then, and really need the rest.  But Wednesdays are often very different.  I do cardio on Tuesday nights (one night a week is straight cardio, no strength) and that just doesn’t leave me feeling as though I’ve worked as hard as the strength exercises do.  And even though I get to bed later on Tuesdays and consequently probably do need the next night to rest, I just don’t feel like I do.  And I don’t feel like I can “afford” to take it off.  I get this panicky feeling, like I am wasting time and need to hurry up and get my butt moving.

The thing is, I did these circuits for a very long time, last year and the year before, and I learned the hard way that I do need these nights off.  It’s very easy for me to overstress my body – look for an upcoming post on adrenal fatigue, BTW – and when I am overtrained, I don’t lose an ounce.  In fact, frequently I gain.  I’m also crabby, unhappy, and difficult to be around, even for myself.  And it’s certainly not a step toward a healthy life.  So I know that I have to take nights off.  It’s just hard sometimes.  And last night was one of those times.  Instead of having a nice, relaxing evening where I can do other things or just chill, I end up wandering aimlessly around the house, feeling vaguely guilty and ashamed and anxious, and wasting what should be very nice and productive time.  (And craving mac and cheese, but that’s a separate issue.  And I did establish that if I can distract myself and wait it out, cravings really will subside.  This is the first time that’s worked so well for me – I completely forgot about the whole thing – and I am pleasantly surprised and a little excited by that.)

But I took the rest night.  And I used some of the time (not as much as I should have) to write, which is good.  This is one of my “life” goals for the Destination Me Challenge – to schedule and spend a set minimum of time each day writing.  Really writing, not “just” blogging or commenting (though those are also things I’m aiming to be more regular at), but honest-to-God creating-something-from-nothing, fictional writing.  The kind I adore, the kind that makes me feel alive and awake in a way nothing else does, the kind that just nourishes my entire spirit.

So I did that.  It sucked massively; even as I was putting the words down, I was cringing at how bad they were, but I did it.  I know that my mind was just not in the right place and my focus was off, so the quality was bound to be poor.  But right now, like everything else in my life, it’s about habit-building.  It’s almost a NaNoWriMo thing – get the damned words down, as many as you can, as consistently as you can, and worry about the quality later.  I’m the Queen of Revision anyway; might as well give that part of my personality something to do later.

So while I don’t feel that last night was a “stellar” night mentally, I did stick with all my goals.  Food was good – though I did have to exile myself from the kitchen to curb the temptation to eat until I lost consciousness, for some reason – exercise was what it was supposed to be (though not what I felt like it should be) and I stuck with my life goals from my roadmap.  I even meditated.  I should be feeling great about it all.  I am going to remind myself of that and take a moment to be very thankful for that, when I’m done here.

In four days, I will start on the next set of goals from my roadmap.  They are as follows:

Food:  Maintain calorie range between 1300 – 1500 calories (already doing this one, though I gravitate to the high end, which is where I feel my best); daily Omega-3 supplements as recommended (already doing this, but I’ll be more religious about it); No sugar or white flour at all (very close to this one, but next week it’ll go hardcore, and hopefully that will positively impact the heart palpitations)

Fitness:    Circuits, cardio, rest days per JM website (already doing this one too, so I’ll just work to solidify the habit and feel better mentally about sticking with it, even the rest days)

Life:  Daily meditation, leave work by 5 daily, blog daily, write at least 15 minutes every day (already doing most of these, but again I’ll work to solidify the habits)

I can’t seem to decide if I should make yoga a fitness step or a life step.  It’s sort of both.  It was supposed to be milestone #3, which means not for two more weeks, but I’ve been doing it daily already.  There’s just nothing else that makes such a difference both physically and mentally, in such a short time period every day.  I’m planning a post on yoga, too, in the near future.

So those are the steps I’ll be working on starting next Tuesday.  I’m going to add a page with my full roadmap at some point; that’ll have all the steps and when I should be implementing them.

One of the steps that isn’t on the roadmap, though, is a very important one, and I’ll be working on it the whole time:  wear down your internal mental resistance to the fact that this is the way you will live forever.  You don’t get to quit when the weight is off or you stop having heart problems or whatever.  This is it; this is real; this is your life.  I still have that place in my
head that just groans and whines and throws up its figurative hands every time I think, “this is forever” because deep down, I still want so badly to be lazy and self-indulgent.  I know I can’t, and I’m forcing myself to change (still!) but I think the lesson will truly be learned when that part of me has changed.  I’d like to think that will actually happen, and I won’t be forcing this forever.  I know that I can do that, if I have to.  I don’t want to, but I know that I can.  But I’d really like to believe that the day will come when I will truly love all of the things I have to do to take care of myself.

But that’s okay.  I look at people like Jillian Michaels, like some of the people on the boards at Jillian’s website, and especially like our beloved MizFit, and they give me hope.  They don’t just live it, they live it with passion and conviction and determination and joy.  Some day, I swear, that’s going to be me.

I even have a road map to get me there.  🙂

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The Wisdom of Yoda

Okay, so I got the Biggest Loser out of my system. Now on to the meat of the day…

I’m up 0.2 pounds today. I’m finding it interesting to watch the patterns of ups and downs from day to day, and even more interesting that I’m getting better at not being emotionally invested in them. I’m actually getting cautiously excited about this, because I’ve been striving for a long time to make it about daily behaviors rather than results…and I’m feeling some indications that maybe that’s happening. I’m very wary of saying it has, but as I said, I’m cautiously excited.

Eating yesterday was excellent; darn near perfect.  I did an hour on the treadmill last night during the show, and then some crunches afterward – I lost count, but that’s okay. I just wanted to show willing, really, because last night was supposed to be straight cardio. I had a hard time getting going – I was half an hour in before I hit the “sweet spot” – the part where it stops being grueling and starts feeling decent. But I did get there. And at the end, while I was watching Daniel (the heaviest player in Biggest Loser history) keep telling Jillian to increase the speed on his treadmill, I did run for 30 seconds at 7 mph. Just to see if I could, because he did. I did. It was fast. But it wasn’t hard [in terms of exertion. Just in terms of getting my stiffass hips to actually move that fast]. I felt sort of good about that.

One of the things that keeps coming to mind today is the word Joelle kept using last night on the show – shame.  And its companion word, fear.

Fear is a powerful thing.  It can cripple you, or it can drive you to achieve greater things out of a need to conquer it.  For me, it’s done both, but as I get older, there seems to be more crippling and less drive, and that distresses me.

First let me say, I have panic disorder.  I say this not as an excuse but so that it will be clear that I fear a lot of things.  Just about everything, really.  Though I’m largely in control of the disorder, anxiety and its ugly big sister, fear, are pretty much my constant companions.  I have learned to cope with them quite well nearly all of the time, and I have for the most part learned to keep them from controlling me – but I do still let them limit me.  I recognize that.  I have never gone back to school because of the fear of the changes it would require, of not being able to handle it, of looking stupid, of never finding out what I really want to do…you name it.  I have never published a novel because fear has kept me from getting it out there and making it happen.  I am in the same profession I was in 16 years ago, which is not and never will be my dream-job, because I am afraid of taking chances and making changes.  So in addition to all the normal, daily fears (something bad happening to my children or my husband, having an accident, the house burning down, losing a loved one, experiencing financial problems, you name it) there are some big ones that involve my own life path and that have kept me from ever getting outside of my comfort zone.

In the end, I seem to generally tie them into a package labeled “fear of failure”.  And I find that interesting (when I can be objective about it), because I have one very tightly-held and much-cherished belief about failure – and that is that the only true failure is a failure to try.  If you go after what you want with all your heart and everything in you – if you devote yourself, you work, you strive, and you give it all you’ve got – then you cannot possibly fail, no matter what the outcome is.  Because you did it.  You went after it.  You gave it all you had, and no one can ever possibly do better than that.  You are a success by virtue of having striven with all you had, not through having attained.  Like Daniel on the show last night, you succeeded not because you finished first, but because you finished.  And I truly believe this with all my heart.

So if that’s the case, then how can I possibly have allowed a fear of failure to have kept me from so many things I want?  Is it possible that it isn’t really failure I fear, but success?  Because success would change my life, enormously, and while I profess to want that…do I really?  All of the things I want…do I really want them, or do I just enjoy dreaming about them?

Here’s the truth.  I like my routines.  I do.  I love knowing what to expect.  And I love being able to control what happens next.  And while I think I would like all of the things I mentioned above, the truth is that they are an unknown quantity, and would involve things I could not control.  Going back to school and starting a new career – who knows where that would end up?  Publishing a novel – I know a lot of the changes that would entail, and while I think I would welcome them, I can’t be sure.  You never know until you’re actually there, and then it’s too late.  Even just changing jobs – again, there are things I think I would like, but what if I were wrong?  So maybe it’s not fear of failure that holds me back so much as fear of the unknown.

But either way, it’s fear.  And the truth is that fear, unchecked and uncontrolled and succumbed-to, leads to failure, in the form of a failure to try.  And failure in that form leads, inevitably, to shame.

Yoda had it right.  Fear leads to anger, and anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering.  Same concept, different words.  What is shame, if not suffering and self-hate?

This is another lesson I keep getting.  I’m not as far along with this one as I am with some of the others.  And that sucks, because I really don’t like fear.  I’m tired of being afraid.  But at least I know it’s a lesson, and I can keep working on it.  And I have made some progress, because two years ago, I was afraid to even try getting fit; I was convinced I couldn’t do it.  Today, I know how wrong I was, and while I may not always do what I should, it’s never out of a fear of failing.

But laziness is a topic for a different post.  This one’s long enough as it is.  🙂

Have a great Wednesday!

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Happy Wednesday, everybody! Welcome to the middle of the week.

I want to share some quick thoughts about the Biggest Loser, because last night’s show was (I think) pretty great, and had some moments that presented a shining example of why I still watch, and what the show’s supposed to be about…and a few moments that exhibited some of the reasons I sometimes don’t want to watch. There will be a few spoilers, so if you watch but haven’t seen it yet, you might want to skip this post. I’ll try to minimize the spoilerage.

The part of the show that really spoke to me was, of course, the challenge. Watching Tara win was cool, of course – I always love it when a girl beats out some guy who’s spouting off about how he “can’t possibly lose”, though I bear Blaine no animosity; he took it like a man – but what made me tear up was Daniel’s “I just want to finish…I just want to make it to the top of that hill” and watching his teammates come back down and shepherd him up. Watching Jerry battle it out, at 63 years old and severely overweight, in poor health…and grimly determined to finish the race, though there was no prize in it at that point other than pride and self-respect and the knowledge that he finished what he started.

And as much as the strength and determination that those two exhibited, I was deeply moved by the camaraderie and support and respect that were shown by the other players. Yes, I know the show is a contest. I know it’s a game, and ultimately these folks are all in competition with one another. But the reality of it all is that every single one of them can, at the end of the day, be a winner. They can have changed their lives and (hopefully) learned a strong, deep, and unshakeable love and respect for themselves – and that is not a competition. That’s somewhere they can all get together, and watching people who recognize that and are ready and willing to help one another get there is what keeps me coming back.

The last two seasons of the show did not exhibit much of that quality, and that’s why I was so unhappy with them. Yes, I keep coming back, because even at the worst of times, I will never get tired of watching Bob and Jillian work with people who need them so badly, and watching these people (however much I might not like them) learn to stand up and take responsibility for and pride in their lives and their health. All the game-play and machinations and reality-show idiocy aside, there’s always a grain of hope and beauty in the changes that are made.

I’m not naive. I’m not completely gullible. I know very well that there’s an excellent chance that the changes these people make are going to be temporary. I know that in ten years, some percentage of them will have put the weight back on. I understand that for a lot of them, it’s not really about changing, it’s about trying to win a game. The last couple of seasons really demonstrated that. But I also know that even if this were true of nine out of ten of them, there’s always going to be that tenth person who finds something in himself or herself that he or she did not know was there. There’s going to be that person who – like me, over the past couple of years – experiences that epiphany, learns to see herself in a completely different way and discovers that she actually does love herself. That she actually is worth a damn, and capable of so much more than she ever dreamed. That one person makes it all worth it, to me. And that one person is who keeps me coming back, because in the hope and joy of their journey, I see my own reflected, and my own hope and joy and determination are renewed.

A lot of people consider this very sappy and ridiculous and unrealistic and overly emotional. I’m okay with that. Because I’m on my own journey, and my journey isn’t about those people – it’s about me. So while I may agree with the majority of the grousing about the show, I know that it has a grain of value and joy for me, and I can embrace that and feel unashamed.

The aspect of the show that I didn’t enjoy was the focus on Joelle. The woman is having problems. The woman clearly has an enormous degree of fear, of reluctance to challenge herself and leave her comfort zone, and (as she herself put it) a very heavy load of shame and self-revulsion. I do not think that this means she needs special consideration or coddling. I do not think that she should be petted and babied. But at the same time, I think those issues need to be addressed, and they need to be addressed now. Bob is generally very good at that, and we did see a little discussion of that last night. However, in Joelle’s case, I don’t know if Bob is going to be enough. I think (with all my pop-psychology expertise, la) that Joelle needs to be talking to a counselor, if she’s not already. She needs toughlove, and she needs someone to be very straight with her and very uncompromising. The issues need to be ferreted out, laid on the table, and then set aside. She needs to confront them, recognize them, and then refuse to let them interfere with what she’s doing for herself. She needs someone to help her see that she does not have to be motivated by shame – that she really can forgive herself for her failures (real or perceived) and be strengthened and motivated by the knowledge that she can do it and is worth doing it. All, of course, while making it very clear that there’s no time for or percentage in mental and emotional masturbation, which is what a huge part of these discussions seem to be, for a lot of people. It takes a good – no, a great counselor to get you there.

There’s a fine line between understanding and cosseting, and I think Bob usually does a pretty good job of straddling that line. Jillian, of course, is the Grand Master of walking that line like a tightrope in the sky, hands in her pockets and whistling all the way. Respect and love and understanding coupled with a complete refusal to tolerate bullshit or excuses…do I think Joelle would be better off training with Jillian? Maybe. I’m not sure if she could take it, if she’s ready for that yet. But she does need a counselor, and she needs one ASAP. {end of episode of practicing psychology without a license, thank you for playing}

And yes, along with everyone else in the world, I am devastated that Joelle, who, by her own admission, was trying to “fake it till she makes it”, is still on the ranch, while someone who desperately needs the help and worked his heart out is at home. It seems blatantly unfair. But everything happens for a reason, and while Joelle may not seem deserving by her own actions, it may be that, in a way, she needs to be there just as much as Jerry or Dan.

(There. I tried to avoid excessive spoilers, at least.) 🙂

In summation, I loved the show, because the overall feeling of it was positive, supportive, loving and hopeful, despite the production-enhanced drama of Joelle. And as I pointed out to DH, production can’t really make that happen – that’s the people. They are the ones who choose the way they will face each day and interact with their fellow contestants. So I’m a little bit in love with all of them right now. In weeks to come, as they are whittled down and we get more focus on the remaining contestants, their personalities will really emerge and that may change. But right now I’m all aglow. 🙂

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Well, another day, another dollar, as Dad always used to say. With inflation, though, and subtracting the cost of living, it comes down to another day, another…yeah, about a dollar.

I’m in a pretty good frame of mind today. My energy levels are good. Unfortunately, I’m horribly nauseous…I fear the increased dosage on my beta blockers is playing merry hell with my system. I hope it’s something that will go away as my body adjusts. Quickly. Because it sucks.

I’m down 1.3 pounds this morning, which is good – some of the fluid went away. I’m hoping the rest will follow suit, though to be honest it doesn’t matter. I had a long conversation with my neighborfriend last night and as always, it helped me to articulate some things and solidify my perspective.

The truth is, no matter whether I ever lose another ounce or not, I know that I have to keep doing this. I have to eat the way I am eating. I have to keep exercising. I have to take care of my body. Not because I want to look good – though I do. Not because I want to be thinner – though I do. Not because I’m enchanted with the idea of being able to cram my happy size-8 (women’s, not juniors!) a$$ into a size 6 (juniors, not women’s!) someday – though I am. But I really don’t have any choice about being healthy any more. Genetics, the effects of a lifetime of overindulgence and various medications, and the ever-steady march of time have taken the decision out of my hands, and now it’s not optional.

So there’s no point in worrying about the numbers. I want to see results. I will see results. But the results – in terms of weight loss and size reduction – can’t be the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is changing the way I live. And in a way, that puts me back at square one. It’s nothing more or less than a return to the recurring theme of my life for the past couple of years.

I’ve always said that I think life gives you a series of lessons. There are things that we have to learn in order to grow and deepen and become the people we are capable of being. If you are open to those lessons, you have a better chance of learning them and therefore moving on to the next level of growth. It appears to me that the vast majority of people are not open, and miss the point of a lot of what happens to them, which makes life seem just very unfair and horrible and crappy. [I’m not saying it’s not. I’m just saying that I think it’s less pointlessly unfair and horrible and crappy than we think it is.]

Anyway, one of the arguably great things about this process is that you get do-overs. Okay, you don’t get a chance to change the situation you flubbed, but you do get more chances to learn the lesson. The universe doesn’t give up and just pass you to get you out of the class. Nope, you keep getting the lesson until it’s learned. At least – and this is my philosophy, so I can tailor it however I want, remember – you do as long as you’re making progress. If you do a little better each time, then you never get that big red “F” at the top of the paper.

So even though I know that I’m probably never going to learn any lesson the first time around, I do strive to at least get a little better at handling the situation each time. And for the most part, over the past decade or so, I think I’ve managed that.

The recurrent lesson for me right now is twofold – I’m on a high course-load, I guess you could say. I’m still being taught about letting go and not trying to control everything – and I am definitely making progress on that one, as witness my complete failure to be panic-ridden and lying awake every night, right now – and I’m also still being taught about the need to care for myself and love myself.

I’m okay with that, though. I know this class. It’s starting to feel very comfortable and familiar, and I know what most of the questions on the exams will be. Sure, there are still some areas where I struggle – but that’s why I’m still in the class, right? Meanwhile, I know the instructor, I’m familiar with the curriculum and course materials, and I am paying attention. I even have my initials carved into the top of that desk about three rows back, in the far corner of the room. 🙂

This, I think, is a much better and healthier way to look at it than telling myself I just keep screwing up and starting over. Because that isn’t how it feels. I’m definitely not starting over – I know that because I have a completely different wardrobe and a scale that reads 40 pounds lighter to prove it, not to mention muscle memory that means it only takes about three workouts now for me to be back in fighting trim – and while it could definitely be argued that I have screwed up, I’m just not into self-castigation anymore.

So now, as my heart inexplicably jumps around despite the new meds and the stringent diet control (GAH!), I am going to relax, remember that I love me and am going to be no more harsh with myself than I would be with a dear friend in the same situation, and I am going to pat myself on the back for what I have done and continue to do.

On that note, I’ve moved my exercise logs and whatnot to separate pages. I’m still in the process of organizing them, but eventually they’ll all be neatly categorized so my workouts, weight tracking and measurements are easily accessible. Eventually. 🙂

And in the meantime, have a wonderful week!

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