|Posted on February 18, 2012 at 12:40 AM||comments (0)|
On Thursday morning I escaped.
I ran away from the voice that tried to say I MUST go to yoga. I took to the trees.
As I sat alone on a rock surrounded by stately eucalypts, letting the silence between the shouts of birdsong flll me up.
As I watched, a bright leaf swooned in an ecstacy of sun worship and let go. It fell a spiral, - making a pattern of yellow stripes across the space between the canopy and the ground - too much sunlight.
I wasn't the only one to see the falling leaf.
A black butterfly chased after it and caught the falling sun in great lemon spots on its wings.
It caught the joy too, and fluttered an erratic path over the bracken, spilling pools of dappled gold and gilding the fern fronds.
Then, onward and upward it sped, to return the remaining light to the sun from whence it came.
|Posted on November 30, 2010 at 6:05 PM||comments (0)|
1 December 2010
The last couple of months have been difficult in terms of adhering to my intent. I have had to contend with bugs going round, family members not being well and a million other little things. What delights me is that over this time my weight has remained stable despite the slacking off in the exercise department. However, without the exercise I find my back starts grumbling. That sensitive area remains with me and managing it is an ongoing task.
I am truly grateful for what the Callanetics exercises have taught me in terms of posture. One of the off-shoots of that is that I have finally pinpointed what exactly starts my excruciating three-day tension headaches. I had always thought it was related to jaw-clenching, until I started stretching my spine and then gently lowering my chin for a good neck stretch, and found virtually instant relief. It turns out the headaches are caused by rounding my shoulders and poking my chin out in the posture that leads to “military neck” – a loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine. It’s a slump I am particularly prone to when I am over-tired. Stretching up from the crown of my head and gently lowering my chin eases out the muscles at the back of my neck that tighten up with that sort of bad posture. It brings my chin back in, and allows me to restore the curve I am meant to have in my neck, that allows for correct support of the head. What a joy to be able to scotch a mean headache that usually only responds to large doses of painkillers and sleep after three days!
So, what of the road ahead? The next thing to look forward to is a cousin’s wedding next year. That gives me a goal to aim for. Between now and then, I have the challenge of continuing what I have begun following these past two months of not being able to do all I wanted to do.
Part of being a warrior is developing the ability to identify and then study the enemy. One of the greatest enemies to the better health I am aiming for is over-tiredness. In some ways this can’t be helped. Work takes its toll. So do family commitments. However, nothing takes its toll quite like my own thought patterns. I resent not being awake to enjoy doing what I want to do when I am at home. I resent using the time that I should be present and available to my family to catch up on sleep. At the same time, I need a certain amount of overtime for the money, and to keep some time-in-lieu hours available for emergencies, over and above my annual leave and rostered-day-off allowances. It’s a tightrope. Sometimes I can’t say no to overtime as doing so would seriously disrupt surgical cases that need to be finished. I find the resentfulness gets in the way of clear decision-making when I’m overtired. I end up resenting the need to sleep. My resentful thought patterns become the enemy that makes everything else more difficult to achieve.
There have been studies done…
Spiegel, K. Impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function. The Lancet. October 23, 1999. 354:1435-1439.
Spiegel, K. et al. Brief Communication: Sleep Curtailment in Healthy Young Men Is Associated with Decreased Leptin Levels, Elevated Ghrelin Levels, and Increased Hunger and Appetite. Annals of Internal Medicine. December 7, 2004. 141:846-851.
Taheri, S. Sleep and metabolism: Bringing pieces of the jigsaw together. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2007. 11:159-162.
Taheri, S. et al. Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index (BMI). Sleep. 2004. 27:146-147.
Vorona, R. et al. Overweight and Obese Patients in a Primary Care Population Report Less Sleep Than Patients With a Normal Body Mass Index. Archives of Internal Medicine. Jan 10, 2005. 165:25-30.
…that link obesity and insufficient sleep. I note that one of the points made is that staying awake beyond midnight is part of the problem. Too little sleep upsets the body’s natural rhythms and biological processes. I can’t force myself to go to bed earlier in one step. I have become accustomed to going to bed late. What I can do, is take a first step, and focus on going to bed – lights out and not reading – before midnight, and that is what I shall do. It isn’t easy when I finish work at 9pm or later, but it can be done more often than not.
And so, on with the good fight!
|Posted on September 1, 2010 at 8:05 PM||comments (0)|
2 September 2010
Last Sunday I had the pleasure of going clothes shopping. For the first time that I can remember in my adult life, I had to buy clothes a size smaller instead of the same or larger. While this is certainly something to celebrate, I find it has disturbed a rather perverse part of my sub-conscience. I awoke a fear that, because I had bought clothes of a smaller size, my downward tend would cease and I’d find myself putting all the weight back on. It’s not a logical fear at all. It’s pure superstition. I thought that it would be easy to knock that little voice on the head and tell it to get real. However, that has not been the case. That little inner voice has been nagging at me all week, relentlessly. It hasn’t helped that this is one of those weeks where my weight is staying stubbornly at 95.2kg as my body recovers from the flu and the subsequent coughing. Every time I look at myself I see the fat that has yet to go. And the inner voice nags and harps telling me I’m stuck, I won’t get further, that I’m not working hard enough. The reality is I can’t work harder while the tail-end of the flu is still around because I’d risk giving myself myocarditis. I have still walked at a gentler pace and done the Evolution exercises, but I am not pushing myself into a sweat while I am still coughing and not quite right.
That same little voice taunts and jeers pointing out that people can’t even see the difference yet because there’s still so far to go. And it’s true that not everyone would notice. Not everyone is hung up about how fat or thin other people are either. Others do notice and comment, and just as I am accepting and enjoying the accolade with a grin on my face, that nasty inner voice tells me not to be happy because there’s still so much work to be done.
This little inner voice of derision is my arch enemy. This defeatist, put-downer inhabiting my head is destined to discover that my inner warrior self is armed and dangerous. What I have achieved thus far is more than I have ever done in my life and it’s a quarter of the journey won. It’s just a matter of time and the inner defeatist voice will be wailing and howling in dismay as I go out and buy size 16 or 14 clothes because the size 18s I have just got are looking too baggy and silly on me. It’s just a matter of time…
|Posted on August 27, 2010 at 10:35 PM||comments (1)|
28 August 2010
And so another month rolls on. Blossoms are out, weeds are flourishing and the days are getting longer. Last weekend I took myself for a walk along the Turner Road Fire Trail in Berowra Heights, down to where it meets the Great North Walk and one has a lovely view of the Hawkesbury River. The wind was blowing with great gusto (Berowra means “place of winds” and everywhere the green and grey of the Aussie bush was sprinkled with the pink and yellow of spring. (The photographs are in the album section of the website.)
My shrinking adventure continues. At present it seems ridiculously easy. I am enjoying my food, not feeling deprived at all. Since I’m not depriving myself and am eating things I enjoy, that may seem obvious. However, if I look back to the time before I made my decision to change, I would have looked on what I am doing now as deprivation.
I think it’s something that gets written about frequently: that little thing that swings the balance and makes change possible. One has to want one thing more than another. I wanted a pain-free back, and to be able to say I could “walk the talk” and do what I have told others to do for their backs. It was a matter of proving that I’m not a fraud to myself and others, I guess. For me, being prepared to do what I ask of others is important. I can’t make others change for their own sakes (and let’s face it – we all know heaps of “others” who complain about health issues but just haven’t reached the point of being able to make the necessary life changes to make things a little better for themselves) but I can live the example, explore it, and find out what’s involved on a personal level.
I have had more than one person ask me about what I’m doing and then cheerfully say that perhaps they should join me as they can’t do this sort of thing on their own. Many people believe they fall into the “I must have company” group. There’s no denying it can work for a while, however, while I don’t have research to back me up (it’s probably out there for anyone who wants to search) I believe that anyone placing themselves in this category is setting themselves up for yo-yo dieting. It doesn’t work to make a decision to change that is dependent on other people. Motivation is an internal thing. External factors may encourage and reinforce the internal motivation, but that internal motivation cannot be dependent on the externals. If other people “joined” me, what would happen if I ceased to exist in a helpful capacity tomorrow? Their chief motivator – an external one – would have vanished.
That doesn’t stop an awful lot of people making money out of the “I can’t do it alone” people every day in the multimillion dollar diet industry. I can’t help but take a little evil delight in knowing that all I have spent money on is a couple of DVDs and one book that tells me I’m on the right track with adding in plenty MUFAs (Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids) into my food choices.That said, with the internal motivation in place, a will that says the difference shall be made regardless of who or what is involved, the groups out there can indeed be a great source of help, education and encouragement. I think education is the chief thing. There is a learning curve involved in working out what works for the individual. One has to learn what healthy portion sizes look like, what one needs to eat to feel satisfied, what exercise is the sort that is enjoyable and gives the results one is looking for.
At present, my reward is watching that number on the scale go down day by day, even when I feel as if I’ve done nothing to warrant it. Last Sunday I came down with a flu bug – the second bug in the space of a month, which is not like me. I’m usually the tough on in this family. This meant at least four days in a row where I didn’t go for a walk or do Callanetics, and yet my weight still dropped in that time. I can only presume that as my fitness level and strength increases, my metabolic rate must be picking up, allowing my body to move the unnecessary load more easily.
On a day-to-day basis I find I am plagued with doubts. I am both delighted with my progress and terrified of the possibility of the time the next plateau comes. I am nearly a quarter of the way through the amount I need to loose to reach my ideal weight, but, at still over 90kg, I have a long way to go. Despite my progress, I do find that daunting. I find I have to work constantly at refocussing on the present, working on getting fitter and stronger, doing what I’m doing that is working. I keep wondering what on earth to do about my wardrobe. I need new clothes anyway. Lots of things are getting too old and starting to look scrappy – but what size do I buy? How long will I be that size? In terms of work clothes, scrubs, I have dropped a size in the space of two and a half months. Suddenly everything is uncertain, nothing guaranteed. The constants have vanished from under my feet. It brings both hope, looking forward to accessing the greater range of options in the lower clothing sizes and looking and feeling good, and impatience because I’m not quite there yet. That impatience is the danger point. There is nothing like a shop fitting room mirror to reveal the bulges and the truth of one’s body! I have no idea why those mirrors seem to be more revealing than mirrors at home, but they are. That is where it’s easy for despondency to set in. The change isn’t fast enough or dramatic enough. That is where I have to remind myself that the rate of loss I am experiencing is just right for me. It’s what my body is doing best. It took me some twenty-five years of diligent negligence to get to my starting point for this adventure, and I’ve ditched a quarter of that gain in a mere couple of months. It isn’t over til it’s over. I am a fighter, a warrior.
|Posted on August 14, 2010 at 7:47 PM||comments (0)|
12 August 2010
The initial assessment period with the chiropractor is now complete. X-rays show that I have lost the normal lordosis in my neck, giving me what is called kyphosis or “military neck”. This is related to weakness of neck muscles and a long-standing tendency to poke my head. I find that as soon as I focus on a balletic-type posture I correct this. My pelvis is also slightly rotated and uneven due to the tension of muscles on the right. I’m glad I know about these things now so that I can try to correct them before they lead to more problems, and have the appropriate chiropractic treatment.
I am struggling with a painful left rotator cuff (shoulder) ever since my episode of gastro. Sometimes I feel as if I’m beginning to fall apart way too soon! However, it’s something that can be treated and once again, it means focussing on strengthening muscles that support the joint. It seems everything points to developing muscle strength.
Today I tried on my hakama. I am still planning to return to Japanese Swordsmanship next month, and I was curious to see if it would be any easier to get the ties to reach round to the back than before. What a pleasure to find I can now tie them up far more easily! It was quite clear that I am thinner than I have been any time in the last year. That was just the sort of encouragement I needed in a week where my weight seems to be creeping up a little rather than going down. I suspect the weight creep might be due to adding muscle more than anything else. I know I have stuck to my good eating and exercise as diligently as I can. I am also curious to see if I’m destined for another plateau period, making it hard for me to get below and stay below 97kg for a week or two. It will be interesting to see how long this sticky patch lasts. Over time, I should be able to tell if there is some sort of pattern to the way body adjusts to weight loss.
I think – just maybe – that I’m beginning to learn to stand up straight again – shoulders relaxed down, head in a better position, jaw clenching less…It’s astounding how much energy one can waste purely on bad posture. So many muscle groups have to work so much harder with that round-shouldered, head-poked, tensed up way of standing. I have found myself becoming aware of how often I adjust my posture to communicate – often to send messages of empathy when people are grumbling, or to be submissive when I am with one I perceive as negative/passive aggressive towards me. I hunch up to be less, smaller, non-threatening or to convey agreeing with someone that all is not well with the world. Standing up straight and with relaxed shoulders is, for me, part and parcel of my perception of myself in the world. I have always blamed nursing and the exhaustion of those years of my training with 12 hour shifts for the deterioration of my posture. However, it was also in the years of my training that I learnt self-doubt and became depressed and that may just as well affected how I take my stand in the world.
There is so much to learn and I remain most grateful that I have reached this point in my life where I feel happy and comfortable taking the time to focus on myself and my well-being.
|Posted on August 14, 2010 at 7:44 PM||comments (0)|
2 August 2010
It seems astonishing that August is here already. But it is. This weekend just past has presented me with my next challenge: the overall effects of not being well. My past pattern has been to allow something like a cold, flu or gastro to pull me off my path. I have had a combination of gastro and an irritating, snuffly cold. I still have the post-nasal drip making me cough and leaving me headachy.
Well, it’s not going to get me to stop exercising. I had a look at my two new Callanetics DVDs before bed last night. Evolution targets all the things I felt were missing from the original Callanetics 10/10 DVD and the CardioCallanetics will give me the pleasure of more active and dance-like movements. I can’t wait to get to them, but wait I must. Work is beckoning.
This afternoon I am going to try something new in terms of back care. I have made an appointment to see a chiropractor. While my back is tender in the area that originally yelled for attention, I haven’t had severe pain there for a week or so now. I think learning to respect the signals and take extra care when something hurts has helped me protect my back better. This is the first time I am letting someone other than me onto my team. It’s an important step for me in more than one way. Not only is it a case of letting someone else assess and help me with my back, it’s letting someone else look after me and pamper me a little. The less one has opportunity to let others be care givers the harder it becomes to let oneself be the recipient of care. And yet, for there to be balance, the ability to receive is very important. In fact, I can’t help but wonder how much this is one of the underlying factors in gaining weight and, as I wrote before, feeling that there had to be “enough” of me to go round (no pun intended!) If I had more opportunities to be the recipient of care, could it have helped? How will I ever know? I can’t go backwards. Not only that, I am in a very different place psychologically than I was even five years ago. I do think that allowing myself to be the recipient of care will help me not to go backwards. It’s part of saying, “I’m valuable enough to warrant this care. I care enough about myself to give myself this care.”
It will be very interesting to see how this all turns out.
|Posted on August 14, 2010 at 7:42 PM||comments (0)|
29 July 2010
On Monday I found myself feeling quite frustrated and despondent over the kinds of comments where people try to be helpful and, instead of just applauding the choices I have made, and are desperately eager to offer improving suggestions. For me, the down side of being told what one can do better is that my brain turns it around and hears that I am not doing things well enough. I am easily able to interpret these comments as criticism instead of an offer of help and encouragement, especially where the approval of the person in question is important to me. This is compounded by the situation that I am far more likely to interpret comments in a negative light when my hormones are being premenstrually objectionable!
I found that this, more than anything provided a challenge to my efforts. I really felt like chucking the whole thing if what I was doing was never good enough for anyone. I’m a human being, after all. I like to hear people say “well done” and that I’m doing a wonderful job and that I’m doing it just right. Many people have said just that, of course, and tell me that my rate of weight loss (5kg now) is ideal as it will be easy to maintain. The trouble is, I find that I “hear” things that can be interpreted as “you’re not good enough” with far greater acuity and take it on board far more easily than I hear the “well dones”. In fact, I find it easy to gloss over the accolades. This is just the sort of pattern of thinking that is learnt over many years – decades even – and is most dangerous for people like me who want to make serious change.
My plan, my efforts CANNOT be for anyone else out there. They are only, purely for me. If I am remotely dependent on ANYTHING from other people – any other people – to keep me going, I put myself at great risk of failure. This has nothing to do with the intentions, support, or lack thereof from other people. It is based on the simple matter of free will. I cannot “make” other people respond in the exact way, with the exact word choice that I want to hear. This does nothing to diminish the wonderful support I am getting from so many. It just places “motivation” in the right place. External support and cheering is wonderful. Motivation, however, needs to be entirely internal. This makes me pause. What about people who choose to loose weight for the sake of their children? There are many who do that – not wanting to miss out on the years of being able to run and jump and kick a ball around. I guess even then, the motivation is still internal – they receive that pleasure of being active with their children.
I have had to go back and investigate my list of goals. No less than three were worded in such a way that they anticipated a certain response from other people. In one, I wanted to hear comments from the Japanese Swordsmanship folk when I return in September. I have changed that to wanting my hakama to fit better than ever before. In another, I wanted to impress my mother. That one has been struck off the list and awaits a replacement goal. In the third, I wanted my youngest son not to call me fat! Yep – it’s worth a chuckle. I was looking for approval from my youngest son, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, and is as forthright in his comments as it is possible for any little Aspie to be! That just got deleted, as it was an appendage to another goal and didn’t need to be there.
While on the subject of goals, I am delighted to see what I am achieving. I reached the first goal of sticking with the project for twenty-one days on 2nd July. The second goal was being less than100kg by the end of August. I have attained that before the end of July. I have listed wearing lower sized scrubs at work as one of the indicators of progress, and am now wearing tops the next size down. I just need my bottom half to catch up!
A little thing like that is a wonderful daily reminder. It’s like achieving a certain coloured jersey in a certain race. Everyday getting changed at work becomes a reminder of what I am achieving. Wearing that yellow edge on my sleeves is great, and I can’t wait to wear the pants with the yellow tie to go with the top. Then onwards to the next colour and the next size down.
|Posted on August 14, 2010 at 7:41 PM||comments (0)|
24 July 2010
Within a day or so of the previous blog entry, I suddenly fell through my plateau and dropped 1.5kg seemingly overnight. It was positively bizarre! I have now lost 4kg. It’s a nice steady pace – slow, but steady. I have found that it’s time to reassess what I’m doing, look at the weak spots in the plan and tighten things up a little. Despite my allergy to the word “diet”, I have picked up a little book called The Flat Belly Diet by Liz Vaccariello and Cynthia Sass (2010, Rodale,London).
This book caught my eye for two reasons: it is aimed at belly fat, and we all know how difficult it can be to get rid of belly fat, and it tells me to eat my favourite food at every meal – things like avocado, nuts and seeds, olives and so forth. It’s based on the idea of eating more MUFAs or mono-unsaturated fats which do all sorts of good things for us, including letting our bodies know that all is well, there is no famine, so ease up on the storage! The book not only includes heaps of recipes, but also tackles looking at emotional eating and ways to recognise when one is genuinely hungry rather than just looking for something for one’s tastebuds.
I’m not sure how I’m going to use the book yet. The idea of following it exactly, doing the four-day anti-bloat section first and so forth, is something I find quite daunting. I don’t know how much the budget will groan if I go out and buy the exact things I’m supposed to, and the time it takes to prepare all those meals is a bit daunting. I’m so in love with my quick throw-together salads. My shifts make the whole thing more challenging too. I think my best strategy is to do what I have done before and slowly replace things. If I learn and tackle one meal from the book and teach my spouse (the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer) to cope with it, there is more hope than doing a sudden, radical change. I hope I can learn quickly from the book exactly what four 400 calorie meals look like, so I can adjust and tweak what I need to.
I have also ordered two more Callanetics DVDs – Callanetics Evolution and Cardio-Callanetics. These will give me greater variety where exercise is concerned, While still looking after my back. If the weather is inclement, I can replace my walk with the Cardio option.
As for my back, I am slowly coming to terms with the idea that bulging discs don’t necessarily heal. Instead, one learns to live with them. It’s more likely to be sore and unhappy at the end of a busy and tiring week than on a Monday, so Fridays in particular are likely to be the day that I rest and don’t exercise. The way Callan tells her students to move and get out of certain positions in the DVDs is proving to be something I can translate into my day-to-day living, and I am learning the fine art of listening to my back and not doing things that hurt, rather than feeling I ought to push on regardless.
|Posted on August 14, 2010 at 7:40 PM||comments (0)|
13 July 2010
As I contend with my weight reaching a plateau all to soon, I have to find new ways to do things. The walk proved a good place for looking at the mental side of the matter. I changed aspects of my walk. I chose to walk the outer rim of the circle which did two things: it provided a camber that is kinder to my back; it provided Terrain with a capital T – far less in the way of concrete path.
The first downhill section I took at a pace just short of running. In fact I felt as if my body was begging to be allowed to run a bit, but I daren’t risk my back that way. As I hit the bottom flat section I pushed on at a fast pace and found myself thinking of the “Burn, baby, burn” words. I strode on repeating “burn, baby, burn like a disco inferno; burn, baby, burn – burn those fat cells right off ya” in my head as I went.
Then, back to the conversations with my body: I mentioned listening to my body before. This time I found myself thinking, “come on Body, you don’t want those fat cells any more than I do. Let’s walk away from them.” With this, came the delightful mental image of the fat cells as a cloud of annoying dots and I could see the real me pushing out against them. As I walked they would stream out behind me. I visualised them getting smaller as I used up the energy they held. This makes me giggle. Being fat could be defined as a serious case of hoarding – hoarding energy. That energy needs to be released out into the world, not hoarded. It needs to be set free.
I find visualising these sorts of things such fun and definitely encouraging and empowering. It certainly beats sitting getting miserable over how quickly a difference becomes apparent. I do know I feel more energetic and my body gets grumpy if I don’t walk or use that developing muscle somehow on a regular basis now.
Other little strategies for the plateau include trying to focus on drinking more water. I know I don’t usually drink enough, so I am trying to change that. Making other little changes – like removing the cheese from the salad sandwiches at work. From what I’ve read one is supposed to make big changes for a while to break through those barriers – changes in the way of eating and exercising. Weight training is good too. I’m exploring my options. I may not be making big changes, but every bit helps to encourage my body to ditch the unnecessary storehouse it’s lugging around.
The best thing is knowing that my body will always cooperate in moving towards better health. We are a team, my body and I.
|Posted on August 14, 2010 at 7:39 PM||comments (0)|
11 July 2010
There is one thing from Petrea King’s book, Your Life Matters (2004, Random House) that has leapt out at me. I’ve made in my FaceBook status for the time being.
" 'Forgiveness is giving up all hopes for a better past.' "
It was something Petrea heard another participant say at a conference she attended.
It’s a definition of forgiveness that is profound. It removes religious connotations (for those who prefer to do without religious overtones) and moves forgiveness into a realm of non-effort. Usually we think forgiveness is something we feel we have to struggle to achieve and involves a bunch of mental gymnastics that few can truly achieve and that need to be revisited day after day. In fact, it reveals the truth of what we usually try to do: re-create the past so that it is different. Now that IS mental gymnastics! Giving up all hopes of a better past tackles reality head on. What has been, has been and that is that. It can’t be changed. Now, all that energy spent trying to make what was into something else can be focussed on the here and now.
This past week I missed two days where I should have been either walking or doing my Callanetics exercises. By Saturday I was struggling with the reality of dealing with a plateau (same weight of two weeks now) and wondering how I was going to carry on. I felt guilty over not sticking to my plan. One of the most common companions of any would-be weight-loser is guilt. Guilt is dangerous. It leads to misery, and misery leads to comfort eating and more guilt and so the cycle heads downward towards despair and giving up.
That is why this definition of forgiveness is so very, very important to me right now. The way to ditch guilt is through forgiveness – giving up all hope for a better past. What was yesterday, was yesterday. I have this day, this moment to choose what I will do now and do next. I can’t change the last two days, but today I have walked and done my Callanetics, and I am drinking water and enjoying salad for lunch. Today I am choosing to live healthily and help my body that serves me so well.