As I mentioned yesterday, our annual garage sale was incredibly successful. We had a record year this year – better than any of the previous seven years. I certainly broke my own records. Why? Because I purged. Not only was I able to get rid of tons, (and tons,) of clothing, I also got rid of all sorts of household items.
The clothing was easy. In the past ten months, since losing weight, I have gone from a size 16-18 to wearing a size 4 in slacks. Even though I’ve tried to hold onto a few things, size 2X clothes look pretty ridiculous on a size Medium frame. At some point, I decided it all had to go. Between donations to the thrift stores, gifts to friends and the sale, almost all of my old wardrobe is gone.
But it isn’t just clothes that I am getting rid of. I’ve been divorced for several years now, but I have finally hit the point where I’ve decided to purge everything. For a long time I kept things that my ex bought, but that I still liked. Not anymore. The truth was that even if I still liked the object, it still reminded me of him. Every time it looked at that chair or that rug, I had a tiny twinge of “yuck.” My divorce was fairly amicable, but that doesn’t mean I want to be reminded of it. So, in addition to clothes, I purged stuff.
And even though I feel great about all the junk I cleared out, I realized that I am not done. It’s time to pare down my possessions to just the things I love. I need to clean up my house, just like have done with my health, and keep only what is important to me. I started this blog because I was trying to find the next step on my personal path. That step has been weight loss and getting fit. That is still going to be a big focus for me, but I’m ready to start thinning my possessions – along with my waistline.
I love this sentiment, and yet, I think it is harder than that. How do we know what we want when we haven’t experienced all the options and alternatives? It’s like when you are in high school and adults start asking what career you want. Granted, there are a few lucky individuals out there who know deeply and intuitively what it is they want, but for the rest of us it is a big old gamble.
I think the only thing we can do is listen to our gut, while still being open to new experiences and ideas. Things I’ve thought were set in stone are now changing as I age. In fact, many of the best people I know are still evolving, still exploring and still figuring out who they want to be. It’s a constant adventure.
My boyfriend, Julian, is going to school for Sociology. One of the books he was assigned for class was On Being a Therapist by Jeffery Kottler. Becoming a therapist is his goal, so he really enjoyed the book, and thinking I would enjoy it as well, he passed it along. I don’t have any aspirations along this line myself, but there was a lot of good information in it and I really did find it fascinating. (Also interesting was how many people started conversations with me because they saw me reading this book. I took it with me on a trip out of town, and several people in the airport and in planes started conversations with me, thinking I was a therapist!)
One of the sections of the book that particularly caught my eye was a chapter on burnout. It gave a list of questions for therapists to consider when they’re feeling that way. This list really made me think. Although I write a lot about weight loss, the original purpose of the Long View Hill blog was to be a place to chart self discovery. It just so happens that currently part of my journey seems to be heading along the Weight Loss Super Highway. I guess you could say that in figuring out who I want to be – currently I am figuring out the “body” part of the mind body whole.
Anyway, I wanted to share the questions with you, as well as store them in my blog for my own mediation:
- What haunts you the most, especially when you are feeling raw or vulnerable?
- In what ways are you not functioning as fully and effectively as you could?
- What are some aspects of your lifestyle that are especially unhealthy?
- What are your most conflicted or chronically dysfunctional relationships?
- Where do you hold your pain?
- In what ways to you medicate yourself (whether with substances or with particular behaviors?)
- What are the lies you tell yourself?
- What do you spend your time avoiding or hiding from?
- Who is it who most easily gets to you, and what does that mean?
- What are unresolved issues that have plagued you throughout your life?
- How does this affect your work?
- What is it about these questions you find the most threatening?
Note from the book: Because self-identification of the issues stirred up by these questions is difficult, it is advisable to discuss them with a trusted friend, or better yet, bring them to your personal therapy.
Photo credit: Joel Bombardier
So, I have a confession to make. I am freaked out by the idea of weight loss maintenance. In theory it should be easy – just keep doing what I have been doing, but maybe eat a little more. Easy right? In actuality, it makes me quake in my boots.
I’m quite happy with where I am. I like the way I look, and I feel great. My instinct is to slow down a bit and settle in, but the problem is, I don’t know how. My friend Cee called me out on it the other day when I told her I had to tackle my maintenance plan. Truth is, I didn’t even think about it when I wrote it, but she pointed out that “tackle” might be a bit strong. I think it is just a sign of how I feel about it. I’m a planner, so for every goal, there must be a plan.
While I was out walking the dog last night I started thinking about why this bothers me so much. I mean really, there doesn’t need to be a new plan – I can just keep tracking, eating well, and exercising. I just need to weigh every day and make adjustments accordingly, right? So, why does it make my chest feel tight when I think about it?
I think there are two things going on here. The first is simply the fear of failure. I didn’t have this while losing weight because if I wasn’t able to do it, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I wasn’t under doctor’s orders or anything like that. I simply made a choice to give it a try. If it hadn’t worked the only people who would have known would have been my sister, my boyfriend, Cee and you, blog reader. But us? We have an understanding you and I, I’m not afraid of failing in front of you. Now that I have lost 30 pounds, however, people can see it on me. It is going to be a lot more obvious if I gain the weight back – and let’s face it, we all know people who have been very successful in the losing category, but didn’t make it in the maintenance department. The dieter who loses weight, then gains it all back (and then some) is so common it is almost a cliché – and for good reason, it’s hard work. People with far more willpower, and far more resources, than I have lost this battle.
The other is: time. I want to keep this weight off forever and ever, amen. Well, I am turning 40 this year, so if I live until I am 80, that means setting a goal for another 40 years. That is the length of my current lifespan… I can’t even wrap my brain around trying to set a 40 year goal! The numbers are just too large and life is just too variable.
While thinking about that span of time, a solution came to me. Instead of trying to set goals “for the rest of my life,” I am just going to set a year-long goal. I started losing on January 15 of this year – so, my goal is simply: Keep the 30 pounds off through Jan. 15, 2014. Once I thought of that, it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I immediately felt better. On May 15th, (just to keep things nice and tidy,) I am going to change the settings on My Fitness Pal. Then I am simply going to focus on my little seven month goal. Maintaining for seven months seems so much easier than maintaining for the rest of my life. (bum bum BUM…..)
It’s possible, of course, that I will lose more – who knows? I will probably bounce around a bit. I am not going to try to keep my weight on an exact number. I’m still figuring things out and still learning to run, which will, undoubtably, cause some changes. All I am going to do is work hard at keeping what I have lost off until my anniversary in January. Once I do that, I can set a goal for the next year – whatever it may be. It feels completely doable – and yet, there are still enough challenges in there (holidays, anyone?), to keep things interesting.
Here’s the other benefit that I thought of as I was writing this – keeping focus is hard. Keeping focus for forty years, or even five years is hard. Keeping focus for seven months is not quite so bad. I think by shortening my goal, I’m making it easier to keep it in mind. That should help make it a little easier too.
So, that’s the plan. I got it off, now I’m going to keep it off, by gum!
Photo credit: lululemon athletica
From one of my favorite blogs: We Wander and Wonder
NOW THAT’S A THOUGHT I’LL ENTERTAIN
I stopped at my local organic grocery store on my way home from work. It is located on a fairly busy road that cuts through town. As I am waiting for traffic to clear, I notice a woman jogging. She is not a small girl. She is definitely bigger than I am now, and probably bigger than I was when before I started losing. I can tell because she is wearing the tight spandex running gear. And my first thought when I see her is an enthusiastic “You GO girl!!”
But then I felt a little conflicted. I took a moment and checked in with myself on why, exactly, I was cheering her on. Was it because I thought she needed to lose weight? Was I being judgmental? I’ve been a plus size all my life, who am I to judge how someone chooses to live their life?
I thought about how I felt when I saw her and I realized that wasn’t it though. Now that I am newly learning to run, I notice runners all the time. This gal looked like she knew what she was doing, and not only that, she was out there doing it on this busy street. My feelings were nothing but admiration – she had a lot more guts than I ever had, and my mental shout out was just in pure appreciation.
Why does it matter what I think in the quiet and solitude of my own head? Because attitudes matter. We’ve all met those people who have recently stopped smoking or drinking and now feel it necessary to tell everyone else they are doing it wrong. Those sanctimonious know-it-alls that have found something that is working for them and now feel they need to tell the world – whether or not the world wants to hear it. I don’t even want to open the door to those kinds of attitudes.
I believe that people have a right to chose what is right for their own body. Just because I have lost weight, doesn’t mean I think it is right for everyone. There are so many issues around weight loss. Not just the physical act of losing weight, though there are tons of issues there too, but the emotional issues. None of us know what the other person is going through. I want to maintain my neutrality.
Of course, if someone asks, I am happy to share with them what works for me. But I am also trying to be cognizant of body language – stopping when I see the glazed eyes or the slumped shoulders of bordom. Yes, they just asked what I have been doing, but realizing when it was formulaic, a common verbal convention, like asking how long someone has had a pet or how old their child is. They don’t necessarily care, but it seems like the thing to do. Unlike pet ownership or child age, which are fairly cut and dried, this one has a lot of sensitivity built into it.
So yeah, I am keep a watchdog on my thoughts. There are enough trolls and negative Nellies out there, I don’t need to add my name to that list.
And for those of you on a path that feels right and is working for you, “You GO!”
EDIT: Just after I wrote this post, I saw a couple out running that solidified this for me. They were running with their dog, a miniature pincher who was going for all he was worth. He was also the only one that looked happy. The guy looked like he had run before, but not in a long time. He was wearing jeans, brown loafer style shoes and a couple of sweatshirts. His body language said “resigned but determined” to me. The gal, who was a larger gal, looked miserable. She was wearing old sneakers, sweats, a sweatshirt plus a winter jacket and two hats – a knit one tied over the top of a baseball hat. She was hunched over, shoulders pulled in tight, with her back arched in a question mark. My first though, “Oh goodness! I hope she doesn’t hurt herself!” My next thought was that she was going to overheat – it wasn’t that cold out. I wasn’t happy for her – I was scared for her. It clicked for me then – I love seeing people joyously getting healthy, I fear for those who are pushing themselves to do something they hate.
Photo credit: fireflythegreat