Little Miss…

brokenI’ve been writing about the habits I’ve been trying to build and work towards and I know it can all sound a bit Pollyanna. I just want to say, it isn’t all perfect.

I have weeks when things are clicking along – when I’m doing what I want to do and feeling productive and in control. But there are also weeks like the last one – when everything is just a little off. Some goals I get close to, but miss. Others don’t even come close. I haven’t done my weight lifting or been for a run in weeks. I’ve been getting some sleep, but not enough. I’ve been spending money and I haven’t been meditating.

It happens. The trick is not to let it take over. The world gets crazy sometimes and you have to set some things aside. There are priorities and responsibilities that take precedence. Other times life just goes a little sideways for awhile. There’s no shame in not being perfect, in falling short of your goals, of having to do a half assed workout or eat fast food. However, once those habits slip, its a little tricky to pick them up again. It is not as easy as deciding to do them in the first place when you’re all wound up and full of “I can do this!” energy. Entropy is a nasty beastie.

I’m ready to let last week go and start fresh. I’m not going to beat myself up for what did, or didn’t happen. I’m also not going to let go of my goals. It’s time to just wipe the slate clean and get back at it.

I’m worth it.

 

Photo credit: Faruk Ates on flickr

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Quiet Time

Adolphe Borie: Girl Meditating

“Sitting still is a pain in the ass.”
Noah Levine (1971 – )

I’m trying to develop a practice of daily meditation. It’s another one of the habits I am tracking on Lift. I like to meditate after I work out and during the week on my lunch hours. Other times I meditate just before bed. I like guided meditations, I have an app that I like (Simply Being) and a couple of different podcasts, including some out of UCLA. I pick the meditation based on my mood and how much time I have, but typically I sit for 10-15 minutes.

I enjoy meditation because it gives me a chance to just be quiet and still for awhile. Thoughts come rushing in, but I can let them go for a bit and focus on a simple idea or just my breathing. I’m not looking to be a yogi or anything, all I want is to just have a few moments in every day of quiet. Occasionally I sit in lotus, but most often I don’t. (Especially when I’m sitting in my car during a lunch break. The steering wheel would get in the way!)

It’s a small thing, something I am doing for myself because I enjoy it. I think it is all part of a healthier me – physically and mentally.


For those of you interested in meditation, check out this article: How to be Uncomfortable about learning how to sit. It’s good stuff.

Photo credit: Adophie Borie: Girl Meditating, HumanSeeHumanDo on flickr

I Was Mad

"Angry Bear" Yes, exactly.

“Angry Bear” Yes, exactly.

The other night I was mad. It doesn’t really matter what about, the point was, I was heading out shopping and I was mad. The two actually had nothing to do with one another – it was all about timing. I had been planning to go shopping, and just before that, something made me very, very angry.

The people I wanted to vent to about the situation were not available, so as I drove to the mall I vented out loud. I had imaginary arguments, yelled at the top of my lungs and gestured wildly. I must have looked like Jim from Taxi.

You really shouldn’t shop mad, but you are mad enough, you refuse to see it. Angry shopping becomes about “The Principle”. You start thinking things like I WILL find what I want, if I have to scour the earth! It SHALL BE MINE! This is definitely not the best mood to be in while touring through loud, brightly lit stores surrounded by the rest of humanity.

I was looking for my rain boots. Now, a sane person would have realized that most stores don’t think this is rain boot season (despite the fact it has rained nearly every day for the last three weeks) and after a store or two, gone home and done the smart thing – settled in with a glass of wine and shopped online. But no, I was mad – so I was not sane. I have no idea how many stores I went to. I did find one cute pair at TJ Maxx, and was excited, until I turned them over and saw they were from Kate Spade and $100. Seriously?! I am not paying that much for rain boots. (I should have waited, Katy at Living the Life had some great ideas where to go, but I didn’t see her comments until after this debacle.)

When a touch of sanity returned, (or maybe I just ran out of stores to try,) and I turned my car towards home a little devil whispered in my ear, “You haven’t had dinner, you could go out to eat!” I was in a perfect part of town restaurant-wise and there were lots of places to go between there and home, so I started thinking through my favorite spots, one by one.

Then the good, calm angel on my other shoulder said, “You don’t need food. You need to go home.” I realized the angel was right. I wasn’t even that hungry, I was thinking about eating… out of spite. Isn’t that silly? Like the people I was mad at would suddenly feel bad that I was going out to eat. As if they would be at home and suddenly feel a disturbance in the universe which was me, enjoying a lovely meal. HA! That’ll show them!

I know that logically that doesn’t make any kind of sense, but I also know it’s something
I’ve done on multiple occasions in the past. I expect food to comfort me, or at least spite my enemies. (Who in this case weren’t even my enemies, they’re colleagues who were just being a bit short sighted.) The truth is, it doesn’t do anyone any good for me to be sitting in a restaurant like a little dark thundercloud. I’m still miserable, my enemies don’t care or even know about it, and I don’t enjoy it. It’s also a big waste of time and money. If I am going to go out, I want to make it worthwhile! The funny thing was I had just had an experience like this a week before, but it didn’t enter my head. I was just too emotionally exhausted to think clearly.

I did end up going home and I prepared myself a wonderful meal. I also ended up doing some things that actually did help: I walked the dog, I made a cup of tea, and I meditated. I was still upset, so I went to bed early and got some rest. In the morning I felt a lot better.

Here’s the point: friends of mine think that I have my weight loss all figured out. I don’t. I still struggle with things like emotional eating and making good decisions for myself. I’m getting better, but like everyone else on this journey, it’s a long, slow climb.

 

Photo credit: Pascal Wiluhn

A Case of the Blahs

Overtaken by Wind on a Rainy Day 1882This past weekend was awesome. There was a big formal event on Sunday and at the close of it, two of my dearest friends became engaged. The fun part? A huge group of their friends (including yours truly) got to be a part of it. I’ve never been a part of anyone’s engagement before and it was wonderful! It makes me cry to even think of it. If I can get ahold of any photos, I’ll post a few. (Sadly, I didn’t take any, I was too giddy to even think about it.)

But on Monday, I got a case of the blues. Basically, I think it was an emotional hangover. It wasn’t an actual hangover, (I didn’t drink that much,) but I just felt sad and out of sorts. All of us that were in on the big surprise have been talking about this engagement for days. It just kept building up until we were all wound up like springs …and then we sprung! It turned out perfect (everything went off beautifully,) but afterwards there was this little letdown, you know?

I had planned to go for a run Monday night, but didn’t have it in me. Instead, I ended up taking myself out to eat, which was a mistake. The food was good, but I wasn’t in a place to enjoy it. If I am going to do something like that, I should revel in it, not wolf it down and slump on home. What I should have done is gone for that run – exercise is a good cure for a general malaise. (Although it is also the very last thing I feel like doing.)

I do have one cure for the blahs – music. Me? I prefer ah… “unique” voices, catchy beats and if portions of it are in a foreign language – all the better! So, I popped this in the CD player and everything was a little brighter.

Photo credit: Evelyn Saenz on flickr

Time Is Not On My Side (No It’s Not)

Old Clock by macinateI’ve been dealing with a case of the blues. There’s a lot going on right now, and hopefully, I’ll get a chance to write about all of it, but for now, the one thing I am shortest on is time. What I would love to do is spend a couple of hours with my journal and a cup of tea, but I am not sure when, or if, that is going to happen.

So, I’m taking it day by day. I’m getting done what I can and trying to forgive myself for what isn’t going to get done. It’s hard; that’s not really my style. I like to make lists, cross things off, and get things done. Right now I feel like I am in triage mode and just working through the emergencies. I know that these cycles happen. I run into them fairly frequently. In this case, I have four weeks of busyness ahead, leaving no time for dealing with the blues. Priorities have to be set. Sadly, even exercise is getting the short shaft right now, but what can you do?

The main thing is just to find joy where I can and not let a momentary blip completely derail me. It’s too easy to let things like that happen – but I refuse to go down that road. I’ve already come so far.

Photo credit: macinate on flickr

Sleep… zzzzz…..

Sophie sleeping by Peter Hunter on flickr

Sleeping babies are so cute when they sleep. Ever notice that isn’t the case with adults?

I recently heard a fantastic TED Talk by Russell Foster: Why Do We Sleep? (video below) that got me thinking about sleep.

Actually, I don’t need a great TED talk to think about sleep – I am already a bit obsessed with it. I have to be. I know there are people who survive on lesser amounts, but I’m one of those folks that needs a good, solid eight hours of sleep a night. When I don’t get it, you can really tell – it’s in my personality: I am agitated, short-tempered and slow-witted. You can even see it in my face. I am extremely fair-skinned, and after as few as just two nights of short sleep, I get deep, dark, puffy circles under my eyes. I do what I can with concealer, but it is pretty obvious to anyone who looks at me.

Yet, getting enough sleep is hard. I have a set time I need to be at work in the morning, plus I need to walk the dog, get a decent breakfast and get ready for work. (You really don’t want to see me if I haven’t eaten breakfast!) Lately I have also been adding weight training and even the occasional run to my morning routine.

sleeping stone by jo-marshall on flickr

A sleeping otter holding a stone! Animals are also adorable when they sleep.

So logically, I should just go to bed at the same time every night, but life doesn’t always work out that way. Frequently there are necessary and important social things I want to do… like spending time with friends or catching up with my boyfriend. Even the weekends don’t help much. I am still up early – the pooch’s bladder doesn’t understand why two days of the week are different from any other day. The only upside is that sometimes on the weekends I get to crawl back into bed after our walk, (which I looooove). It’s such an awesome treat to grab an extra hour or two of sleep that way, but again, it depends on how busy I am if that is going to happen or not.

I’ve mentioned before that I have another journal where I track my weight, exercise and sleep. I find it useful because it reminds me when I am running low. I know it sounds strange, but sometimes I kind of forget how a week has gone. All I know is that I am blurry eyed and ornery. Then I glance back at the journal pages and can see in a glance that the problem is lack of sleep. It helps remind me to do something about it.

Even Hermes is cute when he sleeps.

Even Hermes is cute when he sleeps.

I do have a couple of techniques I use to sneak in a few more precious Zs. Sometimes, I have to skip working out in the morning. It isn’t my favorite choice, but there are times I dearly need those precious minutes of sleep. I’m more likely to go that route if I know I can move my workout to a different time that day – go for a run after work instead, for example. Another technique is taking a nap in my car on a lunch hour. I know it isn’t elegant, and in fact, it’s a little embarrassing, but if I can find a quiet shady spot to park my car, I’ll throw the seat back, set the alarm, and get an extra hour of rest in. If I am particularly crabby at work or have a big project to work on and feel like my brain isn’t working, it’s the best way to shake off the sleepiness and function again. Finally, I also try to prepare and make up for lost sleep by getting to bed really early on days when things aren’t so busy. It’s a great concept, but not that practical in real life since I’m never not busy. The absolute best thing is to just head up to my cabin for a weekend. That resets all my buttons. I spend the whole weekend just relaxing, napping and restoring my mental health.

The in the talk below, Dr. Foster talks about how sleep effects us. I’ve also read some compelling articles that getting enough sleep is important for weight loss. However, just knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to do. How about you? How much sleep do you need? How do you try to insure that you get it?

Photo credits:

Sophie sleeping by Peter Hunter on flickr

Sleeping Stone by jo-marshall on flickr

Hermes Update and Dealing with Stress

On a walk in the rain

Can’t wait to see this face.

First, good news! I finally got some good news about my little guy. It has been a long, rough week! As I mentioned, his initial surgery to remove the tumor went well, but it was followed up with complications. Hermes spent two nights in the Emergency Animal Hospital and another night at the vet’s getting blood transfusions and IVs. However, I got the call this morning that he is looking great, has finally eaten some food on his own (his last real meal was Monday morning before all this went haywire,) and is sitting up and bright-eyed. The doc is weaning him off his IVs and if all goes well, I’ll have my little guy back home again by the end of the day.

I can’t wait… the house is far too quiet without him.

Here’s an interesting thing – I’ve been handling the stress differently than I ever have before, and it has a lot to do with the changes I have made over the last year.

I actually hold up fairly well under extreme stress. The day-to-day stuff can really get under my skin, but when things go absolutely sideways, I tend to be pretty solid. I think I get this from my dad who was the same way. (Perhaps a good inheritance for once, eh Andra?) He had some, well, let’s call them “anger management issues” on the day-to-day, but when things went really, really bad, he was always calm, cool and collected. I’ve worked hard not to have the anger problems he had, but I’ve nurtured the calm. I tend to be practical, (sometimes to the extreme,) and while I have my teary moments like everyone else, my goal is always to hold it together until I get through to the other side.

The waiting is the hardest part.* Whenever situations like this come up, especially ones dealing with medical issues, there is always waiting involved. My tried and true method of getting through it is books. Preferably something interesting, but fairly light. My favorite are older, formulaic murder mysteries like the Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout. I can’t tell you how many books I flew through back when my mother was in the hospital, waiting on some kind of news.

My other tried and true method is emotional eating. I’m not proud – when the shit is hitting the fan, I’m not going to take the time to count calories. Besides, I love food – and I really love great food, so having something decadent really does make me feel better for a bit. This week, I have been doing both of these things. I’ve been burying my head in books  and coating my throat with wine.

But… that isn’t all I have been doing. I’ve also been running, weight lifting and walking. Now, I need to make this clear – I am not trying to balance out the scale here. There is no way one of my runs will burn up the quantity of dark chocolate almond bark and glasses of wine I’ve had. It’s more that I have added another tool for coping. The night Hermes went in for emergency surgery, I knew it was going to be a couple of hours to before I heard how it went. As I headed towards the kitchen, I heard a voice in my head say, “Is emotional eating really going to help right now???

The rest of me said “*&^$!”

… and then went and put on my running shoes. I had that antsy, nervy energy – the kind that makes you want to pace, or punch something. Going for a run, even a bad run, totally let me escape the situation and work off the twitchiness. And man, were my runs bad. My times were terrible, I had equipment failures, I was distracted and unfocused… and yet, I ran. I found, incidentally, that 2 min run / 1 min walk intervals are perfect for this. I didn’t have the willpower, or the mental capacity, to run much more than this, and “just doing whatever” was actually more stressful because it involved making choices – something I had already been doing way too much of this week. Intervals gave me a structure, a purpose, and a framework, plus I could run full-out for 2 minutes if I wanted knowing I had a break coming. Though by every metric my runs were terrible, for me, they were great.

I also worked on my strength training. I mentioned that I am starting to go through The New Rules of Lifting for Women. Even though without Hermes in the house I could have slept in, instead I got up, got out my weights and went to work. I’ve been walking too. One day this week while I was waiting on a call from the vet, I headed out for an hour-long lunch hour walk. Another morning, before weight training, I went for an early morning power walk.

Sunrise. I took this on an early morning walk this week.

Sunrise. I took this on an early morning walk this week.

This is all really new to me, and believe me, I understand why it wouldn’t be appealing. One of my coworkers is going through a rough time too. He said, “I am having to do enough stuff that I don’t want to do right now, I am not going to make myself run as well.” I get that! And even though it briefly occurred to me to take the rest of my chocolate into the office and put it on the “free food” table in the break room, I haven’t – there is a still the long road of recovery ahead.

Here’s the point – I think everyone deals with stress a little differently. I am not going to judge anyone for how they handle it. For myself, I am surprised that exercise has become something I’ve started turning to. I’ve heard for years that exercise is good for stress, but it always seemed like a lot of blue mud. How could sweating, and panting and working hard feel good? Yet here I am, workout clothes hanging in the laundry, running shoes ready to go.

 

 

* Did I just get Tom Petty stuck in your head? Please tell me I did.

My Two Journals

I have a confession. This isn’t my only journal. I have another.

My other journal.

My other journal. Not pictured: my coffee cup, which is usually nearby.

Back in April, Julian told me about a weight loss journal he had seen at the bookstore and was coveting. It was pretty cool, so we went out one night and picked it up. While we were at the store, a little blank white journal with birds on the cover caught my eye. I like birds, so I picked it up for myself.

I wasn’t sure what I would do with it at the time. I just love journals and I thought I would find a use for it. What I’ve been doing is writing in it almost every weekday morning. (Weekends are a bit hit or miss depending on what I have going on.) I write two pages. On the front I write about what’s going is going on with my health and fitness goals, and I break the back page up into categories: Weight, Food, Exercise, and Good Things I Did For Myself. I just recently added one more category: Sleep.

To anyone else, it would make seriously boring reading. I typically write while having my morning coffee; totally free form and stream of consciousness. Sentences are wonky and every page is full of grammatical and spelling errors – not because I don’t know how to write without spellcheck, but because I just don’t want to take the time. (“Training”, for example, is almost always spelled “traing,” because I don’t have time for the other “in”!) The goal here isn’t to have tome filled with brilliant thoughts to pass on to future generations to read, but instead to just get junk out of my head and onto a page.

The categories on the back pages help me track what’s going on. Writing them down helps keep me more accountable. Weight usually is just a number with a few words, like “where I want to be.” Exercise is where I jot down what I am working on. It isn’t detailed like a training log, it’s just the basics. Food is also just a few sentences – kind of a tally on how I am eating and how I am feeling about it. Good Things I Did For Myself is where I make a short bulleted list of good things that happened the day before. It could be related to fitness, or might be dinner with a girlfriend or sitting and reading a good book. It’s my little way of reminding myself to take care of my heart and mind, as well as my body. The most recent category, Sleep, just got added so I keep an eye on how I am feeling in comparison to the amount of sleep I get. I’ve been short on this one lately and it has been wearing me out. By adding it to my journal I am hoping to focus a little more on making sure I am getting the rest I need.

The difference between it and this blog is that I don’t care how repetitive I am, or how boring, or even how whiney I am in my little white book. Here I try to put ideas and discoveries – big things I am working on. My handwritten journal is for the minutia.

I do think it helps having it though. The accountability I mentioned is part of it, and also having a safe place to vent makes a difference. I started it almost by accident, but I’m really glad I did.

 

 

Smiling The Stress Away

Smile by the_momentI found this article on the Huffington Post. It came out last August so it’s a little older, but the information is still valid. It talks about how smiling, real smiling, can help lower your heart rate when you are stressed.

Here’s an excerpt:

Smiling Could Help with Stress: Study

New research shows that smiling — and especially genuine smiling (where your eyes and mouth muscles are engaged) — may play a part in lowering heart rate after you’ve done something stressful. The study will be published in the journal Psychological Science.

“The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress, you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment,” study researcher Sarah Pressman, of the University of Kansas, said in a statement. “Not only will it help you ‘grin and bear it’ psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well!”

Here’s a link to the full article: Smiling Could Help With Stress: Study

I’m thinking about this because I do a lot of trade shows for my company. It’s stressful, really stressful. First there is the travel – even fun travel can be hard on the body and the mind, and this is rarely fun. Then there is the fact that I’m frequently traveling with coworkers. Ten or twelve hours in a car with anyone can be trying, but with a coworker? Doubly so. Plus there is the show itself. It’s hard work standing all day long in a 10′ square selling your products to people who are mostly uninterested.

It isn’t all bad, but it can be easy to slip into a foul mood. Maybe I should give this a try. Smiling is good for sales – if it lowers my heart rate too, that’s a pretty good bonus!

What is Life?

Quote

Dusk Wheat by Dave Hopton“What is life? It is a flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”

– Crowfoot, last words, 1890

A quick reminder, for when I am feeling overwhelmed and stress – these things are but fragments of a much greater and richer life. Let them go.

Photo credit: Dave Hopton