Reaching Out

air conditioners The other night, a girlfriend of mine sent me a text asking if I could help her with her air conditioner. She lives just around the corner so I strolled over to give her a hand. It wasn’t bad. It was a little heavy and her basement stairs are a little awkward, but we got it up easy enough. It took a longer to perform the magic “okay just a bit to the left… no right… no, pull it back a bit, I mean, up” dance that is required to get it perfectly positioned in the window. The whole thing took maybe 20 minutes, then we spent another 10 chatting on her front porch before I walked on home.

It was nice. I felt good about being able to help and I liked getting the chance to chat a bit after. It made me think about my network. I’ve got a pretty terrific group of friends, family and loved ones. I need to reach out to them more. I’m getting better at asking for help with projects (I used to be terrible, but I’ve gotten a lot better over the years,) but I am not very good at calling up a friend to chat or asking someone over for a glass of ice tea on the porch.

Typically when I am going through a hard time, my default is to put my head down and power through. It sometimes causes me to isolate myself from people I care about, partly because I need all my energy to deal with the problem and partly because I’m so fragile that it’s easier to “go it alone.” One kind word and I could break down. However, what I am going through right now isn’t that severe. It’s a rough patch. It’s hitting me hard, but I know I can get through it. Reminding myself to reach out and call a friend now and again seems like good idea.

 

Photo credit: Bonnie Natko on flickr

 

How’s Your Head?

RiverA coworker walked up to me today and in a bright, chipper voice said, “How are YOU doing today?”

I glanced up from the computer, suspicious of his perky tone. “ahhhhhh… I’m fine?” His eyebrows went up. “I mean,” I said cautiously, “I’m not actually in a bad mood.”

“Oh. In that case I’ll leave you alone. I don’t want to spoil your mood.” and he walked off.

I have no idea what that was about.

So, how am I doing? I’ve been writing about boxing, which is both a lot of fun – and blissfully distracting – so I haven’t talked about the mental health aspect. I was supposed to have my appointment with my primary care physician today, but it was moved to next Monday. The fact that I have a meeting with a trainer at the gym on Thursday to discuss my personal fitness goals and another Boxing class on Sunday is doing a wonderful job at keeping me from thinking about how I’m actually doing.

Mostly, I am hanging in there. The weekend was wonderful. It was so peaceful and perfect. The weather was gorgeous, and I managed to get so much done. On Saturday my best gal Cee came over and helped me with some yard projects. You know those projects that are so large you don’t even know where to start? Cee came over and in a little under 2 hours we made huge dents in several of them – big enough that I could actually see the end point and was able to finish up on my own. I worked in the garden, I took a nap, I grilled up a delicious dinner, I played with my dog in the yard. It was great. Sunday was the class, and that too was great.

Being back at work though, that’s a different story. It’s not that my job is so bad, it’s fine, but there is a lot of down time. Time to think. When I am busy, the day goes quick, but when it slows down, other thoughts start to bubble up. See, a great weekend or a new class doesn’t change the underlying problem. They are welcome (and much needed) additions to my life, but they don’t “fix” me. (It does give me empathy for people who are constantly switching form one thing to the next, though.) Not that I expect anything to actually fix me. I am who I am. If I can get a little assistance over the rough patches, that would be very nice.

 

You Are Not Alone

SunriseIt’s interesting what happens when you talk about your problems. It doesn’t take long before you find out you aren’t alone. I talked to a friend about my anxiety and setting up an appointment with my physician to get some help, and wouldn’t you know – they are going through almost the exact same thing. The reasons are different, but the feelings are very similar. The same thing happened when I went through a rough patch following my divorce a few years back. I made the decision to be open about how I was struggling with the whole thing – financially and emotionally. I was amazed at the outpouring of support and the number of people who came to talk to me privately and to say, “I’m going through something similar…”

Truthfully, I already feel a tinsie bit better. Just making the appointment helped. Talking to my friend also really helped. Plus Julian and I took a vacation day recently and actually relaxed. (So often I use my vacation time for things other than vacationing.) We spent time in our state’s beautiful parks, we grilled food, we looked at the water, we even took naps. It was perfect. And I did something else that makes me happy:

I signed up for a boxing class!

I’ve been wanting to learn how to box for awhile. I have some of the equipment and a lovely heavy bag, but I’ve wanted some actual training. I found out recently that a local fitness center has a boxing classes and heard two glowing reviews about the place, (one from one of my friends who does not mince words when she doesn’t like something!) The Center had a Groupon for 50% off drop-in classes recently so I can check it out with a minimum of risk. You have to take their basic boxing training class before you can go to the regular classes, so I signed up for one on the 15th!

I also have a friend who is teaching some hooping classes. I would love to figure out how to get to those as well. I just need to figure out if I can make the times work.

I’m hoping some of the changes I am choosing to make will help. I feel like part of my life is in a rut and I don’t know how to get out. Actually, take that back – I know exactly how to get out, I just don’t have the energy, motivation or confidence I need right now. Hopefully, however, I am on the right track of getting it all back.

 

 

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

Feeling Grateful

album-gratitudeI have two journals. This one, and a physical blank book I write in at home over breakfast. The home journal is for stream of consciousness writing, mostly centered around weight loss, diet, exercise and so forth. It’s my little space to get all the thoughts in my head out and onto the page. Honestly, it is pretty repetitive and occasionally seriously whiney, and having it helps me not bore you all with it!

However, there is one aspect of that journal that I really love. In addition to all the stuff about fitness and whatnot, I also try to include things I am grateful for and the good things I am doing for myself; things like spending time with people I love, reading good books, trying something new, and connecting with old friends.

Today I thought I would share a few things that I am deeply grateful for. In no particular order: 

  • My amazing sister. She has been such a cheerleader through my journey. We don’t always talk or see each other as much as I would like, but we’re working on it. And I love the friendship that keeps growing between us.
  • The lovely lady over at Owls and Orchids who nominated me recently for an award. Those of you that read this little blog and take a moment to comment or say hello make my day. I am grateful for your support.
  • Your blogs. I have learned from you all, laughed with you, and have been inspired so much by all of you. I honestly think that I’ve felt more confident in getting out there and trying new things because I see all that you are doing. You guys awe, inspire and motivate me!
  • My friends. They are rock stars! Some times we see each other a lot, other times hardly at all, but I know they are always there for me and always want the best for me. I know not everyone has a network of supportive friends and that I am lucky, lucky gal.
  • Technology. I keep saying this phrase: I love living in the future! Sure, I know that there are a lot of negatives to all the screen time we have nowadays, but when used well, technology is amazing. It has helped me to lose weight, start running, connect with friends (old and new), meditate, make healthy meals, find running and biking trails… the list goes on and on.
  • My health. I know I talk about it a lot, but I feel so different from I did. I have more energy and more zest for the everyday. …of course, I also have a lot more aches and pains. (Thanks, strength training!!) Still, now that I have been focusing on it, I am all the more grateful for what I have. So many folks struggle with health issues – my heart goes out to them. I may not be exactly where I want to be fitness-wise, but I am healthy and feeling good. It is something to be thankful for.
  • My guy. Julian and I have been together a little over 3 years now and things just keep getting better and better. How great is that?

What can I say? Though sometimes I get overwhelmed and frustrated, I have to say, life is good. I am very, very fortunate. It’s good to look back and remember all that.

Birthday Boxing

Guess what I got for my birthday?Thanks by Maxim Pierre

A Heavy Bag!!

My awesome best gal Cee got it for me! How cool is that?

I haven’t got it mounted, and I am going to need to get gloves and some training, but I am so excited! Julian already owns a speed bag, so I envision the basement of my house becoming a mini gym soon. (Although I have the weight lifting equipment in the middle of the living room. Yes, I’ve become that gal.)

It’s more than an awesome gift though, I says something about how my friends see me. It also shows that they support the woman I have become over the past 9 months. It’s been a big change. When Cee got me that bag, it wasn’t just about me wanting to learn to box, it also said, “I love you and I support what you are doing.”

I tell you, I have fantastic friends!

Birthday cake by Paul Downey

Photo credit: Thanks by Maxim Pierre
Photo credit: Birthday Cake by Paul Downey

Big Bills, Garage Sales and Pup Recovery

Why yes, I am feeling much better, thanks.

Why yes, I am feeling much better, thanks. I think you should give me some ham.

Hermes had the staples from his surgery removed on Tuesday morning. He’s almost like a new dog. He has so much energy right now – I love it! We just started getting back to full half hour walks at close to our old speed. (I’ve been taking it slow with him to allow for full healing.) Having him feeling better has helped my mood as well.

August was a hard month. I can’t complain – everything resolved itself well, but it was still a tough month. For one thing, it was expensive. My house is a two unit with a one bedroom apartment in it that I rent out. As a rental property, it has to be inspected by the city every few years and the furnace and hot water heater have to be checked by experts. The house passed with flying colors, but the furnace failed the inspection. Not a huge deal, it was old and I was expecting it to go any time, but still a fairly large outlay of cash to have it replaced. Then, of course, I had to pay for the inspections as well. Add to those bills all of Hermes’ emergency pet care, and I’m pretty depleted. I had to pull money from all my “extra” accounts to pay for everything. That means a few of my big plans are on hold.

It was a busy month too. I am wrapping up my freelance work for the summer. I am on the final leg, thank goodness. While I love doing it, it will be good to take a break. Plus there are all the “normal” activities that keep me busy – friends, family, my nonprofit work, my for profit job… all this plus working out 5-6 times a week. Life is good and I like doing all of it, but again, you add on extra things like meeting with furnace repairmen and running to the animal hospital twice a day, and it isn’t only my bank accounts that are depleted – it’s my energy levels as well.

That being said, I thought Labor Day weekend was going to be a turning point. While Saturday was really productive, the rest of the weekend ended up being more of the same – especially the freelance work. That took up the most time. I didn’t get any running in and I only got one of the several naps I had hoped for! (I do love naps.) The bright side was that I started work on my annual garage sale – it’s a huge project, and I have just one month.

Every year for several years now, (I think this will be our eighth,) my best friends and I have held a garage sale at my house. We keep the prices cheap, the booze flowing and good people all around. We’ve pretty much got it down to a science and we do quite well most years. I am hoping for a particularly good year – I would love to replenish some of those bank accounts I mentioned! Since the summer was so busy, we’ve pushed it all to the fall. We are planning on having it October 4th and 5th. We’ve found fall sales to be good in the past, people are still in the mood to hit sales, but there are less of them, so we get good traffic.

I’ve got a ton of stuff to do in preparation. Not only do I have a lot to sell, but the house and yard needs to be put into shape. That’s what was great about last Saturday. I managed to get started on it, and started putting a plan into place how to finish it. A plan is needed – four weeks isn’t far away at all!!

Sigh... this is probably true.

Sigh… this is probably true.

Magical Wishes

Genie Lamp by DavidD on flickrI ran across this article on Fit, Feminist and (almost) Fifty on the fallacy of weight loss miracle cures. (They have so many great articles over there, check them out if you get a chance.) Anyway, it reminded me of something that’s been happening in my own life in regards to my weight loss: dealing with the question: So, what are you doing?

It comes up almost every time I bump into someone who hasn’t seen me for awhile. I have a small frame, so my weight loss is fairly obvious. Inevitably the So, what are you doing?question comes up. The frustrating thing is that they don’t really want to know. No one wants to hear the real answer. If I start to tell the truth, “I used the My Fitness Pal app on my phone to track calories.” their eyes glaze over and they look away. I have actually had someone, a friend, turn her head and start a new conversation with someone else while I was in the middle of that sentence, at about “on my phone to track…” The truth is what everyone already knows – there is only one way to lose weight: burn more calories than you are taking in. It doesn’t really matter how you do it. Different methods work for different people, but what it comes down to is, you have to work out a little more and eat foods that are (mostly) good for you. But, of course, that isn’t what people want to hear. What they want is a miracle cure. They want to take a pill or an extract and have the “pounds melt away.”

The other thing that happens is that people hear I am running and think that is how I lost weight. It isn’t, and frankly, it really irritates me when people leap to that assumption. I know what they’re doing. They are finding a reason they can’t lose weight themselves. It goes something like this: Oh, she’s a runner now and lost a bunch of weight, but I can’t do that because (insert reason for not running) so therefor, I can’t lose weight like her. What I try to explain is that I lost the weight first. I was not running at my heaviest. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the heck out of people that are out there running while overweight. Talk about being brave and strong! I see those folks out on the trails and I always want to run up and shake their hand and tell them how awesome I think they are. (I don’t because that would be weird, but I think about it.) But that wasn’t me. Instead, I waited until I was at a size where I felt more comfortable, and that’s when I started running. I don’t run to lose weight. I run to keep the weight off. I also run to increase my stamina, my endurance and my confidence in myself. I run because I am finding I can do a lot more than I ever thought possible – but that all came after the weight.

I was venting to Julian about all this and he came up with the absolutely perfect solution. He gave me a phrase to use:

Well, I have two wishes left… and you know what?  I am taking offers…

I’ve used it a bunch. It never fails to get a laugh – usually accompanied by an eye roll. It directly confronts the magical cure mentality in a harmless way. If they press, I typically following it up with “I eat a little less, I work out a little more,” and leave it at that. Weight loss is a really personal journey. I have a few dear friends I can talk about it with, but otherwise I try not to talk about it too much, except here on my blog with you, dear reader!

Photo credit: davidd

Photos of Long View Hill

All right, I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while – I guess now is the time… deep breath….

I’ve compiled a few photos so you can do some “before and current comparisons” that I am going to post. I admit – I’m a little nervous about all this for a whole bunch of reasons, but I figure it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. So, here we go!

Through the years

2005

Good gracious, I have mixed feelings about this photo. On one hand, it was taken on a wonderful trip to Las Vegas with my best girlfriends. We had a great time, and if I look a little tipsy in this photo, that’s because I undoubtably was. I actually have another version of this photo that isn’t quite so… bosomy that I like much better, but this one, (despite my awkward pose… again, lots of alcohol was involved,) shows my figure in all it’s ummmm… glory.

At the time, I thought that shirt was so pretty on me…. sigh….

2010

This is pretty much a standard “me” shot. Nothing fancy, just my day-to-day look. If I look a bit pale, it’s because I had a horrible case of car sickness that day. A friend of mine (the one whose hand you see on my shoulder) and I had taken a long, long drive that day. When we got to our destination I was sick as a dog.  Ah well… Anyway, this is pretty much what I looked like for years.

2012

Me in my new glasses

September 2012

In the photo up above I am all dressed up for a fancy event. This was taken in October of last year. I had a new haircut and brand new glasses at the time. I was lookin’ (and feeling) good that night!

Also in September of last year, I had a good friend take some head shots of me. I needed some photos for work. This is one of the series she took. I love this photo, despite the fact it was hotter than blazes that day and I look a little flushed.

I am not sure of my weight in these, as I’ve said, I have always been a bit slapdash in recording that kind of thingbut I would guess I was roughly in the range of 180 -190 pounds at my heaviest and 170 at my lowest. I am 5’6″.

Yesterday

Last Night - New Dress

So, these were taken last night. The first one I obviously took myself in my dining room mirror (note the crazy number of books piled in front of it) and the second was taken by my best gal Cee. I’m rocking a brand new dress I bought at Target the other day. My boyfriend Julian is out-of-town this weekend so I took some photos of my new dress to send him while he was away. They turned out so well, they were the final push that got me to post all of these.

I honestly don’t have a lot of photos of myself. I have a hard time taking them. If you saw all the struggles I went through with the photographer that took my head shots, you’d laugh. (Let’s just say that tears were involved.) It’s not that I am so particular or even that I don’t like having my photo taken, it is just that I am the most awkward photo subject on the planet. I have dated 3 amateur photographers in my life. Not one of them could get a decent photo of me. All of them threw their hands up in the air and gave up! Of course Cee nailed it on the first shot!

Me and Julian

Julian and Me

Finally, here is a shot of Julian and I, taken just last month. (Hi hon!) Now you can see what we both look like!

Note: I am 135 pounds in the in the one with Julian and 133 in the one above from last night, but I don’t consider these “before and after” photos. They are just past and present. I consider myself still a work in progress, and I am expecting my body to continue to change. (In fact, if anything, I expect my weight to go up some as I continue to lift weights!)

Fit, Feminist and (almost) Fifty had a great post today about Measurements, Counting and Motivation. It’s more on tracking the numbers (like running speed), but along with that, I regret now that I didn’t take more photos of myself back when I started – just for comparison. Maybe I will take some more soon so that I can track my changes as I go forward… and now that I have posted these, I’ll feel more comfortable keeping you all up to date!

Rough Roads

Bumpy Road by Hiroshi MiyazakiA few weeks back I was getting down on myself because I hadn’t been able to work out the way I wanted too. It was one of those periods where I was having problems squeezing everything in, and I was getting pretty discouraged with myself. It seemed like every moment of free space was taken up.

Then, while walking Hermes, it hit me that I work out every single day. That seems like something you should know, right? But in my case, it was such a part of my routine that I didn’t include as working out. I’m talking about dog walks, of course. And it cracks me up that in the middle of mentally beating myself up for not working out, I looked around and said, “Heeeeeyyyy wait a minute… I’m working out right now!” As, I’ve written before, Hermes gets walked about a half hour in the morning and another at night (a little longer on the weekends or when the weather is really nice.) So, almost every day I walk between four and five miles.

I realized in that moment that I was being silly for beating myself up. Instead of looking at it that way, I needed to turn it around and feel great about every extra workout I can get in – not be upset about the ones I can’t. I was walking every day, running two to three times a week and lifting weights three times a week. It wasn’t everything I wanted, but it was pretty solid.

Then life kind of exploded.

Shortly after this incident, a bunch of things happened all at once. A very important person in my life passed away. My freelance work became very busy. Then my day job got extremely busy. Then the nonprofit Board that I am on got some news that kicked us into high-gear super planning mode. On top of all this, I had to be out of town for work for a week. Then, when I get back, and things start to settle down, my dog Hermes was injured. My lunch hours started consisting of me running around taking care of freelance and Board business, my evenings filled with more freelance work. Plus, Julian is moving this month and I really want to help him if I can, as well. June quickly became a month of priorities. People I loved and things I cared about needed me. Working out and eating well had to go even further back on the burner for awhile.

You know what? That’s okay. I am working out because I want a better life, but sometimes a better life means I can’t work out. I can accept that as much I would like to be a woman who has her routines, that there are times those routines need to go out the window. It’s hard, because I read fitness blogs that get me motivated and I have all these goals and things I want to try, but I have decided that fitness is going to be a way of life for me, which means I have plenty of years ahead to get those goals. Not everything has to happen right now.

The trick, (and it is a tough one,) is not to let momentary departures from the path completely derail me. I have some things that help though. Writing here in my blog makes me want to get back out there, as does writing in my daily journal. Hermes is definitely on the mend and we are starting our walks again. They are a lot slower and a bit shorter than they were, but just the act of getting out there makes me want to do more. I also have some things I that love doing – namely kayaking and my boxing DVD. They are so fun and I love them so much that it doesn’t feel like chore. I miss them when I can’t do them.

It would be nice if life was smooth and easy, or at least if life could space out the bumpiness so it didn’t all hit at once, but it just doesn’t end up that way. All we can do is take one moment at a time and do the best we can.

 

Photo credit: Hiroshi Miyazaki