Thursday, May 14, 2015

Contemplation and Cake


"There are three things extremely hard: 
steel, a diamond, and to know one's self."~Benjamin Franklin

I can admit it: I'm a slow learner. I've been on this lovely planet for 37 years, and only recently have I started to understand what "knowing myself" means. I've spent most of my life looking to others to figure out what I should think, how I should act. But, if you think about it, why should we expect to know ourselves any better than we know others if we don't give time and thought to what lies within us?

So many people have helped me to get to this beginning point of self-discovery: family members, friends, colleagues, and even people who did not have my best interests at heart. Those people have taught me some tough but important lessons to say the least.

Two major learning experiences in the past 6-7 years have really catapulted me into new ways of thinking of life and my role in it. The first was the discovery of meditation through Meditation Oasis, a series of guided meditation podcasts. I began listening to them to fall asleep. I suffered from anxiety and insomnia, and their "deep rest" podcast pulled me out of that vicious cycle. From there, I began to listen to some of their other podcasts (available free from iTunes) and learned to bring my thoughts back to the present and to accept life as it is, not as I think it should be. One of my favorite lines from the "trust" guided meditations is "who are we to know what's intended in this life"? This really puts our existence into perspective. Though unique and important, we are small parts of an infinite universe. Just because we have consciousness does not mean that we can completely control our own lives. 

The second major learning experience was a class I took called "Characters in Conflict." The basis for this class was David Keirsey's Temperament Theory. We studied fictional characters in relation to their temperaments, and in the process learned much about human nature. I learned my innate ways of looking at the world and was able to recognize that others look at it differently. Knowing my core values helps me to embrace my strengths and be cognizant of my weaknesses. It helps me communicate more effectively with others (which has been a great asset in my personal and professional relationships). 

About a million inspirational quotes about knowing yourself, loving yourself, and being true to yourself abound on the internet and on office posters. But I never really gave them much thought until recently. It must be fairly difficult to adequately describe what those words mean. We are all on different paths, and I don't think we can fully explain our journeys to anyone else. Sort of like good poetry, I can feel my path in my heart, but my brain hasn't quite caught up yet. What I do know is that I am much more confident and calm. I rarely feel anxiety or have insomnia. I am a better friend, mother, and teacher than I could have been 10 years ago.

Food for Thought

This blog seems to have a mind of its own. It started out as a weekend posting, but seems to be settling into a Tues/Weds/Thurs posting. Honestly, life has been a little more difficult recently, mostly because it's a stressful as well as emotional time at work . I am getting ready to say goodbye to another outstanding group of seniors, and as always, it's bittersweet. And this brings me to my thoughts on food this week...

First of all, I ATE THE CAKE. And the world did not end. I still stayed within my allotted WW points, but I was disappointed in myself. Not only did I eat cake (on Friday), I also ate three cupcakes over the weekend. But as I look back on the last week or two, I made soooo many more good decisions than I did so-so decisions. Although I will continue to limit refined carbs and sweets, I don't plan to live without them forever. And this past weekend proves that I CAN enjoy in relative moderation, but I have to be intentional. I didn't spiral out of control, but I easily could have. So, the answer to my question last week about when things will get difficult? Yeah...I got a taste of that last weekend. I conquered, but it wasn't exactly easy. 

This weekend will be spent in Kansas City. BBQ and craft beer are central to the itinerary. Check back next week to see what happens.

The Stats

3.23.15: 37 lbs to lose
3.29.15: -4 (33 lbs to lose)
4.4.15: +1 (34 lbs to lose)
4.12.15: -2.5 (31.5 lbs to lose)
4.19.15: -2 (29.5 lbs to lose)
4.26.15: -1.5 (28 lbs to lose)
5.3.15: -1 (27 lbs to lose)*********10 lbs down!!!**********
5.10.15 -.5 (26.5 to lose)*********Wearing smaller pants!*********

What I'm Reading

Tasty, by John McQuaid: a non-fiction work about the evolution of taste. 

"More than vision, or hearing, or even sex, flavor is the most important ingredient at the core of what we are. It created us. The ultimate that the introduction of killing into the world, and with it untold suffering, also expanded intelligence and awareness, and ultimately led to human consciousness" (p. 21, Tasty). 

Whoa--I guess our relationship with food has been complex since the beginning!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sustainable Sustenance


"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good."
~John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Food for Thought

When I set out on my journey to blog every week and lose 37 lbs this year, I did not intend to miss posting. Ever. I enlisted the help of a few great friends to keep me accountable, and they have! So, because life is what it is, it so happens that I truly was too busy to write the post. This doesn't mean that I didn't have time to sit down and do it. It means my mind was too busy, and I didn't have the space I needed to contemplate. But it's OK!! Seriously! My mind has been mostly occupied with my students and their exams, which began (for my classes) yesterday and end tomorrow. I'm starting to feel the relief in my now I forgive myself, I write, I move on. I have a lot of semi-formed thoughts for blog posts, but like I said, not enough brain space. So this post is simply an update on how I'm doing with my healthy eating goals.

I have been following the Weight Watchers plan and continue to lose at a good pace. This is my third go-round with Weight Watchers, and lots of things are different for me now. Though one of my motivations is to look better, front and center is my health and how I feel, physically and emotionally, on a day-to-day basis. Instead of resigning myself to the idea that I have to be hungry to lose weight, I have found ways to stay satisfied while still eating within my points range. Heart disease runs in my family, and I really do not want to be a 37 year old victim of a heart attack. I have high cholesterol, and recently have learned that I have pre-hypertension--ugh! The best remedy for all of these is to lose weight and to fuel my body with nutritious foods.

I have continued to stay almost completely away from sweets (with the rare exception of frozen yogurt and dark chocolate), and mostly away from refined carbs. I feel like I can eat this way for the rest of my life because my cravings are gone. Gone! It's easier than ever to say no to the occasional cookie or piece of candy...right now. But I am constantly wondering when it will get tough. I know the drill--feel good about losing weight, reward self with treats, start rolling down that slippery slope, end up back where I started. Or worse. So, the thing I'm contemplating, almost constantly, is how to prevent it. I've never really "maintained" my weight. I lost it, felt great, and almost immediately began gaining it back. How do I stop myself from doing it again? Truthfully, I don't know. But I DO know that I really never thought much about it in the past. My goals were simple. Get thinner, fit into smaller clothes, look better. And, mostly, I did that by eating frozen dinners, 100 calorie snack packs, and drinking low-carb beer. First of all, that's just gross. Secondly, it is totally not sustainable. I feel so much better the way I'm doing it now and it actually does feel sustainable.

Exercise is still pretty much non-existent in my world. I do, however, keep track of my steps with my phone, and I make it a point to get a little extra walking in during the day, even if it just means an extra trip to the copy machine or parking a little further away. It's supposed to count for something, "they" claim. I plan to start walking/jogging a few times a week and to sign up for a yoga class this summer (which is out of my comfort zone, but that's the only way to grow, right?)

I've lost 10 lbs as of this week, which feels good and looks good on paper. And I've done it eating mostly whole foods and making healthy, not just calorie-cutting, choices. It really does not feel like a "diet," and I am trying not to look at it that way. About once a week, I go out and I don't worry much about what I order. I love craft beer and bar food, and because I can't see myself giving it up forever, I am making it part of my plan now. I try to think this daily: if this is not something I'm willing to give up forever, I should not give it up now. The other thing I try to avoid is obsessing--like digging and digging on the interwebs to find an accurate point-count for a food. I eat it, estimate it if I have to, and MOVE on. Obsessing about food is not sustainable, either. 

Thanks for your patience. It's good to be missed, but I hope not to neglect posting again any time soon. Thanks to those of you helping me keep on track!

5.3.15: The Stats

3.23.15: 37 lbs to lose
3.29.15: -4 (33 lbs to lose)
4.4.15: +1 (34 lbs to lose)
4.12.15: -2.5 (31.5 lbs to lose)
4.19.15: -2 (29.5 lbs to lose)
4.26.15: -1.5 (28 lbs to lose)
5.3.15: -1 (27 lbs to lose)*********10 lbs down!!!**********

5.3.15: New Segment! 

What I'm Reading:

East of Eden by John Steinbeck--a comforting favorite.

"I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one...Humans are caught--in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too--in a net of good and evil...There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well--or ill?"