Dear Miles

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This past Friday Mark and I made the very difficult decision to have our beloved dog, Miles, put to sleep. I know it was the best for Miles, he is now pain free and running and playing in a place more beautiful than I can imagine – I have faith in this. At this very same moment in time, though, I am not in that pain-free, beautiful place. I do believe, as I paraphrase C.S. Lewis, that the grief and pain now is the price I pay for the joy and love that came with Miles in my life.

I had no prior dog experience before Miles, I have always been more of a cat person. My husband had a much loved dog growing up and wanted to get a dog and I was a somewhat willing participant. In fact, I fell in love with a picture of a shelter dog that a friend had posted on Facebook and made arrangements to meet that dog. It was January, cold, snowy and I went to the shelter and met ‘Rudy’. When he was brought out he ran over to me, sat on my foot, leaned against my leg, looked up at me and started gently whining. I bent down to pet him and he just pressed into me harder. My black wool coat was completely covered in dog hair and my mind was bewildered by the emotions I was feeling, I knew that Mark needed to meet this little guy.

Mark met ‘Rudy’ and we agreed to make him part of our family. Since ‘Rudy’ didn’t really know his name – because his previous adopters gave him that name – we renamed him Miles to go along with our two cats, Ella and Louis. I brought Miles home on a day that we were supposed to get a blizzard – it never happened – and Mark needed to spend the night at work because of the supposed blizzard. Life before us was not easy for Miles, he was abandoned in a crate, outside, in a snow storm, and his previously mentioned adoptive parents had to return him to the shelter. Miles had a past with a lot of suspected baggage. And here we were, Miles and I, starting on our life together.

Just about everything about Miles bewildered me. I had no concrete knowledge of how to take care of him. He was shedding heavily, his breath stunk, he tormented our cats, and he felt compelled to mark almost every area of the house – including Ella’s drinking bowl. I was overwhelmed. Then, a lot of the time, he just would jump up by me wherever I was sitting and sit on my lap and lean into me. We were bonding through all of my bewilderment.

We were under the assumption that he was around 5 years old, but later began to fully realize that he was undoubtably a lot older. Miles got seriously ill 3 months after we got him and there were moments in those days that I thought he might die – I was a wreck. We got through it, though, and eventually he began to act more like his typical, goofy self. During this time we discovered that not only was he significantly older than we initially believed, but he also had kidney disease. There were a whole slew of new considerations to deal with in taking care of Miles, which we handled one step at a time.

During this time is when I began feeling that I wanted to start a blog – not about Miles or pet ownership, but about my own journey with weight loss and making healthier choices for life. It stemmed from me having to walk Miles whether I really felt like it or not. I would think to myself, “Just shut up and walk the dog.” Strangely that started to make sense to me about my own response to how I choose to live my own life – “Just shut up and…… workout, meal prep, drink more water, go to bed, forgo the French fries, etc.” This was a total shift in how I had ever thought about losing weight, it was about realizing that I needed to know what truly was best for me and then parenting myself to make the best choices. Miles taught me that there were certain things that simply needed to be done to live my best existence, whether I wanted to do it or not. Miles was this living, breathing, bundle of life that required me to do what needed to be done – and I would ALWAYS do it for him – and I am a living, breathing, bundle of life that needs the same love and consideration from myself.

Over the span of a year our sweet boy gradually declined until this past Friday when I needed to ask the veterinarian what the best prognosis was for Miles as he was, once again, sick and in pain. There were heroics that could have been tried, but none of them would have given my furry baby a better quality of life for any significant amount of time. Mark and I made the heart-wrenching decision to help him ease more gently from this existence into a more peaceful one. Even though 16 months was not nearly enough time to spend with this pup, but we were blessed in so many ways to have him as ours. God bless you my darling boy, you gave us so much more than we ever gave you. You are in my heart always and will be my puppaluppa forever.

Love,

Your Human Mommy

Do Not Disturb

As a teacher approaching the end of the school year I’m slightly overwhelmed and tired. I’ve been teaching for a while so my past experience tells me that everything that’s overwhelming me will get done – even though I don’t have a solid plan of attack in mind right now. If I let my emotions take over I’ll be heading down a very slippery slope to a place that has an abundance of foods that promise to make me feel better. All that will really happen is I’ll wallow even deeper in being overwhelmed, only now there will be the added guilt of trying, unsuccessfully, to eat my way to peace and control. I KNOW this. It’s time that I let go of trying to control and understand every move of how I will get from here to there and trust my abilities to get me through – after all, everything has always been accomplished in the past.

 

Now, for the tired part. I am tired. Then again, I’ve been tired for months now. In fact, I don’t honestly recall the last time I didn’t feel tired. This is a problem that I’m just starting to realize is causing me significant difficulties in making healthy choices for the greater outcome. When did it all start?

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I’ve always been a good sleeper. In the past nine hours of sleep was perfect for me, going to bed at 10:00 p.m. and waking at 7:00 a.m. was my regular schedule through high school. When I was in college I had a little more flexibility in my sleeping hours but I recall that nine hours was still the golden number. There were times in college that I would plan on doing an all-nighter for a test or project, only to get to 11:00 at night and just give it up because, after all, I was tired and going to sleep sounded way more enticing. I was a regular party animal!

As an adult with a full-time job my sleep schedule adjusted to the requirements of my workplace, but still I was clocking between 8-9 hours of shut eye a night. Now that I’m thinking about, everything changed for a very unlikely reason – at least unlikely for me – I started working out in the morning. A-ha!

Anyone that has known me for any significant amount of time knows that I was very opposed to moving my body in any meaningful, healthy way. The first time I joined Weight Watchers I was adamant that I would only change what I was eating, I would absolutely not work out and sweat. I admit that thought process stayed with me for a very, very long time and there are reasons for it, but I won’t go down that road right now. Anyway, I did gradually add working out/moving my body to my routine but by no means was it consistent. Then enter the time period of last spring.

Last spring I decided that my post-work workouts just weren’t happening, it was too enticing for me to forego the gym and just lounge in front of the television. I also decided that I needed to adjust my attitude about moving my body for my health and well-being. That was when my morning workouts began. I practiced the no-think method of working out – when my alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. I turned off my mind and just moved through the steps to getting up, getting dressed, and working out. I was always glad that I had finished my workout, but I knew that if I even gave it one thought after my alarm sounded for my wake up I would simply roll over and go back to sleep. The no-think method worked for me. I actually enjoy my morning workouts. I’m very consistent and I have no desire to adjust that part of my schedule.

The problem isn’t working out early in the morning, though, the problem is that I didn’t make any other changes to the rest of my schedule. I’m getting up earlier but I’m not going to bed any earlier and I’m only averaging about six hours of sleep a night. My body and mind are starting to make it very clear that six hours is not enough time to fully rejuvenate myself. Not only am I tired all the time, but I’m using food to keep me moving when really what I need is sleep. It’s a bit daunting to attack the goal of nine hours of sleep; that would mean going to bed at 8:00 p.m. and that doesn’t really work well considering I do like spending time with my husband and his work day goes a bit longer than mine.

Right now, my goal will be to increase my sleep time to seven hours each night. That goal doesn’t make me panic or feel overwhelmed. I can definitely get to bed by 10:00 p.m. Seven hours is definitely better than six – one step at a time. It’s time to put out the “Do Not Disturb” sign and get some quality sleep time.

Celebrate!

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Hello, my name is Merrette and I celebrate with food. Special occasions and events scream, “Eat me!” to me. Seriously. I’m even a little excited just writing about it. Birthdays, weddings, goody days, holidays, family gatherings, post concerts and recitals, the first day of summer vacation, spring break, after an important task has been completed, visiting my childhood home – and so on, and so on.

I think very fondly on all that celebratory food. I love cake – or maybe mostly the frosting – and don’t even get me started on ice cream. Then there’s all the good old comfort foods from growing up, some of which I can only get when I’m back home. All those thoughts make me smile.

Then reality hits and I feel guilty for finding so much enjoyment in those foods. They certainly don’t help me realize my goals of healthy eating. And when did I begin to focus all those events on food?

Although I don’t know when it happened I believe I know why it happened. On the inside I feel shy and awkward, I always have. Some find this very surprising considering I sang opera professionally over a period of 10 years, but it is true. It has always felt easier to pretend to be someone else. When I was young I was painfully shy, I basically just wanted to disappear. Talking to people was definitely not my idea of a good time – not because of the people (mostly) but because I had no idea what to say or do. To this day I need to remind myself of proper social interaction, and it doesn’t come easily. What has always come easily is eating. Food is my friend and occupies me when I’m not sure of how I should be interacting with people. After all, if your mouth is full you really shouldn’t be talking.

Hmmm. I guess it’s time for me to rethink my approach to eating when I’m celebrating. There are so many layers to it – the food itself, the quantity of food, the event, and the socialization associated with the whole shebang. The socializing is the part that scares me the most, but I can now see that my fear triggers me to eat – that’s no good and it really doesn’t make that much sense. Whether I feel it or not it’s time for me to fake it ’til I make it.

It Started with a Step

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I have taken so many steps on this journey – too many to count. Sometimes the path has been straight and even, but not often or for very long. Most of the time my road has been the curvy, hilly scenic route that has many side roads to explore, where I may have actually gone off course to check things out and then had to scramble up a rock face to get myself back on track. Anyway, here I am.

I’ve lost weight and gained it many times over and in that process I’ve learned what it is that I need to do to lose weight. I get it. I understand and accept those skills and the reasoning behind them. I’m at a very different part of my journey right now. In fact, I didn’t even know that this land that I’ve entered existed: That I want to be healthy. I want to live my life in a way that supports being healthy. Instead of focusing on each step along the way I want to pick up my eyes and see everything that’s in front of me.

I have about 15 pounds to lose to get back to my goal weight and I’m beginning to understand that I’m in no hurry whatsoever. My focus needs to be off the scale and on me as a person. I’m tired of feeling guilty about how I look or what I eat. I’m ready to explore the emotional, psychological side of this journey – the part that I didn’t appreciate very much. I’m beginning to understand, though, that this is where I’m going to put all the pieces I’ve been collecting together.

Since this is my life I’ve decided that I’m going to enjoy where I am and how I’m getting to where I’m going. Now, what exactly is MY healthy?