The Struggle is Real?

The struggle is real! — Or, is it?

My it has always been losing and maintaining a healthy weight. I have felt and agonized over the struggle for almost my entire life. When I was a child I was a victim of others taunts, but as I grew older I started to take things into my own hands. Unfortunately, being in control of my weight loss efforts didn’t alleviate the struggle, it merely made me feel that I was a failure. The struggle continued and it controlled me.

Yesterday, as I was practicing meditation (that’s a whole other story), I had a moment of surprising clarity. Maybe I should classify it as an Ah-ha! moment. The centering thought for the day’s meditation was “Now is my time.” (https://chopracentermeditation.com/experience) At first it just seemed to be a very generic, positive statement then it made me realize that now is not an event it is ALWAYS. My time is always. It’s NOT a struggle, it’s ALWAYS. It’s not a task or goal to achieve, it’s who I am and what I want. It’s ALWAYS available to me.

When I remove the struggle for my perception and live in my time, my always, I feel relaxed and free. I’m no longer clenching on the inside. My time is always and if I want to truly experience it I need to stop clenching and struggling and embrace what it is offering.

Indulgences (or eating what I want to eat)

I am very accomplished at following directions and rules. If you want something done and tell me that the way to accomplish it is done a specific way, I’m your go-to person. I will get it done. WeightWatchers (https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/) tells me how to lose weight – and they are spot on. It works. Period.

My challenge as I move forward on this journey is that I want to eat what I want to eat and that desire is getting stronger. I’ve moved through my version of resentment over what I feel are my designated food options and discovered that I truly don’t like how that feels. I also don’t want to be resigned that because my body is a certain way I shouldn’t deserve to eat joyfully whatever it is that I want to eat. I definitely see those foods that give me the most joy as my indulgences and I know that if I don’t eat them I will successfully lose weight, but I’m done with giving them up. There must be a better view of how I’m looking at this dilemma. The reality is that one way or another I am going to eat whatever it is that I want to eat. My solution now needs to be how can I do just that and continue to lose and then maintain my weight.

Thinking outside the box is not my typical first choice. That seems a bit strange seeing that I can excel at singing on stage and that is definitely considered a creative art. My creativity lies in my ability to express feelings musically with SOMEONE ELSE’S blueprint.

AHA! I just figured something out!! I don’t have to do this all by myself. People have different strengths and I can use their support to give me the blueprint and then I can make it my own. WeightWatchers is definitely my foundational blueprint, it always will be, but now I need more insight on how to add my joyful foods to my everyday existence.

My WeightWatchers leader and personal coach, Joanie C., guided me to discover my approach to pizza. I LOVE pizza. Making my own knock-off version of pizza does not satisfy me and definitely doesn’t give me joy. Here’s my pizza blueprint:

  1. Order a cheese pie for delivery
  2. Serve out ONE slice and cut it into 3 smaller slices
  3. Put the rest of the pizza in the refrigerator to cool down
  4. Eat the pizza with a side salad and glass of red wine
  5. Take the leftover pizza out of the refrigerator and vacuum seal each piece separately
  6. Put leftover pizza in the freezer.

Now for ice cream. In my WeightWatchers meeting room I listened to a fellow member talk about the amazing ice cream sundae she had made with 1/2 cup of ice cream, cut-up fruit, and fat-free whipped topping. She said it filled up her bowl and completely satisfied her. That sounded perfect to me, so I tried it. WOW! It came out to 4 SmartPoints and it joyfully hit the spot. I didn’t feel deprived so there was no side of resentment.

Then there are waffles. My husband, Mark, and I go out to our favorite diner regularly and I always wistfully look through the pancake and waffle section of the menu. I know they are delicious but I absolutely will NOT spend the quantity of SmartPoints I would need to use to eat them. Sigh. Enter Mudhustler from WeightWatchers Connect. (He’s also on FaceBook and Instagram. https://www.facebook.com/mudhustler/   https://www.instagram.com/mudhustler_official/?hl=en) And, enter the Big Ass Waffle!

Perfection – at 4 SmartPoints including the sugar-free syrup. Joyful.

Thank you to my blueprint creators. I’m using your creativity as part of expressing my own creativity in living my healthy life.

Snow Day!

I am a public school teacher. I am a 10-month employee. I have built-in vacations throughout the school year. And, I have snow days from time to time. Today is a snow day! Usually “the call” comes between 4:30 and 5:00 AM, today’s call came early last night. That is a definite treat. No matter how the unexpected (or sometimes anticipated) day off comes I always feel excited – like 9-year-old, clap your hands, and jump up and down excited. When the call comes in the morning it’s sometimes hard for me to fall back asleep. When the extremely rare night before call comes there’s time to prepare for the celebration.

In my past I would have loaded up on comfort foods, grabbed a good book and movie, slept in late, and stayed in my PJs all day. It would basically be a day of eating and not moving very much where I’d end up feeling a bit achy and sluggish.

My new snow day reality is a bit different. I still feel all the excitement, I hit up the grocery store for provisions, and I sleep a bit longer than I would on a normal work day BUT my food choices have surprisingly adapted to my personal health goals and I seem to be no longer capable of sitting still for long periods of time. When on earth did this happen to me?!

My grocery basket last night included bananas, celery & carrots, blue cheese, Frank’s Hot Sauce, BOCA crumbles, Halo Top ice cream, PB2, Quest bars, and a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. Did I need everything I bought? Nope. But, I wanted options for making food on this snowy day. I’m seriously contemplating making Skinny Buffalo Chicken Strips (http://www.skinnytaste.com/skinny-buffalo-chicken-strips/) and Low Fat Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing (http://www.skinnytaste.com/low-fat-creamy-blue-cheese-dressing/) from http://www.skinnytaste.com – hence the celery & carrots, blue cheese, and hot sauce. The BOCA Veggie Ground Crumbles I like to have on hand for one of our favorite Weight Watchers recipes of Pasta with “Meat” Sauce (7 SmartPoints). I had my typical breakfast of a Shakeology protein shake with banana, but I did add a little something special with an Eggo Nutri-Grain Low Fat Whole Grain Waffle spread with PB2. As for the Halo Top ice cream, Quest bars, and Diet Mountain Dew? Total splurges of comfort. Will I eat them any or all of them today? Yes to the diet soda (and, yes, I know it’s really not good for me) but probably no to the other items. Right now I’m splurging on having a second cup of coffee with half-n-half – I’m methodical in measuring out 1 tablespoon for each of my cups of coffee.

I slept an extra 2 hours from my regular work day wake-up time of 5:00 AM. That felt wonderful! I also stayed in my PJs and leisurely prepared and ate my breakfast. Then, instead of heading for the couch and my warm blanket, I tidied up a bit and changed into my yoga clothes for my daily practice with Yoga with Adriene (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFKE7WVJfvaHW5q283SxchA). I feel awesome! When I’ve been sitting too long my Fitbit will buzz to remind me to get up and move, which I will do. I also see some serious shoveling in my near future. Of course I will mix this all in with reading (YOGA: Mastering the Basics – Sandra Anderson/Rolf Sovik, PsyD) and watching some Netflix (The Crown). All-in-all a lovely day.

I still have the excitement for snow days, but now I physically and mentally feel great after the day has ended.

Preparation Without Perfection

“If you follow this plan step-by-step you will be guaranteed success.”

I have bought into that pitch more times than I want to recall. Now I’m much more skeptical of its assertion. Following directions and paying attention to details are definitely two of my strengths, I’ve had success following plans step-by-step. The problem I keep bumping up against is that it’s not possible for me to maintain that rigor of attention forever and I start to gradually slip in my level of success. Then I notice that my perfect efforts, process, success, etc. is not perfect after all. It doesn’t matter if it has to do with weight loss, lesson planning, reading, decorating, organizing, or writing a blog post, as soon as I deviate a bit things start crashing down around me. At least that’s how it feels.

My head tells me that if I do everything I’m supposed to do all will turn out as I want. My head also tells me that if I DON’T do everything I’m supposed to do not only will it not turn out as I want, but also I don’t deserve to have it work out because I failed the plan. I allow my lack of perfection to derail me and send me back to where I started. Why? Why do I do that?!

One area of my life that I have experienced great joy and success while embracing its inherent lack of perfection is performing on stage. There I can accept and allow the imperfection of being human to coexist with the high standards and efforts I practice to be an authentic, accomplished performer – with the proper preparation it’s perfectly acceptable to allow myself to be who and what I am at that very moment.

If I imagine my life as a beautiful tapestry with unusual threads running through it I need to keep my focus on the whole object and not fuss and pull on the threads that don’t seem to fit it the right way. Placing my focus and energy on the unusual thread will only make me pull on it too hard and perhaps destroy what is truly beautiful about the entire piece of art. Breaking those threads will weaken the whole tapestry. The whole is much more important and meaningful than those few threads.

I can see and feel those unusual threads throughout almost every aspect of my life, it’s time I stopped pulling on them. My intention: Preparation without Perfection.

A Milestone and a Goal

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In 80 days I will be celebrating my 50th birthday. 50! I’m not angry, upset, embarrassed, or in denial, I am a bit perplexed, though. The concept of being 50 years old baffles me – how did I get here already? I know who I am and how I feel and that doesn’t jive with my previous understanding of what being 50 is. The laugh must be on me! The truth and reality of being 50 years old is not rigid and set in stone, it’s not any one thing for all people. Yes, it is a fixed number and that is how many years I will have inhabited this body, but I am absolutely certain that each of us is much, much more than a number – if we want to be. Now, if I can just wrap my mind around BEING 50 without falling into a wide-eyed stare I’ll have a much better appearance heading into this next year. Anyway…

My goal to achieve in the next 80 days is to reclaim my goal weight. I know that I can reach this goal. The challenges I have within this timeframe are rooted in my emotions and past experience. This Friday begins my summer vacation from school, which means many exciting and rejuvenating things but it also signals a complete change in the structure of my day. I long for this lack of structure, but I am acutely aware that I depend upon it to keep me in check and on track as far as my eating and moving are concerned. It’s time I reason out a new form of structure to guide me through the summer.

Another challenge heading my way as the summer commences is that I’m heading home to Wisconsin to take a class in World Drumming and visit my family. I’m looking forward to all of this, but my history with heading back home has had me quickly returning to my not so healthy eating and exercise habits of days gone by. I know I can’t control everything heading my way in this setting so I must keep my birthday goal fresh in my mind and gage what it is that I want most in the moment.

And yet another challenge that will present itself soon after I return from Wisconsin is a fabulous Eastern Europe river cruise vacation Mark and I have planned for mid-July. It’s going to be luxurious and grand, and the sites we will be seeing will be new and exciting. Once again I must keep my goal front and center and enjoy the sight-seeing excursions more than those involving food. I will enjoy the local fare as I might not encounter these fresh options again, but I can enjoy it and enjoy feeling satisfied rather than stuffed after the fact.

Front and center: I will reclaim my goal weight by my birthday in September. I will focus on the moment and remind myself of the goal I want to achieve. I will enjoy the new structure and experiences my summer vacation has to offer. I will try new things and be conscious of how I feel.

50, physically and emotionally healthy, and at my goal weight – that’s exactly where I’m headed.

What are your summer goals?