Thursday, February 28, 2008

Today is What Counts

It is our choices that show what we truly are,
far more than our abilities. ~ J.K. Rowling

First, THANK YOU to those of you who commented yesterday. I appreciate your support more than I can express. If nothing else, it feels SO good to know that I can say what I said and know that someone understands all the crazy, mixed-up feelings this journey creates.

I am feeling like the sun is shining a bit more today. I certainly know I'm not out of the woods and will face the same issue - do I want to do this or not? - again and again. But for today, I am feeling a bit more like my old optimistic self.

You know what tipped the scale (pardon the expression)? It was a conversation I'd overheard the day before. I attended an all-day planning retreat for my Master Gardener program. At one point, two women sitting by me began talking about their workouts and how one woman was just beginning a Pilate's class. Turns out that one of the women is a personal trainer. Also turns out that both these women are right around my age - and they look fabulous!

As I listened to them, I found myself thinking, "Yeah, I used to walk every single day... I used to work out with a trainer twice a week... I used to weigh 50 pounds less than I do now." But as I drove home from the meeting, I had to face the fact that what I USED to do a few years ago and what I MAY do tomorrow really don't count for much when it comes to being healthy. The only thing that truly matters is what I do TODAY.

So after I posted that poor-me entry yesterday, I put on my shoes, pulled out my iPod, and went for what turned out to be a brisk 45-minute walk. I also kept the commitment I'd made at the previous nights' weigh in: to track my food no matter what I ate. I was accountable and I kept my promise to myself. It's amazing how good that can feel.

It's a new day, a fresh start. My friend Rosemary is coming in about an hour so we can walk this morning. One foot in front of the other, and one day at a time. It sounds like a cliché, but it's sure true for me.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It All Comes Down to a Decision

The hardest thing to learn in life is
which bridge to cross
and which to burn. ~ David Russell

Boy, have I got a bad case of "I-don't-give-a-darn" today. Too bad, too: the sun is shining, it's warm and beautiful... I saw a rabbit by the birdbath this morning when I opened the blinds. It's a great day for taking a walk and for counting my blessings.

And all I can focus on is being fat.

I had my weight support group last night, and I was back to weighing what I did at the first of the year. I know from having done this before that I'm farting around, not really committing to losing weight. We talked about this last night, and Oprah has said it many times: it all comes down to the decision to lose weight.

I've been conducting a bit of an experiment these last two weeks. I wanted to try focusing on the walking and not on the food. But this past week, I haven't focused on anything other than eating whatever/whenever I wanted. I felt the results in my body and, more importantly, in my spirit long before I stepped on the scale last night.

I am so tired of having weight be the thing that defines me, the issue that shapes my entire life. I've fought this since I was a child and, with the exception of the two years I was thin after losing 50 pounds with Weight Watchers, I've lived my whole life as an overweight woman. I am trying to decide if I want to live whatever years I have left, beating myself up over the same issue.

Is it really possible to change my focus, to put my emphasis on walking for good health (and for Alaska!) and not worry about what the scale shows? Can I truly feel comfortable in saying, "I am an overweight woman and I love myself just as I am." Would it be possible to stop worrying about what I'm eating day in and day out, and simply enjoy the rest of my life?

I sure don't have the answers this morning, but I know that I'm awfully tired of dealing with the questions.

Until next time...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Finished is Way Better Than Perfect!

I am still learning. ~ Michelangelo

As promised some time ago, here's a photo of the log cabin block I actually stitched, instead of the photo I "borrowed" off the Internet to illustrate the point I was making in that days' post. My block is not quite as perfect: heck, mine's not perfect at all! But it's finished, and I'm very proud of it. It was my first log cabin block, and it was a booger to do!

Isn't that the way of things? If something comes easy, we may not get quite as excited when we finish. But when the task is difficult, and requires a lot of patience and perseverance, we want to shout to the stars when we reach our goal.

I know you can see where I'm going with this.

Anything we choose to do in life that's difficult is worth the effort. Losing weight, making a career change, quitting smoking, getting our spending habits under control. Taking a positive step in life is scary and requires that we be very gentle with ourselves.

It's like my quilt block: it took a long time for this beginner to create, and required all of my patience. I had to set it aside a few times and walk away. I cried once: I ripped out seams a few times. But I stuck with it and in the end, I have something I'm proud to call my own.

Michelangelo is said to have made the humble quote listed above when he was in his 80s. I figure if he can say that after all his creations and works of great art, it certainly applies to me, and maybe to you, too. I am still learning -- about good health, about wise choices, about quilting, and about life. We're all going to make mistakes along the way, but we will reach our goals -- as long as we don't give up!

Until next time...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

California (Garden) Dreaming

My green thumb came only as a result
of the mistakes I made while learning to see things
from the plant's point of view. ~ H. Fred Ale

Hubby and I took a class together yesterday on basic landscape design. I must admit that it was pretty rudimentary, but I think we can always learn something new, if we allow ourselves to. I learned of a few new plants that might work well in my garden this year: Pink Breath of Heaven; Dwarf Rosemary... beautiful plants.

The nicest part of the morning was spending about 30 minutes walking around the campus, looking at various plants. We actually got to see (and smell!) the two plants mentioned above. Yes, there are many plants in bloom right now here in southern California. You should see my Camellia: it's covered in huge pink flowers! If it weren't raining right now, I'd take a photo to post.

I always feel a bit in awe at this time of year. I was born and raised in Salt Lake City where flowers don't emerge from the snow until March. When I first moved to California nine years ago this month, I couldn't grasp how people gardened in a place where it never freezes. I'm still learning all the tips and techniques, but I feel blessed to be living in such a lovely, mild climate.

So it's time to put paper to pencil and draw out a diagram for our backyard, which needs lots of help! Anyone care to come over and help me make a plan for the California garden of my dreams? I'll put the coffee on.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Throwing Food Away

Research tells us fourteen out of any ten
individuals likes chocolate. ~ Sandra Boynton

I just threw away twenty-eight Robin's Eggs. Twenty-eight luscious, chocolaty malt-ball eggs went down my garbage disposal. Yep, I counted them as I threw them in.

I thought about sending them to work today with hubby, but changed my mind. After he left, I knew that was a mistake because they immediately started calling my name.

I pulled out my quilting homework for tomorrow night's class, to get my mind off of the candy. But those eggs are persistent little buggers. No matter where I put them, they kept catching my eye.

I honestly thought about eating them, as I have been doing over the last few days. But last night at my weight support group, I unexpectedly dropped 1.5 pounds. What a wonderful suprise! However, I knew my behavior this week did not match that loss: it honestly was just a fluke of the scale. I also know that unless I'm careful this week, my sugary over-eating will catch up with me when I weigh next Tuesday evening.

Then we talked last night about one's ability to throw away food. It's a hard thing for some people: life lessons of wastefulness versus frugality come to mind for many. I was certainly raised by parents who were children of the Depression. I was taught to clean my plate as I thought of the starving children in Asia. But I also know that as an adult, my stomach can easily become the receptacle for more garbage than I could ever put down my disposal.

I truly want to treat myself better than that.

So just for today, I let those yummy Robins Eggs go into the sink instead of onto my hips. I'll fight that battle again, I know. But for today, I won!

How about you? Do you have a hard time throwing away food that's still edible?

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Healthy Me Check In: WANT Power

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It's so hard when I have to,
and so easy when I want to. ~ Annie Gottlier

I am giving myself a big old non-scale victory this week, for keeping my commitment to walk more often.

I've walked for 30 minutes on four out of the last nine days. I realize that I still have lots of room for improvement: I want to eventually walk every day. But just for today, I'm not going to worry about that. I'm going to celebrate my achievement. Yay Me!

There is a lot of talk within weight loss circles about motivation and willpower. But you know what I think the secret is? It's about wanting something so much that nothing can stand in your way. Think of any toddler you know: when they get their mind set on having something, nothing stops then from trying over and over to get what they want. This isn't WILL power: it's WANT power.

It's the same with us. I've felt rather wishy-washy about exercising until we made the decision to go to Alaska. Now, more than anything, I want to be fit enough to be able to enjoy the great outdoors. Notice I didn't say, "thin enough." That's not my goal, although I know losing weight will be a by-product of my efforts (if I stop eating all the extra treats - see yesterday's post!)

I have Alaska clearly in mind as I head out the door to walk. That goal helps push harder and pump my arms more, and to almost enjoy the idea that I'm sweating like crazy (yuck!) The thought of Alaska is actually making me consider - gasp! - going back to the gym so I can start strength training again, which I once loved doing.

As my quote for today says, "It's so hard when I have to, and so easy when I want to." So here's my question to you:

What do you want more than anything?

Let's embrace our inner two-year-old and let nothing stand in our way!

Until next time...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sugar, Sugar

Vegetables are a must on a diet.
I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread,
and pumpkin pie. ~ Jim Davis

I am eating waaaaay too much sugar lately. You know how that goes: the more sugar you eat, the more of it crave. It's a vicious cycle that's hard to break. The worst part is that right now, I don't seem very interested in breaking the habit. I've been trying to figure out what that's happening. And I've begin to wonder...

Is it because I'm walking more?

When I decided last week to start getting stronger for Alaska, I said I was going to put my focus on exercise and not worry quite so much about diet. After all, if I can hike all over the Kenai Peninsula six months from now, would I care if the scale hasn't budged from what it reads today? Does the number matter as long as I can be as active as I desire?

The answer, in theory, is no.

But the reality is something very different.

When I don't focus on eating healthy, I get way off track with my eating. Out-of-control, who-gives-a-damn kind of off track. It's as if the little girl inside me starts jumping up and down, saying, "Yippee! I get to eat whatever I want!" The result is that I've had more sugar headaches and food hangovers this week than I've had in a long time.

I also wonder if that little girl inside me -- or perhaps it's the cunning adult within! -- is saying, "You know, you're moving more now. That frees you up to be able to eat what you want. Trust me on this."

So, the good news is that I walked three times this past week, which is 100% more than I've been doing. The bad news is that I'm not training for a marathon! Walking three times doesn't offset the poison I've been putting into my body.

I seem to have forgotten the second part of the "secret" formula for losing weight:

Move a little more and eat a little LESS!

Until next time...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Doing My Civic Duty

Wisdom is the quality that keeps you from
getting into situations where you need it. ~Doug Larson

A few weeks ago, I was empanelled as a member of the Federal Grand Jury.

Now, this distinction came to me: I did not seek it. I was summoned, just as many of us are summoned to be jurors in our local courts. The difference is that my commitment is for six months, and rather than being one of twelve jurors who decide guilt or innocence, I am one of sixteen people who decide to indict or not to indict.

Yesterday was my first official day, and it was a fascinating experience! We heard six cases, presented by six different attorneys for the United States. We heard witnesses from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and a couple of special agents from the State Department. I would tell you the details of what went on, but then I'd have to kill you.

Just teasing, of course. They would kill me, instead.

We are bound to secrecy in all of this, which is difficult for someone like me who loves to share every detail of her life. But I respect the reasons why we can't talk about what we do. Suffice to say that it's an eye-opening experience for this law-abiding citizen (does an occasional speeding ticket count?) As corny as it may sound, I feel honored to be part of the justice system at this high level.

So once a week for the next six months, I will be driving into Los Angeles to wear the hat of a Federal Grand Juror. This will be good for me because I get really nervous driving alone around such a big city. Correction: a HUGE city with some of the worst rush-hour traffic in the country.

I took a wrong turn at the bottom of my exit yesterday and ended up in LA's Chinatown district. But I was very proud of myself: I kept my head and remained calm, weaving my way back to where I needed to be, with time to spare. Next week will be easier, now that I've done it once.

So that's where you'll find me every Friday for the next couple of months: listening to the crazy ways we humans can break our laws, and deciding if that person should stand trial. Until yesterday, I had never actually seen an FBI agent in the flesh.

Funny: they look just like the rest of us.

Until next time...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Be Good to Your Sweet Heart

When your heart speaks, take good notes.
~ Judith Campbell

Happy Valentine's Day!

What gifts are you going to give your sweet heart today? I'm not talking about your mate or the person you're wooing. I'm literally talking about your heart - your very tender, very vulnerable sweet heart.

Today and for the rest of the year, I'm going to give my heart gifts that are both literal and figurative.

First, I'm going to literally give my heart the gift of good health. I've walked two out of the last three days, and have a date with Rosemary to head out again this morning. Walking my way toward Alaska is a huge present that will help my heart be stronger! Watching my intake of saturated and trans fats will add to the gift. Throw in lots of fruits and veggies and my gift basket overflows.

But my heart needs other kinds of gifts, as well, and I plan to listen when my heart tells me to follow my passions:

I want to spend time quilting with beautiful fabrics of all kinds, which feeds my senses on so many levels. I'm currently taking a fifteen-week quilting class with a teacher who says there are no mistakes: it's all part of the creative process. I like her thinking!

When I discovered quilting last summer, I neglected my poor garden, and my heart is telling me it's time to spend time playing in the dirt again. I have a new spot available this year to plant flowers and herbs. It's countdown time to warm weather.

It's important to my heart that I spend time with friends and loved ones, keeping those social connections strong. Other people feed my spirit in ways I can't accomplish alone. I want to add new volunteer efforts as well.

My heart also needs quiet time, to read, to write and to try meditation. Most importantly, I need the quiet time to reflect on my blessings and keep gratitude in my heart.

What is your sweet heart telling you it needs today and for the rest of the year? Take time to listen, and don't forget to take good notes!

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Six Months and Counting...

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature's peace will flow into you
as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own
freshness into you...
while cares will drop off like
autumn leaves. ~ John Muir

We're going to Alaska!

This is a trip my husband and I have dreamed of taking for over four years now. But something always got in the way. You know how it is: helping the kids with their education, putting a new roof on the house -- little things like that.

But this is our year. We've booked our flight for August 31 and we're going to the Kenai Peninsula for two weeks. I can almost see a whale breaching from here.

As excited as I am to be making plans, I realized something: if I don't get myself in shape, I'm going to be enjoying most of the sites from the car, rather than out walking among the trees and along the riverbeds. I don't want that to happen.

I want to experience the beauty of Alaska by being active. I'm not talking about hiking mountains and living off the land. A nice cozy hotel room sounds just great to me! But I want to explore trails and walk to Exit Glacier, without getting winded. I walk to head up a hillside path without fear that I won't be able to make it to the top. Most of all, I want the energy to be fully present and engaged during this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

So that means preparing now. I've created a ticker at the top of my blog, to mark off the time I have left until we fly out on August 31st. Six months and counting to walk as often as possible, to increase my strength, to tackle the paths here that go up hill and down, in order to ready for my Alaska adventure.

I have a feeling that those six months will fly by!

Until next time...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Taking Action - Yay Me!

I'd rather wear out than rust out.
~ George Whitefield

I did it! I walked for 30 minutes today!

Now this may not seem much to brag about to some of you, but for me, it's HUGE. I've been a major couch potato for many, many months now, and could almost feel things rusting inside me. I know I may even be sore tomorrow: it's been that long.

I think our bodies are like automobiles in so many ways. We need quality fuel (AKA healthy food) to keep us going... routine maintenance so individual parts will stay in top running order. We also require regular use, to keep everything free from corrosion.

The simple exercise of walking is so good for the machine we call our body. It keeps our joints lubricated, our bones strong, our muscles limber. The heart starts pumping like a finely tuned engine. Walking also lifts our spirits and helps keep depression in check. And the best news is that it doesn’t require a gym membership or fancy equipment. I know all this, yet here I've been sitting for over a year.

Fighting against the inertia that's been my best friend lately is an incredible challenge. But I keep remembering how good it used to feel to walk every day; to tackle and conquer the huge hill behind my house; to go out in the sun and the rain, enjoying the feel of the weather on my very strong (and dare I say it - sexy?) legs.

I want that all again.

So I'm writing today to remember how good I feel at this moment and how proud I am of myself. I'm also very grateful to Rosemary for going with me this morning.

Hip, hip hurrah -- I'm on my way!

Until next time...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Because Kindness Matters

Wherever there is a human being,
there is an opportunity for a kindness. ~ Seneca

A few days ago, Mary over at Confessions of a Craft Addict posted a challenge that I'm taking on. Will you join me? She wants us to "Share the Love” this month.

Here are the rules:

1. Do a little something sweet for someone who would not expect it, by March 1.

That's it! Tough, eh? NOT!

Think of the little things you can do that will make someone's day, then do it. Tell a woman you pass on the street that she looks great in the color she's wearing... offer to take someone's cart back inside for them at the grocery store... leave a note under someone's windshield, telling them to have a great day. The list could go on and on, and not one of them will cost us a dime. But the payback will feel terrific!

So waddya say? During this week of candy hearts and flowers, will you Share the Love with someone who doesn't expect it? Let's let Mary know that we're up to her challenge!


P.S. To those of you who wrote, complementing me on the photo of my log cabin quilt block in my last post... I must confess: it's not mine. I "borrowed" it from the Internet, to show you an example of what I was working on when the analogy of getting healthy struck. But I promise that when my log cabin block is done, I'll post it here. Stay tuned...

Until next time...

Friday, February 8, 2008

One Step at a Time

I will persist until I succeed.
Always will I take another step.
If that is of no avail I will take another,
and yet another.
In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult...
I know that small attempts, repeated,
will complete any undertaking. ~ Og Mandino

I had a quilting class last night, the second in a 15-week series. We learned to make a log cabin block, which is pictured above. You can see that it's made up of lots of tiny pieces of fabric, all joined together. It starts with the center square, then you add fabric to the right, then the bottom, then the left, then the top, continuing on around until the block is completed.

As I was driving home last night, I began to realize how much this quilting process is like the journey we take to get healthier.

That center square is me, and as I begin to move toward a healthier lifestyle, I add on another piece to my life. Perhaps the first piece is drinking enough water every day; the next might be adding more fruits and veggies into my day; the next could be cutting out all fast-food.

Soon, the overall quilt pattern begins to emerge and the excitement builds. There will come a day when my clothes will feel looser and my energy will increase. This will help me keep going as I begin to see the new healthy me emerge. Eventually, I'll add the outer pieces, which will be smaller clothes and no more medications for blood pressure and cholesterol.

Whether quilting or getting healthy, it's a step-by-step process that requires an investment of time, patience and a vision for what will be. I'm creating the quilt of my healthy life and I will succeed -- as long as I don't give up.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Aftermath of Super Tuesday

Bad officials are elected by good citizens
who do not vote. ~ George Jean Nathan

I spent the afternoon yesterday volunteering at a polling place. It was an interesting experience, and one I'll likely do again during the general election this November. I like meeting people who vote. I strongly believe in the power of voting, so it was great to interact with others who feel the same.

I was assigned the task of handing people their ballot, and explaining to them the process for completing it. This meant, of course, that I knew which party people were voting. So I began playing a little game with myself as people walked in the door: could I pick out a Republican or a Democrat, based on appearance?

Turns out, you can't. Those who I thought looked conservative to me would ask for a Democratic ballet; those who I pegged as liberals would ask for a Republican ballet. I was wrong a much of the time -- and isn't that a good thing!

There is a great deal of political cynicism in our country today, and I feel that if you don't vote, you don't have a right to complain about how our country is run. Vote for the Republicans; Vote for the Democrats; Vote for the Purple People Eater. It doesn't matter, as long as you exercise your right and privilege to vote!

My name is Pattie, and I approved this ad. :-)

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Healthy Me Check-In: Reclaiming my Mojo!

What you do speaks so loud
I cannot hear what you say.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

This has not been such a good week in terms of my behavior and my attitude. As I mentioned yesterday, I'm struggling to regain the self-confidence I had just a short while ago. In thinking about why I've lost my mojo, I believe it boils down to this: I don't keep the promises I make to myself. This seems to be the area where a lot of us -- me included -- get stuck.

If I say I'm going to walk today, I need to keep that commitment to myself. I wouldn't let a friend down: why do I let myself down?

Aren't I worth the effort?


I so strongly believe in what old Mr. Emerson had to say in the quote above. It's time for me to start DOING what I say I'm going to do. I'm creating a negative energy around myself by not taking action, and the more of it I create, the more depressed I become, then the more I eat to make it all go away. Egad!

My two goals for this coming week are to journal each and every day, and to walk three times. If I walk more than that, hurrah for me!

It's time to create some positive energy because I want my mojo back!

I AM worth the effort.

Until next time...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Do I Believe in Myself?

In the province of the mind,
what one believes to be true either is true
or becomes true. ~ John Lilly

Diana over at Scale Junkie posed an interesting question today, one that's really got my wheels turning: Do you believe in yourself?

If you had asked me that question a year ago, the answer would have been a loud and resounding YES! I was struggling with my weight, certainly. But I was filled with self-confidence about starting my own motivational speaking business, writing a book, etc. I believed that I could do anything I set my mind to.

Today, not so much.

Gaining back all fifty pounds I'd lost certainly plays a part in things, but I don't think that's the complete answer to why I no longer think I can conquer the world. So what happened? Where did that confident person go?

I turned 50 last year, and as silly as it sounds to write it down, that took the wind out of my sails in a big way. More of my life was behind me than in front of me. But instead of letting that thought galvanize me into action, I've allowed myself to feel old.

It doesn't help that I've got the perimenopausal fuzzy head that affects so many of us at this age. I forget things all the time: simple things, like the time a quilting class starts or what time I should be at a doctor's appointment. I've never been a pretty woman, but I've always known I could count on my mind, my intellect, my ability to organize and reason and be a confident leader. Not any more -- or at least, not right now.

Perhaps it's all part of some kind of mid-life crisis that's still going on. I keep asking myself what's really important? What truly matters in the big scheme of things. Is it a number on the scale or the size of clothing in my closet? I don't think so. But is it about being able to go hiking with my husband, or to one day be able to chase around the grandchildren that I hope will come along? That's what this healthy journey has become about for me.

So, do I believe in myself? I can only softly say a small "kind of" today. But I'll keep working on the issue so that I can hopefully one day yell a loud, YOU BET I DO!

Until next time...