About Me

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Pittsburgh, PA, United States
I started blogging in 2010, and the topic was weight loss. Over the past decade I have been up and down -- not just on the scale but in every possible way. My priorities are far different now, and as the world literally burns my focus turns to two things: 1) on the most serious front, global warming and 2) staying curious about the amazing universe we inhabit.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Movin' Out

I've decided this blog no longer reflects who I am.  Join me here where I'll blog about what comes next.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I am Pandora, and Be My Guest

After an eight day vacation, we returned home mid afternoon.  I went for a short run (which was horribly painful), and before taking a shower made the decision to step on the scale.  Yes, yes. I know weighing yourself late in the day, after 8 days of indulging in salty, high fat food, is not highly recommended -- but I am Pandora, and must open the jar.
I knew I had gained weight, but I gained so much weight that my Fitbit scale did not recognize me.  Instead of reading CBY after the weight/fat %, it read Guest.  I found this incredibly comical (the weight gain was 10 lbs by the way).
The next day I went right back to what is "normal" eating for me, and by Friday I had lost the 10 lbs, plus more.  Now, clearly I did not gain 10 lbs of fat in 8 days, nor did I lose 12 lbs of fat in a week.  But the experience did reinforce a few things for me.:

1.  No matter how off course you go while travelling, if you get right back on track with your plan, there are really no worries.
2.  The scale is a great tool, but only in the context of long term trends.  10 lbs in a week? Nonsense.
3.  I eat food on vacation that I normally don't at home (ice cream, fried foods, pastry at breakfast), with no regrets about it.  But far too many times I ate so much that I felt physically uncomfortable, and that is never cool -- anywhere.  In other words, I  acted like a guest in my own body, disconnecting from it.  Fitbit got it right.

When you start out over 200 lbs, hitting a new "Decade" always gives a psychological boost.  On Saturday, I dipped below 160 for the first time in 23 years.  I am superstitious now that I need to document new lows with a photo, so even though I don't look different, here it is.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Opposite of Story

I believe in the power of story.  A good story can teach, inspire, persuade, explain, entertain. Through story we connect with each other. A good story is just plain fun.  But our stories about ourselves are our greatest stumbling blocks, so deeply imprinted that we confuse them with "truth."  In the Martha Beck life coaching community, there are countless great examples of how to turn your "sad story" into a story of success.  Facts are facts, but the story around them makes the difference between the tired old life done me wrong song, and the story of the hero's journey.  Playing with the exercise of rewriting your own story is truly powerful, and I highly recommend it.

But.  Lately I feel compelled to leave story behind, wherever possible.  A few weeks ago, I participated in my first triathlon (it was a run-bike-run because the pool was under construction). Not only was it my first triathlon but my first race of any kind (barring the compulsory stuff in junior high).  I never ran in my life before I was 40.  This is not an exaggeration.  I NEVER ran.  I was the kind of kid that liked to read books and watch Bewitched, not run and sweat.  In my twenties, I did a lot of yoga, walked, and lost weight but never ran.  I was planning to write a blog post about the triathlon, but never quite got around to it.  I just was not particularly interested in my own story.  

I came in last in the triathlon, and there are several possible stories to tell, considering that fact. One is a sad story about how this completely demoralized me.  Clearly, this story is false. Another is a story of triumph -- unathletic, nerdy girl discovers her hidden potential at midlife, re invents herself, and finishes a triathlon, despite the emotional struggle of being last.  I could tell this story, and give it the hero's journey slant, but I won't, because I don't connect to it in any way. 

I've become a lot more aware lately about how my own stories about my identity have held me back.  I have always identified as someone who NEVER QUITS.   If I had to walk 100 miles, I would, unless I dropped dead first. But I never thought of myself as someone who was strong. This made weight training difficult at first.  At some point I just gave up the story. I didn't pep talk myself.  I didn't repeat mantras.  I don't tell myself I'm strong. I just gave up the story of "not strong."  My workout record demonstrates I am strong, by most standards, but it's not a story I need to hold onto.  I am working on giving up the story of being "not fast," when it comes to running.  I don't need a story of being "fast." I don't need a story at all to become stronger, faster, and maybe someone who quits a little more often because some things need quitting.

I recently participated in a weight loss contest at work.  I didn't win, and didn't expect to.  I set a goal of losing 18 pounds and lost 14 (in 18 weeks).  I went from a size 12 to a size 6.  When you factor in weight training, 14 pounds can have a much bigger positive effect than you would imagine.  I have no story about this -- it's just something I did.  I don't have a good photo from the start of the weight loss contest, but the one on the top is fairly representative of where I was at the beginning of March, with "after" photo on the bottom (from July 16).

What is the opposite of story? I think it's just living life, one moment at a time.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Natural Timing

I am horrible at establishing regular practices.  I refuse to commit to a schedule for anything, except where absolutely necessary.  God help the person that tells me I "have" to do something.  I am not stubborn exactly, but a born contrarian.

We are pressured to live by "clock time", which is nothing but make-believe.  I hate clock time, with a passion.  But I fell in love with the concept of "Sojong" when I read about it in  "Living Beautifully," by Pema Chodron.  Sojong is a Buddhist practice of confession, traditionally practiced by Buddhist monks, and it is governed by natural time -- taking place twice a month, during the new and full moon.  Pema Chodron explains how Sojong can be adapted for the layperson, as a practice of self inventory, a practice of reviewing the previous two weeks -- not as an opportunity for self criticism but as an honest self assessment.

For me the question always is "How did I meet each day?"  When did I open myself to the moment?  When did I shut down?  I am not judging myself on much I weighed, or how many miles I ran, or if I completed tasks at work, or if I impressed other people, or if I was a "good mom", "good friend", "good whatever." Did I stay in the moment, or did I check out?  I don't want to check out.  Sometimes I write these thoughts in my journal, sometimes not, but I find that I come to the practice of setting intentions and self assessment more effortlessly when it is line with Nature's schedule, not the human calendar.

It's not that I think there is anything mystical or magical about the Full Moon, but witnessing the cyclical changes of nature, from the tiny to the massive, is very powerful.  Why would you want to be anything but tuned in to the unfolding universe around you?

Happy Summer Solstice.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Now We're Having Fun

Tonight TC (Trainer Cathy) asked me if I wanted to do a combination of chest and arms since I missed my arm workout on Monday. I said I wanted to do all the moves I like, it's gonna be Fun Night!

So here is what I did:
40 Bicep curls with wall squats
90 count Russian Twist with 10 lb weight
72 count triangle pushups (in real push up position, not from knees)
40 military style pushups
80 count plank, various style, mostly straight arm
chest flies and press with 20 lbs weights, with leg lifts
30 v shape curls with squats (increased weights to 15 lbs)
30 shoulder presses with static lunge

and a bunch of other stuff ...

Was this all fun?
Yeah, actually it was.  Almost as much fun as wearing size 6 jeans.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Watch Your Language

Four years ago, when I started losing weight, I set 3 progressive weight loss goals.  To reach a) 165, b) 150, and c) 135.  The numbers were simply lower weights I was at at various times in my life.  In 2010, I was 80 pounds away from 135 and I didn't focus on that number at all.  I took it one day at a time, one pound at a time.  The first 40 pounds came off relatively quickly, and then in the summer of 2012 I reached 165.  And stayed there for approximately 24 hours.

The first thought I had when I reached 165 was "Well I reached my first goal but it is going to be HARD, so HARD to get to 135."

With that one word I created my reality, and spent the next two years traveling the scale from 170 to 175 and down again,  When I bumped above 175, I felt fear ... I don't want to go back to where I was.  When I got close to 170, I felt fear ... I don't want to give up food as a crutch to go lower, it's too HARD.

I have no idea if I will ever be 135 pounds again, but if I am not it is not because it is HARD to get there.

Another word I'm relinquishing is SAD, as it applies to situations. People can feel sad, situations are not sad in and of themselves.  If I'm sad, then I'm sad. You can't unfeel a feeling.  If I call a situation SAD, I've created a reality that has nothing to do with truth, just with a story I chose to spin.  If I call another person's situation SAD, I've presumed to pass judgment on what is none of my damn business.

I've experimented with "positive mantras" -- "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people LIKE ME!!!" is the famous SNL example -- and truthfully I hate them with a passion.  Now I look for moments of Wordless Whimsical Curiosity.  You don't know what the hell is going to happen, but it just might be awesome.

We are so quick to slap labels on a future that is really wide open.  We might be amazed at what comes to us when we leave words behind.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cost Benefit

I post quite a bit on Facebook about working out, fitness and weight loss.  I don't question my commitment to healthier living, but by no means am I gung-ho.  There are plenty of times I feel waffly about working out. 
I am often tempted to cancel my strength workouts in particular. They are damn hard!  This week, after a long drive on Sunday (followed by a short, but relatively fast, run) I was really dragging, and wanted to bag both  my arm workout on Monday and chest/ab workout on Wednesday.  Why didn't I?
1.  I work out with a friend, and cancelling on on a commitment to someone else is harder than cancelling on yourself (not legitimate, but true).
2.  I love running, and while I appreciate the benefits of it -- fat burning, endorphin rush, etc -- I credit weight training with allowing me to really reshape my body.  The scale doesn't always reflect this transformation, but smaller clothes sizes do.
3.  When it comes right down to it, I don't spend *that* much time on working out.  My average is about 2 hours per week for strength, 3 hours for running, and then some weeks I toss in a bike ride, karate, and/or yoga (all of which are FUN).  I target 2 non-consecutive rest days per week.

Is transforming your body, and feeling fantastic in every way, worth 2 hours per week of pushing yourself?
I can't imagine saying "no."  I can't imagine saying anything but HELL YEAH.  At some point I'd like to add a third strength workout per week, but even if I never do, the benefits to my current routine are amazing. 

This is my Arm workout (thanks to my friend Cathy for documenting).   Most of the moves include both weight and cardio -- the arm moves are done concurrently with squats or lunges. I sometimes do a bit more and it usually takes about 60-70 minutes.  By the end of it I am a sweaty, shaky mess.

Cost = Low
Benefits = Astronomically High