Why Not Be the Star of Your Own Story?

 

Check in

Current weight: 172

Lost this week: 2 lbs.

Total weight lost:  36.5 lbs.

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Sometimes, I’m along via the speaker phone in my daughter’s car when she drops my two granddaughters off at school. I always hear the same refrain. The oldest says, “Is my hair okay? Is my face clean?” Her mom assures her she is fine and away she goes. All I hear from the younger is a quick, “Bye, Grandma,” and the door slamming shut.

The younger is self-assured to a fault. It would never occur to her that anything is off about her appearance and if she found out something was, she would simply shrug her shoulders make a necessary adjustment (or not) and move on. She is the star of her own life story. Firmly placed right in the center, sure of her direction.

And why shouldn’t she be? Why shouldn’t we all be for that matter. After all, our life is the only one we will ever have. Why not take a starring role. No hanging back on the sidelines waiting to live. The moment is now, the time is at hand.

Capture - Brene Brown

We recently watched a Brene Brown  special on Netflix entitled, The Call to Courage. Do see it if you get a chance. Brown is a researcher, a five times New York Times best-selling author, a Texan and a powerful speaker. Her TED talk on vulnerability is one of the most viewed TED talks ever.

Brene has spent the last two decades studying shame, fear and the links between courage and vulnerability. In my opinion, she is a unique academic who brings as much passion and oomph to presenting her research as she has to the work of gathering the data.

“Owning our own story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”

Here are a couple of nuggets I took from listening to Brene Brown speak. Courage and vulnerability walk hand-in-hand. Better to be the one who dared greatly and truly lived than the one who stood on the sidelines of life and watched the years flow by. And this wonderful anecdote she told about her daughter at a swim meet. The girl was crying that she could never win her upcoming race. Her mother said, “No, you can’t win. But maybe winning for you doesn’t mean coming in first. Maybe it means getting out to the blocks and into the water.”

Thought for the upcoming week – we are winning in so many ways everyday without ever seeing those wins for what they are. Let’s allow ourselves to be vulnerable, let’s walk through that minefield where we will be seen – warts and all – and keep right on walking to the point where we find the courage to be the star of our life story!

35 lbs lost

Got this little nugget of joy last week!

Resting Heart Rate & Half-Way to Goal

Check in

Current weight: 174

Lost this week: 2 lbs.

Total weight lost:  34.5 lbs.

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I had more than one challenge this week while still managing to lose 2 lbs. I found myself mindlessly stress eating a couple of times. The difference between now and months ago is that I stopped myself after a couple of hundred calories rather than a couple of thousand. But still … going mindless over food is a great concern of mine. I resolve in the coming week to stay more on top of that issue!

On a positive note … numbers don’t lie – at least not when you have a fancy Aria2 Fitbit Scale. I am halfway to my goal weight and I have to pinch myself to believe this is really happening to me. I wonder if my few mindless struggles this past week were a subconscious reaction to reaching this milestone. Something to ponder. I do seem to have difficulty leaning into joy. Happiness and feelings of success are often greeted with a sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach as I wait for disaster to strike. 

But banish that negativity! Here is another great thing about the world of Fitbit tracking technology – the ability to review various statistics over time.

When I started my current weight loss journey in January, my resting heart rate was 85 beats per minute. Currently, my resting heart rate is 63 beats per minute.

Okay … let’s put that in perspective. For anyone ten-years of age or older, a normal resting heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats a minute. I was always in the normal range but it seems to me that the more beats per minute the heart is wracking up, the harder that heart is working. According to my calculations, every minute that my heart is beating, my lifestyle changes are saving that heart almost a third of it’s work. That means every 3 minutes, my heart gains a minute more of life. That could really add up to extra time for this old ticker to keep on chugging away. Nothing scientific about my thoughts here – just me noodling away on my tracking stats.

Check out this Fitbit article on 6 things you can learn from your resting heart rate. I love this point:

Even modest reductions in resting heart rate can dramatically reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and add years to your life!

Fran watering the early greens April 1, 2019 - bruce witzel photo

That and eating spring greens – my secret to a long life. Now, let’s just hope the years bear this out.

Everyone Has Issues

Check in

Current weight: 176

Lost this week: 2 lbs.

Total weight lost:  32.5 lbs.

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I recall a time when my daughter frowned and told me, “I don’t like people with issues.” Hmmm … I can sympathize with her perspective. I don’t always like people who talk too much about their issues. As we get older and wiser, though, we realize a truth – everyone has issues.

My granddaughter learned something valuable in preschool – a little maxim that has stayed with me.

“You get what you get and don’t get upset.”

Asking endless questions about why I must be the one to have an issue with weight is a waste of my time.  If it wasn’t weight, it would be something else because none of us get off the hook when it comes to issues.

Finding my way through my issue with weight is the life path I have been set, my personal challenge, my invitation to growth.

The above is an excerpt from one of my weight loss journals. Pearls of wisdom. In that same journal, I made a list in two columns:

               The Ego                                                                             True Self

The voice of delusion and extremes               The whole truth, peace and joy in every moment

The critic, the child, the villain                        The hero, the wise witness

The wise witness dives into the space between a thought and the subsequent sensory experience. For example: I’m depressed. Or, I’m upset. Or, I’m scared. Eating will help. And from that thought, walking to the kitchen and opening the fridge.

We are conditioned to act in certain ways. We get in the habit of using food to soothe or mask painful feelings. Wise thinking is the opposite of that behaviour. We come to question old beliefs, we take notice of the conditioning. That’s all it takes. We just have to notice! Our awareness opens the door to other choices.

We can learn to eat consciously. We can be present when eating. We can be aware and we can learn to align to our true self.

As Barak Obama was fond of saying – Yes we can Smile

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                                 Easter 2018                                                                       Easter 2019

Well, it helps when you smile Smile

What it Means to be 30 Pounds Lighter

Check in

Current weight: 178

Lost this week: 2 lbs.

Total weight lost:  30.5 lbs.

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The meaning of a significant weight loss works on many levels of a person’s being – practically, emotionally and socially.  For example …

Practically, losing 30 lbs. means …

I zip out on my walks, do my 6 morning rounds and my 4 afternoon rounds with energy to spare. Riding my bike for 40 minutes is a breeze. I simply love getting outside. Even after the formal exercise is done, I have energy left to pick garden greens or pot seedlings. I also have more energy for other routine tasks – hanging up the laundry or being on my feet in the kitchen. All of that is easier and thus, more enjoyable.

And let’s talk feet! All sorts of foot discomfort has disappeared. Yippee to that Smile 

I wear a bunch of clothes I haven’t taken out of the closet for years and a new wardrobe is always fun. So many choices.

There is more food in our cupboards and fridge. I do not consume what I used to. I am contributing to a lighter footprint on our grocery budget and on the world.

I sleep better and what a treat that is!

Emotionally, losing 30 lbs. means …

I feel successful and more confident. Doors are opening. I look at life differently.

Due to my now well-established eating habits, I am not prone to mood swings that destabilize my emotional equilibrium (brought on by poor food choices).

Socially, losing 30 lbs. means …

I look forward to visiting with family, friends and neighbours.

Fear of Success or Fear of Failure?

Sometimes, for me, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. I think about this dilemma often and at times it seems like a form of self-sabotage to be doubtful of the path ahead when I know I am doing well at this moment – almost like I’m deliberately jinxing myself.

This quote, so often attributed to Nelson Mandela but really written by Marianne Williamson, gives me pause …

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”

So, who am I to succeed? Who am I to shine brightly? Why me? Why now?

These are the questions that this blog is helping me figure out.

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I love that the forsythia and the delicate purple azaleas bloom at the same time. Yellow and purple – such Easter colours – like a basket of coloured eggs.

Keeping a Weight Loss Journal

 

Check in

Current weight: 180 lbs.

Lost this week: 2.5 lbs.

Total weight lost:  28.5 lbs.

Jornals

Over the years, I’ve started many weight loss journals. I’ve studied the research evidence suggesting that journaling and tracking (food intake, exercise and other health related activities) increase one’s rate of success. And I’ve always enjoyed journaling!

Reading through some of these journals is both uplifting (there are real gems of insight) and painful. Looking back from a position of success to my previous struggling attempts to lose weight taps into feelings of vulnerability. The whole – why me, why now? – type of thinking. What I need to remind myself of is that every step I took back then is part of where I am today. It all matters.

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In one journal, I created a list of my reasons for embarking on yet another weight loss journey. I wrote about my need to review the list when the going got tough. Good advice.  My reasons for losing weight in 2019 haven’t changed.

1.  I want to be healthy and more active. (And with almost 30 lbs. off, I am. I zip out on my hour long walk most mornings with a bounce in my step.)

2.  I want to feel in control of what I put in my mouth. Life is precarious and I control much less than I think I do. I never know what is around the next corner. Right now, what I eat is within my control. I want to exercise that ability in a healthy way.

3.  I want to set a good example for others close to me. (This motivation is a double-edged sword. I have learned the hard way that people close to me are not always pleased with my self-improvement agenda. So be it. Forewarned is forearmed.)

4.  I want to be free of food related mood swings – those ups and crashing downs that are the result of eating binges. There is enough in life to alter my mood without turning to the crutch of a binge and all the uncomfortable aftermath of such behaviour.

5.  I want to be able to participate in more outside activities and tasks. We have a beautiful garden that constantly needs attention and I want to do my part.

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6.  I want to get off my blood pressure medication. (I achieved this goal last year!)

7.  I want to honour the fact that everything I take from this world that is more than I need (and this includes food!) is like taking that item out of the hands of someone who may need it far more than I do.

8.  Eating sensibly, for nutrition and health is a good economical choice. Especially for us with our large vegetable garden and jar room filled with nutritiously preserved food.

Jar Room Wonder

9.  I want to feel that doors are opening in my life rather than closing. Carrying extra weight has been an experience that I’ve reacted to by making my life more and more confined. So many things I won’t do, places I won’t go, people I won’t see. No more of that.

10.  I want to have more energy when I am with my grandkids. I want to have a lap for them to sit in. I want to be around for more years to share in their lives.

11.  I want to have more confidence in myself so I can feel comfortable trying new things, meeting new people and going new places. (Look at the neat kayak I just ordered for myself! Last summer the kids and my husband had so much fun in the kayaks. I tried paddling one, which wasn’t a problem, but I had so much difficulty getting in and out on my own, I gave it up. I don’t plan to have that problem this summer.)

Kayak pic

12.  I want to feel comfortable in my clothing. Being self-conscious about weight has meant that I dressed in camouflaging layers – long sweaters or shirts over tops with under shirts to hold everything tight. I’m sick to death of this way of dressing. I want to throw on a shirt and a pair of pants and go. No more hiding under layers of clothing.

13.  I want to shop from my own closet for a year. Heaven knows there is enough nice clothing there and many items hardly worn at all. Below is a photo of unpacking clothes from storage. Piles of pants and skirts in sizes 14, 16, and 18. It’s like I run my own clothing store.

unpacking clothes from storage

14.  This may be my last chance to see how my life could be if this obstacle of overweight was removed. After all, I am no spring chicken! Now that I’ve started, I want to go the distance.

There you have it. Motivation plus. I will review this list. I will keep going and see where this journey takes me. See you Wednesday for the next instalment of my weight loss story. Wishing each of you a great week, success in your various endeavours and remember – all will be well!

Walking My Way to Goal

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Got a nifty new badge this morning!

25 lb. badgeCurrent weight: 182.5 lbs.

Lost this week: 2.5 lbs.

Total weight lost: 26 lbs.

Driveway

Sunday morning – seems like a great time to talk about one of my favourite pastimes – walking. A simple thing, right? I’ve been walking since I was a year old and I’m sure you can say something similar. I feel I’ve mastered the art. I’ve certainly put in my 10,000 hours, which makes me an expert if I go by Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success.

I have a character in one of my novels who describes walking in this way:

She was quiet for a few moments then glancing out to the trees that surrounded the clearing, her words came in a rush, “When I’ve been walking for a while, I start to feel my whole being sucking in wellness from the ground and the trees and the air. It’s like I’m a live wire and energy is rushing into me.” She swept her hands down to the ground and up over her head. Then she shrugged. “It’s all in my head, but it feels so real.”

I’ve done a lot of walking in my life. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was in my thirties. All the years of young motherhood, I walked – pushing kids in strollers until they got big enough that I’d tell them to get out and walk up the hill. I recall that after major surgery, it wasn’t long before I was up and walking the halls. Every place I’ve lived, I’ve walked – scouting out a route and sticking to it like a religion. To and from school, along a canal, over a university campus, through parks, gardens and alongside city high-rises. Woman who walks, that is me.

Only once have I had the experience of not being able to walk and I’ll never forget the feelings of desperation and devastation. On vacation, I had overdone the walking – pushing myself when I knew it was unwise. Something happened to my knee. I simply could not get from point A to point B without severe pain. The event was an eye-opener. I came to see how much I take the simple act of walking for granted. My doctor said get a recumbent bicycle and ride it to strengthen your quad muscles. That should keep your knee in line. I did and I do and it has!

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I found this graphic on Facebook the other day and had to screen capture it. Every aspect of this chart rings true to me. I walk for 110 minutes a day – odd number, right? I do ten rounds on the trails around my home and each one takes me eleven minutes. My walk takes me through thick trees and out along lakeside cliffs. I breathe in life giving energy with every step.

So, here’s to that simple art of walking. Whatever the incentive – walking for health, walking for well-being, walking to burn calories, walking to reduce depressive thoughts – walk as much as you can, while you can. Never take such a simple act for granted.

Me - end of March

There’s me – all flushed right after my walk. Still working on my selfie technique.

Getting Ready for Change

Baby Daffodils 

Check in:

Current weight: 185.00

Lost this week: 1.5 lbs.

Total weight lost: 23.5

I continue to lose and this week I struggled with a few issues. My actual weight loss plan is not time consuming but the fact that it is constantly on my mind is all-consuming. I want what a friend calls my wide-angle lens on life back. This single focus on me is nerve wracking. On the other hand, arriving at this single-minded focus on self-improvement has meant success. Balance – zooming in and out. What a challenge.

This week, I want to return to the theme – stages of change. It took me time to get to the action stage on weight loss. Last year, at this time, part of my preparation (though, I didn’t know it at the time) was immersion in a few Daily Om courses

One that helped was entitled, Skinny Thinking About Food. Every day for twenty-four days, I received a Daily Om post that helped me focus on the thought patterns that proceeded eating when eating happened for any reason other than hunger.

The goal of the course is to develop a simple, pragmatic relationship with food. Overeating often masks other issues. Participants focus on getting to a place where they can see the whole truth about food and not just the sliver view that various filters (created by past experiences) have produced.

Skinny thinking is like smelling salts to wake us up. Food is nice tasting nutrition. It isn’t ever anything else. We certainly work hard at making food into something else but that can cause a lot of us to suffer. Food can’t alleviate pain from the past, it can’t create a shield between us and the world, it can’t comfort. It isn’t a friend or a lover or an enemy. It’s only tasty nutrition.

Skinny thinking was not a diet. It was a permanent change in how I thought about food and what I ate. Both things – thoughts and actions – working in concert.

I wrote this in my journal after the first reflection post.

Fran … you can never go back to your old eating ways and be healthy. This is a truth you don’t want to hear but you must. It is a simple and kind truth.

As I read those words now, when I have been successful in making a significant change in the way I eat, I am stunned by how simple the needed message was.

The awareness tips I learned then, guide me every day now:

1. Eat slowly

2. When you eat, only eat

3. Be aware of portion sizes

That’s it for this check-in post. Join me again on Wednesday for my next jaunt back to the past as I tell my weight loss story.

March full moon