Saturday, March 31, 2012

Control? Yes, please

I learned something valuable last night.

In yoga class.

(Go figure)

There is only one place in my life where I have true control and that is on my beautiful 71 x 26 inch yoga mat.

Off my mat, I can only control the minutia of my life. Then I blow up the importance of these insignificant areas until the least important parts of my life take over everything with anxiety and fretfulness and fear.

And I turn into a hot mess....

Here are some things I cannot control

the response of my body to my efforts to lose weight
what people may think of me
whether or not my family and friends make healthy choices

I can't make any of those things turn out the way I plan. No matter how much I may want to - and that wanting turns into anxiety, which turns into stress, which turns into a very unhealthy me.

Yet, on my 1800 square inches, I can control so very much. For instance, I'm in class last night  and normally, I'm somewhat of an 'anti-prop' kind of person. "Props? We don't need no stinkin' props - those are for people still learning!" Yeah, well guess who is still learning?

So, I'm in a trikonasana (kind of a side bend) and we were all told to grab a block and somewhat reluctantly, I'm using mine and then it hit me.... THIS is non-efforting, THIS is no stress -- breathe, relax, enjoy.... oh wow, what have I been missing out on?  It's a slice of heaven and I just want to stay in this pose forever and just be right here where everything in my world is perfection.

Control? Oh yeah...

Later, we are working on headstands, which is the pose I want to be able to do, but now I'm actually  listening to instruction instead of flinging my way up. I hear, "If you are not strong enough to adjust your shoulders so that your head can move easily, you aren't ready for this pose."

(Have I been told this before? Probably. Have I HEARD this before? Nope.)

First stage, feet in down dog, crown of the head on the floor, hands cradling the head. Yes, I can move the head freely.

Second stage, feet up against the wall in a pike position. Yes, I can move the head freely.

Third stage, feet walked up as close to the head so my trunk is perpendicular. Hmmmmm, I can sort of move the head freely.

Fourth stage, feet off the floor. The head cannot move. I've found the edge.

A couple of months ago, I'd have said, 'Screw it, go for it. You won't compress the spine that much." Last night I smiled, breathed, and dropped gently down.


It felt good to respect where I was at that moment, to respect the edge, to respect my journey.

But real life isn't lived on a yoga mat, it's lived out in the world where I can choose to use yoga precepts I am learning. And a big one I'm learning is where I can control the outcome and where I cannot control it.

There are going to be obstacles in my life -- TODAY -- that I'm going to have to make a decision about how I choose to react.  Bring it on, seriously, bring it on. I want to look at something and consciously think, "I have no control over this issue or the outcome. I choose to not fret, worry, or revisit. I let it go."

Then when I am back on my mat, I want to revel in the control I have at that moment to set the outcome.

Where is your safety zone? Your slice of heaven? Make time to be there every day, then take the feeling and let it carry you until the next time you visit.

Thoughts to take with me today: There are many paths to peace, I'm grateful I've found one.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A yoga sutra....

Sutra literally means "truth" and I truly learned one today.

I posted recently about a health scare I had and how I dealt with it.

I did:

lean on friends
read scriptures

I did not use the following crutches:


In fact, using those things never crossed my mind. It's not like I thought "Damn, I feel awful, this is so sad, I deserve a smoke, ice cream, chips, a bottle of wine, and an extra xanax." Nope, those thoughts never, ever even had to be dealt with, they didn't pop up.

So, I mention this to my trainer yesterday. Uhm, yeah...mistake. Want to guess what she went to immediately? 

"You smoke? You've never told me that. Don't you think you should have? I think I should have had that information."

I felt about THIS small!
Home, nursing a righteous sense of butt-hurt, reading my Yoga Sutras by Pantanjali  and I come to a passage about things that hold us back on our spiritual path - not necessarily sins or wrongs, but just things. Samaskaras, or impressions of wrong doing, hold us back as much as the thing itself. It's as if we've committed to doing right, but then we hold back a bit of longing for whatever hinders us; we look over our shoulder wishing we could go back for just a bit, but knowing we can't.

Then I got it.

Smoking is a samaskara and I encourage that by having my secret stashes - oh, I'm NOT going to use those stashes. Or am I? If not, then why are they there? What is my intention?

So I go to throw them out. First stash, gone. Second stash, gone. Third stash - hesitation. Now wait, this is a WHOLE UNOPENED pack, maybe I should keep this one, just in case...

Just in case...what?

Then I knew I was doing the right thing.

What other samaskaras lurk in my heart? What other changes have I made, but secretly wish I hadn't? What other small bits of regret have buried themselves deep down, so deep that maybe they only come up to the surface on occasion?

They need to be tossed out too.

What about you? Maybe smoking was never your issue, okay, that's good. But what was? What do you look back on with pleasure, mulling about how awesome of a time you had, and how sad it is that those times are gone?  That longing holds you back on your personal path. Pull those issues into the light of day, discard them, and move on.

You'll be happy you did.


Thoughts to take with me today: 'I honor the place in you where your spirit dwells. If you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, then in that place, we are one.'


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Flights of fancy

I've been listening to people lately, much more than I ever have before. If you listen, you find that ordinary people say extraordinary and profound things.

Yesterday, in a conversation about The Hunger Games, my friend Lanelle made a comment comparing her husband to a character in that book/movie. She commented on how stable of an influence her husband was to her. I added that I felt the same way about mine. He is my rock, the one I always go back to.

She added, "No matter what flights of fancy I take, I know that I am his 'flight of fancy."

Stop..... What did you just say?

I love it.

No matter where I go to explore, there is a home base. I get to experiment, in safety, because of the comfort of his arms.  He lets me have my time away, secure in his own self, that I will never stray too far.

During my journey of weight loss and self-discovery, he has said I am and was always beautiful. I am and was always lovely. I am and was always perfect. No matter how much I disagreed, he smiled.

Maybe this is the secret of our marriage lasting 25+ years.

                                                               I am his flight of fancy.

I am his world.

I am his cool thing.

Thoughts to take with me today: Remember who loves you and always has.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A reminder, not a lesson

In a subject for another post, I've basically spent most of my adult life ignoring anything having to do with my own personal health. Regular check ups for my children, yes. Regular check ups for mom, no, not so much.

As part of my journey of waking up from a 10 year fog and haze of anti-depressants, I realized it had been a long time since I had had a mammogram. A very long time. Like 15 years.

(Don't start....I know)

Last Friday, I went for the supposedly annual peek at what lies beneath the skin. It wasn't as bad as I've heard. Kind of odd to have the girls handled in such a matter of fact way, but I can roll.

Tuesday, things changed.

The radiologist called with a request to have another peek.

I got scared and I called on friends. In their own way, and in a different way, they all helped.

Underneath my lovely blooming cherry tree, Denise sat with me and we discussed calming thoughts and how to handle news with equal levels of acceptance.  I thought I had control. This was all going to be fine. I prayed and asked God to make this a reminder of all the good I had, not a lesson to teach me about all the wonderful things I have. Please.

Then Wednesday came.

This time the radiologist used words that no one wants to hear. "This fits the profile of ductile cancer." "We did multiple looks to verify." "You need a biopsy, and probably a lumpectomy." "Now."

I cried.

A lot.

With the support and guidance of my sister Tammy and my friend Kathy, and the shoulder of Erin, I made it to Thursday morning. Then, everything sped up.  Phone calls, appointments on 3/26, 3/30, 4/2, forms, films, insurance, canceled appointments, "Can you be here at 11:30?" "Can you do the biopsy on Friday?"

In Lanelle's office I just sat kind of numbly as she printed forms, made phone calls, and prodded me to get through the next few minutes.

Soon, the dust settled and the biopsy was set for Friday morning at 9:30. Lanelle made me a nifty folder with all my paperwork, Erin agreed to go with me, Don, my long-suffering husband, agreed to be at home fresh to pick up any pieces left after the biopsy.

I sat at my desk in an empty room and realized that this  had just gotten too real for me. This was too much, too fast, so not equipped to handle this. Time to get out. I went into my Principal's office with a leave slip and said, "I need to go, and I will be out tomorrow. I'll be having a biopsy." She nodded. The solidarity of women. We all seem to know and understand.

On the way home, something snapped. Pulling over to the side of the road, I screamed, cried, shook, sobbed, until I was wrung out. I drove on. The feelings hit me again. I needed to get control somehow
Hit the door of the house, gym clothes on, at the gym in 5 minutes,
Machine of choice? Elliptical. Non-impact. Smooth motion. Nothing required but raw endurance. How long can I go before something in my mind breaks or something in my body? Either way, it's now, right freaking now.

85 minutes later......I started crying again, then, I stopped and thought, "No. Just no. I can be had, but not by this. I've worked too hard to get where I need to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually to go down this easily. No, just no."

A bit of push back from the part of me that still wanted to fight, but largely, the fight was gone.

95 minutes later (and 1115 calories later btw),  I was off. Barely able to make conscious thoughts, barely able to walk, but at peace.

Friday morning Erin and I sit in the hospital mammography suite. I'm scared, but in an accepting place. Whatever happens, will happen. It's all good.

New radiologist has a new plan. She'd like to have another peek but from a different angle. Everything is so close to the skin, it's POSSIBLE that the spots they are seeing are not actually in the breast tissue. Maybe.

I should have known up front this was going to be quite the mammography from Hell when it took two techs to handle the machine and me. They warned this was going to be intense. They didn't lie.

The goal was to see if the BB on the skin could cast a shadow under the spots. If there was a shadow, then the spots were in the deepest layer of the skin, not in the breast tissue. But to get these shots, the machine would have apply an unusually high amount of pressure and take multiple pics with no breaks in between.

After the seventh x-ray, I lost count. The pain was overwhelming, excrutiating, it was my whole world. From somewhere inside, I remembered my alternate nostril breathing from yoga class. Can I remain calm enough to do this?

Challenge accepted.

I breathed, held one nostril down, in, out. Other nostril, in out. Repeat, breath, repeat, breath. Over and over. Ride the pain, feel the breath. Again, and again, and again. Until the bottom plate moved away. Sit and fold over, thankful the pain was gone.

15 minutes later, I was out of the room. 25 minutes later, the radiologist was with Erin and me. She had looked at the films with another radiologist. The now 'magic BB' absolutely cast a shadow under the spots. They were in the skin layer, not the breast layer.

Benign....clearly benign

She said the words, "You do not have breast cancer." Twice.... Erin and I hugged and I was so grateful she was with me at that moment.

Next step? None really. These might show up on another mammogram, they might absorb into the skin, they might grow, but they are not in the breast tissue, they cannot be cancer.

Calm, peace, gratitude

To my friends mentioned here. You may never read this post, but it doesn't matter. I love you so very dearly. Each one of you brought me something and you all freely gave of yourselves.

I was not strong enough to do this, until.....

Denise who helped me find calm in breathing...
Tammy gave me the strength of family and shared history....
Kathy made me laugh at myself....
Lanelle let me fall apart and then put me back together...
Erin let me be vulnerable; she did not ask me to be strong. She told me I was beautiful as the tears rolled down my face (although we both admitted the nose blowing was decidely unladylike)...

And Don, my wonderful husband, held me and loved me.

"Thank you" seems to be such an inadequate phrase in this case, but in the English language, it's all I have.

So, thank you my friends.

Thoughts to take with me today  Thank you God for the reminder of how blessed I am, every day, in every way.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


If there is one thing I cannot work out without, it's my music. Love, LOVE, LOVE my tunes. And let me tell you, I'm no music snob. If the song makes my toe tap and my body move, it makes the play list.

This is my current favorite, "Brighter than the Sun" by Cobie Caillet.  Give it a listen. NO ONE can tell me that the great beat track and upbeat words doesn't make them smile. No way...couldn't happen. Go on, listen, I can wait.

Isn't that fun? Now, imagine you are on the treadmill or elliptical at 5:30 am with that going on in your ears....the legs just start moving and pretty soon, the warm up is over and your whole mood is positive.

And the words...."I found this love, I'm gonna feed it, I'm gonna treat better than anything...." yep, I sure am. Sure am.

It's the little things that add up and make this whole journey fun. Yes, there are times that the serious nature comes through, but oh my, can't we sometimes smile and laugh and just plain have fun? Sure can!

What are the songs that get you going? Hook me in, give me your current favie, who knows, maybe it becomes mine, and gives me that little push to get me going on the that cold, slow morning.

Thought for the day: Find your love, feed it, and treat it better than anything....

Monday, March 12, 2012

It's Monday!

I don't know about you all, but Monday's to me have always been a very optimistic day. It's the first day of a brand new week, with all the possibilites of good ahead. What may happen? Don't know, but it's a clean slate. All the mistakes from last week are solidly in the past. This week leans forward with happiness.

Woke up this morning and weighed a bit heavier than this time last week. Up a pound. :(  Yes, that is a bit annoying but on the plus side, my daughter is home from college, I had a great time with friends yesterday, and all my major joints feel pretty good. Weigh the good with the bad, look at the scale of life, and decide which side deserves the focus. Yeah....choose joy - again and again.

Only love, only joy, only kindness - say it over and over again - until you believe every syllable, and remember, those are emotions you deserve to feel towards yourself. We are all lovely.

So, smile at a friend and see your beauty reflected back to you in their eyes. It's there, just look. And let that emotion fill your heart.

Thoughts to take with me today: There is nothing wrong with right now. Right now is only gorgeous. Namaste.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Research about weight loss

With my weight loss journey about 70% complete, I'm starting to look ahead to what comes next. I know it's a bit early, but I'm a planner and a thinker....

I just finished reading an article from the NY Times about  long term maintenance of weight loss .The news is not encouraging, except from the stand point that all knowledge is power.

Here's a quick excerpt...

In the study, Joseph Proietto and his colleagues at the University of Melbourne  (go Aussies!)recruited people who weighed an average of 209 pounds. At the start of the study, his team measured the participants’ hormone levels and assessed their hunger and appetites after they ate a boiled egg, toast, margarine, orange juice and crackers for breakfast. The dieters then spent 10 weeks on a very low calorie regimen of 500 to 550 calories day intended to makes them lose 10 percent of their body weight. In fact, their weight loss averaged 14 percent, or 29 pounds. As expected, their hormone levels changed in a way that increased their appetites, and indeed they were hungrier than when they started the study.

They were then given diets intended to maintain their weight loss. A year after the subjects had lost the weight, the researchers repeated their measurements. The subjects were gaining the weight back despite the maintenance diet — on average, gaining back half of what they had lost — and the hormone levels offered a possible explanation. "

So, even after a year of being on a controlled maintenance diet. they still regained weight.

Oh dear...

When the hormone leptin is low, the brain turns into the stereotypical Jewish mother, "Eat, eat, you are nothing but skin and bones..." Leptin works hand in hand with ghrelin which then increases hunger, making the dieter much more susceptible to that little voice pushing food. These  hormones all go into a negative way when we diet, and even after a year of returning to a normal diet, they are still not where there were before the weight loss.

The author of the study offers these so not encouraging words, "...losing weight is not a neutral event, and that it is no accident that more than 90 percent of people who lose a lot of weight gain it back. You are putting your body into a circumstance it will resist. You are, in a sense, more metabolically normal when you are at a higher body weight.”

If I'm reading this right, and I think I am, that means when I hit my target weight of 141, I will have to eat less than someone who has always been at 141. All those charts about how much I should eat when I weigh 141 are for 'normal' people. For me, they are inaccurate and will lead me to gain back weight.

And the hits just keep on coming....

All this goes back to support the idea that a diet is NOT a diet, it's a life change. And as my fellow blogger Jaki said in a post this morning, I too, "am addicted to food." I have to treat food the rest of my life as an other addict would, except, it's even a bit worse. An alcoholic can live without alcohol, a smoker can live cigs, but a food addict cannot live without food. We have to eat, we have to face our addiction every day, and at times, every hour. The amount of control needed is herculean and we cannot underestimate the struggle, ever.

I wish the news was better.
I wish the fight was easier.
I wish the weight would just stay off.

But truth is better than wishes. I have the knowledge and that empowers me to a grand level. It is not the size of the dog in the fight that counts, it's the size of the fight in the dog. I am strong and when I am weak, I will freely borrow from those willing to give, and then give back as I am able.

To all my blogger friends on the same path, I pass on good thoughts of continued strength and 'slim-mindedness.' (Thanks Myra)

Thoughts to take with me today: And it's still just a perfect day! Truly...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's such a perfect day...

Wow! I just cannot get this song out of my head today. And it's not the Lou Rauls version, it's an upbeat, uptempo cover that I heard in spin class last night. After spending over an hour of my life looking for this song on iTunes, I gave up and sent the spin instructor an email asking for the artist.

It's a great song and I love it.

Except, I'm stuck on two lines -- just an earworm now repeating ....

"It's such a perfect day,
I'm glad I spent it with you."

Over and over and over and...well you get the idea. Kind of be nice to add more content.

The beauty of the song though is IS a perfect day.  I woke up in a bed, in a house, with warmth, with food, and health. I have people that love me and people that I love. Forget 'needs'  -- that's 99% of everything I want. 

It's so easy to adopt a myopic view of life and focus on a magical number I want to weigh and hang all my hopes on that.  How about just smiling and counting all the blessings I have right this minute? 

That's so much 'more better.'

Thoughts to take with me today:  It's such a perfect day. Choose joy...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In which I think my thinks...

I woke up thinking today. Kind of wanted to stay in bed with my thinks too because I came to some interesting conclusions.

My journey started 8 months ago and along the way, I’ve learned some stuff that might be important - at least to me.

·       I am beautiful at 175. But, I was beautiful at 258, I just didn’t know it because the mirror I was using was distorted. There was never anything wrong with me.
·       I’m not 25, I’m 50, which has the advantages of experience and perspective. When I’m 75, I’ll be even a bit better than now.  Being old is not a number, it’s a state of mind. You can be ‘old’ at 20 and ‘young’ at 80.
·       My body is an amazing thing. It moves, hugs, lifts, touches, runs, caresses, and brought two wonderful girls into the world. This body deserves love and respect and, at proper intervals, rest.
·       There is no problem so deep that I cannot pray about it. And once I’ve put that prayer into motion, I can trust that someone who loves me more than I can comprehend will see the situation to the best possible conclusion. The conclusion may not be what I want, but I have to trust it will be what I need.
·       Weight is just one measure of healthiness and it doesn’t even address the spiritual or emotional state. Keep the number in perspective and don’t let the goal of a number run the entire show.
·       Food is not an enemy, but nor is it a friend. It is just food, potential fuel to keep the body healthy and active.
·       Before you listen to anyone else, listen to your inner teacher. That still, small voice will guide you better than any human or any book.
·       This moment, the one I’m in right now, is the only thing that matters. Whatever I’m doing right now deserves my attention and acceptance. Just be.
Thoughts to take with me today: Only love, only joy, only kindness.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ha!! Take THAT plateau!

Dear Mr. Plateau....

You thought you had me this time didn't you? Your and your little minions really believed that THIS time, you could stop my weight loss and in the process crush my spirit and lead me back to the comfort of ice cream, donuts, potato chips, and the couch.


Showed YOU sucka!!

So very not sincerely yours,


Whew....that kind of felt gooooood.

Admittedly, this was the worst plateau I've encountered on my trip down the scale. Just stuck in about one place for almost 6 weeks. And yes, there were times I almost gave in and said, "I can be happy here can't I? Isn't this just too hard?

And while it is lovely that the scale is moving down, more importantly I need to pick out what lessons I learned from this experience for the NEXT plateau, which we all know could lurk around the corner.

#1 - Don't stop moving, but change the cardio. A plateau is a great opportunity to try something new. Why not? Nothing else is working. Myself, I took up running 3x a week. I decided to focus on how long I could run without stopping for a break. In doing this, I forced myself to slooooooow down and work on controlling the breath and not allowing the body to go into an anaerobic mode. And the best part was that this satisfied the part of my personality that loves goals. Right now, I can go at a 4.2 pace for 30 minutes. Slow? damn straight it is. Do I care? pleaaaaase....just happy to be out there moving.

#2 - Really look closely at eating patterns. Has a new food slipped into the regimen without notice? Sadly, I discovered that the mocha lattes I was ordering from Starbucks several times a week were NOT the skinny version, and as a result I was adding about 250 extra calories every time. That adds up. So, I ask the barista to repeat "SKINNY" to make sure I have the sugar free syrup and skim milk.

#3 - Be patient!  Of all the things that helped me, this was probably the most important, and the hardest. The body is not a machine with strict in/out controls. As much as we would like to think it is, it just isn't. After all these years of inactivity and excessive eating, my body is probably pretty confused as to what the hell is going on here. The evolutionary settings of preserving fat for long term survival are deep and at some level, the body will do what it thinks is needed to survive. I must give it time to adjust, function, and assimilate all this new information.

So that's my process.  What are your steps to overcoming a plateau? I'd love to know. We are all in this together and what works for you today, may be exactly what I need tomorrow.

Thoughts to take with me today: This is a journey, not a race. There is no finish line, there is only the joy of today; it truly is all good.