Monday, September 20, 2010

50 (or 58) at 50 Update - halfway to my original goal date

A quick update to my weight loss/getting healthy 50 at 50 Plan.
The half-way mark. It has been almost 13 weeks since I began this journey to better health on June 22, 2010 (one month before my 50th birthday):

Starting weight: 208 pounds
Weight loss: 23 pounds
Current weight: 185 pounds
Average weight loss per week: 1.77 pounds
Average calorie intake: 1150/day
Average calories burned: 306/day
Goal weight: 150
Remaining weight to lose: 35 pounds
Recalculating expected date to goal weight based on current weight loss average: 20 weeks, or 1/22/2010.

Observations: The first 20 lbs came off fairly quickly and easily. Just eating smaller portions of healthier choices, and doing some form of exercise daily (usually yoga) quickly moved my body from weight-gaining to weight-losing mode. I have not given up my favorite foods, but I am aware of the calorie count as I consciously choose to eat m&ms or nachos. I still am having difficulty making the time for aerobic exercise, i.e walking, cycling, lifting weights. And I know that's what it will take to burn the fat.

I feel better! I feel and look younger, more vibrant and energetic. I was squeezing into size 14s and am now in 12s comfortably. I have a waist again. My back and right shoulder once felt locked up with tension, now are moving more easily. I can fasten my bra behind my back again! My digestion has improved. I used to suffer from frequent constipation, and now I am eliminating daily again.

Acknowledging the early weight loss and then slow down, I am motivated to increase my aerobic activity. I feel encouraged by the progress I have made thus far and want to continue along this path.

It is amazing how easy it is to slow and slow and slow into a place of non-movement. Sometimes on my days off, I still want to stay home in my pjs and do nothing. That tells me that the demands in the rest of my life are out of balance. "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction" ~ Newton's law of motion.

Another of Newton's Laws of motion states, "A body in motion stays in motion unless an external force is applied to it." The idea of creating a self-sustaining habit of movement feels good to me.

I took some pictures a few weeks ago and am trying to work up the courage to post them here. It isn't easy to bare myself in this public forum. When I think of the times in my life that I was in shape, it is easy to look with disgust at my current state. I mean, 20 years ago I was competing in triathlons! So I know what it feels like to push my body to see how far it will go. I can make excuses about work and age and... To hell with excuses and justifications!

Today I crank it up! Are you with me?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I may already be there...

This morning I wondered what would happen if I had the time and space and money to live the life of my dreams. What would that look like? And would I have the courage to let go of the excuses, the fears, and the distractions?

The life of my dreams:
Health - including whole foods, movement & exercise, rest, and a balance of spiritual, physical, and mental practice.
Relationship - supportive, loving connection with my husband, kids, family, and friends.
Meaningful work - challenging creative and fun work sharing what I know and love to help people heal and enrich their lives.
Travel - visiting places of beauty and places I am drawn to, learning about different cultures, languages, people.

What holds me back:
Excuses - Convenience, time (imbalance of work to personal time), not enough money.
Fears - I'm sure I have some, but I'm drawing a blank.
Distractions - tv, other people's drama, my thoughts of what I should be doing, or what my life should be by now.

Years of not having a plan, of living by the seat of my pants (whatever that really means?), of just getting through today, has put me in a place of playing catch up. What others learned in their 20's about saving and living within their means, and building a life of stability and security, I came to understand within the past five years. Don't get me wrong, I am not wallowing in guilt, or self-pity, or regret. Just seeing clearly how I am accountable for my actions and choices.

I realize that I am not so far off the life of my dreams. Because truly what I seek is balance, and meaningful interactions, and opportunity to explore, and learn, and share. And though I may not be financially wealthy, my life thus far has been rich with love and experience.

And I am hopeful.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"To sleep perchance to dream"

It's been an interesting few weeks. At work, I was recognized as Manager of the Quarter, filling me with gratitude, excitement, and a feeling of accomplishment. It is nice to be acknowledged by the people with whom I work. The announcement was made at the managers' outing at Angels stadium by way of the center field scoreboard. My name in lights was quite extraordinary!

At home the situation was very different, as meals have been sporadic and unplanned due to Doug working in Hollywood and me working extra hours. I struggled with my commitment to eating healthy, finding myself settling for what was convenient rather than healthy. This simple act, practiced several days in a row led me to cravings for sweets and an emotional implosion, then a downward spiral which ended in tears and frustration.

I have now recommitted to my plan for healthy living and already feel the difference both physically and emotionally. Rather than letting my day plan my activity, I have planned out the next week's exercise and menu. Today, I am reviewing some goal work I started in January and have been following fairly well since then. The focus for September is "living ritual". To me, this means honoring the rituals that serve me, creating ritual to honor life, and truly incorporating ritual into my daily living as spiritual practice.

Sometimes our conscious life is boosted by our dream life...

I dreamed last night that I could see a spiritual presence. This spirit was approaching me and my children (they were much younger) in disguise as a loving presence (she was wearing a t-shirt with "GAIA" printed on the front). Gaia is the Earth goddess from the Greek Gaea. I raised my hand and stopped the spirit's forward movement with energy forced through the palm of my hand and watched as the spirit's disguise vanished, revealing its true intent to harm.

It is interesting to me how I knew of the disguise, and trusted that knowing. And upon awakening, I felt a sense of empowerment. I took extra time in yoga this morning and have been enjoying a steady flow of creative ideas. Now that was some dream!

Living well and consciously takes commitment and daily practice, and for me, remembering to use all the skills I have. The exciting thing is finding ways to share them with others!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Kyle's weight loss plan

Kyle's blog post:

For those who want to know Kyle's research & plan, please follow the link above. He has given me the permission to share this. And you will see his transformation!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Inspired to get off the couch

On June 22 of this year I was inspired by my son, Kyle's success in getting healthy, losing weight, getting in shape. And more than that, his sharing his process and progress in his blog. I was so inspired, I decided to make changes in my own life.

Kyle had done extensive research in weight loss and expressed very clearly how we lose weight by creating a calorie deficit, either from lowering calorie intake or through burning calories through activity. And he provided a link to determine what an individual's calorie budget should be, based on age, height, and activity level (Basal Metabolic Index-BMI). It is information I had read before, but somehow it made so much sense both intuitively and intellectually this time.

You see, my weight has fluctuated wildly over my 50 years. As a child I was fairly active so it was never a concern. As a teenager though, when I stopped swimming 2 hours a day, the weight began to creep on, especially around my hips and thighs. My junior year in high school, I gained about 25 pounds and started the weight gain/loss yo-yo.

The summer before my senior year in high school, I basically starved myself AND exercised to lose the extra weight. In fact, at 5'10" tall, I weighed about 112 lbs. by the end of that summer. This is not a healthy weight and I do not recommend the anorexia plan to anyone.

I want to speak to the people out there who can relate to this. The cause for my dieting that summer was a bet with a friend to see who could lose the weight quicker. The bet was started because our boyfriends thought we were too fat. Please don't get me wrong. I am not blaming the boyfriends. This is more a statement about how we process criticism of our body. And in my case, I processed the information mainly through my emotions, which then said "If you want to be loved, you must be thin, beautiful, ______ insert ideal here."

Emotions are powerful instigators. Fear can make us move, or stop, or panic. Love can blind us, or encourage us. Accepting our emotional responses and working with them may just be the key to finding balance and peace in our lives.

Despite the emotional reasons for eating or not exercising, the physiological answer to weight loss is still the same - create a calorie deficit through lowering calorie intake or through burning calories. It makes sense then to create a plan that is a) healthy (1-2 pounds per week is considered safe weight loss), b)is sustainable - not so strict that you will feel deprived (there are those pesky emotions), c)fits with your current lifestyle (if you work long hours, your plan needs to account for this), and d) changes as you do (as you build lean muscle, you will burn calories faster, but as you build cardiovascular health, it will take more intensity to raise your heart rate to burn fat.)

For me, the reason my previous attempts did not work, is that they were drastic and didn't teach me how to maintain my ideal weight once I achieved the weight loss. This is the key concept that Kyle's research provided for me. I needed a plan for a healthy and aware lifestyle, not a quick fix that would be undone as soon as I went back to my previous oblivious ways.

Much like the financial budget I monitor daily, I set up a calorie budget that includes the foods I already eat (some healthy, some not so much) and the activities I already do (yoga, sit ups, walking, cycling, and dancing). Each day I insert the calories for the foods I eat (calories in) and the activity I perform (burned calories). The daily budget (derived from the BMR calculation)allows me to choose the foods I eat, teaching me awareness of how much I am consuming and the activity I need to perform in order to maintain the average daily balance. The I-phone has a cool app "Lose it!" that will do this very thing for you. (If I can figure out how to link my spreadsheet, I will do so later.)

It has been 9 weeks since I started this plan and I have lost 20 pounds to date. This is an average of about 2.2 pounds per week. I am feeling better, fitting into a size smaller clothes, and gaining awareness of my food choices. The first few weeks were difficult because I felt hungry, especially at night. But I pushed through, knowing my stomach would shrink to adjust for the decreased food intake. I have upped my yoga to twice a day on average. I am walking on average twice per week. And we dance once per week currently. These were all changes I have been able to make while averaging 60 hours of work each week. I say that because one of my reasons for not exercising was the time factor.

I am motivated to continue this plan because it is working. The great thing about making healthy lifestyle changes is I don't waste time and energy on guilt or beating myself up. I am learning flexibility and the beauty of making adjustments as needed. Along with the calorie/exercise budget, I have recorded comments about foods that caused digestive problems, or emotional changes I notice, and especially changes in my body that are a direct result of the food or activity for that day. It may sound tedious to some, but for me it is enlightening. As in any plan, some days it flows and other days, well, it doesn't. On those days I have found it necessary to let go and remember tomorrow is a new day.

Monday, August 2, 2010

"Wayan once told me that sometimes when she's healing her patients she
becomes an open pipeline for God's love, and she ceases even thinking
about what needs to be done next. The intellect stops, the intuition
rises and all she has to do is permit her God-ness to flow through her.
She says 'It feels like a wind comes and takes my hands.'"
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

I have been reading this book the past several days and today it hit me why I am enjoying it so much. This woman's journey, through relationship, and spiritual seeking, and Italy...she is beautiful and funny and honest.

Reading this description of a healer's experience with healing took my breath away and made me weep openly. I too have experienced "this wind that comes and takes my hands." Moments of complete openness and trust in a divinity that touches heart and body and soul.

I love that my life has meandered through places and moments. That I can draw upon those moments at will and remember the beauty and richness of assisting a friend stay open and present when she wanted to shut down, or the sheer joy of a hug at my children's graduations, or the depth of sadness as I held my mother's hand at her mother's funeral. These are the stuff that remind me that God is real and moves through us when we let that wind blow.

My work of the past few years has been about managing people and finances and resources. It has been full of numbers and policies and procedures. It has also been about remembering to breathe and to let God in, even to the numbers, even to the stuff that feels so concrete and unmoving. I have been working very hard to prove myself worthy in my position. To show higher ups that they can trust my judgment.

And yet, that same wind blows here too, when I let it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

dreams and visions

It's funny, what I thought I understood at 35 I am living at 50, with depth and a wide-angle lens. I'm not exactly sure what happened or when, but the result is humbling. Sometimes I feel as if I am living on the surface, as my work used to involve hands-on, physical connection with people. It was an undeniable connection where energies merged, feelings were exchanged, and presence was paramount to the healing to take place. I would emerge after a massage session, feeling energized, alive, and grateful to take part. I lived life from my senses, especially touch, and was in tune with the subtle, and not-so-subtle, energies of emotion, mood, spirit, and life-force. I was in the deep end treading water, inviting others to come in. I truly believed this was the only way to know life.

After my divorce in 1991, massage healed me. I gave, received, was touched, and touched others. I embraced connection and sought ways to deepen my life. I had a vision early in my massage training, seeing myself as proprietor of a healing center. The creator of healing space in which others could embrace their creative spirit, practice their art and soul. It was clear and vibrant in my mind's eye, set in the mountains, in cabins that were spaced far enough apart for privacy, but close enough for sharing. And there was a main cabin with a kitchen, dining room, meeting room, living room, and a round glassed-in space for yoga/movement/dance. Around the back of this building were treatment rooms for massage and healing work. Healing practitioners included doctors, naturopaths, nutritionist, massage therapists, yoga instructors, and others so inclined to participate. In my heart I felt a sense of collaboration and synthesis.

In my naive enthusiasm, I expected this healing center to magically appear. Why else would I see it this clearly? What would be the purpose of the vision, one that I have seen again and again over the past 19 years, if it was not destined to materialize? Is this the nature of visions and dreams? To tease and taunt us into believing in possibilities? Or do our visions and dreams act as beacons to guide our journey? From my experience, I say they are both jokester and hierophant.

From an outside perspective, someone looking at my life might see I have bounced around from place to place, relationship to relationship, job to job. I have met many interesting people, tasted love and laughter as well as pain and struggle. I have life-guarded, coached swimming, performed massage, sold cars, processed financing, assisted in property management, counseled both psychiatric crises and chronic pain patients, returned to massage therapy, and currently am managing a resort spa.

During this journey I have also helped to raise two amazing children. I say helped, because their father was instrumental, and their grandparents were too. My children have inspired me, motivated me, grounded me, and taught me. They continue to do so, as I am honored to share in their lives.

So, back to life at 50...

At age 35 I acted from my senses, not necessarily a bad thing, as it led me through some interesting life experiences. Yet, over the years I have become more balanced, respecting both instinct and knowledge. I have come to understand that just because we can see it, does not make it so. Dreams take dedication, and stamina, and work. It is not enough to say I have a vision, or dream. Seeing it is the teaser, kind of like a movie trailer. It shows you the most beautiful, or moving, or funny parts to get you interested, but it is only a glimpse. Visions are like this too. They say, "Hey, look at me! This is what you are destined to be, do, or have!" They don't necessarily show you the road to get there. They don't usually give you a time frame either. And for those of us who see something that 20 years ago was so on the fringes, staying on the path, knowing what to do next, making the right choices can be daunting.

So here I am in this place, at this time. The vision of the healing center has not faded. Sometimes it gets shoved to the background in order to focus on the task at hand. Sometimes it races forth in my dreams, or a memory, or a conversation. At these times I am awed by the persistent notion that my life may be leading me to a beautiful, creative, healing place. And at times, the dissonance between what is and what may be can be frustrating. I can easily begin to feel at odds with work that I actually love and by which I am challenged. The same may be true of my relationships, place of residence, get the picture.

The fact that remains is that I am closer to this vision today than I have ever been. The work I am doing is directly applicable to "owning" a healing retreat center. I have acquired healing experience, management skills, planning skills, negotiation and mediation experience. People come to my place of work for healing and respite.

I am more in love and awe with the creative spirit today than ever before, as I know the sacrifice it takes to keep getting up and sharing your heart and soul, even when you would rather crawl into a cave and rest. I know what it is like to face rejection, adversity, ridicule and ignorance. How the slightest word or look can sometimes break your heart. I am moved deeply by words, music, connection, and art...those life-giving pieces that add depth and dimension and meaning to our otherwise practical lives.

Sometimes I want to jump back into the deep end, swim in the waters of that physical connection, feel the charge of it. And rest in the warmth of a familiar place. Today I am content to remember and to wonder what is next.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Beginning at 50, well okay, almost 50

On this, the 50th anniversary of the day before I was born, I am fighting the urge to curl up in the fetal position for a day of cocooning. It occurs to me that life is not what I expected it to be. Don't get me wrong, in some ways it is more and others, less. For instance, when I was five years old, I thought I would be a nurse when I grew up. And at seventeen, it was a psychologist. I have lived what seems a lifetime since then. Married at nineteen, two children by age twenty-four, I thought my life would progress at a natural pace, that I would fall into some sort of groove and find my "calling" while raising children and attending PTA meetings. Yeah, that didn't happen.

By age thirty-one, I was divorced and floundering, looking for that sign of "this is it!" The funny thing is, while you're looking for your life to become clear, it keeps coming. My life, though at times exciting and others depressing and full of fear, took a route that meandered through alcoholism and recovery, letting go and embracing, finding my pack and taking the less-traveled path, to finally (or should I say most recently) in a place that feels both focused and unsettled.

I live and work in a beautiful place, steps from the Pacific Ocean in sunny southern California. My work is challenging, incorporating many of the skills I have acquired along the way and some new ones too. My children have grown up and married, and are living their own lives. I recently married again and am embracing this partnership with open eyes and an open heart. We recently began dance lessons, which is fun and frustrating and beautiful.

Dreams I have accomplished include completing that graduate degree in Counseling. Seeing my children graduate college, get married and pursue their own dreams. Marry the man I love. Live authentically and with purpose (at times this is easy, at times not-so-easy). Pursue work that is meaningful and challenging. I have also completed a half marathon, a mountain triathlon and a 150 mile bike ride. Delivered two babies naturally. And sustained a live-within-my-means budget for over a year.

Yet there is more I have not accomplished. I have not seen Europe (don't even have a passport). Have not written a book. I have not completed a full marathon. I am fifty pounds overweight, out of shape, and still live most of the time waiting for the other shoe to fall. And almost twenty years ago, I had a vision of running a retreat center in the mountains. A place where creative folks came to embrace their work. This is still a dream of mine. And though my current work comes pretty close, the depth and freedom and healing is lacking.

So, today I am writing. I am starting something new. Something with heart and soul and reflection and depth, and hopefully humor to balance out the edges. At fifty, I am embracing the wisdom years and letting go of the seemingly endless pursuit of the elusive "it". I realize I am here now, in this place with a half century of living to share. I could keep chasing "it", or I can stand here today and know I am loved, I am accomplished, and I am not done.

So here goes!