… I am going to ignore the fact that we are a week into the new year, but still state my intention for my Word Of The Year. This practice has been making the rounds in my little corner of the blogging world, and it seems to have started with the delightful Mished-Up, I am so excited to have found her blog! Thanks for this wonderful new ritual, I am excited to embrace the concept and see what great things it brings to my life!
For my inaugural word, I have selected:
Here’s the reasons and hopes for and in selecting energy:
- Just thinking about the word energy brightens my spirits. I mentioned that I have been under the weather for the past few days. The silver lining of this being that I’ve had plenty of time to ruminate about my Word Of the Year! With zero energy right now, the idea of working to bring more of it into my life seems like a rewarding project.
- Energy is applicable to every component of life, and can be incorporated into any possible resolution I might want to make. If I choose to improve my diet, well, calories are technically units of energy. If I choose to revamp (read: restart) my fitness regimen, increased energy is a natural outcome. If I choose to organize myself better in the new year, I am ultimately expending more energy than I have in the past.
- I have an undertaking in the works currently that I will address in more detail in a later post, primarily because I detest talking about goals before I’ve really begun, but the undertaking involves the practice of meditation. From my limited understanding, one of the many benefits of meditation is increased energy, as well as the development of a new set of skills for dealing with the negative energy in one’s life.
- And speaking of negative energy, and by negative energy I am referring to any form of energy that is detrimental, learning how to best handle it would make this list as well. Managing/eliminating/limiting toxic relationships, growing/encouraging/fostering positive relationships, eradicating that which drains me mentally, and working to end negative patterns all could fall under the umbrella of possibilities.
- Harnessing the energy I possess and using it for good, rather than continuing to weigh the pro’s and con’s without ever taking action. Giving myself permission to fail would be key to this process, as well as working against my natural tendency for all or nothing thinking.
- Somewhat along the lines of the bullet point above, taking action to resolve long-standing issues that drain me of energy. Continuing to bitch and moan about a problem without making any attempt to solve it enervates me, so, clearly, the opposite approach should energize.
- Cultivate a greater awareness of and gratitude for the energy I have right here, right now. It is default thinking for me to consider what I should be doing, how I could be better spending my time, and how much more could have been achieved. Again, this type of thinking is exhausting. Taking time each day to consider what has been done well always brings positive energy, so why not increase that energy as much as possible?
- Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t include some component of recovery into this list. I know from experience the energy I receive from helping another. Continuing to reach my hand out to those in need boomerangs right back to me in a way that would be impossible to describe. There is a virtually limitless supply of energy in being of service to others.
So, there you have it, time to get energized! I really hope my throat and head are getting the message. Let’s see how energized 2015 turns out to be!
Writing this, sitting upright in the home office, rather than slumped over the laptop on the recliner, seems to be miracle enough for today.
Two weeks ago I wrote a rather despondent post bemoaning my relationship with food. As always, shining the light on my fears and troubles diminishes them. The comments I received turned my negativity around almost instantaneously, and the support from my “in person” friends was the icing on the cake (the cake, of course, being gluten-free, sugar-free, and calorie-free). I came to find out, once again, that I am indeed not alone in my troubling thoughts, and that, sharing the load truly lessens the burden.
One friend and I, who both have a trip booked for roughly the same time frame, have concocted a plan: let’s grab some of the most effective tools from the recovery toolbox with which I have been blessed, and put them to work in constructing a healthier lifestyle. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far:
Goal: Take the next six weeks, and make small, incremental changes to our current diet and fitness lifestyle, and see if we can’t feel and look better in time for our trips.
Okay, so there’s the big picture goal, how will the next 6 weeks play out? One of the biggest “tricks” to my success in recovery, especially in the early days, was that I had a to-do list of four things, and only four things, that I needed to accomplish in any given day, and if I went to bed having accomplished them, the day was a success. I’ve written about this ad nauseam, no need to revisit the specifics. So what I hope to do is use the same blueprint for improving my health. I took a long, hard look (cringing A LOT) at all my bad habits, and I concluded that, to start, I could commit to 4 things each and every day, and I was (am) hopeful that in time, I can add/modify/eliminate as needed to continue on a positive path. But for now, forget everything else, and commit to the following:
1. Eliminate the 4 worst foods in my current diet that lead to binge eating (again using the number because it worked so effectively in the past for me)
2. Commit to replacement foods that are healthier than existing foods
3. 20 minutes of dedicated physical activity
4. Communication/progress reports each evening (She has her own four, and reciprocates with her own progress reports)
That is it. Here’s what I am NOT going to do: beat myself up over anything else that I do or don’t do during a given day… if I go to bed having accomplished those four things, that day is a success.
Saturday, February 22nd was our start date; today is March 6, roughly 2 weeks in. How is it going?
Week one had its emotional ups and downs, but I successfully completed the week as laid out above. Each day I would wake up, absolutely convinced that I would not, could not, make it through the day without giving in to one temptation or another (sound familiar, friends in recovery?). Each night that I made it through, the exhilaration was palpable.
A surprising tool from recovery came in very handy during the first week. Each time I refrained from eating something, or chose something healthy, a pessimistic voice in my head would taunt me, “Big deal… you made it through this one, tiny hurdle? Do you REALLY think you are going to spend THE REST OF YOUR LIFE doing this?”
Here’s the surprise answer I had at the ready, and it comes directly from all the lessons learned through recovery: “Who cares about the rest of your life? Can you make it through the rest of this day?”
And would you believe that response was as calming, as soothing, and as positive, as when I used it in the early days of sobriety? So that was a really fun bonus. And the voice has since quieted down, it’s almost inaudible!
Other positives: the exercise thing, having committed to it effectively about 6 months ago but have since lapsed, was like riding a bike, in that making it a part of my daily life became routine fairly quickly. Without getting too far ahead of myself, I do find myself pushing myself a bit further, here and there, and I suspect that as time goes on I will continue to do so.
The regular “checking in” process has loads of benefits, the main one being accountability. There were several days that I turned away from one bad choice or another for the simple reason that I did not want to report I ate it.
Another huge milestone for me: sharing about the foods that tempt me. In the past, I would have been as secretive about this information as I was with every part of my active addiction. I attach shame to eating certain foods, and thus do it privately, and fail to disclose it to anyone. In order to have this communication with my friend be meaningful, I had to get real about the temptations in my life. Unsurprisingly, my revelations did not raise an eyebrow, and since that time I’ve opened up with more people about it, getting similar results.
I did not recognize this shift until a few days ago. I am a Catholic, and Lent is currently underway. In preparation for this religious event, I was contemplating what I would sacrifice, and decided that it would be one of the foods on my list above… Lent would simply give me a few added weeks of abstinence. However, tradition would have it that on “Fat Tuesday,” you celebrate with one last hoorah, and so I made the decision that I would break one of my four commitments. I communicated this to my friend, in advance, explaining what I was going to do, and how I intend to not let it derail me permanently (as has so often happened in the past). I finished explaining it in email, and when I sat back to review, I realized what an amazing accomplishment that was for me… that kind of unreserved honesty, as far as eating habits are concerned, is a first for me, and it felt really good to see the progress as it’s happening.
Last but not least, I am experiencing tangible results: my clothes feel a tad looser, the numbers on the scale are down, 10 pounds the first week! I am actually going to talk a little more about that, but it will have to wait for another post, since this one is running too long as it is! Finally, my mood overall is more positive and optimistic.
All great stuff, and I will post again in two weeks on this subject and let you know where I’m at!
Having good news of any kind to report is a miracle!
Maybe not quite this old…
If ever an admission of truth could lose readership, it will be this one. I have been back and forth about whether or not to tell this story, but the comical aspect of it, combined with my pride in a dubious accomplishment, makes the telling of it irresistible.
For years I have had a subscription to People magazine. This has been the source of endless ribbing by some of my “highbrow” friends (quotes are absolutely intentional, thank you very much), because I don’t follow the news very religiously (in fact, under antonym for “news junkie” you would find my picture) so the thinking is that the source of all my current events knowledge stems from this periodical. If I make the mistake of mentioning something in headline news, the comments are predictable, and endless.
Now can you see why I keep these friends around for decades?
Back to me. I developed a rule for this magazine: I will only allow myself to read it at the gym. The reason: It covers up the control panel, and there are pictures to distract my mind while I toil away. I came to think of reading the magazine as a reward, and if I was caught up on the issues, I felt good, because it meant I was exercising regularly, if there was a backlog, it motivated me to get my ass to the gym.
Enter the downward spiral of active addiction. Because I am a stubborn son of a gun, I would not allow myself to look at them unless at the gym. Unfortunately, since other obsessions occupied my time, the pile of People magazines grew as mountainous as my pile of regret and shame.
But throwing them out felt like I was giving up. Oddly, holding on to almost a year’s worth of People magazines was actually a sign of hope, and faith that I could conquer this disease, and get back to normal life (if you consider normal reading about celebs while working out).
So, as most of you know, I bottomed out, and started the process of recovery, and still the pile of People magazines grew. Throughout the year 2012, I worked my ass of in terms of recovery, but not in terms of anything physical. I took the slogan “First things first” and ran with it… straight to the La-Z-Boy. Occasionally I would take the pile, sort through it, and throw out the issues that seemed the least interesting, but still I hung on to the majority of them.
The subscription ended December 2012, and for obvious reasons I could not justify renewing it. So for the next 5 1/2 months while the pile did not grow, it certainly did not diminish in size. I moved them out of sight, but still could not bear to part with them. At one point my husband was in the drawer that housed them and said, “What the hell are you planning to do with all those back issues of People?” Of course, he was unaware of this particular insanity, so I mumbled something and the subject was dropped.
Finally, the time had come, and I signed up to kick-start my fitness over at Running On Sober. Finally, the People magazines will be put to good use!
So I picked one out of the pile, and out the door I went. As I started reading about Tom Cruise‘s idea of the perfect day being spending it with Katie Holmes, I realized a slight problem in my logic: this was old news, really, really old news.
Did I mention that I am stubborn? If I held on to these magazines for this long, by God, I am going to read them.
I watched the pile dwindle, and damned if I didn’t feel just a notch of pride each time I threw out a magazine.
Meanwhile, I got to find out the following hot-off-the-press information:
- Richard Dawson, Phyllis Diller and the guy from Beastie Boys are all dead
- Jessica Simpson had her first baby (apparently already pregnant with number 2?)
- The sit com Go On with Matthew Perry is picked to be a winner (now cancelled); the sit com The Neighbors is picked to be a loser (surprise hit)
Here’s the end of this ridiculous story, and I promise this happened exactly as I am telling it. I got down to the final old issue of People, and I put off reading it for a few days, because it felt like the end of an era. So I swam or took neighborhood walks. Finally, I went to the gym, read my last back issue, and threw it in the trashcan with a smile. I drove home, went to the mailbox, and I swear to you, this was what I found, that day:
Could I even make this stuff up?
Surviving a trip to the mall with 5 kids ranging in age from 13 (with an attitude) to 2 (also with an attitude). If mall employees were also recording miracles, it would be that we left with the building still standing!
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. –Aristotle
My husband emailed me a great article on forming new habits (http://zenhabits.net/sticky/). My first thought… what is he trying to tell me? My next thought… I don’t really want to know!
The first part of the article talks about all the ways we revert to old patterns, even when we acknowledge we want to create new habits. And boy oh boy, could I relate to this part of the article. Skipping a day of exercise turns into a week, and before I know it I haven’t seen the inside of my gym in months. And then the whole starting over process… just thinking about it is so painful that I can almost convince myself that I am happy with the way things are. And when I contemplate the number of times I have “started over” with my exercise regime, it becomes so overwhelming, it feels like I should just give up, because I have no long-term track record of success.
So that part of the article was a tad depressing.
But then, I read on to the second part of the article, which talks about how to create a habit from the ground up. Simple advice that we have all heard before… start with one very specific habit, and make no other changes in your life besides the one habit. Make the smallest possible change, but stick with that small change every single day. Be accountable by talking to other people about your decision to acquire this habit. Monitor negative self-talk; in other words, don’t talk yourself out of believing you can make this change. Reward yourself regularly for sticking with the new habit.
When I read the second part of the article, it sounded familiar, because it is very much a part of my recovery story. I have shared more times than I can count what I did in my days in early recovery… I prayed, I went to meetings, I talked to other alcoholics, and I refrained from picking up a drink or drug. One specific habit, several very small action steps, but I did them every single day, and I talked about the importance of doing them with anyone who would listen. And, over time, the rewards for this newly acquired habit… well, I would need a separate blog to detail all the rewards.
Here’s the upside to creating a habit, and one I would do well to remember any time I debate about going to the gym: if you do it often enough, it becomes second nature, and gets to the point where you miss it when it’s gone. Circumstances were such this week that I went two days without going to a 12-step meeting. By the third morning (today), I woke up, realized that my schedule was free, and could not wait to get there. Now, the day I am able to report this behavior with respect to exercise… well, it will be a glorious day indeed!
Unrelated to the subject matter at hand, today I am grateful for running water, and the miraculously talented family member who came to my rescue when the water was not running!
Related to the subject matter at hand, reading the article, then getting up from the computer, getting in the car, and driving to the gym… it’s a miracle!