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A Confession of Infidelity

 

I have been hanging on to this blog by my fingernails of late.

It started out as a rationale:  I re-started a new fitness/weight loss/get healthy challenge a few weeks back, and I swore I would not bother the blogosphere with this nonsense again.  I barely want to hear it myself, how could anyone else?

On the other hand, I have come to a point in my blogging where I write twice a week:  one that wraps up the wisdom I glean from the weekly meeting I run, and the other where I release whatever is running around inside of my brain.  If I am involved in a diet and exercise challenge, then guess what is the only thing running around my brain?

And then another thought occurred to me:  many of the recovery bloggers I read credit their sobriety to immersing themselves in the recovery blogging world.  It was not my path, but it has always intrigued me.  Perhaps I can employ that same mindset and immerse myself in the diet and fitness blogs of the world.

So that’s where I’ve been.  Instead staying on top of my WordPress reader, I have been branching out to MyFitnessPal forums, and the top rated diet and fitness blogs of recent years.  It has been an interesting experience, but I’ve got to say it:  not the same, not the same at all.  There is something very unique, and very special, about our community.  I certainly did not find it in the diet and fitness world, that’s for sure!

So that’s where I’ve been.  And here’s why I’m back, and it has to do with a valuable lesson I learned from all the mini-challenges I did this year:  consistency.

I have been working on improving my fitness for about 14 months, working on losing weight for about 7 months, and working on my overall health for 6 months.  For a large majority of that time, I was looking at the glass half empty.  No matter what I did, my focus was one what I hadn’t done, or what I still needed to do, or how much better I could have done it.  It all came to a head for me a few weeks ago.  I had started this challenge on September 12 (2 months before my birthday), and I had just had my first very successful weigh-in.  My husband was congratulating me, and I could not see it.  You see, that weight I lost that week I have been losing and gaining all year, give or take a few pounds.  So while the number sounded good (I honestly can’t remember what it was, something close to 10 pounds I think), all I could see was the number I should be at, since I had already lost those 10 pounds 2 or 3 other times this year.  And the more I tried to explain my thought process to my husband, the more he looked at me like I was speaking another language.  I wound up in hysterical tears by the end of it; not because he wasn’t understanding my point, but that I was not understanding his.

This is a nod to my recovery tools:  I can see now when I’m thinking like “Old School Josie” by watching the reactions of others.  I may not be able to stop Old School Josie Thinking entirely, but I can at least recognize it and correct it.

So my mini-meltdown was the start of a slow new understanding:  this is a process, not an event with a start and end point.  Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?  But when you’re in the thick of it, it’s anything but.

Next lightning bolt:  each failed attempt, and that is probably not even an apt description, but let’s roll with it…  each failed attempt was some kind of lesson learned that helped me the next go-around.  Every subsequent challenge I have undertaken (I would say there have been four in all) has shown me greater and greater results.  The most concrete example I can give:  this most recent one had me going strong for three weeks, and I got to the lowest number on the scale that I have seen in my adult life, when I hit the all too familiar roadblock:  a celebration of some sort.  This time, it was my wedding anniversary, which turned into a 4 day free-for-all in terms of eating.  It has been slow going this week, but I am slowly getting myself back on track.  So here’s the progress:

1.  I am back on track, normally a celebration derails me for weeks

2.  My high number on the scale since resuming is the previous challenge’s low number

Even Old School Josie Thinking can’t argue that this is progress!

Last valuable lesson learned, and now I will finally tie this all back to blogging:  Consistency is key.  It is true in my sobriety, it is true for my diet and fitness, and it is true for blogging.  If I don’t keep myself to a schedule, then I will fade away into the blogging sunset.  I know it.  Just in the few weeks I took off, the monkey mind was getting louder and louder:  enough is enough, you are getting too repetitive, who gives a crap about what’s going on in your life?  On and on.

Here’s my response back:  nothing but great things have happened with respect to the blog.  So I guess I’ll keep writing!

 

Today’s Miracle:

Through the orthodontic process, we discovered an abnormality in my son’s mouth, and we have been anxiously awaiting results of the oral surgery he had as a result of that discovery.  Results are in, and it was the best possible news.  So the miracle is:  the good health of my children is now something for which I am consciously grateful each and every day!

Second miracle:  surgeons who take their job seriously, and go the extra mile to ensure the best possible results.  I’m telling you, there’s no feeling like knowing you can trust your child’s medical professional!

Symptom Checker

 

Did you ever go on the WebMD site to research a condition?  I would doubt that I would be able to find my particular ailment easily, but if I could, it would look something like this:

 

Symptoms, Early Stage:

  • Initial success with accomplishment of a goal leads to an increased momentum of goal setting (as in, now that I’ve stopped smoking and have lost a few pounds, let’s keep the health train going and start an official diet by counting points, buy a fitbit and count steps, train for a 5K and log miles, and of course there’s always the scale)
  • Distracted thought processes (wait, which goal should I be working on right now… oh wait, I have children who need their dinner!)

Symptoms, Middle Stage:

  • Irritability (leave me alone, can’t you see I’m trying to calculate all I’ve eaten today/steps I’ve taken today/average minutes per mile today?)
  • Confusion (what exactly am I supposed to be doing right now?)

Symptoms, Advanced Stage:

  • Deal making (if I get on the scale and the number is the same or less than yesterday, then I am doing well and should continue, if not, then I will… give up/throw the scale out the window/throw myself out the window)
  • Negative self-talk reaches new heights (no matter what good is achieved on a given day, the negative voice can combat with all the goals that were not achieved)

Diagnosis #1:

  • You are certifiable, go out and get fitted with a straitjacket

Diagnosis #2 (because life actually does have to move on):

  • You are suffering from a condition called “Overshooting The Goal-Setting Mark.”  Fortunately, this condition can be arrested and corrected with a few simple steps.

Treatment and Care:

  • Acknowledgment of condition.  Say to yourself, “you are heading in too many directions, and as a result, you are getting nowhere fast”
  • Next, take some deep breaths, and remember all for which you are grateful (this step, by the way, helps with a lot of mental conditions)
  • Once in a calm state, take quiet time, pick one goal, and Let.  The.  Rest.  Go.
  • Give voice to the confusion and negativity in your head with a trusted friend (or the entire blogging world, or both)
  • Repeat these steps each time the condition flares up

Today’s Miracle:

Today is a day of rest… no accounting of anything today, and I am going to enjoy it!

The Numbers Game

This is the next progress report in my 6-Weeks-Until-I-Am-On-A-Tropical-Vacation-So-Let’s-See-What-Physical-Improvements-I-Can-Make Challenge (should I trademark that winning title?).  For a recap, read Honesty, Hypocrisy & Me and Progress Report.

So the progress is pretty much 110% good.  When I started, I made a commitment, both to myself and to the blogosphere, to complete some simple, daily activities, all designed to eradicate the four worst food items in my life.  To date, those foods have been banished, but, like so many recovery-like activities, my progress has far surpassed the initial goals.  Over the course of the past 5 weeks, I have not only abstained from those foods which I compulsively eat, but I have also managed to acquire a daily eating routine that is about a million times healthier than my diet 7 weeks ago.  So by any standard I have far exceeded my goal, in terms of eating.

One of the simple daily tasks has been to re-incorporate a small amount of physical activity, which again has been a great success, and again has far exceeded my initial expectations.  I have been able to increase, either by time or intensity, each week since I began.

Mentally it has been a bit of a roller coaster.  Weeks one and two were a breeze, and I was given an almost daily reassurance from my scale… getting on the scale was in fact fun!  Of course, every party has its end, and week three was a complete meltdown.  I had eaten better and exercised harder than the first two weeks, yet still managed to gain a pound.  Despite all logic and common sense, which would tell a sane person, “then just stop getting on the scale,” I actually upped my visits to my bathroom, sometimes weighing myself as much as 3 times in a day.  You would think I’ve never been on a diet before!  The absolute miracle of it all is that I persevered… in my entire life, I have never had that kind of negative feedback and continued on a diet.  It worked itself out by the end of week four, but I’m still trying to understand and correct my mental process on the scale obsession.  I have managed to eliminate the behavior of actually stepping on the scale, but the idea of what the numbers may be is never very far from my thoughts, and I am trying to figure that one out.

And then there’s other numbers… I find myself mentally calculating and re-calculating my daily caloric intake, and comparing it to the day before.  The idea is almost laughable… I am the least qualified to judge some of the things I am assigning numbers to, and yet I can’t seem to stop myself.

And then, the biggest numbers game of all… the treadmill.  I am obsessively checking the miles I am completing, mentally calculating how much it will be at the end, comparing it to the times in the past, and striving to beat each time.  Now, for sure, some of this is to the good:  I am getting faster almost every time I am on the treadmill.  But I know, I know, that this kind of obsessing is fundamentally wrong, but I can’t seem to overcome it.  Sure, I could cover up the panel, but I’m pretty sure I would have to spray paint it black or figure out a way to run backwards for me to avoid peeking.

So, the good news:  I am down 15 pounds, have lost 4 inches from my waist (the only part I measured, I am an apple shape and my mid-section is the area I most desire to decrease), and my treadmill workout is back to when I was at my peak last summer.  My diet is the healthiest, by a significant amount, in a solid 5 years, maybe even longer.  Water consumption up, Diet Pepsi consumption down.  My clothes feel looser, and I feel a great sense of accomplishment.  All super exciting stuff.

The not-so-good news:  I am a work-in-progress in the mental game of dieting.  The idea of moderation and balance, in terms of time spent thinking about diet and exercise, is completely foreign.  I need a better perspective in how I am spending my mental energy as it relates to this issue.  And, truthfully, I’m not really sure how to achieve this particular goal.  As, shockingly enough, moderation in anything has not been my strong suit.

Is this problem sounding familiar to anyone?  Am I alone in the numbers obsession?  Any words of advice on how to get a grip?

Today’s Miracle:

Perseverance in this challenge is a miracle.  Seriously, a miracle.

Progress Report

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!

Today’s Miracle:

Having good news of any kind to report is a miracle!

Honesty, Hypocrisy & Me

I am a hypocrite.

Countless times, I have had the conversation with my children, the conversation that follows a mistake made by them, a bad decision, a poor judgment.  The main point of the conversation is simple:  a mistake has been made, crying and bemoaning the mistake only makes a bad situation worse.  You can’t un-ring the bell.  What you can do is learn from it, and do your best not to repeat it.

Countless times, I engaged in the behaviors associated with active addiction.  At a certain point in time, I became consciously aware that my behavior was wrong on every level, but I repeated the mistake, time and again.  I tried to correct the mistake, and fell down more times than I can count.  In my heart of hearts, though, I had an unshakeable belief that there was a solution.  For a long time, I was unclear on what that solution was, but deep in my heart I knew it was there.  And, by the grace of God, it became clear to me just two short years ago, and I have thanked Him for it every day since that time.

Here is where the admission of hypocrisy begins.  For the past two days, I have been soul-searching in a way I haven’t soul searched in a long time.  It started innocently enough:  my husband and I have planned a trip to celebrate a milestone birthday for him, and a milestone anniversary for us, both taking place this year.  The trip is set for six weeks from now, and will take place on an island, something to anticipate, given the miles of snow I see outside my window currently.  But of course this leads me to the conclusion that I need to get myself in gear, both in terms of diet and exercise, both disciplines that have been abandoned for quite some time now.

The simple “what can I do to improve myself in 6 weeks” has morphed into such an abyss of despair and hand-wringing anxiety, I knew I needed to write about it.  For the first 24 hours, I was sure I would NOT write about it:  nobody wants to hear me blather on yet again about jumping back into the healthy lifestyle ring, it is not original, or interesting, or relevant.

And yet…

The feelings that rose within me as I attempted to complete the task with which I challenged myself, simply come up with a plan to improve my lifestyle in 6 weeks, the feelings were so similar to those I experienced in early recovery, that I figured I must flesh them out with my blogging friends.

At the heart of all those feeling, the single, most gut-wrenching emotion I experienced, was one of despair, and the voice of despair was so clear it was as if a person was standing alongside of me saying the words out loud,

“There is no way you will ever make this work.  You have tried and failed at this endeavor your whole life; there is no hope to turn it around.”

I am sure many of you reading this will relate to those words, anyone familiar with addiction has felt the despair that comes with repeatedly trying and failing.

And it is in admitting this despair that I am also confessing my hypocrisy.  I can (and have) preached to all those around me, that tomorrow is a new day, that it is not about how many times you fall that counts, but how many times you get back up, but in my heart I make an exception, and the exception is me, and healthy eating.  I’ve done lots of great things in my life, have many accomplishments of which I am proud, and believe myself capable of almost anything I set my mind to… except this.

So I’m a hypocrite, because I simply don’t practice what I preach.  I am a terminally unique individual when it comes to eating.

And I guess this is why I needed to write about it, because I am rolling my eyes even as I type those last lines.

This is why blogging about the garbage rolling around in the brain helps so much.  Because, as God as my witness, I was crying earlier this very day, as I realized this is how I have been thinking.

So now that I’ve gotten the self-pity out of my system, and I have exposed my deepest fears to the light of day, I guess it’s time to take some action.

A wise person suggested to me that I treat this problem in a similar way that I did my recovery.  In recovery, I made sure I did 4 things every day to count that day as a success.  Four was an easy to do list, easy to remember, and easy with which to commit.

So for now, I am working on my daily 4 list as it relates to this form of recovery.  I have identified the 4 food items that pose the greatest danger to me, and it is my goal to eliminate them.  To do that, I am committing to simple daily actions, all designed to eliminate the addictive food items.  There is still much work to be done, in terms of coming up with an eating routine that is healthy and sustainable, but for now I will consider this a great start, certainly leaps and bounds beyond anything I have done in recent memory.

The list is somewhat generic, and I have no doubt will need to be tweaked in the days that follow, but in writing about it, I am giving myself some accountability.  I will work on it, daily, make the necessary adjustments, but I am clear on my one, ultimate goal:  to reset my relationship with myself, to work towards creating a healthy mindset when it comes to treating my body.  I’ve gotten the mind-altering substances out of my system, now it’s time to start putting something healthy and life-affirming back into it.  It feels as daunting a task as making sobriety a reality, but at least I have some tools to help me:

  • One Day at a Time
  • Sharing the burden of my negative feelings
  • Allowing others to help me
  • And, most important,turning it over to a power greater than myself

Because, if He can get me sober, He can do anything!

I will let you know how it goes…

Today’s Miracle:

Having the courage to hit “publish” on this post

Staying Motivated: 5 Tips to Keep On Keepin’ On!

In Monday’s post I wrote about an injury I sustained this past weekend.  Today is day 6 in dealing with a bum knee.  Here is a thumbnail sketch of the past 6 days:

  • Days 1 and 2:  debilitating pain keeps me a model patient:  I adhere to every directive designed to expedite healing
  • Day 3:  Despite every natural inclination, I make and keep Doctor’s appointment, at which I find that I am doing all that is necessary, but that I need to keep doing it
  • Day 4:  Feels quite a bit better than the first 3 days, which I take as a positive sign, begin to function more normally
  • Day 5:  Feeling same as yesterday, so increase my activity, which I then proceed to overdo.  Now the pain level is back to day 3, and I am dejected.  I try to recover in the evening
  • Day 6:  Wake up feeling as bad as yesterday, and now, besides being in pain, I am also outraged… how can this be happening?

Now, you might read this breakdown and scratch your head in bewilderment… is there something wrong with this woman?  Of course the pain has returned, she did not give it enough time!

But really, this is just an example of so many things in life:  we have a goal, we start out with gusto, and then, either fizzle out due to fading motivation, or to some wrench in the plans of life.  And what a perfect time of year to discuss this topic.  It is January 9th.  Had I not injured my knee, I would have been embarking on resuming my running regimen.  And I guarantee you I would have been facing feelings similar to the ones I am facing with this knee injury… either impatience that I am not progressing fast enough, disgust that I am not seeing any results, or simple boredom with the new routine.  Same with sobriety, the first several weeks of my recovery I remained sober, but life continued to plummet downward.  It’s hard enough making the decision to give up drinking/drugs, but to do so in the face of chaos, even more challenging.

Now, with this injury, I can cry and gnash my teeth all I want, but it’s not going to change anything.  But with other goals… new eating plans, staying sober, physical fitness… the mental engagement is critical to success.  So how to maintain the passion that drives someone to embark on a lifestyle change?

There are probably a million and one great articles out there on staying motivated, but here are the top 5 tips I have come across, have used myself, or will attempt to use in the upcoming weeks:

1.  Have a specific goal:  In terms of my injury, I want to completely recover from my injury so that I may resume my fitness routine.  This goal is specific, it is measurable (return to zero pain), it is attainable (doctor’s opinion), and it is time-bound (doctor-given guidelines).  For many reading this post, the goal could be sobriety:  I want to live my life chemically unaltered.  The simpler and more specific the goal, the better.

2.  Know why you wish to achieve this goal:  I want to recover from my injury so that I may have the full use of my leg… so that I may walk, run, climb stairs as any healthy person can.  The why behind this goal are more obvious that some other goals.  In terms of sobriety, it is important to know clearly why you want to be drug and alcohol free.  The reasons can be to attain benefits, such as “increased health,” or it can be to avoid negative consequences, such as “so that I don’t lose my self-respect, or the respect of others.”

3.  Visualize the end result:  For me, I really want to get back to my goal of running, so I picture myself as I was last summer and fall, when I was at my peak.  I can also visualize what it would be like to do even better than my best, as in run (not walk) in a 5K.  For sobriety, there are so many ways to visualize the end result:  how you will look and feel knowing that you have overcome an unhealthy relationship with drugs/alcohol, the joy of attending functions and not behaving irrationally, the peace that would come from living life with a clear mind, and without the worry of what you may have said or done under the influence.

4.  Learn from failures:  So I overdid things this week, and I recognize that only sets me back further from my goal.  I can bemoan this fact, or I can chalk it up as a learning experience… now I know what I can do, and what I cannot.  This is a critical piece for people in early sobriety.  Many times someone will accrue a number of sober days or weeks, and then slip.  Okay, it happened, so now there is the choice:  decide that all the progress was for nought, or figure out what led to the relapse so that you do not repeat the mistake.  As Buddha says, “There are only two mistakes along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”

5.  Reward yourself:  The more long-range the goal, the more mini-rewards should be given.  Celebrate every milestone along the way.  The more positive reinforcement you give yourself, the more likely you are to keep going!

I would love to hear from my friends in recovery:  what methods have you used to keep motivated in staying sober?

Today’s Miracle:

Giving advice on motivation is a reciprocal gift… I feel better as I type!

It’s All In Your Head

Here are two facts about me:

1.  I am extremely prone to motion sickness.  One of my earliest memories is not being able to stomach a trip to the local mall.  Side note: we had a behemoth 1975-ish Chevy Impala, I threw up, and my two older sisters turned into contortionists… to this day I don’t know how they got so far into the opposite corner of the back seat.

2.  I can be an extremely excitable person, particularly when I believe I am being delivered an injustice of any kind. Smart-alecky friends have been known to take advantage of this fact, and start rumors such as “Josie is the president of the Robin Williams fan club,” just to see me all fired up.

Now, knowing these two facts, imagine how I reacted when my cousin told me I should just go on an amusement park ride, because, “motion sickness is all in your head, and you can talk yourself out of it.”

Perhaps I should take him up on his offer, and allow him to sit beside me as we ride, I’m pretty sure that would teach him!

This glimpse into some banal facts about me is really just a backdrop into the real topic:  how much of what we deal with is “all in our heads?”  Despite my outrage over my cousin’s commentary, I have come to realize that I believe this statement more than I realize.  Except, of course, when it comes to motion sickness.

One example, and I know I am going to raise a few eyebrows with this one, but I personally have a hard time with the disease concept of alcoholism.  I am allowed to say that, since I am an alcoholic, along the same lines as:  I can criticize my family, but you better not try.  I certainly believe that I had an obsession, that, try as I did, I could not expel.  I believe that if I choose to alter my mind again with a substance, that obsession will return, but disease?  That is one that confounds this alcoholic.  I don’t waste a lot of time on it, just like I don’t waste a lot of time wondering when I crossed the line from enjoying a drink to craving one… I just did, that is my reality, and I will, for today, deal with my reality.

But I find the “all in your mind” mentality pervades other areas of my life, and I’m wondering if it’s something I need to explore.  Most recent example, and I have been giving periodic updates, but I have embarked on a fitness program.  Long story short, I have gone from zero exercise to considering participating in a 5k. August was to be dedicated to training for this event, to see how much of a 5k I could run (versus walking), and how low I could get my time down.  In my mind, if I could run at least half, and get my time under 45 minutes, I was set to do it.

And then, out of nowhere, I sustained an injury.  I really mean out of nowhere, because I still don’t know what the hell happened.  One minute, I’m jogging, the next minute, I almost fell over, because my leg couldn’t support me.

I could go into boring detail, but who really cares?  I am not a physical therapist, and I have never, and I mean never, been an athletic person, so I have never dealt with a sports injury of any kind.  So I look to my fellow supporters who have dealt with this, and I take every suggesting they give me (except go to the doctor, that is a last resort, and a topic for another post).

After an entire week of resting it, stretching it, icing it, I attempt to resume my training (treadmill this time).  Within 3 minutes, the pain is back, and I am limping again.

Again, long story short, I try everything I can think of, but the minute my legs go into running mode, this pain comes back.  So my husband, quite logically, says, “Well then just walk.”  Sensible, right?

But, and here is the real point:  I can’t wrap my mind around it.  Seriously.  I know it’s ridiculous, but I can’t make myself grasp the concept that I am restricted from the activity of running.  I just keep thinking that I can figure out a way past this injury.

It’s this kind of thinking that reminds me that I’m an alcoholic, and that I will never be “cured” (of the disease that I still question in theory!).  The normal person would just see that running is not working, and switch to another form of exercise.  My thinking?  I can beat this leg injury, dammit!  Nothing so stupid is going to keep me from this goal!

I am off to meet a friend (from AA) for a walk in the same park I sustained my injury.  I am going to explain this thought process to her, and she is (hopefully) going to help me see the error in my thinking.

The progress:  that I know that there is an error in my thinking.

Today’s Miracle:

That I am choosing exercise over sitting around, that I am meeting a friend from AA with whom to exercise, and that I will choose walking over re-injuring myself until I can figure this whole thing out!

The End of the People Magazine Era… Or is it?

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:

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:

People

Could I even make this stuff up?

Today’s Miracle:

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!

The Dreaded Topic

So, I’m going to tackle a subject I really, really don’t want to… health and fitness.  If you’ve been following, even in an half-hearted sort of way, this blog, you will know this has been a tumultuous relationship all my life.  Issues with body-altering substances predate issues with mind-altering ones by a lot of years.

When I hit my personal bottom, I was at the lowest weight of my adult life.  But, let’s face it, active addiction is not a beauty regime… I looked like shit.  Not that I was paying close attention to the numbers on the scale, but, then again, the fact that I can tell you the first fact of this paragraph means it registered in some way.  So, fast forward through the past 16 months, and life is exponentially, magnificently, miraculously better.  So much better, in fact, then let’s have some celebratory food… you get the picture.  And up the weight has gone, through the past 16 months.

At first, I was just so damned happy to even want to eat, I was actually relieved to see the scale go up.  I am not a therapist, but I don’t think it takes one to see that low weight (for me, that is) and active addiction are connected in my brain.  So seeing a weight with which I am familiar is now connected with sobriety.

Except that is the stupidest form of logic ever, because my low weight is still well above the ideal weight for someone my age and height!

And here’s the other part, the part that is all about how my addicted brain works… if I am choosing not to worry about my weight (which for a long time I did, in order to make recovery my focus), then why not just go whole hog and eat whatever I feel like?  And if I am eating whatever I feel like, then why bother with the gym?  And so on, and so on, down the spiral we go.  Which, as anyone who has tried to lose weight will tell you, the further down the spiral you go, the harder it is to turn it around.

Meanwhile, all the regular bloggers that I follow are, for one reason or another, going on cleanses, giving up sugar, running marathons.  And you want to tell me God does not speak directly to us?!?

So, for all sorts of reasons, health and fitness have been on my mind.  And every time I try to get up the gumption to do something about it, I feel overwhelmed, and I fall right back to my normal routine, which, as you know, has been a beautiful thing for me for the past 16 months.  But, still, even though I had taken no action, I really have been thinking about it, praying about it, and trying to get quiet and listen for the answer.

This weekend, something new came to me.  I have no idea if it is the answer, or just a load of crap, but any action is better than the total inaction of the past few months.

I realized that part of what overwhelmed me about trying to get myself “in shape” was the magnitude of the task.  I mean, I have probably 6 or 7 major things that I should change, immediately if not sooner, to live a healthy lifestyle.  But every time I thought of taking on this task, it tired me out just thinking about, plus that whiney little voice in my head saying, “oh great, yet another thing we need to give up!”  It was just easier to think about it “later.”

So this weekend, it occurred to me:  perhaps this all-or-nothing thinking might possibly be the stumbling block?  Perhaps just taking one or two of the 6 or 7, focus on them, and see how I feel, might be the starting point.  And, while I’m at it, I can address the whiney little voice by doing this… take 1 or 2 items that don’t require me to “give up” something; rather, take 1 or 2 items on the list that just have me add something in, and see how it goes.

And, of course, because there are no coincidences, Christy over at Running on Sober, right at the same time I am formulating this plan, asked me to join her in a new fitness regime, which I gratefully accepted.

So, like I said, no idea if this will work or if it is just another lame-ass attempt on my part that will fall by the wayside in a few hours/days/weeks.  I hope not, but my track record is not good in this department.  I do know this:  since the idea came, and Christy asked, I have been to the gym every day (oh, and, for the record, the second item is to drink more water).

Sorry for the long-winded post.  Interestingly, this is the first time in a long time that I have to actually stop myself from writing more.  I could honestly go on for a lot longer with this thought process, which tells me that I have been putting this idea off for far too long (and should warn readers that this is not the last you will read on the subject).  Wish me luck!

Today’s Miracle:

Summoning the courage to write about a sensitive topic… my normal way of thinking would have me achieve a goal before announcing my intention, so I am scared to reverse the order, but it’s time to try something new!

Acting As If

Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness. -Earl of Derby

I really hate exercise.  There, I said it.  I hate dressing for it, fixing my hair for it, planning time in my day for it, driving to it (the gym), and even walking up to the elliptical machine.   About the only part I like about the whole process is getting into my car and driving out of the gym parking lot.

But I have been hearing a lot lately about the idea of “mind, body and spirit,” and I know, in my heart, that I am sadly lacking in the body part of it.  But man, just writing this post makes me sigh.  Yet another stupid mind shift I need to figure out.

So I’ve been thinking about how I can apply recovery to the whole physical fitness gig.  And the first thing that came to mind is the title of this post.  Act as if you are into physical fitness.  Another expression is “fake it ’til you make it.”  So, in that regard, I got up this morning, and even though I looked longingly at my jeans and sweater, I instead dressed in gym attire.  And I told my son to ask me if I went to the gym when he gets home from school.  And I acknowledged to my husband that I have about an hour free in my schedule that I could fill with a trip to the gym.  And I’m writing to all of you now.

Accountability.  I really hope tomorrow I write with a happy update…

Today’s Miracle:

Believe it or not, sharing this inner turmoil is a miracle.  I cannot stand talking about the gym before I actually do it, so hopefully this is the mental rearrangement I need!

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