Thursday, July 31, 2008

Staying Real In Minnesota

It was about a year ago that I went to Minnesota for a family reunion. I weighed 133-134 pounds and felt pretty confident. People made the usual “Oh my god, you’ve lost so much weight!” comments, as was expected, but I was still just ordinary Lynn, only a little smaller.

On Sunday I’m going to Minnesota again, only this time I weigh 128 pounds and I’m a bundle of nerves.

What happened? Oprah happened. And People. And the Today Show. And Entertainment Tonight. And CNN. I’m in mid-metamorphosis, still shedding my skin, trying to digest everything that’s happened to me this year and to catch up with it all, and so my confidence level is on par with the mortgage crisis, only the government isn’t going to bail me out.

I’ve never been able to nail confidence down to a permanent feeling. Seems it always runs hot and cold. I’m overly sensitive and highly aware of the feelings of other people, particularly as they pertain to their expectations of me. Sometimes my intuition is off, but I’ve always worked within the framework that when I sense I’m not living up to someone’s expectations, I have to do something to change myself so I stop disappointing them. I manufacture who I am to manipulate as best I can how someone perceives me, how I want them to think of me, to control who they think I am. Very few people know the real me. Hell, I hardly know the real me. But during this year between Minnesota visits, I’ve been trying to figure out the real me and how to be me all the time and not a “fill-in” substitute for who I think people expect me to be.

So how do I do that when I feel like I’m on display? I get really uncomfortable when someone calls me a “celebrity” or brings up my weight loss and subsequent media appearances to other people when I’m in their presence. You can argue, “Well, Lynn, you should have known that would happen when you agreed to do all that media,” but the thing is, I didn’t know. How could I? I’d never been on television before. I’d never been in a national magazine before. I was excited to talk about weight loss because I wanted to motivate others to think about their own bodies and minds, to treat themselves with kindness and to lose weight for the right reasons and in the right way. I never thought about it being for me or about me. So when it comes to people talking about me and what’s happened this last year, my stomach turns into a knot.

And I’m pretty sure the subject will come up more than a few times on this upcoming trip to Minnesota.

I know it’s only natural to want to ask someone you haven’t seen in a long time what it’s like to meet Oprah or to make at least a comment about their weight loss. I mean, it’s not every day your cousin or aunt or sister or old friend loses nearly 170 pounds. I understand that. Heck, I’d be all over my cousin, aunt, sister or friend if that happened to them, asking them questions and wanting the dirt on Matt Lauer. I admit that. I’m trying to see it from the perspective of people who haven’t seen me in years. But to help me stay real and to salvage my confidence, I’m learning the art of steering conversations away from my weight loss by asking direct questions about the person I’m talking to. I’m always more interested in someone else’s story than my own. I’ve lived with me this year and believe me, I’m kind of dull in real life.

On this trip, I want to be gracious and patient, but I also want to introduce the real me, the woman I’ve come to know the last 12 months and to not manipulate her like a Chinese acrobat into something someone else wants or needs her to be. The girl they remembered from the past is morphing into a unified woman, someone who isn’t comfortable being so many things to so many people anymore. If I disappoint someone because I am who I am, the problem lies squarely in their lap, not mine.

Can I do it? I’ll let you know when I get back. In the meantime, I will try to blog from the road. This blog and you readers have been two of the best things to happen to me this year. I’m not a real huggy kind of person (being a Norwegian (ex)Lutheran Minnesotan and all), but I’m sending this {{{grouphug}}} because I really mean it. Thanks for letting me work all this out with you this morning.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Day of Grief and Liberation

It feels oddly strange, almost ghostlike, to enter a room full of people I know but who don’t immediately recognize me. I forget sometimes that I’ve lost a lot of weight and that folks who haven’t seen me since 2005 probably don’t know I’ve shed almost 170 pounds.

I went to a funeral home today to pay my respects to a dear old friend who passed away last Friday. I used to live in a very small town not far from where I live now, back several years ago when I owned an antique store. I knew Bill, the man who died, and his family through my association with the store.

I hadn’t seen Bill’s son Craig or his granddaughter Amy and her boyfriend Clark since I left. Today in the reception line, Clark was standing next to Amy, who was talking to the lady in front of me. Clark extended his hand, smiled, and said, “Hi, I’m Clark.” I said, “Hi, I’m Lynn,” and I smiled and looked directly into his eyes, hoping he’d see something familiar. He looked back with some question in his eyes, then he got a big grin on his face and he said, “Girl, you gotta get some meat on your bones!” I laughed and said, “Um, no. I just got done getting all the meat off!”

The woman ahead of me moved on and Clark said to Amy, “Do you know who this is?” Amy said, with a smile on her face and tears in her eyes, “Of course I do. It’s Lynn.” We hugged for what felt like forever. She loved her grandpa so much and she was so very sad. I realized at that moment how much I’d missed her. I was foolish to not try and contact her once I moved away and sold my store. I was so sad when I left there years ago that I tried to leave it all behind. Bill’s death united me to that place again, to where I learned so much about myself and met some really kind and caring people. Like Amy.

I’m going to start crying just writing this. Amy recognized me. She’d know me anywhere. And that made me so happy. Yes, I’ve lost a lot of weight, but my eyes never changed, my smile never changed. I’m still the same person inside. And best of all, I’m still her friend. I gave her my email address and I know she’ll write once the dust settles on her grandpa’s affairs.

When I got down the line to Craig, he offered his hand to me, too, and looked at me quizzically. “Hi, Craig. It’s me. Lynn. From the store.” He blinked a few times and said, “Well look at you,” and gave me a hug. We talked a little about how Bill died and I told him how much Bill meant to me. I talked to Craig’s wife for a few minutes and then it was time for me to go.

This day of grief was also a day of liberation. My weight wasn’t the only thing I lost when I left my store and that small town. I lost touch with people I cared about and who cared about me. I know that now. And I thank Bill for that gift. Rest in peace, my dear old friend.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sorbitol and Stepsons

I can’t remember if I told you guys or not about my possible issues with the sweetener sorbitol. I write so much stuff sometimes I forget where I said what to whom. Anyway, as I mentioned in last week’s “Measure, Measure, Measure!” entry, my weight had crept back into the 130s and I wasn’t happy about that and so I reevaluated my food portions. Low and behold, by being more mindful of portions, I am now 126.9 as of this morning.

However, it wasn’t just portion control that did the trick. I also stopped chewing so dang much gum.

If I gain any weight, I gain it in my stomach. A few weeks ago I looked four months pregnant because I was so bloated (I know, TMI, but I promise it won’t get any worse than that). I was puzzled because it’s not like I’d introduced any new foods to my diet. I mentioned it to my daughter who said she heard that chewing gum causes us to swallow a lot of air and so maybe that was the problem. It was true that in the last few weeks leading up to this weight gain I’d developed a pack-a-day habit. I did an Internet search for boating and gum and found a ton of information not only about the affects of chewing gum, but specifically chewing sugar-free gum with the sweetener sorbitol, the first ingredient in most sugar-free gum.

Sorbitol isn’t absorbed by the small intestine and so it floats about in your gut for days until you get rid of it. ‘Chewing upwards of 10 sorbitol-laden sticks a day could certainly be my problem,’ I thought, and so I quit, cold turkey. OK, so maybe I still have a stick a day, but that’s ten times less sorbitol than I was consuming before. It obviously made the difference. My stomach is flat again (well, you know, underneath that belly flap ‘o skin) and I feel 100 million times better in that region.

(Click here for a great article on the side effects of Splenda and sweeteners like saccharin and sorbitol. It also gives the thumbs up to my favorite sweetener, stevia, which would make a really nice girls name, don’t you think?)

In other news, my stepsons arrive tomorrow. They are 16 and 15 and eat at LEAST five times as much food as I do in a day. Can you hear my checkbook groaning? Feeding Andy, the oldest, is easy because he eats anything I cook. Kevin, however, separates peas and peppers out of casserole, picks parsley flakes out of spaghetti sauce, finds every onion in a bowl of soup. He’s a nightmare to cook for. But cook for them I do because, with the exception of Campbell’s Chunky Soup and generic Cheerios, prepackaged food is too expensive and too full of fat and empty calories and they don’t need it. They get enough of that at home and in school. My house is a crappy-food-free zone.

I make them eat *gasp* ONE fruit a day, which believe me was like pulling teeth when I first implemented that rule. And, wicked stepmother that I am, they have to choose which vegetable to eat with dinner and no, canned corn every night is not an option, much to Kevin’s chagrin. They drink juice, not soda, when they’re here, and nothing is ever fried, soaked in butter, or covered in salt. Ketchup, however, is allowed.

So I’m off to plan the week’s meals. This usually takes upwards of an hour. It's not too hard to do. After all, they like meatloaf (made with ground turkey breast), homemade pizza (made with Flat-Outs), meatless chili (don’t tell Kevin there’s zucchini and mushrooms and onions in there – I hide them well – and I sometimes sneak Boca ground soy in there and they think it's beef, so don’t go telling on me, ok?), rigatoni (made with whole wheat pasta and fat-free mozzarella), grilled chicken breasts and much to my surprise, salmon. I will get these guys fed right. It’s just tricky sometimes. I'll make my grocery list and hit the stores early tomorrow morning. I’m determined to keep the total under $150.

By the way, I chew gum when I’m stressed, and if ever I needed gum, it will be next week. I love my guys, but man, it’s not easy having two extra people in our small house. I guess instead of gum I’ll just drink more wine. Kidding! I plan to stay around 127 pounds and too much wine will, well, you know what too much wine will do.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Finger Foods and Table Manners

Sorry I’ve been MIA for four days. I was in Pittsburgh to see a friend who is in town on business. I hadn’t seen him in 17 years, but the minute I saw him, it was like I just saw him yesterday. I love when that happens.

Anyway, this isn’t a blog about meeting old friends, although if I shared a photo of him with you, I’m almost positive you’d want to know more about him – hehe. He’s gotten even better looking with age, if that is possible. One word: Greek. Yeah.

Anyway, so I was thinking last night (as I dragged a piece of steamed broccoli through the parmesan cheese on my plate with my fingers and stuck it in my mouth) about my table manners and how I’m probably the worst offender when it comes to not using utensils.

“Does this seem barbaric to you?” I asked my husband, my mouth full and spewing a few bits of green in the air (another bad habit).

I should know better than to ask him questions like that. It’s like saying, “Do these jeans make me look like I have an ass?” He’s not sure what I want to hear and so he has to think about his answer at great length, weighing the pros and cons of yes or no. Sometimes he just ignores me, which is probably best, and last night he just asked if he could eat the last Boca burger.

“Sure,” I said, licking my fingers.

Forks are overrated, and when a utensil is absolutely necessary, I find a spoon, a butter knife or a soup ladle can feed me just as well. Case in point: it’s possible to scoop up and eat from the container sugar-free, fat-free Blue Bunny Brownie Sundae Ice Cream with a butcher knife. True story.

Foods I consider finger foods include, but are not limited to: cooked or raw asparagus; artichokes; cooked or raw snap peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes; peas; green beans; all roasted vegetables including potatoes; strawberries; cantaloupe; all berries; veggie burgers with or without a bun; potato salad; cucumber salad; corn (and I don’t mean the kind on the cob); some kinds of coleslaw; and most types of pasta.

If you’re easily embarrassed, you really don’t want to eat with me.

I used to always use a fork for everything fork-worthy. When I became a vegetarian, I stopped caring. I’m sure it’s just me because I know many vegetarians who still have proper table manners. I figure as long as I have a napkin handy, I’m good to go.

I’m usually pretty good in restaurants, but sometimes when the conversation is rolling along and I’ve had a glass of wine, I’ll start eating mashed potatoes with my fingers, or I’ll dig the tomatoes and cucumbers out of my salad (or my dining partner’s) and pop them in my mouth without benefit of a utensil.

Is that wrong?

Don’t answer that.

Before I forget, I want to recommend my new favorite snacky things (and these little gems are meant to be eaten with your fingers). I’m really loving Altoids Dark Chocolate Dipped Mints (2 mints are 15 calories, .5 grams fat) and York Mints (3 mints are 10 calories, no fat). They’re like heavenly little pick-me-ups during the day. I keep tins of them in my car, my purse and in my file cabinet in my office.

Back to my finger-licking issue. I’m probably having dinner this week with my Greek friend before he flies back to San Francisco. I think I’ll write a note on the palm of my hand, “Use a fork!” I’m pretty sure he’d not understand why I was eating grilled portabellas with my fingers.

Can you send me some Emily Post vibes? I’d really appreciate it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

New Site Recommendations and A Portion Update

Some mornings I sit staring at the computer screen reading blog after blog, fitness article after fitness article, and I “wake up” an hour later and wonder where I’ve been. Damn, the ‘net is so addictive (and helpful…I wasn’t sure if I should use “addictive” or “addicting” in that sentence and so I looked on Grammar Girl’s site and found the answer!)

I got an email the other day from a woman who works at an x-ray technology school in Arkansas and who put together a “Top 100 Diet and Fitness Blogs” page on their website. Lynn’s Weigh is one of them – yay! – and so are several other sites I’m enjoying reading.

Something I found in my perusing was “The Truth About Weight Training For Women.” Excellent article. As you all know I love strength training and have recently upped my routine (longer time, heavier weights). It’s made the muscles around my arthritic joints strong enough so I can hold my granddaughter Claire for long periods of time. Strength training has also given me bones of a 30-year-old, despite my vitamin D deficiency. If you’ve ever worried that you’d “bulk up” if you life weights, fear not. It can’t happen unless you take supplements and testosterone. Look at my arms! I lift. A lot. And I’m nowhere NEAR “huge.” Never will be. But I love, love, LOVE being strong.

I also like the sites Real Women’s Fitness and Savvy Vegetarian. Some vegetarian/vegan sites are politically top-heavy and really all I’m looking for are good vegetarian recipes. SV and others recommended by the x-ray tech article are just what I was looking for.

***Portion Control Update***

My favorite cereal in the whole world – Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus Multibran Cereal – claims that one serving is ¾ cup which supposedly weighs 30 grams. Nutritional info is 110 calories, 1.5 grams of fat and 7 grams of fiber. On the mornings I work out, I like to eat a little something with fiber and protein, usually not more than 100-125 calories. So on the workout days I eat this cereal for breakfast, I’ve been measuring out a ½ cup thinking I’m eating about 75 calories, a gram of fat and a few grams of fiber, and I combine it with a few berries and some light soy milk for roughly 125 calories. Taking my own advice, I put ½ cup of cereal on the scale this morning and gee! What do you know? A half cup is 30 grams! I thought I was only eating 2/3 of a serving and yet, that WAS the whole serving!

Now granted, I’ve been eating this cereal this way for over a year and have maintained my weight fairly well, but in my attempt to be more mindful of portions, this was a definite eye-opener for me.

I’ve really loved your comments on this topic. As I said, you’re the best blog readers a girl could ever ask for.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Measure, Measure, Measure!

Do you get Hungry Girl’s daily email newsletter? Sometimes she really hits on a subject near and dear to me, and today’s newsletter was a double-header. (Click here to read the full text.)

A reader asked why her Special-K cereal said it had 11 1-cup servings when clearly there were no more than 8 cups per box. HG did some research by buying a box of the cereal and measuring it herself. The weight of the cereal did not match the advertised measured serving amount. In other words, a 31-gram serving was 2/3 cup, not one cup. A full one cup was 46 grams, a much larger portion of cereal.

The reason I bring this up is because measuring was a subject I was going to address this week (honest, I really was!). There are some really vague measures on Weight Watchers and I’m getting annoyed with it. For instance, a “large” banana is 2 Points, a “large” potato is 3 Points, a “small” orange is 0 Points. Well I’ve seen some mighty large “large” bananas and potatoes, and some pretty medium-looking “small” oranges, so I’ve resolved to weigh the part I’m going to eat. Being precise can save me (or afford me) a bunch of calories.

For instance, half a “large” AND half a “medium” sized banana, according to WW, both log in at 1 Point each. But what is medium to me might be small to someone else. So finally, after 3½ years on WW, I finally peeled and weighed a banana. Gee, half of what I call a “medium” banana was only 1.75 ounces and therefore .5 points. Splitting hairs? Maybe. But I only eat 22 points a day so those half points can add up and I don’t want to be ripped off!

There’s much more at stake with starchy veggies like potatoes. A large potato can weigh 12 ounces, which is a whopping 4.5 Points. Carrots aren’t calorie-free, either. One cup is 0 points, but two cups or 9 ounces is 1.5! I can easily eat that many carrots and many times I’ve counted them as “free,” but I’m really staying mindful of portion control these days because the scale was up to 130.something last week. I’m back to the 128.somethings again, but only because I stopped thinking of veggies and fruit as calorie free-for-alls. I may be a vegetarian, but I know a lot of obese vegetarians and I don’t want to go back there again.

As for “false advertising” on boxes and containers, I was a little disappointed in my Trader Joe’s Greek yogurt purchase last week. It said it contained two 1-cup servings. Because I only eat a half cup at a time, I figured I had four servings, right? Wrong. I had 3¼ servings. That last scrape on the bottom constituted only a quarter cup. I was so disappointed. But I now know to use the scale and not a measuring cup for a more accurate portion.

This new rule will hold true for other things, too, like pasta and cheese. I can cram a LOT of pasta into a one-cup measuring cup. Same with cheese. Gotta go with the ounces from now on.

The second part of HG’s double-header this morning was about metabolism and how eating smaller, more frequent meals and making sure to stay hydrated will keep your metabolism boosted throughout the day. It’s a good quick read if you’re looking for tips on staying on top of your game.

Time to go make a salad. I’m putting my food scale on alert. No more collecting dust! It’s going to work as hard as I do to help me stay thin and healthy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gym Stories

I found an interesting story on CNN yesterday called “Dealing with jerks at your gym.” Made me recall the “Seinfeld” episode in which George was caught peeing in the shower.

This part of the story made me laugh out loud:

Cindy Lauren, a 53-year-old medical nonprofit director from Santa Monica, California, has a noise nightmare at her gym. The former competitive bodybuilder says one member sounds like she's having sex every time she lifts weights. “You can hear her everywhere," she says. "She'll have these little 5-pound weights and she'll be going 'Aaah, aaaaah, aaaaaaah!' like she's having an orgasm. The other members’ eye-rolling and face-making almost make it worth it, but it's really irritating."

Lifting five pounds makes her THAT happy? She must be a nightmare in the grocery store!

“Excessive locker-room nudity” was another complaint. I haven’t figured that one out. If you’re going to shower after working out, isn’t “excessive” nudity necessary? The only locker room “problem” I’ve had (if you can call it that) was the time a girl in the locker room caused me all kinds of self doubt, and she did nothing other than have perfect boobs.

There are three locker bays in the women’s locker room. Along the wall is a long mirror that reflects into each bay. I was in the third bay taking off my wrist bands and hand splints. The sweat line on my t-shirt almost reached my belly button and my hair was plastered to my head. There were a few women talking and changing clothes around me, but I wasn't paying attention.

However, when I glanced in the mirror, this absolutely stunning woman was in the second locker bay changing out of her gym clothes and into street clothes. Her long dark blond hair was pulled back in a hard plastic band and she was standing there without a bra on, slightly bent over and tying her right shoe which was balanced on the bench. I tried not to stare, but it was really hard not to watch her. I never knew breasts like that existed outside of magazines. They were perfect, probably a 34D, and when I wondered if they were real, I realized the woman was maybe 25 years old. Yes, I sighed, they were probably real.

She slipped a long-sleeved t-shirt on over her perfect rack, no bra needed, and bounced out of the locker room. I stared down at my own breasts, quite cognitive of the fact that mine never looked that good. Ever. Not even before nursing children.

But that was hardly the gym’s fault.

Also messing with my psyche at the gym in Pittsburgh are a few snotty women who lift with the big boys. I tried once to ask one of them where a towel was so I could wipe down my bench and she got all pissy with me. She glared at me and barked, “How would I know?”

Her lifting partner, who I think is her husband (poor guy), smiled apologetically and said, “There’s one in the other room.” I thanked him, but she left me feeling really stupid and inferior. I hate when I let people do that to me.

The only real gym problem I ever had was at my previous gym. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say it involved “excessive nudity,” only it wasn’t in the locker room. Ew.

So since I like to ask you guys a lot of questions, here’s today’s: Do you have any good gym stories? Or do you avoid the place like the plague?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Disappointment

Disappointment’s a sneaky bitch, isn’t it? You think you’re not vulnerable, that you can take those small doses of everyday distress because, hey, you’re a big girl, you can handle it. Chin up, move on.

But it’s not that simple.

So I’m sitting in my favorite wellness center today, my little place of heaven, where I am massaged and spinally manipulated into holistic health. On my calendar is a one-hour massage with Jessica (the best massage therapist ever) and Active Release Muscle Therapy (which I’ve done for almost a year) with my chiropractor.

Jessica opens the door and says, “Come on back Rachel. Hi, Lynn.”

“Hi, but wait. I’m scheduled for a 1:30,” I say.

Jess says I canceled my appointment a few weeks ago.

“Talk to Caroline. I’ll be right back,” she says and leads Rachel back to my room where I should be stripping down to underwear and socks (yes, I wear my socks because my feet are chronically cold even in 90-degree weather) and jumping under the sheet and sucking on a Hershey dark chocolate Kiss as I breathe deeply and get ready for the torture…I mean massage. People have this idea that massage is decadent, something only rich people do at spas. Ha!! Deep tissue massage – heck, ALL massage – is not all it’s rumored to be. A good massage should hurt sometimes. Hurt good, but hurt, nonetheless.

Anyway, I’m confused. I talk to Caroline, the receptionist, and ask her why I’m off the schedule. There was some mix-up. I’d called in my cancelation for another date and left a message on the answering machine and someone apparently erased me from today. My chiropractor had an opening so at least I could do half of the routine, but I was really looking forward to the massage. All week. When I was working out six days in a row and my muscles ached I kept thinking, “You’ve got a massage coming on Thursday…” I saved up for it. I didn’t eat garlic or put beans on my salad because I didn’t want to offend Jess in any way. I was ready. But I’d been erased.

I sat back down on the couch and waited for my chiro appointment. I took some deep breaths and did what Pema Chodron always tells me to do: feel it, don’t run away from it. Then I felt it. A tear. A freaking tear! I was going to CRY about this? Oh hell no. But I breathed with it, felt the disappointment I was feeling, didn’t dismiss it, and it started to make sense. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. I was looking forward to an hour of total me time. I wasn’t going to get it. Yes, there’s a war raging in Iraq, bigger global issues at hand, but dammmmit, I was in pain and I needed some relief, physically and emotionally. I didn’t excuse or pooh-pooh my disappointment. I accepted it, let a few tears roll down my face, and I was fine. It was a better solution to chastising myself for feeling sad. What good would that have done?

I saw my chiropractor and tonight, I feel better. Much better than I did last night. I appreciate that. I celebrate that. I also had a long conversation with my friend Pam, whom I’ve known forever. We talked, we laughed, we bitched about politics and I really hated saying goodbye. But it made up for my disappointment.

Life isn’t always what we want it or expect it to be. I know that. It’s impermanent and yet viscous. But still we have to feel those moments and cry in those moments of disappointment, no matter how unexpected.

There’s a half-moon shining above me (the real moon, not my husband’s half ass). The sky is clear, the fireflies are going nuts. I’m going to take in this moment and let it be.

C’mon…tell me what disappoints you, makes you sad in the moment when you think you’re being brave and all that and a piece of chocolate. I can’t be alone here, am I?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Calluses, Knots and Brown Spots...Yay!

Self-myofascial release” sounds a little kinky, but it’s actually an excellent way to stretch and release knots in muscles. I use a molded foam roller from Perform Better on my back, hip flexors, glutes, shoulders, hamstrings, under my arms…almost anywhere I get knotted up.

The foam roller made a world of difference in managing my sciatica. There used to be days when my glutes hurts so bad I could hardly walk. My massage therapist showed me techniques for loosening up those muscles, and now I find by using the foam roller every day before working out, I don’t have the same pain issues and my feet don’t fall asleep when I’m on the elliptical or arc trainer as often as they used to. Regular spinal adjustments by my chiropractor also help keep sciatica from being too much of a “pain in the butt.” Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

On another note, the calluses I’ve developed on the lower part of my fingers on the inside of my hands are peeling. If I didn’t wear gloves while lifting my new barbell, I can only imagine how tough the calluses would be, but I like them. They’re rewards and reminders of my hard work.

I’ve got freckles, too. More than I’ve ever had in my life, and my skin has seen the sun more in past years than this year. It’s probably my age. At almost 45 (that happens in six weeks), I’m assuming I’m more prone to age spots, freckles, whatever you want to call them.

My grandmother, Katinka Hagebakken (I’m not kidding you), had really beautiful age spots. Her hands at 90 years old were soft and boney and peppered with brown spots. Nothing cancerous, nothing dangerous, just small, pretty brown spots against her aging white skin. My mom has skin like that, too. While I look like my dad and am built like my dad, I have my mom’s skin. That’s compensation for inheriting the flat Haraldson butt.

So…freckles, sciatica and calluses. TMI, I’m sure. But the more into maintenance I get, the more aware I am of the other parts of me. While losing weight, I was focused on my scale number and what the measuring tape said. Now I notice the more subtle things – things I should have paid attention to even though obese, but never gave them the time of day. Like my toes and ankles and elbows. Do you ever just look at them? Appreciate them?

Give your body a look-see. What do you like? Don’t concentrate on the stuff you don’t like. Really find things you like.

Yes, I even like my problem with sciatica. Why? Because I don’t ignore it. I care for it and work it out. Calluses? If I had them before, I ignored them. And brown spots were just another flaw. No more. I’m keeping my eye out and concentrating on the positive.

Are you?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

If A Tree Falls in the Woods…

Friday, my husband and I went on a hike in our local state park. We chose a fairly steep and rugged trail and it had rained the night before so I was extra careful to not fall and hurt my knees. You know how I always worry about them. Anyway, it was a beautiful day – about 64 degrees and sunny – and the woods were alive with birds and chipmunks.

We stopped after 45 minutes and sat on an old fallen tree to eat. I had my backpack stuffed with lunch and water. For myself I packed a sandwich made with a whole-grain wrap and reduced-fat Swiss cheese, 1 tsp. reduced-fat Miracle Whip and spicy brown mustard (I’m all about condiments). Larry got a similar sandwich, only because he’s a carnivore, I added some turkey to his. But what’s a sandwich without tomatoes and lettuce? Hiking and eating outdoors is never an excuse to forget the veggies. In a separate bag I’d packed sliced tomatoes and red leaf lettuce because you don’t want to add it to a packed sandwich because it will cause the bread to sog.

I also packed nectarines, almonds and a couple of Hershey Kisses. It was a nice little picnic.

As we were eating and talking, we heard what sounded like a gun shot. At first I was mad.

“Who’s shooting a gun in the forest, for cryin’ out loud?” I said.

Then I got a little nervous.

“Wait. The question should be WHY is someone shooting a gun in the forest?” I said.

We were in the middle of nowhere, at least two miles from our car, with nothing more than a hard plastic water bottle to protect us from potential maniacs shooting hikers in the forest. Running into a bear didn’t scare me half as much as the thought of confronting someone with a gun.

We heard the noise again and then two seconds later, CRACK…CRACK…BOOM! The ground shook like we were having an earthquake.

“Holy CRAP, that was a tree!” I exclaimed.

We both laughed nervously and looked around. Although we didn’t see it, we knew it wasn’t a tiny little maple that fell to the forest floor. That sucker was big and old.

There are felled trees in every forest. They lay across hiking trails and we step or climb over them without any thought. They’re as much a part of the forest scenery as ferns and chipmunks and dead leaves. But they had to have fallen at some point in time. They didn’t just grow that way.

That’s kind of how it is with obesity. It’s like it’s engrained in our culture, as much a part of the scenery as traffic, buildings, plants and animals. But we weren’t born obese. How is that we grew that way?

My scale is up a little. Has been for about a month. Not much, just a few pounds, but enough that it has me re-examining my food intake. How did I get obese in the first place? By not paying attention to my body. This time, I’m listening. A few pounds may not seem like much, but if I excuse these two, what about the next two and the next two? No, I need to mindful NOW. To see the forest for the (felled) trees, as it were.

I’m glad we weren’t eating sliced tomatoes and lettuce sandwiches under that tree that fell last Friday. But it sure was a wake up call for me to stay vigilant in the woods. And about my body.
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Thought I'd share a photo of Larry and me from yesterday. Hope you all had a nice Fourth of July weekend!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I’ve Got Words In My Head So I Say Them

It’s about damn time iTunes offered for download “I Got The Music In Me” by Kiki Dee. I’ve been checking every week for two years. Sure, I waited a long time for Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up” and *yesiopenlyadmit* “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix A Lot, but this one's special. “I Got The Music In Me” has been part of my life since I was 11 years old, and since I've been losing weight, it’s become my mantra wannabe.

I don’t want to be frightened or worried, or have foolish dreams that make me cry. I want to believe that I’ll always get by. Life is still a circle for me, but I’m working on moving in a straight line, keeping my feet firmly on the ground. I definitely heat up, I’m not so good at cooling down, and as you all know, if I’ve got words in my head, I say them. At least most of the time. Sometimes I’m frightened or worried about a lawsuit.

I’m glad this song’s on my iPod. I’ll play it at the gym every day, like I do “Gonna Fly Now” from the “Rocky” soundtrack to remind me who I am and what I’m trying to accomplish working out like I do.

What songs inspire you? What makes you move?

Here’s a link to Kiki Dee performing I got the music in me on YouTube.

These are the lyrics:

Ain't got no trouble in my life
No foolish dream to make me cry
I'm never frightened or worried
I know I'll always get by

I heat up
I cool down
When something gets in my way I go round it
Don't let life get me down
Gonna take it the way that I found it
I got the music in me
They say that life is a circle
But that ain't the way that I found it
Gonna move in a straight line
Keepin' my feet firmly on the ground

I heat up
I cool down
I got words in my head so I say them
Don't let life get me down
Catcha hold of my blues and just play them
I got the music in me
Feel funky feel good
Gonna tell you I'm in the neighborhood
Gonna fly like a bird on the wing
Hold on to your hat honey
Sing sing sing sing

I heat up
I cool down
I got words in my head so I sing them
Don't let life get me down
Catcha hold of my blues and just play them