Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another change...last entry

This is it, for now. My last entry. For ten months I’ve written about the changes, both physical and emotional, that I’ve faced in an attempt to amp up my life, become healthier in body and in spirit. And much has changed. Yet, I’m only a few pounds lighter. I’m in better shape, sure, but only up to a mile or two around the neighborhood. I do eat healthier. But truly, the most profound changes have come from the inside. My way of thinking, my way of feeling, is different. I’m more present. More aware of what I’m doing, and why. Less judgmental and more able to let go. I no longer feel as though I need to solve all of the problems of the world – though sometimes I still try. I simply feel more at peace with whatever comes my way. And that is a profound change that has fueled everything else in my life. Writing about all of these things, here, on this site, have helped me to make sense of all the changes I’ve experienced. It’s helped me to see where I started and where I want to go. And I know, that just because the blog is ending – another change – doesn’t mean my personal work will end. There is much I want to do and learn and changes will always be a part of life. Now, I know I can embrace them.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Conscious changes kicking in

Threw a Halloween party this weekend and noticed a couple of changes: I had no problem making a healthy, good tasting meal and I didn’t overeat.

You know, that uncomfortable feeling you get when you’ve snacked all day and filled up without even realizing it or took that second portion even when you weren’t hungry just for the taste of it? I cooked all day (yes, my body rebelled with severe pain and stiffness that forced me to rest all day Sunday, but it was worth it) Instead of nibbling my way through the preparations, I waited for dinner and then I ate the salad first and felt no need to over indulge on the pasta. I ate normal portion sizes, felt full and comfortable. But the biggest shift was in my head. It was only later that I realized this moderate style of eating has become the norm. I’ve made the change. I decided long ago to eat what I wanted but to include more healthy foods and smaller portions in my diet. Now, I realize I’ve met that goal and it’s becoming second nature rather than work. The change is finally becoming the norm and that is a powerful feeling.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Learning to let go

Feeling slow this week. Lots of little stresses have surfaced. Need a new roof, still waiting on lab results from the mole. Husband dealing with challenges and work and I’m feeling like nothing has come easy. I’m out of the flow. And, true to my nature, I’m trying to control the Universe instead of learning the lesson and letting go. The more stressed life gets, the more I attempt to micro-manage my household and the daily tasks. I become more controlling and feisty at home – not good for the relationship. I have a hard time focusing on work and generally, I’m tense and even a little scared. "If you don't handle it all," my mind tells me, "the world will fall apart." And I buy into that false mantra and busy myself with things that don't need taking care of. And the stress I feel definitely amps up the arthritis with pain and fatigue. But, this isn't working for me anymore, so now I'm learning to surrender to the circumstance. I’ve become more mindful. I’ve meditated. I’ve taken care of the things I can influence and given up the others – like when is that darn doctor going to call – and today I’m feeling energized and back in rhythm despite pushing a stroller around the zoo all day yesterday (a task that would usually leave me stiff and hurting). I'm learning.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Heading for a check up

In 13 minutes I will get in my Mazda and drive across town to my dermatologist. There, she will spend an hour scouring every inch of my skin, scrutinizing every mole, every age spot. She’s checking for cancer. Last year, two moles, turned bad. Though they were only a few millimeters thick, it was enough to worry doctors. They cut the moles out. Then, they cut into my groin and pulled out a couple of lymph nodes for testing. I waited 10 days before finding out the lymph nodes were free from cancer. The cancer had not spread. I’m o.k. and more than willing now, to go let someone work over my skin to insure my good health. It was an interesting time – scary sure – but it also prompted me to look at my body in a whole new way. The arthritis has ravaged it, but to be honest, I rarely think about it. The RA is something I know. It’s something I’ve learned to manage. It won’t kill me and though it hampers some of my activities, it never stops me. To have something growing in me that could turn deadly made it hard to breathe some days. Now, I look at the scars along my knee with gratitude. They got the melanoma, and I got a chance to make better, healthier choices

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fast food, little fuss

I love fast food – not so much for the flavor and certainly not for it’s nutritional contents, but, well because it’s fast. Some nights I need fast, with few dishes and little fuss. And I’m finding healthy foods I can cook quickly.

Fish. Tuesday I sprinkled salt pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes on some pieces of tilapia – threw them on a baking sheet covered in foil to minimize the clean-up and with a little broccoli steamed in the microwave had a healthy meal in about 10 minutes. I was so proud of myself. It was so easy to eat healthy, and so much faster actually, than commuting in rush hour traffic to pick up a soggy taco. The meal reminded me that I have to be a little more creative and continue developing new beliefs about food. Cooking doesn’t have to be hard, if you fill the freezer and the fridge with the right foods. With the broiled fish, we had little clean up. A healthy – even good tasting -- meal at our own table. Slowly, things are changing around here. We’ll still go out to eat – sure. But, there are plenty of ways to cook a meal without spending an hour in the kitchen. A year ago, I would have had a hard time recognizing that.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cutting the chaos

Felt some stress this week. Juggling too many things – family issues, work, daycare and all the household family responsibilities that we all have. It got to me. I had trouble sleeping. My pain was more intense. I felt hungry all the time, though my stomach was also upset. And it hit me: this kind of life chaos is one of my obstacles. When I wrote about ways to make lasting changes in January’s edition of Arthritis Today one thing I noted was the importance of identifying and preparing for obstacles. Obstacles will come up, say the experts. Those who are committed to change, plan for them ahead of time and put a coping mechanism in place before they ever come up. Life is filled with crazy, unpredictable moments that can thwart your efforts to eat well and exercise or do the other things that are good for you. I know, that for me, too much noise in life – too much craziness, busyness, messiness, – can cause me to stop making healthy choices. I need moments of silence. When I can be still in mind and in spirit. When I can stop and give thanks, breathe and come back into myself. I did that this morning. I got up before the others. Drank coffee in silence. Did not read. Did not watch t.v. Did not look over my “To Do” list. I sat quietly, drank my coffee, and when it was gone, I sat still. I gave thanks. I prayed. I rested. And after 15 minutes I felt renewed.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thinking differently about food

Picked blackberries yesterday. These were the plump sweet kind that sprung from bushes taller than me and grew on thornless stems which made for ideal picking. But what struck me is how much energy even basic tasks like blackberry picking require. I walked up and down the rows. I stooped and stretched. I was moving the whole two hours. Afterwards, my joints were sore, but I felt exhilarated. And another thing happened: When I was on the farm, I saw the chickens and goats and corn and tomatoes and I made a deeper connection to the place where my food comes from. It is so easy to overeat and even waste food – to continually take too much – when you are not thinking about the animals and the people and the elements of Mother Nature that have to come together just right provide your meal. And there in the warmth of the early fall with a rooster crowing in the distance, I felt connected to my food in a different way. I felt grateful for all that I have – which is always enough. And I realized, more deeply, that food is there to nourish me. That sacrifices are made so that I can easily have that nourishment for my body. Food is there to strengthen my body and yet, somewhere along the way I also turned eating into a form of recreation. Perhaps if I appreciate my food more and focus on it as a source of fuel that energizes my body instead of trying to shovel as much junk in my mouth as possible, I’ll find it easier to make healthy eating choices. Yesterday, I had the best blackberries I ever tasted. I ate them one at a time off the vine and gave thanks.