Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Forgetting Where I Parked

Last week on Wednesday, I made a fatal error.  My daughter had a doctor's appointment, and we were running late.  Even though I started pressing for the door more than an hour before our appointment time, we had to run a gambit of fashion choices.  Should she wear the pink or the red or the silver sparkly shoes?  God forbid I should suggest she wear a pair that did not sparkle at all!  And then there were the bow choices--the purple or the green or the yellow?  But where was her RED bow?  That was the one she REALLY wanted, and it was nowhere to be found.

"And where is it we're going, mommy?" she wanted to know.  I told her we were going to see the doctor.  Now she was worried about "pokes," and though I insisted to her, that this was not THAT KIND of appointment, she now needed moral support, so we had to bring her dolly and the dolly's stroller.  Then her shoes went on with no socks,  then her shoes went on the wrong feet, then her coat went on upside down, then we had to go potty AGAIN, and then we were finally on our way.

When we arrived, we had only 15 minutes until our appointment, and they like you to be there 20 minutes early. SO, when I pulled into the first available space in the parking garage, I failed to make a mental note of WHERE that convenient space was.  I, my bags, my Margaret, Margaret's dolly, and dolly's stroller, just high tailed it into the doctor's office as fast as our legs and wheels could go.

When we emerged three hours later from Maggie's ADHD evaluation and corresponding trip to the pharmacy for the medication that keeps her semi-focused and me semi-sane--can you see this coming?--I couldn't remember where I'd parked.  Up and down the elevator we went, up and down the parking ramps we walked, looking ridiculous while looking for our van. 

A nice looking man in a large pickup pulled by.  "Ma'am," he said, "Do you need some help?" 

I was so embarrassed.  "I lost my car," I admitted.

"Do you want a ride?"  he offered.

My feet hurt, but good upbringing took over.  I could hear the mingled voices of my own grandmother and several others shouting, "Don't do it!  He's probably a mass murderer or a pervert!"  I thanked the man, but declined putting myself, my daughter, and my daughter's dolly into a strange man's vehicle.

My emotion's must have registered on my face, because the man asked what my vehicle looked like and offered to drive around looking for it.  I told him that much and kept retracing my steps.  FINALLY, I spotted my van on the other side of ramp rail and down a half level.  I was so tired I opted to lift Margaret, and Margaret's dolly, and Margaret's dolly's stroller over the rail.  Then I proceeded to climb over the rail myself.  It was higher than I thought.  About the time I managed to hoist myself halfway, and had my leg stuck in an extremely awkward position, the man in the truck also found my van.  So there I was, hung up in the rail, clinging to my purse.

"Is that it?" said the guy.

"Yeah, thanks," I answered, hanging there.

He drove off, his emotions now registered on his face.  I believe he was thinking something to the effect of--"that woman was crazy! I'm really glad I didn't give her a ride!"

Anyway.  I do have a point.  For the last six weeks, I have been trying to accomplish a goal without setting any specific goals.  I think that's because I just needed to get into the MINDSET of what needed to be done (i.e. I am having commitment issues).  Well, I'm in the mindset now, but I'm just wandering around in the parking lot.  I'm never going to get on the scale, though, and find that I'm consistently LOSING, if I don't set some goals and tenaciously keep after them!

Last week, I indicated that I wanted to set some specific and reasonable eating goals, make myself accountable, and talk to my doc.  I have done all three of these things, and I want to share them with you now.

First of all, as you might have guessed from reading this blog entry, my life is clotted with some interesting challenges and distractions right now.  Keeping up with points last month proved difficult and making a meeting is going to be impossible.  Besides, WW is only going to work for me (like it did last time) if I commit to portion control, so I need to get back to that basic.  Hence, here are my eating  and life style commitments.
1.I will eat when I'm hungry, but only ever a portion of anything at a time.
2.I will eat an extra portion of protein each day, but two of my portions will be nuts or beans.
3. I will try to make my grains as close to nature as possible (whole wheat, oats, whole grains)
4. I will not eat more than one small piece of candy per day, no more than 3 dessert a week.
5. I will take a calcium supplement and increase omega-3s to decrease high fat cravings and meet my need for calcium while cutting back on higher fat dairy products.
6. When eating out, I will make the healthiest choice available.  No hamburgs or fries.
7. I will eat at least 6 portions of fruits and veggies each day.
8. I will get at least 6 (2 cup) glasses of water daily and take my vitamin.
9. I will exercise 30 minutes 5 times a week.
10. I will go to bed by 11:00 pm.

I started these last Thursday, and I lost 2.5 pounds.  They have helped me to navigate life wisely, but without taxing my already taxed brain overmuch.  I am committing myself to these through the spring months.

Secondly, I have arranged a Thursday morning accountability meeting with a friend of mine who has already succeeded in losing 19 pounds since the new year (go Connie!).  She is also seeking accountability.  We hope to invite others to join us, but for now, we're going to encourage one another to do right.  I will take my commitments with me to our first meeting tomorrow.

Finally, I went to the doctor yesterday and discussed my medications with her.  I learned that my current low dose should not interfere with weight loss, if I am eating right and exercising regularly.  Therefore, I am setting a weight loss goal of four pounds a month for the rest of the year. 

So here I am.  I have parked in the weight loss parking lot.  I have clearly made a mental reference of my space.  If I get lost along the way, I'll know right where to look to get on track again.  What goals are you making?  I would love to know where you've parked, and what you are doing that's working for you!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Conquering the Curb

I once flunked tennis.  At the time, I just assumed that I really was hopeless at P.E.; however, a later trip to an optimologist identified some severe depth perception issues.  Even with my very strong eye glass prescription, I still misjudge distances, especially when I am walking up and down stairs or other elevated surfaces--CURBS, for instance.

On October 4 of this year, I and the curb near my dumpster had the ultimate showdown, and I lost. The morning dawned lovely and brisk at the Hunkey-Dorey coral, and shortly after seven I had all my little cowboys and cowgirls out for a walk.  We returned from our stroll near 8, and upon getting everyone back inside the door, I thought to myself, "Well as long as I have my shoes on, I'll take out the trash and save myself a trip later."

In the weeks that followed, it often occurred to me, that if I had just been a slacker, none of my sad story would have happened.  But it did, so I digress.  I left the baby securely fastened in his stroller, told his sister to sit with him, and asked my six year old to carry a couple of small boxes for me, while I carried the big trash bag.  After picking up my keys, and locking the little ones in the apartment, we were off.  It should have taken two minutes, but it changed the next two months.

It happened so fast, I'm still not sure what exactly transpired.  All I know is that I had just heaved the trashbag into the dumpster, when I felt my right food slip off the curb and roll. On my way to the ground, something snapped, and pain sparkled in front of my eyes.  When I stopped rolling around on the asphalt, I could see that my foot had already double in size.

Little Wade was my hero that day.  He stayed cool, calm, and collected; and off he trotted to tell our upstairs neighbor that I needed help.  My neighbor had to carry me back to our apartment on his back, and that was only the first in a parade of indignities.  I couldn't walk without crutches, couldn't go potty or put my pants on without help, and had to ride in the little driveable carts at Walmart.  I also couldn't carry my baby (who still didn't crawl or walk), couldn't cook, or do laundry, or drive.  And then there were the pain pills that made me drool.

Not cool.  Not cool at all.  And then, of course, there were the kindly meant questions.  "Oh, what did you do, dear?!"  Do you know how stupid it sounds to say, "Well, I was taking out the trash when I fell off the curb . . . "  This response also horrified my poor grandma, who had kindly come to stay.  "Dear," she would whisper to me, "Don't tell people you fell off the curb!  They'll think you were DRINKING!"

So I suppose I ought to get to the point.  In 2010, much to my surprise, I discovered that I love running.  When I heard that ominous snap, I really thought that part of my life was over.  I was afraid of what kind of consequence I was going to carry with me into future years, that's for sure.  I faced surgery, and now I have a pin in my foot; but last week--four months after my fall--I ran my first mile.  I had no pain.  I ran two more times later in the week, and still had no ill affects.  With thanks to God in my heart, I say, "I conquered the curb!"

Of course, all that running and no multi-vitamin may have been why that ham on Wednesday night looked so, so good.   However, even though I ate all that ham, the Lord still saw fit to send me a miracle.  For the last three weeks, I have had consistent anxiety related chest pain.  We have been in the midst of some decisions and I have been over-tired due to some insomnia.  Off the cuff, in the presence of some church friends, I said, "I need some laying on of hands or something; I feel just awful."  I was half joking, but also a little serious.

My friend Cecilia didn't need further prompting.  She waved over some of the other ladies nearby, set her warm hands on my shoulders, and started to pray a deeply heartfelt prayer for my strength and well-being.  In that moment, I really believed, that if He wanted to, God could make me stop hurting right then.

Anxiety related pain is not mind over matter.  In fact, you can get your mind and heart in order and still have residual pain for a week.  It's like a shot of poison that takes a while to work its way out of your body.  But on Thursday morning, my pain was gone.  It hasn't come back either.  I've experienced restored energy and mental clarity.  I am so thankful to God for his healing!

And finally, the positive change I mentioned, is the young lady who has started to help me for a couple hours on my husbands long work days.  She chases my monkeys for me, and does some light housework--while I get some writing done.  Hopefully, this means you'll be hearing from me on a regular basis!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Conquering the Curb and Falling Off the Wagon, Part 1

Life, it seems, is a sweet and salty mixture of victory and defeat.  How ironically like trail mix.  Mmm.  That would actually be good right now.  Focus, Sarah.  Focus.

As I write this morning, I unhappily burden the bed with all 184.5 pounds of myself.  Again. In regards to the number on the scale, I am right back to square one.  Last week I had done everything right, got on the scale, and nothing had changed.  I let it discourage me, and when challenges arose, I threw my hands up in dismay.  When candy and cookies happened to fall into my hands, I didn't resist the temptations.

I also made the mistake of running out of my multi-vitamin. You would not believe the effect this has had on my hunger level.  On Weight Watchers, I tend to become a little anemic on just 2 servings of meat a day.  My vitamin helps with the iron deficiency.  Well, after a week without, I had a very low emotional day, at the end of which, I found myself at a church dinner where ham was the evening's entre. 

The kids hardly touched their food, and off they went to their programs.  There I sat with their mostly full plates of ham, biscuit, sweet potato, and creamed corn.  I had been so busy cutting up food and buttering biscuits that I was no longer even sure which plate was mine any more.  So I ate all of them.  It was not pretty.  I am not proud, but this is the honest truth, and you read this because I tell the honest truth, so there it is.

I am bearing my shamed soul in the interests of non-hypocrisy. This weekend, I told my Sunday School class that the difference between a struggle and a failure was whether or not you decided to give up.  I am not interested in giving up, but I won't lie about a certain degree of discouragement.  Going to a Weight Watchers meeting is not going to work out because the only meetings near me happen right at the time my husband is either coming or going from work.  I am not going to pay $40 a month and not be able to go to meetings.

In addition, I think my medication is making weight loss harder, and though I think I can still do it with persistence, I think I can expect a much slower rate of progress than I experienced in 2010.  Let's face it, none of us like SLOW weight loss--let alone SUPER SLOW!

Finally, when I fall off the wagon, I fall off bad every time, because at the root of my weightloss struggles, is my food addiction.  I need to deal with this root problem, or I am going to return to square one again and again. 

Fortunately, my fellow Pioneers of Good Health--YOU are the bungy cord that keeps me attached to the wagon when I have weeks like this.  I may be bouncing along behind the wagon, ignoring the road rash because of the cupcake in my hand, but I'm still there!  There's still frosting on my face, but I can see that 3 things need to happen this week, and I'm making myself accountable to you to do them.

1) I need to settle on an eating agenda, and stick with it.
2) I need to find an accountability group that meets once a week, even if it's not WW.
3) I need to discuss my weight and medication with my doctor, and make a reasonable goal for weight loss this year, even on the medication.

Sigh. So that's the bad news from last week, and I am glad to say that the news is not all bad!  Last week, I also had a significant victory, a positive change, and a huge lesson in gratitude. I fell off the wagon, yes siree, but I also conquered the curb!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Speak to the Hand!

Quiet.  I'm not sure what the dictionary definition is, but the mother's definition is as follows: 1) the condition of a home during which children take their nocturnal repast, which often ends as soon as maternal unit has decided to begin her nocturnal repast. 2) an eerie state which often drives the maternal unit to a state of suspicion and paranoia. 3) The alarming state in which a game of cops and robbers has inspired one child to bind and gag the others. 4) The glorious occasion which finds offspring across town at mother-in-law's house--until Sunday.

As you may have surmised, I am enjoying the latter definition.  I love my children, but the wee sea-monkeys have been driving me crazy.  Granted, my personal struggles over the past couple of weeks have only been exacerbated by their youthful energies, but I am thankful for a day and a half of stillness and tranquility to try to get myself back on track for next week.

Last night, I watched them drive away, did the Mad-Hatter jig in the living room, and promptly cranked on the hot water for a shower.   I can't remember the last time I enjoyed an hour quite so utopian.  The steam from a late cup of coffee, twisted into the the shower's vapor and and the soulful crooning of a Billy Holiday CD.  By 7:00 the stage was well set for some peaceful self-evaluation.

Re-evaluation of life is an important part of everyone's mental well-being.  Unfortunately, when your mind is already in a state of high alert, problem solving or re-arranging your life's spinning set of circumstances can be just another reason to go and hide under your covers. 

Add to that, a busy toddler who has just learned to walk and who finds great pleasure in disassembling every organization device on the bottom two feet of your home; a four year old who asks the same question ten times before lunch when she's ON her pill; and a six year old who could really use a back yard instead of a 20 square foot balcony; and you may as well call the men in white and report the frazzled, un-showered woman who just ran down the sidewalk screaming.

Realizing this about myself, a while back I came up with an easy re-evaluation tool.  This tool is always attached to me.  This tool is familiar and will not change unless I have a severe accident while making salad.  This tool is my hand.

We all need priorities.  I'm the kind of person who thinks I should be able to do a little bit of everything, but I have learned that I JUST CAN'T.  For me, LIMITING my priorities has been a key factor in keeping myself healthy and focused.  Usually when I struggle with anxiety, I need to revisit the priorities.  I have to speak to the hand.

The idea is never to have more priorities than you can account for on one hand--that's right, FIVE priorities.  For me, the priorities are as follows--God, my husband, myself, my children, and a ministry.  When I first came up with these priorities, MYSELF used to come at the end of the list, because I had always been taught that Jesus, Others, and You equals JOY.  I still believe this whole-heartedly, but though unselfishness definitely has its place, I have discovered, if I don't take care of ME, I don't have anything left to offer the other people on the list.

Consequently, I got bumped up.  My personal care priorities are my health--so diet, exercise, and rest--and my writing.  These two areas are very key to me be the well, fulfilled person who tries to care for everyone around me.

In regards to the other priorities, God has to stay first.  His Word offers answers to anything I'm going through.  Talking to Him in prayer guarantees that I always have someone to talk to about what I'm going through and what I'm feeling.  My personal relationship with Him will outlast everything else in my life.

My husband is my best friend and my next priority.  I put him before myself, not only because my Bible tells me that should be the order of things, but also because it's healthy for everyone of us to have at least one person on this earth we put before ourselves.  This exercise in unselfishness reminds us that though we are valuable before God, we are also not the center of the universe.  Herein lies an important life system of checks and balances.

After myself, my kids are my priority.  They are the next generation, the one's who will look out for me when I'm old (I hope), and all I can take with me into the next life.  Their smiles are my joy in the morning.  Their awe at the world keeps me young.  Their unconditional love and trust challenge me to walk the line.  And oh yeah, they make sure I never go to the bathroom and wonder if I'm alone in the world. 

Finally, I enjoy being involved with my local church.  I sing in the choir, I'm on the children's council, and I teach Sunday school.  These interactions keep me connected with the big picture and constantly remind me of the world outside of my 3 bedroom apartment.  They are the catalyst for fulfilling activities, relationships, and friendships.

So what are your priorities?  Some of yours might be different from mine.  Maybe you enjoy your church but can't get as involved as you'd like because your fifth priority is your full-time job.  But maybe you don't have a husband and kids right now, and while you do have that full time job, you are feeling busy, but not bettered.  Why not consider a church ministry, a charity, or mentoring a child?

Or maybe you're swamped.  Maybe you've got more going on than you can count on two hands.  My challenge to you would be to start prioritizing.  Keep the essentials.  Choose what's important.  Don't be afraid to move yourself up on the list.  Don't be afraid to say "NO."  And when the world starts guilting you (or you start guilting yourself) for you new set of priorities, look life straight in the eye and say,

"Speak to the Hand!"