Hello Blog!

Oh how I’ve missed you! I haven’t written a new blog post in, well, for-ev-er! Life has a way of throwing curve balls just when you think the track couldn’t get any curvier. That’s when you strap in, hold on and find out what you’re really made of.

You also find out who is there and who isn’t when the dust has cleared somewhat. And that’s always surprising isn’t it?

I’m back from vacation. It was wonderful to be away for two weeks and enjoy the sunshine, palm trees and beachy air. We found places in Florida we love and it has confirmed our decision to move. The Florida life is what this girl needs. I think I can handle one more winter here, knowing it will be my last.

Our favorite 2 places were Punta Gorda and Venice. Punta Gorda is a completely different lifestyle as every house has a canal in the back with a boatdock. The canals lead to straight to the Gulf of Mexico. I mean, how amazing is that? Venice has two of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen and the town itself is small and has little shops lining the streets. It reminds me of Uptown Westerville and has a small town feel to it. I could picture being in either location and loving it.

The downside, I ate WAY too much on my two week hiatus and was shocked at the scale when I got back on the first morning. Nothing jump starts motivation than a backward step. I’ve been watching the calories and back to my work out routine (which in all honesty, did not suffer while I was gone. I did yoga, went on bike rides, long walks, but oh dear Lord did the diet go on the back back back burner!) and I’m happy to say I’m only 3 lbs away from where I was before vacation. I know I’ll get there and won’t make that mistake again!

I have my class reunion this weekend too and plugged into my calorie calculator how to lose 20 lbs by this Friday. It kept saying “error” so I yelled at it and put it away. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life!

Oh, and speaking of getting back into the groove of things, I went to my yoga class Saturday and for the first time ever, I “flipped my dog”. After all this time in yoga, I’ve been terrified to even try it. But I did on Saturday, figuring, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I fall? Ok. I fall. Who ever learns something from not falling and failing? But I didn’t fall! I’m sure it wasn’t the prettiest thing and I’m fairly certain I wasn’t doing it completely right, but I flipped and did it. That hand was reaching for the sky baby!

Some day I’ll blog about my hiatus and reach out to others about it, but for now, I’m back! The good, the bad and the ugly surround us all every day. It’s our reaction, and our perception and our ability to move forward in situations that brings us to our knees that defines who we are. And most of the time, when we’re on our knees, we’re there for a good reason. Stay there. Pray about it. Meditate about it. And you’ll be amazed at how you can once again get up and move on with new perspective.

Namaste.

Venice beach

Overwhelmingly Overwhelmed?

Have you ever just had a day, where you feel the weight of everyone else’s world on your shoulders? Where you don’t know where to look or who to help or what to do, so the easiest thing to do is close the curtains and pretend you aren’t home? Uh huh. You know you have.

And the thing is, it’s not one or two big things. It’s more a culmination of many many many MANY little things. Sprinkle in a few big bombshells and BOOM, that crushing feeling is upon you. Divorces, family members not speaking to other family members, (some family members just fine with never speaking to a certain other family member again), affairs, lost loves, bankruptcy, cancer, alcoholism, recovery, friends struggling with friends, friends struggling with family, lost friendships, lost spouses, lost pets, children sick, weight loss, weight gain, kids struggling in school, with friends, with peers, with boyfriends or girlfriends…..OMG, I could seriously go on longer and that’s just in the past week!!!!!

This is the overwhelming part for me. And I have cried on enough shoulders and vented enough to my family and friends that I owe them my shoulder in their time of need. At least my shoulder. A few of them need me to call the divorce lawyer and pack up that spouse and kick them out. A few need me to get a shovel and a rural (unfrozen) parcel of land and start digging, if ya know what I mean. The fixer in me wants to wave my magic wand, sprinkle some fairy dust and make those impossibly difficult, narcissistic, egomaniac, selfish people into decent normal human beings. But I can’t do that and watching them struggle with this idiotic spouse/friend/person can be overwhelming.

High school kids are hard enough to deal with on good days. When they get mean for the sake of being mean, and hurtful for the sake of being hurtful, what can you do as parent? Most of the time they don’t want you involved anyway. So it gets tricky sometimes. But when the meanness causes your child to weep, do you step in? When and how do friends become enemies? It’s sad and overwhelming.

No matter how hard you try to be optimistic, or looking for the silver lining, what do you do when it’s hard to find? For the parent who finds their child suffering, suggesting they look on the bright side seems callous. What bright side? But do you allow it to make you become withdrawn? Bitter? Angry at the world? Or do you try to be a friend and walk a tightrope of not knowing what to say? A friend found out her daughter has cancer. How do you comfort them, especially when she wants to push everyone away? I don’t know how to help. It’s heartbreaking and overwhelming.

So how do you handle it? No really, I’d love to know. For me, I’m thankful today is a barre day, because even thought my triceps are still sore from Tuesday, I’m gonna work the hell out of them today! It’s gonna be a “sweat dripping off my nose” kind of work out. I know that I can’t be the fix it person to anyone but me. I can lend an ear, a shoulder, support. But I can’t fix it. Great lesson learned in Al Anon is that I can only be in charge of me and my behavior. No one can change someone else. You can try, but then you’re just manipulating. You don’t want to do that, do you? Cuz that’s just not nice. So I’m going to try to focus on me and what I need (this is the year is ME, right?) and I’m going to go work out. And I’m going to remember this:

Just try to be a good person. That’s enough. ~~ The Dalai Lama

Namaste

Load

Relapse or Slip?

These terms could fit a myriad of issues. And for good reason. They are interchangable with what we all struggle with. All of us. Don’t think you have a problem? Ha! I bet if asked, people could come up with at least “Fault”. I use fault in quotations because obviously not all struggles are exactly equal in scope and size, but at the same time, let’s not diminish any type of internal wrestling with right and wrong.

As some of my most loyal blog followers know, I had to have surgery on my back, again, for a melanoma that thankfully my doctor caught early. Surgery is a general term. She calls it surgery. I’m sure billed like a surgery. But it’s not in a hospital, its outpatient in her office surgical room. (Plus, as a side note, since it’s the beginning of the year and no deductible has been met yet, I’m sure this bill is going knock me off my feet. Sigh…..) So as a result of this “procedure”, I’ve had to miss a few yoga classes and a few barre classes. Throw in the Super Bowl and lots of not-so-good-for-me snacks, and well, you can probably see where this is going. I stepped on the scale this morning and was horrified and saddened to see I’ve gained 1 and 1/2 pounds since last week.

I’ve held my 70 lb weight loss to the pound since I hit that goal. Even though it was frustrating to not continue to lose more when nothing had changed. Maybe my body needed some time to recalibrate. I don’t know. But I went into a quick inventory of what I’ve been doing, what I’ve slacked off doing and how and when I need to refocus my efforts.

Do you know someone who struggles with an issue of trying to change and they have the tools, they know what to do, and yet……even after much success something switches in their mind and they give up all the progress they made? I think we all know someone (at least one) who has gone through this. The alcoholic who is sober for days, weeks, months, and in a moment, has the bottle? No thought about about what is being thrown away. What about the drug user who is out of rehab, made changes and suddenly an opportunity is there and they take it without a second thought. Until it’s too late.

So I’ve been thinking about this relapse or slip terminology. I’ve talked to some very knowledgable people in my Al Anon group as well as some in AA. The difference seems to be what happens after the fall. Do you continue on a shame-spiral and think “Screw it. I messed up. I have to start all over. I can’t do it. It’s too hard. I don’t even want to try anymore. This is who I am, if you don’t like it, YOU leave.”

OR

Can you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and realize how much you’ve learned since your last Day 1? Can you start Day 1 with renewed determination and focus? Can you call someone who is helping you along your journey and honestly ask for help?

This is the difference between a slip and relapse. It’s not that you have to start over (because you do) it’s that you start over with serious gusto. You add more tools to your toolkit so that it doesn’t happen again.

I’m choosing to look at myself as the latter. I’m going to go barre Thursday and do what I can. I’m going to drink more water, because I know I’ve been seriously slacking in that department. I’m going to confess to my trainer that I had more than a few bites of ooey gooey yummy homemade soft pretzels Sundays, and yes, one or more may have fell into some cheese dip and then stumbled into my mouth. Mmmmmmmmm.

But I can tell you what I won’t do. I won’t allow it to derail me. I think about people who have lost significant weight by going on a fad diet or one of those pre-packaged meal deals like Jenny Craig or Nurtisystem. Those people all lose weight. I did when I was on Jenny Craig decades ago. But it doesn’t really teach you to keep it off. It teaches you how to use the microwave. Long lasting change isn’t easy, or fast, or without trials. But it’s soooooo worth it.

So even if your “slip” is falling away from your New Years Resolution, or you’ve fallen off the diet/alcohol/drug/sex/gambling/whatever wagon that you’ve been trying to stay on, fear not! Today is a new day. And today is a great day to call Day One.

Namaste

dont give up

Silliness

Sometimes, don’t you want to just be silly? I mean, silly to where you are cracking yourself up silly. I think today feels like one of those days.

I hear bad news around every corner, but I think that makes me want to be silly even more. Must be the rebel in me. Oooooooo.

I went to barre class this morning, feeling a bit sluggish. I ended feeling great, as usual. You know the old saying, no one ever regrets their last workout. True that.

Then I got a phone call from my dad and his procedure this morning went well so that was a huge sigh of relief. No cancer cells detected and he doesn’t have to go back for another test until May. So I did what any normal person does, I came home, cranked up the tunes, put my teeth whitening trays in and started dancing around the living room, cleaning the kitchen, talking to Izzy like he was some baby who could, in fact, understand me, and then started dancing some more.

Just being silly.

So if anyone was looking in my windows while they were out walking their dog, or driving by slowly, that’s right. I was dancing. I don’t think I was quite “Elaine Benis” dancing, but that would’ve made it even sillier! Little kicks! Ha!!!

I’ll dance for my dad. I’ll dance that my dog is still alive and looking at me like I’m crazy. I’ll crack myself up that I can’t sing while I have my teeth trays in without sounding like I have a lisp.(Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

There’s plenty of time to be serious……..tomorrow.

Amy silly

Baking during the holidays

I’m actually taking a break from baking right now to write this. More for my peace of mind than anything else. You see……I love to bake. Love it. It’s therapeutic, it makes people happy (usually happy, because most of the time it turns out well!) and during the holidays it’s a given to make cookies and fudge and bark and balls and cakes and rolls and……

The great thing about cooking is that my husband does 99.5% of it. He likes it for the exact reasons I mentioned above. I know it’s crazy that he is the one who goes to work, and then comes home and HE cooks. But he prefers it that way. He cooks, I clean. That’s the deal we made over 20 years ago. He does stress out about it sometimes. And sometimes he makes such a mess that I would swear he tried to dirty every pot, pan and dish in the kitchen just to make me clean it. If I could only get him to ask me to cook on the days he doesn’t feel like it, I would be more than happy to oblige. I have roughly 8 million recipes in my Pinterest folder. I’m sure I could find one that I could actually make if he gave me notice. But I’m getting off track. (As usual!)

I was making a new recipe for cookies again today for my church cookie exchange this coming weekend. I’m making 6 different types cookies that I have never made before. I figured this was a great opportunity to try new things and then give them away and keep them out of my house! I got a recipe from a friend for cookies that everyone has “had” to taste to check it out and now I’ve had to hide the rest of them because they don’t want them given away. SELFISH! I saved them HALF the recipe! But I haven’t had one. Not even a lick of the beater.

Then I made some bark. I was going to give that away to the women who are actually manning the cookie exchange table so they had something to nibble on. I gave a large baggie of it to Ryan’s girlfriend for her to share with her friends. It was a hodge podge of sweet, salty and chocolately. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. But I didn’t have any. (Ok, I might have snuck a few pretzels, but not the finished product! So it doesn’t count, right?)

But then today. Today I was making a dough that has to be refrigerated for at least 24 hours after making but before baking. I’m not sure why, but the author specifically said they don’t turn out as well if not refrigerated for that period of time. If anyone has insight to that, let me know. I get chilling the dough, but a minimum of 24 hours? Never heard such a thing. So I started whipping up the dough this morning so it could sit for the required time. I had to transfer to a bowl from my KitchenAid mixer (so I could use it for other cookies!) and there it was. A mixture of sugar, chocolate covered pomegranates, pistachios, chocolate chips and I thought, well, maybe I should taste what is sticking to this beater, ya know, just to see what this swirl of odd ingredients tasted like. It tasted pretty super fantastic! So another little scrap from the bowl (cuz there’s ALWAYS a little stuck to the bowl, right?) and as I stood in front of my kitchen sink, spatula in hand, a wave of extreme distress came over me.

WHAT WAS I DOING??????

Was a few licks of raw cookie dough what I should be doing? Hello?? I have barre class today! Would it kill me or derail my progress, I would say no. It wouldn’t. But what was I doing? WHY was I doing it? I haven’t licked a beater or bowl in months. And I bake all the time! So why today? Nothing happened? It’s not like something had happened. So I did what anyone doing something they shouldn’t be doing does. I STOPPED!!! Stopped and refocused. And I’m confessing and keeping myself honest. Not just honest to myself (which let’s face it, is the most important thing.) but honest with all of you. Because in community, having others holding you accountable and being honest and responsible helps get through a tough day of craving something you know you shouldn’t have. Being with others who know EXACTLY how you feel, no matter how you are feeling, is one of the best supports a person can have.

So I’m confessing, as well as removing myself from the temptation. Redirect! And the feeling, the impulse, has passed. If you can just hold on for a minute, an hour, a day……the feeling subsides. Then you can be proud of the fact day by day, you’re reaching your goal. YOUR goal. Whatever that goal is. Keep it front and center. Be mindful of it. TALK about it. Be willing to be held accountable for it. Be ever conscience about it. Because when you let your guard down, even for a moment, that temptation (a sugary, chocolately one) is going to be there, telling you it’s ok this once. And before you know it, the whole thing has been thrown out the window. And you have chocolate breath.

cookie dough beater

Mark it Down baby!!

I finally finally finally hit my all too elusive goal! And what’s even more astonishing is it happened the week after Thanksgiving! I have officially lost 70 pounds. 70. Seven Zero. 70 big ones. Say WHAT???

I have been hovering around the same weight for about a month. Very discouraging when I’m trying and not really doing anything different. But I stepped on that scale and my magic number came up and I was doing the happy dance in the bathroom! I know, not a visual you need in your head. Sorry.

I am transformed. Inside and out. And the questions I have received have really made me take inventory of my own life. This is MORE than just weight loss or numbers on the scale. This is truly about life altering all over internal changes, which brings about the bonus of external change.

It was soooo easy to resign myself to “this is me” and the “I’m not changing my diet/exercise” or whatever else it is that everyone tells themselves because I’m perfectly happy the way I am. So what if I have to shop in the Women’s Department? So what if everything I do revolves around what food I’m making, or someone is bringing, or what restaurant we’re going to? So what if this is my third piece of pie? No one is counting and screw ’em if they are!

When I started blogging about my weight loss, I shared that I was in a very fragile place. I had lost my bff of 25 years and felt like I was a ship lost at sea. A boat without an anchor. (Ok, I’ll stop with the boat analogies) I said how in that loss, I turned to food even more than I did normally when I was stressed out. Which seemed like it was too often. I was turning to an external fix for internal problem. How many of us do that? Food. Alcohol. Drugs. Sex. Gambling. Oh, it’s fun alright, don’t get me wrong! Having a night out with friends is something I look forward to. I did it just last night and we had a blast! I’m doing it again tonight with different friends. I will be a blast too! But it will be fun because of the people I’m with and the joy that comes from being with them. Not about how much or little we drink, how much food we order and eat or don’t eat. It’s about the time together and shared memories. What happens when that last bite is gone? Or the last drop from your alcoholic beverage of choice is gone? What happens when that last quarter is dropped into the slot and it comes up a loser again? Are you satisfied and can walk away? Or are you already thinking of the next bite/drink/chance?

In my weight loss journey, I have become bolder. Yes, me. Even BOLDER than normal. If you thought I was bold before, look out baby! I have pared down my Facebook friends, I’ve cut my Christmas card list (If you haven’t sent me a card for the past few years, you’re CUT!) and I’m spending time with family and friends who in turn want to spend time with me. I no longer mourn the loss of what might have been or what I should have/could have/might have done differently. That was a monumental shift for me the perpetual people pleaser.

I truly, honestly, passionately have found inner peace. Inner happiness. I have no time for people who continually let me down, lie, make promises with no intention of keeping them, or don’t make time for me. I count just as much. No chasing, no begging to change, no fear of being alone. Because I’m quite happy with myself. When I can take a few moments to take a breath, to calm my mind and actually be present, I find things can go much smoother. My previous way of thinking was always a blur, going 100 mph, saying the first thing that came to mind. That usually got me in trouble and/or made the situation worse.

And just to clear my own conscience, I certainly don’t want this post to come across as me preaching. It is soooooo far from that. It’s the opposite of that. I have no control over anyone but me. And that’s what I’ve discovered to be the biggest key in all of this. I can control me. If you can’t control yourself, that’s no longer my concern or my problem. If you want my help, ask. I would be there for you in a New York minute. But in shedding that weight, I have come alive. I feel empowered. I feel confident. I feel healthy. I feel happy. I feel FREE!

I was telling my friends last night that I would love to lose another 10 pounds. I think they think I’m becoming anorexic now. (I love chocolate, and ice cream and yes, wine! lol) I am focusing on being healthy, on being the best me I can be. And there were still plenty of jiggles as I danced around the bathroom this morning. Perhaps “toning” would be a better choice of words. Toning and firming. And getting my arms ripped like Linda Hamilton in T2. Which is still a goal.

If anyone would like to have more information about my amazing yogi, trainer and friend Yolanda and her website, please visit http://www.strongcalmsexy.com and learn more about her program. Your body AND your mind will thank you.

meditation

What are you doing?

Lately I have been hearing rapid fire questions, sometimes with such voracity it takes me by surprise. Things like, “What are you doing?” “How did you do that?” or my personal favorite, “What’s your secret?”

Things like that freak me out. Freak. Me. Out. First of all, I’m the fat girl who is not used to being questioned about fitness. Second, I wonder how many people pay even a fraction of attention to what I put out there, almost daily, about what I do. I’m the exact opposite of being shy. I blog, I tweet, I Facebook daily. Multiple times a day.

Now, before I continue, I want to be clear that I am not angry, mad, upset, or heaven forbid, insulted. Just freaked out and shocked. I still don’t see me as others see me. I still see the flaws and lumps and the additional pounds I want gone. I know, I know, I need to work on that. Add it to the list of things to work on.

It finally dawned on me a few weeks ago that what some people were asking without asking is if I was on some NutriSystem or Weight Watchers type program. It hadn’t even occurred to me that people were inquiring about that. Michael mentioned it might be a possibility after he witnessed such an occurrence and saw me stammering and stuttering like crazy. Lightbulb moment. OH! They’re wondering if I joined Weight Watchers! Maybe I could join Marie Osmond and become a spokeswoman for NutriSystem. (I’ll only do it if I get to meet Donny!)

The short answer is no. I’m not doing any of that. No meal plan is delivered to my door. No pre-measured amount of food is planned out for my day. I eat. I drink. I Starbuck. Mmmmmm it IS peppermint mocha season, isn’t it?? I live with a chef! How could I do that even if I wanted to?

I made a commitment to myself last year to get in shape. I honor that commitment every single day. I added yoga to my very non-existent workout routine. It was hard. I was awkward. I couldn’t do half of the poses. I could barely touch my toes. On a GOOD day! I sweated. I cried. But most of all, I kept coming back. And guess what happened? My body started to respond. It started to change. And when those changes started happening, it motivated and change my eating. All by itself. Why was I working so hard and finally seeing results, and then eating a big plate of nachos? With extra cheese and sour cream? I started making better decisions.

Not everything I eat is healthy or good for me. (remember….chef.) But more is than not. I still had a piece of leftover Halloween candy. It was calling my name. So it was a mercy act. I had to put it out of its misery.

I also added a barre class to my twice weekly yoga class. It’s so funny how a year can change perspective on what is difficult. Barre is HARD! Barre is challenging. Barre is non-stop moving the entire time. I sweat like crazy. I breathe…..LOUDLY. I have a tendency to look down at what my feet are doing, but with playful reminding from my dear friend Julie, I *try* to look up more. My form is crap. But I’m doing it. My back might not be perfectly straight, but it’s straighter than last week. And one of my favorite parts of barre is that my yogi is also my barre instructor. I love her. Between her and Julie, they encourage, they cheer me on, and they never ever ever let me feel like I am less. How can I go wrong?

A friend of mine, Trisha, is doing Crossfit and is seeing the same amazing results. She is dropping weight, getting healthier and looks stunning. Not that she didn’t look amazing before, but she has that glow that naturally comes with get in shape. I admire her dedication and commitment for setting a goal and sticking with it. And she would say the same thing I am. There is no secret. It’s working hard. Every day. No cheat day. No “I’m going to splurge on milkshakes and french fries” day.

And while I’m still waiting to hit that magic number of 70, the over 65 lbs I’ve lost isn’t too shabby. I had to return a yoga top today that was too large. Actually, it was a size large. And it was too big. Say WHAT? Me who used to have to have to shop in the women’s department? This is the part that freaks me out just as much as the questions. I still have to stop myself and steer towards misses. I hold clothes up, eyeing them and think, no, this isn’t going to fit. Until I try it on and find that it does. How exceptional!

It may not be time to shop for a bikini quite yet, I have time before next summer to get me there. I know I can do it. Even if I don’t have the guts to actually wear a bikini on the beach, the fact that I could is what is my goal. I started off November revising and clarifying my goals for the month, knowing it was going to be challenging with holidays, and baking, and cold weather, and getting dark at 5:30. That small act of examining where I am and where I would like to be was huge for me. It helps ward off bad thinking and voices in my head telling I can have that one thing. On the other hand, I can still have my peppermint mocha from Starbucks. But a Tall instead of Venti. And sugar-free instead regular syrup. Oh, and hold the whip cream, but I’ll take the sprinkles.

yoga on the beach