Monday, October 20, 2014

Thank you, Lord, for a new week!

Starting all over again….. I typically don’t feel this way, but I am really happy that today is Monday and it is the beginning of a new week. Last week was a challenging one in many ways, and although I enjoy having time off on the weekends, I’m honestly glad to put last week behind me and start with a fresh slate.
I’m definitely feeling much better physically, although the lingering congestion, fatigue, and deep cough may cast doubt. It appears that it will take a few weeks to totally rid myself of the cough, but I am on the mend and will be getting my flu shot later this week. This is a great example of having a ‘bark that is worse than my bite.” In addition to the physical challenges of last week, I also experienced some ‘mental challenges’ with some changes at work and had a couple of stressful days at the office when I returned to work last Thursday. I’m glad to start fresh today and put last week behind me.  I’m also finishing up the high-dose steroids that were prescribed last week; a very good thing because the prednisone causes some weird things with appetite and all I wanted to do was EAT last week. Add that to the inability to do any form of walking/exercise because of the asthma and illness, and it was a rough week.  Although I didn’t eat cookies, chips, or junk food, I definitely ate more than I needed.  Fortunately, today is a new day. 

Part of a ‘fresh start’ involves letting go of last week and being gentle with myself.  Sometimes I am way too hard on myself and hold myself to a standard that is very difficult to maintain all the time. I then struggle with an unwarranted sense of guilt (so what, Theresa, you sat and watched birds for an entire hour….your ‘energy fuel-tank’ is running on fumes with a busy schedule) or “I really should be….working on that project…….or answering those e-mails……or…….I need to do this…..or that…..or…..I HAVE to….”kind of thinking that causes stress. As a child or teenager, it hurt more to be called “lazy” than “fat”, although, admittedly, I was both.  Sometimes an unrealistic ‘Wonder Woman” mentality does more harm than good. Can anyone relate?  Perhaps those of you that are working mothers, single parents, or workaholic dads know exactly what I’m talking about?????   In any case, I’m glad to let ‘last week” go and start a new one.

It seems as if we are on the threshold of a new season as well. Although the might oaks are now golden brown, most of other trees are nearly bare.  I’ve put most of the lawn furniture and garden accents away for the winter and we had several hard frost/freeze nights this week, so even the hardiest of the plants have now succumbed to the cold.  I’ve brought many of my winter clothes/sweaters/boots in from the garage and the process of switching out summer/winter clothing is well underway. Before long, it will be time for the holiday decorations.  Yes….a new season is upon us; one that comes with its own set of challenges for those on a life-changing journey.  Have you been thinking about your plan to succeed? 

Many people find the autumn/winter to be a time of challenge on the life-changing journey.  The amount of daylight has dwindled significantly and it is now dark when I leave for work in the morning, making it impossible to get my early-morning walk in. I am often too fatigued by evening to take a walk immediately upon returning home from work, and before long, it will be dark when I get home as well, so I need to figure out how I’m going to fit time in to get some activity.  I have the ability to walk the hallways at work or visit the fitness center on campus if I can motivate myself to do so. Of course, I can make up all kinds of excuses about preferring to walk outside to get fresh air; my dislike for the treadmill, the hassles of having to change shoes/clothes at work, etc….but it will all come down to asking myself what I want more: to continue to be active….and somewhat inconvenienced…..or not.  My motivation will be challenged and it will be a daily choice…..just like it is for you.

This is not my first “autumn-winter” on plan, so I have developed some strategies to help pick up the slack. One the easiest for me is to just try to incorporate activity into the busyness of the day. Even though it’s not officially called “exercise (I hate that word/concept anyway)” being active is important. Each time I use the bathroom (multiple times a day because I drink almost 1 ½ gallons of water per day), I use the opportunity to do squats in the bathroom (no, silly, not in the stall) or I take the stairs to the upstairs bathroom at the college.  I lift weights while sitting in the lazy boy; I walk up and down every aisle in the grocery store or park farther away when doing errands. I do a few minutes of stretching/bending when I’m waiting for my soup to warm up in the microwave during lunch. Sometimes I just dance around the living room. When the snow falls, shoveling snow will provide some physical activity. Although this little bit of movement is certainly nothing compared to the couple of miles of walking/bike riding or hours of gardening I do each week during the summer, every little bit helps. What I need to do is to avoid the ‘excuse trap” of ‘Well, it’s winter, everybody gains 10 pounds during the winter because it’s too hard to get out and do anything.”

One of the other challenges of the cold/dark season is boredom eating. Although I’m not much of a TV watcher, many of you find that there is little else to do all winter. Less time outdoors sometimes translates into more time in front of the computer, reading, TV, or other indoor activities that typically are opportunities for snacking.  I know for sure that I have no control over ‘mindless” snacking so even things like the baked rice cake snacks, although lower in calories that chips or nachos, are a stumbling block for me. I ate an entire bag in two days last week!  Even if it is a ‘safe – on-plan” food, eating too much of anything is NOT a way to succeed (sigh…yes, even watermelon). Last year a friend sent me an air-pop popcorn popper as a gift. This has proved to be a great thing for a healthy, low-calorie snack option, and I’m sure I’ll be using it more often now that the colder weather has arrived.  I know the temptations will exist….so therefore, I have to be prepared to address them… that I don’t have ANY excuses.  How do you handle this?

Finally, the holiday season is knocking on the door. Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s are right around the corner, and along with the celebrations come the party invitations. These special days come with challenges not found at other times during the year. Do you have a plan to succeed in place or are you just going to “take a break” and pick up again on January 2nd?   The mentality of “NO ONE can lose weight during the holidays” so I might as well just enjoy the season and start again in January is one shared by many yo-yo dieters….work hard for months…..take the holiday season off....gain back 15 pounds that you worked so hard to lose during the summer….then start back in January… hard to lose 20 pounds….then do it all again. The result?  A constant up-and-down struggle where it seems that you are always trying to lose weight, but never seem to get very far.  Although this approach is better than just doing nothing (at least you try to lose the holiday weight), it doesn’t seem like a very good plan.  I’ve been there-done that…..but I’ve found it’s better to just plan to stay on track in the first place so that I don’t have to work to lose the same 20 pounds over and over again.  In coming weeks, I’ll share some of the ways I plan to stay on track.  I’d welcome your ideas as well.

Yes, it is true that there will ALWAYS be challenges; there will always be opportunities to make excuses or rationalize behavior, but they don’t have to be stumbling blocks to totally sabotage your journey.  Certainly, you need to take a break if you encounter illness this winter. Certainly, you need to make adjustments for weather and seasonal changes. Certainly, you need to allow yourself to enjoy the delights of the season……but… can minimize the damage if you plan ahead.  Most importantly, you have to realize that EVERYONE struggles at time times (yes, even Theresa) and EVERYONE has a bad/off day/week once in a while….but the biggest difference between success and failure is how one reacts to those challenges.  A failure allows a bad week to define him/her and gives up. A winner starts over….again and again and again…..and NEVER stops trying.  Which one are you going to be?????  

I want to continue to be a WINNER…..which ultimately means that I’ll be a “life-long” LOSER!!!  How about you???