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Equine Metaphors

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I rewarded myself yesterday with a premium ticket to see "The World Famous Lipizzaner Stallion Show". It was wonderful, and I am musing over the show as motivation to continue my own efforts at training.

What athletes these horses are! What patience their trainers have to train them in the gentle way they do, in the great tradition of dressage and the Spanish Riding School. Although this is an American show, they use the same principles of training that have been used for centuries by that great institution. And of course, the same breed stock.

I'm a great fan of "being there" whether it is standing in the Sistine Chapel looking up at Michaelangelo's "Creation of Man", in Florence gazing on his statue of David, riding a jet boat up the snake river through Hell's Canyon, walking up Scott's Bluff, attending a major league baseball game, or, in this case, seeing a live horse performing "airs above the ground". It lifts the heart, more than a photograph or a movie can do.

I think these things help me feel present and alive on the planet. Obviously they are not something that I do every day, or all the time. They are the jewels scattered throughout a lifetime, making memories to look back on, or dreams to look forward to.

When putting together a plan for fitness and healthy habits... having things like this to look forward to makes a difference.

As for the training of the athletes themselves... none of these horses do anything that was not a natural move they performed in play as colts. The same is true of us... being fit and healthy is what we were born to be, but it takes training to bring out our best performance on cue. It takes patience, and gentle persuasion... rewards and correction... you cannot punish excellence into being. But you can coax and encourage it.

May we remember this as we encourage excellence in ourselves!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CONCHA77 2/15/2010 9:21AM

    Thanks again, Barb, for sharing. Such a great storyteller! Have a nice day off today.


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SPENCEMOMOF5 2/14/2010 11:00PM

    loved the reference to Hell's Canyon, my neck of the woods! Would love to see these horses in 'person'. Great blog.

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MSLZZY 2/14/2010 5:38PM

    You are so wise! Thank you for sharing! This was very inspiring!

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KALIGIRL 2/14/2010 3:40PM

    Here's to coaxing excellence in everything we do.

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SMARTIEBEE 2/14/2010 2:06PM

    barb, The show sounds wonderful! And the inspiration you gained, and shared is priceless! Thanks for the inspiration to be what we were meant to be!

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SUNNY332 2/14/2010 1:54PM

    The Lipizzaner Stallion Show will be in Wichita while we are there but we have tickets to see them in March in Quincy.

I love all the metaphors today and as always enjoyed reading your blog.

I am off to put some laundry in the washer and walk on the treadmill. It is snowing and blowing here today. Burrrrr

Have a GREAT day.


Comment edited on: 2/14/2010 1:55:46 PM

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WALKINGANNIE 2/14/2010 12:46PM

    Another great blog Barb.

Glad you enjoyed the show and gained such inspiration from it - and then shared it with us. You're definitely encouraging excellence in yourself and in others.

Thank you.

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Today's pep talk

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I'm sitting watching a myriad of emotions wash over me. Coffee mug by my side, TV show on netflix on another window. I put the TV show on pause, to deal with emotions that are flitting around and competing for top position in the brain.

* Valentine's Day (and being "alone")
* My ex (and of course why he's my ex)
* My son (deployed, and whether I'll even get an IM from him this weekend - can we say impending self-pity?)

* Work (and the big stress-inducing project just getting under way... a huge source of past relapses, by the way. Can we spell f-e-a-r?)

* Reflections on recent and past successes in establishing healthy habits (and how I really feel about that)

* Pride in what I see in the mirror this morning (imagine a look at a full-length image and the words "d*mn I look good!" flitting through the consciousness)

* Fear that like all past efforts this will unravel under the pressures of life

* A touch of loneliness

* A touch of defensiveness

So, on to the pep talk, to address these things:

Barb, you've got to keep it green, and re-motivate, here. A lot of times you used to eat large volumes of food to stop feeling these feelings. Now they are here in force!

Let's review strategies that have worked in the past.

* Distraction (the horse show this afternoon might be a good one of that nature, so take full advantage of that, but prepare to deal with the aftermath... when the distraction ends)

* Reasoning (hey, I'm doing that now). I've learned from every past "failure". I'm learning more now. This time, I can do even better. Just because something has always been does NOT mean it will always be!

* Planning, accepting that these emotions are OK, that I will feel them, but that they do not necessarily require action, just acknowledgment.

* Experiencing and enhancing the emotions: if there's sadness, watch a sad movie and let the tears flow. It's OK. That's a bit of transference, and if it works, go for it.

* Giving myself permission to fail. Seriously... if you never failed, you never tried.

* Giving myself permission to succeed! Yes, it IS OK to be the best me I can be, even if it is "not perfect", and even if my life seems consequently "better" on some scale than that of others I care about. There will always be differences... comparison to others is fatal to living your own life!

This last is a very important point for me. I have spent a good deal of my life trying to avoid having people envy me... wanting everyone to like me. I think part of keeping weight on, or relapsing is a "don't envy me" message I try to put out there. It is OK to succeed. It is OK to be pleased with a healthy body. It is OK... I am OK.

There, I think I'm done. And I DO feel better. Here's to staying strong, my friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MSLZZY 2/14/2010 5:40PM

    You addressed the issues in a straight-forward manner! You are OK! You are just now recognizing it because it is real!

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DAMOTIVATION 2/14/2010 7:21AM

    Congratulations on being where you are. Being your authentic self even in times of great challenge is job #1.

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SUNNY332 2/13/2010 8:47PM

    What a great post today.

Keep up the good work and GREAT attitude.

It is quite OK to succeed.

Hugs, Sunny

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CARO1YN 2/13/2010 6:42PM

    Wow,I can relate to most of the things you wrote. Good for you for being true to yourself. I have found a lot fear in my losing weight and why I have not been able to lose the weight in the past, i realized I was afraid to succeed and the possible responsibilities that come with it. I am at a stand still right now and I know it is that ugly fear raising its head again. I am very proud of you and you have every right to be proud of yourself, you look wonderful. I still have 55 more pounds to lose but I know it will happen. Thank you for sharing and Happy Valentine's Day.

Comment edited on: 2/13/2010 6:43:33 PM

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SPENCEMOMOF5 2/13/2010 3:09PM

    Great motivational insight! I am mirroring several of those emotions myself...feel the emotion, it doesn't have to be justified or changed or ate at nor does it require action! Thanks!
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WALKINGANNIE 2/13/2010 1:47PM

    What a wise and honest blog. Success is all the sweeter when it doesn't come easy and you've shown this week how your sensible planning has helped you to deal with stressful situations.

There's no doubt that you've helped others to work through their own temptations, frustrations, worries and disappointments by sharing some of yours along with your strategies. It's great that you've given yourself some answers and advice.

Thank you - and for your kind comments on my blog.

By the way, I envy your abs but I still like you!


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JAKEANDNELLIE 2/13/2010 11:01AM

    Self-conversation can make all the difference in a good day versus a bad day!
You made some excellent points that I need to remember and use with myself frequently.
It's important that you shared them here on Spark ~ a place where you are never alone. You have friends here and today, by sharing like you did, you have helped many of us learn how to deal with "down" times in our own lives.
Thank you for being so open and honest and providing us with a way and words to fight our battles.
Sheila emoticon

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RAYLINSTEPHENS 2/13/2010 10:28AM


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MMICKEYP 2/13/2010 10:09AM

    There are many times in our lives that we must talk ourselves down from the "ledge". That's exactly what you just did.

I hope that whoever reads your blog today takes away a little something to help them when they come to difficult crossroads in their lives.

Crossroads don't have to be big major ordeals..but can also be small things that we run into in our daily lives.

You took a look at your thoughts, emotions and fears and instead of dwelling on looked them in the eye and made a decision to review what has worked for you in the past and you ended by making another decision to keep moving forward.

That's how we encourage ourselves and others!

Good blog..Thanks! emoticon

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CONCHA77 2/13/2010 9:19AM

    Sounds very reasonable to me! Great blog. emoticon

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OZINBELG 2/13/2010 8:59AM

    well done - you'll be fine this time 'round!

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I love my Spark Friends!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

You guys are amazing, you know that?

To continue this morning's story, I made it past the chocolate again today, mainly due to having posted that blog entry this morning. Tonight I came home to a whole collection of wonderful tips from my Spark Friends... sharing their own experience, strength and hope about one of my weaknesses.

Anyway, today I was in meetings all day, and at a couple of stressful points in the day, I made certain that I went down to walk my loops in the basement. At noon I went outside, across the street, and bought myself my latest reward for working my program: a ticket to see
. Cheaper than a massage, and something I've wanted to do my whole life and never got around to.

This is my valentine to myself. And suddenly, I don't need chocolate quite so much.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GINABUG 2/12/2010 10:04PM

    What amazing choices! There is much wisdom in this decision... And you will carry the memories much longer than you would have the taste of the chocolate!

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MSLZZY 2/12/2010 5:04PM

    Rewards don't have to be food and this was perfect!

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WALKINGANNIE 2/12/2010 12:42PM

    Your Spark Friends love you too!

Congratulations for coming up with the plan for an alternative reward. A smart idea and a well-deserved treat.


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KALIGIRL 2/12/2010 9:23AM

    Love it, love it, love it.
What a perfect treat.
Happy Valentines to You!
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NELLIEC 2/11/2010 10:51PM

    Sounds like a great show to see! emoticon emoticon

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DEBRA_T 2/11/2010 10:45PM

    Awesome, Barb. When those horses do the flying lead changes they look like their skipping and it just lifts you up right out of your chair! Excellent reward and good strategy!


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Yelp! They moved the chocolate at work!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Seriously humorous - somebody in their infinite wisdom decided that having food in the receptionist area was causing too much "socializing" at the front desk... and it's been banished. Unfortunately, where they banished the candy jar to... is within a very few steps of where I sit. And... it's full of Dove dark chocolate.

Now over the months and years, I have trained myself to walk right past the reception area, knowing that the food that gets put up there is just "not for me". Yesterday, I found my feet automatically veering toward that jar every time I walked by. (No, I did not dip into it). It was like a magnet of some sort! It took a mental battle to choose not to take a piece, each time.

Later in the day, a few of us took a walk in the chilly sunshine (sun sure looks great, by the way... felt like a bear coming out of hibernation)... and ended up at a drug store with aisles and aisles of Valentine's Day candy. In fact, my compatriots were there purchasing same for their kids. I had to physically leave the aisle to keep myself from the stuff.

Going to have to come up with a plan... will I plan a small treat to make myself not feel deprived? That might work. I'm better with a plan than without one... but somehow, "what was I thinking?"... was I thinking I was just going to breeze by one of the major chocolate days of the U.S. Calendar without being tempted?


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOGOULD 2/11/2010 3:41PM

    emoticonThat's a tough one! I can usually deal with a sweets craving by keeping cubed or balled melon in the fridge for a quick sweet snack, but when emoticonCHOCOLATE emoticoncalls my name, well, melon just won't do. I have looked up and add to my favorites list what a sensible serving of chocolate is and in case of emergency I turn to that - and savor! emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/11/2010 3:42:39 PM

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NELLIEC 2/11/2010 3:09PM

    Well, I like to give myself a tiny treat of one little square of dark chocolate at the end of the day.

Of course, the allure of chocolate is that it stimulates the same feelings as being in love does! So it naturally goes with Valentine's Day!!!

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WALKINGANNIE 2/11/2010 1:04PM

What a shame that life is conspiring against you on this one Barb. It's the seemingly small stuff like this than can derail the most focused of us.

You'll probably work out your own solutions but I deal with the chocolate thing by having a single square of Lindt 85% or 90% when I feel the urge. It's supposed to be healthful in small quantities. I nibble it and savour it. I've grown to love it but it's an acquired taste if you're a sweet, milk chocolate person.

A couple of sugar-free mints can sometimes rid me of other sweetie-urges. Remembering that the artificial sweeteners in them can have a laxative effect is enough to make me manage the portion control!

If things like this don't work you'll have to leave your coins at home or invest in some designer blinkers!

Good luck!


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PATRISNA 2/11/2010 11:20AM

    Oh dear! My sweet friend I feel your pain. I was having a real problem with leftover chocolates from Christmas. There are times when I can eat one tiny piece and then other times when it triggers a binge.

I am picky about what brand I will eat. So my trick is not to buy the brand I like. I haven't bought any lately and I am going to avoid buying any for a while. I thought the stuff I bought for Christmas would not tempt me and I was wrong very wrong.

My DH and I were talking last night about the the Stove Top stuffing I made. He said I could eat all of that left in the pan, but I'm not. We don't eat stuffing very often. I said isn't it funny how much you can crave something like that? I said I would rather have stuffing than ice cream. He put a serving for each of us in our leftover containers for our lunch today.

I hope you can resist the you know what. emoticon

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SHARON2014 2/11/2010 10:38AM

    How is it that these type of decisions (struggles really) seem to dominate our thoughts at times. Candy is not my problem, but fried foods are. I have committed to abstain for the month of February - and before I read your blog I was trying to figure out how I could fit in fish & chips into my calorie count for the day. Then I remembered my goals for the month. How conveniently I had forgotten... why is it that my "comfort" foods are also the things that tempt and then tip me over the edge of self control? I am glad to have Spark Friends together with me on this journey! emoticon

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SLENDERELLA61 2/11/2010 9:08AM

    Ooooooo, that's a tough one. If you can win this one, you've got it licked!! Be strong. Visualize yourself stronger than chocolate. You are stronger than chocolate. You have control over chocolate. You can choose when and where you will have chocolate in a healthy amount. You can do it!! Give us at least a weekly update on this BIG challenge. Again, you can do it.

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CARISSA81 2/11/2010 8:49AM

    I find that one small treat always leads to another until the whole package is gone. That's me though. It may be better to give yourself a small treat each day.

Best of luck, oooh why oh why is chocolate soooooo good?

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SUNNY332 2/11/2010 8:46AM

    Yes, I agree that it is important to find something to treat yourself with occasionally so you don't end up feeling deprived. That feeling could spell disaster.

Take care and have a TERRIFIC THURSDAY.


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__IZZA__ 2/11/2010 8:10AM

    These sort of holidays are a challenge but you it is also time to start new traditions. Maybe there is some healthy snacks that you can bring with you to work so in case the temptation is really horrible.
It is just a few days left now, so hold on. Soon it will have passed by. :)

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DEBRA_T 2/11/2010 8:07AM

    Oh, man, you're singing my song. I just decided I had to give it up completely because, as they say, one is too much and 75,000 is not enough. Or something like that. Chocolate is an accelerator for me that I just cannot afford to step on. I don't know if I ever will be able to have "just one," so I'm not risking it for now. I don't know what you will decide to do -- but I know it will be right for you -- but I feel very relieved that I have taken myself out of the debate. The Valentine Candy which will undoubtedly be replaced by Easter Candy on Sunday which will torture us for another 6 weeks -- just OFF LIMITS. I never thought I could say this but abstinence is easier than moderation for me in this one food. Hang tight, my friend, temptation is just a thought not a deed. Thank God!

Cheers, Debra
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Pep talks - how it's going

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It isn't that I've never done self-pep talks before, but this week I'm trying to be conscientious and conscious of when I do. Today's little pep talk took place while I walked laps in the basement of the office building where I work. I do this during "bad" weather, when going outside to walk on break is not a pleasant option.

This morning's pep talk was about the upcoming work challenges and maintaining healthy habits when I enter a period of time where I will be sorely tempted to overwork. One of the first things that happens when I fixate on a big work project is that I try to throw myself, personally, at it, and make it all come together by sacrificing my personal time and life.

This has made me successful in my career, but it's not the way I want to live the rest of my life. So, my self-talk is directed at "my mind gets sharper when I take an exercise break", "if I drain my health by over-working, that won't do the project any good", "it's important to delegate", and of course, the every popular, "You can do it... you CAN let go".

If I can let go of the food, I can let go of feeling I must personally do EVERYTHING at work.

You see, Sparking is about so much more than nutrition and exercise. It is about becoming our best selves. Our best selves are not self-destructive!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WALKINGANNIE 2/11/2010 12:52PM

    Right on the button.

I've always had a strong work ethic as well and am lucky to have a great job that I love. I thought I was indispensible, working long hours and taking too much on until... serious illness forced long term absence and the delegation of work to other colleagues - who have more than risen to the challenges.

I'm going to try to apply some of the principles and self-talk that you've described.

You're definitely making strides (indoors in poorer weather!) in getting more than weight control sorted.

Thanks for the insights.

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KALIGIRL 2/10/2010 10:48PM

    Perfect - what a balanced perspective...
Don't we always try to solve the problems of the world?
You continue to be a role model - I love the fact you are walking inside in this 'weather' - although, even I must admit the snow in the sun is beautiful.
emoticon emoticon

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MSLZZY 2/10/2010 9:51PM

    Exactly! We are in a healthier lifestyle to stay healthy and not "self destruct" by overworking. Do what you can and use common sense. Allow someone else to share the work load and you'll both feel good.

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PALEAN 2/10/2010 9:12PM

    Our BEST SELVES are not self destructive. I like that. I am just trying to uncover my best self...let you find oxygen, as so long I have lived to do and be what I thought others wanted or expected. Never really found my "best self" and now though it's foreign, it's pretty amazing to take a time out, and look inside and say.."who am I really?" Very good blog for me to read! Thank you!

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DEBRA_T 2/10/2010 9:08PM

    Right on, Barb! The fantasy of being necessary, the only one, in control, totally responsible, etc. is just as much to blame for obesity as the food and lack of exercise. I love the idea of thinking while exercising -- it used to be such a natural thing to do -- I'm going to take a walk and think about that ...

I do my best thinking when I'm walking, showering, brushing my teeth. It's like the automatic motor operation frees up some brain function. Which is good and necessary. I need every bit of it.

The people we were originally created to be are healthy and full of well-being.

Cheers, Deb

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