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U: usable

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Ever find one of those words that you can't define without using the word itself or its root or derivative? "Use" is one of those words!

As a software designer (one of my hats), I once took a course in "usability". Bear with me, this does have a Spark connection. In this course, about 20 software / hardware engineers sat together and were asked as an opening exercise to design a "usable" hot and cold water faucet: what direction the handles would turn, which side things would be on, etc. Also included were controls for a stove-top.

So, any predictions for what designs came out? Did I hear a voice in the back saying, "you designed what you already used!"? In fact, that's true. Each of us ended up drawing the faucet control or stove controls that we had at home. Whoa! To US, they were usable. But they certainly were not identical.

This exercise was to wake us up to the fact that to design something usable, you needed to understand who was going to be using it, what their background and experience was, and so on.

Which brings me to Spark, diet, and exercise. Each of us brings to Spark a wealth of experience. There are a lot of content experts here on Spark who know nutrition and know exercise very well. But each of us will find the tools here more or less usable based on what we have already experienced.

Extending this to eating plans and exercise plans and mind-work: nobody knows YOU better than you! (Well, maybe your mom or your spouse... but I digress!) Tools and programs have to work into your life. I just saw a blog by SLENDERELLA61 yesterday where she was adapting her schedule to fit in the things that have become priorities to her program, so that she can continue her maintenance journey successfully.

I had to do something similar last Winter / Spring / Summer when a large work project interfered with my energy levels... I had to adapt my expectations and my plan to fit the way my life needed to work for six months or so. Change isn't always easy. But it's seldom absent. Adapting things in a program to make them usable where I am RIGHT NOW in my life is essential to long term success.

That means considering, re-considering, and adjusting... you know, those that I see setting monthly goals have something there. When I sit down with an adviser (maybe even that internal adviser in my brain) and discuss upcoming events in life and how I will fit my program around them, I am doing the same sort of thing: planning and adapting.

So this is my wish for all of us today: Here's to keeping our weight management and fitness and nutrition plans fresh and usable... with periodic reviews of "how it is going".

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SAMI199 10/22/2010 9:26AM

    Time is all we have ,so we better "use" it right!
It's all up to us-each & every moment-Be useful& win!!!!!!!

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KALIGIRL 10/6/2010 1:06PM

    I love that this site provides so many usable ways for so many different people to become healthy.
Here's to finding what works for us and helping others find what can work for them.

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MSLZZY 10/5/2010 5:29PM

    Adapting and adjusting to life's circumstances-yeah. Thank you!

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ANONALEE 10/5/2010 8:27AM

    Definitely! There is no "one size fits all" plan despite the confident assertions of each diet book writer. Each of us has to use what we know about ourselves and our lives and fit in new ideas and information in a usable way. If it doesn't fit, we must shift to what does!


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MICKEYMAX 10/5/2010 8:07AM

    well said1

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REJ7777 10/5/2010 7:48AM

    Great analogy! emoticon

"Here's to keeping our weight management and fitness and nutrition plans fresh and usable... with periodic reviews of "how it is going"."

You can count me in! emoticon

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    Great blog - thanks for sharing your insights!

I guess I am doing the same thing - working my program around life.

We are making this happen!


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T: Time

Monday, October 04, 2010

Time. We only have so much of it. Yet each of us has exactly the same amount each day. How we use it is important to our health and well-being, but also to those who rely on us. There are a vast number of "time management" systems, from the Franklin Covey systems to the One Minute Manager system to you name it that purport to help us learn to better manage the time that we have. But it dawned on me this morning (yes, in the shower, post-workout, endorphin-influenced)...

I do one of three things with a given moment in time: I think, I avoid, or I act. OK, that IS an over-simplification, but it will do for the purpose of this entry.

Thinking in a moment can be simple observation of my surroundings, but it often involves the past, the future, and judgment of what I am observing or thinking about. The "thinking" is where those of us with problems beating up on ourselves get in trouble. This is when we don't just observe our behavior, remember the comment someone made to us yesterday, or contemplate the wedding that's coming up in a couple of weeks: we make judgments about it!

More acceptance, less judgment in thinking about what's going on in my life has been a blessing of my program.

Avoidance is something that I do. I think others with compulsive issues (be it eating, drinking, cleaning, gambling, working, whatever compulsion is your favorite) do this too. We behave compulsively to avoid facing something. Or to avoid doing something we consider unpleasant. My little "binge" on Saturday was partly avoidance behavior: if I'm eating I can't be doing something else (cleaning).

By the way, for those of you waiting for the next chapter in THAT saga, I spent a good deal of Sunday doing what I had been avoiding on Saturday. That leads right into the third thing to do with my time: act. Since I have a new furnace and hot water heater getting installed today, I needed to get the area of the house where they are going to be cleared out to give the workmen space to work. And while I was at it, I started in on another chore I've been avoiding... for three years!

Yes, the kids moved out three years ago, leaving a lot of clutter behind. It has taken me until now to address parts of that clutter, and yesterday I did! emoticon It just so happens that a good chunk of that clutter was near where the work needs to be done today. I'm rather pleased with myself.

Moral of the story: thinking does not require one to stop acting. You can think while acting, and sometimes that casts a more positive spin on the thoughts. It helps work out anger. It helps wash grief. It helps heal the scars of that "beating up on oneself" that some of us are so prone to inflict.

This is not to minimize the importance of restoration thought, meditation, relaxation... those are needed too. To STOP the thinking. To relax the muscles that have worked well today. To rest and sleep. And I did, very well, after my day of action. emoticon

Here's to a healthy use of our 24 hours today! May we nourish ourselves, have some activity, and take time to restore... may we live a life of Mastery, just for today.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SAMI199 10/22/2010 8:41AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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REJ7777 10/4/2010 7:32PM

    Great reflection on time!
Speaking of which, I'm sitting here Sparking when I should be washing the dishes. So, gotta go! emoticon

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KALIGIRL 10/4/2010 1:35PM

    Like the idea of thinking while acting (and not thinking while restoring). Your three modes of living may not be as oversimplified as you think...
Here's to living life to the fullest!

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TURTLETALK 10/4/2010 12:44PM

    We are all great masters of avoidance. I am impressed that you are starting to deal with the kids clutter. My baby has been gone from home now for four years and I still haven't addresse that challenge.

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LEANJEAN6 10/4/2010 9:35AM

    Good for you----Sounds like you are good at managing time!!!---Nice to read yer blog---You are doing well!

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CONCHA77 10/4/2010 8:18AM

    emoticon AND emoticon

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S: "should"

Sunday, October 03, 2010

I'll bet you thought I'd say "sleep"! I kind of set you up with that expectation yesterday when I mentioned starting the better sleep challenge, but I'm not ready to blog about that just yet. And as often happens, life intervened and told me I need to write about the "should" game, and how it can really kill a healthy living program.

Lots of voices, inside and outside, tell us what we "should" do. But, how often does even casting that thought in terms of "should" have a negative impact on whether I act on it? I don't know about you but it seems to me that every time I start out with "I should clear out those weeds in the back yard..." it's followed by a "but I don't feel like it!" It's like the very word "should" sets me up for rebellion.

Yesterday I had a minor binge episode, and it started with a "should". In this case it was a whole bunch of "should"s. I should vacuum. I should clean the tile floors. I should dust. I should weed. I should organize.

And the list got so big that I overwhelmed myself. I rebelled. And I got into some procrastination eating. I'm sure I'm the ONLY person who ever does that!
emoticon I don't want to do this thing I should do, so I'll eat, instead?

In looking back, the anatomy of the binge involved some drowsiness, some procrastination, and some fear of losing too much. It wasn't the terrible tear of a binge I am capable of, but it was a red flag. I was aware of what I was doing, even as I continued to act on it. And I stopped and brushed my teeth and didn't continue it past supper. By bedtime, I pretty much knew what it was all about. And I am not giving myself a hard time about it, but I am determined it's over.

Today is a recovery day, an introspection day... and a day to examine those "should"s and prioritize them into what I shall and shall not do today.

After all... today is all I have!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SAMI199 10/22/2010 8:36AM

    I should stop saying should! emoticon

It's uncanny how you can read my mine-wooohooowooohooo.


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CONCHA77 10/4/2010 7:44AM

    I find myself "SHOULDING" more than I should. Thanks for bringing that up to my attention. Have a great Monday and thanks again for another great blog.

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ANONALEE 10/3/2010 7:41PM

    I think I'll write about "shoulding" all over oneself -- an almost sure fire way to freeze oneself into an endless cycle of procrastination and guilt induced eating. Ugh! Too familiar with this!

Thanks for the great reminder and congratulations on stopping the binge.

Cheers, Debra
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WALKINGANNIE 10/3/2010 4:22PM

    Another excellent blog as usual.

One of the most profound differences that SP has made to me is changing a few "shoulds" into "want tos".

I "should eat healthy foods" has become I "want to eat healthy foods."
I "should move more" has become I "want to move more."

But, of course, you're right and this has't yet touched every aspect of my life yet. I should do all sorts of household chores but......

emoticon emoticon

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DEBRITA01 10/3/2010 2:09PM

    Thinking of all those "Shoulds" can get overwhelming. Being a rebellious person, at times, that can cause me to go in the opposite direction. Then the guilt for not doing what needs to be done. Yes, a vicious cycle...which often ends up in the kitchen.

I'm taking all the advice and support you've gotten here and applying it. I really do learn from reading blogs...thanks for sharing yours!

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 10/3/2010 1:41PM

    Self-awareness. I think if we could be present and self-aware 100% of the time that we're awake, we wouldn't be having the mega-binges. Reading about your episode and how you were aware of what you were doing, even while continuing, struck a chord with me. It's unrealistic to think we'll never binge or eat something we "shouldn't," but being aware that we're doing it? Well, that will probably make the difference between going way overboard and allowing a small indulgence. I admire your attitude and hope I can get to that point (instead of beating myself up) at some point. Have a great day, Barb!

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KALIGIRL 10/3/2010 11:07AM

    Shoulda, woulda, coulda...
The words that haunt us.
I can relate to your binge day. Mine was Friday - watching TV into the late hours of the morning along with food and drink (and there wasn't even anything worth watching). Thank goodness for an early morning bike ride with the girls - all the plants are in the greenhouse...
Hope your day goes well.

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DIANE7786 10/3/2010 10:04AM

    I could have written that blog a few years ago. It took some time, but now I don't have any "shoulds." It's a liberating feeling. I know how many hours each day there are for cleaning, organizing and maintaining and I know how long each task takes. The trick is prioritizing and not overbooking. I suggest you look at It's a free site that does for our homes what Sparks does for our bodies!

Comment edited on: 10/3/2010 10:10:47 AM

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JHADZHIA 10/3/2010 9:03AM

    Shoulds never get things done. What you do is when you get up in the morning and realize you have things you need to do, take the one thing you want to do the least and just get out and do it before thinking can set in. Tackle them one at a time until they are all done. Then the rest of your day is free and your conscience is clear and no stress eating is needed..
Good luck with it, and your sleep challenge.

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R: restore

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Back a few blogs I talked about Mastery Living, the "cure" for Stalled Living. In Mastery Living there are three elements, one of which is Time to Restore. That's so important to us hard-charging, black-white thinking, type-A personalities.

So what does it mean to restore?
1 to give back (something taken away, lost, etc.); make restitution of
2 to bring back to a former or normal condition, as by repairing, rebuilding, altering, etc. (to restore a building, painting)
3 to put (a person) back in a place, position, rank, etc. (to restore a king to his throne)
4 to bring back to health, strength, etc.
5 to bring back into being, use, etc; reestablish (to restore order...)

The other two elements of Mastery Living, exercise and meaningful activities are ways that we expend our energy. Time to restore is a vital piece: we need to get that energy back!

How many of us, in our unfit times, saw "rest" as sitting on the couch and munching while watching TV? If you've come a long way on your journey, do you still see that as restorative?

But it IS important to give our bodies the time to recover from exercise: to rebuild muscles. And it IS important to give our minds the restoration of good sleep. So, I've taken on the Better Sleep challenge for October. I'm starting to journal about my sleep... so far on paper, but don't be surprised to find it showing up in the blog, too. After all, I'm going to run out of alphabet pretty soon!


I'm trying to think of what I do to restore, and I am having trouble! So, it is an area for me to work on, or at least become more conscious of. Thoughts that come to mind are NOTICING the beauty around me, whether that's Orion marching across the sky when I'm putting my trash to the curb, or the sunrise / sunset, the trees changing color. Breathing, and being conscious of that. Reading / watching inspiring stories.

Spark friends... what do YOU do to restore your soul?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SAMI199 10/22/2010 8:31AM

In the order of Restore I started thinking of another "R" word-" Recieve". I know being a type A- peoplepleaser I find it difficult to recieve things that wwould allow me to restore. Offers of help are always declined-no matter how tired I am -or how behind...Just A thought...( I bet you alredy knew that"lol

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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REJ7777 10/2/2010 7:10PM

    We need a "restore" button on our computer, and it's not surprising that we also need one in our lives.

My faith in God is very strong, so I turn to Him when I need to be restored. I also find that the beauty of nature is very restorative, as is quiet time spent with people I love.

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ANONALEE 10/2/2010 4:26PM

    Restoration comes to me from jumping in my cushy recliner with my dog and taking a nice nap and or reading with him in my lap which also results in a nice nap. Sleep restoreth the soul.

Cheers, Debra

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WALKINGANNIE 10/2/2010 1:59PM

    Many thanks to our lady of letters.

The idea of restoration certainly resonates with me and I like your analysis.

Glad that you have joined the Bettter Sleep Challenge. No you'll have a Zzzzz!

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 10/2/2010 11:53AM

    I also think that blogging goes a long way to restore our "mental turmoil." I'm not sure that I quite grasp the concept of restoration for my body yet. I know it's vital, but being one of those Type A personalities, it's hard. I keep pushing myself to the limit -- almost like I'm trying to prove something (though I don't know what). Even with my recent elbow injuries, I thought it would be better to push through pain than to rest/restore. But I learned the hard way and am paying the consequences.

So thanks for this blog -- it hopefully will get me thinking about the art of restoring.

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CONCHA77 10/2/2010 8:59AM

    Great blog!
Noticing the beauty today shouldn't be too difficult, I am heading north where is should be breathtakingly beautiful with all the color changes. Though it is rainy I will enjoy the scenery.
So, I will join you today in NOTICING all the beauty--Again, nice Blog.

Oh! Does that include my DH? -just kidding -I will even try to see the beauty in him, heehee
Take care, Barb. Have a great Saturday.

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ANG_LA 10/2/2010 8:38AM

    R is a great letter. Love that word. Gotta think on that one though. Thanks for the blog!


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Q: quest

Friday, October 01, 2010

emoticon How could it be anything other than "quest"?

quest (noun) - 1 a seeking; hunt; pursuit 2 a journey in search of adventure, as those undertaken by knights-errant in medieval times

quest (verb transitive) - to search for, seek

What is a journey without a destination? What is a search, without an object of desire? What is a mission, without an objective?

I feel that life itself is a form of quest: we start out as infants, fully "programmed" (if you'll pardon a programmer's analogy) to figure out and adapt to the world in which we find ourselves. Thus begins the struggle for survival. But survival is not enough for human beings to thrive. We need those goals. We need something to quest for. Once our basic needs are met, there are whole realms of development to be sought and achieved.

I've known my Q word would be quest ever since I wrote the P entry for play. How do two such words tie together? I take myself back to childhood and how often my "play" involved fantasy. My siblings and I would act out stories in our play: rescue the princess (Ivanhoe, Knights of the Round Table), save the village (pick your favorite Western, or modernize this to Star Wars!), survive on the island (Swiss Family Robinson)... whatever. There were heroes and heroines who were brave and took action.

Back in "real life", we truly are our own heroes, as we quest, life-long, for health and fitness. And as we do, we can pursue whatever larger goals mean something to each of us.

I leave you with a link to lyrics: the song that's been playing in my head ever since Wednesday. It's from the Musical, "Man of La Mancha" - The Impossible Dream. The key bits: "I know if I'll only be true to this glorious quest, that my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I'm laid to my rest. And the world will be better for this."

What are you questing for today?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SAMI199 10/22/2010 8:18AM

    Golly Miss Molly-I haven't thought about that song in years!
( School Chorus )
" To right the unrightable wrong.
To love pure & chaste from afar.
To try when your arms are to weary.
To reach the unreachable Star."

Great Song-Great Blog!!!!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PENNYAN45 10/2/2010 12:38AM

    And there's no contest
That SP's quest
Is the best!

Comment edited on: 10/2/2010 2:15:22 AM

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REJ7777 10/1/2010 2:26PM

    Inspirational! emoticon

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KALIGIRL 10/1/2010 12:37PM

    Love your blog once again.
Not only will 'the world be better for this', but we get back 10 fold.
Here's to our successful quests!

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MSLZZY 10/1/2010 11:43AM

    I love that song. We sang it in high school chorus! Amazing and thank you for the inspiration! HUGS!

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MARISABELLES 10/1/2010 8:34AM

    I didn't know until I read your blog but now I do : I quest for inspiration !
Thanks for being one for me today !

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