Monday, February 07, 2011
You're traveling along on your Spark journey, improving your health, learning to deal with your emotions without turning to the food, learning to manage your stress, getting physically stronger, dropping pounds or maintaining a healthy weight. Then something big hits. It is like a test: is all this Spark-philosophy practical for ME in my life, through all its storms? Is it worth it?
Yesterday was the beginning of such a test. We all have lots of such tests in our lives... some are pop quizzes (like dinner out), some are all-day, all-week, all-month, multi-part exams (like an illness, or a family crisis).
Since I'm not part of the inner circle for my nephew, his wife or my sister in law... yesterday was a day of waiting and starting to accept this thing that has happened. I passed the news along to "my side of the family", including my son, his cousin. To give you an idea of the relationship between my son and my nephew, I offer this photograph, from 1988, at the Jersey shore.
My nephew is on the left, the tall 11 year old, holding the hand of the trusting 4 year old. My son and I chatted a bit about what had happened, and of course, he was pretty shocked, too.
Not able to get in touch with my ex (left him voice mail), I put the Super Bowl on the TV, and hopped back on the treadmill, finally ready to finish the interrupted workout. About halftime, I finally heard back from my ex, and we were able to share our memories, and the usual thoughts that we all have when someone young and promising dies: "Why him? Why not someone older, like us, who have already raised our children?"
Honestly, if I were to drop dead today, I would say "I've done my bit". This young man still had lots of future plans. For himself, for his wife, for their daughters. That's what makes these things hard. Life teaches us that there are many things beyond our own control. We can't go back and change them. We can't undo the bad things that have happened.
What we can do is take inspiration, have faith, and recognize that a life does not have to be long to be worthwhile. My nephew leaves a legacy of two promising daughters. He leaves behind each of us who were touched by his gentle soul and his life. He leaves behind a warning about sleep apnea and how dangerous it is... and how being "big" adds to the danger.
We do not have control over everything that happens in life, but we do have the responsibility for our own behavior. If there is something we can do to increase our potential to be a help, rather than another burden, to others, now's the time to start (or continue). That includes taking care of our own health, nurturing ourselves so that we can help others.
Yes, the Spark philosophy *does* work for real life, because it is real-life based. The first thing you're instructed to do is examine your values, and determine just what your motivation comes from. If we did that part, we, and Spark, pass the tests.
Sunday, February 06, 2011
I was on the treadmill, over halfway to my planned six miles when the phone rang. It was one of those phone calls you don't want to get, and my phone doesn't ring without purpose on a Sunday morning. Those aren't the telemarketers or the fund raisers.
In this case is was my ex's sister, and her voice sounded shaky. We don't talk THAT often. Last time we did was in the Summer when her son's mother in law passed away and she herself had a heart attack. We care about one another, we just live independent lives, and don't want to overburden one another... as we have separate support groups. I'm sure you have folks like this in your lives, too.
Still, there was a time when we saw one another more frequently. When the kids were younger. When my ex was my husband. When we ferried the kids to Sunday School together. Before we moved away.
After I moved back, we again saw one another mainly in the context of my ex's relationship. I did go to a few birthday parties of her grand daughters. Stopped by on Christmas or the day after. Went to cultural events together. But this past year, with her health issues, we didn't do so much... as her needs were more on conserving energy, and her own immediate family was her focus.
She asked if my ex had called me. He had not. Then she just out and told me: her son, one of those kids we used to ferry to Sunday School, has died. Last night, in his sleep, he suffered a massive coronary (possibly triggered by his sleep apnea?). He had a good day yesterday, she said... laughing and watching a movie with his sister before heading home to bed. I know he would have wanted those left behind to take care of one another.
The news has certainly knocked me back. Some things are just too huge. This doesn't mean to stop taking care of one's health... functional fitness still applies to being able to deal the storms of life. But I have to process it.
So my message today is: hug your loved ones. You never know. Life can be short (he was 35). But even a short life can have meaning and purpose... he leaves behind two little girls and a wife, and he touched many of us with his gentle soul.
Saturday, February 05, 2011
That old saying may not be completely true, in that I don't think "perfection" is a realistic goal in terms of nutrition and exercise. This is the year of "majority rules" for me. However, after having blogged about the surreal feeling of "normal" yesterday, it struck me that I really *do* think of healthy behaviors as being NORMAL for me, and the lapses as being just that... lapses, exceptions, unusual behavior.
How did that happen? Because trust me, there were YEARS, nay, decades of my life when healthy behavior around food and exercise topics was far from normal, usual, or expected of myself!
And I have to conclude that indeed it is practice, one day at a time practicing healthy behavior that turns it into habitual healthy behavior. Whether we're talking about brushing your teeth, bathing, praying or meditating, eating right, exercising, living on a budget, keeping an orderly environment, fitting reading into your day... the more you do a given thing, the more normal it becomes to you. The more you take it on as a part of your identity.
It takes practice to put health first. We may start out with affirmations, wanting it to be true, but in the end, we are stating truth when we say, "I am a healthy person. I respect and take care of my body's true physical needs."
Here's to practice making normal!
Friday, February 04, 2011
So, after the storm, you get back to "normal", right? You dig out, you go back to work, you try to figure out where you left off and start in again on whatever project you suspended before the storm hit.
It feels a little surreal, this "normal" because while you might not have been the ONLY one who took a side-trip to stay home, not everybody took that side-trip. Some have kept on toiling away at their projects. Perhaps you feel a little lost or disoriented as you read the e-mails and play catch-up?
So what has THAT got to do with healthy habits, nutrition, exercise, etc... with Spark People's major thrust? Well, you all know me... everything is connected!
I'm going to use this as a binge-recovery analogy, and exercise lapse analogy, an injury recovery analogy! OK, some of you already had your heads there to begin with and maybe for you, the physical lapse/recovery thing is more natural... but it's the same kind of process.
Getting back in "gently", giving yourself time to adjust, maybe going back and reviewing the basics about the project as you've been missing for a few days. The equivalent here on Spark would be giving yourself time to catch up with your teams... not feeling you have to do EVERYTHING the first day back. Making your list and the all-important step of prioritizing: what's the most important small thing you can do to make you feel that "I'm ba-ack!" feeling?
I had a good Wednesday, getting the snow cleared and the ice melt spread. I had a good Thursday at work, although it felt more like a Monday. And look at how short the week is already! It's Friday!
I got back on the treadmill (Ariel) on both Wednesday and Thursday... four miles each. So while I'm not running outside, I'm shifting and modifying as needed, with that half marathon out there less than 3 months away now! "Less than 3"? Oh, my! ( )
Have a great heart-healthy Friday, and for that matter, February! Wearing your red?
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
So, yesterday was my second weather wimp day. Today is the third in a row. Monday I did OK. Yesterday not so much. I attempted to clear off my front steps. Came back in after turning the corner into the north wind, and seeing it still streaming down.
By mid-afternoon, I caved to anxiety. I had received IM's from my son, who was on campus and feverish. He managed to slide home and call to whine at his mom. (I won't even go into the cliche about strong men when they fall victim to the flu, folks, I'm still his mom, OK?)
I fell apart and started "looking for something" to make me feel better before he got to his house. By the time I got his call, I had even made myself home made potato chips. I don't buy the bagged kind any more, but I had potatoes and olive oil and salt. And a sharp knife to slice the potato paper thin with.
They were good, but I tossed the last few slices of the potato, thinking "what am I doing here? This isn't helping!"
Anyway, this morning, I thought I was going to power out of the driveway and go to work because this staying home is for the birds. However, the weather kind of laughed at me. The wind is strong, the wind chill minus 20, and in three sessions of 15 minutes or less each, I have only got about a third of the driveway cleared. Well, cleared down to the sheet of ice that is underneath the snow, that is. So... I called in another vacation day.
BUT... today is different. Today the sun is out, even though the wind is strong and it is cold. Today I can work on the snow. I can spread some ice melt. In short sessions. And come in and thaw in between.
Stay safe and warm, my spark friends. We all have bad days. I just can't let it become the majority of my days.
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