The Finale to my Birthday Speech

Obviously, I am in better shape now than I was at 40 (see previous two posts.) But, what about that weight I was intending to lose?

I may have lost 5 pounds, and I still have 6 weeks to work on a few more. What I realize, now, is I set myself up to do an almost impossible task. Terry Small, Canada’s #1 Learning Expert (says his tagline), writes about having a willpower budget, http://terrysmall.com/bb_49.asp. If we set ourselves a task, say, of writing 100 consecutive days of blog posts, and healing our sciatica, and losing 20 pounds our brains don’t have sufficient capacity for self-regulation. We can increase our ability with practice, and let me tell you, I’ve practised over the years, which might explain why, until a particularly youthful squat-jumping move in my hip hop dance class put me over the edge a couple of weeks ago, I had pretty much eliminated 10 years of chronic sciatic pain AND posted 100 consecutive missives. There wasn’t any left for weight loss.

Check this out:

“The brain’s store of willpower is depleted when people control their thoughts, feelings or impulses, or when they modify their behavior in pursuit of goals. Psychologist Roy Baumeister and others have found that people who successfully accomplish one task requiring self-control are less persistent on a second, seemingly unrelated task.

In one pioneering study, some people were asked to eat radishes while others received freshly baked chocolate chip cookies before trying to solve an impossible puzzle. The radish-eaters abandoned the puzzle in eight minutes on average, working less than half as long as people who got cookies or those who were excused from eating radishes. Similarly, people who were asked to circle every “e” on a page of text then showed less persistence in watching a video of an unchanging table and wall.”

Now that I have accomplished the goal of 100 posts I can return to re-eliminating the sciatic pain, get my website sufficiently organized to invite you all over soon, AND work on some weight loss.

Vancouver Art Gallery decked out for the Olympics - a high school band is playing on the steps

Last week, I had an amazing day off. I got my hair cut at an uber cool salon, window-shopped, and took in the Olympic air in Vancouver. In all, I walked for 8 hours minus a 15 minute cup of soup and numerous quickie shoe tryings-on. At one time, my back would have mutinied long before I’d walked over the Granville Street Bridge a second time; and, it would have mutinied the next day. Nope. All was well … except my feet did ask for a little soak in epsom salts and were appreciative and quiet after they got it.

If my back is well, my ability to burn the calories necessary for weight loss increases.

The other thing I’ve been doing as much for my back as for my waistline is sit-ups. I roll out of bed and do 100 of the things. I have a whole repertoire of sit-ups and I have missed one day in the past 5 weeks. Strengthening my core gives better bounce to the whole day.

This morning, and many other mornings, I spent half an hour visualizing some crazy micro-camera going carefully through my parts that give me pain: occasional migraine in the eye, neck & shoulder (too much laptop among other things), mid-back, lower back, numb thigh right above the knee. Perhaps not too alarming a list for half a century of wear and tear, but more than I’m willing to accept at the moment. In this visualization I had the camera check out all these areas. The information was uncanny. Not especially easy to put into words, but an awareness of how I hold the stress in certain areas, and an indication of inflammation that I hadn’t noticed but is clearly there – now that I’m noticing.

Along with the micro-camera, I send joy and happiness flooding through my body. The initial reluctance to allow such positive feelings surprised and concerned me, but the resistance was fairly easy to overcome.

I’m still feeling pain, tiredness, and tension in various back parts & neck/shoulder, but the impulse is to get up and move, not sit and push through. Ultimately, this impulse will be my ally not only in relieving pain, but in losing weight.

I haven’t given up the goal, but I don’t know that I will lose 15 pounds in 6 weeks. Maybe. I mean, I’m not opposed to the idea – as long as I don’t have to be sick to do it. Given that there is a week of Spring Break in there where I might do some marathon walking… who knows?!

However, if I all my focus and shame had gone toward those 15 pounds I may have lost the very encouraging knowledge that I am, without a doubt, in better shape now than I was at 40!

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Preparing for my 50th Birthday Speech PART 2

Last post, I was talking about how my goal to be in better shape at 50 than I was at 40 is pretty much a done deal – in spite of not having lost the amount of weight necessary to be at the ideal by the beginning of April (when I become half a century old.) The idea is that the way my (your?) mind works is kind of literal. It seems to enjoy being literal and then leaping into a pun. In this case, the better shape spans all aspects of my life.

How about career? At 40 I had been working at my dream job for 5 months. Still am. How is that in better shape? Well, I’ve never worked anywhere longer than 5 years and this is 10 years of amassing pension credits and moving up the pay scale. I make double what I did 10 years ago. I’m also better at what I do. And, I do it in far fewer hours per week. As far as I can tell, my credibility in the school district is at least medium, maybe even medium high. In some offices definitely high. That takes time. Ironically, I have cycled through every classroom in our small school and am back to the one I started in. This time around there are 8 computers in the room instead of none. Although there has been staff turnover and I started out working with an awesome staff, the current staff complement is also awesome.

Just a little photo from a day at work. October I think it was.

Given the general state of better, I also have energy that is not going into my paid employment, financial anxiety, or faltering relationships.

Which, brings me to the next better shape stat: my own marriage. At the age of 40 I was dating someone who really didn’t want to be with me, but didn’t really know how to get out of it – I think. There were subtle clues like the frequent fights, disappointments, arguments, neglects. My 40th birthday passed with an expensive dinner out and tickets to the Montreal Jazz Ballet. Definitely, a quality evening, but quite certainly not the 40th birthday bash I had explicitly wished for….. Out loud. This, from a man who knew how to organize himself into political office, who was often the life of a party, and who shared my social circle! Still, I stayed??!!? And, I didn’t organize my own party??!!?

Finally, we figured out not to be together and my husband and I found each other. I know I can’t write too much about him, or us, without embarrassing him a little, so I will say that in spite of some early “figuring-it-outs”, there is rarely a fight, argument, or disappointment. In the course of a $150,000 renovation, we had ONE five minute fight which stopped as soon as we both realized that it was the stress of another day of living in only two rooms cordoned off with ineffective dust barriers.

The Dancing Fools

He is wonderful and loves me and I love him. He is rarely the life of the party (not that you can tell that from the photo) even though he is definitely a good time, and planning a party would clearly stress him out – so I have planned my birthday bash, which MUST include dancing. With all my friends and a good dose of friendly strangers we are going to The Rogue Folk Club for Contra Dancing to the live band, The Sybarites.

If you’ll be around Vancouver on April 3rd, you’re invited. Check out the details http://www.roguefolk.bc.ca/rfshows.html The party/dance is at St. James Hall which is a beautiful, de-sanctified church with great acoustics & a dance floor. Maybe we’ll see you there? Maybe you’ll tell me you (& your significant other, and your kids, and your grandma) are coming – leave a comment below. It will be a blast.

My Spring Garden

Day 106 – Preparing for my 50th Birthday Speech – Part 1

As I wrestled with the fact that I won’t be at my ideal weight by my birthday (thank you Nanaimo for inventing bars that are irresistible… couldn’t be my fault alone!) I was gorbling* about what this said about my ability to commit, my ethic around being true to my word, etc. How does a chick who can blog for 100 days straight (and usually make sense) deride her ability to commit? I’m a good committer.

And, like a new teacher’s pet in my class so ably illustrated this week (oh, he identified as a teacher’s pet, not me – I think he wanted something) if I actually give my word, I keep it. In this instance the kid couldn’t seem to keep his cellphone out of his hands during class. I offered – in that teacher offering kind of “I think this is how we’re going to play it” kind of way – to keep it in my pocket if he didn’t keep it in his. Zoom! Into his pocket it went. Ten minutes later, pop, it’s out of the pocket taking up his time. I cruise over. Make my offer again. “No, no, I’ll keep it in my pocket for good.”

“I think I’ve heard that before.”

He makes full eye contact, “I didn’t say, for good last time.” And, this time, he is true to his word and it is for good.

So, I ask myself, did I give my word. And, I realize I did. I gave my word that, “At 50, I would be in better shape than I was at 40.” I was thinking I would do more push-ups (not hard, when you start from a base line of 2) and lose weight. What my be-careful-what-you-wish-for-brain heard was that my true self would be in better shape than I was. And, that, my friends is a done deal:

How am I in better shape as I come up to my 50th birthday than I was at 40?

My Vans with the skull butterfly pattern.

Check the shoe closet. When I was 40 I had running shoes, sturdy blue $12 rubber boots for gardening, Birkenstock look-alikes, an 8 year-old pair of patent flats for “good”, hiking boots, and a pair of everyday go to work shoes. Now? Well, I’m still an amateur compared to most women, but suffice it to say my expensive rubber boots have a psychedelic pattern, I have 4 pairs of “good” sandals for summer as well as a slopping around pair. The hiking boots are sidled up beside the 3 pairs of knee high leather boots with various cool lacing patterns, and choices of flats, walking shoes, going to work shoes and flip flops. I figure you can tell a lot about the state of the union with a quick peek into the shoe closet. After-all, our Minister of Finance always dons a new pair of shoes to present a new budget for the country – shoes and economic well-being go hand-in-hand.

Which brings us to the better shape personal economy of me. At 40, I went bankrupt. I was a renter; now, I’m an owner. I leased the cheapest car I could find; today, I drive my dream Volvo. Granted, I still have a 13 inch TV, but now, at least, we pay for basic cable. And, in the land of technology we are not poor. I am sitting (with my back to the sun streaming through the very nice French doors I was able to install between my beautifully renovated kitchen and the gorgeous spring garden) typing on a ridiculously expensive Mac laptop while the man-with-whom-I-shared-breakfast types on his ridiculously expensive Mac laptop.

There is more than my better shape economy to celebrate. At 40, I celebrated the graduation of my son from a prestigious private school. How does it get better in the proud momma department? Well, it gets better by having an independent son with an MBA, an accomplished & loving wife, a beautiful home, and the guts and self-esteem to make tough career decisions that show his commitment to his ongoing growth and development. As much pride as a momma can stuff into that, I have reason to believe that, long after his dependence on his mother is over, he still loves his momma and so does his talented wife. So my better shape? How do you get prouder than 100%?

I think in the intervening 10 years I have learned how to feel it through more of my body – fewer Nanaimo bars and Cheezies stuffing down the feelings, perhaps. And, the biggest plus on the 100%? I, now, have a daughter-in-law to love and be proud of too!

Stay tuned for Part 2 and Ian. Two days from now!

*Gorbling – to gorble (verb) The feeling you get in your stomach that burbles up your spine and into your shoulders, could be confused with the onset of shame before you are able to stuff it right down when it belongs in your subconscious … usually accomplished with the sledge hammer of a Nanaimo bar.