Posted in ebb & flow, meandering, motivation, thoughtfulness

Musings from an evening run

It’s been in the high 90s in the evenings just around sundown, which is lovely weather for a run. (This is what they’re talking about when they say “it’s a dry heat.” This is much more pleasant than the day we were in New York when it was 20 degrees cooler but muggy.)

So I’ve been taking advantage of the nice weather (higher temps and higher humidity are imminent) and taking a run around the neighborhood in the evenings.

The other night, a few things happened that got me to thinking about things.

First, some charming individual in a pickup truck yelled out his window at me. It’s been a long time since I’ve been harassed by a dude while I was running, and I haven’t missed it.

Several times, there were pedestrians oncoming on the sidewalk. Unless I’m on a busy street or a very wide sidewalk, I always move into the street and go around whoever is sharing the sidewalk.

It got me to wondering how many (if any) of the people I’ve moved out of the way for have assigned ulterior motives to the move.

That said, I am less comfortable coming into contact with men while running than women, regardless of race, and that increases substantially when there’s more than one.

I was raised in the thick of the Stranger Danger era and was taught to be fearful walking three blocks home from high school in the dark after rehearsal in my quiet suburban neighborhood, so I sometimes have trouble teasing out whether my discomfort with people simply stems from that or is rational.

But.

On the same run as the pickup truck guy, one of the people I ran off the sidewalk for was a black guy.

I didn’t move because he was black. Or because it was a guy. The sidewalk is narrow; I move for everyone.

I wonder, though, if he assumed it was racially motivated. (Not an unfair assumption, given the current sociopolitical climate.)

Which gets me to wondering how often we make assumptions about others’ motives that are just plain wrong?

But then my brain keeps going to situations where people are unintentionally hurtful and blow it off as unintentional. If you cause hurt, it’s your responsibility to tend to it, regardless your intention.

(They say that running clears the mind, and sometimes it does … but more often, this is what my brain is like on a run.)

I guess my point is: give benefit of the doubt on people’s intentions (when their intention is not explicitly stated–sometimes there’s not much room for interpretation). And don’t shrug off causing hurt as unintentional. And don’t yell at or catcall women on the streets.

Posted in ebb & flow, motivation, parenting

The relentless forward movement of life

Overwhelm is everywhere. At least among people I know, more people than not have more to do than time or energy to do it.

The solution largely seems to be: pare down. (I sometimes follow my own advice in this realm.)

If you have less stuff, there’s less to put away, to maintain, to clean. The lack of clutter is mentally and emotionally freeing. (This is something I have been working on for years. Still not where I’d like to be, but not nearly as pack rat as I used to be.)

Our outgoing books go to the used book store for hopefully a bit of store credit. Clothes go in a pile of “outgoing” and then get donated to The Kid’s preschool’s clothing donation drop. The Kid’s old clothes get handed down.

We have a Goodwill box for anything else. When the box is full, it sits in the car for a few days (are there people who just take it right away?), then gets dropped off at Goodwill.

If you buy less stuff, besides the above benefits, you save money. Because even if you get all your crap at the dollar store, you’re still spending dollars. They might not add up to make you a millionaire, but they easily could add up to something more rewarding than impulse buys, especially if you’re accumulating things that don’t hold up well or don’t keep your interest for long.

(Shop with a list. When you go grocery shopping or to Target or to wherever your impulse purchase weakness is, take a list and stick to it! And if you’re going in to pick up two or three things, don’t get a cart. Or a basket.)

Do less stuff. Clear as much of the calendar as you can, and be mindful about adding things back in. Make things do double duty if you can. For example, when The Kid was doing track, he had practice for 90 minutes three times a week, plus meets. I used his practice time to get exercise in for that day, and sometimes brought something else to do when I was done instead of wasting an hour and a half on games and social media. Even if the “something else” was just a book to read, not having (or making) time to read has been a point of contention between me and life, so using that time to read made life better.

Farm out household tasks. I know too many women with husbands and bigger or big kids who are still doing most of the work themselves. There are some things that we do because we live in a house, and that applies to all members of the house (except the youngest of the young; even kids who are two or three can put away their own toys).

How to get there if you’re not there? One suggestion: make a list of all of the housework, then sit down all together and decide who is going to do what and how often. It doesn’t need to be rigid, but it does need to be followed. What’s the payoff for them? A happier you. A more engaged you. A more energetic you. A less nagging you. They’ll need some reminders at first (as would you, if it was the other way around). While you’re working on the schedule, ask what words you can use to remind them to do stuff without it feeling like a nag. If there aren’t any, then they just need to remember to do it. Calendars, chore charts, white boards or chalk boards, sticky notes—whatever works for you.

Make meal plans. Do this one as time goes on, and it slowly accumulates without a huge time commitment. Just keep a list of meals you have and what ingredients you need to make them. Spreadsheet, index cards, whatever. As it comes time to plan meals for the coming week (which is much more efficient than trying to decide after work what to make), you have a bank of meals to choose from and a list of what you need to make them. Make your shopping list from the meals you’ve chosen from the meal bank.

I’ve seen many posts with crockpot freezer meals, sometimes taking a few hours on a weekend to prep a week or more’s worth of meals. (They’re always for people with omnivorous diets, so I haven’t tried them.) Take a meal out of the freezer in the evening (make it part of the dinner clean up routine), put it in the crockpot in the morning, and dinner is ready (or the main portion of it is) when you get home.

I’m a little off topic of paring down, but really, given our lack of community any more, it’s all about simplifying.

If you have neighbors or nearby friends who would share dinner responsibilities (which would require similar enough diets and schedules), you could cook for both families once a week, they could cook for both families once a week. You both just got one night a week that you have home-cooked food without having to cook it, and you’ve worked in some social time. Don’t worry about your house being tidy enough (as long as you have space for everyone to eat).

Pare down. Simplify. It’s very much easier said than done, but like nearly everything else, doing it in steps makes it doable.

Once you’ve taken a little more control, you’ll have more energy for some of the things you want to do now and can’t because there’s just too much.

Posted in exercise, food, know better do better, mental health, mindset, motivation, physical health

Go get what you deserve

Get out.

Exercise.

Eat real food.

Cut the processed crap.

Cut the added sweeteners.

Quit smoking.

Get enough sleep.

Cultivate relationships with people offline.

Turn off the TV.

Why?

You deserve it.

Feeling good in your body, being healthy, having energy, are worth it.

We’re told at every turn that it’s not.

“You deserve a treat.” Sure you do! But a “treat” isn’t deep-fried or chocolate-covered.

Can you really think of no way to reward yourself for whatever you feel you need to be rewarded for other than to eat junk food?

(How often do you need to be rewarded?)

Have you lived in a sluggish, tired body for so long that you forget how good it feels to have energy and mental clarity?

Being tired all the time is not the inevitable result of hitting a certain age. Neither is weight gain. Many significant health ailments are avoidable or reversible.

When I was in my mid-20s, people who were in their mid-30s told me I would understand when I was their age. Same thing happened in my mid-30s from people in their mid-40s.

As I pass through their ages, I understand that they were blaming it all on aging so they didn’t have to accept that it was really something they had some control over.

Make healthy choices.

You deserve it!

Posted in food, mindset, motivation, physical health

When is the best deal not the best deal?

Who isn’t on a budget?

The economy’s been bad, budgets are a little (or a lot) tight. Everyone wants to get the best deal possible.

Sometimes, though, getting the most quantity for your dollar isn’t really the best value.

A cheap meal from a fast food restaurant is not a better deal than a slightly pricier one from a restaurant that serves fresh food.

Packaged food from the dollar store sure costs less than the equivalent at the local grocery store (and way less than at the health food store!) but you get what you pay for.

Go to Costco and you can get a great deal on way too many chips.

The problem with these “great deals” is that they’re on food that aren’t ideal to be eating in large quantities. (You could argue they’re foods you don’t want to be eating at all, but I’m looking to the “moderation” mindset.) Getting twice as many fries for only 20 cents more (or whatever) is really just selling out your body for twenty cents.

“I got 400 pieces of fried chicken for $10!” Yeah. But how much does it cost you down the line?

I know—we’re all about instant gratification. But there are very few middle-aged to older people who are sick in some way who say, “Yes, I knew this was coming, I did it to myself, and I’m glad I did.”

Mostly, we attribute it all to getting older. It’s all unavoidable.

False.

Big difference between normal wear and tear and breaking down from years of abuse.

Treating ourselves badly is so common that we often don’t even see it. And really, how many people are mentally or emotionally strong enough to say, “I am responsible for my sickness”? The only people we’re allowed to blame are smokers, right? For everyone else, it’s just dumb luck.

People think I am crazy for giving up added sugars for any period of time. (Sometimes a week, sometimes a month, occasionally though rarely longer.) Sugar is toxic. But it’s common and it’s tasty and we’ve been trained to believe we deserve it and/or we can’t have fun or celebrate without it.

Change your mindset to change your life. Be wary of great deals on junk food.

You can do it. One step at a time. 

Posted in mindset, motivation

It’s not easy; I work hard

I have a large contingent of musicians and music teachers in my social circle. One of them posted this on Facebook:

I have a student who has repeatedly suggested that I’m good at playing instruments simply because it comes easy for me … I finally told her, “I’m good at instruments because I’ve been practicing them since I was in 5th grade … don’t take away all the work I’ve done so you can have an excuse to give up!”

LOVE IT.

Ever since I’ve lost and maintained the loss of a bunch of body fat, people have assumed that it’s just easy for me.

“Well, you can do that, but you don’t understand.”

I do understand. I used to eat ice cream by the pint on a regular basis. I wasn’t “into all that healthy shit.”

Steroids. Chemo. Pregnancy. Depression.

I understand.

Don’t take away all the work I’ve done so you can have an excuse.

Just because I look the way you would like to or have habits you would like to doesn’t mean it’s easy for me and it’s hard for you.

Now, as a tangent to that, there are definitely pieces of living a healthier lifestyle that get easier as time goes on, as they become habits, as the people in your circles accept them as who you are. But starting them isn’t easy for anyone.

You don’t automatically get to jump to maintenance mode. You’re already in maintenance mode, just for a path you don’t want to be on.

Get on another path! You can. Yes. YES. Yes, you can. It’s just a matter of finding what starting place will work for you.

• • • • •

While we’re here talking about “easy,” I want to give a shout out to all of the people who are working hard to stay a healthy weight without getting huge first.

There are a lot of weight loss stories out there, including my own. “I used to weigh a zillion pounds and now I weigh a whole lot less!”

While losing weight and maintaining that long-term is a significant accomplishment, making healthy choices, exercising regularly, doing all the same work that the “losers” in maintenance mode have to do is challenging, even if you don’t have a fat loss story.

Their maintenance isn’t any easier than anyone else’s, but they don’t have the “I did it!” flag to wave. They’re just doing it.

I worked with a slender woman, C, a long time ago. Another colleague, L, offered her a piece of cake or cookies or something once and she declined. L engaged in typical rudeness and insisted that C have some and that she could “afford it.” 

C declined and said she was starting to put on some weight and really didn’t want to do that.

L, who was quite obviously not a healthy weight, poo-pooed her, saying that she had a long way to go before she had to worry about her weight and oh my god you’re so skinny and on and on. She did finally give up.

Good for C for sticking to her guns! And for realizing that you don’t have to gain 20 or 30 or 40 pounds (or more…) before you decide to do something about it.

There is a mindset that if you’re slender, it’s easy for you to be that way. While that is true for some people, it’s not true for many.

The moral of the story? How do you get the reward? You do the work.*

 

*”The work” doesn’t look the same for everyone because bodies and histories are different.