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Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

28 March 2009

You know how they say an addict won’t give up their addiction until they are good and ready? The same is true of getting your body and your mind into shape.

I’ve tried many times to take control of my eating habits (using smaller plates, giving myself ultimatums [ultimata?] about no more second servings or dessert, doing more physical activity, and so on), and never have I lasted more than three days. I’ve just finished my eighth week of 4-5x per week workouts. Lasting eight weeks? Never before. Never!

I’ve cut out sugar in my daily habits: breakfast is oatmeal sweetened with a handful of raisins, I drink a pot of plain green tea before I can drink anything else, as a treat I’ll have a cup of decaf coffee or a cup of black tea sweetened with a little bit of Splenda or Stevia, I snack on fruit during the day.

Every two weeks, the software I’m using for workouts has you do a physical challenge. You measure your bicep, waist, hips, thigh; do a series of crunches and squats and pushups; and then you compare your progress. The weight, she’s coming off slowly — I’m down 7 pounds, which is almost a pound a week (but we had Spring Break in there, and although I have cut out sugar in my daily habits, I still will have pancakes, or dessert, from time to time). But everything feels firmer (I’ve lost inches around my waist and hips, almost an inch each from bicep and thigh), and I actually have muscle definition in my arms! My body feels different, in a fabulous way.

I named my photo diary this year “Embracing Reality”, and I did it because I felt that my 41st year was a good time for me to take a good hard look at me, and start to like myself better. I’m more conscious of my emotional volatility. I’m trying to drop the negative stewing I do about other people. I’m trying to be a better friend and sister. Most importantly, perhaps, I’m working hard at not saying such mean things to myself.

What made this time different from times before? I think it’s been the stories of four women I know (either in real life or through the Internet) who have, over the course of the past two years, taken the step of working on themselves. They did it first. I haven’t spoken to any of them about it, but I have noticed, and their experiences were the seed that has grown into a confidence in myself that internal and external change was possible.

Z started bicycling. Throughout the winter, in the summer, instead of taking the car, she’d use her bike. To meetings, to shopping, to visiting folks in town. That has caught my attention. We had no car the first four years we were married. Our bicycles were our main means of transportation — for food shopping, to get to work, and just for getting around. Of course, this was in California, land of good weather, bicycle lanes, and flat(ish) landscape. But thank you, Z, for reminding me how easy it should be to forgo cars for our daily transportation needs.

Katharine decided to make a change, and invited us all along on her journey. She’s been honest about what she needs to do, and although she hasn’t posted anything lately about the process of editing her body (thanks to the current soured economy which has kept her more than busy keeping her family afloat), her forthrightness nudged me in the right direction. Thank you, Katharine, for reminding me that changes won’t happen unless we actually go out and make them happen. (And thank you, too, for the professional mentoring you’ve always graciously supplied to this fellow freelancer.)

My sister, who you all may know from the comments as Split Sister, made some goals for herself a few years ago, and took herself seriously. She prepared for and ran in a marathon, and was training for a second when our family’s susceptibility to plantar fascitiis derailed her plans. This woman works long hours and is responsible for serious project work; she’s got two kids who need her attention, too. She’s been getting up earlier than I ever could to get her training in, and even dedicates some of her precious weekend free time to keeping in shape. Thank you Split Sister, for teaching a slacker like me what drive is, and showing me that it must come from within.

My friend E looks gorgeous, and I hope she knows it! She says she’s lost 40 pounds in the past two years, but I don’t believe she had that much extra weight on her to begin with. Despite being busy with four kids, currently ranging in age from 8 to 18, homeschooling, running her own business, networking, as well as being involved in her community and finding time to be creative for herself, she also used bicycling to make reasonable changes to herself, without the distastefulness of deprivation. Since her oldest is three years older than my oldest, she’s become my beacon of what to expect next (how does one handle teens? how exciting can my forties be?), and that has made all these transitions less stressful for me. Thank you, E, for showing me the possibilities.

For the past ten years, I have hated my body and parts of my personality, as well. Now I’m at a place where I can see the beauty in me. It’s not the physical changes, because they are still really small and I doubt anyone else sees them (you can feel firmer thighs way before you are ready for the next smaller size of jeans, I’ve realized), but I am looking at myself with more honest eyes. And I wouldn’t have gotten here without the example of all the cool people I know, those I’ve mentioned here and all the rest of you who chime in on this blog and my other online ventures.

Thank you.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. 28 March 2009 12:09 pm

    Wow, what a great post! Kudos to you for taking hold of your life and steering it in the direction you want. Very inspiring!

  2. 28 March 2009 12:43 pm

    Kudos, indeed. And respect. And other positively re-inforcing words.
    Yay, you!

  3. Split Sister permalink
    28 March 2009 1:03 pm

    Thanks for the shout out – though you now know all the credit goes to you for actually doing it all! 7 lbs is HUGE! (Have you looked at 28 sticks of butter en masse? Pretty impressive). But more than the physical tranformation, it’s great that you’re focusing on not just loving, but LIKING yourself and your body. Reading this post has inspired me th get up off the couch and head to the gym today!


  4. KathyR permalink
    28 March 2009 8:52 pm

    Wow. Congratulations!

    I think I live on sugar. I can’t even imagine giving it up.

  5. 29 March 2009 8:53 am

    Well done. I’m very impressed. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    I used to run. Then I stopped. I miss it, but can’t seem to get myself back into the habit.

    I used to smoke. I tried to give up a hundred million times, but one day I just quit, and i didn’t want to smoke any more. i’ve never smoked since (apart from one random night when i got VERY drunk and smoked all night – but that was 4 years ago and has never been repeated).

    i’m hoping that the corrollary happens and one day i just start running again. maybe now the weather’s better…..

  6. 29 March 2009 9:31 am


    Cutting out sugar as a constant habit is great! I’ve done that in the past, but then backslid…I’d like to get back to that.

  7. 30 March 2009 9:26 am

    Aw, thanks. I’ve lost weight too – very slowly as I know it takes serious dieting for me to lose as much as a pound a week and was content with two pounds a month, later going down to one. All the same, I went down two sizes in a year. Good for you – my 40s were when I put the weight on.

  8. cowgirl permalink
    30 March 2009 9:53 am

    wow- a very inspiring post- and for all the right reasons!!!

  9. isabelita permalink
    30 March 2009 12:41 pm

    Nicely done! When I look back over these long dark cold days, I find I’ve been getting some form of physical exercise on almost every single one of them. Gotta keep the endorphines pumping…
    May your success continue.

  10. 31 March 2009 7:29 am

    Well, good for you! The best motivator, I think, is the one you’ve already got — continuing success.

    Well done.

  11. 1 April 2009 7:51 am

    Congratulations, indeed!
    I started the year with yoga and have fizzled out. But after seeing how lean and toned my youngest daughter is from her daily yoga, I am inspired again.
    Your post has reminded me of the benefits of staying the course.

  12. 2 April 2009 12:25 am

    It’s the green tea that does it:

  13. Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
    2 April 2009 8:02 am

    Once again, I’ve left responding to too late. But thanks, everyone, for your nice comments. Split Sister: I hadn’t thought of it as sticks of butter — that is a great visual! KathyR: Well, I can’t say that I love the oatmeal with raisins; brown sugar is a LOT more pleasant. But at least it is edible! Mizmell: Yes, just start up again — it will feel so good! KathyF: Wowza! That’s amazing info. So glad I started to combine the tea with the exercise.

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