Tag Archives: balance

Making Plays in The Game of Life

I am in catch-up mode.

We get so ensconced in our lives that all need to remember the wise words of social genius/role model Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So, when you’re like me and you’ve been out of the game for about six weeks with something stupid like pneumonia, you sort of realize some things:

1) Many happenings/obligations in life are unnecessary, yet we feel pressured to throw ’em on the calendar too.
2) When trying to get back to your old self, you need to pick your battles, and the one battle you can likely do without includes all the social and networking events that aren’t “real” time with friends you crave seeing, or lowkey happenings.
3) Those easy activities we fall into “autopilot” on really take a lot of discipline to develop routines around, and getting back to that is a real challenge after taking a necessary break from it.

I think part of my antisocial behaviour over the years stems from the fact that much of my years from 25-35 were filled with illness (was bronchitis-prone yearly) or severe injuries, and I just lost my ability to struggle through life and be Little Miss Lively.

From Guardian.co.uk: Gk Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images.

And I was always angry about it, too — my failure in my struggle to balance life during those times.

One day, I read Carl Honore’s In Praise of Slow (its Canadian title).

I learned about the Slow Food movement, and how it was spawning the “Slow” lifestyle. Talk about your lightbulb moments.

So, I learned what I could about these new-to-me ideas.

Slow Food was about getting back to the basics and using real ingredients, very little processed, and ensuring one had the time to enjoy it all. At least half the time, this is what I’m after in my kitchen: Slow.

“Slow Life”, in a nutshell, is about doing everything purposefully, mindfully, and without spreading yourself too thin. It’s about reading a paper and enjoying a quiet breakfast, not working on your laptop, watching Criminal Minds, and scarfing down a protein shake.

“Slow” is in not rushing to an event that’s only about shaking a few hands when you could stay home, re-centre yourself, eat healthily, do some fitness, and enjoy some mental-recharging in preparation for a great and full day tomorrow. Slow Life is even about Tantric sex and sleeping in.

Slow is essentially about making choices, and choosing to pare back on commitments, doing only what life and time dictate as good choices.

Carl Honore’s website defines “Slow” as:

It is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.

There are people who thrive on social interaction, it completes them or feeds their ego or whatever it is it does for them, and maybe they need that component in life to really feel alive.

Many of these people, though, I see tweeting or Facebooking about how frantic they feel and their panic to get to the events on time, et cetera, leaving me to wonder just how much they’re “thriving” on these things after all.

Others, these excessive commitments get in the way of our goals, they cut back on our time to be creative, they erode our sense of self, and they turn us into 5-to-6-hour-a-night sleepers instead of getting the 7 to 8 hours doctors recommend. For some, the overcommitting eats at savings, inspires bad behaviour, or leads to missed opportunities.

Not everyone’s suited for the Slow lifestyle.

But I am.

The older I get, the more I realize I’m a rural dweller living in a citylife.

I want the country house, the seclusion, the quiet at night that’s broken only by sounds in nature. I want to wander country paths and marvel over how light changes on the landscape. I want trees surrounding my home and a body of water a short walk away.

Unfortunately, right now, I can’t have that life. By the age of 45, I will.

For now, though, I can balance my life with being smarter. These days, I’m a “maybe” for all events until the final 24 hours hits. I’m tired of having to bail for reasons others don’t want to hear about and certainly don’t care about.

At this immediate time, I’m not making any social plans at all. My two birthday-weeks with only 3 social happenings in each proved Way Too Much for me. The pneumonia rebound is a hard one for me.

But the pneumonia is a wake-up call. I’ve worked far too hard on my life to be rewarded by being this sick. No more.

The frustrations I feel now, after being taken out of the game of life and trying to catch up, they’re reminding me of why I gravitated to the Slow Life a few years ago, and they’re making me wonder why I ever drifted away from it.

In order to be successful at Slow, it means I need to make a few more changes. Routine becomes more important — cleaning up after cooking, waking up with focus, committing to an active life but also being sure to actively rest, both in mind & body.

Starting this week, it looks like I have a personal trainer willing to take me on in exchange for my writing about my journey to fitness for her blog (and mine). More on that on Wednesday.

It scares the living shit out of me, honestly. A high-intensity personal trainer with a mission to kick my ass?

I’ve been there before. I know what working out with high intensity for 6 to 8 hours a week feels like. I know the price my body pays. I know what “leaving it on the floor” feels like the next morning.

I know what it takes, but I HAVE what it takes.

What I really know, though, is that being social goes right out the window for a month. At least.

That 6 to 8 hours of fitness, for me, requires at least 4 hours of stretching. And hot baths. And icing. Next thing you know, it’s 16 hours or so of my week. Physical hours, hours in which I’m often thinking about exactly how my body feels and what it can do. It also means I need 8 hours of healing rest per night.

That physical demand on me and my time also means I really have to focus on healthy eating, and since I can’t afford to buy the healthy prepared food (which are expensive, of course), I need to do the cooking myself. More time invested.

And, you know what? No problem. I can do that.

I just can’t do “social” during it too. Not much, anyhow. Not at first.

Not if I want to achieve everything I know I can achieve.

Me first, you last — that’s what losing 50 pounds takes.

If you can’t put yourself first in weight loss, you won’t succeed. Period. I know.

“Slow” living means making choices and choosing your battles. It means doing one thing and doing it to the best of your ability. So does weight loss.

There aren’t a lot of books that have really changed my attitude on life, but Honore’s In Praise of Slow really did. It’s time it changes my life again, and this is the best time of year to make that change.

Whether we like it or not, there are 10 weeks till Christmas. Manic just got more manic. Socializing will be through the roof.

For me, Christmas means people — it means warm drinks, kindness, small homemade gifts, toasting with wine, laughing in warm lighting, and generally just Being with Real People. It’s not about events with 200 folks, or even 100. It’s about being in places where I can actually talk to each person present.

As the invitations start pouring in, I’ll pick events that are most intimate — preferably home gatherings — with the greatest number of people I’d like to connect with. And maybe only one every week or two.

But that’s how “Slow” goes.

In the end, I’m finding pneumonia has been a gift to me on a few levels. Most importantly, it’s helped me clarify my goals and remember what’s important to me in my world.

Or, at least that’s what I’m choosing to take from the pneumonia experience: Reminders of who I can be.

Now comes the part that’s the hardest of all: Turning those reminders into my new reality.

And, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful I get to try at all.

The Challenge of Transitioning

I’m in zombieland.

Mono-focused. I know what I want. I’m after it. Period.

Brains. Nommy brains.

Mmkay, no.

I want life to be my bitch. That requires me being strong, fit, and healthy.

It requires me undoing bullshit that caused me to gain back 8 pounds — and probably several inches — of the 70 pounds I’d lost.

That shit’s done, yo.*

A small part of me was enjoying the summer before I destroyed my back, 2008. I was becoming a jock:  strong, powerful, and often making my “fit” friends feel like chumps because Fat Girl could work circles around ’em.

They loved it, I loved it. Good times and great laughs. What a change from them always having to slow up and check on me.

There’s nothing more important in my life to me right now than taking that back.

I fucking love the pride I feel when I know what I’m really getting done.

Nothing says empowered like being able to change a day that’s had me bent over and taking it by having a set of fitness goals and blowing that out of the water. Whatever else life did that day, it couldn’t stop me from killing that workout.

There’s something that comes from that place of knowing you scaled a mountain, rode 30 km, or did a crazy set of highrise stairs.

I love that place. I’ve owned that place.

Since May 11th, I have worked out on more days than I haven’t, usually five days a week. And, on most days, I’ve tried to really leave it all on the floor. I’m getting better at that, and intend to keep pushing boundaries.

Today, my whole body cries for release. This is the consequence of those actions.

All of me is so tight and sore. From my ankles to my jaw, I hurt.

There’s only one thing I know I can do to help it: Work out more, but differently. Like my chiro doc tells me, “Motion is lotion.”

Move it, or lose it. Two days slack is asking for a world of pain. Days off are harder than days on, when you get used to the workload, but there’s a point in between where everything you do’s an effort, and I’m there. So fucking spent.

It’s with weary resignation I know I can’t rest. I know I don’t want to go cycling later, and most of me would rather crawl in bed and die today, but… I know: I can’t.

My “rest day” will be tomorrow or Saturday. Maybe both, since much walking will be required tomorrow and anything else might overdo it.

I cancelled plans last night. Didn’t have it in me, and saw that coming from morning light. I’m sure feelings were hurt. They’ll understand someday.

I know what’s important to me right now, and it’s not parties and big crowds of people. It’s not about finding my contentment through others, or getting their validation, or needing their company.

It’s about rediscovering that place inside that gave me the power to change my world in such a dramatic fashion once already.

And I know what it takes.

It takes cancelling out on parties.

It takes that inevitable night at the end of the week where you’re just fucking DONE and all you can do is crash at 9:00 at night and sleep for 10 hours, waking with already-weary bones that know they’re in for more, and soon.

It takes vitamins, big healthy meals, water all day, planning food in advance, total time-management, prioritizing yourself before anyone else, and avoiding engagements that are too heavily centred around dining and drinking.

I know what it takes.

It takes a total life change.

And you know what else it takes?

It takes pissing off other people who don’t understand what it really takes, when you just can’t find it in you to go and be happy and fun with other people. You’d rather just die on the sofa with only one thing on your mind: You met the goal this week.

People don’t get how hard it is. You can’t POSSIBLY get it. If you think losing 10 pounds is hard, or 20, try 70.

Just fucking try it. I did it. I know. I did that. And it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I’ve kept 62 off for 18 months!

I know Biggest Loser’s the biggest cheese going on TV sometimes, with the sound editing and the seemingly simplified weight battles edited to fit a TV format, but the emotions those people feel — the breakdowns at the end of the season, of trying to juggle real life with friends and families and weightloss — and how it’s the people around them who always lose out, that’s all real.

Wanting to cry because you’re so fucking tired, but LOVING the joy you feel inside about what you’ve accomplished? That dichotomy is a weird place to live, and the tightrope one walks to sustain each is the toughest balance ever.

To be successful with a “180” health-wise, to take on a radically active life after years of sloth — the focus and drive they take are impossible to explain.

The pain with which your body screams at you after years of giving into gravity and laziness, after decades of shovelling processed food into it, after years of losing lung capacity… that isn’t a one-week adjustment.

And I’ve had a decade of injuries to overcome on top of all that pain.  For me, it means I have to spend hours stretching out the hours of working out, every single week.

That whole-body-fatigue keeps hurting — week after week, month after month — because every pound you lose means you need to work harder to remove the remainder.

It’s why 80% or more of people can’t lose weight and sustain it.

This is the HARDEST mental battle of your life. Win the weightloss headgame and no other game will out-think you in life. I guarantee it.

The resilience you need to get past 50 pounds of weightloss, and to sustain it, is something you can’t learn from a book or buy from a specialist. You create it and nurture it.

I may have gained 8 pounds back out of 70, but I don’t feel like that’s a failure at all. I think 10% gain back after 21 months spent with a life-altering injury, then caught in a year of burn-out, is fucking awesome.

I’m proud as hell of that. GO, ME.

And what a gift for getting back on path, being still so close to the goal I’ve wanted to achieve since I was 17: Being under 200 pounds.

I hope to reach that goal by Canada Day. Scared I won’t. But I’m gonna try real fuckin’ hard.

I won’t feel guilty for focusing on myself right now — be it meaning that I cancel plans, or whatever else it takes.

I’m not likely to cancel on one-on-one time with friends or small groups, but, parties? Yep. The full-body fatigue that comes from this doesn’t tend to always make one a real cheery camper to hang with when it comes to maintaining a “vibe” a host/hostess is trying to create. Can’t do it.

I’m tired. I’m sore.

I’m dreading how much further, harder, and heavier all this shit’s gonna get before I’m at where I want to be.

I’m not some 140-pound chick climbing those highrise stairs or cycling 35km, man, I’m 210-plus. I literally haul every pound of that on this frame — it’s actually there, it’s actually heavy. It’s real fuckin’ heavy.

Gravity finds every ounce of that weight when I’m fighting it, and, believe me, I feel like it after a week like I’ve had.

But I’m elated.

It has begun. I’m at the climax of where it gets real, real hard at the beginning, where every day is filled with hurt and fatigue, but, soon, I’ll hit my pace where it’s just about keeping the wheels spinning ‘cos momentum’s been found.

I’ll be one seriously weary girl for a while. My BEST friends understand it and WELCOME it.

Soon, it’ll just be a new normal, and the determination that emerges from meeting small success after small success is its own feeding frenzy.

And I’ll be Mojo Girl again.

I’ll get that cocky grin that makes people wonder what the fuck I’m on. I’ll get my twinkle in my eye, the smirk that says “Look out.”

Then it all gets very, very fun. Very.

Just you wait.

.

*I think I’ve lost the weight already, or close to it. But I’m waiting until one month in for weigh-day and that’s next Wednesday. It’s really about the feeling. I know the weight will come off gradually — it did before. It’s nice to see the numbers change, though. Rewarding. But not really what it’s about. It’s important to know that before you step on the scale. It’s important to believe it.

RANT: Guilt-Tripping: What Friends Don’t Do

I had a classic big ol’ Twitter fight with an insensitive fuckwit last night, who I haven’t blocked because I’m not in Grade 5 anymore, but it basically came down to me saying, “No, I’m not coming out because I need some time to myself.”

Long story short: I’ve been up at 5 the last four days, have worked in four days what I usually work in 5, still have to work today, am trying to get back onto a fitness regime & healthy diet, and have slept far too little all week. Add to that that today I should get my period and was therefore a grumpy cunt last night, plus I worked 10 hours during the day on a very mentally-draining couple of projects, then, yes… I thought staying home was a good plan.

Asshat, however, thought he should keep pressuring me on Twitter to come out. I kept saying no, then got more forceful about it. Asshat finally got the point. I said “Toldja,” and asshat got offended that I was such a smug bitch about it.

Oh. So, you, in your insensitive and fuckish way, get to bang a drum that’s totally self-serving, because your cock somehow seems to think it’s necessary I attend a party, but when I bang any kind of a drum, I’m suddenly a cunt. Uh-huh. Ass. Continue reading

The Desire to be Spent

It’s before 7 on a Saturday morning. The naive plan was, I’d get up and go swimming. I’m up. My body tells me I’m a fucking fool. Sleep, it says.

So, I’m going to. I’ll go back to bed in a few. And I’m all right with that.

The reality is, though, that I’m starting to realize between last night and today, just how much this not-working-out thing is killing and deadening my soul.

It’s worse than not getting laid. Far, far worse. Continue reading