Saturday, June 25, 2011

Doing What We Can

It sounds so simple and obvious. But too often it's not where we focus our attention. We get hung up on other things.

Have you ever spent part of your drive home mentally rehearsing excuses?

I have.

Or gotten angry with yourself (or someone else) for messing up?

Yeah, me too.

It doesn't help, of course, and in some cases it can actually make matters worse. But it's what we do when we aren't in a positive frame of mind.

What if we took a different approach? What if we were to focus instead on doing whatever we can do--large or small--for our health and well being in that moment, and just let the other stuff go?

Instead of, "Why does this keep happening?" or "What's wrong with me?" a far more productive question might be:  

"What can I do for my health and wellness right now?"

There is an infinite number of answers, not all of which will apply in every situation, but here are a few possibilities:
  • I can take some slow, deep, calming breaths.
  • I can relax my grip.
  • I can do a few stretches.
  • I can focus my eyes away from the computer for a moment.
  • I can eat more slowly.
  • I can save the rest for another meal.
  • I can take a walk or a swim. 
  • I can do an exercise video--or even part of one.
  • I can make a healthy grocery list.
  • I can make a list of things I'm grateful for.
  • I can find or create or share some new healthy recipes.
  • I can ask for help.
  • I can delegate a task.
  • I can let someone else be in charge.
  • I can do less.
  • I can find an alternative.
  • I can have a healthy snack.
  • I can sleep.
  • I can brush my teeth or my hair.
  • I can take a shower or a bath.
  • I can listen to relaxing or uplifting music.
  • I can light a candle.
  • I can pray or meditate. 
  • I can read scripture or other inspirational writings.
  • I can research new options (classes, support groups, websites).
  • I can pound play-dough or tear up an empty box.
  • I can bounce or toss a ball.
  • I can balance a book on my head.
  • I can clean out a drawer or closet or handbag.
  • I can journal or blog.
  • I can write a poem or draw or paint or sing.
  • I can make something.
  • I can walk the dog.
  • I can walk away from the argument.
  • I can reconsider.
  • I can be kind.
  • I can smile at a stranger (or a loved one).
  • I can hug someone or ask for a hug.
  • I can offer encouragement.
  • I can help someone in need.
  • I can make a long list of things that I can do.
Any one of these actions can be a step in the direction of greater health and well-being. It's okay to start small (or medium or large). Just start wherever you are. And do what you can.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Having a Little Fun

I walked into my first Weight Watchers meeting six years ago with a less-than-great attitude.

I really didn't want to be there.

Not only did I wish I had no weight to lose, the idea of PAYING to stand in line to be weighed each week and then sit through some sort of pep talk was utterly ridiculous.

I was a busy person. I didn't have time for this nonsense. I had trouble finding time for the things I really wanted to do--some of which were free!

The problem was that I also had trouble finding time to take proper care of myself by eating well, exercising, and meditating, and it was beginning to take a toll on me, including my work and my personal relationships.

So here I sat in a hard, squeaky folding chair, all "weighed-in" with a STICKER (yes, really) in my little booklet, my name tag getting caught in my hair whenever I moved the wrong way, avoiding eye contact with anyone and waiting for the stupid meeting to start.

The leader began with what she called "Bravos," which were brief reports of small successes people had experienced that week: walking a little farther than usual, passing up a dessert, finding a delicious healthy new salad dressing and using it, fitting back into a beloved pair of jeans. Okay, fine.

Next we recognized those who had reached a particular weight loss milestone since last week--usually a multiple of 5 pounds lost. There were several of these, all rewarded with applause and yet more stickers and such. It all felt rather awkward that first day, and I could feel my inner middle-schooler kicking in because I was tempted to roll my eyes, except that... well... I did feel happy for them. In fact, all of a sudden I was kind of almost on the brink of weepiness. 

And then (as S. Harris might say) a miracle occurred...

The meeting topic was actually helpful

I'm not sure why this surprised me, but it did. The miracle, frankly, was that I even noticed that it was helpful, with such a bad attitude. In fact, the meeting was all about attitude, but the leader was smart enough not to use that word and trigger my defenses. Instead, she simply talked about having a little fun with the program and ways to do that, generating even more ideas from those assembled.

Fun.       Making the most of the situation.

Somehow, fun had never even occurred to me as an option.

**ENORMOUS attitude/paradigm shift**  

And thus began my surprisingly cheerful trip to the supermarket afterward to try some new foods and challenge myself to find healthy things to eat which I would actually look forward to.

To get out the door to the dreaded meeting, I had informed myself that I no longer had a choice. I had to go, period. But the truth was that I still had lots of choices, including this very important one of attitude. That one subtle-yet-profound shift on the wings of the enthusiastic brainstorming in the room one evening ushered in a new and far more hopeful season of health in my life.

It's time for me to tap back into that vibe again and have a little fun with it.

How about you? 

What can you do to have a little fun with the process of eating better and moving more? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Here We Go Again

About six years ago, after many years of resisting most popular diet programs on the grounds that I already knew what to do but just hadn't managed to do it yet, I finally decided I needed help and joined Weight Watchers, where I had an excellent experience.  I lost 30 pounds and developed far better eating and exercise habits than I've probably ever had. I met and exceeded my goals and felt fabulous.

You would think after a mountaintop experience like that I'd do everything in my power to hang on to my improved health, but after a couple of years of strict maintenance I gradually began to backslide, and here I am now wanting to drop 20 pounds and overcome a lot of aches, pains, and other physical limitations again.

One of the great lessons of my Weight Watchers experience was to be mindful of the way I think as well as the way I eat and move. This new blog is a way for me to pay more attention to my thinking about health and fitness as I adopt better eating and exercise habits. I invite you to join me on the journey.