Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Bag Lady tries a few new things

A few years ago I identified the primary values which, if I prioritized and then practiced them, resulted in my feeling pretty good about my life: in order, they are spirituality, health, community, curiosity, and purpose.

When I am feeling out of sorts or out of balance I try to look at these values and see where my life is not aligned with them. I never have a problem with community, curiosity or purpose; I seem naturally inclined to incorporate these into my life. I almost always find that spirituality and health are where I am falling off.  I've tried in the past to move them lower in my priority list, but then I pay even less attention to them. They really need to be at the top of the list.

I have a 12-step program which I practice most of the time, and that provides a guide for my spiritual well being. I also have a Unitarian Universalist community which identifies itself as "standing on the side of Love." For this first priority of mine, the most important thing is that I show up. And I usually do.

Health is the second priority. At my last checkup, my doctor confirmed that all of my health concerns - sleep apnea, hypertension, and asthma - are at least partly the result of my extra weight. "If you were to lose even 30 pounds, most of these health issues would be diminished." And I recently learned from my dentist's office that I have extra soft tissue in my throat that makes my airway narrower. The only way to fix that is to lose weight.

So weight loss is not just cosmetic or wanting to wear the clothes on the right-hand side of my closet that will fit "in about eight pounds". It's about relieving my sleep apnea, lowering my blood pressure, minimizing my asthma, and breathing easily.

I recently watched a mindfulness video by Dr. Kelly McGonigal about habits that form "default states" and how to consciously create new ones. You know the saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear"? Well, this student is ready. I won't go into the details of Dr. McGonigal's talk here. Suffice it to say that I have initiated a strategy to align my values with what I actually do. It's about pairing up things I enjoy with things I don't.

Here's the deal: I want to eat fruits and vegetables, but also cheese and Healthy Choice fudge bars and Costco unsalted mixed nuts.  I want to play Candy Crush on my laptop and my phone. I want to maintain an active presence on Facebook. I want to watch Netflix with my husband at night.

So this is my plan, derived from Dr. McGonigal's video:
  • I want to eat Healthy Choice fudge bars in the evening - one or a few. But I will only do that if I have gotten enough exercise during the day. I use my Fitbit and the Weight Watchers point system to determine whether and how many. No exercise, no fudge bars. This part of my plan has gotten me out of the house for my two-mile walk for the last two days, and it was easier today than it was yesterday.
  • I want to learn Spanish in the next two years, so that when I volunteer at the asylum clinic in Tucson I can communicate with our clients without an interpreter. I am using Duolingo and Rosetta Stone as tools to do that. But on my computer I would rather play Candy Crush. So I will not play Candy Crush in a day until I have done three exercises in both Duolingo and Rosetta Stone. No Spanish practice, no Candy Crush. That has worked for the last two days, and it was easier today than yesterday.
I recently had a laser procedure done to tighten the soft tissue in the back of my throat. It's to prevent snoring. The doctor who did the procedure gave me exercises for twice a day, several days each week, to strengthen the muscles in my tongue, jaw, neck and throat. If I don't do the exercises, I'll need a repeat of the procedure in two years. If I do the exercises, I probably won't. But I don't like doing the exercises. They take about 15 minutes and they're an annoying interruption in my day. 

Guess what I found out today on my two-mile walk? If I do the exercises while I'm walking, it's easier for me to breathe on the hills! Who knew?

Back to my plan:
  • I like to check Facebook in the morning. But I won't do that unless I've done the morning exercises prescribed for the day.
  • I like to watch Netflix with my husband in the evening. But I won't do that unless I've done the evening exercises prescribed.
I believe I can do this, one day at a time. 

I'm just trying a few new things.


DUTA said...

Very good post!
Indeed, spirituality and health should be at the top of our agenda. Spirituality for me is a personal thing , not a community thing.
In fact, I dislike 'organized' spirituality, or religion of any kind.
What kills health is stress and overweight. We cannot always control stress, but we can definitely control overweight.

Things are mostly individual. I can lose weight mainly by focusing on nutrition. Walking and exercising do liitle for me in this respect. Maybe it prevents gaining weight, which is also good, but it doesn't help me much lose weight.

Anyway, Good Luck with your projects!

Linda Reeder said...

I'm sure that writing this all out and making it public will help you with your commitment. Your health is a worthy goal.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Those are some good ideas. I need to do something similar!

Sandi said...

All your goals are doable. Just keep that in mind. It helps me! :)

"I am using Duolingo and Rosetta Stone as tools to do that."

I love both of these, but I hope one day we invent the Universal Translator from Star Trek!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

You seem to have a very good and thought out plan. I have no doubt that you will do well.

Arkansas Patti said...

Who knew you had a any flaws. You have always made me feel like a slacker with all you do and accomplish. You do set the bar high. With your determination and drive, I am sure you can accomplish your goals. You go girl.

Tom said...

Good luck with your new program. I lost between 10 - 15 pounds a few years ago, and what kept me going was pain. I have trouble with my ankles and knees, and carrying around less weight takes the burden off them. So every time I feel a twinge, it's a reminder to skip dessert. And besides (I've found out) there's nothing wrong with actually feeling the sensation of hunger every once in a while. Again, best of luck on your new mission.

Meryl Baer said...

Best of luck with your plan and goals. I have complete faith in you - whatever you put your mind to, you accomplish...I too am on a path to lose a few pounds because of health concerns. It is a difficult and never-ending process, not just to lose the weight keep it off.

DJan said...

It sounds like you've got a good plan for becoming more healthy. I hope you will keep relating your progress with this plan in your future post. I wish you well. I know what a difference a few pounds makes on my knees. :-)

Olga said...

Being healthy is work, but so worth it. I am cheering you on!

Madeline Kasian said...

Very practical and inspiring post.I also need to lose weight. And to get clear on my values. And to align my ACTIONS with them.As always,can count on your posts to be provocative!!

#1Nana said...

You are an inspiration...I admire your ability to self-regulate. I, on the other hand, am still in my pajamas at 9:30. Self indulgence is my curse!

Deb said...

You've made some clear goals and managed to work out a system of rewards when you have maintained your discipline. What a great idea, because with a long-term goal it's so easy to say, Well, just this once I'll ....."

You're a real inspiration!

Sally Wessely said...

Good for you for coming up with such a logical plan. I have no doubt that you will be successful with it. Jann and I must be soul sisters for sure. Self indulgence is my curse also.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I think a plan like that might be next on my list of changes as I seem to spend way too much tkime not moving about. I love this post.

Anonymous said...

It's been a few weeks since you wrote this post. I'm a new subscriber and just wanted to confirm what your doctor has told you about losing weight. My husband (70 yrs) has been through a very harsh season of illness dealing with asthma and his heart. In the past 12 mos, he has been hospitalized six times...some as short as 5 days. At one point, he was hospitalized for three weeks followed by another three weeks in Assisted Living care. Through all of this body trauma, he unintentionally lost thirty pounds. Today, he is on track to regaining his health. He has new implanted cardiac technology. His respiratory issues are gone. At the height of this past year, he was on nineteen different meds dealing with respiratory, cardiac and, digestion problems. He is now down to eight. In my eyes, he is a walking miracle. His team of doctors who have cared for him for nearly twenty years have always recommended he lose weight. He finally did.
Charlene H