Repost: Motivate Yourself to Work Out in 5 Easy Steps

Oh, it makes me giggle to see how far I’ve come. I wrote this one year ago, before I’d ever dreamt of running. Now, well, It seems I’ve become a gym rat. The horror! Enjoy these 5 workout tips, from a former no-worker-outer. ūüôā

Me no work out. And when I do, it must be short. Fifteen minutes max. There’s no point in buying me a gym membership because I won’t go. If I can’t work out in my pyjamas in my living room, well, it ain’t gonna happen because I ain’t doing my beached whale moves/crunches where any skinny gym rats can see me.

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Science has proven that wearing something made by Lululemon causes you to burn 25% more calories

Nevertheless, I’ve worked out for two months straight now, because I have my motivation strategy all worked out. And now, you can be motivated too! Here are five steps to motivation:

1. Tell Yourself How Good it is For You

You’ll sleep better, you’ll have better
circulation. It’ll clear the mental fog–but most of all, it will keep you limber. And for me, being able to finally sit cross-legged is a big deal.

Not kidding.

That failing, move to:

2. Stand in Front of a Mirror–In Your Underwear

First, flex your muscles and admire the biceps you have developed. Second, squeeze the jelly roll around your middle. Those reverse crunches? Oh yeah, it’ll be gone.

But if that doesn’t work.

3. Kick Your Own Butt

I say to myself “Who’s the boss? Who’s the boss?”

**meekly** “I am.”

“Then get out there!”

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I’ve got my game face on.

But if you’re still on the couch, try:

4. Promise Yourself Something

If I work out four times this week I’ll:

Eat chips.

Fail.

Buy the next book in The Mortal Instruments series. Ding Ding Ding!

But, if you cannot possibly bring yourself to do a squat, lunge or a step on the treadmill, there is one last maneuver you can try.

5. Watch Extreme Makeover: Weightloss Edition

If this doesn’t scare you into your workout gear, at very least it will inspire you. They always look so beautiful at the end, and they have so much confidence!

That’s all we want, right?

Friends, I’m a royal wimp when it comes to working out, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that doing what you said you would does wonders for the mind, body and soul.

So put on the sweats. Tie back the hair. Off the couch in three, two, one… go!

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The Four Rules of Reality

Inspiring thoughts on how accepting reality can combat stress and suffering in our lives. The following is condensed from Should I Fire My Doctor, by Patricia J. Sulak, MD.

dropsStress is inevitable. Suffering is optional. In my pursuit of wellness, I have come across this concept multiple times. I agree. We need to Stifle Stress, and we can then Sever Suffering. How do we decrease the stress in our lives? It does not matter if I am reading the words of Greek philosophers, the Buddha, Confucious, C.S. Lewis, or the New Testament–the answer is the same. We suffer when we argue with reality (or many call it arguing with God).

Rules of Reality cause us to suffer if we deal ineffectively with them. I have narrowed them down to four.

Reality Rule #1: Life is unpredictable. Even though we all know this, it doesn’t seem to keep us from stressing out over the unexpected… It may be the traffic jam on the way to an appointment, the unwanted mammogram results, the layoffs at work, or the phone call with bad news about a friend.

Solution to Reality Rule #1: Expect the Unexpected. Rather than each morning waking up hoping that everything will go the way you want, expect the unexpected. Ask yourself, “I wonder what is going to happen today something not on my radar, that I will need to deal with…?” …we can train ourselves to deal with events in a thoughtful fashion with improved outcomes.

Reality Rule #2: Life is Transient. Most of use believe, or say we believe, that there is a better place after death, usually referred to as heaven. Although often described as the ultimate five-star luxury residence–with no demands, dealines, or discomforts–none of use seem in a hurry to reach that destination… Although we know that death is inevitable and happens unexpectedly every day to many, we hope it won’t be a family member, a friend, or us. But, one day it will…

One patient who came for her annual visit announced that her husband had died unexpectedly three months ago. They had been married over 35 years. I asked her how she was doing. She smiled and told me she was not going to live in misery but was going to cherish and honor the time they had together. This was the total opposite of some of the patients, who over ten years after the death of their spouses, “still can’t get over his being gone.”

Solution to Reality Rule #2: Life is Precious. Cherish each moment.

Reality Rule #3: I’m not in control of most of life’s events. While we can decrease adverse and demanding circumstances and manage many aspects of our lives, we are not in control of most daily events. I cannot control the weather or traffic. I cannot control what people say about me. I cannot control what people do to me. I cannot control many things that happen in my life.

Solution to Reality Rule #3: I can choose how I react to life’s events. …No one has stated this better than Victor Frankl, a survivor of Hitler’s concentration camps. He said, “The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”

Reality Rule #4: I am not perfect. This may be the last, but certainly not the least Reality Rule. When I say and do things that hurt others, it’s usually because I was thinking of myself and not being mindful. I was not focusing on where someone was coming from and why she said or did what she did. Or, I was trying to be helpful, but could have chosen different words or actions. I do things that personally don’t serve me well.

Solution to Reality Rule #4: There is room for improvement! I love the saying, “There are no mistakes, only lessons…” For everything I have done that did not serve others and me well, I can learn from the experience and help others and myself…

What about the times I have hurt people? I can use those experiences to improve my own behavior and be more understanding when people do things that hurt others. In fact, now when my husband and I catch ourselves saying something negative about someone, we try to remember to add the phrase “…just like me.”

(end quote)

I thought I’d share these thoughts with you, not because I’ve mastered them but because they’ve challenged me–particularly solution #4. I’d like to remember to add “…just like me” when I’m tempted to judge.

Who Will I Become on the Way to This Half Marathon?

I’ll run my first half marathon in June. It’s the Manitoba Marathon, a run my Grandpa did many times (both full and half). I have patchy memories of going to see him cross the finish line, so in my head I can already picture what that looks like.

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For me, the idea struck when a relative announced that she was going to run/walk the Manitoba half. In fact, she was already training. My ire was piqued. What? She was going to run a half marathon before I was? She wasn’t even a runner! Cue googling ‘Half marathon training plans for beginners’, ogling the course map, and visualizing running into that stadium, where I’d seen my Grandpa cross the finish line many years ago. I felt a cascade of excitement.

I could do that–I could!

Allow me to confess that over the winter I’ve slacked off. I’ve run twice a week most weeks, since late November, in increasingly shorter lengths and slower times. My confidence was down, due to some really bad runs. I was ready to push my limits again, to chase again. I wanted to find out who I’d need to become in order to run the half.

So I downloaded a plan, and got started. And here’s what I know so far.

I Must Redeem All the Time I Can

I’ve pared my plan down to four workouts per week, since at the moment I just can’t do five. Still, that’s a heck of a lot more time than two runs per week. I came into training knowing:

  • 1. My writing must not slack off. I’m about to publish again.
  • 2. I can’t neglect my family and church community.
  • 3. I can’t neglect my spiritual life. God must be in even my running.

So how do I do that? Well, I’m not sure yet. Last week involved training myself not to hit snooze, since that gives me 18 minutes more for morning prayers and scripture. This will become a habit… eventually. I have to plan meals (and cook meals) well in advance. I have to make a to-do list and squeak those chores into five and ten minutes chunks of time. I have to write blog posts in the waiting room at the doctor’s office (like this one!).

Efficiency will become my middle name.

Likewise, I need to maximize my rest and relaxation time. Resting is growing, waiting is training.

I Must Endure the Pain

“I’ve signed up for four months of chronic pain,” I whined to my Mom.

And I don’t know the half of it yet, I’ll wager. The last three weeks have been one long pain fest as my winter-softened muscles adapt to extra miles and a new strength training routine. I curse my third-floor, no elevator apartment. My family and coworkers are tired of hearing me complain about my sore muscles. After all, I did it to myself.

But it’s a good kind of sore.

And Why?

Because I want to know what it feels like to be that strong–physically and mentally. Yeah, I’m stressed and my legs, back, shoulders, and arms hurt. But the optimism and drive of having a huge goal is addictive.

Who will I become?

5 Things I’m Thankful For (In the Midst of Winter’s Gloom)

This blog has been discontinued due to amoeba brain.

Hello Friends, yes it’s been that kind of winter. ūüôā For the few weeks (forever, it seems) I’ve been in survival mode, my brain descending into ever deepening layers of slush, reduced to basic functions such as watching TV and scrounging for salty, fatty snacks.

Even running has lost it’s appeal. I continue due to doctor’s orders. ‘You must not let up on the running. It will be the best therapy’ he said. What if I’m reduced to ugly crying because my easy 5K has become an insurmountable task?

It’s time for a pattern interrupt, a jolt of positivity. So, here are five things I’m thankful for.

Work and Fantastic Coworkers

The doctor asked, “Have you been missing work?”

“No, I find it easiest to concentrate there.”

Strange but true. It’s easiest to leave my raincloud behind when I go to work, partially because I have one focused task at a time, and part because of great coworkers who are so crazy they make me feel sane laugh and joke and make me happy. There are crazy conversations about stuffing people into barrels and feeding them spray cheese with one coworker. Another coworker lovingly, and in a motherly sort of way, pinches and slaps me when she passes me in the hall. I told my sister about how at the end of a long shift, I wrapped my arm around this coworker, and she wrapped her arm around me, and we walked off the manufacturing floor together.

“That would never happen at my work,” she said.

A Neverending Supply of Folk Music

Thanks to Spotify, of course.

This song, with it’s sublime string introduction, is one of my favourites right now. I’ve sung, whistled and hummed it almost every day for, I don’t know, weeks? It also serves as a romantic theme in the series I’m currently writing.

Damien Rice: I Don’t Want to Change You

 Winter Running

IMG_0839Despite recent bad, bad runs, I’ve enjoyed running outside this winter. I was a big chicken, and ran on the treadmill for November and December. But soon I got very bored and started staring out at the snow and sunshine, saying, “It’s not THAT cold, is it?”

Cue trips to Walmart to find makeshift winter running gear. The proper stuff is far to expensive, even if it is really pretty… (sigh).

In my grape Kool-aid purple jacket and three layers of pants, out I go to slog where no runner has ever slogged before. I’ll stop when I can’t feel my legs anymore.

Sermon Podcasts and Other Audios

Because sometimes I need help to shut up the voices in my head. An outside voice speaking truth and inspiration can pattern interrupt long enough to reboot my brain and stop the negative thoughts for a while. The church I attend records and podcasts their sermons, so during the week I can listen to them again. LIFE leadership audios are also excellent.

And… Summer!

You know, it always comes back. It always does.

Judgement is Rich Coming From Me

“Why are there so many people here?”

That was early January in the gym, as I pounded away on the treadmill and grew increasingly annoyed by the chatter around me.

Oh yeah, January–resolutions and such.

stretching-498256_1280I confess that as I watched two pretty, thin girls do five or six reps on each machine and then complain how hard it was, I killed myself laughing on the inside. I’m a little chunky, but I’m in a heck of a lot better shape than those barbie dolls. But after I stopped laughing, I felt guilty. Judgement is pretty rich coming from me. I spent the summer daring anyone who passed me to laugh as I panted and wheezed through Couch to 5K. Now I’m thinner and can run farther, but I still probably look like I’m going to die when I jump off the treadmill.

I hope to heck those girls don’t quit. I hope they can push past the pain and actually get in shape. Not to look better–like I said, they were both beautiful girls–but to become strong in body and mind, and to prove to themselves they can keep their promises to themselves.

I still can’t pinpoint what is the difference between a kept New Year’s resolution and one that dies in the womb. Why did I actually lose weight last year, when every other time I failed? Why am I motivated to run, when I always used to say ‘me no work out’? Because I can’t say ‘here is the cure’, I can’t judge the people who start, and then quit after a few weeks. It wasn’t a physical thing, because I don’t think I’m designed to run. Too short, too thick. I’m predisposed to be addicted to sugar, flour, any kind of crap food. I should still be fat.

I worked really hard–I do work hard–but maybe I’m also very, very blessed.

I mentioned that I had a whole list of New Year’s Resolutions. Well, when I made them I forgot that January is historically when I have a bout of seasonal depression. This year was no exception, with added anxiety and chest pain. I feel like I’m pulling out of it faster than last year, but in the meantime I’ve gone into survival mode. Hence almost no blogging, less running. Less of everything, except maybe sleep. Like I said to my sister today after an aborted 10K, you have to learn to listen to your body. I’m no good at that. But¬†Sons of Earth, my next novel,¬†is on schedule, and I have many months yet to get in fighting shape for my half-marathon (the big resolution of the year). I’m not ahead, but I’m still on track.

Each day is a new day. If your resolutions have all been broken, I encourage you to take stock of what’s important, and try again, and again, and again.

Things We Suck Happiness From

Coffee addicts know that tea is no substitute for the ‘real thing.’ After six days without that rich, brown nectar of heaven, I know this for sure. I don’t know how much caffeine tea has in it, but not enough to stave off the headache and muscle ache of withdrawal.

Poor me. ūüėČ I’m sure going to enjoy my big cup of coffee tomorrow.

Last week I talked about how I’d given up TV for the majority of the month as a way to purge clutter from my life. This week, I added coffee to the list of banned things. When you start to equate a good cup of coffee with true happiness, it’s probably time.

It wasn’t long before I regretted it.

When I work day shift, every evening is¬†scheduled for an appointment, or spent frantically cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and trying to get my writing done. As a homebody, I don’t like these weeks. I just want to be at home in front of my laptop… with coffee. I was sick with a cold this week. I also had a lot on my mind–mostly stuff I can’t go into. While normally I can deal with the stressful schedule at work, this week I often developed shortness of breath and chest pain by the end of the day.

Normally I’d go home, sit in my easy chair with a cup of coffee and watch a few mindless YouTube videos. During the day, I sometimes hold out that chair and coffee mug like the proverbial carrot in front of the donkey. “Just a little farther, and then you can have it.” But this week I’d get home tired, sick and weepy and none of my ‘medication’ would be there.

I grew up thinking that people with real problems used alcohol and drugs to numb their pain. It’s become uncomfortably obvious that most people have their ways of self-medication, inane, ‘harmless’ things to make them feel better. It’s not bad to drink coffee, or watch TV, or drink a glass of wine. But many souls like me use these things like patches instead of facing the real issues.

Then, when we take away our crutches, we fall. We’re sad. A girl I know talked about how sad she was when she gave up sugar and sweets for the month. It was her birthday, and she couldn’t have cake, and she was depressed. You can also observe how upset people get when the weather is rainy in the summer, or frigid in the winter. Are we really basing our happiness on externals like that? Yes, that is the primary way humans attempt to bring happiness into their lives.

What is the alternative? I would posit two–with the caveat that I’m just trying to figure this out myself.

Chris Brady said, “To be happy, you’ve got to give happy.” That is to say that when we’re feeling low, we need to take our eyes off ourselves and bring happiness to others.

Second, we need a solid internal constitution, or foundation of principles to fall back on when our externals fail us. What is our anchor?

Personally, I need to learn to seek out Jesus as my friend, constant companion and life giver. There is no switch I can flip to learn that, but in the bleakness of the workweek, there were sweet moments when I paced back and forth in front of my coating pan or crashed in my comfy chair and prayed. Even if what I prayed was¬†pathetic things like “make me happy, pleaaase.” ūüôā

Pain and Gain: A Canoe Story

What can a canoe portage teach us about New Year’s resolutions?

it was a muggy August day. Above us, grey rain clouds had blocked out the sun and left us to the sticky heat and the mosquitos. ¬†We’d spent the weekend with a troop of teens, camped on a tiny island in the middle of Mud Turtle lake. Now my cousin Starr and I, the two female chaperones, pulled our canoe up on the far shore for the return trip. ¬†But first, we had to make the one kilometre portage to the next lake. ¬†Across¬†that¬†lake was where our vehicles–where civilization–was.

We were eight canoes, and the strong young men had enough to carry without the extra burden of our canoe. ¬†I looked at Starr. “I’ll carry it.”

We’d portaged it halfway on the trip into Mud Turtle before one of the guys had taken pity on us. This time I wanted to go the distance. Our guides had coached us how to arrange our backpack as a platform the canoe could rest on. I’d prepared my pack for that purpose. So I shouldered my hiking pack and Starr helped me lift the canoe. They were cheap, fibre glass canoes–heavy to carry and hard to steer. ¬†I staggered a little as my backpack bit into my shoulders. ¬†Behind me, Starr hefted her pack, plus my extra baggage. ¬†We started walking.

I forged ahead like a beetle, the canoe on top of me like a shell.  The point of the canoe shoved through the undergrowth as my feet navigated the narrow, climbing trail. I had already been sweating, now it poured down my back.  One of the guys passed me with his canoe over his head like it weighed nothing.

“Are you okay?” Starr asked behind me. The pots and pans she carried rattled together.

“Yeah,” I gasped.

A third of the way down the trail I stumbled. ¬†Off balance, I dropped the canoe into the short bushes beside the trial. I groaned and rubbed at my shoulders. ¬†My brother came alongside. “Do you want me to take it?”

“No!”

He helped me pick it up, and I began to walk again.

My shoulders were in agony.  The backpack was carrying the full weigh of the canoe, and transferring it through the straps into my tender flesh. I balanced the canoe with upraised arms, but they were turning to mush.

Two-thirds across, I heard my little brother’s voice. ¬†“I can take it the rest of the way.”

But I was almost there, and I knew it. ¬†“No!” I grunted, “If you take in now I’ll have all the pain and none of the reward.”

So I carried that canoe until I finally saw the silver water of Brereton Lake. ¬†The path turned into a steep descent toward the water. Finally, I dropped the canoe. I’d done it.

All Pain, No Gain

My back was stiff and sore for days, and my shoulders were purple with bruises. ¬†But that’s not what I remember. It’s that phrase: “I’ll have all the pain and none of the reward.” ¬†Whatever pain-stricken, divine inspiration it came from, it stuck with me.

“It hurts. I’m tired,” I say in the fifth mile of my 10K. ¬†“No, you’re too close!”¬†If I quit, I get all the pain and none of the reward. Same thing goes with other challenges. Like at my job, I’ve went through a few season mistakes and lost confidence as I strained to learn and pushed myself too far. “Quit” came to mind. But I’d already had so much stress, and learned so much. If I quit, I’d get no reward. Eventually I overcame my challenges, and gained new influence and skill because of it.

Learn What Kind of Pain it is

Pain is a warning sign. It can’t be denied that if you are in pain, be it mental or physical, you are ‘red lining’. You’re nearing full capacity, and it may be time to back off.

Part of learning to run has been learning to discern what is just stiffness that will pass, and what is the early onset of an injury. For instance, I find that in the first couple miles my legs will be vaguely sore and I’m tempted to say, “This sucks. This hurts.” But by now I know that it will pass as the runner’s high takes over.

I’ve made some mistakes, such as running with a lung virus or pushing myself too hard on a pre-work run, and being sick during my shift. I ran with patellofemoral syndrome much longer than necessary, because I didn’t know something was actually wrong and that it could be fixed easily enough. A coach might have prevented much of this.

So I’m not telling you to be reckless. ¬†But if you resolved to get in shape this year, and you’ve been hitting the gym, you are probably in the ‘all pain, no gain’ stage. Well suck it up, buttercup. If you don’t, you’ll have gone through all that pain for nothing. Give it a few weeks, and it will get better. Two weeks isn’t that long in the scope of things. And then you’ll also have increased flexibility, strength, weight-loss and mental sharpness. Do you really want to succeed? There is no magic bullet. You have to put in the time and endure the pain.

Is the pain worth the gain? Then don’t drop the canoe.

Repeat After Me: There is No Perfect Woman

“I have an iron will, and all of my will has always been to conquer some horrible feeling of inadequacy… I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being, and then I get to another stage and think I‚Äôm mediocre and uninteresting… again and again. My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre. And that‚Äôs always pushing me, pushing me. Because even though I‚Äôve become Somebody, I still have to prove I‚Äôm¬†Somebody.¬†My struggle has never ended and it probably never will.” ¬†(Madonna, in a 1991 Vanity Fair interview)

I’ve been told that this is predominantly a girl-problem.

Body Envy/Worship Envy

In every arena of life, I relentlessly compare myself to others.  Not men, other women.  There are the obvious ones, like comparing my muscular build to their hour glass figure, or my hipster/writer costume to their sophisticated duds.  The mall is hell for these sorts of things.

But that isn’t all.

I get angry because so-and-so in my church cell group is better at worshiping than me. ¬†They have their eyes shut and their hands raised, while I just got distracted by the sound of my own pure soprano. ¬†And they’re crying and getting all lovey-dovey with the Father and I’m thinking, “Jesus, I really hate this song. ¬†Can you zap this song and make it disappear?”

And then I look at them and think “You’re faking it. ¬†I just know it!”

So women push themselves toward the crippling burden of perfectionism.  Perfect body, perfect hair, jeans that fit perfectly, perfect hostess, perfect Mom.  Not only do I need to run three times a week to fight back the potato chips, but I need to go out in stylish gear so I look hot while doing it.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that ain’t happening.

That is why most people who suffer from eating disorders are women.  Women are more likely to self-harm and commit suicide.

I am Remotely Controlled

But this attempt to control our lives and make them perfect is actually to give ourselves over to be controlled. ¬†We may desire peace and contentment, but the popular opinion of beauty and fashion will not let us. ¬†‘The Jones’ won’t let us be happy until we keep up to them. ¬†Heck, as I’ve talked about in Still Fat on the Inside, we won’t even be able to enjoy innocent pleasures like food.

We will miss opportunities that could be life-changing, all because we were afraid of looking stupid. ¬†I can think of fun activities that I didn’t participate in because I was afraid of failing. ¬†I’ve never been to the gym, because I’m afraid of looking stupid (that will have to change soon–ugh). ¬†I won’t ask for help, i.e. in finances, because I don’t want to admit areas of weakness.

So while I am trying to control how others think of me, they are actually controlling me.

And why?  Tell me: would we like a perfect person?

The Flawed Hero is the Best Hero

As we stood outside my building after a run, my friend Rosie and I were talking about a book series she’d been reading. ¬†The one book had this character who was a¬†good Christian girl, willing to do whatever God asked. ¬†It was like she could do no wrong. ¬†The second book starred a young gladiator who hated God. ¬†Who did we agree was more fun to read about?

I’d say this was part of our comparison and perfectionism, but I suspect there is something else to it. ¬†Our subconscious minds can spot a fake. ¬†The author can sell us that godly goody-two-shoes as reality but in the back of our minds we know that this is just wishful thinking. ¬†There are some really awesome people out there who love God and want to follow him. ¬†But we know ourselves, and we know how hard we have to fight just to do one or two good things every day. ¬†We know that we treat God like we treated our parents. ¬†We do what he asks, while stomping around and kicking the dog to prove that we’re only doing it because we have to. ¬†And only for the briefest moments do we experience the harmony with Him, and that intimate friendship that we so desire.

If we love the loser characters, can’t we accept ourselves too? ¬†Can’t we look into our own hearts and see the weaknesses, and realize that no one is without flaws?

You can’t see what goes on inside another woman’s mind. ¬†You can only see the external accoutrements of her life. ¬†You haven’t seen the price she paid for what she has. ¬†I worry sometimes that people look at me and think I have my whole life figured out. ¬†Like today, I mentioned the awesome run I had to an friend. ¬†She asked, “how long did you run?” ¬†I immediately felt the need to downplay and said, “Well, 10 kilometres–but I don’t run 10K every day!” ¬†I used to think that ‘real runners’ practically floated above the ground, and ran without pain and gasping for air. ¬†Now I know this is a fantasy every time I pull off my jacket and the stench of sweat emanates from my shirt. ¬†I know the perpetual tired legs, and the burning chest, and the foolish feeling one gets when prancing around in skin-tight pants.

So allow others their weaknesses, and own up to your own. ¬†It can be immensely freeing to admit that you’re weak. ¬†I’ve found great relief in telling my friends my struggles, only to have them smile and say, “I feel the same way.”

Repeat after me: there is no perfect woman. ¬†And we aren’t so different after all.

 

 

 

 

 

Still Fat on the Inside

“Reject the the philosophy that is causing you to fail, or you will never succeed” (loose quote of business leader Claude Hamilton).

It’s been seven months since I committed to losing weight. ¬†Wonder of wonders, it actually worked and I am sitting here on a smaller butt than I was in March.

And it’s been five months since I began running. ¬†Tomorrow I’ll run 10K for the first time. ¬†The other day, my sister made an off-handed comment about ‘yeah, but you’re in shape’ and I went ‘ha ha… oh.’ ¬†I guess anyone who can run ten kilometres can be vaguely construed as in shape. ¬†I’ve never, ever been in that category.

But am I really a different person?

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January 2014
cabinrun
September 2014

Most days I don’t eat sugar, and I eat my veggies and my flax and my sweet potato fries. ¬†I like eating that way. ¬†I feel good.

But then the next day¬†I have unbearable cravings and I polish off a bag of chips. ¬†I did that yesterday, and afterward I was like “why the heck did I do that?” ¬†I know that about halfway through I’ll stop enjoying them, but the hand will keep going to the mouth just because… because why? ¬†I don’t know. ¬†I can’t seem to stop it.

A lot of things have changed, but some key things haven’t. ¬†I still love food far, far too much. ¬†If anything, it seems to take a more integral part of my life because now it is all about timing my meals to get optimum energy, and obsessing over if something has too many carbs or not enough, and feeling guilty every time I eat pumpkin pie at a family gathering.

I did that when I was fat, too.

I’m not talking about body image. ¬†I like my body, thank you very much. ¬†I’m talking about freedom.

At the time of writing, I am almost twenty-four hours into a day of prayer and fasting. ¬†No food. ¬†For those who’ve never fasted, it isn’t that bad. ¬†For me it is almost entirely psychological. ¬†I hate to not eat. ¬†I hate the dull ache in my stomach. ¬†I hate having nothing to munch. ¬†I even miss cooking… kind of.

It took me days to talk myself into doing this. ¬†I’ve fasted before. ¬†Last time I spent all day fantasizing about food, until at about half way into my late shift, I got dizzy and had to break the fast early. ¬†Today my work day was too busy to allow time for daydreaming, but now that I’m home, I’m considering padlocking the fridge and throwing the key off the balcony.

But I want to be free.  I want to be free of my external weight AND this internal weight.  I want the food monster to stop dogging my step all the way around the grocery store.  Food was supposed to be one of the most innocent of pleasures.  What happened?  So it seems right to give up eating while praying about freedom from food.

At midnight National Novel Writing Month begins. ¬†I’m going to stay up, have an omelet and begin my next novel. ¬†I don’t expect to be free in an instant, but tomorrow will be a new day, a new month, and a new chance.

 

4 Ways to Know if you are in a Slump

The dictionary says that the word ‘slump’ originates from a word meaning ‘to fall into a bog.’ ¬†That’s wonderfully accurate. ¬†The kind of slumps I’m thinking of are quicksand-ish things that suck you down and render you, the high-performance machine, into a tire-spinning mess.

They’re kind of dangerous if not diagnosed. ¬†So here is how to know if you’ve fallen into a bog… and possibly my own tongue-in-cheek confession.

If You Refuse to Eat Your Veggies…

If you usually get your five to seven servings, but now you call those green flakes in your bag of sour cream ‘n onion good enough. ¬†If you call the ketchup on your fries and the lettuce on your burger a salad.

You may be in a slump.

If You’re Watching Way Too Much TV…

If when you’re gunning for a goal you don’t give a rip about when Castle and Becket are getting married, but now it seems like a good reason to stay on the couch. ¬†If you’re surfing YouTube at random–for hours. ¬†If the kids who run the video store don’t need to ask for your phone number to process the rental, ’cause they know it already.

You may be in in a slump.

If You Hate Everyone…

If you’re usually Mr. Nice Guy, but now the world is full of idiots. ¬†If even your Mom can’t get a smile out of you. ¬†If you can’t stand to have someone breathing beside you because the noise drives you wild.

You may be in a slump.

If You Can’t Stand to be in the Same Room as Yourself…

If your internal dialogue consists of constant rants, diatribes, and arguments with yourself. ¬†If you can’t muster the will to say no to yourself anymore. ¬†If it’s Saturday and you’ve ticked nothing off your to-do list and you feel like a fat, lazy slob.

You’re not as bad as you think you are.

Look yourself in the eye and tell yourself “I am worthwhile,” because you are. ¬†Your worth isn’t based on what you do. ¬†You are a human, a unique soul, a special gift. ¬†You are the image-bearer of God. ¬†You might be going through a slump right now. ¬†You may be full out depressed, and I’m sorry. ¬†I wish I could make it better.

But you aren’t a waste of space.

I’ve watched so much TV, YouTube, and movies this week. ¬†I ate two whole bags of chips this week (and I profess to eat low-sugar, low-carb). ¬†I slacked off of blogging and tweeting. ¬†I avoided my novel manuscript. ¬†I was a grumpy bear to my coworkers and my family and ranted a great deal more than is seemly. ¬†I’m sure I’ve been annoying as heck. ¬†About the only things I did right were going running and showing up in church on Sunday morning.

But the clock is at three minutes past midnight. ¬†It’s Tuesday morning, and I have twenty-four hours to try again.