Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Breaking free from Zombie land

Nearly a month has passed. Crazy days filled with sick children (still got three sickies); trips to hospital (with aforementioned sick child); husband having melt-downs due to changing anti-depressants; 15 year old son with Aspberger's being his usual challenging self; and the usual day-to-day stuff - shopping, cooking, cleaning, training, being referee for arguments, playing taxi driver........Sometimes feels like the demands will never end.
A few months ago a therapist that I see (thoroughly recommend everyone gets their own therapist!) suggested that for the whole of the school holidays, that I didn't do anything that I didn't want to do. Being someone who has been at the very, very bottom of my own priority list for, well, as long as I can remember, this sounded ridiculous. I could kind of see the method in her "madness", but I have six kids and a husband and a falling down house, and no money and so on, and so on. She added, that of course there would be things that I would have to do - 6 children, make a lot of washing - need I say more, just so long as I was doing these things consciously - making an active choice to do them.
It was an eye-opening two weeks. I spend so much of my life doing things because I "should". Because they "need" doing. Because someone else "needs" something. A lot of the time, I really get around like somewhat of a Zombie. I don't "see" what I'm doing, I don't experience what I'm doing. My body is present, but that's about it. My mind is ususally many km's ahead, on the next thing that I should be doing. And you know what else? I conducted my relationships in the same way....I wasn't really there when my four year old was showing me her latest artwork, or when my 13 year old was telling me about the latest drama at school, or when my husband was telling me how he was feeling, or even there for myself - I wasn't paying enough attention to myself to notice I was exhausted, or frustrated, or happy or sad.
Living like this had become a coping mechanism - there had been so much going on that was so difficult to manage, that being "checked out" meant that I could keep coping with all that was on my plate. Only trouble is, it comes at a price - 30kg's overweight for one, missing out on "life" with my family for another, never feeling joy - or anything else for that matter. Realising these things has been a massive step. Making changes is an ongoing challenge. Putting myself on my own priority list, has in many ways turned my family's world upside down. "No" wasn't something any of them heard from me very often. I'm guessing that I will never have enough hours in the day to do all of the things I want to do, that I will never play as many games of memory with my kids as I might like, that I will never have enough chats over a cup of tea with my husband, or that I might never sew all the creations in my head that I would like to create. I reckon though, that really being there for the game of memory and the cup of tea, and making time to get the sewing machine out once in a while, feeling my own feelings - whatever they are, is a much healthier place to be than Zombie land.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Feelings and Worthlessness

So many thoughts bubbling away in my head this week - hoping I can share them in a way that makes some sense....

For a long time now, I've had questions about what us mortals are to do with our feelings if we are not to try and make them go away by eating or working too hard, or drinking too much, or whatever your particular brand of escape is. My particular coping mechanism has been eating, with diversions now and then into never stopping - always cleaning/cooking/making something. A first step for me was after reading some of Geneen Roth's books, I became aware that the eating has been serving a purpose - it has allowed me to cope with and survive things I didn't think I could. A big lesson! Now, moving on from that, I can recognise that although my eating has served it's purpose, I see that I can survive things I thought I couldn't, and that there are other ways to deal with the things I am feeling, that help to make me more whole as a person, rather than stuffing me full - and I'm not talking about food here - I'm talking about being so stuffed full of emotions that you feel as though you will burst, feel as though you can't take a breath. For me, what usually happened is that I had so much going on just beneath my calm exterior, that one little irritation with the kids, or one car that cut me off in traffic, or whatever and look out! Flood gates would open - either flood gates of tears, or lashing out at whoever was near me. That way of being isn't a whole lot of fun for anyone (just ask my kids!).

You see, I had to eat, because when life was dishing out lemons - I thought that's what I deserved.... Someone overweight like me, someone as unlovable as me, someone as bad as me, someone as insignificant and worthless as me - couldn't and shouldn't expect anything other than difficulty and dissatisfaction in life (oh, the deep sadness I feel just writing this). I am learning that all those things I was thinking about myself, are not the truth about me (or anyone for that matter). I'm not bad if I'm overweight, I am loveable and deserving of love, and other good things, I have value and worth, and something to offer - and sometimes life just gives us s**t to deal with. But the s**t is just s**t, and not a reflection on ourselves, or our value as humans - so wish I could have learnt that 30kg ago!

And now, back to what to do with the feelings......I'd come to realise, that you have to feel them, but then what? Today, I read, what I think is a fantastic way of looking at and processing the feelings, and also why it's so important - turns out that when you're busy burying the negative feelings, you somehow seem to miss out on the positive ones too. The following comes from a book that I am loving called "The Book of Awakening" by Mark Nepo. "Very often, when hurt or depressed or anxious, we encounter powerful feelings like ghosts without a body, trying to pour themselves into us, trying to dominate our lives. They seem to gather in the cave of our pain, stoking our wounds like stones in a fire that keeps them warm.

After years of struggling to let my painful feelings out, I'm learning that the other side of this, which is just as essential to my well-being is not to let the hurt or depression or anxiety set up camp inside me.

I must confess it has taken me all this way to fully understand that the purpose of surfacing these powerful feelings is to continually empty my heart and mind of its sediment, so that new life can make its way into me.

There are dangers to not letting such feelings out. But once felt, there are dangers as well to not letting such feelings move on through. For just as our lungs must stay clear for the next mouthfull of air, our heart must stay unobstructed for the next feeling we encounter.

There is no freedom until we dance the ghosts from the chambers of our wounds, until we pile our wounds like stones at the mouth of our own quarries."

I LOVE the way he writes. The beautiful way he expresses himself. He goes on to describe a kind of meditation to do in order to facilitate the feeling of the feelings and also the moving on.

To myself, and to everyone - today (and everyday) there is no room for worthlessness.

Grateful for:
-Freshly washed sheets on my bed.
-The gorgeous things that come out of four year old mouths.
-Writers (like Mark Nepo) that have a way with words.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

My trip down the well-worn poor food choices road, and mindfulness

When my scales showed an 800g loss this week, I was over the moon! With two days of eating as though the world was about to end (even though it makes me feel so sick), I was scared, very scared. So, you'd think, that I'd wipe my brow, mutter "phew" and move forward, having learnt a valuable lesson or two. But no! I've had two unwise eating days this week also, so I am seriously chasing my own tail, in order to clean up the mess I've made. Grrrrrr. You can come so far, and yet sometimes it feels as though there is still so far yet to go. You think you've learned from the past, and you'll never make those same mistakes again - but those tyre tracks down that old familiar road are deep, and it is hard going on this new road, that hasn't been worn smooth yet.

By my bedside are approximately 25-30 books. It is a kind of New Year's Resolution of mine to read them all before I buy any more (umm - confession time, I have added one or two). A book that's been there for a while is Savor - Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr Liliam Cheung. As part of my action plan to prevent further episodes of not so good food choices, I've decided to read the books that deal with weight loss/mindfulness/healthy living first. I love it when you read /see/hear something and it is so right that it is somehow immediately absorbed into every fibre of your being (hope I'm not sounding too whacky!). Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist leader/teacher. He writes of the Four Noble Truths that Buddha taught (I know nothing about Buddhism - but these are some truth!). He applies them to weight loss like this:

First Noble Truth - all of us have suffering in our lives. None of us can escape from it. Being overweight or obese is suffering (you hadn't figured that out yet now had you?!)

Second Noble Truth - we can identify the causes of our suffering. You can identify the roots of your weight problem eg. overweight parents, too much softdrink, not enough activity, not enough sleep, mindless eating etc.

Third Noble Truth - we can put an end to our suffering and that healing is possible. Reaching a healthy weight is possible.

Fourth Noble Truth - there are paths to free us from suffering. We can cultivate our well-being by concretely applying mindfulness to our daily living. You can follow a mindful path to a healthy weight.

Ah, it all just makes so much sense to me. He of course goes into much greater detail. I will keep reading......

Grateful for:

-Good friends coming to visit
-Great honest conversation
-Pumpkin soup and homemade wholemeal bread rolls straight out of the oven, yum!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

A first time for everything!

It has been said that there is a first time for everything. When I packed up three of the kids and their bikes and balls and drove to our local oval to do my outdoor training session today, I had no idea that I would experience a first.

Today has been the most beautiful sunny Winter's day - one of those ones where somehow the sun's rays seem to warm you right through into your bones - very soul-soothing. As we arrived at the oval, I noticed the gates were open, when usually they are shut, except for football training sessions, matches and the like. Upon further investigation, I see that the groundskeeper is mowing the oval ready for weekend football. It is at this point that I'm wishing I'd stayed home and trained. Don't get me wrong, I love the training part - but when it comes to training with an audience - I am a little shy. I'm happy to run the streets of my town, but burpees, tricep dips and sumo squats....with spectators.....here's where I start to feel about 2 feet tall, looking for the nearest exit!

Today, though, was a new day. In an effort to burn some calories, and provide the groundskeeper with a bit of comic relief in his day - I trained! I walked the oval with two of the kids pumping their little legs as fast as they could to keep up, asking "Can you push me on the swing Mum?". I did sumo squats, with my behind to the poor man - I was worried I would pike if I got a glimpse of the expression on his face. I did burpees as fast as my legs would let me, with my glasses falling off and my t-shirt riding up, and my pants riding down! Wanted to get those buggers done before something indecent involving my clothing occurred. I TRAINED! I think my face was red from exertion - not embarassment, and hopefully, my antics helped the groundskeeper to pass the time as he made his smaller an smaller circles.

Grateful for my quiet house.
Grateful for that lovely - I'm falling asleep feeling
Grateful for sunshine on a Winter's day

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Whose life is this?

What a difference 20 or so kilos can make! Still a small bit to go, but so close now - I can taste it. I feel as though I am living in someone else's body - the size and shape of this new one is so foreign to me. And yet at the same time - the more my body changes, the more I feel like myself - like I was stuck in the wrong body for 15 years.
Walking though a conservation park today, with my children and parents - there is no discomfort. There is now strength - in my body, and growing strength in my mind, and growing strength in my confidence. I am so much more able to be exactly where I am. In nature - soaking up the energy and enthusiasm of my children; listening to my parents share their life and wisdom with my children; breathing in air so fresh it tastes "green". I can feel myself waking up - as if I've been snoozing for most of my adult life. It feels so, so, so good. There seem to be so many more possibilities in life. I realise the possibilities were always there, but I wasn't, my head wasn't, I couldn't believe for myself that changes are possible.
Don't you just love the writing of Eckhart Tolle. In the introduction to his book "Stillness Speaks" he says something that resonates right down to the core of my soul: "A true spiritual teacher (and my own little note - not just spiritual teachers) does not have anything to teach in the conventional sense of the word, does not have anything to give or add to you, such as new information, beliefs, or rules of conduct. The only function of such a teacher is to help you remove that which separates you from the truth of who you already are and what you already know in the depth of your being." What I take from this, especially in regards to weight loss, is that I already knew - deep down that I could be fit and healthy, but with the help of 12 Week Body Transformation (the spiritual teacher in this case) the things that separate me from the truth of that are slowly being removed.
Grateful for the fact that I live in Australia
Grateful for my parents
Grateful for all of the "spiritual teachers" in my life

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

New levels of pain....

I've come to expect a level of muscle soreness. Thought I was pretty tough about it these days. Hmm. Think again! After Monday's workout, I was beginning to walk as though I'm in my eighties, not my thirties. Thats Ok, it will pass - I tell myself. After Tuesday's workout, a few extra bits were starting to express themselves fairly loudly. So today - I've done my run - felt good. But just to make sure - no part of my body missed out on experiencing just how good it feels to really hurt - I went for my first training session with a neighbour, who is a retired gym instructor/body builder. Excellent - felt good to push those muscles - maybe I'll end up with a set of abs to be proud of after all....Only trouble is - I already needed to leave extra time to go to the loo, because my legs hurt so much it takes a few minutes to sit down, and now - I'll only be able to drink my meals through a straw - as I can't lift my arms up as far as my mouth! And I agreed to put myself through this torture again on Friday!

The day it all became too much...

I made such a flying start yesterday. Got up early, trained today. Went to Zumba. Did the grocery shopping.....and then some very sneaky old thought/behaviour patterns came for a visit.

It went something like this: 15 year old son with Aspberger's Sydrome, for the millionth time, doesn't sign in to his online english lesson (he does his school work via correspondence, to lesson the anxiety he experiences navigating social situations as a result of his Aspberger's). Mum (thats me) feels extremely frustrated and helpless about how to get a boy, now much bigger than me to stop playing computer games and do his lesson. Some time passes, its four o'clock, a time agreed upon with 15 year old to do some more schoolwork. What do you know - he's in the middle of something terribly important on his game, and doesn't want to stop (what a surprise!) So, Mum gives him some jobs to do, as consequences for not doing what he'd agreed to do - he RESISTS. Mum's stress level, moves up another few hundred notches. So after much resistance and little compliance from son, Mum is now getting behind in the things she needs to be doing, and several things need to now be done at once, but Mum still only has one pair of hands (and did I mention, suddenly, the other children are dying for some attention too). Up Mum's stress level goes, to the point where she is no longer capable of rational thought. So she doesn't seem to be able to think what else she might cook with the mince thats out for tea, instead of the planned spicy meatloaf, that takes one hour to cook. Mum, still feeling battered after the challenge of the 15 year old, dashes out to do some of the things that need to be done now - pick up one child from play date, get to post office before closing, and returns - in the rain, to kiss husband goodbye - he'll be gone for the night. Once we get inside a container of hot chocolate dropped by the six year old is added to the list of things that need dealing with now. Excellent. So dealing with all of the children, as well as the things husband usually does, as well as think of something for tea, as well as put the kids to bed, as well as clean up......,you know how it goes, is now totally up to Mum. At this point steam can be seen pouring from Mum's ears! So before she even realises whats happening she is on her way to the Pizza shop and the chocolate aisle of Woolworths.

Now, two slices of pizza, a bag of fru-chocs and two mint slice biscuits later, Mum is feeling spent, sick in the stomach, disappointed, and frustrated. Hoping that there will be some benefit of hindsight to be had.

I'm wondering if the eating is a response to feeling as though everything was out of control. I happen to know (well most of the time anyway), that some things are out of my control - eg. compliance or not of 15 year old, but I can control my eating and training - even if everything else is falling to pieces. This time - I was not able to take a step back and just stop and breathe for a moment to get my head screwed back on the right way. When I was dealing with my 15 year old, I had the words Bigger, Stronger,Wiser, Kind running through my head - these words are kind of my mantra when it comes to parenting. Couldn't pull it off today though. I think my own inner teenager, needed an adult (me) to be bigger and stronger and wiser and kind too. So, its done. I'm wanting to figure out what got me there, and make plans to help me not end up there again any time soon. Trying hard not to beat myself to an emotional pulp about it.

Grateful that most of the children are now sleeping peacefully.
Grateful that my parents are still around (Mother of friends children was killed recently in car accident. The resulting court hearing makes me so thankful I still have both my parents in good health.)
Grateful for my daughter's ringlets.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Training with an audience!

Usually, the children are sound asleep at 5.45am when I get up to train. Today, though, day 1 of Round 2, I've trained to the sound of children sneezing, coughing and blowing noses! My 11 year old son, and 13 year old daughter weren't the least bit interested in how much my muscles were burning, or how many calories I'd burnt - but on where the box of tissues was! Poor things. Tonight, my muscles are starting to show signs of a light training week last week (in other words really hurting) and my six year old son is barking like a dog - coming down with croup. Could be an interesting night around here.

Have to say it felt so good, to be eating well - let myself off the hook a bit last week, and if felt so, so good to have my hands firmly back on the steering wheel. A bummer though, saved my pennies and bought myself a set of Tanita scales, hopped on today, and they weigh me at an extra kilo than the old ones. That sucks! So, after the weekend in Melbourne, and being a little (ok quite a lot) relaxed last week, and the new scales, I've got around 9kg to lose to get to goal, instead of 6kg :( So, I'm hanging on tight to that steering wheel.

On a deliciously tasty note - I was introduced to Weis Triple Berry sorbet bars tonight (calories accounted for of course). YUM! And only 53 calories! Probably an occasional treat, considering that sugar is listed as the second ingredient, but yum, yum, yum.

Grateful for the sound of rain on my roof while I sleep tonight.
Grateful for the comforting warmth of our fire.
Grateful for Weis Bars.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Jumping in at the deep end!

2011 is shaping up to be a year of many firsts: my first time weighing in the 60's in 15 years; my first time to run 10km non-stop; my first time to do push-ups on my toes; my first time having 3 of my 6 children at school - instead of homeschooling; and now - my first ever blog (gulp!). Sharing a part of my life like this makes me feel a little like I'm standing in front of a room full of strangers in my underwear! I love having a little peek into the lives of others of you out there - and so, now in a moment of possible recklessness, I'm going to let you peek into mine! Oh My Goodness! The terror is setting in!

Tomorrow is another new beginning - Round 2 of Michell Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation begins - Yay! Most of the firsts listed above are a direct result of Round 1. What can I say - that program works!

Please bear with me a little - I am not, I repeat, NOT tech-savvy - I surprised myself when I realised I had actually started this blog. So here goes - my story - the roads I'm taking in the direction of creating the best life for myself, my husband and our six children; the best food - that doesn't blow the calorie budget; the best fitness I have ever achieved; the best relationships with those near and dear to me, and anything else that comes along!

Husband has just announced that the family is going for a bushwalk - can you hear the teenagers groaning?! Talk to you soon...