The devil is a liar and so is that scale I stepped on this morning…

In my fantasy world, at 40+ I wouldn’t still be having this conversation/battle/issue.  My MIND knows that the scale is not the only indicator of health, what I did or didn’t do right last week, or how great a human being I am. My mind knows this. My HEART though, sinks, every time I get on that *&!#@ scale and it hasn’t budged, a bit. Or worse, displays a number that is mind bogglingly higher than it was the day, week or month before. Sinks. Every time.

I’ve been journaling since I can remember. I have years worth of cute little journals dating back from when all I longed for was for so-and-so to do such-and-such or my heart would shatter. As I got older the heartfelt pining  evolved into writing about my faith, the world around me, gratitude – you name it. The one constant? Writing about my weight – how much I weighed. How much I didn’t weigh. How much weight I would lose this week and the week after that. When I got computer savvy I even started including charts and graphs detailing goal weight vs. actual weight, calories, carbs, proteins… I may have even included some algorithms and theorems. No.

All of this plotting, planning and predicting served to place the emphasis on the numbers on the scale and not what I was putting into my body. Ironically (or not) the time in my life when I was at my healthiest – when I was taking Karate classes (yes, I am, in fact, a yellow belt), playing tennis a couple of times a week, going out bowling with friends and eating a mainly vegetarian diet, I didn’t own a scale. I had no idea how much I weighed, and I couldn’t have cared less.  I also couldn’t have been happier. I miss being in that place. My mind misses that place, and so does my body.

So, why do otherwise intelligent women beat themselves up about that number? Why do we abuse ourselves mentally (and sometimes physically) in a manner we wouldn’t allow anyone else to treat us? Is it about health? For many of us yes, but it goes beyond a quest for health for many others and borders on the edge of self-acceptance and self-worth.

As I was reviewing the draft of this post I came across this post from a blogger I follow. It talks about the vicious cycle of daily weighing and why we shouldn’t do it. I couldn’t agree more. Yet, I still find myself wanting to check the scale more mornings than not.

What’s your relationship with your scale? Is it different now than it was when you were younger? Please share your thoughts in the comment section or on the Facebook page.

Born to run…or walk at a relatively fast pace

As a sheltered kid growing up on the mean streets (not really) of Teaneck, New Jersey, my overprotective mother would allow very few activities where she couldn’t keep a vigilant eye on us. That left us with precisely two play areas – the backyard and the short stretch of pavement at the end of our dead-end street.

Back when kids still played in the street, my sisters, cousins and I spent hours racing down to the end of that dead-end. In my memory, I was fast. Really fast. I would also say I won all the races. And while my memory of my win/loss record is sure to be called into question, (see I’d forgotten about that for more on my awful memory), one thing I do know for sure is that I loved the way I felt when I was running.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t confident enough at the time to transform that love into joining the track team or even taking running up as a hobby.

Fast forward 25 plus years and I still love the feeling of running.

When I imagine doing it.

In my mind.

Because when I’ve actually tried to do it, the feeling I get is not the same as the one I got years ago.

Running down that dead end street as a kid I felt fast, carefree and like I could run like that forever.

Now when I run I feel…my right hip, my left knee and the chafing of my construction grade sports bra against my back. *Sighs*

A younger cousin ran for a while and wrote about the hip pain she felt that led her to give up running. I now understand. And the truth is, no matter how much I want to run, me, on all fours (crying) on the corner of “bless her heart” and “she just wouldn’t listen” is not a good look. And not good to look at.  And hollering at the local hotties while sweating in the fetal position on the sidewalk is no way to meet a man.  Not one with teeth anyway. Trust me.

This is not to say that women runners in their 40s and beyond aren’t tearing it up on the side streets of America. I know they are – the bright light of their fitness glory blinds me each and every time they whiz by me on my WALKS. Kudos to them and those aerodynamic baby pusher things that have them navigating through the streets of Oakhurst like they’re training for decathlons.

As for me, I’ll keep watching the runners enviably from the sidelines. In the meantime I’ve got my walking and I’ve found a new workout muse – Michael Jackson The Experience. Michael Jackson and I have been tearing it up on my Wii.  If enough of you ask I’ll even video a session so you can get a good ab workout from laughing with me while you watch. No, not really.  Image: Not me running – Source:Flickr: Emanuel Leanza “Eleanza”

What’s your fit-at-forty story? Share in the comment section or on our Facebook page.

 

My $25-a-week clean eating experiment a year later

Over a year ago when I was a blogging neophyte, not quite 40, and determined to do something about my weight and health, I set out on a mission – an experiment really. It was my $25-a-week-good-food experiment, and I was determined to reshape the way I looked at food, health and weight loss. Here’s some of what I had to say about it back then…

For weeks now I’ve been seriously rethinking this obsession I have with food and my weight. Specifically it’s occurred to me that for almost all of the past decade, my obsession with controlling (unsuccessfully I might add) what I eat and don’t eat has centered primarily on weight loss. This focus on weight and not on health has caused me to become unhealthier. Yo-yo dieting, pre-packaged diet meals, low carb, low fat, sugarless…you get the idea. My quest to lose weight devolved into me eating man made substitutes for food and came at the expense of eating food the way it was intended to be eaten.

It’s time for a change, a real change – an “I’m about to turn forty so I’ve got to start taking this seriously” change. I’ve been heading in this direction for years now, but eating for health was far down on the list, somewhere behind carb and calorie counting and fat monitoring. And while I’ve never been a lover of junk food and have always preferred fresh fruits and vegetables over sugary desserts – when it comes to food, the choices I make every day are made unconsciously, out of habit, and with very little regard to health and where my food is coming from.

In a nutshell (pun intended), clean eating is consuming food in its most natural state or as close to it as possible. It means eliminating as much processed foods from your diet as possible, and it means being conscious of the source of your food and the impact its production has on the environment. Militaristic clean eaters might have an issue with my definition, but that’s the definition that sums it up for me.  The Gracious Pantry has a great resource page about clean eating that you can access here. The turning point for me came when I watched the documentary Food, Inc. I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone curious about the source of their food – you will not be the same after watching it.

A year after test-driving my clean eating experiment I can say that I’ve adopted clean eating as a way of life.  A way of life differs from a diet in that it’s not something you ever “get off of.” So, on the (now increasingly rare) occasions that I don’t eat clean I, 1) enjoy it a lot less and 2) don’t belittle myself or consider it a diet catastrophe.  It’s not just a healthier way to eat, it’s a healthier way to think. Really, it’s a return to to the way my parents and grandparents used to cook and eat, before advertising and big business began convincing people that they had it all wrong.

Although I haven’t stuck to the $25 budget, I have been more conscientious about how much I purchase and what I’m paying for things, and in the long run that’s helped my overall budget.

So, what’s left is the weight loss. The good news is, the number on the scale is lower. The bad news is, not by much. As a child and teen I struggled with compulsive and emotional eating, and as a 41 year old woman I still do.  Like any habit/compulsion/addiction, it’s been a hard one to shake. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor apparently 41 years. Thankfully, I am a work in progress, not regress, and as long as I’m able, I’ll approach each day with the determination to become a healthier version of the person I was the day before. Anyone care to join me?

Grace

Somewhere outside a cafe in Italy…

00305920 When I launched this site I was 38. It had just dawned on me that at the rate I was going 40 wouldn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, be what I thought it would be.  I started asking myself some tough questions and began examining the things in my life I was unhappy with. On Monday I asked you some of the same questions. These questions related specifically to living your dream life. What would that life look like and where would you be living it, were just two of the questions.  Today I’m answering those questions myself, and the answers may surprise you…

What would you be doing? If you know anything about me you know that I love reading and writing just about anything I can get my hands on. I can spend days doing (almost) just those two things. If I could read and write for a living that’s exactly what I’d be doing right now. The truth is, reading and writing is what I spend most of my time doing, it’s just that I’m not always reading and writing the kinds of things I want to, and the making a living part has been hard to come by. In my dream world I’d be editing or writing an article/post/book while (and this is where the ‘Where would you be doing it?’ question comes into play) sitting in a cafe somewhere in Italy. Or I’d be writing about my experiences while visiting South Africa or France or *closes eyes and picks a place on a map*, on the plane ride home. Continue reading Somewhere outside a cafe in Italy…

Speaking of losing weight…

pea on fork Editor’s Note: On Monday I shared with you the fork in the road of my ongoing health/exercise/weight loss/fitness battles. Sadly, I’m no stranger to fad and starvation diets. But today I’m sharing a great post from Esther Kane on a better path to weight loss. As a social worker, counselor and “ardent anti-dieter” Esther’s take on dealing with unwanted weight gain in our 40s is enlightening, and she offers a softer, gentler way to achieving weight loss.

Balanced Weight Loss by Esther Kane

Normally, I try to avoid talking about weight loss, being an eating disorders therapist- it can be a touchy subject indeed. But lately, I’ve come to realize that there is what I believe to be, a balanced approach to losing a bit of extra weight if you really need to for health reasons. How did I come to this realization, you ask? Personal experience of course!

Continue reading Speaking of losing weight…