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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dear Fitnesspal ....

Yep, I'm apologizing to my app. I could blame our friend James and his fine European chocolates and licorice. Or my refrigerator stocked with Corona. Instead, I'll just say sorry and try to do better.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pardon My Grammar --The Scale Don't Lie!

A couple of weeks ago I weighed myself for the first time in nearly 10 years. Not as high as I had feared, nor as low as I hoped. I decided on a goal weight, just a few pounds away. Then I enjoyed a several day-long birthday celebration with much indulging. Lost a half pound. Was pretty good for a week, lost another pound. Each time I weighed myself, the number was lower. Until yesterday.

I decided that every three to four days would be a good weigh-in schedule. Yesterday was a fourth day and OMG! I gained nearly 2 pounds!!! Must be a mistake. Step off, check to see if I had any clothes or rapper-style heavy gold chains on (nope), step back on. Same. I gained. I thought back to the days when my husband  would suffer a small gain. I would make light of it and call him a fat-ass or suggest he was simply retaining water. Funny stuff until it happened to me.

Coincidentally, my BodyStep instructor shared a fable this morning. 
A girl dedicated herself to fitness. By spring, she is in good shape, visiting the gym regularly. In June, she can wear a bikini and all is good with the world. She takes the Fourth of July week off to celebrate. Then the rest of July since she had worked so hard. In August, she decided to enjoy what was left of summer. Then September came (it always does) and she had to put on jeans. Moral of the story: If you are going to skip workouts in the summer, don't lose your yoga pants, you'll need them in September when your jeans don't fit.

I don't want to be that girl. I am so glad I have starting weighing in. Like my bank account balance, the scale don't lie. I am paying the price for living large (ha ha). 2 pounds isn't the end of the world but 2 will turn to 4, will turn to 6. Today I savored grilled chicken and veggies for dinner. I'm back on track and it's good.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Next Big Challenge: Think SMALL

We are often encouraged to think big. Dream big. Bigger is better. Go big or go home. Yes, big is good. My next challenge is an exercise in the opposite. I am going to think SMALL.

You are probably thinking, "What you talkin' about, Willis?" People don't generally associate me with small ideas. But my big ideas are out of control. Perhaps a better phrase than "thinking small" is actually "narrowing my focus". Like a laser. Precise and accurate. Minimal energy for maximum payout. I am going into laser mode.

I have started already without labeling it. My wardrobe is efficient without waste. Organized and functional. Choosing an outfit is nearly stress-free because everything in the closet is good, yet there is not so much as to overwhelm. My food intake is as effective. Power up with nutritious, yet delicious foods. We have less stuff in general. Less clutter, more room to relax. Now I will empty the clutter from my brain. Well, I will give it the good old college try.

People that know me, even sort of know me, know my brain is like an idea factory. I am not bragging here, it's a fact. Brilliant ideas spout from me all the time. If I had a full time staff of worker-bees that implemented theses ideas, I would be a billionaire. But there is just me. My priority is my family so all my energy goes there first. Then to our extended family and friends. Our home. Then to people I hardly know. I implement my ideas when I am finished with the priorities. Lately, I have realized that my reaction to stress (now that I am not buying everything in sight) is to try to implement more ideas, seeking out some success and steady income. When I laid it out, I counted 2 blogs, a dozen or so products, freelance design work, many hours spent planning parties and developing a way to teach the world how to make their own board games. I am tired just reading it. 

The Bye Buy challenge was a life-changer. As I have said before, I am compiling the experience into a book that could really help others learn the lessons that I have learned. My laser-like focus will now be on completing that book. Posting recipes online will wait. Craft ideas will stay in the vault. Parties will be planned only for the people I really love. I am giving myself until August 31 to complete the book. Not a whole, big year. A smaller, more focused 74 days.

Compared to other things I have done, this could seem a small challenge. Completing this book and getting it in the right hands is a big, big challenge, one I think I can complete only with a laser focus. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Buy Buy Clothes: Things We Can't Control and Those We Can

Sadly, we are mourning the loss of another family member, our fifth close relative in less than two years. My brother-in-law, Bob, passed at just 66 years old. He was a good guy with a big heart. This is one of those things I had no control over. Certain health issues, accidents, acts of God, weather, other people's choices ... some things are out of my reach.

Today I want to focus on the positive, those things I can control. I can control how I nurture relationships. How I treat family. I can choose what I eat and how much and how I care for my body. I can control what I spend. I can choose how I will spend my time. As always, requirements must be met, nutritionally and financially. Beyond the requirements, I can choose.

There is much in this life we can not control but there is much that we can. Just as I learned that a life spent shopping is a life seeking what I do NOT have, I will continue to focus on the things I can control instead of those that I can not.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bye Buy Crazy: Me at 52

Happy Birthday to me! Today I am 52. On one hand, that's a little scary. Where did the years go? On the other hand, I have great hope. It's not too late to make my life everything I want it to be. You've heard it, 50 is the new 40, the new 30 ... Today, 52 is the new 21, acting like a grown-up. Taking control, making conscious choices, challenging myself to meet goals and then ENJOYING it. No more hamster wheel. 52 is not a "milestone" birthday, no special cards are available. It's a milestone for me, though, for 52 is the age I say "Bye Buy Crazy."

Taking stock.
Today I take an honest look at my present self. 

The good stuff:
* I am physically stronger than I ever remember being. Once fearful of the gym, I now enjoy my thrice weekly weight training workouts. My arms now sport these lovely little bulges called muscles. Are there people at the gym stronger and better looking? Oh, yes. Much. But I am better than ever and that's good.
* I am 3 pounds from my goal weight. Yep, a pound less than my monumental weigh in. Once I reach it, I will just enjoy it for a while. Old me would obsessively go for more, more, more. New me: Set a goal. Reach it. Enjoy it.
* I buy a fraction of what I used to. Still not quite where I should be, but closer. 

The "needs to improve" department:
* I am not immune to temptation. Whether fashion, food or a vacation, my emotional side still threatens to overtake the practical side. I'll fight on, battle by battle.
* I figure I have about the worst case of attention deficit disorder ever. (oh look! something sparkly!) My attention has been spread over so many projects that I am effective at practically zero. Starting today, I am weeding out the ideas. No more posting recipes and crafts. No mailbox decorations. No sewing projects and tutorials. I am focusing on the lessons learned from the Bye Buy challenge and getting my message out there. It has changed my life and I know I can help, or even just support others.
* I am making a giant effort to rein in the spending even more. Not by focusing on the negative and just saying no, no, no. I will look to the positive and know what I have and make the choices about what to do with it.

I am looking at myself at 52 but I wish I would have realized all this sooner. If you are younger, you don't have to wait. Older? Still time.

Best case, I am about half way through life. Probably a bit more than half way. The idea of retirement is looming. At this point, I can coast or seek out the uphills. I can float or I can swim to the far away buoy. I can bask or I can explore. I think there's a lot left in me. I'm not ready to coast. Today, I am 52 and I'll bet dollars to donuts, the best is yet to come.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bye Buy: What Can You REALLY Afford?

I recently saw a beautiful outfit at the store. Tropical print silky shorts with a silky t-shirt. Right on trend, really cool style, available in my new smaller size. I would look good. I would FEEL good. Can I afford it?

There's a million dollar question. The outfit was $50. I did not have $50 in my pocket. But ...

Okay, there's $50 in the bank. Good to go, proceed to the register. But ...
Are the bills all paid? Well, no. I guess I could skim from the grocery money. But ...

I don't even know what I've spent in groceries this month. The outfit is so cute, though. Looks like it's worth more than the $50 it costs. We could eat less. Couldn't we? Maybe. Not really fair to my family but surely they would see how cute I am. And, I haven't gotten anything new in more than a month! Plus, I'm thinner (I think I said that already). Maybe I'll just charge it. I deserve it, right?

This is an example of the insane train of thought that I deal with still. I am better, way better since the Bye Buy challenge but there is room for improvement. My husband made a flippant remark recently that resonated. He noted that we have been so successful with the Fitness Pal app for our diets, we should have something like "Spending Pal."

The reason Fitness Pal works for us is that we are in control. We have an allotted amount of calories. We can spend those calories on a donut or a giant bowl of lettuce. Eat too many calories, we gain weight. Simple, black and white logic. I need to employ that same logic to buying stuff. We have a set amount of money to spend every month. Like food, we have to satisfy basic requirements. We decide what to do with the leftover, if there even is leftover. A donut makes me feel happy but the calories could take me over my spending limit. Then, the donut is gone, I'm still hungry, maybe more hungry because of the sugar rush, and I have no calories left. This outfit would be the donut of clothing purchases.

Every basic spending primer will tell you to make a budget and stick to it. Allow for the basics then add extras as you can afford. Most people don't actually live this way. Low prices for cheap goods, genius marketing techniques and widely available credit have turned us into a national of insatiable consumers. 

Last October I realized that a life spent shopping, whether you call it "retail therapy" or "bargain hunting", is a life spent focused on what you do NOT have. I have to focus on what I DO have. Now that I can, according to my own rules, buy clothing, shoes and accessories again I have to change the way I think. I also came to the realization that we have the wonderful ability as humans to make choices. We can choose to spend or save, buy or not. Work more or work less. Be with someone because we want to, or not be with them because we can choose. Make your best decision then live with it.

Going forward, we will make conscious decisions about what we buy and how much we spend. No more of how cute we look as the determining factor. How much money have we decided to spend on clothes this month (or quarter or year)? What is the real ramification of spending this $50?  If I buy this outfit, will it satisfy a need or be a donut? A donut is delicious, tempting. Empty. But don't I deserve a donut? Actually, I don't deserve to to filled with empty calories. I deserve delicious, nutritious food. In reasonable portions. I deserve a balanced budget. Besides, nobody looks that cute in an outfit they can't really afford. 

The Joy of Unsubscribing

How many of your daily emails are advertisements? I get lots. I have gotten into a habit of opening my email in the morning, checking off 15 or so selections and sending them to the trash. Unless something catches my eye ...

Bealls of Florida is having a 50% off sale? Costco has a special offer JUST for me? There is a limited time to (fill in the blank). These emails come to me because I have either consciously asked for them or I didn't ask not to receive them when making an online purchase. I have found that many stores, like Kohls, ask for your email address at the register now. What these advertisements are is another form of temptation. I buy so much less than I used to but I am not yet immune to temptation. Certain images go right past my brain into my deep, deep psyche and send out shock waves of desire. I can look like Beyonce in that dress from H&M for just $19.95? 

Today, I decided to feel the joy of the unsubscribe. So far, I have said hasta la vista to Costco. Adios H&M. So long, Groupon. Ciao Southwest Airlines. Later, Kohls. My inbox will be light as a feather. I feel lighter already.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Facing the Numbers: I Finally Weighed In

I have a very unhealthy fear of the scale. I believe it started when a checkup with our family doctor at age 13 revealed a weight of 180 pounds. I was shocked. He didn't say anything, no one did. But I felt the shame and since that day, I can't look at a scale without instant anxiety.

There were times when being weighed was not an option. When I was pregnant, like all women, I was monitored closely. There have been periods (very few) when I was quite thin so I did weigh myself regularly. For most of my life, though, if there was any way out of being weighed, I did it. I admit that I even neglected to get regular physicals for fear of the scale, which is the stupidest thing I can imagine. I finally found a doctor whose staff looked the other way when I closed my eyes at the scale.

When my husband and I finally got serious about getting into shape this year, he weighed himself every day counting tenths of pounds. I assured him that I could tell simply by the way my clothes fit if I was on track. My daughter even had an idea for a scale that would track progress without revealing actual pounds, which was the most brilliant thing I could think of. Except just facing the numbers.

Again, I looked to the lessons of the Bye Buy challenge. What would be the worst thing that would happen? My weight would be for my eyes only but if the number was stenciled on my shirt, would anyone see me differently? Would I feel better in my jeans? Worse? What good could come from weighing in? It might be good if I find a comfortable goal weight and can check it every few days to ensure it stays. Again I recognize fear. What if I regain? I will stand a better chance of keeping it in check if I go up a few pounds as opposed to a pants size. After weighing (ha ha) the options, I stepped on the scale. I would actually look at the numbers for the first time in almost 10 years.

If you thought I would reveal that number, you would be mistaken! That will likely take years worth of soul searching! But now I know it. And, like everything else, once I know it, I can't un-know it. Unless I slip off that nasty scale and hit my head ...

The number was not as high as I feared, nor as low as I hoped. But I know where I stand. I can realistically monitor myself and decide when a slice of cake is okay. When an extra jog is in order. I have chosen a goal weight at which I will attempt to stay a few pounds from either way. My goal weight is 4 pounds away. Hopefully I will be there in July. Hopefully I'll stay there. (cue sound of screeching brakes ...) I can choose to do it. I will.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Finally! New, STYLISH Golf Shoes!

I have been in and out of golf retirement for years now. For the past three years I have been nudged out of retirement for golf outings. For a few outings per year, I didn't feel the need to invest in lots of golf gear and a golfer-chic wardrobe. During the Bye Buy year I felt the pain in a severe way. I had no golf clothes (none that fit, anyway) and my shoes were hideous. Here was the set-up:

  • Wearing the correct outfit (if I had one) and a coordinating golf glove, grab the needed club, a cool colored tee and your ball and head to the tee box. 
  • Place your ball on the cool colored tee.
  • Stand the correct distance from the ball with arms extended.
  • Address the ball (hi there you cute little thing!)
  • Screeeeeching halt as I glimpse my ├╝ber-hideous golf shoes. Complete distraction as the super-sized, chalky white, butt-ugly boats stare back at me.
  • Completely lose concentration and wiff.
  • Return to golf cart, head hanging low wondering why in the world I ever chose those hideous shoes.
Golf was not fun during that year.

During the Bye Buy year I contemplated future purchases, things I REALLY wanted and needed. One thing high on my list was a new pair of golf shoes. I even did some preparatory window shopping only to find that golf shoes, in general, are ugly. What would I do? Find the least ugly pair?

Thankfully, Nike got the message (I'm pretty sure they were listening to me) and they introduced the Lunar Summer Lite Golf Shoes. Available in several cool colors, I was stopped in my tracks by

Sunburst/Bright Mango!!!
I sometimes choose my OPI nail polish by name alone and I would have selected these simply because of that name, but they are beautiful! My husband agreed that they would make an excellent birthday gift for me. I ordered them online and they arrived in a few days. Wow! I have some snappy shorts in nearly the same color. The shoes are super lightweight and comfortable. I gave them a go at the driving range last night. Here's the new setup:

  • Wearing the correct outfit (I do have one) and a coordinating golf glove, grab the needed club, a cool colored tee and your ball and head to the tee box. 
  • Place your ball on the cool colored tee.
  • Stand the correct distance from the ball with arms extended.
  • Address the ball (hey there!)
  • Screeeeeching halt as I glimpse my SUPER CUTE golf shoes. Smile. Tingle of satisfaction. Hey, I'll bet these would look fabulous with a lime green ...
  • Completely lose concentration and wiff.
I'll keep practicing!