About six weeks ago in my posting Going Raw- Part One, I wrote about the process I am going through to change from eating cooked foods to eating raw foods. This is all part of a bigger process that I have embarked upon in order to get as healthy as I can. The food area of my life is probably the last major bastion that I am attempting to overcome and, because it has its roots in my childhood, it is proving to be the most difficult.
However, there is another area of my life that I am addressing right now that is having a major impact on my health. This is in the area of exercise. Yes, I know, that’s a four letter word in my vocabulary too!!! I have been struggling with exercise for many years. Which is really annoying to have to admit when I remember being the athletic person that I was in school.
I played on my High School’s netball team (UK equivalent of basketball) in each year of school. In several of those years I was the team captain. I was fanatical about netball and just remembering it, I can feel my adrenaline level soaring. We played netball during the winter season, September through March, which meant we played twice a week as part of our class PE program and then the team would also practice once or twice a week after school. Matches were played on Saturdays.
After graduating from school I went on to a teacher’s training college, and sports and gymnastics continued to be part of the regular curriculum. During my second year of college I “went off the rails” and left to get married. A baby came along quickly and my new lifestyle was very alien to anything I had known up until then. Physical activities disappeared from my life.
Many years and a divorce later I attempted to return to some form of exercise. But I only hiccupped along in fits and starts. I tried aerobics but felt very clumsy and because I am not good at multi-tasking I simply did not have the coordination necessary. I tried working with a personal trainer but it proved to be too expensive, so I just gave up.
By now I had remarried and had another baby at age forty and had not been able to rid my body of the baby weight as I had when I was in my twenties. I think this was when I pretty much gave up on myself for a while and simply indulged in eating what I wanted. The weight slowly crept up. I remember pledging with myself that I would never allow myself to go over two hundred pounds. I sat at two hundred for a few years.
About fifteen years ago, while living in Naples, Italy, I met a wonderful yoga instructor and started practicing yoga with her. I loved the asana’s and working with the breathe. Moving slowly into and maintaining the poses under Meredith’s compassionate instruction, I began to feel somewhat reconnected with my body. “Sun salutations” became my passion along with the “fish” pose. My weight diminished some and I felt healthy for the first time in a long time.
Then in 2004 I moved to Jacksonville, Florida and, in hindsight, I realize that it took me about two to three years to make the big transition from my European culture to the American culture. My exercise pattern got lost in the shuffle for quite a while. Every once in a while I would make a half-hearted effort to implement a walking regime. I love being outside and walking puts me close to God’s creation which allows me to exercise my body and my soul. I also found a good Yoga studio and began going regularly again.
Then I had a shoulder problem. Had to quit yoga while I dealt with that and exercise got away from me again. Once the shoulder healed I finally pushed myself back into yoga but shortly after that I had a knee problem. Six months later I tried to get back into yoga again but found that it re-awakened the knee issue so quit. I tried walking again but the knee was just too much of a problem and, again, I found myself at that quitting-on-me stage.
One day at the beginning of this year I got on the scales and realized that my weight had bloomed to two hundred and sixteen pounds. I felt defeated and at an all-time low with myself. I made the decision to try and go raw – again (I had been dabbling with raw for a few years), or at least vegetarian. But underneath I knew that if I didn’t start exercising I would get nowhere fast. However, I simply could not get myself motivated to do it.
I think God took pity on me – again. He has a habit of doing that from time to time and when I get to the end of my rope, he offers me the beginning of His! But, as usual, He has a funny way of doing it. My husband was hospitalized toward the end of February with chest pains. Long story short: no heart problems but he was finally forced to look at high blood pressure and cholesterol issues and the doctors were serious when they told him to make lifestyle changes. Our diet swung drastically to mainly salads, lots of veggies and fruit, and we cut out most of the carbs.
Within a month or two we both lost weight dramatically. Then I hit a plateau and stayed there and got depressed. Underneath I knew the answer was exercise but I just didn’t want to have to deal with it. Again God came to my rescue in His usual round about way, and in July I was introduced to Wendy, a personal Pilates instructor. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do Pilates because my only knowledge of this form of exercise was a memory of a friend who used to do it (a much fitter, younger woman!!!), and she would say things like “We were massacred at Pilates class tonight” or “I didn’t think I’d make it through the whole class today.”
I am grateful for the God-incidental way that I got to Wendy, for I’m sure I’d never have taken the leap otherwise. She is a compassionate but relentless instructor with a grand sense of humor. I told her where I was at and she said something like “I guess I’ll have to work you”. I have been doing Pilates twice a week with Wendy since about mid-July. I have pushed below my plateau, not a lot but enough. However what has happened to my body is nothing short of a miracle.
I have a level of sustained energy that I did not have before. My body is so much more flexible and feels very alive. There has been a shift in shape; I cannot explain it any clearer than that. The first major change that I noticed was one day when I went to do up the strap on a pair of shoes and realized I did not have to get into a certain position to “accommodate my stomach” as I leaned down! My tummy has definitely toned and my legs are so much more flexible. I can climb a flight of stairs without feeling breathless.
This week Richard and I are enjoying our traditional week of Thanksgiving in our time share in Orlando. Yesterday afternoon we went to Universal to watch the new Harry Potter movie (which was great by the way!). We walked around for a while before the movie and I noticed that I had no problem keeping up with Richard (he’s over six foot and has a long stride). Nor did I find myself getting breathless keeping up with him and, in fact, I felt quite invigorated. Today we went to Sea World and the same thing happened.
As I sit here typing this post I have to make a confession. I have been wanting to walk on a regular basis for about a month now. The reason I have not is because I did not want to feel tired and breathless or realize that I couldn’t keep a decent pace for long. Yesterday and today have shown me that I can get out there, keep a good pace, and feel really good. I know that this is partly because of the diet changes I have made as well as the regular exercising with Pilates. It is a total change of lifestyle that is allowing me to feel good about myself and to feel so much more healthy. This is what self nurturing is truly about.
The other day a friend called asking if we could get together. I opened my planner and started checking for my next available free time slot. As I shuffled through the pages I began to feel a hint of panic rising in my chest. I had nothing available until after Thanksgiving – at least a week after Thanksgiving!! Feeling guilty, I took a few deep breathes and managed to squeeze a small space of time for a cup of coffee together.
When I got off the phone, I took my planner and went and sat in the lanai and just breathed in God’s air for a few minutes. There is nothing calms me down quicker than sitting out there, surrounded by God’s creation, and just breathing. Then I slowly checked through my planner. Yes, it was very full but I could see that some chunks of time were carved-out-for-me (and husband Rich) time, and I breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed and enjoyed the outdoors for a few more minutes before I went on with my day.
I think the panic had come because somewhere inside of me there was this little voice saying, “so you still haven’t learned the Time Lesson yet?”. This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn on my life journey, to rest and pause and give myself some dedicated time to relax and restore. My life has been so much about doing for others and being busy and productive. I was a do-er, not a be-er. I was always taught not to waste time, and some of those lessons die hard, even when they no longer serve me.
This all got me thinking about how even more busy life seems to get around this Holiday Season, and I think that’s what caused the panic. I thought I had fallen into the old trap of getting ridiculously over-busy just because it was the Holiday season. However, a whole week of time is a mini vacation for me and Richard. Right now I’m also enjoying a sort of two-day vacation in Orlando as Richard is involved in a conference and I’m “along for the ride”. And on the way home from here on Friday he will drop me off in Sanford for my Audire program instructional weekend.
I have time slots marked down for Christmas card making, and other spaces for doing my Audire homework. I have some para-professional appointments with people and a doctor’s appointment too. Scattered in and among these appointments are my Pilates classes and a massage appointment; I have most definitely learned to take care of me even in the midst of busyness. There’s a concert with a friend and a Christmas party, even if it is an “official function” connected to Richard’s job.
I know I have written several postings about resting and pausing, sharing some of the reflections from the books I read each morning. Just a couple of weeks ago in the October Daily Word, I read:
When I am out of alignment, my body feels out of sorts, my mind races with thoughts of yesterday or tomorrow. I feel unsettled.
At such times, I have not lost my connection to Spirit, I’ve just become distracted. In conscious awareness, I pause, say a prayer and step away for a few moments in the silence. I immediately begin to feel the Spirit flowing within and through me.
I don’t think we can have enough reminders to “be still and know that I am God”. Fortunately I have a good husband, friends, and many tools that I use to remind me constantly of the need to give myself time, to just simply be. Thanksgiving and Christmas are times to be enjoyed, times to relax, times to give some thought as to why we are here in the bigger scheme of things. Frenetic shopping and filling our calendars with too many activities are not conducive to our inner peace or the harmony of our souls. I encourage everyone to make a commitment to plan some personal quiet spaces in the busyness of the upcoming Holiday Season.
To say that I have been in a “dry spell” is an understatement. I have been wandering in an arid desert for some time. It has been a month since I have written anything. Nothing has surfaced to the tips of my fingers during that period. Life has been happening, as usual and there is little control that I have over it. It is a good thing that I trust in God to take care of the universe and that I do believe that everything is in divine order, even if I cannot see that.
I have been dealing with bee stings and the consequent physical reactions to them. No, I’m not completely allergic to them. I don’t have to carry the little needle stick thingy that some people have to carry. But I do get very bad localized reactions – swelling, infection, and inflammation, which means a trip to the doctor.
So then I had to deal with antibiotics and tapering steroids, followed by the consequences of taking antibiotics (you ladies know what I mean by that!). And so, guess what? Another trip to the doctor. Which then meant more antibiotics – great!! The weather then turned “grey” for several days and my spirit, which was struggling to stay afloat anyway, took a nosedive.
Just to add to my personal misery, I took a tumble. I was having lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, stepped from the carpeted area onto a very slick (read greasy) rubberized part of the floor around the food area, and felt like I had stepped onto an ice rink. I managed to not fall on my back (which was where I was initially headed), but went down hard on the outside of my right knee. It’s amazing how something like that can affect the normal routine of life.
First of all I had to cancel my Pilates lesson and make yet another trip to the doctor. When I walked in this time I asked his receptionist if she had my key ready. She looked somewhat confused and asked, which key? I smiled and said, “The key to my hotel room. I feel like I’m taking up residence!” I went home with a knee brace and instructions to “RICE” – Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. So no Pilates for a few days, no exercise at all for a few days.
Just to let the universe know I was not happy, or maybe vice versa, who knows, two days later I banged the toe next to my little toe on my left foot into a door. I’m not sure what kept the cuss words at bay. Perhaps a lot of practicing at reducing this particular defect of character. After icing it for a couple of hours it turned the requisite deep purple and blue green and I decided I should buddy tape it in case I had broken it. I made the decision not to go to the doctor’s again just in case he thought I was stalking him.
It is at this point that I remember thinking that I would like to go to the airport and get on the first flight that came along. Then I thought that maybe that could be to “Small Town, Idaho” (no offense to any natives from there). So I went out and bought a bar of the best chocolate I could find and deliberately comfort-ate with a nice cup of tea. Very British of me!
Well the last couple of days have seen a slight shift in the weather. Not quite so hot and definitely not so swampy. I love the heat and the sun and I even tolerate humidity, but we’ have had six or seven solid weeks of relentless heat and humidity and I have discovered that it drains me on all levels. And when I’m drained my Muse disappears:-(.
So the cool breezes and lower temperatures and the lack of high humidity levels seem to have freed my spirit enough to get on the keyboard. I am hoping that this will continue for a while now because I can already feel some ideas catching up and getting ready to pop out onto the page. Have a great Labor Day weekend.