Thursday, July 21, 2016

Living the Healthiest Life I Will Enjoy

One side effect of taking a beach vacation is that people take pictures of you in your swimsuit. And then you come home and look at them. There was a time when I was OK with that. I could see the bits of my body I wished were different, but basically thought "OK, yep, that's how I look in a swimsuit."

This time, I saw the photos and thought "OMG. Is that how I look in a swimsuit?"

Now, on the grand scheme of things, this is no big deal. I've gotten older. I've had two kids. Etc., etc. But I also know that I've let things slide a bit. I can see how I could find myself in a pattern of gaining 3-5 pounds every year, and that math doesn't look good for me healthwise, regardless of how I look in my swimsuit.

So anyway, I've decided that I'm not going to allow that 3-5 pound per year gain to happen. I may or may not be able to reverse the gain that has happened, but I can definitely try to stop it.

I thought back to that Vox article I read a few months ago from the weight loss doctor. One quote from that has really stuck with me: "live the healthiest life you'll enjoy."

And the thing is, I'm not doing that. I enjoy being more active than I've been lately. I feel better, both mentally and physically, when I'm more active.

So, what's gone wrong? I think there are a couple of problems:

(1) I feel pressure to work a "normal" day to prove that I've not gone part time with my new career set up. Prove to whom? I don't know. Myself, probably.

This is silly, and I'm going to try to stop it. My career mantra right now is: "If I'm paying my bills and that looks like it will continue for the next 6 months, I'm doing OK." Because, honestly, that's all I could ever guarantee in my old career.

And, for the record, I just picked up a project that is likely to go through next year, and possibly through 2018... so I'm good. (Do you hear that, inner critic? I'M GOOD.)

My other career mantra is: "I will not screw over anyone who agrees to work with me." What this means is that if you book me for a seminar/workshop, it will happen, no matter what else is going on in my work life. If I've had to go back to full time employment, I'll happily take vacation days to fulfill my commitments. (But see above about my new project, so this isn't likely to happen.) If I take on a book to publish, I will work hard to get it the readership it deserves. I will just do that work over a longer timeframe than traditional publishers, both out of necessity and because I believe that is a better way to do it.

(2) I think I should do the most efficient exercise options, not the ones I enjoy the most.

This is probably related to point #1. To get the most "bang" for the time I felt I could spare for exercise, I've been focusing on running, which is near the bottom of my "I like to do that" list (although I still feel better after a run than before one). Even worse, I've been running in my neighborhood instead of by the bay. I actually sort of like running by the bay with my headphones in. Running in my neighborhood is something that I no longer actively hate, but I do it for how it makes me feel after the run, not because I enjoy it at the time.

So I've decided this is going to stop. I'm going to be more active and enjoy my flexible schedule while I have it. I have my time tracking to keep me honest and make sure I put in my 35-40 hours each week.

And I'm going to do the exercise I like!

I started this week. Instead of going out for a run in the neighborhood yesterday, I dragged out the wave bag and did some kickboxing. It was GREAT. And today, I feel the good kind of sore. Not so sore that I can't walk up stairs or load the dishwasher, but just a little sore to let me know those muscles worked. I'll be doing a kickboxing workout every Wednesday, I think.

Today, after work, I drove to the bay and went for a run before I went to pick up the kids. It was hot (for San Diego) today, but the bay breeze was beautiful. I enjoyed the run.

Next week, I'll stop work early on Friday and go rollerblading. I may or may not also do the Thursday run. We'll see how I feel. I don't want to overdo things. It is better to slowly increase exercise levels.

I was careful not to moan about the swimsuit pictures in front of the kids. However, they have coincidentally been helping me up my activity levels, too. Pumpkin had a tough time transitioning back from vacation. This was probably part jet leg and part just a huge drop in family time. One day last week, I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk after dinner. This was a spur of the moment idea to try to short circuit a meltdown I saw coming. And it worked! In fact, she liked it so much that she wants to go for a walk every evening after dinner. So we have been. I've learned a lot about the minutae of camp games and the plot of the books she's been reading, but we've hit on a couple of more substantial topics, too.

Petunia, meanwhile, has suddenly discovered a love of badminton (or "birdie" as she calls it) and insists on trying to hit the birdie back and forth for as long as anyone else can stand it every evening. We suck and we're using a badminton set I bought for $5 at the drug store. But we're getting better and she loves it... so I guess I'm going for a walk and playing some badminton every evening for the foreseeable future.

Improved fitness, here I come!


  1. EarthSciProf4:07 AM

    Good luck! Working on the same thing myself -- trying to get back into the running habit.

    A huge congrats on landing the long term project!! Out of curiosity, what fraction of your work term will it take up?

    1. About half time, maybe a little less. Enough to cover my bills even if I don't book any other work. (I'd rather book more work, though!)

  2. I've gained 15 lb in paradise despite all the extra exercise. I wonder if it will melt off by itself when I'm back to bad bread and shortening in place of butter, even though I will be walking much less.

    1. Ah yes. I haven't decided if I'm going to look at the diet side of "the healthiest life I'd enjoy" yet. I refuse to give up ice cream. But I could probably cut back on some other treats and try to figure out how to make my meals healthier.

  3. Love this and congrats on the new contract! When my husband came to work with me at the beginning of the year, he pushed (in a good way) for us to make time for exercise. We have totally failed however since the kids got out of school and both of us look and feel it.

    1. Thanks! It is way too easy to NOT make time for exercise. I think I do a better job of making the time when the exercise is something I enjoy. But clearly, not always!

  4. Hear you on the weight gain. It's maddening that we have to really watch what we eat and how much, and not to lose weight, but to just not gain more. A not welcome side effect of being a middle-aged woman.
    I lost weight, and a lot of it, on Weight Watchers, but once off it, I could not go back to tracking points; it's just too much of a chore and not a long-term option for me. Also lost weight on no-carb diet, but was dying for some fruit by week three. I will try (saw it on SHU Box blog) the No-S diet (basically no snacks, no sweets, and no seconds, except on S-days: Saturdays, Sundays, and special days like holidays) which strives to have us just eat 3x a week and not graze the whole time. Like you, I love kickboxing; maybe I should get a bag. So far I have been depending on going to classes, but the work obligations get in the way...

    And last but not least: congrats on the new contract! That sounds fantastic!

    1. Thanks! Having my own bag is the only way I'll kickbox right now. I miss classes, but I am not the main target demographic for the sort of class I enjoy, and so not surprisingly, they are not scheduled at times that work for me.

      My current snack/sweet rule is: only good stuff. So no crappy candy, only really good dark chocolate. I eat less of it that way. The problem is, I can eat a lot of really good ice cream, no problem....

    2. This is why I gained weight in paradise-- too much really good stuff! (Also my rule.) I would have come up with a different rule, but I knew I was going back home in less than a year...

    3. just eat 3x a week

      Gah -- obvs not! Eat 3x a day (no between-meals snacks).

    4. Ugh except I am finding it too hard!! The snacks part specifically. :)


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