Random Thing That Makes Me Happy

A Blank Slate

Since this blog exists in part to chronicle my attempts at expanding my joy, I thought it was appropriate to take time once a week to identify something specific that makes me happy.

One of those things is a blank slate.

I get excited by new beginnings.  Everything is possible when you have a new year, a new month, a new day.  I rejoice in the ability to recreate myself each morning.  I’m calmed by the fact that when I screw up, there’s always a chance to start over.

We can always start fresh.  For me, that is definitely something to be happy about!

Let’s Try This Again

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Happy New Year!

I’m back and giving the Happiness Project another shot.

I think I got a little too excited after reading the book last spring and jumped in without enough planning.  Also, I don’t think I realized how hard it would be to manage multiple blogs.

So now I’ve taken a break, and am ready to get back into it.  Today we start Happiness Project 2.0.

You can read a little bit about what a Happiness Project is here.

For 2013, my first goal area is “self care.”

Again, I may have aimed a little high.  I’ve selected seventeen resolutions for the month:

  • 7 hours of sleep
  • 70 grams protein
  • Doodle or write 15 minutes a day
  • Less than 45 grams sugar
  • Skin Care
  • Daily prayer/meditation
  • Read for pleasure
  • 100 oz. of water a day
  • 30 minutes daily exercise
  • Flexibility work 3x/week
  • 25 grams of fiber
  • Food journal
  • Joy-filled jar
  • Happy dance each day
  • Eat with intention
  • Eat less junk
  • Weigh myself daily

I think the goals can be broken down into three areas:

Health

I gained weight in 2012.  About 10 pounds.  I also gained inches.  15!  With the weight gain, I’ve also experienced increased fatigue, and general ickiness.  I want to turn that around.

Leisure

Because my work life has been so stressful, I want to make sure I’m taking time to enjoy myself.  I want to carve out half an hour a day – just 2% of it, to do something creative and pleasurable.

Attention

Sometimes I feel I’m going through life like a zombie.  I want to stop and pay attention to things.  Build rituals.  Express Gratitude.  Slow down.

So here we go!  Hope to see you along the journey!

July Progress

 

Photo by Gregory Bull

Ouch!  Was I the only one that found this hard to watch?  I knew that there was an upset in gymnastics from web chatter, but I really tried to tune it out so I could watch it unfold on the broadcast.  I’ve never really understood the rule that only allows two gymnasts from each country to move on to the all-around.  To finish fourth out of 60 competitors and still not move on to the finals?

BRUTAL.

Fortunately my feedback loop isn’t so public, and I’ve still got eleven months to try to make a positive finish.  In case you missed it, on July 1 I set out to lose 41 pounds.  I picked this number for a couple of reasons:

  1. It gets me into a “healthy” BMI range, and
  2. I’m forty-one (kinda random, I know).

I also set some daily resolutions to help me make progress.  I’m a firm believer that what gets monitored gets done.  Those seven goals were:

  1. 30 minutes of exercise
  2. 7 hours of sleep
  3. Strength training 3x/week
  4. 80 oz. of water
  5. Keep a food journal
  6. 1400 calories or less
  7. 3 servings of freggies
  8. Less than 40 grams of sugar
  9. 70 grams of protein

Ideally, this is where I’d tell you my stats, but in all honesty, I didn’t keep my resolution chart for the full month.  I can’t really give you specifics.  I can tell you that I fell flat on the strength training and the freggies.  Everything else is a guess.

I did lose some weight though.  July 1 I weighed in at 183 lbs.  On July 29, my last weekly weigh-in for the month, I weighed in at 181.4.  An official loss of 1.6 lbs. for the month.

If I’m going to meet my goal for the year, I’m going to have to improve.  I need to lose just over 3 lbs. each month.  Since I didn’t do well tracking the Health and Well-Being Resolutions for July, I’m going to carry them over into August.  I’ll have two sets of resolutions to track next month.

More on August’s goal area tomorrow.

You Can’t Get the Butt You Want Sitting on the Butt You Have.

In preparation for this Happiness Project, one of suggested steps is to sit down and consider some questions:

  • What makes you feel good?
  • What makes you feel bad?
  • What challenges you?
  • What doesn’t feel “right” about your life?

When I answered those questions, I found recurring themes that helped me choose my monthly goal areas.  For the month of July, I will be focusing on my health and well-being.  More specifically, I’ll be focusing on my weight.

I have been overweight or obese my entire life.  I first remember really knowing I was fat when I was eight years old.  I was playing baseball that summer (not because I wanted to, but because my father wished I was a boy).  I was one of two girls on the team, and I was awful.  Not for lack of trying.  I really wanted to do well.  I wanted my father to be proud of me.

But when it came to baseball, I was never going to be good enough.

I don’t remember someone directly telling me I was fat that summer, but for years afterward, I would think of my team photo, and associate it with being grossly overweight.

For the next thirty years, my weight would continue to climb inexorably.  I started taking weight loss drugs in the eighth grade.  I did Weight Watchers.  I did several medically supervised diets.  My mother promised me several thousand dollars if I could get to “normal.”

Nothing worked.

Not for long.

At one point, after my mother’s death, I managed to lose 100 pounds, but I couldn’t keep it off.

Regaining that weight is the most helpless I’ve ever felt in my life.  I felt completely out of control watching the scale creep back up.  I cried.  I prayed.  My weight kept climbing.

I didn’t know that regaining that weight was normal.  That regaining that weight happened to 95% or more of people who lost significant amounts of weight (depending on what study you read).  I felt worthless.

Pathetic.

In July of 2007 I decided to undergo weight loss surgery.  This was a big deal.  If you’re not fat, you might not realize that there are right and wrong ways to lose weight.  A moral way and an immoral one.

A good fattie loses weight by sheer force of will.  Someone who has surgery is a cheater.  A lazy, horrible person taking the easy way out.

I had reached the point where I didn’t care.  At 298 pounds, I was at the high-end of what sizes were available in stores (a size 28/30 W).  I had to drive out-of-state to get clothes for work.  I couldn’t fit into an airplane seat or a chair in the conference room.  I hurt all the time.  And I couldn’t do it any more.

In preparation for surgery I learned a lot.  Like the fact that 97% of people who take the “sheer force of will” route regain all the weight within five years.  I learned about the way genetics and hormones play into your weight.  I read the book Rethinking Thin by science writer Gina Kolata and it changed my life.

I went under the knife in March 2008.  There was nothing easy about it.  With the help of surgery, working with a dietician and a personal trainer, I was able to lose 130 pounds.  I have kept most of that weight off.  (I tend to fluctuate 5-10 pounds)

My weight is an answer to all four questions above.  When I look at how far I’ve come, I feel happy.  When I look at the weight I’ve regained, I feel bad.  Keeping the weight off challenges me.  The fact that I never made it to goal weight doesn’t feel right.

I figure anything that hits all four of those buttons is a strong choice for my first challenge area in my Happiness Project.  So for the month of July, working on healthy eating and exercise habits is my challenge.  To help me get there, I’ve made some SMART goals:

  • Exercise 30 minutes/day
  • Strength train 3x/week
  • Eat three servings of freggies (fruits & veggies) a day
  • Stay below 1400 calories daily
  • Eat less than 45 grams of sugar a day
  • Eat a minimum of 70 grams of protein a day
  • Keep a food journal
  • Sleep 7 hours a night
  • Drink a minimum of 80 oz. of water a day

I’ve made a spreadsheet to keep track of these goals for each day this month.  My goal over the next 12 months is to lose 41 pounds – enough to be considered “healthy” on the BMI chart.