It’s the Other Part of Climbing

The words rolled off her tongue with such ease that I found myself quietly stunned in the wake of it. In the span of just a few seconds, I had become suddenly jealous that a another person could be at such ease, such peace, with  a concept I’ve struggled in vain over for most of my life.

“Falling – we have to be prepared for that right?” My rock climbing instructor nodded at the class before speaking again. She was a young 20-something with a slight build and unassuming presence that seemed deceptive, given the depth of her encyclopedia-like knowledge on everything from gear, to technique, to basic scrambling, to alpine ice climbing. She spoke as easily and confidently about building anchors into the side of a cliff as if she were telling you how to boil water or button your shirt. And it sort of made the rest of us feel like maybe we could be rugged adventurers someday too, even as we sat there struggling to figure out how to get into our climbing harnesses.

“Anyway,” she shrugged, as she informed us about the different strength levels of a climbing rope, “the rope is important because of falling.” So simple. Of course it is. “Because falling—that’s the other part of climbing.” And then she even sort of laughed. We’re talking about the potential of dangling helpless from a wall with muscles trembling from exhaustion and a high probability you won’t reach the top of your climb - in front of everyone, no less - and she just laughs it off.

She carried on with her instructions, but my brain was stuck on her words, no longer tracking with the lecture. Her simple logic was so affecting that it just kept playing over and over again in my head. You need a rope because it’s a given that if you climb, you will fall. It’s not for if you fall, it’s for when you fall. Be prepared for it. Anticipate it. And then keep going. 

I hate falling — or as I know it, failing. In fact, I detest it so much that it is often a good enough reason for me to avoid trying. And actually, if I dig a little deeper, I think the root of the problem is a lot of misplaced value on an ugly little thing called pride. Guarding that pride at all costs has prohibited me from growth. In terms of weight loss, I’m so terrified at the idea of having a “gain” week that I conclude it would be better not to make the effort at all. In terms of blogging, I’m worried that I won’t be able to express myself exactly right, so it’s easier to skip it. I get frustrated knowing that everything I write won’t be the best thing I ever write, so I just don’t write at all. In both cases, I’m cheating myself.

The argument goes something like this: If I don’t have a perfect success record, I’ll have failed, which will destroy my pride, which will destroy me. It’s a pretty devastating vacuum to live in–never try, never fail, but also never change and never get better.

You know who does falling well? My best friend Ashley, who has lost more than 60 pounds and spent more than a month between 188 and 192, but didn’t give up, and now she’s 10 pounds down from that and still going strong.

You know who else? Liz, Another PriorFatGirl, who gets on here and posts diligently every week, whether she is up or down.

To me, they are the bravest people in the world, and I want to be more like them. With dignity, they fall. They accept it, they let it go, and they keep on moving steadily up the mountain.

So I guess it makes sense that my instructor’s words were a refreshing spring for my soul. They were an invitation to return to the heartbeat of my character: I am a girl who likes to try new things. The thrill of the unknown beckons me, and spontaneity ignites a rush that finds me jumping on planes at the last minute and winding up in Seattle without my purse or packing for an unplanned camping trip in less than 30 minutes and forgetting essentials, like the tent.

But fear of falling has kept me from walking down that road for the sake of gaining personal health for far too long. It can be corrected though, I can be corrected. And it starts with daring to take the rope, because falling is just part of climbing.

Failing is part of succeeding.

Gaining from time to time is part of losing.

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Intuitive Eating For The Win

Well, a week into the Naturally Slim Program, I am delighted to report a loss.

Last week: 191

This Week: 186.7

Those of us who have modified our eating behaviors in the past know that the first week is always the best, so while I’m very excited, I’m trying to temper my expectations for this week’s weigh in on Thursday. I’ll be happy with a pound. Even half a pound. A loss, after all, is still a loss.

I also started working out again. Actually, I’ve been at it for three weeks, and I’m still going strong. So I’ll definitely call that a non-scale victory. I am once again attempting to follow the workout regimen outlined in “The New Rules of Lifting for Women.” It is much easier now that the book’s web site provides sheets you can print off and take to the gym. (You have to own a copy of the book to access them.) I always liked the program, particularly since it gave me a reason to wander over into the barbell part of the gym and also gave me a little direction so I wouldn’t feel completely lost. It’s almost impossible to spend 20-25 minutes lifting weights and not feel a little proud of yourself. I highly recommend it.

But back to the mindful eating. What I’m learning about myself is that I rely heavily on non-hunger related triggers to determine when I should eat. Oh, it’s Noon? Well, obviously I should have some lunch. What’s that? I just rolled out of bed? Breakfast! I must eat something! Regardless of whether or not my body is telling me it needs to be nourished, I give it food because it seems like the right time of day to do so, which, when you think about it, doesn’t even  make sense. If I’m not hungry, why am I eating? These are the kinds of things I’m learning to ask of myself.

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A Collision of Diets

…or lifestyle changes. Whatever you want to call them in the name of political correctness.

After watching some documentaries on Netflix (Forks Over Knives, The Engine 2 Diet), my sister and I decided to give the Engine 2 Diet a try. The whole premise is that a plant-based diet is really good for you. No big surprise there, and after going to a couple classes at Whole Foods to learn some Engine 2 recipes, getting into the groove was pretty easy. I have a couple go-to plant strong meals that I can whip up pretty fast, and overall I’m enjoying the plant-based way of life. Am I perfect on it? No. Not even close. And the jury is still out for me on whether I want to give up meat.

Ok, so here I am, merrily rowing my vegetable and fruit laden boat gently down the stream, when along comes my place of employment with this amazing offer… pick three health and wellness incentives to participate in this year, and we’ll reward you with an extra $150 in your paycheck at the end of the year. Well, ok, obviously I’m interested. And one of the offers? Participate – for free, all costs covered by the company – in this program called “Naturally Slim.”

“Naturally Slim” is a program that boasts it can teach you to eat anything you want and still lose weight. No counting calories. No measuring. No weighing your food. Ok, I’ll bite… wouldn’t you?

The program had some immediate appeals to me. For one thing, eating plant-strong can be a challenge anytime you aren’t preparing your meal at home. When you go out with friends, go on vacation,  go to a dinner party, your options are really limited. Also, the plant strong plan doesn’t seem  geared toward weight loss as much as just healthy living, and I’ve definitely got pounds to drop. So if I could learn to eat plant strong most of the time, and still lose weight while eating what I want the rest of the time, I’m thinking this could be good.

Well, week 1 was pretty cool.  You get a series of videos that you have to watch each week, and then a quiz at the end. After watching the videos and learning about how to actually eat food and enjoy it instead of wolfing it down, I was kind of excited about Naturally Slim.

The real test of the program came when I went skiing with my girlfriends this weekend. We went out for pizza one night, and Mexican food the other. And both nights I let myself eat without feeling guilty about what I ordered. It was amazing. Honestly, it really was. And I had food left on my plate (like, kind of a lot of food) both nights.

Thursday is my weigh in day, so I’m really excited to find out what the scale says. Either the program is working, or I’m a fool and it isn’t… but I feel good about this, and I’m hopeful for a loss.

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I’m On A Boat… er, Will Be

With nearly a week of hard work under my belt, I’m finally moving past the initial funk that comes with starting the journey to healthiness. You know what I mean, the constant thoughts about giving in and giving up, the cravings, the bummer of realizing you aren’t going to wake up after a few days of “being good” and suddenly be at your goal weight.

After my run tonight, I was so thankful when I felt a twinge of pleasure at the pain in my calves and lungs and trickles of sweat running down my neck. How is that I manage to convince myself that I detest working out, when the truth is that it actually makes me feel so good about myself? If anything, it boosts my self-confidence and sets my imagination in motion. I start to daydream about all the things I think I could be, and all the things I think I could do. 5k? Sure! Little black dress? Watch me!

My college roommate and best friend, Ashley, called me last week with an offer I couldn’t refuse. Her Dad offered to include me on their family cruise to Alaska in June. Of course I said yes. Immediately, my thoughts went to my weight. What would I wear? Would I bring a bathing suit? And I don’t dare think about meeting somebody. It would be the most natural thing in the world to think of a cruise as a great opportunity to meet fun people, but it’s second nature for me to assume that’s a ballgame I’m just not able to play.

But you know what? That doesn’t have to be my destiny. I’m as capable as anybody of losing a little weight before this cruise, and while I’m committed to not putting myself on an unrealistic timeline, I do think it’s reasonable to set a goal of 30 pounds by June. One day at a time. One decision at a time.

Elle