Sunday, June 28, 2009

Living Within Your Comfort Zone

In my comfort zone. What is my comfort zone?

That is the question I’ve asked myself the last few days. Earlier this week I was in a conversation about being full, being stuffed, being satisfied, and being comfortable. I began to assess what my comfort zone entailed. Of course the conversation was about eating. I was sharing I have not felt “full” but maybe half a dozen times in the last year. I’ve rarely felt stuffed (thank God for wisdom) and I often feel satisfied. As long as I eat slow enough to listen to my body I end up satisfied. I don’t really get hunger pains, which is good because if I did I’m sure I would end up over eating to the stuffed stage. I guess it all narrows down to knowing your body and it’s signals.

Now let’s talk about other kinds of comfort zones.

The comfort you feel with a special friend. Someone you can share anything and everything with and not worry about being judged or rejected even if your opinions differ. I have the pleasure of saying I have friends like that. I’ve also had friends I was comfortable being with, yet not “settled” like the friendship I just mentioned. They are comfortable, but not as secure in feeling totally safe.

The comfort of doing what brings you happiness. I have a job I really enjoy. There are times of course when I hate the particular day, but overall the work place/job is very satisfying for me. I certainly am not looking for another line of work. I have been a dispatcher/911 operator for over 20 years; 13 of them in Salina. I have been involved in law enforcement for over 25 years. I left it for 2 years and returned because I realized how much I missed dispatching. That is a rare and blessed gift to figure out what brings you enjoyment and make a living at it.

The comfort of being who you are. As I get older I feel more and more comfortable with whom I am. I don’t have to pretend or try to be something in order to “fit in”, be accepted or popular. It takes a lifetime to feel totally comfortable with whom you are. I’m not saying my life is over by a long shot, but I certainly am comfortable at a level I have never seen. I credit this to my weight loss and where it has taken me in the last year.

I also credit it to another factor; my relationship with God. As I daily walk and work on that relationship I grow to accept and appreciate myself. God doesn’t make junk. How many times have you heard that and thought, “What a sweet phrase”? Well, I’ve come to believe that phrase. As I open up to Him and allow him to lead me, the more I accept my short comings and struggles and victories. One of those victories is my progress in health. He lead me to surgery and he has lead me daily with the sometimes struggles of being healthy. I have to find my comfort zone with food.

Sometimes your comfort zone is not a positive thing. Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone to stretch yourself and grow. Meeting new people and developing new friends. Adding a new angle to your job to challenge yourself. You don’t necessarily have to get a new job, but tackle a new aspect of your current job. Sometimes you may have to actually find a different job. That may challenge you to get out of your comfort zone all together. Stretching yourself beyond that comfort zone within yourself. This may encompass doing something you aren’t proficient in but always wanted to try. You may have to put yourself front and center, or maybe in the background and give up control; whatever that comfort may be.

For me in regards to my weight journey, it means realizing I may be getting into too much comfort with what I am doing and what I am eating. I am evaluating what I am doing and realizing I am becoming very blasé in my eating. I have fallen back into some bad habits, bad choices and gotten comfortable in them again. I have to become sharp again in my resolve to make the best choices I can and make the most of those choices. Just to give an example, I had the choice of onion rings or fries with some chicken I was ordering. Wow, what a choice, especially since I had just told my dinner companion that the onion rings really looked yummy, but I better move on to something else. Well, in my hesitancy to decide between my options, my friend had the forethought to suggest broccoli instead, full well knowing that would not be an option for me. So she then suggested some cauliflower, a more likely choice, but…. She then suggested a salad. Is she a wise friend or what? Yes, I opted for the salad. Now I really know why I consider her one of my best supports! It is these small comforts that I have to nab onto and solidify. It is the bad comforts of even pondering the rings or fries I have to change. It is those small decisions that can trip us up. As another wise friend and great supporter reminded me last week, even a small amount adds up.

Another area my comfort zone got me in trouble was with my relationship with God. As I got more and more comfortable I became less and less diligent at putting time into the relationship. As I began to realize that, I began to invest more time and energy into the relationship and it began to grow and strengthen. Once again I am having to reevaluate the activity on my part. God never changes and continues to be there, give the effort and time. It is I that is the slacker. So I am having to reinvent my resolve and “beef up” my dedication to the relationship. My comfort zone became so comfortable I was beginning to take advantage of it.

So as you can see your comfort zone can become so comfortable it is no longer healthy or sustaining. Sometimes it needs to be stretched and challenged and a new comfort zone will develop and we will grow as a person. We will become stronger and healthier.

So as I walk this journey in this new life style and as my year of post surgery advances, I pray I will stretch my zone to a newer level of comfort. I know I can eat more in one setting so I will have to watch what I eat, how much I eat and how often I eat. I will have to make wise choices. I will have to change my perspective of comfort in regards to acceptance of types of foods, contents of foods and amounts of foods. When I decided to have surgery I knew it was just a tool. I also knew I had hoped my days of counting calories, weighing food, etc. was over, but as I advance to the next stage of progress I find it is still a part of life. That doesn’t mean it has to be a dreaded task. My perspective will allow me to embrace it and take it for what it is worth---a healthier life.

I thank my friends and family for being there to support me. I plan to “drag” you along into my new comfort zone. I also hope that if that comfort becomes a negative instead of a positive you will help me to see it is once again time to stretch myself and challenge myself to the next level of comfort. Isn’t life fun when you are growing? Sometimes living within your comfort zone is advancing to the next level!

Dead ends don't exist.
Back up, turn around and take a different road.
You may become completely lost for awhile, but you will find the way.
There is always another way.
~L'Tanya Gail Durante~

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Keeping Your Perspective Real

The week before this last week was a frustrating one for me. I wanted to lose 100 pounds, but didn’t. It felt like everything was at a stand still. I had to remember I am a work in progress. It is a process that doesn't happen overnight. It is going to take all of my life. Until this concept sunk in AGAIN I got very frustrated, down, depressed and was a total pitiful mess; which caused me to be tired and lead to not wanting to do what I knew I needed to be doing. I had the world’s biggest pity pot under my behind. Well, it took a couple pep talks and a few suggestions from a couple of friends and I began to do what I needed to do to get my butt off the pot and my mind into the battle. I logged my food intake, which kept me more dedicated to eating correctly. No “sneaking” a little of this and a little of that if it is on paper. I really never ate grossly, but I did eat small amounts of things I would have been better off without. I could have substituted more beneficial foods. So that is what I did. I have now reached the 100 pound goal. I wanted to reach it by June 20th and I did.

As with anything in life, we can get tunnel vision. I got tunnel vision about the progress I was making because I was measuring it by one expected standard. I shared with my friend some of the progress I have seen in the last 5 weeks and she put things in perspective. In the last week I had to buy some new clothes. I had to get pants in a size smaller (2” in the waist). In the last year I have gone down 10” in pant waist size, 4 sizes in underwear, 2 sizes in bras and have gone from a 4x-5x to 1x-xl in shirts. Now that is truly some progress to note. Well, in the midst of my pity party (one participant involved) I lost sight of that progress. Thanks to my friends I was able to see there was progress and it is a life long journey, not just a temporary sprint. I have to remember sometimes the big picture is too large and I need to take one small step today, and then one small step tomorrow, and then repeat.

This week I stepped back and discovered some perspective which lent to a better week. I made better food choices, better activity commitments and found myself in a better frame of mind. My positive attitude returned and the pity pot got put back in the dark closet of my emotional house. It is often a hard process that is part of life regardless of the situation (a new activity, a new routine, a new career, a new outlook, a new lifestyle, etc.).

I have one more month and I will be at the year mark for surgery. July 21st will be my girthday. Yes, you read that right, girthday. As my girth gets smaller and I get closer to my goal I will have to remember to give God credit for my overall progress and not get tunnel vision. I will try to leave that pity party throne in the closet. If it gets moved out, I pray I will be able to turn to my support system quickly.

I will also need to remember: When adversity strikes, it's not what happens that will determine our destiny; it's how we react to what happens.

I pray you look at the big picture of life and take the necessary steps to fill in the pieces of that picture one day at a time, one step at a time, one goal at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed by measuring your progress by one standard, but by the overall progress so far. As you approach the goal(s) you wish to attain I pray you form new goals to keep you moving and growing. Most of all, remember no matter what you are trying to attain, you are a work in progress and it doesn’t all happen overnight but takes a lifetime. If it is worth it, it is worth the sacrifices you will have to make, the changes you will have to accept and the time you will have to invest to reach that goal.

"The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting goals and achieving them.
Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced
that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams."
~Og Mandino~

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Hurdle & The Seesaw

"Straddle: a position in which somebody or something is astride or on both sides of something.
act of straddling: an act of putting one leg on each side of something."

I have one "leg" on the losing (lost) side and one on the need to lose (goal) side.

"Teeter-Totter: an up-and-down movement: an up-and-down, back-and-forth, or otherwise alternating movement. to move like seesaw: to move in an alternating fashion, especially back and forth or up and down. alternate: to change regularly and repeatedly from one thing to another, e.g. one state of mind to another."

I feel like I am straddling the hurdle. I have been working this weight loss game for so long. It has been 10½ months since I began an intense life change. June 21, 2008 I started the semi-liquid diet in order to prepare my body physically for the weight loss surgery (WLS) on July 21, 2008. I have had high hopes since deciding to change my lifestyle via WLS. It has been a hard yet easy battle. Hard in the sense that any type of change is a challenge; even a change you anticipate and look forward to. It has been easy in the sense that the WLS has enabled me to shed the pounds fairly easily, until recently. That is where the straddling comes in. I could even equate it to a teeter totter. For the two months or so I have been battling the same 2 pounds. I was stuck at 96 pounds. Well in the last 2 weeks I have actually lost those 2 pounds again and then another 1 pound. I haven't gotten too discouraged most of the time because I have seen progress in other areas--inches lost and clothes getting larger. But I so much want to be able to say I've lost 100 pounds and I want to be able to say that by my one year post-op date in July. Of course I started counting the loss from June 21st. So actually I only have one more week to do it in. I say that it ought to be easy, but the last weeks have shown that not to be true. I might lose that last pound, but the true test is to keep it off and not teeter back and forth.

I don't want to keep one "leg" on each side of the hurdle. I want to jump over it and clear it and continue to run the race and improve. I want to loose the pounds and the inches. Of course my perfectionist nature and my impatience means I want to do it NOW and at the SAME time. Intellectually I know that probably will not happen. Mentally and emotionally I think it is a requirement to succeed. So I have to change my perception of success. I need to narrow my expectations and raise my resolve. This means higher dedication to my working out. Yes, I am very dedicated now and I certainly don't want to go the other extreme and take exercise on as my new addiction. But I also want to reach my goal and not lose my momentum.

I have to watch my food intake. This entails not just how much I eat, how many calories I take in, what kind of calories I take in and what kind of food I eat. It also includes how often I eat. I have to be careful I don't graze which can lead to too many calories and too little liquid. Means I can't drink while I eat or an hour after I eat, I tend to take in too little water between the grazing. If I am grazing (eating all the time) I can't be drinking enough. And if I am drinking at the same time I am grazing it is a set up for me to graze all that much more, because I will never feel full. So I have to plan what I should eat for the day and stick with that quantity. I have to make that quantity quality foods; protein 1st, fruits and vegetables with little carbs and sweets; without feeling deprived. It is a balancing act that sometimes makes me feel like I am teetering and straddling.

This brings me to the next hurdle; sagging skin and flabby muscles. I am trying so hard to focus on the abdomen, the upper arms and thighs. I want to firm them up and stop the Jell-o jiggle. I have been presently surprised and satisfied with the neck and face. I feared I would nod my head and give myself a black eye from the double chin syndrome. But it has firmed up nicely. Now I wish the upper arms and thighs would do the same. I wish the abdomen wasn't so large. So I am focusing my exercises on these 3 areas. As I said, patience is NOT my forte. I want it yesterday! I have to remember I did not get in this shape over night and I will not get out of this shape today. I can only work today to accomplish tomorrow and hope I am one step closer to the goal in sight.

So I will stay on this playground of life and take the teeter totter motion in stride and straddle the hurdles until I can successfully jump over them and finish this race and maintain the win. Maybe I'll just play hop-scotch. Two feet down, then one foot in place and bend over, pick up the prize and continue on.

Great news: One of my recent prizes was being advised by my primary doctor this week to stop taking my blood pressure medicine. We cut it in half June 1st. I have monitored it twice a day and in the last 2 weeks it has been very low at times. He thinks the blood pressure medication may be to blame. So as of Thursday I no longer take high blood pressure medication!!!! This was one of my goals when I started this journey in February 2008!! I will monitor my blood pressure twice a day for awhile. I will keep attuned to if I feel any light headedness, dizziness, etc. I've been called dizzy before, but…..

I am ecstatic about getting off my medications. In 2008 before WLS I was taking 13 pills a day. I am now down to 3 pills a day (2 prescriptions) not including my multi-vitamin and calcium! I have one more prescription medication (2 pills) I'd like to get off of still. Time will tell. God has blessed!

A friendship can not blossom and grow without the water from spending time with each other.
~DeAnn Cornwell~

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Staying The Course

This week there are no words of wisdom from me. I have found a poem that says it so well. It is by B.J. Gallagher. I hope you will enjoy it and find encouragement from it. I was inspired to try a little harder because of it. It is a reminder that life is a process not a single event.

Staying the Course
By BJ Gallagher

Our journey of life is about progress,
not perfection.
It's not about doing one thing
100% better -
it's a matter of doing 100 things,
1% better each day.

Progress is evolutionary
not revolutionary,
and most days we measure our progress
in inches,
not miles.

What matters most
is showing up for your life
whether you feel like it
or not.

Ask yourself,
"What two or three little things
can I do today
that would move me forward?"

You'll be amazed
at how much distance
you can cover
by taking it in increments.

The little things add up;
the inches turn to miles;
and we string together our efforts
like so many pearls.
Before long,
look what you have -
a whole strand!

Ah... beautiful.

"The only things that stand between a person and what they want in life
are the will to try it, and the faith to believe it's possible."
~Rich Devos~

Monday, June 1, 2009


Remember when you were a kid and you had a balloon? Remember how much fun you had when the top of the balloon wasn’t tied off? You could pull it and let the air seep out and the thinner the top got the more it squealed. The last 2 weeks have been like that for me, except it wasn’t full of fun like the balloon was. This last Thursday was the worst. There was no right side of the bed. No matter which side I crawled out of, it was the wrong side. My “Y” time went fine, but from there it went downhill. I couldn’t cook my eggs right. There’s something unappetizing about whites you can’t peel off the shell and yokes that are like rubber. So I threw them in the trash and skipped breakfast. I figured I haven’t lost enough weight that it would hurt me to wait to eat until lunch. Once at work, nothing pleased me! I found myself letting the air seep out and as the opening was pulled thinner I began to squeal (complain). I even apologized to my coworkers after an hour. I couldn’t stand myself, so I couldn’t imagine how they were standing to work with me.

Did you ever have a “hoppy ball”? When I was somewhere between 7-9 years old I had a hoppy ball. Now days they have hoppy horses and hoppy cows. A hoppy ball is a ball filled with air that has a handle on top that you sit on. It allows you to get from one location to another location quickly. It is an up and down motion. Life is just like a hoppy ball. We have ups and downs and by manipulating the ups and downs we make progress. You have to have both in order to grow and move. Constant use of a hoppy ball can wear you out, but the distance you make is worth it. Just like life’s ups and downs can wear you out but the progress is worth it.

One of my favorite gifts I received was on Christmas when I was 11 years old. I got a unicycle. Have you ever ridden a unicycle? Just like a 2 wheeled bike you have to have balance. One difference—I don’t think a unicycle has training wheels. At least mine didn’t. Now add snow and ice to learning to ride. Remember it was Christmas. Of course I couldn’t wait to ride it, so I took it outside and began to . . . fall off. Eventually I learned to balance, pedal and turn corners; all at the same time. Balance is so important in life. While you are balancing you have to pedal and make turns! Your progress depends on the strength in your legs, your back, the surface you are riding on and your ability to focus ahead and not look down or behind. Just like balancing life you have to have determination, goals, ways to get there and a focus to pedal towards those goals. Yes, there will be times your unicycle will fall out from under you. You just have to pick yourself up, get back on and pedal.

Did any of you have a ventriloquist doll? I did. It was my constant companion until the stuffing spewed out every time his mouth was opened. My imagination was sparked by that doll. Sometimes in life our imagination is the only thing that pulls us through. Imagine being the voice via a different median. I project my dreams and desires through another median. It started in 2008 when I had weight loss surgery. Now I imagine myself healthier, happier and thinner. Just like I did with my ventriloquist doll, I have to concentrate and keep talking to myself in positives. Sometimes that is hard – like this last week. I gave up all my positive positions and optimistic outlook and allowed my attitude to get negative. Then I projected it onto those around me, which just made things worse. I had to put the spewed stuffing of my negative complaining into perspective and work harder to be positive. Some days are like that.

When I was growing up a Frisbee was a popular toy for a friend and me. We would drive to the park and toss the Frisbee for hours. It was teamwork to keep it afloat and not allow it to touch the ground, yet make it fun enough to be more than just a back and forth straight line. We would practice different techniques of throwing. A few years ago Frisbee golf was a popular sport. I think I would have enjoyed it but due to weight and health issues I was unable to participate. Isn’t life after weight loss surgery like a Frisbee? There is so much you can do with it as long as you participate, practice and use you support people to solidify your team. Work together, focus and keep tossing your best shots!

There are other childhood memories I have; such as a Mrs. Beasley doll. Boy wouldn’t that poke-a-dot blue dressed blonde haired bombshell be worth a lot of money these days? How about Raggedy Ann and Andy? I had a pink dressed blonde haired doll I think was called Chatty Cathy. Then there was Smoky the Bear! He ended up being a disappointment. He talked---once. I pulled the string that was attacked to his butt. The ring tied to the string came off and the string coiled into his rear end. He never talked to me again. I guess some people are like that too. I often wonder what happened with people who were once active in my life and very special in my heart and they just faded away like Smoky’s string. I didn’t toss Smoky, but I had to fill my days with other things if I wanted the same results I expected from Smoky. Sometimes it takes years to accept Smoky will never talk again and you must move on in order to edify your life. Where is Smoky now? I don’t know. I lost touch with him, but I still carry his influence with me and have a special place in my heart for him. I’m disappointed, but richer for having him in my life. His place in my heart lives forever, just like those special people.

As you think of your childhood memories I hope you will find the air in your balloon doesn’t seep out and scream, but remains full and floating. I hope your bed only has a right side and you can deal with the ups and downs of life and progress at a comfortable but challenging pace. I hope you balance your activities of work and home and when you get out of balance you get back on and pedal towards your goals. Take all the turns and falls and rough terrain and turn them into positive progress. Project your dreams and desires and fulfill them through focus and whatever means it takes. Even on those days when you don’t feel like being positive and optimistic, put things into perspective and learn. Use your support to toss around those ideas, plans and actions to keep you strong in your game plan. Between both of you, you can find new techniques to toss that “frisbee of life” for more fun and new heights.

Last I hope you take that Smoky the Bear and learn from him; even if he does disappoint you and not live up to you expectations and hopes, because things change. Hold in your heart the lessons he taught in the time he was active in your life. Love him always, never toss him out and revise the energy you spend on him. Just the memories of your times with him may bring a ray of sunshine, a sliver of hope and a nudge of confidence. Recognize that grin as a sign of the influence he had. Besides, others may benefit from what Smoky gave you – once.

When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.