The good, the bad and the ugly

Which do you want first? The good news or the bad news?

I was asked this a few years back when I was having my home refurbished. The contractor asked me these questions. I opted for the bad news first because I wanted to end the news on a more positive note. The bad news that day was my ceiling was caving in. The good news was, he could fix it. I knew a ceiling couldn’t be healthy when the darned thing was curved…downward…and what looked like dry hay was creeping from the corner.

The end result was I had a beautiful home, shiny, updated and strong from the foundation to the roof. And it all came at a price. The dollars, time and being forced to live in a spot in one room for several months was difficult at times. I felt discombobulated. My ground chakra had no wiring. The mess before the unveiling put me outside of my comfort zone for a few months, but in the end I was more comfortable and ultimately happier. I remember standing in that home and looking all around and marveling that I was in the same space but not in the same space.

Before the construction could begin the deconstruction had to happen. The discomfort had to happen. The inner exchange, the daily negotiations changed, which had to happen. Re-modeling a home is a lot like remodeling a life. The bad news is some areas of my life are caving in, but the good news is…I can fix it.

That good news is really good news! Have you ever been in the company of someone who is actively living and making choices to better themselves? If not, then you really should begin your reconstruction with your circle of friends and acquaintances. Sure, the person who is listening to Zig Ziegler for the thousandth time and is telling you how wonderful life is and on top of that they actually lost weight during the holidays can be challenging to one’s psyche especially if one just bought a size larger pair of jeans because of the holidays and one has no idea who Zig is other than the papers used to roll Cigs. It is so easy, so natural to continue in your own flow even if the flow drops into no-man’s land, where nothing grows and nothing new ever happens.

How does one re-model their life? Which walls come down, which rooms are re-utilize and what is the new decor? The bad news is that all those choices should be chosen by you and no one else. The good news is all those choices should be chosen by you and no one else!

Commercials are on overdrive for weight loss products and clinics and shots and suctions. I often wish I could have a constant companion telling what to do, what to eat and to knock the food right out of my hands if I am over calorie budget for the day. I often wish I had someone there to insist I go to the gym, pick out the right clothes, point out that I need to meditate. And, yes, I know that I am my own constant companion, and that is where things turn ugly!

Being our own contractors is challenging, but finding the answers to the problems needing to be solved, such as a ceiling that is caving in, is the stuff of life. We must be careful who we chose to help us, which tools to use and in the end the price paid. Change is never easy, change is ever constant and change can be extremely uncomfortable.

But in the end, it is all worth the new digs.

To Resolve or Not to Resolve, That is the Question

Have you noticed? People are resolving not to resolve! In developing New Year’s Resolutions, one decides to change something, firmly choosing a new direction. At least for a few weeks! The in thing, I am noticing, is to NOT make any resolutions. Why do it, some are writing: just live and let live. Making a decision to change something at New Years is a farce, leading us toward disappointing ourselves yet again. How many of us made a resolution last year to lose weight and, well, didn’t? Or, to make major changes in other areas of life like in love, work and spiritual commitment, and didn’t? Is the answer to can the resolution and just start the year off with nothing ahead but what fate allows?

I am understating a lot of things, but my point is, I like the New Year’s Resolution thing. Some years I did fail, and yes, after a few weeks. Some years I succeeded. The point of the resolution is that when I make them, I have such hope and energy. I see that what I desire in my life for the new year gives me a blast of positive energy. How can that be a bad thing? So, I resolve to resolve a few things this year. Go ahead and judge; it won’t bother me at all. I often tell clients that the difference in life is started by a thought: A spark in one’s mind that makes sense. If that thought makes your adrenaline flow, go for it. That adrenaline is the stuff from which paths are forged.

My life has had many paths. I certainly followed a few dreams. Doing that gave me reasons to do and be, and conquer a fear or two. To quote some one who surely understood extreme redundancy, “I ain’t dead yet.”

juicer I sit here writing with my first juiced drink from my new juicer. I resolve to use it at least 5 times a week. Up until today I let my eating habits slip, with no momentum after Thanksgiving to watch my weight, I got an I just don’t want to care right now about what I eat attitude. The end result? I am emotionally slumped and fatter. The Sugar Rewards. There are none! I have resolved to go back to my vegan ways. My inner organs have been begging me to do so!

A couple of years ago I set a goal to write this blog and I had quite a few ideas of what to do to make this site succeed. I resolve to continue to do just that. I have no big ideas, but I do have a few that may result in getting that book together.

I could have sworn that God sent me messages to stop my comedy career after the Eva Longoria fiasco, but I still love the stage and am starting this year booked at a few amazing places. I resolve to continue to be open to comedy as it was my catalyst for life for so many years.

I love music, and we bought a BOSE for the house. I resolve to dance more in my kitchen…it has the biggest “floor.”

For years I worked to mend relationships, apologize to those I hurt and just learn to love better. I am keeping the last part of this, I am open to loving. I am not too turned on by mending, at least not being the one to seek the salves. I realized recently that I am a pretty good person, and I like me. Getting here was my life’s journey. I resolve to love more, and more freely.

The juicer is set up and broken in, I am writing today, I have a few jokes to put in my next set , my i-pod is playing my favorite tunes and, I love more today than yesterday.

I resolutely resolve to my New Year’s Resolutions! It just makes me so darned happy!

Hot Flash or Bubbling Cauldron?

If women could harness the energy of the hot flash it would be a super-power. Imagine being in Alaska, in the middle of the winter on a glacier in a bikini, or a nice one-piece that slims 10 pounds with properly place herring bone, and the locals are warming themselves at your hips. Global warming takes a back seat to the environmental effects of more than 20 million women flashing. Maybe those glaciers are melting when cruise ships of menopausal women get too close. Funny how so many tipping glaciers are caught on camera! “This is your captain speaking. All menopausal women below deck in the kryptonite chamber!”  Maybe scientists should be looking in the ovary for the piece of matter that blew up and created the Universe. Higgs Smiggs, I have the Milky Way’s cousin in my belly! Wouldn’t that just anger ALL men who wish women to remain silent and shrouded?

We all have different experiences, and top that with our different perceptions of the flash. To me, the heat inside ignites like an old gas stove: when the fire catches it is fast and big, engulfing all the extra gas that leaked in prior. There is no running from it- that makes it worse. I try to stay still and fan myself, or find a fan or a glacier. My face, neck and chest turn red, and I sweat in places I didn’t know glands existed. I remember reading to my senior class from The Great Gatsby. I thought it was great internal timing to get a hot flash during the scene where they first enter the hot hotel room in New York. As if on cue, I began to sweat. Who needs computer simulators? I embodied what that room felt like, and I too, just wanted a glass of icy bourbon. My students learned to ignore flashes. Or, at least they acted like they did. they looked away like it was the proper thing to do, like not staring at thebearded lady. Neither I, nor my grandmother could help it!

Night time is the worst time for hot flashes. No mattress is comfortable when the occupant is smouldering in a pre-spontaneous combustion state. Really, if spontaneous combustion were real, our fire departments would be very, very busy. I hate it. Hot, then sweat, then cold and clammy. I got special wicking PJ’s for my 52nd birthday. I was so happy. I took pictures of them and posted it to Facebook. They are more exciting than the splashes on the White Water Rapids at Six Flags. I now sleep with a fan directly on me about 2 feet from where I am on the bed, the ceiling fan and the air conditioner blasting after midnight. During the winter I do not need a heater. Remember? Alaska?

I had no idea that the heat would ignite more that just internal temperature. It also brewed up a bubbly cauldron of memories, mostly those which were of me, being less than perfect. The cauldron is a dark and scary place. I first began having memories of my mothering pop-up. I would wait until a decent hour, maybe 6-ish am-ish or so and call my girls and beg them to forgive me for whatever it was that needed forgiving at that moment. After a month or two of these calls, they asked me to stop it and that they forgive me for everything and anything else I may remember. I wonder if they just hated being woken up to “Please forgive me for…” It was weird, but I would get a very clear picture of mistakes I made night after night. I called this time in menopause the time of the bubbling cauldron of self-regret. Am I the only one?

The memories continued to the rest of my life. I have apologized to many people, written letters, found long-lost elementary buddies etc. If I have to go through a life review when I get to Heaven, I will cry “Foul!” I have already done this deed. Enough Jesus!! I cannot do this again. I picture myself telling God, “Oh no YOU didn’t!” When he pushes ‘play’ on the life review DVR.

Thanks to my doctor, the bubbling cauldron of self-regret has gone dormant. Like an active volcano, it lies there waiting for me to skip a hormone pill. I tried to “go through it naturally” with creams, black cohosh and extreme exercise, but none of that worked. Pre-hormones I was a sweating, apologizing, anxiety-filled mess. I felt as  though I was a closet Joan Crawford.  Closet. Get it? I kill me.

Today I am thankful for the new research that said hormones are not so bad, and women can take them past the five years declared safe. I am betting the researchers are men and women affected somehow by a menopausal woman. Why is Dr. Scientist afraid to go to sleep? It must be scary to wake up next to a woman saying ,”Give me the eye!” While she peers into her inner cauldron. I recently met a women who announced to me she was tossing the hormones as they made her fat. First, she wasn’t fat, but she did say she had gained 15 pounds since she began taking them. I don’t ever want to live in a place where my experience is the only one and the right one…but, I did tell her to be careful: once the hormones wear-off, just be really self-aware. If you find yourself in place that only Howard Hughes would go get out and run back to the MD.

If hot flashes burned calories, I would abstain from the hormones and join Bethany Frankel as a Skinny B-Word. One would think, with all that incineration some fat would be burned. But the only thing burned was my inner psyche…a true size 0 after it was all said and done! Thankfully, I am now back to normal size, which means my psyche is more Dove Girl than Cover Girl, but that is just fine with me!

Days 10 and 11: Goals, Trainers and Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Due to a Target foray I was unable to report on day nine. After a week and a half without a car, the scheduled trip to Target was exciting! Twelve ladies squeezed into the Biggest Loser van, and then we squeezed out and shopped. The ironic meeting place was at the tables…in the food court area. We all survived the smell of pop corn and the chocolate neatly displayed at the check-outs. I think we all enjoy the esprit de corps that comes with this place. We are all here for our health, our weight, ourselves. Yep, just a bunch of selfish ladies indulging in a bit of shopping!

The top of Camel Back, one of my goals!

Today we had our meeting again about goals. Everyday we should set a goal, think on it and then when we try to achieve the goal or reach it…we again ponder the goal. I did this all week. I chose a goal for specific classes or hikes. It has helped me push myself- remember, this isn’t television and no one is here to make us throw up! We are encouraged to push the limits, and a few of us do. My new friend from Australia (who is worried now how she is going to manage her vote for a new leader. In Australia, each citizen HAS to vote!) worked her tail off today literally. Everything she did today was in better form than before. At dinner she only managed a few very tired smiles. Here at Fitness Ridge you can purchase personal training time. She did that the last two days, as well as participating in the already rigorous schedule we have. inspiration from Down Under!!

We are told to tell a trainer what pushes our buttons to encourage us and become personal advocates. What works for me is when I hear my name. One girl likes to be yelled at. I don’t think that means they can call her a fatty fatty no-friends, but for her, the yelling gets her moving. Today the hardest class was treading. That is the cardio workout where you push for five minutes then rest for five, push for four, rest for four etc. The trainer told us it is designed to shock our bodies. I told her it was good payback because my body has been shocking me for years! Treading is to help a person who has reached a plateau, or wants to increase their stamina. It is a good heart exercise.

Hiking is fun!

Better view for how high we really were!

The trainers here are more than I imagined. Though none of them are Bob or Jillian, they are all as talented as them in my opinion. They are very professional. Every single trainer here is super fit- they are runners, iron man/woman athletes, and brilliant hikers. They are all uber-athletes! They do keep a professional distance. I like that. No one is trainer’s pet!

Fitness Ridge bases a lot on the daily hikes. This is when most of the calories are burned. We are transported every morning to a destination; usually a mountain, and we have to climb it. Tomorrow I am going back to Saddle Back- a tough climb the reward of being on top of the world. The views are spectacular and the calorie burn is the best. When we return from the hike we get to eat breakfast. Good idea to send seventy hikers out hungry and say they can eat once they finish their hill! Today I opted for the cereal because I LOVE CEREAL! Matt Hoover said we should be open to our experiences and try all of the new foods- I told him I have to get him out of my head when I order cereal. Thanks Matt!

The cereal here is a "party in my mouth!"

Tonight we had chocolate strawberries. It is heaven on a smaller plate. Two larger strawberries dipped in dep, dark, luscious chocolate. It was fun watching the room: No one left any chocolate on their plates. It was perfect, and after skewered pineapple twice in one week, I was ready for my strawberries. I hope when I leave the Ridge, I can still savor the smaller portioned desserts and meals. (Yes, dessert was mentioned first on purpose!)

See where it says "chocolate strawberries?"

I noticed a big change in my appearance last Saturday, but I am not seeing any changes this week. We are told that the body is a perfect calculator, and the energy in / energy expended will eventually show up with inches lost and weight loss. I am not weighing in until the last week. Numbers affect me, and if the calculator is slow I may not react kindly. Rumor has it that when many of the guests leave, their weight loss continues into the next week. So, my four weeks will spill over into five, and hopefully a lifetime!

Tomorrow is Friday… fun day. We get to dance and play games in the pool. There is a kickball game being organized..this is the life!

Day 9: Inspiration

On this morning’s hike I met someone who inspired me. I will call him Bill. I met Bill on a more personal level during our hike because we were leading the pack. When a van of hikers set out, it is not only loaded with Biggest Loser fans, it also has three guides. The guides spread out to the lead, the middle and end of the trail. They step, we step. They climb, we climb. I was shocked I was in the lead, but I felt good today and knew the hike- so I pushed myself hard to get a good work-out. Bill was on my heels, so Bill, Kendall, the hike guide, and I would take our “breaks” together. Breaks are only to catch your breath, so I learned the trick to breath as heavy as I can for as long as I can to prolong the break! I also learned if I ask the guide to take pictures it really stretches the time!

One of the questions I ask the other guests here is, what brought them to Fitness Ridge? The stories are rich with experiences which always end the triumph of getting healthy through nutrition and exercise. Bill’s story ends the same, but has many twists, turns and surgeries. You see, Bill had two car accidents, one after he was rehabilitated from the first. Both times he broke his neck and back. First he was told he was going to die, then he was told he would be an invalid…then a doctor told him he had to fight because he didn’t have to accept it. He was encouraged to fight for his life. He did. After months in bed with a halo on his head, a full body cast and other constraints, he found the fight hard. He took medications to help with the pain and then he was prescribed an anti-depressant to help combat the pain medication. By the time the casts and halo was off, he was taking almost a dozen medications.

It was at the time the halo and casts came off that he was told to fight for his life. It started with steps, then more steps, then he threw out all of his medications. It didn’t take long and he was making his first reservations to Fitness Ridge. On his third trip, he is a powerful hiker, and working out six to seven hours a day. He still has pain, but he told me he chose life. He chose to exercise, and eat right. He has also found peace through mediation and prayer. Powerful stuff.

There are many people here who are struggling through their pains, medications and negative self-images. It is amazing what finishing a thirty-second interval on a cardio machine will do for those negative thoughts- it muffles them. Those negative thoughts bite; in return we eat to ease the pain. Like Bill, I am finding exercise is a much better prescription.

After nine days without coffee, and totally healthy fiber filled meals, I am feeling good. My knees are acting up; both were irritated during my marathon days. Today I iced them and took a motrin. I hope they feel better for the morning hike. Yesterday, one of our hike guides told us she has run 194 marathons. Her knees looked great. I should have a pow wow with her in the morning! Idid read about an experiment where the doctor had eight patients with the same knee injuries. He operated on four of them, the other four he made an incision, but did not perfom the surgery. All of them went through the same physical therapy. The four people with the ‘fake’ surgery healed faster than those who had the actual procedure. I hope I can work my knees in the water and take my movements thoughtfully enough to get over this blip! (See, I am even calling it a “blip”….no big deal right??)

A quick look at today’s menu: a parfait made with granola, greek yogurt and fruit for breakfast, tomato soup and turkey sandwich for lunch, enchiladas and raspberry sorbet for dinner. I left the green beans on my plate tonight. Unseasoned green beans and brussel sprouts are where I draw the line!

Tomorrow is already day 10 and that will mark that I am a third of the way into this journey. I feel tired, but working out 7 hours a day does that to a person. I feel proud. Working out seven hours a day also does that to a person.

View from my room walking toward the pool area.