Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New projects, old projects

In my work, there's a concept (that I never say out loud to them, lest they find it to woo woo) called kaizen. It's the Japanese manufacturing performance improvement concept of constant, tiny adjustments. Or something like that. It's also, as far as I can figure, the meaning of life.

I don't really hide the woo woo very well. I do try to refrain from yelling KAIZEN at meaningful intervals, but I think you only have to glance at me to see the woo woo. Or, you know, a quick google search. Because here is the list of tiny adjustments I'm working on, and some updates to the old projects.

I'm working on self-acceptance, based on this Martha Beck article in Oprah. WOOOOO. Yep, I just typed that out. I mashed it into the Happiness Project checklist, and every day I update my status of self-acceptance, love, value and esteem. Good lord, that sounds crazy, but I swear to you it's very useful, calming and effective. I've been at it two months. It's like an economy journal, in that I only have to write 4 words if I want.

I have been eating lots and lots of fiber, on the advice of Full Plate Living. After flaming out in the workplace weigh loss challenge, (the team leader emailed out our totals - I was the last on the list, at 3.2 lbs or something), I decided to do something for myself, and do it my way.

It kind of started with The Sugar Experiment. The experiment was going quite well. I moved the candy out of my desk, put fruit in my own plain yogurt, actually measured the maple syrup for my oatmeal. But it wasn't magic. I needed to add more oomph to my plan.

Enter the Full Plate Living plan. It's so simple - add fiber to your meals, eat what you like. And it's not like "add fiber powder" - it's real, whole foods. Just last week I figured out a key piece - fiber in itself is good, but fiber suspended in water (you know, like oatmeal, fruit, soup, etc.) is best. I look forward to slowly shrinking.

I'm done with the apple cider vinegar, and now I'm brewing kombucha. Ironically, the last batch, when mixed with apple juice, tastes exactly like apple cider vinegar. Go figure.

I do find it incredibly amusing to brew (aka, ferment) this tea. There's a crazy mother on my counter! I love the word symbiotic anyway, and the brewing is all done through the SCOBY (symbiotic combination of bacteria and yeast).

And if you're looking for results, I have stopped taking the acid reflux medicine. Woo hoo!

What are you up to?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

She aint heavy, she's my mother

If you want to tie up all my neuroses, struggles, issues, and pathos into one tassel, it's probably my mother. I am sure most women feel the something like this to varying degrees. A lot of the things I do, I do for my mom, just as there are things I don't do, because of my mom.

(When I initially posted, I forgot to note that my mother died when I was 21 years old. She had multiple myeloma, which is not a kind cancer like mine, and because I was young and somewhat immature, things were not said before it was too late.)

For example: Belly dancing is for my mom. Actually, probably all dancing is for my mother. She was a very private, hidden-in-her body person. I feel her body-horror like a wall of flames, and walk through it. My childhood obsession with ballerinas she could not feed into. You're not built like a ballerina, she told me (although she denied that she meant I was too heavy). And she was right, I am not built like a ballerina.

Which is why it felt so rebellious 4 years ago to sign up for a belly dance class. And that class was fun! Grown women, risking ridicule (for trying something new) and shame (of not being good enough) but earning sparkles and grace instead, dancing together. As I continued with Joette at the West Michigan School of Middle Eastern Dance, group performance opportunities became available. What would Mom think? Oh well, here goes!

I dance because Mom could not, did not, but would have loved seeing me do it. Oh sure, she would have fretted about whether it was proper, or if it would damage my professional prospects, or if good girls use spray glitter. But I think she would have been thrilled to see me conquer fears she could not.

I've been a mess all day because it's Mother's Day. Lots of feeling sorry for myself, moping, posted a pathetic status update, went to the mall and the grocery store for some "retail therapy". I suppose it worked because what I eventually came to realize is that I don't have to do things to shock or impress my mother any more. I can do it for myself. And so I must.

P.S. Mom, that means I can also get a tattoo (something I don't do because of my mom). I don't have any ideas right now, but remember it doesn't mean that I don't love you. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

How to get a bikini body:

Put a bikini on your body.

I vaguely remember reading something like this on Jezebel, but when I search, I can't find it. I really want to give the creator credit, because it's brilliant, and true, and I've been thinking about these things a lot lately. I most recently read it as a photo clip of a facebook status of "someone" called Inner Subversion, and reposted by Photos of a Rabid Feminist. So, thanks, ladies. You've found a way to make me a million dollars.

It's MY bikini body plan. This million dollar value I will foolishly share with you for free. It's mostly a list of things you should NOT do, based on my own personal experience. And boy, do I have experience! As an (1) American (2) female (3) living in the Midwest who has read (4) 30 years of women's magazines containing (5) psuedo-scientific nutrition articles, I am unsingularly qualified to lead you on the path to the beach. So, before we chicken out and put our t-shirts back on, let's get started!

1. Do not join the workplace weight loss challenge. Your coworkers will lose weight differently than you, and you should not try to compete with them, even if there's a lot of money involved and you think you can win. (This was not my experience, actually. I did join, but I kind of secretly already knew that I am the slowest loser in the world and this was not my race to "win".)

But otherwise, kind of an awful experience. I've never been one to worship / fear the scale. It's a measurement, but only one and one of many, plus an invisible one to boot. Although the challenge was being run by the hospital, there was a great variety in the ability of the staff performing the weigh in to project shame. Who needs more shame in their life?

It seemed fun at first to be surrounded by "supportive" co-workers. But as those who lost a lot became the "experts", those who weren't doing as well (that would be me) lost the "support". Support came to mean peer pressure. In the end, I can't control the scale. The low-hanging fruit has already been sliced and mixed into my oatmeal. I quit drinking soda pop, diet and regular, at least 4 years ago. I might have lost the same pound 5 times during the last 8 weeks, which at least counted for my team because the point system didn't punish for gains, just rewarded for losses. So, the same on the scale, battered and bruised and smarter otherwise. Never again.

2. Do not follow someone else's plan. Counter-intuitive! And that means you can ignore this advice, if it doesn't work for you. But I am a rebel, and I'll never ever be understood. Or something like that.

Or maybe I'm more of a mash-up artist. I like to use the Nerd Fitness approach, with some Martha Beck Four Day Win, while pretending I'm as cute as Sarah Jenks. But here is the key - the only plan I paid money to use is the Martha Beck book, which I just happened to find at Goodwill. (Try the library! Rebellion is free!)

I really think I am the expert on how my own body works. But I'm not a doctor, or a psychic, or a behavioral psychologist, or even a new-age health guru. And being an expert in my own body took time (aging, whatever) and experimentation. It did not take cold hard cash, soft furry bills, or invisible credit card charges.

3. Do not look at pictures for inspiration. Or at least not THOSE pictures.

Now, this could take some cash, but you should go to a belly dance show instead. Because I am going to guess that what freaks you out about the bikini is your belly. I don't personally know any humans who   will confess to loving their belly. But all bellies (just like all babies!) are lovable.

If you go to the belly dance show, you may see that flat bellies are boring. Ribs are depressing. Even women who spend all of their time focusing on their "abs" do not have "abs" like that. And when you do achieve the belly that will get you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, you may only have that belly for a day or a year. Bellies change. Which is amazing!

My favorite, Mardi Love:

4. Don't worry about bikinis and the beach. There's a million kind of swimsuits.

Seriously, if it got me in Lake Michigan on a beautiful summer afternoon, I would wear a 1920 bathing costume. I find that once I get to the beach, I have forgotten about what I look like. Sand, sun, waves is what it's all about. Maybe some cherries in the cooler, La Croix sparkling water (I think lime would be good with the cherries!), People magazine or a good paperback. Don't let the umbrella blow away. I'm there already.

Am I going to wear a bikini on the beach? Not this year. I have scars I'm trying to protect from sunlight. Doctor's orders!

I am signed up to wear the equivalent of a bikini top in public while dancing at the Greek Festival this year, so you can't say that I'm truly chickening out.

So really, it boils down to this: To get a bikini body, put a bikini on your body. Can it get any simpler?