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Being Human: A Life Without _____ Is A Life Not Lived
It’s hard to believe it’s getting close to a year and a half since I parted ways with my job.
It’s been quite a roller coaster. I’ve had a lot of changes to get used to, a lot of decisions to make; and most of all, I’ve had to get reacquainted with parts of me I’d forgotten, locked up or ignored.
There have been a lot of feelings going on in my head and it’s not always easy.
It’s called being human.
I’m about as human as they come. I could never be accused of being a robot. I tend to wear my passion for whatever I’m doing, on my sleeve; and as a result, I may come off a little intense and dramatic.
Out in the real world it is expected that you behave with a certain amount of coldness. Sometimes you’ll hear it referred to as: professionalism and decorum. This requires you to bottle things up and not be completely honest. That lack of honesty, my friends, is one of the biggest failures in our society’s increasing isolation. Real communication is becoming obsolete.
Time and time again, I have watched people sit completely stone-faced and not express themselves– when I know they have definite opinions or feelings on the matter. It’s really hard to watch. How do you interact with that? I know, I’ve tried it– how should I say it… in the name of civility… and I usually fail miserably.
One of the biggest realizations I’ve had to face is that the feelings and responses to the things around us aren’t always going to be considered appropriate. We have to be okay with that. I think of all the people that medicate just to avoid feeling and I never want to be in that place.
We can try to ignore and avoid our feelings… even feel guilty about them but then how much are we really living? How much are we really experiencing life? It’s not always necessary to express all our feelings to other people but we at least need to acknowledge them ourselves. Appropriate or not, our feelings are real— if only to us. The people with whom we engage have those feelings too. Everyone deals with things differently… the important thing is that they are dealt with and not ignored.
It’s far too easy to become numb and go through the motions of living.
It can happen for a number of reasons:
- We’re too busy, obsessed or focused on one thing; ignoring, or refusing to deal with everything else,
- Afraid to become emotionally involved; of being used or hurt,
- Lack of self confidence and feelings of inadequacy; fear of being judged,
- Expectations of professional demeanor, void of expression; always holding your cards close,
- Purely for self preservation; protecting your self, job, relationships or image,
When we allow ourselves to fall into any of these patterns, we start living a life without. We alienate ourselves and our selves. We may find the temporary protection we need to get through any given situation but if this becomes the way we deal with every day life, something is missing. We can become lost.
Being human is thinking, feeling and expressing through our experiences.
Life is joy, celebration and happiness— anger, heartbreak and tears. It’s connecting and sharing those feelings with others that make us human.
It’s important to feel things.
It’s important to express things.
It’s most important that we not lose who we are in the daily routine of survival.
Take away these human traits and what do you have left?
A big blank. A life without.
Proud Five-Zero (50) !
The day final came. Goodbye Forties, Hello Fifties. I know a lot of people have trouble with milestone birthdays but I’ve actually been looking forward to this one… Not to be older but reaching that benchmark. In this day and age, there isn’t the same stigma and ageism that existed years ago. Okay, so I know it’s not completely gone but you even see less and less of the once popular over the hill merchandise (thankfully) than was so frequently used say, ten to twenty year ago.
Age is just a number. I could insert a dozen more cliche sayings here but I’ll spare you. We all, hopefully, evolve as we grow older. We’re a conglomeration of all our experiences, good and bad; as well as all the people that have influenced our lives. I don’t believe in being a victim of circumstance. We have many choices throughout our lives that lead us to where we are now. The choices and experiences of our lives, those we choose and those we can’t control, are just small pieces of our whole being. We choose what we do with that and who we become.
This past year has been a time of deep personal growth for me, or of self awareness… Moments that have really mattered. I think I was about forty-five when I found myself thinking, ” I have to do (or accomplish) _____ before I’m fifty.” Now I know none of that really matters. Without leaving life to chance, I trust I’ll reach the goals and accomplishments I need to complete in my lifetime. I have a purpose and I do impact others. I don’t always needs a specific measure of that.
I was born December 29, 1962 at 12:01 AM. (My poor mother!) I marked the occasion with with my partner Michael, and my dear friend Amee in Times Square at the exactly 12:01 AM this morning. The perfect start to what promises to be a memorable day.
For those approaching the big five-zero— have no fear. I feel no different today than I did yesterday. Only now, I can say I’ve lived a half century.
Here’s to the next fifty years.
My 2012 Weight Loss Challenge: The Unveiling
I’ve been anxiously waiting and counting down the days until I could write this blog post. Believe me, when I say that I was surprised with my progress and final results. Even two months ago I couldn’t have predicted the final outcome. The most important thing I’ve been reminded of — We can all do pretty much anything we want, if we truly have the determination and desire to see it through. We tend to forget that. At least I know I do. I want to share with you what I did, how I did it and hope that maybe it will help just one person to find their own strength to challenge themselves. Whether it be achieving a weight loss goal or healthy living, pursuing a change in career or living situation or even starting or finishing a project you’ve put off for too long– you CAN do it.
The Beginning. I would have to estimate my weight back in March 2012, when the first photograph was taken, at somewhere around 255 pounds. I was at my heaviest point ever and even XXL clothing was somewhat tight. I was starting to feel embarrassed by my size but I didn’t let that stop me from eating. It wasn’t so much the quantity of what I ate as it was the quality of foods. I lived primarily on fast food. I usually only had one meal a day during the week, and if I did eat anything else, it was always something like chips or ice cream. That one meal a day was always a high calorie, high carb binge-fest of fast food. It got to the point I couldn’t do anything without it affecting my breathing, I’d get severe acid reflux, and I was tired all the time. Sure, I thought about losing the weight but I had no motivation to change my eating habits. It’s so easy to find excuses and place blame. The fact was I was just too lazy.
Between March and May, Michael and I started talking about losing weight and even started to cook more. We lost a few pounds but without a complete, radical change in our diets we weren’t going to see the results we needed to see. It wasn’t until we started planning my 50th birthday trip that we got serious about eating right. We decided to primarily follow the rules of the Adkins diet because it had worked well for us in the past. (We just didn’t continue to eat healthy after it.) Every diet isn’t right for every person and every person’s results may vary but the low carb diet definitely works for achieving significant weight loss and then can be easily adapted for long term, healthy eating.
FACT #1 It’s not always how much you eat but the combination of what you eat.
FACT #2 The Food Pyramid is wrong.
I put these two together because they are interrelated. Your body processes different foods, well, differently. When you eat foods requiring different processes, it confuses your systems and ultimately stores much of your food as fat. Your body processes proteins and fats in one way and sugars and starches in another.
FACT #3 Large quantities of Milk, Bread (Grains) and Potatoes are not good for you.
Have you ever heard the saying, Cows milk is for baby cows, not people? Most of our bodies don’t process it well. It’s no wonder so any people are lactose intolerant. Bread and potatoes contain large amounts of sugar and components that the body turns into sugar; and then the body stores it as fat.
These are staples in fast foods. When you go to a restaurant, the first thing they bring you is bread and one of your side dishes is almost always potatoes (or rice). They are cheap to serve, filling, and your bodies loves to turn them into fat. I love french fries. I haven’t had any for six months now. Honestly, I can’t say that I haven’t really missed or craved them like I thought I would. I also love bread. Sandwiches, burgers, and particularly, yeast rolls are my downfall. I love them– but my waistline does not. One slice of bread or half of a burger bun has more carbs than your daily allowance when you start a low carb diet. (It’s no wonder so many children are obese when sandwiches and burgers are a regular part of their eating habits.)
FACT #4 Dieting and Alcohol Don’t Mix.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve known that talk about how they can’t lose weight and go out and drink on the weekends. Alcoholic drinks contain loads of sugar and the alcohol breaks down in to sugar that turns to fat. If you’re serious about weight loss — stop drinking. I’m not much of a drinker, so this was easy for me.
The Progress. In the initial few weeks of our diet, Michael and I didn’t weigh ourselves and we were very strict in limiting our carbs. We primarily stuck to proteins and fats (meats and cheese), having very few vegetables and taking vitamin supplements. We drank lots of water and cut back on caffeine. I wasn’t willing to give up coffee altogether if I didn’t have to– and soon found, for me, caffeine wasn’t having much affect on my weight loss progress.
After about a month, I started weighing myself daily. This can be tricky when you are trying to measure your progress. I found my weight can easily vary around five pounds depending on the time of day and the amount of fluids I’ve been drinking. The best practice is to weigh yourself at the same time of day to accurately measure your progress.
We also started eating salads with nearly every meal, or the salads were the meal. You can make salads interesting by adding lots of low carb veggies such as celery, cucumbers, broccoli, mushrooms and green onions and of course all the meat and cheese you want. We only used small quantities of tomatoes and carrots for flavor because they are higher in sugar than other vegetables. Broccoli slaw is also a nice crunchy addition. Most ranch dressings are only 2 to 3 carbs per serving but you have to read the labels. Italian and vinaigrette dressings are not as good for you as you might think. Many have large amounts of sugar. I can’t tell you how much I love salads now and I never thought I’d say that.
One of our other favorite meal solutions was soup… Don’t even think about soup from a can, they really aren’t good for you. Once or twice a week we made a huge batch of our own using a prepackaged beef stock (which is often salty and can be watered down), meats such as sausage, beef and chicken, and vegetables such as celery, green beans and mushrooms. The best thing is to add fresh chopped green onions and shredded cheese when you’re ready to eat it.
Exercise. I didn’t start working out until three months in to our program. Obviously, an important part of good health is exercise and physical activity. I started out going 3 to 5 times a week but my workouts only averaged 45 minutes to an hour on a regular basis. My goal was to get the exercise and begin to tone and build my flexibility, not build bulk. Especially when losing a large amount of weight in a relatively short period of time, toning your body is crucial. Excess fat stretches your skin so as you lose, you want to help firm up that body.
I’ve only been going to the gym about once or twice a week for the past month with my schedule but I’ve been getting my exercise through my daily routine at home and work.
FACT #5 You aren’t going to achieve your desired results through exercise alone.
I’ve watched friends become obsessed with the gym but do nothing about altering their diets. Though this may work for some people, it doesn’t for most of us. You need a good combination of healthy eating and exercise to see your desired results.
FACT #6 It’s okay to cheat.
Cheating is okay. Sometimes you find yourself with a craving or in a situation where you can’t stick to a strict diet. Just remember that cheating may set back your progress– but if it keeps you from giving up in the long run, it’s a good thing. I can actually name all the times I’ve cheated in the past six months. I had one piece of cake, pizza twice, a small helping of scalloped potatoes and two yeast rolls. (Spread out, of course, not all at once.)
The saving grace for my sweet tooth has been the Adkins Bars. They are available at most grocery stores and I’ve gotten the best prices at Target and Walmart. They have been my morning and afternoon meal replacements and my snacks. I average two to three of them a day. They are really delicious and the perfect solution to sugar cravings. You can’t really substitute other diet or energy bars. Most are extremely high in sugar and carbs.
I can’t stress enough how important it is that you are really ready and committed before you start any weight loss plan. If you go in to it halfheartedly, you’re going to fail. You can’t let yourself be discouraged during those periods when the results seem to be stagnate either. Stay committed. Stick to the course and you’ll see the results.
One of the reasons this diet has worked so well for me is that though I do have to watch what foods I eat, I don’t have to count calories, points or measure food portions. I’m not disciplined enough to track those things necessary to achieve results on those other diet plans. I can honestly say I have never been hungry or felt like I was depriving myself (or starving) on this diet. It’s overall, been a relatively easy path.
I feel better. I look better. I have more energy. What more can I ask for? I’m reminded everyday how much better I feel and how much easier it is to do simple tasks. I’m much more productive and I feel alive again!
LOVE YOURSELF! You’re worth it!
One more thing– Cooking doesn’t have to be a chore. Yes, the drive thru or a sit down restaurant is easier. Once you get into the swing of preparing your meals at home (if you don’t normally), it just becomes part of your daily routine. The thought of it is more harsh than the actual cooking can be.
Final Results. Here are the final statistics from my six-month weight loss journey, on my road to better health:
My Weight Loss Update: 12/23/12:
Goal Date: December 25, 2012
Goal Weight: 185 lbs.
Starting Weight: 245 lbs.
Starting Waistline: 38″-40″
Starting Shirt Size: XXL
Current (Final) Weight: 178lbs.
Current Waistline: 30″
Current Shirt Size: MED.
Total Weight Lost: 67 lbs.