I have a truly amazing support system. On Christmas Eve, “Secret Santa” from my group left the note above on my porch song with a goodie bag full of fabulous stickers, trinkets and small gifts, including a cute chicken kitchen timer and a fluid measuring glass. Do I feel the love? Yes, I do.
And my beloved Anne gave me a Fitbit (one that I can wear in the pool to track swimming too), a mini-colander to wash my morning blueberries, measuring spoons with size markings I can read, jogging pants that won’t fall off for a few more months at least, and Michelle Obama’s book, which I can read on the exercise bike. I may be forgetting something, but do I feel the love? Yes, I do.
Weirdly enough, it seems to be getting easier in a lot of ways. I am drinking more than a gallon every day now, finishing the jug by dinner and wanting more. I did 420 minutes of exercise this week, and it was easier than the week before. I had veal marsala and a martini on Christmas eve, and ate a potluck dinner at a friend’s house on Christmas – and I still lost almost 2 pounds.
During class we talked about lessons learned this last year. There has been so much! For me personally, I think I now can relax just a little more, turn down the volume on my compulsiveness, and partake of an occasional treat. As long as I keep my focus most of the time, it will really be OK to plan to do something different once in awhile. Planning is the key. I knew I would have a martini this week so I ate a bit lighter earlier in that day. I also knew I would be unhappy if I just got sauceless fish so the veal was a decent option that tasted fabulous. The leftovers were good as well. Watching people eat the bread and olive oil, and sharing a dessert was a little harder, but the veal and martini did it for me, and once it came, I did not feel deprived.
2019 will be a good year. 2020 will be even better if we can pull off a landslide election that will end this political nightmare we have been living in for forever it seems.
(My stats for the last week – down 1.9 pounds, drank over 8 gallons of water and exercised for 420 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 72.3 pounds.)
I made the exercise goal of 420 minutes. It almost killed me but I did it! I rode the bike in 20-40 minute segments twice a day. It is amazing how the idea of a prize can motivate me. We get “stamps” for attendance at meetings, logging our calories, and exercising for 420 minutes a week. When we have enough stamps, the card is entered into a drawing for a Whole Foods gift certificate. I don’t even like that store; it is so pretentious and overpriced, but I want to win so I am wearing out the stationary bike until spring when I can swim again. It’s a mind game I am playing with myself.
We had a interesting discussion in class last night. Does doing something hard, like this program, improve your life in other ways? Does it open up other possibilities for you, other challenges that you might tackle? Does it make you more empathetic to others, because you know how hard things can be, or does it make your more judgmental because after all you have had success, so why can’t everybody else? Of course I went to the theological in this. It reminds me of the old salvation by grace versus salvation by character argument. The Universalists and Unitarians, coming from either side of that issue, decided to just live in the tension of that theological debate. I do believe that hard work helps, but a little luck helps even more. Everything does NOT happen for a reason, much of life is simply random, and sometimes good hard-working, truly wonderful people, simply do not succeed or even manage to survive. We do what we can, and hope for the best. Try to love life and love each other; be generous and be kind. If nothing else, the world will be a little bit better because we lived. As a Unitarian Universalist I believe that all will end up in whatever heaven is, and also that we can, with our efforts, create a little heaven right here.
(My stats for the last week – down 1.4 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 420 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 70.4 pounds.)
The quality of light in the morning is something to behold.
The warm breath of the sun falls gently on the mountain and on the bay.
Wake up because it is a new day.
I had a “non-scale victory” this week because I was able to attend a rally, and even speak before the County Board of Supervisors that same evening. See “Ice Out of Marin” for what I said. I could not have physically done this a few months ago. It was still physically difficult. The rally was held on uneven grass, with no real seating. The civic center halls are also very long. Between those two things my knees were cracking, throbbing and popping that night and throughout the next day. I made a joke on Facebook saying, “although I wanted ICE out of our county, I still need some ice for my knees.” A sense of humor helps get me through, not just with doing this hard program, but also with coping with all the truly evil things happening in the world. .
I was also able to wear my clerical shirt with its collar and could button ALL the buttons! Victory! In my tradition, clerical collars are not routinely worn in our churches. Instead, we wear stoles and some of us robe when leading services. In more recent years, however, many Unitarian Universalist ministers have begun wearing collars during public witness events. It is a very recognizable symbol that we are ordained clergy and it can add a tad of religious and moral authority to what we say. The clergy shirt I ordered online a few years ago never really fit me before, but this last week it did! Thinking back to my list of the reasons I began this program, being able to attend social justice events was on that list. (Click here for my full list) here. ) Yay! Just Yay!
Class was good this week. It was particularly fun because it was a smallish group and all but two of the attendees were people from my cohort. We are so well bonded that we can tease each other and laugh hysterically. One man was talking about eating crab and some of us heard “crap” – not much of a stretch because “crap food” is something most of us have known all too well. The rest of the class, he said “Cra -buh.” Maybe you had to be there, but it was hilarious. I also think I remember pretending to be a crab in boiling water, raising my claws and making drowning noises, but maybe I just thought about doing that. We were pretty rowdy and I hope we did not upset our facilitator who is still getting used to us. Laughter helps though. It really does.
One more wonderful thing happened this week. Because of this blog I connected with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in at least 25 years. She finished the active part of the program about a year ago, and is in a “lifestyles” group in a nearby city. We talked non-stop for almost 3 hours when she came by to see us and we have plans to get together again. We mainly just got caught up on our lives and our kids, but she also had some program tips for me as well. (COLD water is better, the body burns calories heating it up – who would have known?)
I will be working on exercising more in the weeks to come. The goal now is 420 minutes. I might have made close to that if it were not for getting a shingles shot on Monday. The shot reaction knocked me out for a bit. I was down 2.6 pounds anyway, making up for my very slight gain of .2 pounds last week,. Yay again, just yay.
(My stats for the last week – down 2.6 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 315 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 69 pounds.)
Yesterday afternoon I went to an ICE Out of Marin rally and then to a meeting with the Board of Supervisors. These are the remarks I shared during the public comment portion of the meeting. I spoke right after our parish minister, the Reverend Marcus Hartlief who spoke with passion and eloquence. I think we made a good tag team of UU ministers:
“When I accepted ordination into the ministry I pledged to speak, act and live as a voice of courage and of hope; to champion justice, freedom, and compassion and to serve all those who are in need.
Whether or not it was explicit, I believe all of you on the board of supervisors and our sheriff made a similar commitment when you accepted an elected office in the County of Marin.
You are here to serve the residents of this county, and most particularly those who are most vulnerable.
I know you try. I know that sometimes the decisions you need to make are complicated and not easy. This one is simple.
Our immigrant neighbors are living in fear. Their families are being torn apart. Their cries of anguish and despair should be stirring all of our hearts and calling us to compassionate action. We MUST stop cooperating with ICE. We MUST stop publishing the damn release dates of those who have been incarcerated. We MUST provide a sanctuary where all who are vulnerable are safe. I pray, along with Reverend Marcus, that wisdom, compassion and courage will guide your decision. Thank you.”
Sigh, I was up slightly this week, but only .2 pounds, which is pretty much staying the same. Still a bit depressing as I am monitoring daily and stayed within my calorie goals. Bodies are complicated, however, so although what we do matters, the results are not always predictable or measurable. It is the overall journey that is important. At least that is what I keep telling myself.
It is also like the work for justice. Progress is made, and then the forces of greed and hatred raise their ugly heads. We have to keep trying to bend the arc.
I am still adjusting to the new group. There were lots of new-to-me folks last night, and a lot of good tips from those that have been doing this longer. The free flowing conversation is a bit disconcerting, with some people talking a lot and others saying nothing. I’ll get used to it, but I found myself being quiet, not my usual mode of being.
Another new revelation for me was that we are actually supposed to continue reporting our activities (tracking calories and exercise) to our facilitator each week. There are prizes involved! I will catch up on it, but I was completely clueless about the reporting requirements. Our new exercise goal is 420 minutes per week, more than I have been doing lately. Winter is harder because I can’t swim. I could cheat and count my steps around the house, but no, there is no real point in faking it. Maybe I will try 2 spins on the bike some days. I can’t seem to manage more that 30 minutes at a sitting on the bike because, frankly, my rear end gets numb after 20 minutes or so.
This is a marathon, not a 50 yard dash. Staying steady, and on pace, one step and one day at a time, is how to do it I think. This is for the long haul. Damn, I wish it was all easier. I am going to a rally this afternoon for immigrant rights. It is something that would have been a huge physical challenge for me a few months ago. Change is possible, on all fronts. This I believe.
(My stats for the last week – up .2 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 260 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 66.4 pounds.)
Unitarian Universalism is an embodied faith; our theology proclaims that all our bodies are sacred and beautiful, and that our physical selves matter. Our faith is demanding; we are called to stretch ourselves and to be transformed.
For much of my life, I have lived in my head and my heart, and my body was mostly a vehicle for getting things done. It was also a source of pleasure. Among other physical pleasures, I have enjoyed bubble baths, soft kittens, and delicious food. I spent time caring for my mind by studying, reading, and learning. I also tended to my heart and soul, through prayer and by opening the pathways of empathy and compassion, even when it was difficult. Despite my theology about the importance of the body, however, I mostly simply used it, ignoring what it might need to stay healthy.
I gained weight slowly over the years, and in some ways relished being fat. In my large female body, I felt like I projected a safe presence, and the hugs I gave congregants seemed to be received as nurturing rather than sexual or threatening. I did always ask before hugging someone new, however; prior trauma can be so easily triggered by touch. I was largely happy with my “earth-mother” image of myself. I did not enjoy squeezing myself into airplane seats, or enduring the indignities and judgements that society places upon fat people, but I loved myself and my body, just as it was. My dear wife also loved me, no matter what size I was.
But I forgot that my body needed my care and attention, and that just as my heart, brain, and spirit needed exercise to stay healthy, so did my body. I forgot that this faith demands a wholeness of mind, spirit, and body. I forgot these words of the 16th century Unitarian, Michael Servetus:
“It is necessary to care for the body if we wish the spirit to function normally.”
Last year, I got a wake-up call, a revelation if you will. My health had begun to deteriorate, so much so that I had to leave a ministry earlier than planned. Most of my health issues were made worse by the amount of weight I was carrying. I knew this was true this time, despite the years of doctors implying that my weight was the cause of what were completely unrelated problems. I realized that if I was going to have a decent quality of life ever again, if I was going to be able to continue to work for justice, I needed to lose some serious weight. Exercise wasn’t going to be enough; my body and I needed both physical and spiritual rehabilitation if we were going to survive.
I had never seriously dieted before and was very suspicious of the diet industry. To me, it symbolized both capitalism and misogyny, the policing and sexualizing of women’s bodies for profit and control. One can be healthy at any size; I still believe that, but it wasn’t true for me, at least not any more.
I signed up for a medically supervised weight loss program through my health plan. It isn’t easy, and has required intense concentration and focus, but the weight is coming off. It is hard, but it is what I need. I am learning to tend my body in the same sorts of careful and attentive ways that I have always cared for my heart, my mind, and my soul and spirit. My body is so much more than a vehicle; it is my home. I have no regrets about my past habits, but it was time for me to go home. I needed a revelation to really understand that our minds, bodies, and souls are deeply interwoven, and that only when they work together can we live to our full potential. Sometimes we need revelations – sometimes we need two, or three, or twenty-three. I am so glad that revelation is not sealed!