We rode the shuttle up to Muir Woods on Saturday. Nice flat walking for most of it and what glorious giants. I felt even smaller around them.
I had a non-scale victory this week too as I had blood drawn in preparation for my knee surgery. They were able to use a vein in my arm! For years, they have had to use my hands to draw blood. The arm is MUCH preferred.
I had a huge (6.6 pounds) weight loss this week, which would be kind of scary except for the 4 pound gain I had last week. That gain was all water due to a medication that I have now stopped taking. It wasn’t helping anyway, and my ankles were seriously swollen as a side affect. OK, maybe some of the gain was the moules frites but the med was clearly the biggest part of it.
I also cleaned out my closet this week. All those 3x clothes will go to someone else.
My closet looks much better. It isn’t hard to decide what to wear with fewer clothes to choose from. Getting rid of the clothes I have shrunk out of was an emotional experience. I loved some of those outfits and had memories of the fun and significant times I had worn them.
I did keep a few things that I will likely never wear again – including the outfit I wore for my ordination back in 2007. I wore it on many other special occasions afterward. I mostly had to be quick with the cleaning out, taking no time to fold or sort, or I knew I wouldn’t have been able to do it. Too many memories were woven into too many of those clothes. I hope they bring joy to whoever will wear them next. Large sizes can be hard to find in second hand stores, so maybe they will be appreciated.
As hard as it was, it was important to for me to do this. It was an act of faith, of faith in myself really. If I kept the old clothes around, part of me would have been expecting to wear them again. I am not putting all that weight back on! It is funny, but I went through a reverse process a few years ago when moving. I got rid of the clothes that I didn’t think I would ever be small enough to wear again. I guess I was wrong about that prediction, but it was still a good decision to let them go. Lugging them around through a couple of moves was too depressing, and it was good for my mental health to get rid of them. At that point in my life, I just needed to accept myself as I was and just be fat and happy. Now I am again learning to accept myself as I am now, thinner but still happy. Change is always hard.
Group this week was good again. We talked about the Maya Angelou quote, “when you know better, you do better.” So many meanings, and so much nuance to be found in those words. More knowledge is almost always a good thing, and damn, don’t we all want to do better? I wish our POTUS had even a smidgen of that approach.
We also talked about the food industry and how it keeps us confused and unhealthy.
This program is not a diet. Diets don’t work. This isn’t about depriving yourself for a short period of time and then going back to old habits. It is a complete change in approach to food, exercise, and to life. I don’t feel deprived. I feel good.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 96 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 116,448 steps last week for over 49 miles, which was way up from the week before and included a very long walk in Monterey. I ate approximately 9996 calories and burned 18180 for a deficit of 8184. I am down 6.6 pounds for a total loss of 137.8 .
This week proved that doing the math is not always enough. Even though my calculated calorie deficit was larger than last week, I gained 4 pounds, my largest weekly gain since beginning the program. Maybe it was the 3 dinners out I ate while in Monterey on a short get away. Eating out always involves calorie guesstimates and I could have grossly underestimated. Maybe it was because I cut back on calories the week before while increasing my exercise and that sent my body went into starvation mode. Maybe it is a new medication that causes some water retention, and most likely it is a combination of all 3.
There is so much mystery in life.
Monterey was beautiful and I walked a lot amid simply gorgeous scenery. I enjoyed myself and I enjoyed the dinners I ate. It was all good food, just a little too rich and a little too much. This week, I will get back to my more usual habits, because they really are habits now.
The class was helpful tonight. I had been a bit overconfident due to being so successful for so long. Humility is important and this week was a bit of a wake-up call to keep paying attention. We talked about emotional eating and I don’t think I do that anymore, although it was a habit in my past. Eating is not how I deal with stress anymore. I don’t eat out of boredom and I avoid junk foods. I just need to be a bit more careful in French restaurants as good Moules Frites are just too yummy for me to resist. And I did underestimate the calories in them – by a lot. The mussels were cooked in both butter and cream. They were REALLY good though, and it is OK to indulge once in awhile. One of my friends in the group said that when she indulges, she gives herself a penance, something as simple as a walk around the block can make up for a handful of tortilla chips. Some things obviously require longer walks.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 72 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 89431 steps last week for over 37 miles. I ate approximately 9247 calories and burned 17547 for a deficit of 8300. I am up 4 pounds for a total loss of 131.2 .
I really wore out my knee last week on the Tennessee Valley hike, so I took it easier for a few days afterward. I actually drove to take the above walk. It was also super hot and only a tad cooler by the water. The cortisone shot has definitely worn off so it is back to naproxen for awhile. I’ll probably need to stop that as well a bit before my surgery. All good I guess. Some pain now will get me ready for post surgery pain. Because of the opioid crises, doctors limit the prescriptions for the heavy duty pain meds that can lead to addiction if used for too long. I assume they will give me enough to get through the worst of it. Full anesthesia for the surgery at least! The expectation is to be sent home the same day and a physical therapist comes to the house a couple of times a week until I can make it to the clinic. Another adventure!
I am a little stressed about the surgery recovery time and maintaining my weight loss while I can’t do long walks or swim. I will try to eat a little less so I don’t gain, but it will be tricky. Food can be such a comfort. But I didn’t do all this work to regain it all!
Stress was the topic in group tonight. As compulsive as I am, I don’t actually stress all that much. This was the handout:
The physiological impact of high levels of stress is pretty scary, so I am glad I don’t do it that much. “What? Me worry?” (Does anyone else remember MAD magazine?) I loved it when I was young.
I also did some quick research on weight loss and how many people regain all the weight they lost. This article was interesting as it mentions what factors are correlated with successfully keeping the lost weight off.
I loved this paragraph:
“National Weight Control Registry members have lost an average of 33 kg and maintained the loss for more than 5 y. To maintain their weight loss, members report engaging in high levels of physical activity (≈1 h/d), eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet, eating breakfast regularly, self-monitoring weight, and maintaining a consistent eating pattern across weekdays and weekends. Moreover, weight loss maintenance may get easier over time; after individuals have successfully maintained their weight loss for 2–5 y, the chance of longer-term success greatly increases.”
I’ll be even more confident in another year.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 65 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 84,498 steps last week for over 35 miles. I ate approximately 9289 calories and burned 16605 for a deficit of 7316. I am down another .7 pound for a total loss of 135.2 .
There are some great places to walk to near my house. This is about 1.5 miles away, which gives me 3 miles round trip and all uphill on the way back.
I may have overdone it today though with a hike on the Tennessee Valley trail. It was about 4 miles round trip and took 2 and a half hours. My knee is in serious pain now. Maybe it was too long and maybe the cortisone shot is wearing off. Good thing I have knee surgery scheduled!
It was seriously beautiful though.
Class last night was good, although bittersweet as it was the last night for the excellent facilitator who is going to another position.
We talked about motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic. The stuff that comes from inside you works better. No one loses weight because someone else, even a doctor, tells them too. No, the reason to do this is because you like how it feels, because you want to do things with your life that will be easier if you are healthier. I have been able to stay motivated partly because I have had so many rewards along the way, mainly significant improvements in my health. I called it luck, but maybe it is grace instead – undeserved blessings that have rained down upon me. It all gives me some pause. Before I started this program, my life was narrowing because of my weight related health issues. There was so much I could not do. Now, a year and a half later, I am still amazed at how my life and abilities have expanded again. But in terms of staying motivated to stay the course, to make this how I will live for the rest of my life, what happens when the rewards are less obvious than they are now? If I get used to them? What happens when advancing age again catches up with me? What will happen after my knee surgery?
Life is, and always will be I guess, an adventure of sorts.
I want to stick around as long as possible partly to see what happens – I can never stop reading a book until the end – but the world will (I hope!) go on without me at some point. Until then, I want to have as big of a positive impact as I can, on the world and on the people around me. At church we sing a closing song at the end of the service each week. It has the line “for the children of our children, keep the circle whole.” For that we need wisdom, courage, and strength.
And ice. Time to put more ice on my knee.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 54 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 85,990 steps last week for over 36 miles. I ate approximately 9289 calories and burned 17252 for a deficit of 7963. I am down another 1.6 pounds for a total loss of 134.5 .
My cup fills and empties
And fills up yet again
Just when I think
The well may have run dry
Just when I think
I have no more to say
The words gush forth
And the Spirit sings
It must be said
There is no rest
The cup must ever be filled
And lavishly poured forth
Tender is the time
When my cup’s bounty
Spills over to help refresh
Another thirsty soul
Have you checked
Do you know
Why you believe
What you believe?
Have you seen it
With eyes your own?
Has the Holy
Into your waiting ears?
Does science validate
And logic wrap them ’round?
What do ancient
Do the religions
Of the world agree?
Who are your heroes?
What would Jesus say or
Harriet Tubman think?
And through it all
The seasons change
Summer fades to fall
When spring time comes
Will startle you again.
Your human heart will open
With love and hope reborn
There is always more to learn.
Most of us are pretty familiar with the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism. If you are not, they are listed in the front of your hymnal.
Our principles are guides for living, an ethical framework for how we are called to live our lives. They are what our member congregations have promised to promote. We care about the worth and dignity of all, about justice, equity and compassion, about spiritual growth, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, the democratic process, creating an inclusive and world-wide community, and last, but never least, we have respect for our planet. All of those things are under threat today.
But why do we care about those things that are in our seven principles? What do we use in our searches for truth and meaning? How and why do we work for justice?
The answers to those questions are, I believe, contained within our six sources. The sources are also listed in your hymnals. They quite literally define Unitarian Universalism’s unique place in the world of ideas and world religions. I quote, “The living tradition we share draws from many sources.”
Living is a key word here, as well as is the word tradition. Our sources are from our history; they are where we came from. But even more importantly, they are what we can use to find out where we are going.
Sometimes our sources are listed simply as a series of nouns:
- Self (or Experience)
- Prophets (or Prophecy)
- World religions
The Rev. Paul Oakley has said that the verbs are more important; that the sources are also asking us to do things, specifically to:
Renew our spirits and be open
Confront evil with justice, compassion, love
Be inspired in our ethical and spiritual lives
Love our neighbors as ourselves
Be guided by reasonand avoid making idols of ways of thinking, being, and doing
Celebrate life and live in harmony with nature
Oakley says our sources are not just history, but “the wellsprings from which we irrigate our vineyards, the cups from which we wet our parched mouths.”
These sources are incredibly rich, every single one of them.
I want to encourage all of you to look at them and think about them, long term members as well as the newer folks. Some of the sources may have little personal meaning for you at this time. That used to be true for me. But if you pay a little more attention to those sources that haven’t moved you in the past, I think you may be surprised at what you will discover. It is a living tradition after all. We need to give it ways and room to grow. The sources are the wells from which we can draw spiritual water. Sometimes one of the wells goes a little dry. A reservoir can be emptied or the groundwater from a particular well that has been over used may no longer quench our thirst. Check out one of the others when this happens.
The first source is:
Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
What does that mean? Several things I think. Revelation is not sealed. We are not a faith that believes that all religious truth was written down in ancient scriptures. Mystery and wonder are all around us. We need to trust our own experiences and our own senses. If we see a rainbow and think it is a miracle, maybe it is.
Many of us have had, in our own lives experiences which some would name spiritual. I know I have.
There have been times where a deep realization of an important truth has left me in awe and wonder.
It is a knowing that not everything can be understood by the simply rational. It is a sense that there really are forces that both create and uphold life, even if they are forces that are beyond our understanding. This direct experience could be a sense of having a personal connection to God, but it doesn’t have to be exclusively theistic. One of my former congregants who defines himself as a humanist tells a story about the feeling he had when he visited the Smithsonian in Washington DC. He had a moment there when he realized that everything in that fabulous museum actually belonged to him. He was part of something much larger than himself. We should never discount our own experience of the world around us. This source reminds us to think, see, and feel for ourselves. It doesn’t mean we will always be right, but we don’t have to buy into someone else’s version of reality and we can affirm what is true for us.
The second source is:
Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
Who are your heroes? Who has inspired you? It could be someone famous, but it could just be someone you know. Maybe members of this church community have inspired you both with their words and deeds.
There are awesome role models here, both in service to the congregation and in working for justice. This source also leads us to look at our heroes and who they were as well as what they did.
Did they confront evil not only to bring about justice, but did they do so with compassion and love? No one is perfect, but those who would lead us to hate others are not those we should try to model ourselves after.
The third source: Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
It was the transcendentalists, people like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller, that studied world religions, especially those that valued direct experience of the divine, that brought this source into the mainstream of Unitarianism in the 19thcentury. They dipped deeply into this well, and so can we.
What do the religions of the world have to teach us? What spiritual practices from other traditions can give our lives more meaning?
Yoga, Buddhist meditation practice, the Hindu concept of Namaste, and the daily prayers of Islam, are only a few places we can go for help in our spiritual and ethical lives. This source is a place awaiting our discoveries. Most of us have not looked too closely at what the different world religions have to offer us. It is important to understand context, however.
If we simply cherry pick, we don’t do this source justice and may even be drawn into cultural appropriation.
The fourth source is: Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
This source is our immediate history and heritage. Both Unitarianism, the belief that God is one, and Universalism, the belief that God loves all of creation and that there is no hell; have their roots in very early Christianity, which of course in its beginning was a Jewish movement.
This history can speak very strongly to those of us who attended exclusively Christian Churches or Jewish Congregations in the past. Some of us loved the many inspiring messages contained in both the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Others of us fell victim to rigid and literal interpretations of those scriptures. It can help to revisit some of them with fresh eyes and open hearts
Our fifth source is: Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
This is the source that I think most helps to keep us honest. Whatever we believe and do must make some sense in the real and rational world.
Yes, we can have understandings of mystery that are beyond the realm of the scientific method, but it is dangerous ground to rely on something that is in direct contradiction to what reason and science tell us. Angels might fly, but we humans are subject to gravity.
The Bible might say one thing, but if science tells us the world is much older than 6000 years, I am going with science. Science and religion are not in conflict.
They should both be about increasing our understanding of the universe and our place in it.
That brings us to our sixth source, the last official one, which is: Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature
How can we not live in harmony with nature when we are part of it? This is the favorite source for many of us who have come to Unitarian Universalism from pagan traditions and practices. There are seasons to our lives just as there are seasons in the year. The need for harmony with nature is also in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures as well as in the various world religions. Sometimes we just need to go up on a mountain and watch the sunrise.
Those are our six official sources, places where we can go for inspiration and for solace. Is anything left out?
What would you add to this list? It is not written in stone, we can add things to it, just as we can rewrite the seven principles. There is a democratic process to do that at our national assemblies.
The sixth source was added to the original five in 1995. There was also a proposal to revise the wording of the sources a couple of years ago. It did not pass, but it could have.
What would you add?
One I might add would be something about the arts, including music, poetry, and dance as well as the visual arts. Beauty, meaning, and inspiration can come from artistic creativity.
Paul Oakley said that, “We irrigate the fields not by worshiping the water but by doing something with the water.”
He is not wrong, but we also need to go back and drink from the wells that spiritual water comes from, again and again. Living is thirsty work.
We can’t afford to ignore any of these spiritual wells just because we might like the flavor of one of them a bit more.
We are an open minded and open hearted people. Our sources are rich and life sustaining. May we drink deeply and be satisfied.
We got out to Tomales Bay State park last week. I tried using 2 hiking sticks, but went back to the cane for my cane. It works more like a third leg, and takes the weight off my left knee much better than a hiking stick. The other stick helped with balance though. Maybe two canes would be even better. There was one trail that I couldn’t do as there was a ditch to cross and the step up across it was just too steep and scary.
We did a couple of other trails instead.
The weather was great near the coast and we stopped for oysters for dinner.
There are also some great gardens I have enjoyed during my morning walks.
I am settling into the walking habit and amazing myself. I actually get grumpy if I can’t get my 90 morning walk in. I try to swim in the afternoon and take a shorter walk after dinner. Hopefully I will be in great shape for my knee surgery and the healing will go well.
Class was great tonight and I really love the new group. They love to laugh and I find laughter very healing. There was a joke about throwing out the refrigerator and not just the tempting unhealthy food. One man broke his FitBit and was distraught about it. I can relate. It was also fun seeing a few people from my old group who came in as our group was ending. One of whom just got a FitBit. My spouse laughs at me when I pace around the house trying to burn a few more calories so my FitBit screen turns green for “goals met.” Laughter is good.
One of the coordinators was upset with me that I switched groups, but while I understand the need to balance the numbers, the groups are all about the same size and other people have switched in the past. It really helps me to meet new people, all of whom have a unique perspective to share. Plus the later time is just so much better. Given that I am one of their more impressive success stories, I doubt they will throw me out, especially as I would not go quietly. Have I ever been quiet? In any case, one of the messages of this program is taking control of your choices. That empowerment has to include more than just what you eat and how much you exercise. Once you know what you need, trying to get is a no brainer. Just do it!
Roses have thorns. I have had huge improvements in my health with my weight loss, but there are some minor issues that have developed partly because of it. I have “age spots” now, where blood accumulates just under the skin on my hands, and if I bump them, sometimes they bleed. Skin thins as one ages, and now that I don’t have all the fat in my hands to help protect my blood vessels. A good hand cream should help some, at least according to my doctor. And maybe TMI, but I need to do more Kegel exercises, a common need for women after they have given birth. I have lost more weight than my thirty year old daughter weighs, so yeah, I just had a very large baby.
I’ll take those minor problems. So much better than having diabetes and the multitude of there conditions I had before. I am still smelling the roses, even if they have a few thorns.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 54 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 90,935 steps last week for over 38 miles – down some from last week. I ate approximately 9961 calories and burned 17266 for a deficit of 7305. I am down another 1.3 pounds for a total loss of 132.9.
Shrinking, I am shrinking. Or melting, who knows? It has been pretty hot on some of my walks. It is important to get out early. I have been trying to do two walks most days, a longer one in the morning, a shorter one after dinner, and I like to swim in between. Being retired gives me the time to do that almost every day.
This week my wife Anne gave me some of her clothes that are too big for her. They fit! This is amazing because I used to weigh 3 times as much as her. I still weigh more, but no longer even twice as much.
I am still not getting my gallon of water in most days. Does that make a difference? I have reduced my percentage of protein, so maybe it is OK as far as my kidney health goes. I haven’t felt really hungry, even though I ate a bit less last week, so I don’t need as much water to feel full.
The good and scary news this week is that my knee surgery is now scheduled. September 16th. I am excited and somewhat apprehensive. From what I have heard doing the rehab is the most critical part. I think I can do that given that I already have an exercise routine. I won’t be able to swim of course, so swim season will end early for me this year. But maybe after the surgery, I can ditch my cane on my walks. I don’t use it indoors, unless there is a crowd.
I went to an earlier group tonight with a facilitator I had before that I like a lot. She is leaving for another job in a couple of weeks and there will be someone new. The time is much better for me. I was even able to take a short walk when I got home.
I liked the new group a lot. I missed people from the other group, but it was also good to hear some new stories. The support and sharing is so important.
It upsets me that so many people have dropped out, but I guess that is typical. Apparently 95% of people who diet to lose weight, gain all the lost weight back in a few years. Kaiser’s record is somewhat better but the “failure” rate is still high. Sticking with the lifestyle changes seem to be the most important factor in success. Maybe it is good I am still so compulsive about this.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 72 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 101,769 steps last week for over 43 miles – down some from last week. I ate approximately 9,996 calories and burned 18,227 for a deficit of 8231. I am down another 2.4 pounds for a total loss of 131.6
I know now
Both are hard work
Blessings that may come
Only after old habits die
The stones that block
Partly of our own making
We need help to chip away
It helps to work
Up a sweat
Trying to climb over them
It helps to have friends
To lend a hand
A leg up
It is springtime once again
There are flowers
Among the rocks
We got back home and I realized I actually live in a place where people pay big bucks to go on vacation. I did so much walking while we were gone, I thought I would try it here. I have a new routine now I think. I walk for 45-80 minutes mid-morning before it gets hot and try to do it again after dinner. You can’t beat the views from my neighborhood and the flowers are all in bloom.
It is very hilly here and although the downhills slow me down some because I am afraid of falling if my knee gives out. I am getting to be an expert with my cane, but will be really glad when I no longer need it. Uphills are much easier, and I don’t have to stop to catch my breath or rest like I did before.
Standing without moving is still hard, though. I went to a local protest against the current administration’s draconian immigration policies. I did the short march around a block in downtown Novato and could have done more walking, but I was glad that I found a place to sit to listen to the speakers.
I was back at the group last night for the first time in a month and had my official weigh in. I lost 9.6 pounds during the month I was on vacation. I am slowly getting used to my new body, but at least I seem to be on track with the lifestyle change. I want to lose another 12 pounds or so before my knee surgery and right now, that seems like a fairly easy goal.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am still not getting my gallon of water in most days, my bladder needs time to adjust back up to that volume. My Fitbit report shows 109,110 steps last week for over 46 miles – up from last week. I ate approximately 11,000 calories and burned 18,693. I am down another pound for a total loss of 129.2.