Yesterday I wrote about entering 2013 with a pared-down to-do list and a hopefully streamlined way of organizing my life. No, I haven’t found the Holy Grail of daily planning and organization, but it did make me think of how else my crazy life has affected me.
Who knew that multiple lists, multiple responsibilities, and a multiple-dog household — along with a husband who, may I add, not only has a demanding full-time job at one of the largest hospital systems in the south, but who also launched two (!!) nonprofit organizations in less than 18 months — would add so much stress to one’s life? Not to mention…a little extra weight?
[By the way, speaking of... one of the things I didn't mention in yesterday's post was that I also started an animal rescue radio show called -- natch -- Radio Free Rescue, to add to my other projects in rescue. It's a weekly, hour-long show broadcast every Monday evening, although we're currently on hiatus until after the New Year. See what I mean about too much ambition, too many things to juggle?]
In any case, as I was saying, I’ve always been a bit of an emotional eater, and I’m shocked that, given all the stresses of the past year, I’ve not ballooned 50+ additional pounds. (I was quite an overweight child. At one point, I was 20 pounds overweight, after which I just stopped weighing myself because it was too depressing. Even an additional ten pounds on a small, Asian female frame like mine makes a huge difference, not only in terms of fit but also health.)
Still, there’s definitely more of me to love now, and naturally, I think of it as just one more thing to add to the to-do list: lose weight. Exercise. Eat better. Shop better foods. Stop eating fast-food French fries.
I’d been so busy, but not so busy that I wasn’t aware that I was, shall we say, getting out of shape. I’d been a mostly-steady runner for nearly 13 years, but right at my 40th year, when life became overwhelming and the obligations just piled up and piled up, like most women, one of the first things I dropped was my steady exercise regimen. The fact that I also suddenly developed a serious condition that kept me from running for over six months (I’m just now able to get back to it, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s the dead of winter) didn’t help either. Sure, I continued to walk my dogs most days, but that wasn’t enough to keep me from scarfing down embarrassingly large amounts of food that ain’t good for me, all in an attempt to try and relieve some of the unrelenting stress of running the business and managing a household that had suddenly grown by 50%.
Did I mention that we somehow managed to rescue and temporarily foster additional dogs? And that I spent most of October and November stalking a Mama Dog and her new litter of pups, in the hope that I could capture them all and take them into our rescue group? (I was only able to capture four pups within a two-week period, and after setting traps, driving endless hours around the neighborhood, and spending hours wandering through industrial yards, chasing them madly through the streets during the occasional sighting, and waiting patiently under the hot sun while I kept an eye on a trap I’d set in the middle of some dusty chemical plant, I decided that it just wasn’t going to happen, and that Mama Dog was a lot smarter than I’d given her credit for.) No wonder I’m stressed.
So I end the year with pretty much the same resolution as I had last year: get back in shape. Since I’m now a woman of a certain age, it’s even more important, since my body seems to have suddenly decided to fall apart at the most inopportune moments, and I chalk that up to my neglect of its many, critical needs.
And that’s where the whole, damn-I-need-to-get-organized thing comes into play. I know I should treat exercise like any other important business meeting, i.e., write it down in pen in my calendar, and honor it. I used to run several days a week and even managed to throw in a yoga routine or weight-lifting session every now and then, all without ever writing it down anywhere other than in my running journal. Writing it down like an appointment on my calendar actually induces an actual visceral reaction, sort of similar to how I feel when I eat broccoli because I know it’s good for me, even though it’s my least favorite vegetable. (Or, to be more precise, it’s my most hated vegetable.)
And speaking of vegetables, I can’t even begin to imagine actually monitoring what I eat. Thankfully, B. is vegan and we’re too poor to eat out all the time, so most of our meals are pretty healthy. I just eat too much of them. I recently tried one of those super-duper smartphone apps that lets you keep track of everything you eat, calculate your calories, and even tell you exactly how many calories you should consume if you want to lose a certain amount of weight within a certain period of time. I was so faithful to it — dutifully entering every single morsel of food that entered my lips, so of course I was delighted and so grateful that it seemed to have every single food under the sun in its database — but that lasted exactly four days.
It’s ironic that I can be so disciplined with so many other things in my life that have to do with organizing that life — my many to-do lists, calendars, and that ongoing obsession with finding the perfect project management software for my business — and yet when it comes to diet and exercise, despite the existence of a seemingly infinite number of apps and books and workbooks to help one keep track of said diet and exercise, I’m repelled.
Unlike what appears to be 99% of most Americans, I’ve never actually been on a “diet.” Not South Beach, not the Sonoma Diet, not the grapefruit diet or Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem or any of the heavily marketed diet programs out there. (Okay, I lied, I once participated in an office-group Weight Watchers when I lived in South Carolina, but that lasted one week and I also was in the best shape of my life. I was just doing it to go along with everyone, you know?) When I needed to lose weight, I just ate less and moved more. I’ve always loved food and hate having to micromanage my consumption of it. The whole idea of weighing my food on a scale — something many diet programs advocate — just baffles me, even though intellectually I understand why so many do it.
And one of the things I love about running is its sheer simplicity. I don’t use heart rate monitors or those Nike+iPod thingies (although I find the idea intriguing). I don’t even listen to music or anything else when I’m running on the street (although on the rare occasion that I run on a treadmill, it’s a must). I spend all my mental energy on finding the right shoes, and then that’s it. I put on my running clothes — Target offers inexpensive, moisture-wicking running togs with prices that make up for the obscene amount of money I end up spending on the shoes — strap on my twelve-year-old Timex Ironman watch (which has outlasted all other Timex watches I’ve since bought for others), open the door, and go. I write what I can in my running journal, when I can, but otherwise, I don’t follow any particular training program. I just run and time myself. I figure out how much I’ve improved based partly on how I feel each time I go out, and partly on how far I’ve run relative to the time I’ve spent running. End of story.
So as you can see, a regimen is not what I want.
Still, I must do something. I’ve been eyeing the P90x program for years, ever since I saw an infomercial at the gym. Okay, I’m not normally a sucker for infomercials, but if you’ve seen it, you know how appealing the sales pitch is. Plus, it appeals to the entrepreneur side of me, the one that loves a challenge and romances the Type A side of my personality. I’ve heard from marathon runners that it kicks your ass, no matter how much in shape you think you are, but that only makes me want it more. No Kathy Smith or cheery Denise Austin here.
Besides, Michelle Obama reportedly uses it, according to her own husband, and she’s the epitome of chic toughness and ambition. How can you say Non?
If you’ve tried the program, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Or if you can recommend another, I’m open to it. I’m heading out for a run in the morning, but with the weather turning cold and the days still short, I’m looking for alternatives for when I can’t face running in sub-freezing temps at 7am, or even at noon.
In the meantime, what are your New Year’s resolutions?