Beautiful Ride

The somewhat self-indulgent rantings about the beautiful ride that is my life!

On The Road Again June 27, 2010

Filed under: beautiful ride,Family,Health and Exercise,Home — beautifulride @ 9:41 am
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A little more than 90 days ago, I started a journey…a journey I’ve taken more than once. In the past, this journey has always ended one of two ways. The first ending (and the one I’ve always preferred) is a relatively easy, uneventful arrival at my desired destination, no surprises and no roadblocks. The second, and more familiar ending, is one of stops and starts, roadblocks and flat tires, and eventually I run out of gas and motivation and just stay put, or worse yet, I turn around and head back to where I started.

Like so many of us, this is a journey to be fit and healthy; a “quest” to achieve that “ideal” weight and body shape that has been drilled into our heads from a very early age. Like so many of us, I have struggled with this…from the “freshman” fifteen to the impact of 4 pregnancies over 10 years. I spent many years cooking “kid” food and chasing after boys, with little time or energy left to prepare healthy “grown-up” food or go for a run or hit the gym.  I’m not complaining. Exhausting as it is to have scads of little boys  zooming around you like a pack of wild dogs, I wouldn’t trade a minute of it … not even for the chance at a toned, tight, “bounce-a-quarter-off-those-abs” core. 

I’ve been down this road before, many times and many routes.  Success has come to me in the form of exercise (swimming in college and running on occasion) and following programs that stress portion control and healthy combinations of real food, prepared by me (like LA Weight Loss). Less success has come in the form of trendy diets like the Mayo Clinic diet (remember the hot dogs, beets, and ice cream!) and the pre-packaged foods that left me lost when I had to go back to preparing my own meal (think Jenny Craig–no offense to many co-workers and friends who have had great success on this program–just not me!) I’ve read all the books and tried scores of “programs.”

Fast forward to the here and now. Three of the boys are teenagers now and I’m learning that boys can have body image issues too, just like teenage girls. Now I need to be careful to send the right message about health and fitness. Now it’s time to practice the “life lessons” that I preach day in and day out–do your best, keep trying, a small victory is still a victory, slow and steady wins the race, there are no quick fixes…I’m sure you’ve heard them all.  I don’t want them to be empty words. So I made myself a promise…that I would start a road trip to health and fitness.  Not one that ends when I reach a magic number on the scale. Not one that lets me get lazy the minute I feel comfortable in my jeans. Instead, one that can weave itself into the everyday rhythm of my life, like my morning cup of coffee.  So I did.  

I gave up the excuses for not being able to find time. When it’s important, you find the time. I’ve learned to be flexible. I’ve committed to 7 hours of exercise a week. In 90 days, I missed one workout, just one. Sometimes I get it done at 5 am, sometimes at 9:30 pm…but I get it done. It has become a way of life for me. The P90x has been a great motivator…focusing on learning and growing and pushing yourself a little more everyday, but not making you feel like a failure if you can only do 2 push ups instead of 20, stressing that over time, you’ll improve. (BTW…yesterday I did a total of 75!) I feel so energized that I can’t imagine not doing some kind of physical activity everyday. I do my best to eat well everyday, but again, it’s a slow gradual change. Add veggies here, take away processed food there. I know the change is happening, the right change, because at the beginning, the numbers on the scale were worrisome…not moving, not losing, wondering if I made the right decision. I decided to stay off the scale…and it was hard. At first I had to force myself not to step on…as a gauge of my “progress.” Now, I forget to get on the scale, walk right by it without a second glance. Every two weeks or so I remember to hop on–imagine my surprise when I found out I’d lost 9 lbs.  I’ve learned to work out because it gives me energy and confidence. I’ve learned to eat right because it makes me feel good. I’ve learned that results happen if I keep trying, even if I’m not perfect. I’ve learned that the boys are watching because they have been making healthier choices, spending more time playing basketball and less time inside, and are starting workout programs of their own. And although they laugh at me when I do some of the “moves” from my workout, they are always encouraging and supportive. They don’t let me quit and they remind me that little victories are still victories.

Life is about the journey…not the destination. The value is in what we learn along the way and the secret is to never stop learning, never stop trying, never believe that you’ve arrived…because then you aren’t living anymore!

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Taking Time To Sit A Spell June 12, 2010

Filed under: beautiful ride,Family,Home — beautifulride @ 5:05 pm
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The end of the school year is so close…less than a week away. By this time of the year, that idea excites me as much as it excites my children. But before we can close the door on the 2009-2010 academic calendar, we have to attend an endless array of concerts, ceremonies, picnics, and events. Don’t get me wrong…it’s great to see how the musical skills have developed throughout the year and it seems important for the members of the clubs and organizations to put a punctuation mark at the end of their meeting schedule; but do we have to squeeze everything into a two- to three-week timespan? Maybe it’s my own fault…I have, like, 100 kids (4 really, but it sometimes feels like 100), plus a husband that travels often for business and a part-time job with full-time hours…so I feel like I’m running backwards on the treadmill most of the time! Needless to say, I am counting the days until June 17th (although Grant has a dance recital tacked on later in the month), but for the most part, that is the end…the 8th grade “Moving Up Ceremony” will mark the true beginning of summer. No more fighting with them to get them out of bed in the morning or to finish their homework at night. The whole house breathes a collective sigh of relief as we settle into a favorite non-routine routine…the good ‘ole summertime!

As much as I love the Christmas season, I hate that it comes in the bleak mid-winter…I do not like the cold and I like it less and less every year.  But the warm, long, lazy days of summer…bring it! Yes, I still work…but I do manage to rearrange my schedule so that I go earlier and leave earlier. Most late afternoons you will find us at the pool, followed by a  late dinner on the deck, or drinks and music on the front porch…the glorious, all-American, iconic front porch. There was a time in America’s history when front porches were commonplace…a place where neighbor could wave to neighbor, families could congregate and share the events of the day, friends could meet for a tall glass of sweet tea and delightful conversation. I grew up in a neighborhood, actually in a town, where front porches were (and are still) popular, so my memory bank is full of front-porch moments.

I’m lucky enough to own a home now with a great front porch.  It overlooks the beautifully manicured grounds of the Township Building and is along the well-travelled footpath of Maplewoodians on their way to the park, town, or the train. If it weren’t for one or two large trees, we could even watch the 4th of July fireworks from our rocking chairs (instead we have to walk about a dozen steps and view them from the lawn across the street). It is shady and comfortable…a favorite spot for morning coffee, afternoon books, or late night chats. It is breezy and feels 15 degrees cooler than the inside of the house on a hot summer night, and for that reason alone, we have yet to install central air in our 1920s Colonial. The purpose of the front porch has always been to provide a sheltered meeting place…a gathering spot…a place where time slows down and a cool, soft breeze can quietly blow away the concerns of the day. For me, it is a place where I have shared secrets with girlfriends, held hands with boyfriends, sat on a swing with my Mom and Dad, rocked my babies to sleep, and curled up with my husband. What a waste it would be to spend the summer inside, closed-up and closed-off from the rest of the world when we could move to the front porch, unwind, slow down, and in the words of my Grandmother…just sit a spell.