Friday, August 7, 2020

I have had to redefine success...

...a friend said this week in the Dedication Health gathering “What I have learned…” I always enjoy this particular session of DH, because of the camaraderie of the whole thing, the sense of being a part of this for the long haul with companions along the way. There is also the usual MIAR bemusement—Melissa Is Always Right. Mostly, I am reminded of different parts of this journey for me, some that remain the same, others that are changing, which is all part of it. I need to redefine… Here I want to focus on ‘success,’ what I continue to learn about ‘sugar’, and balance/rhythm. Relationally driven life-at-home currents & choices during ‘quarantine lite’ days may come in…or not.


One of the a-ha’s that arose unexpectedly as I shared…I’m good at climbing mountains, but maintenance is a whole other thing for me. I’m not very good at maintenance. So true, yet I’d not really named it for myself. I know most who I am when I am facing a challenge of creation, of healing, of leadership. The liveliness that comes from pushing an edge, finding new horizons, growing deeply with a friend—I love that vibrancy, that sense of thriving in the challenge and not being alone in it. Now that I’ve largely met my fitness goals, however, I’m faced with maintenance…which is much less eventful, one could even say it’s boring or imperceivable…? Besides, how do you do maintenance with any sense of achievement or accomplishment?


I am as fit as I’ve ever been. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my own skin, in this respect. My energy is high and I’m not driven by cravings. (Or at least as driven as I used to be, let’s be honest. The source or drive of the cravings has changed drastically from sugar and carbohydrate highs/lows to primarily relational things like cocktail hour with my husband (or not) or compromises on cooking ventures at home (or not)). All of which means my body energies and experience are much steadier inside me. I am enjoying movement and community regularly, in the variety that CrossFit provides. I think all this makes me easier to live with, have fun with, and more… Well, maybe not for my husband… JK. I think he’d actually say life is easier...but the best days are when we laugh at how differently we do this thing called life and health.


I still need to redefine success, at least if I’m going to focus on ‘success’ as a driving force. Success here becomes regularity, accountability, showing up, listening in…all cleverly clothed terms that also mean maintenance. Hmmm… Boring. The only change could become ‘getting worse’ when there’s no ‘better’ to aim for.


I’ve toyed with setting myself new goals, of course. Do I want to run a race (virtually registering and receiving the t-shirt in the mail)? Do I focus on strength-training, increasing weights at the gym? Do I challenge myself with pull-up practices toward actual pull-ups? These are some of the things I’ve mused on, none of which has particular energy for me. I’m 51, aware that aging will streamline and narrow my endurance and ‘achievement’ of quantifiable distance-weight goals. I don’t have a particular need to attain some number or distance. Moving up, a little at a time, I enjoy…and that is enough for now. Enjoy the movement. Listen to my body. Don’t push or strain to the point of injury… So success becomes staying-with, finding the new in what I’m already doing, finding ways to celebrate maintenance that are Plan-oriented…or letting the word success recede in importance/focus. Not disappear, of course, but recede.


As the journey has steadied, continued over these 14 months, I’m noticing that I am playing more with some lines in the choices and this seems a natural rhythm or reality for a lifestyle choice/habit that is extending over longer and longer times. I’ve reflected before on the cocktail-hour/living choices in the home I live in. My husband got a Cocktail Codex book for his birthday, basically an encyclopedia with recipes, so he has been creating and exploring…which has been fun and challenging for me to navigate.


The sugar line always remains before me, because his sugar intake is huge compared to my own anymore. Still, this one is easier for me than the cocktail hour ones, most days. When I choose to have half a slice of banana bread, I can feel the difference pretty quickly. I’m reminded why I don’t eat sugar regularly anymore. And I remember the 2-3 days of recovery space afterwards. The sweet-factor will stay in my taste-awareness, and it can make staying off sugar more difficult for the next day or two. So one choice is a 2-3 days effect. I often feel most free not choosing the banana bread.


Mostly, I’m recognizing that I negotiate inside myself more these days, which is both a result of living closely with my husband during quarantine and keeping as conscious as I can about my own food choices, on Plan or not, for months on end. For the most part, I’m pleased with how I’m steadying, learning…


We will use some store-bought curries or sauces, if I have checked for the sugar content first. I would not choose this if I were living on my own, but I’m blessed to be living with the man I do. I found a Bolthouse yogurt salad dressing brand that I was willing to try, for variety. Not on plan, but some of the least-bad I could find, and no sugar (1 g/serving from fruit concentrate), available in the refrigerated produce section. I am drinking more than I used to, pre-quarantine, always finding and recreating the balance during the week between seltzer-rehydrating evenings and artisan craft cocktails, lower-to-no sugar for me, on the porch. I’m beginning to explore some paleo-keto baking brands, for variety in the rotation of what I/we enjoy. Paleo-Bakehouse makes a grain-free, refined sugar-free toaster pastry (cinnamon), which I decided to try for fun. And it was pretty good, with responsible macros. The experience of ‘sweet’, 6 g/pastry, is a splurge and can reset sugar cravings. Balance, balance, balance…


It was good to be in the text-strand of a group of us aiming for 100% days in July. It made a difference for me, with many more 100% Plan days than I’d begun to negotiate within myself. Now, if I have two-three 100% days, with two-three 95% days a week, I’m pleased and honoring a liveable balance. It seems to be working toward maintenance, with still a sense of food freedom—freedom from cravings etc. and freedom for higher intensity workouts. In the end, I’m leaning more consciously into enjoying the life we have amidst a pretty stressful, COVID-19 time.


Success, in other words.