Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You are enough

So many goals start from a place of inadequacy. I'll be thinner, more organized, more ambitious. I'll write that novel, keep a sparkling kitchen. I'll give up coffee, sodas, sweets, computer solitaire.

It's as if I believe I can be a new person -- a vastly improved version of myself because the old one is not enough.

I am enough as I am. And you are, too.

Whatever lists I make, I wake up in the morning the same person as when I fell asleep on the couch watching old movies.

I have the same cluttered dining room table. I have my half-cleaned kitchen. The same box o'makeup in the bath that I never wear because I don't wake up early enough and I never remember to take it off at night. I have the same unread books, the dusty piano I don't play as often as I would like.

I have the same body. The same seemingly un-styleable hair. I have the same scar across my neck where they took out my thyroid. The same emerging wrinkles on my face. The same fears and failings.

All of this, and I am still enough. I don't need a self-improvement program to make myself acceptable to the world. No reinvention needed.

Be gentle with yourselves. You are enough.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Would have given up by now, part 1: Weight

A local community program here is promoting 10,000 steps a day. Unfortunately, they chose to make it about weight loss, including required weigh-ins. What I find sad is that I believe this will end up discouraging activity. If exercise doesn’t “work” for a participant -- that is, doesn’t result in weight loss -- I fear they may decide it’s not worth it.

Imagine you take a volunteer job that inspires your passions and uses your talents. You work with wonderful people, making a real difference in the world. Now imagine you took this job believing it was a paid position, only to find out later that was not the case. I’m certain an entirely different reaction. When people expect to, but don’t get “paid” for exercising -- when they don’t lose weight -- they may lose sight of all the other great things about it.

The last two months, I’ve been training toward what will hopefully be my first century ride in August. It’s been on my bucket list since I was 10 and my brother did one. It would be a stretch to call myself a serious cyclist, but I have definitely putting in some miles for me.

I see progress in so many ways other than the scale. Sunday, I found myself telling my husband that I went on an easy 21-miler, only to stop and wonder when I started using “easy” and “21-miler” in the same sentence.

I see progress on the hills which I once struggled up and now ride up smoothly. I see it on the hills where I used to have to stop halfway for water and oxygen, and now I struggle up them. I see my cadence becoming faster, my resting heart rate becoming slower. My average weekly mileage increasing. I can run bigger gears with less effort. I’ve got a new personal landspeed record of 38.7 MPH. I’m more comfortable on the bike.

What I do not see, nor did I expect, is any significant weight loss. That’s OK. That’s not why I’m doing this.

If I had gone into this with weight loss as my goal, I would have given up by now. I’d step on the scale and believe that I’d failed. There would have been no reason to crawl up hills in my lowest gear in 90 degree weather repeating in my head, “This hill will not defeat me.” I’d turn around when the 20 MPH headwind kicked up. I wouldn’t go to the YMCA and run on the treadmill on the days thunderstorms threatened and I couldn’t ride. What would be the point?

If weight loss were my goal, I would have quit by now. I wouldn’t have been getting “paid” for this. But it isn’t my goal, and I am being rewarded for my efforts in many ways.

I believe my body will do what I ask of it if I take care of it. I know I am capable of doing this. I want to be stronger. That is all the payment I need.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The West is on fire


Yesterday, a haze of smoke hung over Cheyenne, even though we're probably about 60-70 miles from the nearest raging wildfire. The sunsets are blood orange red. The news reporters post satellite photos of the plumes of smoke coming off the mountains, blowing eastward. The National Weather Service issued a special statement about the smoke, and the city warned against exercising outdoors. 

Even though I’m not particularly sensitive, yesterday I felt my eyes and lungs burn at times. I chose to do my ride inside at the YMCA instead of out on the roads in the haze.

According to InciWeb this morning, there are 141,783 acres – 221.5 square miles -- of active wildfires just in Wyoming, with many more fires burning throughout the state. This is an area nearly the size of Chicago.
The fires in Wyoming understandably don’t get as much national news as the fires threatening more populous areas like Colorado Springs, but there are still many in those mountains at risk of losing their homes and dreams. I’ve been watching the news on the Arapaho fire closely as it’s far too close to a place I love and where I know two wonderful people who run a bed and breakfast. Over in the Snowy Range, Woods Landing has been evacuated, the fire threatening, but not destroying, its historic bar/restaurant and dance hall.

Out here, we’ve known the West would go kawoosh at some point. For years, we’ve seen the beetle kill march down the mountainsides, turning green to reddish brown. It’s been heartbreaking, and we’ve known it was dangerous. We knew it would happen sometime. This must be the year.