What is your gut reaction to a mistake? What is your 5 min reaction? How do you feel about it years later?
Friday nights are pizza and movie night at the Corella household. Boys were rabble-rousing, setting up the dinner trays, and arguing over which movie we were going to watch...as usual. The wife and I were cleaning up the kitchen and setting the table. Door knocks, pizza guy hands wife the pizza, wife hands pizza guy the cash tip (she’d already paid for the pizza online), movie commences. All is well.
Next day the family is out on one of our usual weekend trips; be it to the park, the museum, adjoining city herbal garden, etc. We stop to get some coffee and chocolate milks. As we get to paying, my wife grabs her pocketbook and begins exasperatingly flipping through the various bills and receipts looking for the $100 bill that she wants to break before we continue on our weekend jaunt. She can’t find it. Uh-oh.
We pay the cashier and go on our way. My wife is visibly frustrated. Did she give the pizza guy the best cash tip of his life? You guessed it. After a few moments of silence my wife finally speaks, “well, we certainly made his night.” Exactly.
Can you picture the pizza guy’s reaction when he got back to his car? The cynical types would probably say, “the pizza guy was a thief! he should have gone back and asked if you really meant to give him a monstrous tip.” The mean types would probably say, “You guys are idiots, you got what you deserve.” I prefer to think that we gave that pizza guy a great story. Maybe he called us morons, maybe he laughed, maybe he cried. Maybe he really needed that extra bit of cash to complete his weekend or pay his bills. The catalyst in the whole event was my wife’s final reaction. She realized the futility in holding on to the anger associated with the slip up.
So now whenever we stumble, at work or in our personal lives, we pause and ask ourselves how could we react? Anger and martyrdom are easy. Humor and perspective are harder and what we strive for: what kind of story will we be able to tell 1,5,10 years from now?
Off to create more stories.
Now that I'm only weeks away from running my first marathon, people keep asking me if I'm ready. My usual response is, "doesn't matter if I am ready or not, I'm running the race." But then that got me thinking about the "ready" question in general.
In my opinion, being asked "are you ready?" is very similar to "are you sure?" which insinuates that I may be making a mistake. Of course I'm not ready: why else would I volunteer to do something / anything different / new?
If you only do things you're READY FOR then you'll never know what you're truly CAPABLE OF achieving. To grow, we must stretch beyond our comfort zones - beyond what we think we're ready for. So no, I'm not ready, and that's cool with me.
When the topic of fitness or nutrition comes up in conversation, people are often surprised to learn that I’ve been over-weight three times in my life. Based on their lens, they assume that I’ve “always been thin” or athletic. They often guffaw when I tell them that I too have struggled with managing my weight; or they sarcastically retort that I wouldn’t possibly understand their struggles, or that I have it easy since they have always been over-weight. In response, I wryly point out that nobody is born over-weight (at least not by choice); that being overweight is the result of successive failures in moderation and discipline, failures in caretaking that occurred prior to and after birth. I make a lot of friends.
Healthy food makes me fat?
I became overweight as a pre-teen, in my early twenties and then again about two years ago. In each case, I became roughly 20-40 lbs overweight and each time the weight gain was mostly a result of my nutrition; simply: I ate too much. Unfortunately, I often find that folks that are looking to lose weight, and ask my opinion, often spend an inordinate amount of time talking about the type of food (e.g. Paleo, juice only, no juice, no sugar, more fat, no fat, no carbs, go vegetarian, etc) or more exercise. As I’ve said before, exercise is good for a whole host of reasons but increasing exercise alone won’t necessarily help you lose and maintain weight, only proper nutrition can.
Growing up my Mom was pretty militant about having only “healthy” foods in the house; e.g. no processed cereals, no soft drinks, lots of fruit. Yet I still gained weight. Why? I ate too much. As I got older I became a pretty dedicated exerciser (high school sports, college intramurals, top 1% on military fitness tests, etc) so how is it that I gained 20lbs? I ate too much. After the military, I continued to exercise 5-7 times a week and eat healthy: no soft drinks, no fast food, 8-10 servings of fruit & vegetables, and focus on whole food. Yet, I went from 175 lbs to 205 lbs two years ago. How? You guessed it, I ate too much. In every case of weight gain, it wasn’t exclusively the type of food I ate or the level or type of exercise. I consumed entirely too many calories, period.
Losing the Weight & the Super Duper Food Scale
The first two times I lost the weight I had external motivators. My Mom was a tough cookie, she had to be as a single Mom of two boys (more on that in a separate post), she was able to motivate me to lose weight in her ever-loving way, “you’re fat, stop eating peanut butter sandwiches before you go to bed.” Simple, direct, effective. The second time, I had the Military: fit to fight, combat-ready, peer-pressure, and “fat-boy” club are all very motivating monikers.
This most recent time, however, I had no external motivator. It all came down to me. You know what? It’s really hard to lose weight on your own. Fortunately, my body did me a favor, it started hurting. Every time I tried to go for a long run, everything hurt. Then I started having all kinds of gastric issues. So what did I do? I bought a food scale. More accurately, my wife bought me a food scale and told me to measure everything I ate. She made me read labels. Did you know that only sixteen, plain, no salt, raw almonds equal 100 calories?! Sixteen! (That’s not a lot) I had no idea. I was grabbing a handful as a snack almost every day…nearly 4x the calories. So naturally – and here is the hard part – I decided to track everything I ate for two weeks. In the end, I was over-eating by nearly 2x at every meal and snack. One food scale, a little label pre-reading, and hard discipline for two weeks; result: I lost 40 pounds last year and I’m training for my first marathon. It took some time before I got to the point where I instinctively knew how much food I needed versus wanted, but it was worth it.
I only eat rice cakes.
So do I only eat tofu, non-fat, non-sugar rice cakes 24-7? Yes. Just kidding. Of course not, I love food. Better stated, I love good food. I just don’t eat the entire menu. My wife and I eat out and order rich, savory food, but we split the plate. I’ll eat fast-food, but split the fries or get a salad on the side. I eat chocolate by the truckload. Just. Not. All. At. Once. In other words, now that I have a baseline of how many calories I need (many, many months later), I'm able to manage what I eat without having to exclude anything.
Over time, I have also made other healthy food choices over the year like reducing overall fat intake, less sugar, and eating more fiber; but these are merely tweaks and refinements. It wasn't food's fault I was over-weight, it was mine: when over-ate, I gained weight – plain and simple. So if you’re looking to lose weight, don’t focus on the refinements or quick fixes of what type of food you’re eating, or what one thing you should eliminate from your diet to fix it all. Start first with how much you’re eating. Track everything for two weeks, one week, or any length of time you’re able to stomach (pun intended). Then talk to your Dr. and/or a nutritionist to see how many calories you really need. You’ll be surprised.
It may be hard but enduring change doesn’t occur overnight and you may regress (I did three times). Nevertheless, moderation is the key. Keep it simple and buy a food scale. After all, you weren’t born over-weight. Even if you were, blame your parents and go buy a food scale. Good luck.
A co-worker once told me many years ago, "I don't want to live my life like a countdown." Waiting until the right time? There is no right time. Go now.
Just read this: "Every year, seemingly due to New Years' resolutions, sales of cigarettes drop by about 30 percent in January, but then regain half that in February, and are back to normal levels in March."
I say the same applies to gym memberships, diets, and any other "behavioral change" tied to a date. No need to tie life improvements to milestone dates like New Years (or Lent, etc). I postulate that enduring change doesn't occur overnight and doesn't care about the date -- so start now, keep at it, don't give up.
PS. The same applies to the other 1-day celebratory events: Valentines Day, Birthday, Mother's / Father's Day and even Christmas. Celebrate the moment and the person (as applicable) every day, space it out. It's less expensive than 1-time, all-out blowouts and - more importantly - the person (or persons) will appreciate the longer-term commitment. Space out the love and fellowship throughout the whole year!
What is the difference between being comfortable versus being complacent? I have no idea, so I challenge myself. Challenge my thinking, my parenting, my husband-ing; attempt to challenge my assumptions and my understanding of things. I won't get it right all the time so I welcome all constructive feedback. The goal? To "...be satisfied with life always but never with one's self." (George Jean Nathan)