Thursday, December 22, 2016

Planning Journal: directing my energy

The year 2016 is about to come to a close which means a new year will soon start. I have had my moments of cynicism in the last decade, but something I don’t think I will ever become cynical about is the promise of new beginnings. For me a new year always feels full of hope for better things. And I am charmed and captivated by the prospect of possibilities.

My job as full-time music teacher to children ages 3-8 ended six months ago. Maybe it was the strict sleep schedule I adhered to, or my habit of partial fasting during the school day, or the the routine and structure my job superimposed on my life. Whatever the reasons, now a year and a half later, I have the luxury of energy that I just haven’t had.

Having the most energy since being diagnosed with Lupus, opens up a whole world of possibilities for me. I feel exhilaration and determination to channel and focus this hard won energy toward new goals and dreams.

To really get the most from this gift of energy, I made the decision to teach myself an organizational system, a time management system. I have a number of different projects, both personal and professional, that I want to work on simultaneously. Developing my own unique system of organization, seems the first and most important area on which to devote my time and attention.

For the past few years I have had a kind of “do something” approach to work and life. I think the shift happened when I developed Lupus and my previous bursts of energy and short term “sprints” were no longer a part of my reality. I faced the hard truth that I simply could not do grandiose plans…at least not in the same way. I had to adopt a sort of dogged plodding approach to getting things accomplished. So I started thinking in terms of “I can wash one dish and then one more…” If I didn’t finish the task of “washing dishes” at least there were fewer dishes the next time I came back to that task. This was a psychological tool I developed and strengthened. And it served me well during our time in Yangon. But the year helped me to graduate to a new level and now “do something” is not enough. I have started to dream big again. I have pushed at the boundaries of my limitations and in so doing, have moved the boundaries. So I’m going to keep pushing and striving for more of the life I want.

Growing up I think I was considered more “messy” than “organized” but still I had a few organizational skills. During elementary school for example, I had one of the most neatly organized desks in the whole school! (Well to be fair, it was a one room school and although allowed for grades 1-8, only had a total of 20 kids! :)) Also later in high school I maintained a neat and functional locker. Unfortunately for me, those skills were not sufficient to organize the myriad of areas I suddenly became responsible for when I went off to college. And it seemed that my small and limited organizational skills were simply choked out.

Of course, people were keen to help me. Ideas, suggestions, books, even furniture were sent my way. I also tried to find my own resources. I loved pre-printed planners and calendars, I loved buying them for myself or receiving beautiful ones for gifts and I loved dreaming they would magically work wonderfully. I had separate notebooks for a variety of things I tracked: a gratitude journal, piano practice logs, food logs, exercise logs, regular journal, books read log. I also really loved buying and getting pads of decorative paper for making lists of groceries, gift ideas, to do items. The papers were nice to look at but really held very little practical function.

I’m not sure when I first discovered the bullet journal idea, but search YouTube for “bullet journal” and scads of videos will appear. It’s like a thing. A “community”. I’m sure that I watched one of these videos during the school year but at that time I just wasn’t interested. It was a draining year and I was worn out and simply could not add anything else to my life. But after a month away I was more rested and had recharged some. It felt like an excellent time to try a new system of organization. So I watched a ton of videos to get some ideas and then I was ready to give it a go.

My schedule for work last year had lots of planning time built into the day. This was such a gift. And I went deep into planning like I'd never been able to before. For the first time in my school teaching career, I had sufficient time to plan out my lessons and then review them thoughtfully every day. I tried new ideas and methods regularly. This process of—1. having a new idea 2. trying it out and 3. then analyzing it’s merits and weaknesses— gave me a way to think about organization. So I knew that especially at the beginning, I needed to specifically plan in time for reviewing the system and reflecting on what was and wasn’t working for me. To reinforce this idea further, I included both morning and evening planning time as a habit to develop on my Habit Tracker chart.

Another thing I will borrow and bring forward from my experience as a music teacher in an international school, is my attitude. I approached my new teaching position in a can-do, keep-my-eyes-on-the-big-picture-and-don’t-get-bogged-down-in-the-details kind of way. That attitude served me very well in my job and so I’m adopting the same attitude in my approach to my planning journal.

I used to scrapbook a lot. And I was slow. My first page took 4-hours to put together and I know the consultant who sold me my first album, pages and stickers was more than a little aghast at my slow process. For the brief time that I was a consultant myself, I remember that the main idea was: “get those pages done! Get those pictures in albums!”. But I spent hours pouring over stickers and paper options. Should I crop the picture into a circle or just trim the edges. Should I double mat and cut the outside edge with special scissors??? Should I freehand my titles and text or should I use colored stickers or stamps with colored ink????So many choices and I wanted it to end up beautiful every time. Like a work of art. A few of the videos on bullet journaling that I watched seemed to take all the ideas of scrapbooking, minus the photos, and apply them to their planning journal. I knew I couldn’t let myself get sucked into that or my planning journal would be a complete failure! I am an EXPERT at wasting time on stickers and colorful paper. What I need is a functional organizational tool, first and foremost. So my guiding principle is that adding artistic flare is fine as long as I don’t spend much time on it. The vast majority of the time needs to go into planning and tracking how well the planning is working.

Sticking to this principle has been relatively easy. And I think the reason for that is that I have a LOT of creative things I do now. I draw, paint, and sketch in a number of different media including digital.
My need for creative outlet is met through these ways. Therefore my planning journal does not need to be a creative outlet too. So I don’t use a ruler and draw “straight” lines freehand.

My titles are in fonts I can dream up in a couple of seconds. I was tempted to watch videos and scroll through instagram and pinterest for fancy fonts I liked, but when it came to the point where I would need to practice copying any new fonts, I stopped myself.

 I wrote down “stickers” in a list of things to buy but so far I have been quite restrained about that. No stickers purchases yet for my planning journal. And I started with only a black pen. I bought a ton of black pens for my Zentangle class for my after school activity and for my own sketchbook drawings. So I already had those and didn’t need to buy anything new.

What I did buy was a journal. Because of Urban Sketching, I discovered Moleskine journals. I had seen them when I bought journals before but I really learned about them when I started my sketchbook practice last year. Moleskine has several types of journals and when I had been looking for watercolor sketchbooks, I also ran across grid papered journals too. I remembered those grid journals when I went to buy my first planning journal. A brand of planning journal that is popular for these custom planning journals have dots, but I find that the grid in the Moleskine works well for me. I bought a pack of three skinny journals. Traveling has forced me to think about the weight of everything. I didn’t want a big journal that was heavy and bulky. I already carry too much weight in my purse as it is. So these skinny Moleskine grid journals are perfect. And another thing, because we do travel so much it’s nice to know that Moleskine is all over the world. So getting my next journals as I need them will be easy.

I set up my first journal in August when we had a plan, albeit a rough outline of a plan, for what we were doing. And my journal and new system worked quite well until the middle of September when our lives became transition-on-hyperdrive. And for a couple of months there was no such thing as structure or routine. Things changed weekly. So living in this constant state of flux has been the biggest challenge to developing a solid system of organization for myself. In my next post I will write about what things I’m doing to overcome this and other barriers to moving forward with my dreams and goals.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Progress report

It's 2015, time for "new year's resolutions". My new year's resolution is to continue with my energy quest. As I am seven months into "Project Energy", I guess it's not really "new". But maybe continuing a project is better than starting something new. I've read that only 8% of people who make new year's resolutions actually reach their goals. Well here's to being in the 8% group!

Things have improved a lot since June. But I have also been putting a LOT into this project. Not only have I focused a ton on better nutrition and cooking (especially desserts) at home, I have been doing cardio and strength training regularly. I have been consistently meditating through piano practice, zentangle and painting. I have volunteered at my church. I've sorted and purged at lot of my "stuff". I've journaled. To help me stay focused I've developed tracking and reward systems: stickers on my calendar,

and little notebooks filled with number of reps for strength training or hours spent on the piano or hours spent drawing. It's easy to look back, now, and say wow things have really changed for the better. But day to day, it's hard to see those improvements so these tracking and reward systems are SO important for me. It's that motivation and incentive I need to keep going when it doesn't feel like I'm getting anywhere.

So if you remember, in June I had a pretty long list of unhealthy symptoms. In addition to general massive fatigue, I had developed an abscess for the first time in my life, I was suffering from extremely painful plantar fasciitis, my blood pressure was high and I was having pain in my shoulder that signaled the onset of a Lupus flare.

First, my blood pressure is normal again.

The first abscess healed with a course of antibiotics but I had two more lumps develop and one of those turned into an even more painful abscess. Another round of antibiotics cured that infection and once that one healed, I've since been infection free.

My plantar fasciitis has vastly improved. I went to see a new primary care doctor and she gave me a treatment plan: wear a foot brace to bed every night, tape my heel and arch for support, wear shoes ALL the time, stretch daily, and limit walking.

The treatment is working but I'm am still not free from pain. My case was severe so it's going to take the full 9 months to heal completely. But two days ago I took a 2 mile walk with my husband and the pain was manageable from beginning to end. (Normally I start out okay but the pain increases steadily until I stop.) That is HUGE progress. I can't tell you how amazing it is just to take a walk! For the the last seven months I have only been able to ride my bike for exercise so it's nice to know that soon I'll have a little variety in my workouts again.

My energy has jumped by leaps and bounds. It was slow at first and difficult to tell the difference from day to day but once I could tell, it was incredible, not just to think about the change but to feel it! Now, I rarely have an afternoon crash where I'm too exhausted to do anything and frustratingly unable to sleep either. At the beginning, when massive fatigue hit (usually around 2pm), I found that getting on the bike for an intense workout would then allow me to fall asleep for a restorative nap afterwards. As the months went on, I found that I could just push through the fatigue and not nap after my workout.

It was a this point that I decided to volunteer at my church. I had the idea that maybe if I did something small---not a job, just some volunteer work---that maybe in some way that would help me along in my quest for energy. For about three weeks, I was intensely involved with the children's choir. I prepared lessons for Sunday morning practices, figured out and then wrote down a piano accompaniment part. Practiced piano and sang to my accompaniment so I knew how I wanted the choir to sound. All in preparation for the World Communion Sunday performance. The experience had all the excitement and challenges of starting a new job. It was both exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. And afterwards I did notice an uptick in my overall energy level.

In mid-November I finally had my first appointment with a new rheumatologist. I tried all the way back in June to make an appointment. Had I seen my new doctor then, my labs and exam results might have been different. This new rheumatologist is fresh out of a fellowship and consequently is current in best practice. She ran 27 tests. My primary care doctor ran 3 tests so in total I had 30 different tests! And all of them came back healthy! Based on my lab results, the office exam, and my self-report of pain level 0, my doctor says my Lupus is in "complete remission", and I have "no active signs of disease". This is the best news about my health I've had in five years!

I also learned or (maybe I was reminded) at this office visit that I have another auto-immune disease called Sjogren's (pronounced Show grins) Syndrome. It causes dry mouth and dry eyes. The medicine I take for Lupus is also effective for Sjogren's. This medicine, when taken long-term, has caused eye damage in some patients. My doctors watch for this and I have an eye exam annually. So in November, after my rheumatology appointment, I also had my eye exam. Great news! I have "perfect" eyes, according to my eye doctor. There has been no damage from either the medicine I take or dryness caused by Sjogren's! I even noticed a slight improvement in my sight from my two previous exams. On my last exam, I misread the O for a D. This time: no mistakes. I think it's the increased level of beta-carotene in my diet. I eat more carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes now and I've read that beta-carotene aids in eye function. This is my own personal theory based on my research. None of my three new doctors mentioned diet as a tool for managing my diseases.

I feel quite pleased with the results of my efforts. My health is vastly improved and I have more energy now than possibly any time since I was diagnosed with Lupus. But I have more work to do. I have a long list of projects and goals I want to accomplish. But I most definitely feel more hopeful that I can actually achieve what I want to with these last 7 months of work as proof that focused effort does yield results. :)

"Reaching one's full potential"

Monday, November 17, 2014

Zentangling my way to more energy

At the beginning of this year, I found the days passed in a blur of many tasks and I had little time for art and creativity. I was feeling the absence of art in my life and so I began to search for something I could pick up and do quickly and easily. I discovered Zentangle.

I was attracted right away to the abstract designs. First I started by copying designs I liked. But soon I was experimenting with my own designs and patterns.

Though I draw designs that are pleasing to my eye, the end result is not the best part of Zentangle: it's the meditative quality of the actual process of creating a Zentangle. One Zentangle author calls it "yoga for the brain" and I think that's a wonderful way to describe it. I took Hatha yoga for two years from an excellent teacher and after two years of yoga practice, the benefits to my body and mind were numerous. Just like with yoga, the more I practice Zentangle, the more benefits I get from it.

A lot of the zentangles that I saw online were just black and white. But I adore color so I started adding color to my zentangle drawings.

I had colored pencils already so I used those to start with. But filling in the spaces completely with colored pencils was taking months. So I decided to buy some watercolor pencils that have been on my wish list for years. I went to the art store to buy Derwent Graphitint watercolor pencils but came home Lyra Aquarelle watercolor pencils and water soluble crayons too!

And oh the fun I've had with these water-soluble media! On this turtle zentangle I knew from the start I wanted a simple line drawing so I could really play with the color.

I just love the mosaic effect I could get with this water soluble medium for the water around the turtle. Drawing the lines to mimic broken glass took all my focus and was therefore just as meditative as the more complex patterns of some of my other zentangles. I suppose this turtle piece could really be called a Zia. Zia is a more planned zentangle. A true zentangle grows as you go without plan until that moment. I planned this turtle piece before I ever started working on it. But for my purposes, Zia or Zentangle, line drawing or pen and doesn't matter what it is called. Currently this is my preferred form of meditation.

And meditation renews my energy. For several months I zentangled when I was too tired to work on my fine art or do chores, or really anything. I could zentangle and that was better than just playing golf solitaire on my iPad! At least I had something artistic and fun to show for my time! But lately I use Zentangle to get in the art "zone" so that I can work more focused on my fine art. It also serves as a rest that gives me energy for whatever other work I need to do for the day.

This latest Zentangle fell in the middle of a burst of creativity. Suddenly last week I was able to paint on several of my acrylic works-in-progress for 7 hours one day and 4 1/2 the next. The idea of this Zentangle popped into my brain on the third day. I'm not exactly sure how it works, the brain is a mystery, but Zentangling gives me more energy to do the creative work I want to do! And that, after all, is the whole purpose of the quest I am on.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Nutrient-dense recipes for autumn

It's autumn in the Pacific northwest! And I've been experimenting with some seasonal recipes to reduce the "empty" calories and increase the nutrient dense calories.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

For these delicious muffins I started with a recipe for zucchini bread that I found online. I then doubled the zucchini, replaced the white flour with 100% whole wheat flour, added flaxseed meal and chopped walnuts for extra protein, and added bittersweet chocolate chips.

Crustless Sweet Potato Pie

I think I was in junior high when I discovered a recipe that became my signature Thanksgiving dessert called, "Impossible Pumpkin Pie". I loved this recipe so much that I even wrote the whole thing out and sent it to my maternal grandmother. Instead of a crust, the recipe called for adding Bisquick to the batter. Since last Thanksgiving I have been improving on this recipe. I swapped out the Bisquick with Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Pancake and Waffle mix and replaced the white sugar with sweetened condensed milk.

 I then decided to try the whole recipe with sweet potatoes I roasted myself, and the result was fantastic.

Sweet potatoes are easy to roast. I just wrap them in foil for faster cooking and poke them on the top a few times with a knife. After about an hour, depending on size, the skins slip off pretty easily. And I plop them in the blender to puree. They usually need some water to blend up into a nice smooth puree.

Spaghetti Squash with marinara and edamame

A lot of my focus has been on improved desserts but I have also created/modified meals to make them packed with nutrients and flavor.

Spaghetti squash is simple to roast. I used my huge kitchen knife to slice it in half. Then I put the cut sides down on a cookie sheet and roast for about 45 minutes. Using my oven mitt, I test them by giving them a squeeze. If they squeeze really easily, they are done. I then scoop out the seeds, a cinch after cooking, and using a fork I scrap out the squash that separates into strings like spaghetti pasta.

For years I bought Newman's Own marinara sauce in the jar and loved it. Then I discovered Trader Joe's marinara this year.

The flavor is incredible and it has less sugar that Newman's Own which already had less sugar than most jar sauces.

I add the marinara to onions and garlic that I've sauteed in a pan. Sometimes I add ground beef to the pan first and brown it with the onions and garlic before I add the marinara. This last time, I also took some edamame that I bought frozen, boiled for 3 minutes in water, drained and then added to the sauce. I layer the spaghetti squash, a little grated parmesan cheese, and then the embellished marinara sauce and this makes an extremely satisfying meal bursting with flavor and nutrients.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies with Chickpeas

The best for last. These pumpkin cookies are maybe my best recipe yet! I started with Jessica Seinfeld's chocolate chip recipe that calls for a can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed. (Chickpeas are high in fiber and protein and can be counted as either protein or veg on the Supertracker.)

Added Trader Joe's Organic pumpkin plus ground cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and ginger.

 I replaced half of the brown sugar with half a can of sweetened condensed milk, swapped the semisweet chocolate chips with bittersweet and the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Instead of old-fashioned oats I added oat flour. I left out the raisins and walnuts. These cookies froze beautifully but they actually didn't stay in the freezer very long! :)

I find that the quality of food I eat has made a significant difference in my energy levels. I think because of my Lupus I have more immediate feedback about how certain foods impact my body. When October arrived, Trader Joe's started carrying an array of tempting pumpkin treats. I bought the delicious Pumpkin Bread Pudding from the frozen section. But it is made with white flour and white sugar and after eating it my ankles swelled alarmingly and my energy plummeted. I suppose I can think of my Lupus as a gift in that it allows me to see more easily the harmful effects of an unhealthy diet. So I am making my desserts at home with with nutrient dense ingredients for better health and more energy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

the message of the dragonfly

Recently my husband reserved a campsite for us and we spent a couple of nights tent camping on a lake far away from the city. I was surprised at how the little trip away was so rejuvenating. I guess sometimes getting a little distance and change of scenery can be just the ticket for a breakthrough.

The first afternoon after we set up our tent, we took a little nature walk. The golden wheat color of the tall grass was beautiful enough, but to my delight resting on the grass stems were damselflies and dragonflies.

They stayed still for long periods of time, allowing me to capture some of the most detailed photos yet of these magical insects.

But the second day was even more amazing. In the evening we took another walk this time to the dock area of the campground. Just as we started to walk up the ramp, a dragonfly landed right on my shirt.

I've never been so close before and I was able to see every small detail of its intricate body. It was a stunning experience. Stephen took a few photos with his phone while the dragonfly held on to my shirt for several minutes.

It seemed as if the whole time we camped, dragonflies were saying, "Hey! Look at me! Pay attention to me! So I thought to myself, "What is the message of the dragonfly?"

Dragonflies represent transformation, change and living into one's full potential. Transformation doesn't mean tweaking, it doesn't mean small adjustments. It means completely taking on a new form and having a completely new set of skills and abilities. Dragonflies go from nymphs that propelling themselves around in the water to mature dragonflies that flying through the air. And not just any old flying, they can fly in six directions, change direction mid-air and hover for up to a minute! They go from the drab color of their larval state to brilliantly colored bodies with transparent wings. My choice of the dragonfly as part of the title of this blog was purposeful. I aim to completely transform, to go from swimming to flying.

Now swimming isn't a bad thing. In fact I love to swim. The swish of the water around my legs and arms is a wonderful feeling. But think of the freedom in flying! What came into focus during our brief camping trip (with the dragonflies to stimulate my thinking), was that I just have too much stuff cluttering my life. Too many books and materials from past careers and old hobbies. Too many clothes and shoes. Just too much stuff from my "swimming" days. And it needs to go because it's draining my energy for absolutely no good purpose and keeping me from "flying".

So in the week following our camping trip with the dragonfly encounters, I tore into the many boxes that have been stacked in our dining room. By the end of the week the room was neat and orderly.

A lot of stuff is gone, thrown away or given away. Our dining room is now a functional multi-purpose room. It's a dining room, art studio, and computer work station all in one. I have more work to do to simplify life, to better focus my attention on the things I want to put my energy into. But the clutter is down to a manageable level as evidenced by the fact that I have actually been getting a few hours of artwork in each week! That's a fantastic feeling! And a very dramatic sign that transformation IS happening.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cameron Diaz's The Body Book

The same day that I wrote the first draft of my introductory post for DragonflyKoru, I bought Cameron Diaz's "The Body Book: the Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body". Before reading her book, I was feeling some trepidation about publishing my posts. But once I started the first chapter, Cameron's book reassured me that my quest for energy was a worthwhile focus and sharing that with others was maybe a good idea too.

If you've watched "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" do you remember that scene at the beginning where Cameron Diaz is dancing and Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu join in? Man! When I watched that I thought to myself, "Wow Cameron Diaz has a STRONG body! You can't dance with that much ENERGY unless you have amazing STRENGTH! I wish I could move like that!" Not surprisingly, Cameron writes that training with a Kung Fu master for Charlie's Angels changed her life.

I love it when celebrities (who have ridiculous amounts of power and influence that our culture bestows on them) actually use their power and influence to do something good in the world. I think Cameron has done something very good in writing this book.

In the introduction she writes: "Here's what this book is not: It is not a diet book. It is not a workout regimen. It is not a manual to becoming a different person. Here's what it is: a guide to becoming yourself." And by that she means the healthiest strongest version of yourself. And it's not about form, it's about function. What she has been able to DO because of her strong healthy body and what we can DO with a strong and healthy body. It's a book filled with information. Because as her introduction states, "Knowledge is power."

Cameron did a lot of research and interviewed many experts in their fields to get the information in this book. She writes that she " all CSI about the body..." So that the end result is almost like a collection of several little textbooks: anatomy and physiology, nutrition, biology, chemistry, behavioral psychology...but the presentation is fun, accessible, and understandable. And it echoes what I have learned from the HBO documentary "Weight of the Nation" and what's on the USDA website.

I really really like Cameron's definition of health. As she points out the word "health" gets thrown around a lot these days. Here's what she means when she talks about health. "...I'm talking about having a body that is working at its optimum, a body that has the energy to go all day without crashing, a body that can fight off illness and keep you strong. I'm talking about feeling amazing in your skin...I'm talking about having a mind that can be clear productive, thoughtful and happy." Wow, now that's the kind of health I want!!

I learned from this book that Cameron has always been skinny. She could always eat whatever she wanted and didn't gain weight. But something even more interesting than that is what she wanted to eat. And it wasn't sugar. In chapter 7 she confesses that she doesn't like sugar. And she's not kidding: she stir-fries zucchini to put on her morning oatmeal, just so she can get heart-health oatmeal into her diet. I find Cameron's aversion to sugar incredibly interesting because maybe a large part of why Cameron is "naturally" skinny is because she doesn't like and therefore doesn't eat much sugar.

In my 20's I drank a LOT of mochas. Sometimes fattening but always sugary mochas. Then sometime in my early 30's, one day I didn't like the taste of mochas any more. Just out of the blue, chocolate in coffee tasted yucky to me. At that same time, I worked to lose 40lbs. And I've never gained it back. I have a strong suspicion that eliminating those sugar- laden mochas from my diet has a LOT to do with maintaining that weight loss. And it's why now I'm rigorously cutting out sugar whenever and wherever I can.

"The Body Book" has 3 sections: Nutrition, Fitness, and Mind. Nutrition is the first and largest section. I agree that it's the best place to start. Before I got Lupus, I seriously never thought about eating food for FUEL. It was always just about taste. Then when I was in my huge Lupus flare, I noticed that certain foods caused me a LOT of pain. Carbohydrates. Sugar.

Even the lactose in milk increased my inflammation and my pain so I started drinking soymilk that had only 2g of sugar per serving. Getting Lupus really motivated me to understand what was going on INSIDE my body and I tried to read Stephen's college Anatomy and Physiology textbooks. But they were just too difficult. My science background is pretty weak. But this book that Cameron has written is a great primer, a good place to start. The more I learn the more I want to know. It's really so very interesting. Understanding how things work is really a motivator for me. The knowledge of how nutrient-rich foods FUEL my body and how nutrient poor foods DESTROY my body, is causing a fundamental shift in my thinking about food. When only one month ago I thought I HAD to have delicious tasting food ALL the time. Now I find it's pretty easy to give up half and half in my coffee and turn down donuts! Whoa!

How many of you have heard, "Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels" ? Well I always thought, "Yeah, right." But if I change that phrase to be, "Nothing tastes as good as being FULL of ENERGY feels" now that I can really agree with. If eating nutrient-rich foods gives me the energy to do the work I want to do, then those are the foods I want to put in my body, and taste is secondary.

I've already mentioned here and in my other blog that cardio is something that's easy for me to do. I love to run, ride my bike, do aerobics, swim, play Cameron's encouragement to sweat everyday was for me, "oh yeah, no problem." But she reminded me again how sitting, being sedentary, is really really harmful to my health. And so I'm trying to work more movement into my day. I don't get any credit on the Supertracker for "standing in the kitchen while cooking" but I know that any time I break up my sitting time, I'm doing something healthy for myself.

The last section of the book, Mind, has more good information.  One of the topics she talks about is discipline. I've applied discipline to several areas in my life: piano practice, cardio workouts, going to work every day, being on time consistently to my clients' houses for piano lessons...Now I'm applying discipline to my health. Cameron acknowledges it "isn't easy" to make changes and by "isn't easy" she means, "can be really super-freaking hard." She reminds us to be kinder to ourselves and practice, practice, practice.

When I think of the word "practice" I think about piano practice. Practice isn't performance. In practice I am working out how to make a passage fast and smooth or bring out a voice in one hand over the other, and I experiment with different ways to achieve that objective. It doesn't work in the beginning, it often sounds awful and NOTHING like the beautiful performance I've heard. So in piano practice, I had to learn to go very slowly and repeat, repeat, repeat. I had to have patience in the speed with which I improved. I had to be consistent and go every day to the practice room and just put in the time. And I had to have faith that my consistent focused practice would eventually pay off and I would be able to play the piece the way it was meant to be played. Another very important lesson I learned from my piano practice was that the more I went to the practice room, the easier everything got and the more rewarding each session was. But if for whatever reason I missed a few practice days, how easily it all fell off the rails and felt hard and frustrating.

Last week I took a short trip and I stopped practicing good health for a few days. And it hasn't been easy to get back to good practice. But just like I used to start with scales on the piano (because they were easy for me) I started with going to the gym (because cardio is easy for me).

There is a term in physics that seems helpful here: inertia. My husband understands physics and so he explained it to me. The more inertia something has the more difficult it is to get it moving (think heavy boulder). And once it is moving, if it's not going very fast, then it's relatively easy to stop. But once something with a lot of inertia gains speed, it's very difficult to stop. The concept goes even further. What if you don't want to just stop that high inertia object, you want to send it in the OPPOSITE direction? First it will take a lot of effort to stop it and then even more effort to get it going in the new direction.

I can see how this concept applies to me. And that I have a lot of inertia. Over the course of my life I've picked up a lot of speed in my energy draining habits. And now I want to stop going that direction and go in the opposite direction. I want my habits to be energizing, not energy depleting.

Growth and transformation. It's work baby! Hard work. So I'm really glad to have found some useful tools for tackling that hard work in Cameron Diaz's "The Body Book".