Culture

13 Weeks: What Do We Make of Times of Little Change?

I been contemplatin’.

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That’s a fiction character talking — I don’t know much about him, frankly he just popped into my head right now, but he’s an older man, unschooled but wise, from the South, wearing faded denim overalls that weren’t faded when he bought them. I can’t really see his face yet.

He popped up when I thought of what to write today on my continuing efforts with diet and exercise. Which turned out to be as much about my mind as my middle. Like him, I been contemplatin’ — where I am and what I’m doing and in particular what to say today about diets and such.

After a couple of promising weeks, it’s clear that either I’m still on my plateau or, if you like, that my plateau broke and I immediately hit another one, about 3-5 pounds down. This is frustrating. I haven’t done the hard-core slow-carb diet, and the wimpy version I’ve been doing hasn’t led to a lot of weight loss. Nor has doing the tabata etc.

Still, my blood sugar is stable, if a touch too high, but I’m not having the hypoglycemic episodes, and that’s good. Some combination of things — Pomodoro Technique, a new boss at the day job who actually listens to me instead of telling me to sit down and shut up, the new columns — has got me writing more than I really ever had, and every day of that I learn more about how to write through little blocks and struggles. And I have lost a good solid 30 pounds and I’m clearly keeping it off.

And you know, a year ago I was contemplatin’ too. My mother had died the previous January, just a couple days before her 77th birthday, and she was 20 when I was born. I was looking at my 57th birthday and realizing she’d died at 77 and my father had died not long after his 69th birthday and I didn’t like the way that subtraction worked out. And I’d lost a lot of time to my long struggle with depression, that kept taking me out of the fight to do what I really wanted, and had reduced me to doing what I needed to do to get by, to survive.

Then I started looking back through this year’s columns, and my notes, and I found something — an older version of the guidelines I wrote about doing 13 week experiments. They went like this:

  • make a change
  • give it time
  • don’t be attached
  • forgive yourself
  • pivot or persevere?

The truth is that that’s not always easy. For me in particular, giving a change time, and forgiving myself, are very hard.

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So, I’m looking back and thinking about this. A year ago my weight was going up slowly, my blood sugar was worrying my doc and metformin wasn’t controlling it, my GERD was so bad I’d had one ersatz heart attack because of esophageal spasms, and let’s not even talk about what the irritable bowel was doing but it wasn’t pretty.

I wonder if it isn’t time to practice the “forgiving myself” part. In particular on the weight. Sure I’d like to lose more, but in the mean time I have lost 30 pounds and kept it off for nearly a year. I’ve improved my blood sugar — almost too effectively! — I’ve improved my cholesterol, my resting heartbeat is around 60 and my resting blood pressure is 105/60. I finally got a sleep study and got a CPAP, and I’m sleeping well and able to get up early to get writing done — and I’m therefore getting a helluva lot more writing done.

If I’m standing still, I’m doing so at a place where I’ve improved pretty much everything I was worried about last year. Maybe that’s not a bad score after all.

*****

images courtesy shutterstock / Aletia / Denys Prykhodov / Denys Prykhodov