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The 'new' Me at the end of summer (that's a herd of guinea pigs in the background)

The summer is officially over as of last Saturday and with that goes my first season of triathlon training. And by the way, no, I didn’t sign up for a triathlon this year. Like I said from the beginning, this year was all about figuring out how to stay on a bike, which if you’ve been following along took me a few tries and a really nice scar on my right ankle, learning how to swim faster, run faster and get to know some new people.

I did okay, not great, against my expectations, which is a victory.

To recap, I lost about 35 more pounds, bringing the total to 75 pounds lost so far and only 15 to go till maintenance. Also known as the Promised Land. I’ve been at that weight before but the idea of working at staying that weight is the new part. I really didn’t get that maintenance would take just as much forethought, till now.

But, now it’s the Fall Season and I live in Chicago, which means soon it will get very, very cold outside and if I don’t care to go backwards and regain weight I’ll need a new plan of action.

It’s a tiny bit tempting to take a break but I’ve done that enough and I know that’s a slippery slope. Better to get started before my entire brain even catches on that sitting down was a possibility.

I already belong to a great gym that’s in my neighborhood that just put in a pool, has an erg (rowing machine) and classes at ungodly early hours and late at night. No excuses. Next week, I set out to create a new pattern and see what happens. The weight lifting class and the boxing are my first stops. I’ll let you know how it goes. More adventures to follow.

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A Work in Progress

I’m going to just rip this band-aid off and tell you – when I started this weight-loss journey in October of last year I was a size 22. Today, I was walking around my office in a size 12 skirt. That picture is from today and I have to say, not half bad.

I’m not thrilled to tell you I recently used to be that big. Sometimes it can be so hard to tell the truth. I want to tell some of the cold, hard facts and keep some of the others to myself because I’d rather not leave an image of myself with you that’s too far off the scale of what’s acceptable, at least in my mind. However, a very wise woman once told me a really good factoid that has served me well over the years. ‘Set the truth free and it does its own work.’

In other words, the more transparent I can be all of the time, just be myself in all its glory, the more I can get out of the way and maybe even be of service to someone else. What a concept. Besides, who do you think I was fooling about my actual size back then, anyway?

I’m also more than a little surprised about how long I thought it was okay to be so much larger and feel so uncomfortable, out of place and physically miserable, all of the time. But I had thrown everything I had at weight loss and gained instead and was officially giving up. Then, last September I saw a friend of mine who was beaming with joy over the weight she’d lost. The difference in our efforts was that she had added a spiritual component. I can’t explain it any better than that (although if you want details, email me or leave a comment, and we’ll chat) but somehow I ended up talking to her and here we are almost 8 months later and 60 pounds lighter in that cute, size 12 skirt.

This time I did it without obsessing over food or exercise, without thinking about when I could eat next, or even about what the scale said on any given day. That’s not my previous behavior at all. I’m just taking it one day at a time and just for today, I’m doing okay. Talk to you later.

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Letting Go of the Outcome Lets Us Be Happy in the Moment

There’s an old saying, ‘carrying someone else’s water’ that used to mean doing someone else’s work. It was whipped out when a worker bee was wearing themselves out taking on things that didn’t belong to them.  It was also meant as a reminder to put down the water and let others take on their own consequences. Get back to your own life.

The same saying could be used as well to describe the burden that’s sometimes inadvertently carried when we keep secrets, particularly those that don’t belong to us in the first place. It can start in childhood when someone puts their face close to ours and admonishes us not to tell anyone because we could lose our home, lose a job, or lose standing in the community. There’s the lie, right there at the end of that sentence.

That young body hasn’t been in the world long enough to know that it’s not their responsibility to keep a house or a job or a good name just yet. But, children start out as trusting little beings and come to the conclusion that they somehow acquired the ability to harm or help adults, so they grow silent. Enough years pass and the secrets build on themselves till there’s a constant conversation inside the head, but nothing ever seeps out to the light of day. The silence has become so habitual it can be hard to notice and therefore change.

There are consequences, though for everything in life even if we are refusing to pay attention. The repercussions of silence are that we don’t notice how many decisions we make about everything else in what makes up a life that are being filtered through the original fears. Opportunities get left on the table and actions never occur because somewhere in the back of our minds we’re playing the game of ‘what if’ and standing still instead.

The thought underneath all of it is: if our actions can harm others then we need to control the outcome as much as possible. That, however, is an impossible task, which we also realize on some level. Everything we set out to do has a million possible outcomes, most of them we can’t even begin to foresee. [click to continue…]

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Things have changed, maybe forever. (Photo by smokeghost)

Throughout history, ever since the first time a caveman realized a rock could be used as a tool, the guy who could use his brain more than his hands was thought to be protected by new technology. His career aspirations would only be enhanced by whatever new gadget someone was about to introduce. That idea stood for a million years.

The ones who used their hands or their backs in order to build the shiny new object were thought to be marking time till technology would trump them and they’d have to learn an entire set of skills all over again.

But times have changed and that may not be so true anymore.

As we age that’s an increasingly uncomfortable thought particularly for those of us who weren’t texting our BFF’s during recess. Our brain is already crowded with kid’s sports schedules, PIN numbers and deadlines. Throw in the desire to keep job security, hanging onto healthcare benefits and providing for the family and it’s a sizeable dose of anxiety.

But it’s been preached to us from every quarter for two hundred years that getting a college degree would prevent most of those hiccups. There may be layoffs during a steep recession but they won’t last and in the end those with degrees will have richer lives and cushier retirements.

Welcome to 2011 and a reality check right on the heels of the death of the old adage that real estate is always a good investment or brokers make money even in bad markets.

It turns out though there is an old saying that still has a lot of staying power. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? This time it applies to old school journalists many of whom are finding themselves in new careers these days.

Their situation does has something to do with the possible economic depression that’s all around but it also has a lot more to do with how a very old profession is morphing right now into something new and the consequences are impacting all of us. [click to continue…]

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New York Subway (Photo by Runnx)

“No, she’s a McDonald’s girl. Don’t be fooled. She’s no Red Lobster girl,” said the tall young man in a dark suit during the afternoon rush hour on the packed D train heading down the West side of New York City. I was stuffed in between the two of them, holding onto the nearby pole as the train shook along the track, going quickly down the dark tunnel. The other young man in a chocolate brown suit nodded his head gravely making a reassessment in his mind of whoever was the object of his affection. “She said she was into the finer things but when we went shopping, she headed for the sales rack,” said the first man.

“Hmmmm,” answered his friend, like that spelled it all out. “She was pulling out nice stuff, but still…”

I wanted to ask what that might mean to the two of them. Did it mean she wasn’t marriage material because she was frugal? Or were they saying any girl who can live on a budget is just beneath them? These were two guys in off-the-rack suits who had started the conversation talking about their jobs as shoe salesmen. And now they’re putting down a girl who might have been happy with a man for the right reasons. Might have figured out how to be happy with someone who answered to their description.

Now, McDonald’s is a lovely place. It was my son, Louie’s second word after Da-Da. We were driving down the road and he sat up in his little car seat, his face lighting up at the sight of the golden arches and he sang out, “McDonud’s”. Just the thought of going in there made him happy. He was a McDonald’s boy. Now that he’s all grown up, he’s a McDonald’s man.

But maybe they meant something more subtle. Maybe they were talking about her expectations in life. Did she treat herself as if she were something that ought to be appreciated? Did she have ambitions of becoming something more? I can get behind that idea.

I was raised by some champion worriers who were always trying to protect what they had and expected all of it to be wiped out at any moment. Disaster was looking for all of us and it was only a matter of time before it would find our door. It was a draft system where everyone had a low number. The end result of that kind of thinking is they forgot to wish for anything. They forgot to ask themselves what they would like to have, could expect to get, if only they believed in the possibilities. That translated into never hearing what their ambitions for their kids might be. It wasn’t that they didn’t love us. Their ambition for us circled more around hoping we’d survive to middle aged at least. That was big love, daring to think we might all live to be senior citizens. [click to continue…]

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Live Your Big Adventure

Martha Note: Below is an excerpt from Live Your Big Adventure – a guide to more easily bring change into a busy life. If you want more, the guide is FREE on the pop-up bar below. Enjoy and let me know your stories.

As human beings we like to gather information. Sometimes I think it’s our purpose for being. We go through our lives constantly gathering all sorts of fun facts, gruesome stories, and inspirational moments and take delight in passing them on, knowing there are just as eager recipients.

It’s why 24-hour news, the internet and talk shows flourish and gossip can be so hard to stop. We just love gathering in some new tidbit and adding it to the pile. When we meet someone with a unique background different from our own we get more excited over the potential of a new angle of looking at something that when filtered through all of our old files might have a nice ripple effect. We think that if we only asked enough people we might find the answer to our own search for peace.

What’s it like to be born into a famous family or a rich family or into simply, your family?

However, there’s a big snag in the way of getting a good answer. We’re asking the wrong source and not trusting in the answer that is always there. But once I started listening from within, instead of surveying without, the need to question calmed down.

There I was, third week into living in New York City instead of Richmond, my old hometown for almost thirty years. Richmond is a great place to live with a surprising amount to do given its size, fairly low cost of living with beautiful parks and nice people who say ‘hi’ and wave to everyone. And yet I moved anyway, trying to cure this vague feeling of needing to be somewhere else. Turns out, I was right.

There is a good question I ask myself all the time in order to make decisions where the choice isn’t readily apparent. Which one speaks to me more? With an answer in hand I go forward, stop saying, ‘yeah, but’, and focus on the path I’ve taken. No straddling the fences.

I got off the fence with the move to New York, selling anything that would get in the way of living in a smaller, more expensive space. I believed I’d have what I need and not miss the rest. I left behind people I loved hanging around with, trusting new people would show up and I’d get to chat regularly with those I left back in Richmond. All true. [click to continue…]

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Me in my Kigo shoes just outside of my back door on my way to run.

This has been the summer of running, so far. I’ve passed a couple of milestones, which makes me feel like I have a shot at actually getting somewhere this time.

The big one is my consistency has been up there without being rigid. There was a big thunderstorm rumbling through Chicago yesterday and I didn’t try to be a human lightning rod or feel terrible the entire day because I missed a morning run.

The second one is that I can now run a little distance without feeling like I ought to walk for a minute. Frankly, this is where all of those reality shows on weight loss that I’ve watched finally pay off for me. I would quit sooner but I’ve seen what that looks like and how much farther someone can go, so I keep running just a little bit longer.

I get it. It’s one more place that my will is trying to get me to go sit down.

Running is hard work. The hardest part is getting myself out the door on a consistent basis. It’s not that there’s something else I’d rather be doing.

I’d prefer not to find out that I can’t do something on a grand scale. Then I get to keep the idea that I could if I just tried to run or to write or to save money. There’s a list of things we all keep in the back of our minds of things we want to do.

It’s that immediate response we give whenever someone says, ‘What are your dreams?’

We know immediately the top three and if we’re given a few minutes we can pull out another five and start sorting them into big dream, little dream. [click to continue…]

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