Today

Today is the day I regain my body back.

The body, my body was kidnapped three years ago by the stress of two shoulder operations, the disintegration of yet another career and a family member’s illness. Once in isolation and infused with depression and chemical toxins, the body, my body, sought refuge and comfort in food.  Not just any old food but food of the most dangerous kind: White Castle burgers with onion rings, Pringle’s ultra stack, Jones’ sausages, and French bread pizza with pepperoni, Press’s version of the Cuban sandwich as well as the cheese and black bean dip with multi grain taco chips downed with fresh Margherita’s at the local Tex-Mex restaurant.

My body, the body descended into a madness of the most unfavorable kind: erratic blood pressure readings, thyroid issues, vitamin deficiencies and the dreaded numbers from the doctor’s scale for which I arguably state is out of whack. Crack is whack and so is that damn scale that reveals the truth behind the cover-ups that no longer justify the existence of my muffin top middle supported by thunder thighs of cellulite.

The Ann Taylor Loft and J.Jill clothing of days gone by sit in my closet refusing to be cast away into the large plastic bin of discarded clothes in the basement. I long, they long to be back on the body, my body that I’ve neglected and allowed to fall off the food wagon into an abyss of false food gratification binges.

Today is the day I regain my body back.

The jogging is progressing-finally made it to 35 minutes! But the amount of calories consumed overshadows the amount exercised off and a different approach is necessary in order to get my body to where it needs to be, weight and health wise.

So today, I begin.

To begin is to acknowledge I have an unhealthy choice of foods to eat disorder.  I own it, I do. The albatross will no longer circle above my head as I waddle down the street for I have armed myself with a just released book from Amazon that unleashes the diet secrets of all French women.  All, French, women? Imagine that. “White Castle burgers and a side of onion rings will touch my lips no more!”

So today, this morning, I began.

Chasing my shadow…

In my slow and sometimes painful quest to run a 5k, I have finally made it to 30 minutes of continuous jogging. Now if only the continuous jogging could remain consistent with the mileage and evolve to 45 minutes of continuous running.  

I started the Couch to 5K training program, heavily modified, during the month of June 2010. The program starts with alternating a 1-minute run to a 90-second walk and repeating for 20 minutes. My modified version was a 1 minute jog to a 2 minute walk, 4x within an hour which translated to 3 miles.   

Slowly, the length of jogging increased, the walking decreased and mileage accumulated to 3 miles. I can now run continuously for 30 minutes, on a good day, but it does not equate to a total of 3 miles, more like 1.93 miles of jogging, with the remaining miles walking and huffing. My goal is to run a 5k in less than an hour and at the rate my body is adjusting to jogging, achieving that goal may be a miracle or a mirage.

Notice Couch to 5k uses the term “running” while I, a nonprofessional, prefer to use the term “jogging”. I am a self proclaim, bona fide, penguin when it comes to running labels. Professional runners walk faster than my jogging and my running to a professional runner is their walking a slow pace to recuperate after running a marathon.

I have no illusions of grandeur. My jogging pace is akin to a penguin’s walk infused with having one too many krill on a good day. I am slow and damn proud of it. As the affluent runners pass by me while running the loop in Prospect Park, I smirk at their swiftness and skinniness and applaud myself for having the audacity to run in skintight pants with my visible oversized flapping belly. I have last years’ Garmin, big as a block of wood, strapped to my wrist and my ­Superfeet running insoles.  I am a Queen!

However, there are times when my ego deflates.  The one steep hill  too many, which depletes my forty something year old body of its energy and forces me to walk, and the little red devil, skinny no less, that sits on my right buttock shouting mantras of:

“You’re carrying too much weight, just walk”           

 “Your feet hurt, just walk.”

“You are way too old to do this, just walk.”

“Did you take the Bayer aspirin this morning? Oh forget it, just walk!” 

Therefore, I give in and walk. Return home. Look at the statistics from the Garmin and berate myself for not achieving the days’ goals. I am ruthless with myself and void of compassion. However,  two days later I am out there again-pumped and ready to accomplish my goal of adding  and jogging five minutes more to the 30 minutes-which has yet to be accomplished.

Kids or Dogs

There seems to be an onslaught of books on a topic rarely brought up in public conversations-the decision to remain childless. Walk on Seventh Avenue in my neighbourhood on any given day and you will hear endless conversations concerning children, daycare, and schools, play dates, eco friendly diapers etc. These conversations are not only coming from groups of women but also men and nannies. As I navigate through the strollers, herds of running toddlers and the occasional breast feeding new mom sitting outside the Häagan Dazs shop, I smile because I am so glad I do not have children. I have dogs.

 During my late teens, I decided not to have kids.

Carefully thought out and an easy choice to make, I knew back then I was too selfish to sacrifice one hundred percent of my needs and especially my wants in order to raise a child. My surroundings helped with the decision. My siblings and their kids allowed a front row view of the trials and tribulations of child rearing. Babysitting dilemmas, erratic feeding schedules, diapers and prams, and the ear piercing levels of screaming/crying  for food, to be held and changed, along with other monumental chores,  solidified my decision. Of course, there were moments of grandeur: the first word, the first walk, the first solid food, the first curse… that had no effect on my decision.

I saw and still see the negatives instead of positives.

There were teenage female classmates who mysteriously disappeared during the school year only to resurface during the summer with a baby and stroller in tow. There were also neighbours in the old ‘hood’ having more than one child to increase their welfare and housing benefits. In addition, during my teaching years, some of the parents of the emotionally disturbed students whom I taught, viewed teachers as overpaid babysitters, who freed up their time during the day so they could party up with drugs -horrible situations to place a child in! 

Having children is a serious decision with serious ramifications.

Children do not fix damaged people.  They will not cure loneliness or repair broken relationships. Nor will they take the place of a dress up doll. I live across the street from a playground where I see more nannies with babies than parents and yes in my ‘hood’ it is quite easy at times to distinguish nannies from parents. What is the point of having children if the parents are too busy working or taking care of their needs and especially their wants without the sacrifice? If a nanny takes care of a child on a full time basis, then the parents’ decision to have children was hastily decided. 

I chose dogs.

Dogs are wonderful companions who love unconditionally and flourish under a daily routine of food, exercise and love-not necessarily in that order just as long as you stick to the routine. Provide nutritional food, which can be bought or made, exercise them like crazy, because a tired dog is happy and less destructive and finally, lavish them with cuddles, belly rubs, grooming and praise. This accounts for sacrificing sixty percent of my needs and especially my wants although I must say it is more like ninety percent. 

Having a dog is a serious decision with serious ramifications.

The same ‘nanny’ concept holds true for dogs. If a dog owner needs to place their pooch for nine hours every day in doggie day care then maybe the decision to have a dog was hastily made.  Dogs require bonding with their owners not bonding with the attendant at the day care.

Dogs will not prepare couples for children.

I met a couple who adopted a dog for the sole purpose of preparing themselves for children. They figured caring for a dog would give them insight into the responsibilities of having a child. It was also a test run to see if their relationship was ready for the next level.  Unfortunately, they adopted a Jack Russell terrier and did not bother to learn about the breed. The dog’s hyperactivity resulting from lack of exercise strained their relationship. They moved from the neighbourhood and the dog’s fate and if they decided to have children after all remains unknown. 

As I got older, traveled, studied, relocated across country and back, the decision was right. Traveling with a child while studying abroad in the Caribbean would have been disastrous. I was involved with my studies, trekking through plantation sites and battling mosquitoes capable of transmitting Dengue fever.  A baby in the midst of this would not have made the trips possible or rather; I was not ready to give up the opportunities in order to raise a child. When the settling stage set in, less travel, sticking close to home and financial stability, the decision was made to share my life and enlarge my household. I chose dogs!

The enormous responsibility of child rearing was and still is not on my list of things to do.

Lent 2011

My first Lenten observation as an Episcopalian and boy, changes have arrived.

 

  1. I have committed to sacrificing alcohol for forty days and forty nights or whenever Easter arrives.
  2. I will attend a Wednesday night Low Mass, Lenten study (Gospel of St. Mark with Mother Askew) with soup and dinner, until Easter arrives or the series ends-whichever comes first.
  3. I will read spiritual books, which include Bible passages and attend our church’s Stations of the Cross.
  4. I plan, to attend Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday services.

Sounds like allot of religion, but how do you judge what is too much or too little when it comes to nurturing the mind and body for once in a positive way? 

Lent for me is a period of spiritual enlightenment.

This precious period within the liturgical year offers a chance to delve into the scriptures and interpretations at times with the guidance of a Mother or Father (Priests). The Old Testament invites examination of the past, acquaintance with those who became prophets, and the introduction of conceptual texts. The New Testament invites further examination on the evolvement of those texts by way of the Messiah’s short life. Psalms are re-read, sectioned off, with favourites highlighted and the “Book of Common Prayer” paged through, Collects, noted and meditated on. This process stimulates my spiritual growth and absorption, questioning and understanding begins leading to enlightenment.

Lent for me is a period of cleansing in the form of sacrifice.

Abstaining from alcohol during Lent has allowed my body to detoxify and replenish the vitamin deficiencies accumulated during the consumption of the fleeting every other night of red or white. Taken for granted within the past two years, wine was easily attainable, ready to scoff down in one night. The palette of flavours released with just the right cheese and the savoured sips of pure fermented grapes were rituals of the past. Back then, wine was purchased for celebrations or for the weekend of a particularly difficult workweek. A bottle would linger around for four days not evaporate in one.

Lent for me is a period of spiritual growth.

Lenten Study series, readings and Kindle’s array of free spiritual EBooks help saturate mi alma with wisdom, parables and lessons  of the Bible’s past now re-evaluated and applied to life lived in the now and future.  I enjoy reading scriptures as a writer and as a wanna be scholar. My analysis leads to dissecting and examining events within the scriptures.

Through a Lenten Study series conducted at the church I attend, I became aware of the relationship between Gospels, time and space. This new knowledge heightened my understanding of why situations existed, the possible mindset at the time and most importantly the conflicts that arose between a Roman government and Pharisees of a Jewish religion. Historical and cultural background information enriched my understanding of the Gospels and led to a deeper appreciation of the short life lived by Christ.

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