Shooting Stars and the Promise of Hope

starI saw a shooting star when I was out running this dark, early morning. That’s exciting for many reasons, but primarily because 1) I was out running this dark, early morning, and 2) I saw a shooting star!

That bright solitary shooter lifted my mood in the way shooting stars do, and it helped me finish a tough run with unexpected oomph.  It also reminded me that the Geminid Meteor Shower is this week, Thursday and Friday.  I’ll be out there watching, bundled up against the cold, mug of hot chocolate in hand, perhaps something harder.  I’ll take the quiet time as a chance to look at the past year.

2012.  It’s been a dilly and it’s not over yet  There’s the Geminid this week, the end of the world on the 21st (as if!), Christmas on the 25th, and a New Year’s Eve 5K run on the 31st. It’s a busy few days wrapping up a busy year.

In Madame Bovary, Gustav Flaubert wrote of Emma:

She did not believe that things could remain the same in different places, and since the portion of her life that lay behind her had been bad, no doubt that which remained to be lived would be better.

If you know much about Emma Bovary, you know things didn’t turn out to be better for her.  But I’m going to ignore her end for now and think about her hope instead, especially as the new year approaches. For me, 2012 was manic.  Heart-pumping highs, heart-breaking lows.  As 2013 gets ready to chime in, remnants of the highs and lows linger. It’s going to be a year of decisions and changes. I’m not a fan of decisions and changes.  I like static; it’s easier.  But new years hold the promise of new hope, new oomph, new excitement. Even after welcoming in 50 of them, I still feel that way.

So, with a wit more wisdom and a smidge less naivete than Madame Bovary, I’m keeping the promise of hope and looking forward to 2013 with the thought that no doubt that which remains to be lived will be better. Not that it’s been all bad. It certainly hasn’t. I’ve enjoyed far more than my share of heart-pumping highs and I’m going to do my part to make sure that continues. I’m going to keep running, I’m going to keep writing, and I’m going to keep looking for shooting stars.

PS: Happy birthday, Gustav Flaubert

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Deciding on Weight Loss

Shortly after taking on the challenge to write a blog post every day for a year, I took on the challenge to lose weight.  It wasn’t a New Year’s resolution because I don’t believe in those.  I decided to do it because my weight was bothering me more every day.  In the five or six years since my last weight loss effort, I gained back almost all the weight I’d lost, I stopped exercising, and I felt awful, mentally and physically.

I felt worse than awful.  I felt desperate, defeated, and hopeless.  I’ve had a weight problem all my life.  I’ve lost upwards of 70 pounds twice.  I have (slowly) run close to a hundred races, including the NYC Marathon back in 1997.

I know how to lose weight.  I know how to exercise.  I know how to eat healthfully.  I know how much I hate being overweight.  I know all this stuff and yet there’s a switch in my head that turns off and a little voice says, Nope, not gonna do it.

Period.  End of story.  Good night.

Except it’s not the end of the story because if I’m not actively losing weight, I’m actively gaining it.  There’s no middle ground for me.  And so on January 11, I dragged myself back to Weight Watchers, the only program that has worked for me.  I signed up, got all my program materials, and started counting points.

That was 18 pounds ago, and although there are many pounds lying in wait (in weight?), I feel like I’ve done the hardest part.  I got started.

Now that I’ve started, I have to say that Weight Watchers makes it easy to keep going.  The new Points Plus program is wonderful.  It’s easy, flexible and most importantly it works.  I’m not getting any spokesperson $$ for this, so I won’t go on, but I will say, I’m a believer.

I’m also a believer in exercise, although you’d never know it by my actions in the last few years.  To get myself kick started, I participated in a 12-week boot camp program.  That was amazing.  I hated every minute of it, but I loved every minute of it, too, if that makes any sense.  What I liked most was the structured workout that helped show me how strong I am and how much I’m capable of.

In the midst of boot camp, I started running again.  I’m training with an online program called Couch to 5K (C25K).  The website says it has “helped thousands of new runners get off the couch and onto the roads, running 3 miles in just two months.”

Once again, I hate every minute of it, except the last one when I’m finished.  Then I L-O-V-E it!

I know there are many miles and many pounds to go.  I’m slowly learning that I won’t ever be able to “eat like a normal person.”  I don’t think there is such a thing as “eat like a normal person.”  We all have our quirks about food.  For now that little switch in my head is staying on and the voice is quiet, but I’m learning  I’m in control of that.  It’s not some mystical, magical mumbo jumbo that leads to success.  It’s a daily decision.  Sometimes it’s a minute by minute decision.  I’m hopeful that I’m learning enough now, while the going seems easy, to keep making the right choices when (if) the slog sets in.

Resources: Weight Watchers, Couch to 5K, mini true on Flickr, The Daily Post