November 4:  Setting Limits Makes Me Better

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NaBloPoMo 2019

How many of you are the chubby one of the family?  That’s me.  My two sisters have been positively svelte their whole lives, with apparently very little effort, as far as I can tell.  Yes, I envy them.  But whatever, ya work with what ya got, right?

I have never been a dieter, as I hate feeling restricted.  But I have had some success with setting limits sometimes.  The best experience was after I stopped nursing my daughter.  I was finished having children, no more human to hippopotamus transformations, hallelujah!  I thought, I can get my body back, woohoooo!  But how?  I had two little kids.  I worked.  I had neither time nor motivation to exercise, and even less energy to police my own food choices.  I’ll just eat half, I thought one day.  It was so simple and easy.  So for the next year I simply ate half of what I would normally eat.  This was not too difficult, as my portions were clearly just too big.  But for some reason it was the perfect method for me in that moment.  I don’t remember feeling hungry, and more importantly, I did not fear the hunger.  It was almost unbelievable, even as I lived it, how easily I could adhere to this plan.  I lost 25 pounds in nine months, and I felt well.  I managed to keep most of the weight off for several years.

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Now, in my mid-forties, the story has evolved.  Kids are older, work has advanced, and I’ve acquired a boatload of fun and interesting extracurricular activities.  I achieved the sisterly figure ever so briefly, and now, tee-hee, not so much.  Eating half definitely does not work today!  Fascinating.  So I have to find new, more effective limits to set.  I have to say, I’ve managed to blow through most of my recent attempts: sweets only on weekends, no eating after 7pm, lights out at 11:00pm, and screen time?  What?…  I did manage to get all social media off of my phone a year ago, though.  That was a big deal, and I’m much better for it.  When I remember to bring my own takeout container to restaurants, and move half of my entrée into it at the beginning of the meal, I don’t overeat.  And if I agree with my friends at the outset to forgo dessert, voila, calories averted.  So I’ll keep working on the health habit limits… Maybe take my own advice…

The best thing about setting limits and then violating them is learning.  It makes me pay attention, ask more questions.  I am forced to practice curiosity and non-judgment, lest I wallow in that deep hole of failure and self-flagellation.

This month I commit again to daily blogging.  My family still needs me, I still need to work out, and I want to read real books more than I did this time last year.  I also need to just get more efficient with writing in general.  So I set myself a limit of 60 minutes, start to publish, for each post—perhaps it shows in the quality of writing?  Well, that will be a learning, too!  My first attempt lasted about 70 minutes, but I can’t say I kept good track.  Last night I actually set my timer, and it was a total disaster, I think 2+ hours beginning to end.  It was so enlightening, though, watching my distracted self throughout the process.  The TV was on (my desk is in the family room—the double edged sword of being near the family but not totally with them), our shows playing from the DVR. It’s a wonder I don’t get whiplash, turning to crane my neck toward the TV from my non-swiveling chair.  People were talking to me, even though I had my earbuds in.  I kept opening my email, Facebook, text, email again.  OH my gosh it was a total circus, and I felt the chaos in my whole being.

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Tonight, however, is a different story. I’m alone here at the desk, Shawn Mendes and Dierks Bentley playing softly while I type.  No TV, no earbuds.  I feel calmer; the house and I are both much quieter.  The ideas and words flow forth with ease and joy.  Fascinating!  You might say, Um, Cathy, DUH.  Of course you’ll write better when your environment is more conducive, everybody knows that!  Yes, of course, we know it.  But to experience the glaring contrast here on two consecutive nights really brings it home—the doing makes it real.

So maybe I’ll make a deal with the family the next 26 days.  I get 60 minutes of peace and quiet each day; time of day/night negotiable.  They are banished or gagged in that time, no audible devices allowed, and it’s my job to make the most of it.  Write, edit, select photos, categorize, tag, and publish.

I have 12:25 left.

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