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I was just standing here eating broccoli when it occurred to me how odd both of those things are. I switched to a standing workstation a couple of months ago, and somewhere in the last year or two I've finally managed to make vegetables a part of my everyday life. I believe, but can't prove, that each of these changes has been good for my health.

So I got to wondering what else I've changed in the last few years.

I mean, life constantly changes, the river is new every day, etc. But here are some highlights since July 2009:
  • I bought my first bike just under four years ago and started bike-commuting. My bike-commute rate has stayed so near 100% ever since that
  • I sold my car two years ago
  • I lost 65 lbs and have somehow managed to keep it off
  • I totally (with deliberate intent) changed my wardrobe and personal style a year ago
  • I've been gluten-free for well over three years (I've slipped a bit in the last month, and boy could I tell the difference)
  • It's been five years since I had a panic attack
  • Somewhere in there, I went from being a permanent government worker-bee to a career short-timer
I feel like these things are intertwined in a vague causal relationship, in such a way that, to my astonishment, life is actually getting better as I get older. Five years ago I would not have predicted that.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 19th, 2013 06:17 am (UTC)
That's very impressive. I keep meaning to make changes but setting the start point in the future... I did lose a lot of weight a few years ago but failed to make the permanent changes which would have kept it off. This posts reminds me that one must have an holistic approach!
Jul. 19th, 2013 08:07 pm (UTC)
Holistic, precisely. For what it's worth, the changes I've made so far have taken a long time to get rooted. There have been lots of false starts and way too much self-blame when I backslide.

It has helped to take a view that is both long and "tidal": the tide doesn't ebb in a straight line, but in a two-waves-back, one-wave-forward kind of way. I try to notice, trumpet to the world, and congratulate myself on the waves-in-the-right-direction. (That's what this post is, essentially.)

A lot of the time, I feel like a total fraud doing it, because I secretly know that last night I ate rather a lot of chocolate, or that one day last week I never did get up off the couch or whatever. Long view, tidal. I keep having to remind myself.
Jul. 19th, 2013 09:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the confessions about chocolate etc.! They make me feel a little less inadequate. I have a tendency to think: you've failed, might as well give up. I love the idea of a tide and will remember that.
Jul. 20th, 2013 07:00 pm (UTC)
Do you think that's a female thing? A western culture thing? A 20th century thing? The notion that you only get one try? Because it has plagued me all my life and I'm finally getting over it. It's still really hard for me to grasp that success generally requires some preceding failures and mistakes. I just want it to be perfect the first time!
Jul. 21st, 2013 06:26 pm (UTC)
I don't know! I don't think it's particularly female, and I don't know if it's peculiar to our culture. In my case I don't need much discouragement when it's something I don't want to do in the first place. So any type of self-improvement...
Jul. 21st, 2013 07:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Sigh.

One of the razor's edges I feel like I've been negotiating in recent years is the one between "utter decadent self-indulgence" and (for want of a more precise term "following my bliss".

For instance, when I first encountered Geneen Roth's absolutely terrible advice to stop restricting food and allow yourself complete freedom in the grocery store, I quickly gained 35 pounds. Clearly, my body's messages to my brain were pretty chemically screwed up and were lyin' to me. When Geneen said that a whole package of Oreos would quickly fill the long-repressed Oreo need, she was wrong, wrong, wrong. It just triggered the limitless maw of Oreos in me.

So "listening to my true appetites" or whatever was a non-starter for me for a long time. It took a couple of years of steady, careful, will-driven correction, radically shifting the entire window of what I do and don't eat, before I could trust my "true appetite," and it's still subject to a slippery-slope effect. I don't think that self-improvement area, of diet and nutrition and weight management, is ever going to feel like a natural inclination.

On the other hand, I feel pretty good trusting my inclinations elsewhere--like, how to spend my Sunday morning, or what to read, or how (and how much) to perform in my job. I have a lot of rules, and I let myself break them when they don't feel right, because experience has shown me that I will gravitate back towards them sooner rather than later.

tl;dr: Outside the specific realm of food and diet, I've found that I really can trust my inclinations, and that "self-improvement" has flowed more from that trust than from any effort I've ever made to discipline myself out of my natural tendencies.
Jul. 21st, 2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
You're right, "self-improvement" for me is generally to do with diet and exercise, and those are the areas where my inclinations appear to be poor. In all (or certainly most) other areas I do trust my instincts.

I had never heard of Geneen Roth before. I have evidence, gathered over several years, that eating the whole package of anything does *not* fill the need to do it! Where do they come up with this stuff?
Jul. 22nd, 2013 01:47 am (UTC)
Yeah, my acceptance of Roth's weird-ass ideas did me some harm. Apparently she has a strong track record with other women who struggle with weight and emotional eating, however. She's still publishing and speaking on the subject. I got one of her more recent works because a friend highly recommended it, and it was as wrong for me as was anything she wrote in the late 80s when I first encountered her.

I've come to accept--and value the knowledge--that my eating instincts are working exactly as genetically programmed, but in a world which that programming hasn't had time to adapt to. For that, I can trot out the old conscious mind and will. For everything else, there's MasterCard my gut.
Jul. 22nd, 2013 07:11 am (UTC)
So is there a book which does explain the way your - our- eating instincts work? And one which encapsulates the rules by which you now live?
Jul. 22nd, 2013 05:16 pm (UTC)
Gosh. I've read so much on this subject. The basic concept--that we evolved to crave sweets and starches so we'd get enough carbs in a landscape where fruit was relatively rare and grains were almost absent--appears in all kinds of books and articles. It's become so generally accepted in the last five years or so that I can't pinpoint a source. The Paleo diet is founded on this idea.

As to my rules--I assume you mean in terms of food--I have lots of little ones, but they boil down to something not far off Michael Pollan's guidelines in In Defense of Food: "Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants"--where "food" is defined as whole, fresh, simple food from the farmers' market or the edges of the supermarket.

This approach automatically eliminates the nasties of the food processing industry: MSG, high fructose corn syrup, transfats, preservatives, colorings and aspartame. It didn't automatically cause weight loss, but it improved my health and was instrumental (I believe) in overcoming the worst of my depression.

Beyond that, it's all pretty personalized, and one size doesn't fit all.

As to the rest of the rules I live by, oh man. I'm a huge rule-follower. That'd be a book in itself. A really boring book!
Jul. 22nd, 2013 05:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you! That's really helpful.
Jul. 19th, 2013 10:51 am (UTC)
Very inspiring!!!
Jul. 19th, 2013 08:08 pm (UTC)
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )



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