April 19, 2016

Business as Usual

It is a good Tuesday in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear and the air is warm. Our weatherman said we are in for a warming trend, which just means, normal summer temperatures are around the corner. In fact, it is supposed to be close to 100 by Friday! UGH! I am so not ready for summer, yet I know as long as I remain in Phoenix, well, we have two real seasons: warm and HOT!

My “Shred" Update

I am feeling the burn from my first day back with Jillian Michaels’ "30 Day Shred." My back, arms, and legs are aching this morning, and my body is telling me that my workout routine is working (yay!) It wasn't as hard to get back into the moves as I thought even though I needed about 4 days off from my routine in order to rest my strained oblique muscle. The rest did the trick because I was able to jump right back into the program with little issue.

In fact, I was really pleased that I was able to make it all the way through the cardio without stopping once.  Furthermore, I upped my weights to 3 pounds without much of an issue (I did keep to 2-pounds on the side lateral raises -- I still struggle with that move) so I am thinking that I may need to advance to level 2 this week. I don't want to burn myself out, but level 1 seemed pretty easy for me -- except for pushups (never could do those well) and the lateral raises (which just show how weak my upper body really is -- especially the front of my shoulders).

In all, I am feeling good about my progress, even though I am not dropping weight (nary at all). I am down a pound since I started two weeks ago, I am tracking my food intake in the MyFitnessPal tracker, and I am drinking water. I think the slow drop in weight is due to several factors: 1) I am in menopause and my body simply is not responding to the calorie cut like it normally would; 2) I am not working out hard enough (I glisten, but not sweat); and 3) I may need to eat more calories to get my metabolism out of it's fat-consumption mode and into fat-burning mode.

I am thinking about adding more cardio to my fitness program beginning next week. I've vacillated about joining YouFit. I have a YouFit right around the corner from my house, and at $10 a month, it is a bargain for a fitness membership. Plus, it is only month-to-month, so no long term contracts to sign. I was thinking I might join next week and then add in either running (on the treadmill), biking or elliptical training to the mix. I want to blast this fat off of me and the only way that is going to happen is to up my cardio so my body starts to use the fat stores for energy.

I guess I am satisfied to know that my 53-year old body is behaving in much the same way it did when it was a 23-year old body. I have always had very long, lean muscles. Thus, when Jillian says to stretch out those muscles, I do not feel anything. I can stretch, stretch, stretch -- all without that pulling sensation to tell you the muscle is being relaxed. I mean, I do feel the pull, but I have to put in a really hard workout in order to do it. Light workouts barely raise a sweat in me, which is another thing. You know, I need to really sweat to get a good workout.

Needing to Push Myself

My body needs to be pushed really hard. I can't go full bore without some prepping, but once I get used to working out, then I need to force it to work hard. It has always been this way. I remember when I was in college and decided to ride my bike every day. I had moved from IL to CA just two years before, and my activity (exercise, daily fitness level) dropped drastically. I don't know if it was because I was more fit in IL than in CA or not, but something had changed. I just remember always being active in IL -- always -- and I never had an issue with my weight or my size. But, after moving to CA, my activity level decreased and I found myself getting a little out of shape. I loved riding my bike in IL, so I decided to start riding in my new neighborhood. At first, I just rode around the block. As the days progressed, I rode farther and farther. Finally, I was riding an hour a day, and in about three weeks, I had dropped several pounds while adding quite a bit of lower body muscle. It seemed like it just happened overnight.

The same was true when I decided to swim daily at my local pool. I would go during my lunch hour, and then later, in the evenings. I started out slowly, just swimming laps, and before I knew it, I was swimming for an hour or so. Long, slow laps, but building good endurance and some muscle. Again, I lost the extra pounds without really trying to do it. The weight just came off of me. In truth, I don't even recall watching my food intake. I pretty much ate whatever I wanted, but I was really working out consistently.

Now, that I am older, though, I want both health and fitness. I want to get in shape for me, for my benefit, and for improvement of my life. Sure, I want my sexy jeans to look, well, sexy on me -- but -- despite that bit of vanity, I really want to feel better and to look the best I can at my age. My goal is still to improve my body appearance (always), but it is also to create a new lifestyle that will help me live well as I grow older. I don't want to be stuck in a wheelchair or be unable to care for myself long-term. No, I need to do what is necessary now to ensure I have the best possible health outcome.

I think what has happened to me is this -- I have seen the hard light of reality shining on my life. Yes, I will never have the body I once had. Sad to say, had I taken better care of it when I was in my 20-30s, I wouldn't be in the shape I am in today. However, I also realize that my body is my body and the only way it is going to improve is if I put the effort in to do it. This means I need to get my body in gear and start taking control of the way I look, what I eat, and my overall health and vitality. There is NO magic pill to transform me. I've got to put in the effort, and in doing so, I will see results.

The other thing that has come to me, to my understanding is that my body responds to my efforts in the same way -- even though -- I am 20-30 years older now. I know what I can and cannot do. I know I have impressive will power and stamina. I have endurance (physical), and as such this means I can push myself hard. My son will always tell me, "Mom, I don't know anyone who can do the things you do. You just will yourself to do it, and you do it. If you want to do something, you always seem to be able to figure out how it is done." He is right, of course. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I have always been this way. I guess it is my willful and stubborn streak. I don't give up. I put my mind to something and I do it. I don't quit -- unless -- I decide it is in my best interest to quit. I have always been a hard worker, someone who gives 110% and doesn't slack off. I can slack off, don't get me wrong, and I do at times, but I only slack when I give myself permission to do so, and then it is only for a short duration. It is a resting period, more so, in order for me to rest, relax, and refresh before I push again.

My stamina and my ability to focus in order to endure is very strong. I can do much work in and through myself (my own abilities), and when I couple my willful and stubborn self with the Lord's directives and plans, well, then I am unstoppable. I know that sounds arrogant, and I don't want to take credit where it is not due, but I just mean that I know what I can and cannot do. I know that with His ability, power, and authority, and my personality, well, anything He asks of me, will be done.

Philippians 4:13 AMP says,
I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]
Yes, I can do all things because I find my sufficiency in Him alone. Selah!

Taking a Stand

I was thinking about this today, how I have been rather wimpy lately. I hate that term, but when the shoe fits, you wear it. Yes, I have been less than strong lately. I have allowed my enemy to rout me one too many times, and I have shirked back in fear and not relied upon the true GIANT in my life, my Lord, as He leads and guides me. Sometimes I say to Him, "Lord, I don't know why you put up with me!" His reply is always the same: "Because I love you!" I am thankful that He does indeed love me. I am thankful that He is willing to work with me -- stubborn, bull-headed, and difficult -- me. I am grateful for His marvelous blessings, and I am happy and content with what He has provided to me. I just feel that had I listened more and definitely obeyed Him more -- well -- my story would have had a very different ending. Yes, my life would have been different had I listened and obeyed. Sigh!

Hindsight is 20/20 so they say, and I know that the past is in the past. I made the decision a couple weeks ago to move forward and to no longer remain in the past. Still, there are days when the past seems to sneak up on me, and I find myself stuck thinking about it -- people, places, and problems -- all without much thought to why I am doing it. It is as if these memories just percolate up and then I spend time with them. I want to move on. I want to live in the "here and now." I don't want to be tied to my past, yet I find it hard to let it all go. I want to let it go. I say I have let it all go, but I know that I still hold on to some of the past. I think it is a way to keep "treasures," you know, links to the memories that remind you of happier times. It is like when we keep junk around the house, not because it is useful, but because it has sentimental attachment. Some junk is normal, and even healthy for us to keep, but sometimes we can become hoarders where our whole life is about the past and not the present or even the future. I don't want to be a junk collector (not any more). I don't want to live that way ever again.

Just yesterday, I was walking across campus, and I said to the Lord, "Lord, I don't want to quit teaching. I love this job!" This was in response to an application I had submitted the previous day for work as a content writer. I felt that it was okay to submit an application, even though I am not "content" to do this work. I mean, I like the idea of making steady income. I like the idea of working from home. I like the idea that the job is easy and it pays well. I just don't like doing this work. I don't like giving up what I have worked so hard to learn how to do in order to go back to a way of life that is in the past. I don't want to go backwards. I want to go forward.

I don't want to believe that He is not able to provide a job for me. I don't want to believe that He is unwilling to do it. I mean, He has put me on this path. He has said, "Do not deviate. Do not look to the left or the right, but stay on this path." I have done what was asked of me. Yes, I grumbled and I complained. I was not always content, not always happy, not always at rest. But, here I am at this point in the process, and I don't like what is being asked of me. I don't want to go that way -- not that way.

Help me, Lord, to see your truth, to understand your way, and to know that I am to go there (if that is your plan). Show me your truth this good, good day, Lord!

As I was reading my post just now, I said to the Lord, "Why can't I do this? Why can't I let go, Lord?" His response to me was this, "Carol, you cannot let go of something I have given to you. You cannot walk away from something I have provided in order to receive something that I have not given to you." Okay, so what does this mean other than what I have now, what I have been given (a career in teaching), is from His hand of blessing. I am right where I am supposed to be and until He determines otherwise, I have what He has provided. This other job, while I felt led to submit an application, is not His provision for me. It is just a job, a good job, a well-paying job, but it is not the thing He has chosen for me. This job, the one I have -- teaching adjunct -- is the job He has given to me to do for a time. Does that mean that there will be a full-time position down the road? Perhaps it does. Or perhaps He will lead me to do something else, I just don't know. But for now, for this time, this season, this is the work I am to do. I guess this is why I felt so adamant about it. It was like someone was trying to get me to give away a precious gift and I was not willing to do it. Furthermore, it was like I was being asked to do something that my spirit reacted violently against. I was not going to give in, to give up, to let it go.

The good new is that I’ve decided to listen to the Lord and obey what I believe He is saying to me. I don't know why I get so easily distracted. I shouldn't do that, but I seem to fall prey to distraction when I am frustrated and stressed.

Not my will, Lord; but thy will be done.

Yes, I must focus on His will and not my own. I don't want to do anything that is outside of His will. I don't want to falter, to lose my way, or choose to move in any direction that is not going to take me to where He intends for me to go. Thus, I have to remain faithful to what I do know, and let the UNKNOWN rest in His marvelous hands. I do not want to mess this up. I do not want to end up in the wrong place. I want His BEST for me, and that means only His BEST.

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