Mission check-In: Lighten Myself

Today’s category: “Lighten Myself.” One disclaimer up front – none of this is new or particularly insightful, but it’s worth putting it down to remind myself of why it is so important to me.

My mission to Lighten Myself is not all about the number on the scale. As a matter of fact, I have no idea what I weigh right now, as the only scale I have with me is the one for weighing our luggage (or any fish we might catch).

It’s about respecting myself enough to take care of the one and only body I have.

I’m not kidding myself; I know I am overweight. Going by what I weighed when I left on the trip, my BMI was 32.9, and anything over 30.0 is considered “obese.” According to an online BMI calculator, I would need to lose 45 pounds just to be at the absolute top of the “normal” range.

What I need to work on is the disconnect between my mind and my body. I know, without a doubt, what would work to make me lighter and healthier.

Sleeping Well

I need to get regular sleep. Besides the obvious benefit of being well-rested and alert, getting enough sleep allows my body to rejuvenate itself. Sleep helps reduce stress hormones (that can also affect weight gain/loss), boosts seratonin, reduces inflammation, keeps my heart healthy, and may help me live longer. I know all this.

So why do I find myself staying up late over and over again? Part of it is that feeling that I haven’t gotten enough done during the day, though I often find that I am spinning my wheels because I am so tired. Part of it is habit. Either way, it’s not healthy. I need to have a set sleep schedule and stick to it.

To top it off, I have sleep apnea and I snore like crazy. I have a CPAP machine, but I don’t use it every night. I have all kinds of excuses – it’s not comfortable, it leaks, I can’t sleep in a position I like – but when I don’t use it, I am hurting David’s sleep (because he wakes up when I snore and/or shakes me when I stop breathing) as well as my own health.


I have never in my life exercised consistently. Not proud of it, believe me… just keeping it real.

Yet I know all the benefits of exercise. It  improves mood, fights disease, boosts energy, strengthens bones, helps you sleep, improves your skin. Strength training (especially of the largest muscles of the body) makes you stronger, increases metabolism, and speeds weight loss. Stretching helps with flexibility, cardio with endurance.

So what’s the problem here? I could echo what I said about sleep – that I’m crunched for time – but I also have to admit it’s just habit. I am not one of those people who was always fit and active until I went to college/started working/had kids/whatever. I have never been active. Never ever. But that doesn’t mean I can’t start now.

Eating Good Food

Again, I’ve got the info. I need to eat whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables. I need to cut out processed foods, sugar, and things that my body is sensitive to. I’ve done it for a month, perfectly; for six months, almost perfectly. I lost weight, looked better, felt great. But I fell off the wagon and then let it run me over.

Eating well would give my body the raw material it needs to build muscle and tissue. It would naturally regulate my weight. I would feel better, stronger, faster.

What is holding me back? I have never learned to cook, but good food can be assembled without that talent. “I deserve a treat with all that’s going on!” but there are other ways to treat myself. I need to make it non-negotiable. Just as I don’t take drugs because I know the harm they would do to my body, I can choose to Just Say No to food that is equally abusive.

Drinking Plenty of Water

We all know we need to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. I think I was taught that in second or third grade, in fact. Yet whole days will go by when I have poured myself a single glass of water… and not finished drinking it.

But I know the benefits of keeping myself hydrated: No more dry skin. No more cracked and bleeding lips. Fewer UTIs (very important for me, given where the lesions on my spinal cord are). For that matter, all plumbing in good working order. Increased energy. reduced appetite.

Remembering Medication

I take drugs three times a day, for an assortment of medical conditions. Timing for a couple of them is key, as I need to keep my levels steady. This shouldn’t be a big deal; I have a pill sorter, and I have a routine. Meds in the morning when I brush my teeth, in the afternoon, and at night right before bed. But when I go to bed too late or sleep in too long, I mess up the timing or – much worse – collapse into bed without taking the nighttime dose. I won’t bore you with the details, but the result is not pretty.

I need to keep on top of my meds. This one really piggybacks on the sleep issue, so solving that will go a long way to keeping me on schedule.

Whew! This post was a long one. It’s good to break it down for myself, though. I need to remind myself, “This is why you want these things, and this is what you need to do to be successful every day.” I ought to read this every morning when I get up, just to set the tone for the day.

Daily Check-In:

I’m grateful! for the hospitality of my friend Liz, who has graciously opened her home in London to us. We fly there tomorrow morning; I can’t wait!

Mission check-In: Lighten The Load

I’ve got stuff. Not like I used to have…

The guest room closet. Now emptied and used by Greg. I wish I could say I got rid of everything, but I still have about half this stuff.

But yeah. I still have a lot of stuff at home. Here, in my temporary Croatian apartment, not so much… but still too much for Ryanair. So every time we have to pack up to fly somewhere else, I have to get rid of stuff once again.

Today’s category, “Lighten The Load,” has been the theme of quite a few posts on this blog, and I am sure will continue to be a focus in the future. (Yes, I know I shouldn’t capitalize the “The,”* but it looks prettier with the other categories that way. Here, I’ll fix it for you, just once:)

Beautiful. Orderly. Clutter-free. Just saying those words makes me happy. Seeing them in action will make me even more so.

First off, a couple of disclaimers. I have a lovely home, and I know it. It’s larger than we need, and I know that, too. We were able to sell our former home and move up into this one at just the right time, market-wise. We were incredibly lucky. I am as grateful as can be, just to be able to live there.

I guess I just want to be able to live up to it. Keep it neat. Keep it clean. Decorate it in a simple, classy way. Not have piles of stuff “in process” all over the house, ever again. Not have to constantly explain to people about how I am just getting ready for the next garage sale, so please excuse the mess.

Keeping my home orderly and clutter-free will benefit me in so many ways:

  • More time to do things I want to do;
  • More time to spend with people I care about;
  • More space, since it won’t all be filled;
  • Less stress, since I’ll see clean, neat spaces;
  • More money, since I will not buy things I don’t need;
  • Finally being able to feel like a grown-up who lives in a grown-up house.

Of course, making it beautiful will help me keep it orderly. When something is just how I want it, I am much more likely to keep it that way. It’s like FlyLady’s shiny sink: it spreads to the rest of the kitchen, and then to the rest of the house.

In the meantime, in all my temporary European dwellings, I will continue to keep things lean and mean. And also clean. It’s good practice for when I get back home.

* The The is an 80’s band! Just saying…

Daily Check-In:

I’m grateful! for all the years that I thought David was an incredible cheapskate. Actually being here, living the dream we saved up for, really makes me aware that not nickel-and-diming ourselves into debt was so worth it.

Mission check-In: Lighten My Life

So many nights, I sit by my window… [Insert record scratching noise here.]

I am forbidden to sing that song at home. David can’t stand it, and I can sing it perfectly. Every. Single. Word. (and nuance, and overemotive phrase.) Thank you, Debby Boone.

I didn’t actually name this category after the most successful single of the 70’s. Today’s theme – “Lighten My Life” – is time management, and how I choose to spend my time is – quite literally – how I choose to spend my life.

Once upon a time, a long time ago – cough *1988* cough –  I tried to write a personal mission statement. I had just graduated from college, and I was desperately trying to set a course for my life since it seemed that I would not automatically get a job as a DJ on a large-market alternative radio station, no matter how vast my knowledge or personal record collection. I finally came up with something that resounded with me:

Choose well what I do, and do well what I choose.

It was a bit cumbersome, and I certainly didn’t live by it successfully, but it came back to me when I was trying to decide what I wanted in life today.

Making healthy, realistic choices is a challenge for me. I want change and improvement and success and I want it now, but that is the formula for overwhelm and burnout. (Ask me how I know this.) My M.O. has always been this: find a new scheme, research the heck out of it, plunge into it without adequate preparation, succeed wildly for a short time, preach about it to everyone, fail miserably, and start looking for a new scheme. Lather, rinse, repeat. All my friends are trying not to smile or laugh because they don’t want to hurt my feelings, but they have seen it over and over again.

I need to listen to FlyLady and What About Bob? Baby steps. I need to make changes gradually so that the change is real, and I need to make choices realistically so that I don’t set myself up for failure.

Then comes the true time management challenge: to use my time well.

First, I need to be sure that I am not wasting my time on things that are not important. David is good at reminding me, “Is this what you want to be doing right now?” I am easily distracted towards things that are shiny – or away from things that are scary – so refocusing is key. Second, I need to recognize and acknowledge what is and is not a waste of time. Getting together with friends, even if I haven’t finished devising a system for filing away the paid bills, is not a waste of time. Reading for pleasure and relaxation is not a waste of time. Reading as escapism – because Mr. Darcy is vastly more compelling than doing paperwork – is the biggest waste of time there is. For me.

The last thing I need to remember is that I am trying to LIGHTEN my life. I need to take things out of my schedule, get rid of all the things I think I should be doing, and just do what is essential. Cut down on new schemes, cut down on volunteer opportunities, cut down on joining home party businesses. (My friends are laughing again.)

I also need to remember to tell Q that the songs he learned by heart when he was 11 will be with him forever.

Daily Check-In:

I’m grateful! for this time in Croatia. It has been so good for my body to rest and relax, and so good for my heart to be with David and Quinland.