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Friday, February 6, 2009

Resolutions, Rewards and Restraint

In order to resolve to do something, I need a reward, but in order to reward myself, I need to exercise restraint. A piece of chocolate can’t work as a reward if I eat a box a day. I have to restrain myself until I hit my resolution.

I know that my will alone will not propel me to a goal. How do I know? The number of times I have willed myself to do something and failed. Even within my Weight Watchers journey, I have had weeks in which I just flat-out failed. Life ain’t always pretty. But when my goals and rewards were clear, I push passed the messy, vagueness of the failures. **As an aside, "failures" aren’t reason to beat ourselves up, but ways to learn about ourselves. We know this didn’t work, so what does?**

When I first hit my goal weight, I had a list of things that I did as a reward, but that meant saving those things for that special moment.

1. I got my wedding rings resized because they were too loose to wear. That meant I had several weeks that I couldn’t wear my rings at all. That was tough for me.

2. I got a new drivers’ license. I got a new picture and recorded my actual weight. It happened to be 15 pounds lighter than my fake weight before Weight Watchers.

3. I bought a brand new outfit that was not on sale. This was especially hard when I got within 2 pounds of my goal. I had my outfit picked out and my credit card warmed up. Well meaning people in my life mentioned that 2 pounds would not change the way the clothes fit. And although they were right, it was a reward I set aside for my goal weight. I had to wait the two weeks to make it worth it.

4. I added real butter back into my diet. Don’t get me wrong – spray butter has its place in this world, but I absolutely adore using real butter. I purchased the butter and it sat untouched in my fridge until the day I walked home with my goal weight obtained. It was very hard to leave it alone, but this was a big deal for me and I wanted it to be special.

So, now, I sit with my 5 pound holiday weight gain -- yes, still. I had been pretty apathetic towards losing it, but I realized it’s because I am not exercising restraint. I have nothing left to reward myself with.

I have consumed several donuts since the holiday weight gain. Last Friday, I reached my low point and ate 3 ½ donuts. To be more specific, they were Top Pot, hand-forged doughnuts (that someone else paid for!). If you are unfamiliar with Top Pot, these are the best, the largest, and most amazing donuts in existence. I had an old-fashion cinnamon-sugar, a Peppermint Snowdrift, a Raspberry-filled glazed and half of a Chocolate Bavarian Cream. I stayed away from the Apple Fritter due to the high point value. (What?!)

These are the donuts that I vowed would be used as a reward after weight loss or maintenance in my DON’Tnut blog in August. I would buy one, cut it up and have a piece of it every day. I robbed myself of my reward by treating it as commonplace.

As hard as it’s been, I’ve been Top Pot free for 7 days. I have my reward back and am motivated again. This dog won’t run if the rabbit isn’t out in front. See you at the finish line.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Jicama Fries

Jicama is called the Mexican Potato and I generally find it in the same section as jalepenos and ginger root in the produce section at the grocery store. I love jicama for several reasons.

1. It’s pronounced Heeckama, but it’s spelled cooler than that.
2. It seems to always be in season.
3. You can eat it raw, but peel it first.
4. It’s crunchy and sweet – cross between an apple and potato. For those of us allergic to apples, this is the next best thing.
5. If you cut it into little squares, it can replace croutons on your salad, but it’s a vegetable.

Of all the reasons why I love jicama, my favorite by far is what I call jicama fries.

Like with donuts, I have a problem with French fries. They are my gateway food. I can’t eat just one order of them. And, when I’ve indulged, I go back for the Quarter Pounder with (extra) Cheese because, well, why not? And then the two apple pies for $1 naturally follow. It’s a dangerous place to be. I also have a very large problem sharing fries - - *sigh* my poor husband.

BUT, I can trick myself with jicama.

I cut it up in slivers to look like french fries. Then, I add a little salt and put them on my plate next to my garden burger. It gives me the same feeling I get with french fries, but doesn’t make me want to run to McDonald’s. I know I’m eating a vegetable, but it LOOKS like a french fry and has many of the same qualities. And, I can eat a lot of it if I want to.

Shh! I am so sneaky. Just don’t tell myself, okay? I wouldn’t want to ruin the bliss.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hidden Inspiration

Inspiration comes from the sneakiest places and I’ve recently realized that there is a TON hiding in the children’s category. I think it’s great that we want to inspire our children to dream big, but somewhere along the line, we lose the message after we’ve “grown up.” Life happens. Our innocence is lost. The dream-big message gets squashed.

Dreams are placed within us as children because of the inspirational messages and hopefully, because of inspirational adults. Where did they go? Remember the one thing you wanted to play all the time as a kid? What could you stay up all night long and talk about in high school?

The reason why the 60 year old college grad is in the news is because it’s uncommon. The reason why the fit 80 year old marathon runner is talked about is because it’s uncommon. We hang on to the words of motivational speakers, because their message is an uncommon one for adults. The uncommon thread is actually living out dreams.

With my son at five years old, I can acceptably live in the inspirational children’s world without judgement. I’d like to share a few things that have inspired me lately – Hannah Montana, Curious George and Kung Fu Panda.

Lyrics from Miley Cyrus’s song Who Said: (condensed for readability)

Who said I can't be Superman, I say that I know I can
Who said I won't be President, I say you ain't seen nothin' yet

Who said I can't be worldwide, I say time is on my side

Who said I can't be ten feet tall, I say that I can have it all

Your limitation is your imagination

I have to say, in all honesty, that I love listening to her songs, whether my son is around or not. I mean, seriously. Who said?!

Another great song is from the Curious George movie. Jack Johnson sings Upside Down and my favorite piece of that song is (again, edited for readability):

Who's to say what's impossible?
Well they forgot, this world keeps spinning
I want to turn the whole thing upside down

I'll find the things they say just can't be found

Finally, I have to pull out Kung Fu Panda. My son adores this movie. He is currently taking Karate and loves animals, so this one was a perfect fit. I have watched it about 1,000 times and don’t mind watching it again because I am inspired each time.

*****spoiler alert*****
No one thought the “flabby panda” could be the dragon warrior. There was a preconceived notion that the greatest warrior of the valley would be a fast, trim, fit and serious kung fu fighter. It was not so. The fate of the valley rested on the shoulders of the panda, who doubted his heritage, was uncomfortable in his own skin and ate when he was worried. Not one of the kung fu masters could fulfill his destiny to save the valley. It was only Po’s destiny. No one else could have lived it, even though they tried.
*****spoiler alert over*****

Through Kung Fu Panda, I learned that I am the only one who can live my life. No one can tell my story the way I can. No one can be the mom to my son that I can. No one can be April Rickard like I can. That is my destiny, no matter who I think looks better, speaks better or writes better. I can’t be intimidated out my dreams.

So, let’s get out our inspirational shovels and dig up our buried dreams! Let’s shake off the tragedies that convinced us that Hope is worthless. Let’s be proud to jam out to Hannah Montana in the car, or rate Kung Fu Panda as a five on our Netflix queue. Grab hold of the inspirational things in your life and use them – no matter how old we are! Let’s become Dorothy and force our feet down the yellow brick road. We will find friends and hope. We will get back home and, ultimately, we’ll find ourselves in the process.