Posted by: cmittermeier | January 6, 2011

Back to the new routine

Though the holidays ended for many back on Monday when they went back to work, for me today is the first day back as my sister was visiting and should be half-way home as I write this.  It was an inspiring visit.  She has lost an enormous amount of weight, 200+ pounds.  She is catching up to me, and the last time she would have been this size was in her early teen years – her high school graduation dress is now way too big for her.  What is even more inspiring is that she has done all of this with a disability.

Ten years ago this month she was in a highway collision.  Both her ankles were crushed and one knee was split like a jigsaw.  The MRI on her knee was filled without a doctor seeing it, and so many months later as she was relearning how to walk it was X-rayed to see why so much pain only to find those puzzle pieces had fused improperly.  It was many, many surgeries to correct it.  Her ankles and calves will never be what they were and require braces and tension stockings to help with the circulation.  The veins and lymph system in one of her legs was so badly damaged that it is permanently swollen.  Two visits ago she needed a wheelchair for all big outings, and only the shortest of distances could be handled with a walker.

She has not lost all the weight through any sort of “diet”, or supplement or surgery.   It was all done by small gradual steps one after another to get to the final, day to day pattern that will sustain her in a healthy way.  She has worked at things from many angles: nutrition, strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and alternative medicine.  Acupuncture helps with the swelling and many other issues, and we both adore essential oils (  Her primary form of cardio is swimming – and it will be a long time before I can match her in the pool!  90 minutes every day, non-stop she swims.

I swam for half an hour with her yesterday and I was done for the day. My respect for her time in the water goes further than just stamina though.  I had my own accident 5 years ago when I fell down our front concrete steps.  I was holding our son so I laid back and slide down on my foot rather than hurting him.  A small fracture to my ankle and the joints in my feet were damaged, along with some trouble with my knee.  Though much of it healed, the joints in my feet still let themselves be known and arthritis is setting in to a number of my joints.  Nothing in comparison – yet by the end of the half hour it was enough to bother me enough that I would not continue.  As I looked over to see her going back and forth, back and forth, I was in total awe.

In terms of food, she is much further along than I am.  Not just in how she eats, but the whole process!  It will be a long time before I am consistently weighing & writing everything down, for her it was second nature.  It will be even longer for me to be able to know all the stuff she does… I thought I was good for knowing fat grams and good and bad fats, but she knows about a whole range of things.  I remember talking with her on the phone before her visit on her food needs and she was explaining what she looked for in a yogurt and I had to take notes.

She kept reminding me, its not everything all at once, its small steps.  I have seen those small steps in her journey, and I see what she means.  She did not start the process with swimming – that came in much later.  It was also all done in layers, a bit of this and a bit of that.  More than anything, that is was I found so inspiring.  You see, I tend to dance on the spot: one step forward, one to the side, one back… cha-cha-cha.  Her small steps were never like that, and they didn’t change up.  It wasn’t “this week I’m working on my water, so I’ll ditch weighing my food”.  That is often what happens with me.  They didn’t come on fast and furious either, very gradual.

If I am going to make these small steps work, things will have to change.  Though I can see how my sister made this work for her, often in the past I had given into the “she doesn’t have X Y or Z added to her mix” when looking at them for my life.  One of my Christmas presents to myself was a book on organization aimed at ADHD.  Other than maybe one chapter, the whole book could have been written about me!    As I read through the book, I focused on many areas of my life not just my health.    The book had many ways around the standard road blocks I find myself running into.  When I looked at the small steps she had taken, I looked carefully at how to implement them using the strategies from the book.  It will work.

Throughout this holiday, I kept focusing on a few readings from the Gospel.  Matthew 25 begins with the parable of the bridesmaids who run out of oil and loose out because they have to go racing back to buy some when the groom comes.  Half of the bridesmaids had enough oil, but didn’t share.  Its one of the harder passages in Catholicism to understand, but I am starting to understand it.  There are some things so precious that we can’t afford to give them away, and I get that.  As I decide on my small steps to take, I will keep that reading in mind.  If I give all my oil away, I will have none left to burn brightly.

So small step number one: work on routine.  Now I get to try out the planner I set in the holidays.  Routine has always been a hard thing for me, because I can’t set one myself.  In the book they gave a number of ways to do external helpers, I’m using first the computer and as always the timer on the stove!  I have my stubby list and away I goooooo!


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