Tag Archives: Choices

Side Roads

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast…you miss the sense of where you are going.
Eddie Cantor

Most of us live, or have lived, busy lives. When we were younger, we’d get up each morning and move through the day almost robotically at times. Driving the same route to work, performing the same tasks, seeing the same people, driving home, running the same errands, keeping the same commitments, sometimes rushing through dinner to get to the next appointment with or without children, maybe an hour or so to relax before we go to bed and start it all over again the next day. Sometimes even weekends call us. Work, games, obligations. It’s a cycle. More for some than for others. It’s just how things seem to be these days. There is no real down time. The opportunity to relax on a regular basis doesn’t seem to exist any more, at least for many.

There are roads I have travelled for years, and until recently, I never slowed down enough to really see what was around me. There are side roads I never took. I always wondered where they led and what I would find if I traveled them but there was always someplace to be. Always another time. Always.

Not long ago, as we were traveling to an appointment, I chose to take a detour. Soon after, I took another, and then another, until I found myself finding different, more beautiful ways, to get to the same place. It just took a little more time.

Life is like that for so many of us. We pursue a career, lifestyle, family, home and any additional extras  we may have envisioned for ourselves as we move through life. But we rarely, if ever, take a side road. Life sometimes moves too fast for us to pursue a different dream, to learn a new skill, to find enjoyment in different places. Only when we get a little older do we have the time to reflect and breathe. But it shouldn’t, or doesn’t have to be that way. Life paths are a choice.

Cecile Andrews once wrote, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary can breathe.” Breathe enough so we have the time to pursue other avenues or dreams. To really enjoy and appreciate family. To not miss the sense of where you are going, or who you are.

To take side roads.

 

 

On 45 Million Diets

I read an article recently which stated that 45 million people begin a diet each year.

Now, I have to tell you up front that I don’t use the word hate very often but I hate the word diet. I’ve always believed that if you’re comfortable with who you are and in good health then the word diet shouldn’t necessarily be a consideration. Unfortunately, poor eating habits over a period of time can lead to health issues so I guess  it’s a catch 22. Pay me now or pay me later.

I’ve gone through a number of diets over the years, including the ones listed above, which is why I don’t like the word. I was always a big kid. I think I was 6’2″ in grammar school but I was always very active. I played ball year round which kept my weight down to around 190 through high school. My parent owned a grocery store and we lived behind the store so the words, kid in a candy shop, applied to me. All the wrong stuff was easy for me to have. When I stopped playing ball and didn’t alter my eating habits, the weight started coming. By the time I was in my middle 20’s I was up to 270. I didn’t feel bad but my blood pressure was high and the doctor said, very directly, either lose weight or die early.

So he put me on a 1500 calorie diet, which I still have nightmares about. I tried every new diet fad over the years, including the dreaded cabbage soup diet. But I found that every diet would reverse itself after I stopped and the weight would come back. I also realized that I didn’t gain this weight overnight and I wasn’t going to lose it overnight. So I started doing things differently. I began altering my eating habits. Nothing drastic, just being more cognizant of what I was eating. I also began exercising, not in the way people do today, because gyms weren’t as popular in 70’s and 80’s as they are now. Plus, I never liked solitary exercise, like running or weightlifting. I enjoyed sports. So I began playing racquetball, something I never tried before. I played for several years, 2-3 times a week, two hours each session. It’s a great workout and during those years, I slowly lost some weight, dropping down to around 235. It wasn’t quick, but it was permanent.

Through the following years, I would plateau at certain weights, then lose 5-10 pounds over a couple of months before maintaining my weight for a while. Long story short, I now weigh what I did in high school, around 192. I would set certain goals for myself but those goals would sometimes be months or years apart. Losing all that weight at one time was just too hard and depressing for me but knowing I was moving in that direction and not going back was important to me. The thing I was most excited about was getting below 200 pounds, something I didn’t do until 6-7 years ago,. I had been playing around at 202-205 for years and could never break that barrier but when I did, I took a photo of the scale. It was fun.

So as someone who has been there and struggled with weight for many years, here’s what I learned.

Losing weight is something YOU have to want to do, You can’t lose it for anyone else but yourself and while having someone be your support through the process is helpful, it can’t be an excuse. Just like being happy is up to you, so is weight loss.

When you’re out of a clothes size and begin to buy new clothes, get rid of those bigger sizes immediately. Don’t have anything in your closet you can fall back on. Putting on a few pounds  and having to squeeze into clothes that are getting too tight, is a great motivator.

Exercise. It doesn’t have to be a gym or some expensive equipment. Going for a good paced walk is helpful on so many levels but mainly it’s good for your body and your mind. It’s easy to say you don’t have the time but that’s just an excuse. You don’t have to go every day but it should be something you do 4-5 times. week.

Moderation,moderation, moderation. You can eat anything as long as you do it smartly.  Going out to eat is not that difficult, There are healthy items everywhere now but even if you wanted to eat something decadent, eat half of it and take the other half home. You’ll thank yourself the next day when those leftovers are lunch or dinner. Everything in smaller portions. It’s something that Weight Watchers preaches. Portion control. It’s why I think they’re the smartest weight loss organization out there. Eat anything you want, just do it in moderation and with a plan.

Use the old adage….eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner (preferably before 6:00) like a pauper. I can’t tell you how much that has helped. Also, smaller meals rather than larger ones. I found that grazing during the day worked best for me, which is why my family calls me the nibbler.

Finally, and most importantly, never go back. When I began losing weight, I told myself that I would never put back what I lost. But long weekend parties and vacations sometimes alter those plans. So if I ever put on 2-3 pounds I made sure I took it off immediately. I never went beyond that, no matter what the situation, because 2-3 becomes 5-7, which becomes 10-12 in a heartbeat, and then it’s mountain instead of a hill.

Dieting is a tough and touchy subject, 45 million tough and touchy. But if it’s something you have to do for health reasons or just because you want to, then understand it can’t/shouldn’t  be done overnight. But it can be done. Everyone’s body is different so what works for me might not work for you. I developed a lot of little habits that I found helped me, but there’s not enough time for that today…:)

Everyone’s motivation is different. But the end result is the same.

Just don’t use the word diet. Its depressing.  Tell yourself that you’re going to adjust your eating habits and make small changes, because that’s really what you’re doing.

If you’re one of the 45 million…good luck.

 

 

The Art Of Simplicity

“Voluntary simplicity means going fewer places in one day rather than more, seeing less so I can see more, doing less so I can do more, acquiring less so I can have more.”
 John Kabat-Zinn

I was watching the Grammy Awards the other evening and aside from the fact that it seemed to be a requirement that all women wear an outfit that was cut open from neck to naval, the ceremony was pretty much as it has been for many years now; part talent, part extravagance and part freak show.

But what caught my attention the most was how simple it is for real talent to be expressed. If you possess the gift of a pure voice, you can captivate an audience without thirty-two dancers, extravagant costumes, pyrotechnics, gimmicks or relying on the shock factor.

If you can sing, people will stop and pay attention. It’s that simple. Everything else either detracts from the talent or attempts to cover up a lack of talent.

Then I thought about how that same principle applies to our lives. As Confucius once said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

I think age sometimes allows us to understand that concept more clearly. Because at its core,  life really is simple. it’s our individual choices, decisions, influences, words and attitudes that complicate things. We just can’t seem to get out of our own way, even when someone hands us the directions.

We are infatuated with the accumulation of stuff. The brilliant mind of George Carlin did entire routines on this very subject. We laughed because we understood he was talking about us and yet we were incapable of stopping.
We think and over think. We accumulate and store. We find the easiest path and decide there must be a better one. We look out the window and want that color grass. We strive to achieve without considering the cost. We find peace in the simple beauty of a sunset on a quiet beach and decide it would look better if there were thirty-two dancers performing in extravagant costumes on a party boat just off the shore line.

Somewhere, Thoreau is dying a thousand deaths.

The most amazing moments we have all experienced in life; the ones that stay with us forever, are never planned and usually the most simple.

We each have a voice and a song to sing. How we choose to live that song, is entirely up to us.

Judging Perceptions

Quite a few years ago I happened to be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a meeting. Clean city, nice people. As I was waiting for the hotel elevator with a middle-aged couple, we had a brief but very nice conversation. In the few minutes it took for the elevator to arrive and take us to our floor, we talked briefly about the city of Milwaukee. They were from Wisconsin but visiting for a couple of days. As we stepped off on the same floor, we continued speaking about the new ballpark and the city’s proximity to Chicago, which was only a 45 minute drive. It was a very nice conversation and we even laughed once or twice. As we were saying goodbye, the woman asked me what brought me to Milwaukee and where I was from. I told her I was in the city on business and that I was from New Jersey. In an instant, her facial expression changed as she said, “I’m surprised you’re even speaking to us.”  With that, they both turned and walked away quickly, as if I had some sort of infectious disease they were afraid of catching.

New Jersey.

Those two words conjure up all kinds of jokes, hostilities and images. Hollywood and late night talk shows have had a field day with it. Comedians regularly include it in their acts. Speak with people from other states and many times their feelings are similar to that Wisconsin couple. Traveling by car to another state with New Jersey plates and you will be lucky if they don’t flip the closed sign on you as you pull up. A recent poll I read claims New Jersey is the least liked state in the union and the only state in the U.S. in which more people have an unfavorable opinion of than a favorable one.

I’ve often wondered why people feel this way and what all these negative opinions are based on. I suppose the impression many people have of New Jersey is what they see when they fly into Newark Airport. The see the ports and the smoke stacks of the refineries on their way into New York and they think the entire state looks like that. They run into someone who may be rude to them at the airport and think everyone in the state will have the same personality. They watch the Sopranos and think everyone in the state is mobbed up. The watch Jersey Shore and believe everyone at the beach is a lewd drunk with little common sense or morals, even though the people in that show were from New York.

How sad that we allow others to define our views and opinions based on what their limited experiences may have been. Is the area around Newark Airport unattractive? You bet. But if that’s all you care to see, then you’re missing this……..

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And if you think the beaches are only what you’ve seen on the embarrassment of the Jersey Shore show, then you’re missing this…..

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At this point, I’m guessing you think this is an advertisement about New Jersey. It isn’t. It’s about allowing others to decide for us. It’s about making up our own minds about a place or, more importantly, a person. It’s about giving everyone an opportunity.

Every state has their armpit areas as well as their fair share of rudeness. Maybe we’re a little more direct here about what we say and how we say it but quite honestly, I prefer that approach. I’ve been places where people smile at you and say, “bless your heart,” as the knife is going in your back. How sweet.

I wonder how many people we never got to know because someone else told us to avoid them. I wonder how many places we’ve never visited because someone else had a bad experience, which may have been their own doing. How much music, how many restaurants, how many trips have we lost because of what someone else said.

Why?

After all, when was the last time you believed anything that came out of Hollywood? Talk show hosts and comedians? Really? These are the people whose opinion you really want to take into consideration?

We’re all smarter than that.

Aren’t we?