Where we goin’, and what are we doing in this handbasket?*

This lovely pastel by Ylli Haruni can be purchased at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/cat-in-the-basket-ylli-haruni.html. I didn't pay to use the image, so the least I can do it plug it.
This lovely pastel by Ylli Haruni can be purchased at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/cat-in-the-basket-ylli-haruni.html. I didn’t pay to use the image, so the least I can do it plug it.

I was doing pretty well, and then I made the fatal mistake.  A couple of days ago, out of nowhere, I weighed myself. And discovered that these past two months of blogging and forming new habits has led to a two-pound weight gain.

And it all went straight to hell.

I tried to shake it off, pretending to myself that it doesn’t really matter, I look fine, I’m in it for the long haul, yadda yadda. “Coincidentally”, I went to Costco that afternoon and bought, yes, the dreaded XXL Peanut M&M’s. And a giant box of chocolate chip cookies, nicely done up in sub-packs of six for “portion control”. And one of those big square boxes of chocolate-covered raisins. And a big pack of rice-cake rolls. And a big box of those cranberry-“thin” breakfast wafers.

I’ve mainly been hitting the chocolate covered raisins so far. Raisins make my stomach hurt if I eat too many, so I suck off the chocolate and leave raisin skeletons.

I was lying in bed last night, my stomach hurting, feeling dispirited and wired on theobromine, and decided, “once and for all” (where have I heard that before?), that I just need to suck it up and STOP eating on the couch. After a couple of antacids, I was able to drift off firmly holding to this resolve.

Which lasted until exactly one minute after lunch today, when I licked off a new batch of raisins. (Got that acrostic licked too!)

This is so frustrating and discouraging.

But I want to do two things: 1. Hold Fast to my 52 weeks of trying to improve my eating habits, and 2. Avoid “all or nothing” mentality.

So, I am counting on you, my vast audience of supporters.

This week’s habit goals:

  •  Continue to eat breakfast at the table.
  •  Eat lunch at the table. 
  • Immediately after lunch, meditate for 15 minutes. (THEN I can lie on the couch and get to work on the XXL Peanut M&M’s. The raisins are about gone.)

Are ya with me? Send me your woes, your triumphs, your deep thoughts, the dumb joke you heard at the office.

Namaste (Is that something to eat?)

*This is apparently an old joke, but my daughter used it in context recently and I thought it was hilarious.

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21 Days and waddya get? Three weeks older.

Flylady.net is a real person. I find her ideas and her inner light lovely. Check out her site if you need help with housekeeping.
Flylady is a real person. I find her ideas and her inner light lovely. Check out her site if you need help with housekeeping. Flylady.net

My friend Ros sent me an article called: Habit Formation: The 21-Day Myth. I found it simultaneously repellent and enlightening.

Repellent because it’s macho and corporate, using words like “successful”, “fight”, and “win”. It uses Michael Jordan and the Williams sisters as examples of “success”, rather than, say, M. L. King and Georgia O’Keefe. Reading the piece, I get the definite impression that these folks are “swimming with the sharks”.

Enlightening, though, because it clarifies that “21 days” do not, after all, make a habit. Aha! I wondered about this! I have done plenty of things for 21 days and still not continued them as habits.

The article uses a three-phase model of good habit formation:

  • Honeymoon
  • Fight-thru
  • Second-nature.

Seems obvious once I read it. Nice to see it clarified.

The best wisdom nugget comes from this addition: The “Second-nature” phase, (touted by some to happen automatically after 21 days), can be disrupted, and we need to get back into “Fight-thru” mode.

Now this makes sense. Too often I have braved my 21 days, but fallen all the way back to squat. If I’m lucky, there’s a new Honeymoon, and sometimes another “Fight-thru”, but more often than not I just forget about it after a few days.

So I think I’ll incorporate this model into my year of building better habits, but reword it into a “kinder gentler” approach.

Instead of “success”, how about “fruition”; “gratification”; “growth”? Instead of “fight-thru”, how about “Hold Fast”?

Let’s see…

To form and keep better habits, I need to Hold Fast. When a new habit seems to have become Second Nature, but then gets interrupted, I’ll Hold Fast again. This will increase my joy and contentment.

Hoo boy, it’s hard to leave “corporate-speak” without falling into “Birkenstock-speak”.

How about…

To get my act together before I kick the bucket, I need to stick with the habits I’m trying to form, so I can quit feeling whiny a lot of the time. When I get distracted and/or lazy, I need to suck it up and keep on keeping on.

That’s a little closer.

Feel free to send me your version.

This week’s new habit goal:

My Second-Nature light housekeeping habits are slipping. I’ll revisit FlyLady.net and Hold Fast, and get back that cozy feeling a clean home gives me.

Now What? — Redux

NowWhatReduxImageHey – not you people out there juggling school and jobs and kids – I mean you people like me –retired, with a hobby or two but no big obligations. Do you ever have a day where you look up after your morning walk, lunch, and a nap, and say to yourself: “Now what?” I sure do. In fact this blog is named after that feeling.

Don’t get me wrong. I like being retired. I have had enough of fulfilling and not so fulfilling work, of dragging myself out of bed on Monday mornings, of being told to “work smarter, not harder”. But I am still figuring out the rhythm of my days.

Today I got a nice reminder of a technique for figuring out what to do next.

I got up early because I had a garden helper coming at 7:30 to help me re-stake tomatoes. That went well, and then I went for a lovely walk in the woods with a friend of 45 years (Hi Gerri!). I was pretty tired after all that, and took a rare after-lunch nap.

I woke up around 3:30 recalling that I had intended to clean up the kitchen and make something with the 10 pounds of tomatoes we had picked this morning. But I felt logy and unmotivated. An incipient headache prevented me from spacing out on the computer. “Now what?” I wondered uncomfortably.

Wandering aimlessly around the house, I realized I really did need to empty the compost, so I grabbed the bucket and headed out to the pile.

And came back an hour later. Emptying the bucket had led to meandering over to check on the pole beans, which led to finding an over-ripe cantaloupe that had to be composted, to pulling up the dead squash vines, to weeding some morning-glories out of the garbanzos…you get the picture. It was cool and pleasant outside, and I felt refreshed and awake.

Back indoors, washing out the compost bucket led to cleaning off the kitchen counters, putting the extra tomatillos in a bag to be sorted (soon?!!), and setting up a toaster-oven-load of okra to roast for supper.

The only down side to this spontaneous burst of activity is that I didn’t put on my bug repellant, and received a few mosquito bites. A small price to pay for satisfaction and contentment.

So my advice to you if you are wondering what to do next is: “How the heck should I know?” But my advice to ME if I don’t know what to do next is: “Wander out into the garden and see if anything happens.”

This week’s new habit to adopt:

              Bring only small quantities of junk food into the house at a time.

P.S.  A big thank you to those of you who, on and off the blog, support and/or join my efforts at self-improvement.