Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Self-monitoring - Watches, Scales, Sizes. and Other Nonsense
For the first time in perhaps 45 years, I no longer wear a watch routinely. I needed one when I was working - to check pulses, respirations, how long someone had been standing or doing an exercise. I still use an alarm clock most mornings, since I need to meet a friend for our early walks, much of the year before sunrise. And of course I have to check clocks for appointments or picking up grandchildren. But otherwise, I move to the rhythms of the day.
When I stretch or work on balance I find myself still counting out seconds - an old habit. But since I've been doing yoga, I've been changing this to focusing on my breath. And if I want to sustain a stretch, I count my breaths rather than the time. It's a subtle difference, but I feel myself relax more when I do this.
I don't use a scale. When I go to the doctor's they weigh me - but that's the only time I'll step on one. I hate them. I come from a family of thin people. I was never thin - and the scale has always felt like a tyrant. My clothes tell me how I'm doing with my weight. When I do certain exercises or movements I can feel whether I need to lose a few pounds - and most of the time that's the case. Keeping track of body fat with calipers or finger pinches is another thing I don't do. I've got eyes, and they don't lie. And it's easy to tell whether I need more muscle strenth by trying a few pushups. When I can't do even modified ones in good alignment, I need to work at it.
I don't count calories or carbs - I know the things that are loaded with them, I know the foods that are especially good for me. If I were diabetic, I'd need to count the carbs to balance out my insulin - but otherwise, I don't think it's necessary to do that.
Sizes of clothes don't determine what I'll buy or wear. It's not necessary to work to get to a size 10. Sizes help to approximate where to look on the racks, but beyond that guide, sizes are irrelevant. I will not be dictated by them.
I've decided that the only thing that counts is how I feel - and so it's become really important to pay attention to that. In the past six months I've been learning a lot about my body through yoga. I see where the losses in strength and flexibility have gradually developed and have been trying to reverse them so that I'm more comfortable in all my movement. I have gradually been moving away from some of the cooking that I used to love to do - realizing I have more discretionary time and a better diet when I let a lot of that go. Our meals are simple, well balanced, nothing fancy. I use local and fresh food as much as possible, and both my husband and I have reduced the quanitities that we eat. I've recently been experimenting with green smoothies (thanks to Suzanne at Enchanted Chameleon and find these to be delicious, satisfying, and for some reason inspiring. After putting such good nutrition into my body, I'm somewhat reluctant to mess things up with a bunch of junk. But I'm not depriving myself - if I want a piece of cake or a couple cookies or a few chips - I have them.
So this is some of what I'm learning - and if you have experiences of how you're moving to a healthier self, while leaving some old crutches behind, let me know.