Bari’s Story

Back Home

Well, hi everyone. Bari here. Back home. And I’m doing OK. Making time for exercise, eating very well.  The first thing I did when I got home was I went through my kitchen and got rid of all the junk. Just threw it out.  Actually, no that’s not true.  The first thing I did even before I got to my house, is I stopped at the supermarket and bought myself Chai Tea (decaf), my new favorite!, oatmeal, a carton of liquid egg whites, a couple of apples, low-sodium deli turkey, and a pint of grape tomatoes.  This way I new I’d have what to grab my first couple of days home.  I also bought some soups from Deerfield to bring home with me, so I have those for the fridge and the freezer to grab quickly without having to fuss or cook.  They’re really coming in handy.

I also pre-seasoned a bunch of chicken breasts and put them in ziplock bags for the fridge and freezer, so I can grab them and throw them on the grill or in the oven quickly – they’re already washed and seasoned, so easy!  I realized I had to make things easy for myself, and so far, so good.  I mixed up a batch of no-oil salad dressing like the one at Deerfield and that’s in my fridge now too.

I have to go out and buy a scale. I don’t have one, and I know the weight on a home scale will probably be slightly different than the one at Deerfield – just because every scale is slightly different, so I’m going to try not to stress about that.

At any rate, here I am, I’m on my way.  I’ll write again soon.

Onward

Well I’m going home tomorrow, and I’m having every emotion imaginable. Looking forward to getting home, seeing everybody, showing off my new, “svelter” figure, getting back to routine, which I actually do miss. But so sad to be leaving this very, very special place, where it’s easy to take care of myself, where there’s always someone to chat with, where someone cooks my meals and makes my bed!! It’s just a feel-good place, very warm and nurturing, and everybody really genuinely cares about each other.

Of course I have some residual nervousness about not “blowing it all” and returning to old habits when I go home, but I’m going to take all that one step at a time.

I just have to say thank you to everyone at Deerfield – not only for this incredible experience, but also for inviting and allowing me to document my journey here in this blog.  It was such a helpful part of the whole experience and gave me an outlet for all the thoughts and feelings I had along the way.

I lost 18-and-a-half pounds while I was here!  And I am PSYCHED! But more meaningful than the number on the scale is the peace and resolve I feel in my heart.  I will never forget everyone I met on my Deerfield journey, all my lessons learned,  and I will never forget how much this place has meant to me.

Yes I Can

Magic? I don’t know, but today during my power walk after breakfast I suddenly started thinking and feeling differently about my ability to sustain all the positive changes I’ve made here after I return home in less than a week.  All of a sudden I found myself thinking and saying to myself, “Of course I can do this at home.  It’s not going to be that hard.  I am in the groove and I WANT to keep doing it, and I think I’ve been making it out in my mind to be more complicated than it needs to be.”  In that moment, I realized I had traded fear for a genuine sense of competency.  And it wasn’t just aspirational self-talk.  It felt REAL. It felt like magic.

I don’t know where this sudden shift came from, but I realized, “Of course I’m capable of shopping for the right groceries and cooking the right things and making the right choices in restaurants and refraining from recreational munching.”  First of all, I have to go grocery shopping anyway, so I’ll just buy the things that will make it easy for me to stay healthy.  I’ll make a list and stick with it.  Though that the kids will want their junk in the house, I’m not buying it! So there!  I’ve been planning anyway to have a plan each week for what dishes to cook each week, what snack items to prepare in advance so they’ll be easy t grab.  I’ll do what I’ve done here the couple times I’ve gone out – I’ll make a plan in advance as to what I’m going to eat and drink if it’s a place that serves alcohol.  The more I plan, the less afraid I have to be.

It’s like having a to-do list.  I have always found a to-do list a great anxiety reliever.  If it’s all down in black and white, I don’t have to worry about it.  I’ll know exactly what needs to be done the next time I sit down to work, or the next time I set out for errands, or the next time I clean my house.  If it’s all part of a plan, I don’t have to worry about doing it when I’m NOT working.

But I think the other factor at work here is mindset.  Of course having a plan is crucial.  Having the right knowledge, skills and tools is crucial.  But a can-do mindset, especially when it’s not just self-directed propaganda, but GENUINE, somehow makes putting the plan, skills, and tools to work, seem do-able. And I don’t know where the mindset shift came from today, but I’m going to embrace it, trust it, and run with it.

Weigh-in 5

This is uncanny. I guess I made an extra hard push this week because I knew it was my last here, but even I can’t believe it! I lost 4.25 pounds this week. I’m very grateful and I have to admit, pretty proud of myself too.  Most of all, I’m so glad I’m on my way to a healthier me.  I have about another 25 pounds I need to lose to be at my goal, but this is the most awesome start I could have imagined and all I can say is Yay!

Sustaining Healthy Habits

It’s August 3.  That means I’m in the final countdown to the end of my stay here.  I go home next week.  And I’ve been feeling a lot of fear… Fear that once I get home, real life will take over and I’ll go right back to my old ways: glued to my desk chair for the better part of ten or more hours straight, putting work ahead of my health, telling myself I can’t take or make the time to exercise, eating unhealthfully, either by eating the wrong things for me, eating too much of the right things, eating when I’m not hungry, eating when I’m nervous or upset, or eating just to be social.  The other thing I’m scared about is going right back to my old tense self.  I’ve been so relaxed and balanced here, I’m afraid that being back in the real world, all the usual stressers will take over again and I won’t be able to keep my perspective on things.

I just have to remember that I’ve been keeping mental and actual notes about the healthy habits I’ve hopefully acquired here and hope like heck that I’ll have the strength and discipline to do the right thing at the right time – even when that means walking AWAY from work, taking a break with a friend, or postponing cleaning the house until after a walk around the block.  These are the kinds of things you would think would be easy to do, but for me, work is a much more comfortable default mode and I actually have to nudge myself toward the pleasurable, the relaxing, and the balancing aspects of a healthy daily routine.  Wish me luck.

Trips and Falls

I fell today, on the advanced hike.  But during the split second in which I realized I was falling, I was able to brace myself so I wouldn’t go flat on my face into the rock I had stumbled on.  And hardly another split second after that, I pushed myself right back up to my feet.  It was pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself!

It occurred to me that my gains of the last few weeks in strength, balance, and agility probably saved me from knocking out my front teeth.  And then THAT got me thinking metaphorically again, as I am prone to do on these hikes.

It got me thinking that in life, we can stumble and fall – I don’t mean physically – but we can make a bad decision, we can misjudge, misspeak, we can inadvertently hurt someone else or ourselves through our actions.  It’s inevitable for us to make mistakes.   But if we are emotionally strong, mentally agile, and all around balanced in our life, those missteps don’t have to be as damaging as they might otherwise be.

I also realized I had fallen because I was not looking where I was stepping.  I was focused on where the trail was leading up ahead. Aha! Another golden hiking metaphor…  I realized in life too, while we certainly want to be aware of the general direction of whatever path we’re on, if we dwell on the future we won’t be able to give the here and now the attention it needs for us to traverse it successfully – and ultimate get to that part ahead.  Cementing the thought for myself, I said, ” glance up ahead, have an idea where your future may lead, but don’t dwell on it to the exclusion of the present, otherwise it’s too easy to be sidelined by obstacles in your path.

Weigh-in 4

Wow! I lost 3.75 pounds this week! I can’t believe it! I guess I’m building muscle, which is helping me burn more fat, and I am pumped! I realize this is pretty rapid weight loss, which everyone says is not sustainable, so I’m a little nervous about it, but I am looking at this as my jump start.  I know once I go home I’m not going to be able to continue losing at this rate, but as long as it’s happening here, I will take it!

From Salt to Assurance

Today at lunch I was talking with a gal about salt – rather the absence of it, and it gave me pause.  It made me think of the words, “I can.”  There I was, a major salt lover from way back, describing various strategies for making food tasty without salt.  And I realized, wow I really can make changes I didn’t think possible.  It may not sound like a major change to people who use salt in moderation, but for me, it’s big.

I have been a heavy salt user all my life.  From the time I can remember, I always salted my food before I even tasted it.  When I was very young, I actually thought sprinkling salt on your food cooled it off when it was too hot to eat.  And as an adult, I have never – ever – cooked without it.

Thank goodness I don’t have high blood pressure, and when I came to Deerfield, it hadn’t even crossed my mind that I’d have a chance to cut my salt intake.  But when I learned they don’t cook with it here, and don’t automatically put it out on the table, I figured, well let’s try it.  I’m always hearing that too much sodium is not good for you, so what the heck.

The reason I thought, “I can,” is because I realized that a month ago, I would never have thought I could enjoy food without salt.  But I can.  And THAT made me realize that before I came here I wasn’t sure I could ever be satisfied with four ounces of protein at dinner or lunch.  I thought it would just be too painful not to eat as much as I wanted of even the healthiest foods, like fish or beans.  But in the split second  I thought “I can” about salt, I also realized “I can” about the 4 ounces of protein at a meal.

So it stands to reason that I can do all sorts of other things that are still on the frontier for me.  For example, I’m nervous about cooking healthfully for my family and myself once I return home and I’ve questioned more than once in my mind whether or not I’ll be able to do it.  Well, this mini-revelation made me think, “I can!”

Will I be able to balance work and family obligations with making time for exercise and social contact, both of which are critical to health and wellbeing.  Though in the back of my mind, I have doubts about it, I now have a couple examples of other things I never thought I could do that I now know I can, and it makes me answer my own exercise and balance question with “I can.”   It’s a nice thing to be able to say.

By the way, for those who are interested in reducing salt, I just substitute other seasonings.  I’ve been using lots of lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, herbs and spices, and even a little Dijon mustard to liven things up.

And I like the results.  I can tell I’m less bloated, which looks better in the mirror.  And I have a little more peace of mind because I’ve eliminated one more thing (even if a minor one) to worry about.

Choices

Balance.  This is the concept that’s on my mind as I look ahead to my re-entry to real life.  And it’s surprising me.  I thought it would be weight loss or fitness or eating the right food that would be on my mind at this point, but it’s not.

I guess the reason this is so surprising to me is because I came here to re-train myself in the ways of eating and exercise, and to make significant improvements in my weight and fitness level.  It never occurred to me that I’d come to feel so strongly about the importance of achieving a balance between the expected things like work, family, and exercise, but also making time for stress management practices and socializing – yes, socializing!

Here’s the deal: I’ve read numerous articles recently about studies that document significant physiological benefits from ‘mindful relaxation’ and from social contact.  And while I don’t know whether my T-cells, blood sugar, blood pressure, and health regulating hormones are actually improving from engaging more in these things than I did before I came to Deerfield, as the studies suggest, what I do know is they make me feel GREAT.

When I participate in a guided relaxation or meditation at the end of a Yoga class, for example, I feel more renewed and relaxed, calmer, more alert, and just better in an almost indescribable way.  It’s different than the exhilaration and satisfaction I feel after an intense workout.  It wipes away any feelings of stress, anxiety, or malcontent. It’s like a magic gift, and one I’m glad to have discovered.

Tonight I went out after dinner with a few of the gals I’ve become friendly with.  We went to hear Jazz at this really great club about 15 minutes away.  When we got back to Deerfield, we decided to retire to the front porch and hang out.  One of them broke open a bottle of wine and started pouring for everyone.  I really didn’t want any wine (much to my surprise, as I usually love drinking red wine).  I said no thanks.  They said, “oh come on, just a little,” but as much as I would ordinarily join right in on a round of cocktails, I realized what I wanted much more than wine was a nice hot cup of spiced chai tea – something I’ve really come to enjoy in the last few weeks here.  It wasn’t even like I had to white knuckle it to stay away from temptation.  I really wasn’t tempted.  And I didn’t join in just to go along with my friends. What I really wanted in that moment was to do something that would put me closer to my goals, not further away from them.   I enjoyed several cups of hot tea over more giggles and girl talk tonight.  And I felt good doing it.

Connections

I love this place.  If my kids moved in with me, I could live here forever!  Sure it’s partly that someone cooks and serves me my meals, cleans up afterward, makes my bed, cleans my room, does my laundry, provides a dizzying array of exercise and stress management activities, pampers me on occasion, and teaches me how to live healthfully, all of which is pretty nice – you know, if you go for that stuff.

But aside from all that is camaraderie.  There’s always someone to chat with, laugh with, commiserate with, compare notes with, and just BE with.  And it’s not just that there are people around when you want them.  It’s the KIND of people who come here.  I have never been in a place that attracts such consistently nice people.

I’ve been here over three weeks now and I can’t get over how, no matter where they live, how old they are, what their situation in life is, what they do for a living , man, woman, married, single, divorced, widowed, here alone, here with a friend or a group, here with a partner or spouse, for the first time, the tenth time, staying a weekend, staying a month, outgoing, shy – you name it – they’re nice.

And since I’m here not only to accomplish a weight loss a fitness jump start, but to learn lessons to take home with me, I’m realizing one of the priorities I need to put on my list of things to do when I get home is find ways to be with people more.

I work from my home office, which I really love, but it can be a little isolating.  And I hunker down at my computer with blinders on and don’t look up until one of my kids gently alerts me it’s almost dinner time.  But I’ve experienced how interacting with others can actually make me calmer, happier, feel less alone, appreciate myself more (hey, I AM funny, or interesting, or a good sounding board), and make me more focused, positive, and productive when I AM working.

So although at home it usually seems like an indulgence to take a few minutes and talk to a friend on the phone, or to join colleagues for a lunch break, or heaven forbid, to make plans on a weeknight with a friend, I can feel the good it does for me and I want to find a way to do more of it when I go home.