Oh, life’s “little” battles that rear their ugly heads… My battles? Some are old, some are new; all require resolve.
Here’s an oldie that I thought was beaten: the battle of the bulge! And not the creeping two or three pounds a year sort, but the esteem-endangering, self-sabotaging, life-long shadow of feeling trapped in an unhealthy yo-yo cycle.
Weight gain sufficient to damage confidence. Weight gain that sends my favorite clothes to the back rack. Weight gain that leaves me disconsolate. Listen, I never expected to resemble the flat-ab specimen wowing at the beach. All I ever wanted was “normalcy” — feeling good in my skin at an appropriate size for my height — not to obsess, not to be judged, and not to be deemed “fat” by my own (distorted?) inner voice.
Alas! Though weight was a non-issue for more than a decade, that stable self was struck down by stress in the past two years, and for other reasons in recent months.
Give Up? Give In? Diet Again? REALLY?
This untoward and uppity “upward” trend is not a matter of a lapse in attentiveness. (In other words, I didn’t pig out for 30 consecutive days and expect to come out unscathed.)
In fact, those pesky pounds of which I speak are largely the result of ripple effects: An injury sidelined me for several months, pain left me sleepless, and the “whole” had me gaining on my usual healthy meals along with larger portions and more snacking. Another complication: I routinely deal with back pain through rigorous adherence to a home exercise program. The shoulder injury left me unable to keep up with that, which has now returned me to Land of Chronic Back Pain… again, impacting my ability to exercise.
And here’s the skinny on the sorry result: UGH. I’m 17 pounds heavier than I was six months ago! That’s a significant amount on a woman of my (mini) stature.
Incidentally, the relationship between pain and sleep is well established, and pain-related sleep deficits are a widespread American problem. One of the reasons I’m now catching some winks (of course) is because I can get to sleep and stay asleep due to lessened pain in my injured shoulder.
These days, I combine a cup of compassion (from me to me) with a supersized serving of self-knowledge. I realize that fat can satisfy a self-protective purpose, and some of us have a tendency to:
… overeat to self-soothe, overeat to self-sabotage, overeat to self-anesthetize. Fat becomes a place to hide when relationships are too painful to face… Fat helps to cushion emotional isolation. Unfortunately, it also worsens it, when what we really need is emotional connection.
Speaking of Sleep
For those of us who are routinely sleep-challenged, anything that interferes with zzzzzs becomes a Great Big Battle, old or new. When you don’t sleep, let’s face it… you feel lousy. You look lousy. You drag. You are a drag! And this Time Health report on the benefits of sleep reminds us:
… Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more.
Heart. Check. Weight. Check. And the impacts on the mind?
Try compromised mood, memory, multitasking. We struggle with concentration. Judgment is impaired. We’re more accident prone. As the same Time brief points out:
… During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation).
Consider this recent article in The New York Times looking at jet lag, insomnia, and mental illness, as it explores Circadian rhythms and the ways your sleep schedule is making you sick — not to mention a real pill to live with!
UGH. Looking for Work.
When you’re unemployed, underemployed, or possibly alternating between one and the other as someone who is “self-employed,” you’re dependent on nurturing your pipeline. That, naturally, is in addition to delivering exemplary results to any person or organization currently using your skills.
It’s not an old battle or a new battle so much as a constant battle — with time management and competing needs — that eventually you grow accustomed to.
But what if life takes you out of the game for a bit? What if no matter what you try, you can’t nab a win? What if you’re juggling a family crisis, a medical incident, a legal proceeding or other unanticipated event? What if there is no disability, no family leave, no financial help of any sort and reserves were long ago used up?
What if the market changes and you’re scrambling to retool your skills? What if you’re over 50 and can’t get a foot in the door?
Having lost six months to an injury, and not the first time, this is where I am. New clients are a must.
So what am I doing? Taking a deep breath and a hard look. Identifying new opportunities and current constraints. Assessing skills, evaluating markets, scrutinizing competition. I’m reviewing and expanding my contacts. I’m brainstorming ways to better target. I’m considering the way I communicate who I am and what I do via my professional site and other means. I’m soliciting input on what to update, expand, refocus or spin off, what channels are better suited, whether or not to rebrand, and if so, how.
For so many of us, the promotional and networking noise of today’s “gig economy” is a necessity. This is terrain I understand — an old battle in a new form. But people we respect remain the best possible referral vehicle, so I also ask you to peek here and let me know what you think, if you have suggestions, or even possible contacts. And likewise, if you think I can help you, please get in touch.
The Political Minefield
Surprising new battles?
Relationships are tough enough without fighting over immigration, the economy, and the best way to deliver healthcare. Discuss? Absolutely. Disagree? No doubt.
Like millions across this country, I feel as though I’m watching the destruction of our American experiment. I also recognize that others have the opposite point of view, or a more mixed impression of the events taking place. For those who feel as I do, we’re battling on many fronts every way we can — marching, sharing information, petitioning, emailing.
Wherever we are politically, we may feel emotionally raw defending our positions. When we’re emotionally raw, it’s easy to lash out, to name call, to skip context, to skimp on facts. It’s easy to make those who disagree a lesser human, an “other” with no regard for the values most dear to us.
Standing up for irrefutable, verifiable facts is a fight I believe in. Standing up for the humanity in all of us is also a fight I believe in.
We don’t need to fall for distractions. We don’t need to shout over the web. We don’t need to belittle each other. We don’t need to obliterate friendships over political divides. I’m not chiding; I’m simply reminding myself: The more civil we can be in our discourse, the more likely it is that we’ll listen, possibly learn something, and eventually understand each other’s points of view. Not necessarily accept, but understand.
There’s nothing paltry, petty, or “little” in this battle. It’s big. It’s difficult. It’s a battle we can work to win.
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