Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Control What You Can

Once in a while I read something in a blog or hear something on a TV show that I already know, but for some reason it is said in a different way and really resonates.  Some of the comments made to me on yesterday's Tuesday Ten really resonated.  I thank you all for your thoughts and support.  I don't know that I can adequately tell you how much it means... and you gave me a lot to think about.

This morning while pounding out a 5 mile run on my treadmill (it was pouring rain! and thundering and lightening!  in November!) I was watching The Biggest Loser.

Bob started talking about one of the contestants who has absolutely NO support at home.  She comes from an Asian family and some of it is cultural but there are are some other factors that are in play as well.  Literally, prior to getting to the ranch, this young woman never got a single word of encouragement or support from her parents.  As she put it, the other contestants were hearing "Yay, you've gone to the ranch!  You want to help yourself!  How can I love you and help you?!" from their families and her family's response was "You'd better not come back from that ranch unless you've lost at least 100 pounds."  Big difference there.

This was the week when the contestants get videos from home.  Guess who didn't get one?  Her fellow contestants felt so badly that they ended up making her a video to let her know how incredible and special she is.  When it came time for the weigh in, Bob was worried - as he put it

Chronic stress is not good for weight loss. 

Seriously.  Never mind the chemicals that are released that inhibit weight loss, most of us tend to overeat when we are under constant stress.

But do you know that young woman rocked the scale, losing 9 pounds and having the highest percentage of weight loss this week, beating out several very large men!  Jillian said it was because she took what was going on in her life and turned it to her advantage.  Which reiterated to me that chronic stress can be beaten, it's all in the choices you ultimately make.

You see, over the last couple of weeks, I think I realized that since April of 2009, my life has been nothing but thrown. No rest for the weary, no time between deaths to grieve properly, constantly under the threat of losing my job - and I work for half our income, not for pleasure. Just bombarded with stuff all the time. I honestly cannot remember a time in my life that was THIS stressful, except maybe 25 years ago when I was going through my divorce and trying to stay off welfare and trying to feed my little girl for a week with a box of macaroni and two hard boiled eggs.

With the addition of some new stressors, over the past two weeks, I have been swinging wildly between really good choices and really bad choices.  Some days the stress has been so bad I can't get past the pit in my stomach nor the lead in my legs.  Running has been the one thing I've managed to stay consistent with, so feeling like I didn't even want to run was odd for me.

Changes need to be made and probably will require faking it until I make it.  As I perused blogs on this morning, I came across some good advice from Chris, over at A Deliberate Life.  This is what she wrote a few lines down in her post on Tuesday:

When life knocks you for a loop.
Control what you can.

Um, yeah.
What can I control?  How much food I am eating, how much exercise I am getting, how much sleep - or if not sleep, rest I am getting.  What I wear each day, how fast I drive, the people I choose to associate with, my attitide towards people I come in contact with.
A lot of the rest, well it's probably not up to me.  As Chris said in her post,
If you had a bad week, let it go and focus on today.
a bad week didn't get you fat...bad months, bad years got you fat.
That and the inability to climb back on the horse.
so, without further ado,

Hello Horse.  


  1. Hello Horse... I like that. Want a riding partner? I've got to get control of my stress and get going in the right direction with drive and determination. Sure I've had saddle sores but they heal and like you, I'm getting back on :)

  2. I'm fairly new to following your blog, but your writing style and perspective have already been an encouragement to me. I understand stress related to death, the time one must allow themselves to grieve and how it effects what we thought were well-established eating habits. Dealt with the whole scenario during the illness and death of my FIL three months ago. I'm back on the horse, but I had to change horses and I was real fond of the one I was on. I'm not quite out of the barn yet, but feel the twitching and think we're going to be at a full gallop real soon!

  3. Well, when I got sober, one of the things they drilled into my head over and over and over was that I am in control of so very little in this life. So little. And that accepting that and moving on from there would free me. I thought that was asinine, but it works! It works! Are you confident that if you were to lose your job that a better and less stressful one is out there for you?

    Have you accepted that you cannot control death? That it will come when it wants whether we want it or not? So we learn to enjoy the days that we DO have. To the fullest.

    It's a complete attitude shift and it's how I manage to choose to stay on this side of the dirt.

    But only for today.

  4. Love this post. I'm the same way, I know all this stuff but then when I read it or hear presented a different way, I have an aha! moment.

    I love the part about controlling what you can. As my work like goes to hell in a handbasket, at least I have other areas of my life I can control. What eat, how much I sleep, and my exercise. Those are mine.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  5. What a beautifully written post. Hello Horse. I love that.

    Like Kate, I seem to be able to be pretty accepting of things that I can't control; and unlike my husband (we were just discussing this last night), I also try to go through life with the "why wouldn't this work?" attitude, rather than his negative one. But he, like you, has to work around some pretty awful people, so maybe that is part of the difference. Any case, I wish you (both) peace.

  6. I love Hello Horse too. Great post, Helen. Very instructive and inspiring.

  7. Helen, this post particularly hit me in a way that I can truly relate. This year has been incredibly difficult and when you said that you didn't have time to grieve the loss of a loved one without something else happening - I was right there with you. I don't know what it was about this year, but a LOT of people seem to be suffering more than what's considered normal. I have my post ready for tomorrow that I've decided I need to get out - purge from my mind so that maybe I can finally move on. Please know that you're not alone and that you are stronger than you think (and I will in the meantime, try to practice what I'm preaching!)

  8. Well, I am glad my post was helpful. I had quite the week as's to a new one.

  9. love this and I think lately for me Ive realized in the biggest baddest and best (ok I wanted alliteration. I really mean most lifechanging :)) way possible that the only only thing I control is my reaction to stress.

    I thought Id learned this lesson before---but apparently not :)

  10. Loved reading this post Helen. My philosophy has always been "water off a ducks back." If something happens that's out of my control, I stop and think - will I remember this tomorrow, or next week?" Usually the answer is no. Of course, I am talking about the small things in life, not like all the stuff going on in your life.

    But control what you can is a great motto! :D

  11. This is a great post! I do believe we can control everything that has to do with eating in our life but from experience I know that when you've lost someone so close to you it's hard to make the right choices which ended being overweight for me.

    I sure hope your stressful days will be over soon and you have a lot more sunshine in your life, you deserve it.