Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The age old time and place...

There's been quite the incident locally last weekend of a performance that really wasn't meant at all for the venue, which was a family friendly event with an outdoor stage. It was to the point where the event producer had to cut the music short and end the performance there. (I won't say more details but, if you want to know, you can ask.)

Not the right time and place...

The producer feels that she's being tried in public for what happened but, really, the vast majority of folks are on her side. The sentiment that is often expressed is that this was not the right time and place for it. In that specific case, there are very few times and places that I can think of for it to make sense.

Now this is one example (and it was quite the extreme one) but I have seen a bunch of those kinds of no no performances over the years. And we always say that it wasn't the right time or the place. That's being nice to the performers but, really, honestly, sometimes, there is virtually no right time and place for a certain performance.

The other issue I have with the sentiment is that it pushes the issue onto someone else, onto whoever has that possibly okay time and place. Case in point, for that specific example, it was said that perhaps it would have been better at a horror themed show. Well, the producer of the local horror themed belly dance show chimed in and said that, no, it wouldn't have been okay even at her show.

Sure you can... Should you?

This is something that I've heard Tempest say many times. And, man, is that true. And you could tweak it to "Sure you can... Should you... at this time and place?" But sometimes you want to take it a step further and think "Sure you can... Should you... ever?" And, yanno, some ideas should never have been actualized. Or, if dicey, you really gotta pick your time and place. They may sound good in your head and you get enamored with the concept. But sometimes it's taking it too far.

What is your goal?

I do realize that the caveat to the above question is that, for some, the answer will be yes. So, okay, you should. Fine. What is your goal with this performance? What are you trying to accomplish? What are you trying to say? If you're just trying to shock people, is it really worth it? And don't you want to have more to say with your dance? And if it is a topic for which you feel strongly, is this the best medium to voice your concerns/angers/agenda?

Art as an excuse

I've heard way too many times art being used as the excuse for why someone did something. "Oh, it's art." Okay. But art has a goal. Or should have a goal. It's usually to make the audience/viewer feel *something*. So, again, what were you trying to make the audience feel? Go back to asking yourself what the goal is and don't hide behind art as the blanket statement under which you're hiding your real reasons for doing something.

If you really must...

And if you really must do that performance because you have a burning need to do it, please then consider carefully the time and place for it. It is very unlikely that a family friendly show in the park will be the right place for it. A setting where adults only are present is likely better. But the best idea yet would be to do those at your own show or your own gig that would have an appropriate setting.

If you're not up for creating your own show, give a heads up to the producer about your performance and run it by them ahead of time. EVEN IF it is the right time and place. You may need to have a sort of "trigger warning" statement ahead some performances. Allow the producer to be prepared for what's coming. And, I'm sorry, but it's their show and they can say yay or nay on your act so be ready to gracefully accept their decision.

The problem with doing controversial pieces at someone else's show is that it is a risk for a whole lot more people than just you: it can create backlash for a producer and for a venue. A venue could very likely ban a producer from running their show there based on your performance. Or the venue may be banned by patrons because of what happened. It has more ramifications than just you.


Of course, the first thing is to be aware that your piece might be controversial in any way... which, in most cases, seems to be an elusive thing for those performers who I've seen do those pieces. You should have your own internal censor that asks if it's a good idea and assesses how it might be perceived from the outside (again, at that time and place). You can also ask a friend to assess if it's a good idea or not... but they'd need to be truthful. And, if all else fails, yeah, perhaps the venue and/or the producer will have to yank you off the stage (before or during your performance) because they have a duty to the audience.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Weight Watchers as a Lifestyle Change

Lately, I've been pondering on how I'm truly committed to Weight Watchers as a lifestyle change. I've had two months where "Life" got in the way: there was the travel to AZ, my and my partner's birthdays, being sick with a bad cold, and travel to Indianapolis. I was pleasantly surprised when I wasn't fretting about not being totally on point when it comes to the plan. I cut myself some slack by telling myself that it's normal life. Now, I did not use that as an excuse to go off plan for too long. But, yanno, these things will happen in the course of a normal life.

And that's what's different than the first time around when I lost weight: I lost the weight quite fast, all things considered, but it did not allow for normal life to happen much. So when it was time to maintain, it was shocking how hard it was. Losing weight is hard... but maintaining is harder. MUCH harder.

When you're losing weight, you have all these awesome mini milestones to look forward to: first 5 lbs, first 10 lbs, first 5%, first 10%, first 15 lbs, etc. But when you're maintaining, all you have to cheer you up is one more month at the same weight. And you'd *think* that would be enough of a reward... and it is... at first... and then it gets boring. There is no fanfare for yet another month of maintaining. There is no award.

But besides the boring part, another tricky thing is that you think that, once you have reached your goal weight, you can relax. Well, you can, but you can't. You do have more wiggle room than when you were losing weight... but surprisingly not necessarily that much. Honestly, though, it all hinges on the goal weight you chose. I happened to choose a target that was difficult to maintain so it did not allow for me eating much more than when I was losing weight... and that became frustrating. (Add on top of that that I was going through a divorce and had a gazillion emotions to process so trying to control my food intake was yet one more negative thing in my life and I just couldn't deal with it all.)

Knowing that, I now know what to do.

  • I know that I have to eat some of my allowance points. I wouldn't allow myself to indulge in these much the first time around in order to lose weight faster... big mistake. You need to learn how to use these while losing weight to get the skill set to use them while maintaining as well.
  • I know to focus on other metrics than the scale. Of course, I love seeing a weight loss. But, oftentimes, what will constitute a successful week for me is not just the weight loss. Usually, it's having tracked faithfully daily.
  • I don't care how long it takes to lose the weight. I have no idea of a time frame for when the weight will be fully off. No clue. I'm not forecasting anything. I'm not looking at that whatsoever. 
  • I use "goal weight" as a shorthand for "a weight that will be comfortable for me to maintain and that I will feel good at." I don't view it as a finish line but as just a milestone along the way.
  • I shy away from the accolades and awards.*

*So a funny thing is that, since I'm a lifetime member and my weight was above my original starting weight, my awards are all kinds of screwed up. They had offered to reset my weight to my new starting weight and I declined b/c I wanted an honest picture of, yes, I did gain more weight than what I had originally started at... I'm enjoying seeing that number next to the "+" shrink down. They told me to let them know when a certain award would happen... but I'm not telling them for most of them (I will for the 10% off, for example) b/c I don't want to rely on the high from awards to keep me going and excited. I'm liking flying under the radar and just owning that I AM still a lifetime member.

I will say that the revamped plan is pretty good at focusing on other victories besides the scale. That is a much appreciated change and one that I am fully embracing. For example, my last weigh in that was after the trip to Indy indicated a 2-lb gain... but this was after a week of eating out for most meals and I know that I had water retention. So, really, not bad. And, interestingly, it is within the range of maintenance weight once you're at goal weight so we can say that I roughly maintained. And that is a victory in and of itself. I know that, without having been on Weight Watchers, I likely would have gained more weight than that.

Another victory from last week was getting back to tracking faithfully and eating within the target range of points. I knew that I had to be out of allowance points early last week. I did not fuss about that and didn't over-worry about being out of points. Instead, I solely focused on getting back to faithful tracking and eating within the target range points and called THAT a victory. Because it was important. That was how I was going to get back on track and back on plan.

Another thought that popped to mind too is that I can near guarantee that, this time around, when I'm at my goal weight (see definition above), it won't feel boring to say that I maintained for yet one more month. That will be a damn good victory. :)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Proud Jack-of-All-Trades

The last entry prompted a memory that led me to writing the below.

Back when I met the guy who was to become my husband, I was a proud Jack-of-all-trades. Said guy teased me incessantly for it, especially highlighting, as had been described in a roleplaying game book that it also meant "master-in-none." And, for a while, it didn't bug me... and then it sort of did... and, eventually, I found myself really focusing on one thing: belly dance. Now, it's not a bad thing and I don't regret it as it certainly served its purpose and has made me the person that I am today. 

Interestingly, though, since the divorce, I've been rekindling this pride in being a Jack-of-all-trades. I like my life a little eclectic. I like to knit, crochet, sew, play piano, run, dance, cook, etc. I may not be extremely talented in any of these things but I do enjoy doing them. And that's okay.

I do believe that this culture and society is a little too focused on success or else why even bother trying? Or more like why even bother trying b/c it will take you a long time to even have a modicum of talent/skill in one area.

But do you need even that modicum if you're enjoying "the thing" (whatever it may be)? No, you don't.

Now, granted, perhaps it is foolhardy to think that you can make a living doing art if all you can do is stick figures... but then again I've seen a bunch of memes and satires using stick figures so maybe even that is doable. (Don't know if they're getting paid or not.) But if you enjoy drawing, even if it's awful, why not draw? Chances are, you'll actually get better at it. 

Again, I think that we are too focused on a certain threshold of success that you should have with things for them to be considered valuable. And I do believe that this is how art in general and appreciation of art is falling by the wayside: we don't invest in ourselves, in what makes our souls feel good, b/c it is considered futile unless you're the next (Insert Famous Person's Name). You don't need to be. It's okay. Or try it, if you've never tried it before. Enjoy what you like. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What if you aren't who you think you are?

I know... it's a total click-bait title. ;) But it's also been reflective of something that I've been pondering on for about a month so I am unapologetically using it.

It all started with my first meeting back at Weight Watchers, when the leader explained to me the program and I mentioned at some point that, when I first lost weight several years ago, I was teaching belly dance 3 nights a week and now I run 3 days a week, am preparing for the Hot Chocolate 15k race, and still do some belly dancing. The lady said that I didn't need to worry about my exercise points (yay!) as it was clear that being active is important to me.

Say what?

I had a knee-jerk reaction to deny her assertion but stopped myself short b/c I AM running 3 times a week... and then, as I thought more about it, I remembered that what led to me running in the first place was a desire to be active. It was an aha moment that, you know what, yes, actually it IS important to me to be active. That was mind blowing b/c I had never EVER seen myself that way... even when I was teaching belly dance. (Though it was easy to dismiss that given that it's dance and not another form of physical activity.)

I mulled that over for a while and marveled about what else there might be that I've had a misalignment with.

One of the things that has been brewing for a number of years, actually, is the whole artistic side. For some reason, people view me as artistic when I shrug it off b/c I don't feel artistic myself. It's like people view me as an artist who happens to also do science whereas I feel I'm a scientist who happens to also sometimes do some artistic stuff. Now I will say that I do believe that scientists view people as being artistic if they can pair colors that don't clash too much (i.e., the threshold isn't really high) but still... what if I actually have more of an artistic side to me than I give myself credit for?

And that was probably the origin of challenging who I think I am: through artistry in belly dance. That was something that I aspired to do but I didn't know if I could pull it off or not... but I sure was going to try. For whatever reason, a certain lady who goes by the name Tempest must have seen something in me (at least in my writings on then tribe.net) and was encouraging me. And I started including more and more artistry in my dance, to the point where I could say that, at least when it came to dance, I am an artist. (Though I still struggled with typing it and not feeling like a fraud.)

Like a lot of people, I do have impostor syndrome. But beside the impostor syndrome, I do believe that something else is at play: a script that was written out during childhood... which has never been updated since.

See, when I was growing up, my parents really focused me towards doing science. I was told that it was okay not to be good at sports/physical stuff b/c I was good at science. It was okay not to be artistic b/c I was good at science. It somehow also bred a reluctance to even try b/c I was going to fail. Sadly, my marriage was plagued with a similar dissuasion of trying things b/c I just might fail but more importantly b/c it's not my strength.

What if none of that were true? What if I wasn't just good at science? What if I actually enjoy other things and it's okay not to excel at them but just enjoy them? And what if I can actually excel in some other things? What if I have changed over time? What if the script wasn't true? What if I'm no longer the person that the script applied to? What if there was no script?

The whole point of this blog is really to prompt an assessment of whether you've been running on an old script that isn't reflective of who you are today. If you try to remove that preconceived notion of who you are and were to write a new script or description of yourself as you are today, what would it be? And how different would it be from what you think you know about yourself?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Week 1 at Weight Watchers

Well, the first week wasn't too too bad, actually. I was afraid that I might feel deprived as that had been my experience when I tried again a few times but, nope, it went pretty well, actually.

I did a few things differently than I had done in the past like really measuring the milk that I put in my coffee instead of guesstimating how much it was. I even changed some eating habits that I had from when I was losing weight. The 3rd day was hardest but, otherwise, it wasn't too hard.

Interestingly, I ended up having some good habits that just spontaneously came back. For example, we went out to dinner at a restaurant with friends on Monday and, when my food came, I ended up eating about half of it, assessed my fullness and found that I was full enough, and just forgot about the food until they asked if I wanted a box. I used to do that: mentally split the dish in half (sometimes even physically) and not touch that other half. I was just surprised when it happened without me actively thinking about it. I also went out to lunch with a friend and coworker and thought about where to go and pre-tracked the food so I knew how much it'd be.

My exercising hiccuped a little compared to what it'd be on a normal week thanks to some meetings and the weather. I have to get back on my bandwagon for that or else that 15k in March will be very painful. ;)

I made some surprising discoveries on either side of the "oh cool" and "oh no". For example, discovering how big 3 oz of awesome carnitas that James had made really was (that made for 2 big tacos) or that my beloved cider was 9 points for a regular bottle (I'll pass). Overall, I did not feel like I had to drastically change my eating habits. It felt more like tweaking. So that was good.

I also re-learned to cut myself some slack. For example, my dinner ended up being a good number of points last night but I was still within my points range (more on that in a second) and I hadn't used nearly all my weekly allowance points so it was totally fine but, when thinking about it more, I realized where I could have tweaked things to use fewer points while still having an awesome meal. I started kicking myself for that but thought that, no, this is week 1 and I'm re-learning to do this. I had a good week overall and this one meal won't make a huge difference. And I'm in it for the long haul so it's okay.

Just before I quit last year, I did have an explanation of the new points system but one thing that they tweaked since then is that now you have a points range that is considered your "healthy eating zone". So, before, you had a target daily point and you couldn't eat below that as that would not be enough food for you. Back then (and the points were calculated differently), it was 26 points. With the new points calculations, the daily target is now 30... but... they have deemed that you should really eat between 27 and 37 points to be in that healthy eating zone. They explained that, as long as you stay within that range, you should technically see a weight loss. Now the super cool thing about that is that it's not so spot on: you don't have to hit a number super precisely. In truth, it was the same before as well, but that range had never been spelled out so I always felt like you needed to be as spot on as possible. It helps my perfectionist brain. In the app version of the tracking tool, you see these solid blue dots over the days when you've stayed within your range, which is a quick visual to assess how you've been doing.

The result? I lost 3.4 lbs! I'm super happy about that! I know full well that I may not lose as much next week and that's okay.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Weight Watchers... We Meet Again

Yesterday (Thursday), I went back to Weight Watchers after about a year off. Those following this blog have seen me blast here something that was said in my last meeting, though I knew that it was an outlier event.

I didn't exactly go back to lose weight, though that will happen, I'm sure. I'm going back because I want to stop this weight creep that's been going on in the past year. I've tried being just mindful of my food and tracking calories in other ways but still the weight kept piling on. In talking with my partner on Wednesday night, our struggle was knowing how much I should eat given how much I exercise and all that and I kind of offhandedly said that that was actually all calculated for you or at least easier to figure out with Weight Watchers and then it seemed like a good idea to go back.

One key thing is similar as when I first started on Weight Watchers: I come with exercise already built into my schedule and routine. If the last 3 years have been any indication, it's that it's absolutely crucial for me to separate being active/exercising from losing weight, otherwise I just don't do it and it becomes a chore. So it used to be teaching 3 nights a week (and practicing once or twice more during the week) and now it's running and some dancing still. When I talked to the Weight Watchers leader, she said not to worry about my exercising because I'm likely doing enough in a week as it is.

Interestingly, when I talked to the leader and was saying how I used to teach belly dance and now I run, she said "It sounds like being active is something important to you." It was sort of a shock to hear that because I've never thought of myself like that. My perception of myself is quite the opposite thanks to many things throughout all my life. But also, oftentimes, these things are said more in terms of fitness or being fit and I just don't like that term at all... but is being active important to me? I guess that it is! lol

Looking back at last year when I stopped doing Weight Watchers, it's clear that it wasn't the right time for me. I had to move in a matter of weeks. I had to purge/pack/unpack. I had to get used to a new living space, new city, new job. But probably the most crucial thing was that my typical go-to foods for Weight Watchers when I was back in Indy were not as readily available (well, really, I needed to find new things and I knew that, but it felt frustrating at the time). And then they changed the plan and, honestly, I just couldn't deal; that was too many changes in a short time. I was maxed out. And then there was an outlier meeting that threw me off but also echoed where I was at so it felt pointless and I stopped.

The leader yesterday asked me what was going well, what I liked about the plan when I was losing weight the first time around and my answer was that I had a good flow going: I knew what to eat, how much to eat, had a routine, things were just going. It wasn't exactly easy but it just was flowing. That's what it felt like. And now I do feel like I have my own flow going on in this new environment and it also feels okay to tweak a few things to stop this weight creep.

I also actually think that the program having changed and having been a year not doing it at all was a good sort of washout period. I developed bad habits from when I was going through my divorce where I could eat pretty much what I wanted and not gain weight and I never really recovered from that, despite trying to correct course a few times. I think that trying to correct the course and not succeeding despite feeling like I was doing things like I was before was extremely frustrating and lead me to have issues following the program again. Now, it's similar enough yet different enough that it feels like I can use some of the principles that I used to do yet won't necessarily fall for the trap of thinking that I know what I'm doing, i.e., I'll pay more attention to things vs. trying to recreate something from the past, which I think is also where the time distance helps.

One of the other issues that I ran into last year right after moving was getting to the meeting. It felt odd to go over lunchtime... and I was getting the hang of going out during the day at work... and I was also getting the hang of all this walking... and it just seemed like there would be a work crisis that would inevitably happen on Thursdays or a work meeting would be slapped onto the Weight Watchers meeting time slot (at the last minute, of course). So it was hard for me to have consistency there. After I got back from the meeting yesterday, I blocked my calendar at work for the time around the Weight Watchers meeting from next week until indefinitely. I of course will be able to change things if we do need to meet at work over that time but it felt like fully committing by doing that. And I know that people here would be very supportive of me doing something important for my health.

And lo and behold, it actually felt good to be back at a meeting yesterday. And I had forgotten how much I liked that leader on Thursdays. I dreaded the weigh in but the result wasn't exactly as terrible as I was afraid it'd be.

I'm not sure yet how much I'll be "vocal" about my weigh loss endeavors in the future but felt like sharing the above for now.