Winter... (It's not just weather)

Nothern hemisphere life at this time of year can be challenging. Even though I do not live in snow-covered climes, winter for me is hard. Snow makes everything look beautiful, clean and fresh. In the south, it's overcast, gray and dull. The trees are bare and sad. It's definitely a mood killer. I haven't written much in the last few weeks because I think I'm in that late-winter moody slump, needing a change and knowing it is still weeks off, and will be preceded by a season of rain and mud, none of which overjoys me. Therefore, my mood sucks, and it's been really hard to stay on track with my diet. But I'm hanging in there. 


Full disclosure: I'm not logging food, but I'm weighing and measuring high calorie items like meat, fats, my half and half and starchy foods. If it's a fruit or vegetable, I don't bother to weigh or measure it. I'm still sticking to eating diet food. I'm eating my low-calorie bread and sandwich wraps.  I'm getting to the gym to do both cardio and strength training. I'm still ice skating once a week if I'm not out of town. I have been doing pretty well but, on some days, around eight o'clock at night, I'm getting cravings.  Then things get tough for me. Not sure why I'm having these cravings to crunch something sweet-ish at that hour. It's just happening. Even after I have already consumed some low-calorie Greek yogurt as my dessert. I'm trying my best to tough it out, but I have grabbed a handful of trail mix here and some peanut butter pretzels there. What was so easy last year has become more difficult. I think it's all about upcoming stress in my life. 


I'm not going to discuss the 'season of love".... much. I just celebrated my 36th wedding anniversary, which was a dinner out with a beer, and a 'we don't need to spend $7 on a Valentine's Day card' agreement between my husband and me. I get enough 'season of love' in February as it is with our anniversary. Valentine's Day is now just an excuse to consume chocolate... and I'm not going there... so no chocolate, hubby!  Instead, we are going to the senior citizen dinner dance (yes, we technically qualify...barely) being sponsored by our town and being catered by a little Italian restaurant near us.  I do want to acknowledge that this time of year can suck for those who long for love but haven't found it yet, those who had love and lost it and those who are completely disinterested in love but are bombarded with red hearts and lips decorations and "Be Mine" slogans. It can be overwhelming, at a minimum.  For many years, my daughter would tell me how much she hated being a single young lady during Valentine's Day. She said you couldn't start dating right before then because then there were expectations or fears or pressure, so it was the season of suspending casual dating, for her. She hated it. If you are not a fan of Valentine's Day, grit your teeth and power through it. Another holiday will soon come around.


My niece's memorial service is coming up at the end of this month. I know it will be hard for me so that is on my mind. Ever since my mother hushed me for crying at a cousin's funeral when I was little, I've had a hard time with wakes, funerals and memorials. I feel awkward and that I should be acting a certain way but can't. On top of that, my husband has planned a three-week bicycle trip for us where we will be riding in The Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, and Austria. We are flying our bicycle built for two there as well, so even more stress with respect to losing bags, etc. My mind is filled with all the things that could go wrong. I'm looking forward to this trip, which we have put off for a few years due to COVID, and yet I'm not looking forward to dealing with the stress that I experience beforehand. I'm also going to fly out and visit a cousin of mine next month by myself for a 'girls' weekend. I've never visited her before so I'm not sure how that is going to go.  


The common theme of what is driving my mood and stressors in my life are situations where I have zero control. I have no control as to what will happen at my niece's memorial. There is no preparation for that. At. All. I have no control over where my luggage ends up when we go on this bicycle trip, or if our bike bags are searched and someone loses parts for our bicycle that we need to assemble it completely. Or if I wind up with no clothes other than what is on my back. I have no control of my comings and goings at my cousin's house.   I will have to rely on them for everything while I'm there and hope I don't have to eat a lot of high calorie foods while I'm there. 


So, what can I do with all this stuff? Absolutely nothing. I can tell myself repeatedly that all will go well. It probably will, but that doesn't reduce my stress. The only thing I can do is find things that lift my mood, make me feel better.


One of the things I've been trying to do is to lift up and encourage people. You'd be surprised how doing that can impact your mood.  When was the last time you made the effort to lift up or encourage a complete stranger? 


Things I've done which helped me to boost my mood:


We were driving back from my daughter's house on the east coast, and we stopped at a rest area on the interstate highway. There was a woman cleaning the restroom when I went in. I told her "Thank you, I travel by car a lot and I really appreciate clean restrooms. You probably don't hear that enough, so I want you to know how much I appreciate it."  The look on her face was worth it. I made her feel good and it made ME feel good that I had done that. 


When I'm ice skating, there is always a 'newbie' who is trying like hell to stay upright on skates. Sometimes it's a child, sometimes it's an older person. I always try to tell one of them they are doing really well when I skate by.  Encouragement is such a boost.


A few days ago, I was at the gym, finishing up my workout with a stretching routine. One of the personal trainers was working with young woman who looked like she had not been working out that long. When the personal trainer left the room to help someone else, the woman sat, bent over, and put her head in her hands. I noticed this because I was looking at the wall of mirrors in front of me and could see her behind me. I turned around and told her to hang in there, that I had stuck with it and lost 70 pounds last year, and that she could do it, that it gets easier. She was surprised and told me I looked 'really good', which was nice to hear, and I said, "just hang in there, you'll get there too." I hope that gave her the determination she needed to continue on.


Boosting your mood doesn't always have to involve doing what I did. Sometimes it's about an action, doing something meaningful to help someone else, or a specific cause, knowing there is nothing in it for you.  Selfless acts are very powerful for everyone involved. 


I'm going to help pick up trash in our town next weekend. There is a group getting together to 'beautify' a street in our town. I know that will help me feel good. 


Focus on things around you that you can impact in a positive way, instead of focusing on how crappy you may feel on the inside. Be proactive and just maybe your yucky mood will take care of itself. 


That's what I'm going to do.


(photo courtesy of Lucas Pezeta)

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7th Decade Redhead
7th Decade Redhead

I'm 60+ years old female retiree who is finally figuring out why she's been struggling with losing weight her whole life. I want to share the lessons I learned so others can help themselves with their own weight loss struggles earlier in their lives.

60 Pounds by 60 Years
60 Pounds by 60 Years

My final weight loss attempt after 40 years of different diet failures. No shakes, no supplements, no surgery, no crazy food, no purchased meal plans, no fasting. Creating a healthier relationship with food and facing the painful truth about my relationship surrounding food. No BS, just common sense. And it worked.

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