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Posts Tagged ‘transition period’

This year I am embarking on a slightly different adventure. I thought long and hard about my body, my fitness level, my extra bodyfat, my thoughts on body image and my own internal struggles with a desire to not conform for the sake of conforming. I have long had a desire to get in better shape, but I don’t really act on it. I may think about it a lot, even make a few steps here or there but very rarely have I made an actual push to lose weight. I have not been on any diets save the raw food thing (and that was for spiritual not physical reasons, though it had great physical side effects) although I have certainly pondered many over the years. But in the end, any diet or fitness regime required a level of commitment I just didn’t have, despite not being totally happy with my body. It took me many years to realize that a big part of this is a holdover from my experience with ballet, my strong feminist leanings, and where the two interact.

I had a pivotal experience when I was 15 at my fairly well known dance school, wherein I was told by the director of the school that the reason I had not gotten into the audition-only summer program (that I had been in the year previous) was because “you’ve gotten fat, didn’t you notice?” No joke, those were her exact words. As a psychologically tender 15yo (especially shaky given that I had lost my father a year before), these words were incredibly devastating. I had until that point had every (relatively reasonable) expectation of a career in dance. This turned my world upside down and let me wondering what to do to address this.

I should explain a bit here: I was 5’2″, and had gone from 98 pounds to 108 pounds. I was maybe a size two. I am currently 155 pounds and I am not overly unhappy with my curves. Certainly at 125 (years later) I was very happy, and got a good amount of admiration for my body. However, at that time, somehow 108 was “fat” to this woman, something objectively at the time I knew was absurd. See, despite my love, infatuation, and overall adoration of ballet, I still had a very strong feminist-raised ME inside…and that me saw two choices: 1) obsess over my weight, try to diet and workout to fit a ridiculous and unrealistic ideal pushed on me by others, and give myself an eating disorder and huge psychological problems for life or 2) say FUCK YOU to the ballet establishment. I chose option 2. This meant that I spent several years totally unmoored with no idea what to do with my life, as well as resulting in my eating a ton of junk all the time, no longer dancing or working out at all, pretty much in a direct, quite unhealthy bodywise, rebellion. I gained 50 pounds in a bit over a year. I embraced dating and blossomed in my sexuality now that I had time to be social. Over the years I lost a good amount of the junk food weight and stabilized around 130. However I was never quite okay with not working out, not being able to use my body in the way I was used to. Getting winded easily SUCKS and it hit me like a punch in the face every time it happened.

Quite a few years later, after two pregnancies and a stressful dissolution of my marriage, I am back up to 155, almost as much as I weighed when pregnant with my second – and slightly more than I weighed in my first pregnancy. Still, it took me some time to get to the point where I was willing to let go of my “OMG losing weight = conforming to patriarchal standards” mindset and finally want to DO something about all this excess fat I am carrying around and the non-fit state I am in.

I know from experience that some changes are very easy for me and others never happen. One of the things I do very easily is classes. I am a pretty damn good salsa dancer now after knowing nothing before I started classes. One year, I just decided I was going to take some ballroom classes. Once I signed up, I continued nonstop, finding time and money. Commitment was never a question, it was easy. I also know eating healthy is very doable for me, and the raw food thing I did was a great lesson. I loved it while I was on it, but once social pressures hit, I didn’t have the necessary habits cemented to stick with it, and one of my main downfalls kicked in: my “all or nothing” mindset. Once I started slipping up, giving up altogether happened almost immediately. So I knew any changes I wanted to make, in order to be serious, needed to create commitment for me in a way that was “easy” for me, and needed to be about longlasting, habit-based lifestyle changes that were sustainable and reasonable.

Luckily for me, there’s a program that I already knew of from my years of reading. Fitness and nutrition, as well as all sorts of random body-function fun facts, have long been a huge archair interest for me, unsurprisingly. Years ago I discovered http://www.stumptuous.com, a website about weight lifting for women that I adore for both her vast knowledge and her hilarious, uncensored approach to writing about it. Through Krista I learned about Dr. John Berardi, and was impressed with his focus on basics first, and his article on the compliance grid which I thought was brilliantly simple. Several years ago when Krista left the academia world to work for Dr. Berardi at Precision Nutrition, I knew a better endorsement could not be found. Still, I was not ready at that time to act. As the year came to a close however, I just knew…now is the right time. Spending $99 a month for a year – a previously “crazy” sum – now seemed perfectly reasonable. See, at the end of the day, I don’t need someone to creat a “perfect plan” for me. In fact I have quite enough knowledge to do so for myself. No, what I really need is someone to check in with my, every day, and say “hey, did you do simple step x today? Great, do that again tomorrow!”

And that is exactly what I have gotten, and I couldn’t be happier! I thought I would blog about this experience over 2012, however I probably won’t post overly frequently. I don’t want blogging to become more important to doing, and I know I need to be especially careful that I don’t let “oh well I didn’t post today so I may as well not bother doing this” stinking perfectionist thinking into my head! So, that’s all for now. 🙂

Comments welcome!

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Celibacy was a very curious thing for me. At first it was difficult – not only do I have a pretty active libido, but I also was quite used to sending out a vibe that said “Sex? Yes please!” and stopping myself from doing that proved to be an interesting process. In the end, what I ended up doing was essentially a hermitage – after all, if I am not seeing people, it’s not that hard to NOT fuck them. This wasn’t really my intent per se starting out, or at least, not one I thought of consciously, but it being one of the best pieces of it. Not that being a hermit is a great thing necessarily (and for me can easily be a sign of depression) but it really helped me to break my NEED PEOPLE OMG WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE??? addiction. And that, my friends, is a great thing. More importantly, it is a highly needed thing, especially in that it gave me the time and space to recognize, relinquish, and move on from my ended marriage.

I have always been addicted to the rollercoaster rush of intense emotions in a relationship – particularly a high drama, difficult relationship. This wasn’t exactly a newsflash – it’s fair to say I’ve known this about myself for many years. However, knowing there’s a problem and changing it are two very different things. Now, this issue had already gotten much better with the advent on poly in my life (and, for those that know me well and are raising an eyebrow here, let me just add: you don’t even know the HALF of what it was like BEFORE poly!). There was a time when I would have done anything for this man, and everything I could to get him back when he left. And, to an extent, I was better about that when he left this last time. I knew why it wouldn’t work, and why, although he is a lovely human being, we don;t work well as a couple. At least…I thought I did. But when I went through my celibate, hermitage period and really got away from…everything, including much of my own internal chatter, I had time and space for things to sink in, to become part of my *identity* in a way that they hadn’t before. (See? It all relates!) In fact, my identity was BUILT around my being in that relationship. It was part of my core. And while my relationship with D will *always* be a part of who I am (hell, I’ve known him now more than half my life, and had a relationship with him for longer than I knew my father, who died when I was 13!) I have finally altered how that fits in my idnetity. That me-shaping relationsip helped form me…IN THE PAST. My identity with regards to D has finally settled down into something that is not front and center. And, more importantly, my view of “ideal” romantic relationships has altered a great deal.

I realized a few months ago that D and I have always had a VERY strong sexual connection, as well as a strong emotional connection. And, as befots the societal narrative of One True Love, we tried to fit our relationship into the proscribed box. There’s just one problem with that: we are not compatible as a couple. We make amazing lovers and decent friends, but as a couple, we drive each other batty and easily bring out the very worst in each other. And yet we kept BELIEVING, because, isn’t love supposed to conquer all? The thing is, it doesn’t, and it really isn’t fair to expect it to. I still love D a great deal in many ways, but in no way, shape or form can we live together. And you know what? That’s ok. It is so much easier to accept people for who and what they are to you, than to try and make them fit some definition that doesn’t quite mesh. It’s a lesson I wish I had really “gotten” earlier, but hey, that’s part of the process, right? Part of what I realized is that there are many things I will not “do for love” anymore. I will not give up my identity “for love.” I will not uproot my life “for love.” I will not give up things that I need “in the name of love.” I occasionally fell anti-romantic like this, but it’s worth it, because I feel so much healthier. And happier. Not being plugged into the emotional rollercoaster (“but if you loved me you would change your name”) is less exciting, but does constant nausea really count as excitement? Not anymore, for me.

One thing I didn’t expect at all is that my lust for sex and D/s in specific has cut down to a manageable level. I still miss having a live-in partner (daily sex is AWESOME and someday I’d like me some of that again, thanks) but I’m not clawing at the walls to get my fix either, and that’s a welcome thing. I am thinking about sex more now than over the summer (when my celibacy officially ended), probably because I did have a fairly regular partner at that time and now I mostly don’t (and my free time is going way down for unrelated reasons). With that in mind, I’ve giving thought to attending orgies again 😀 mostly because with so little time I’m not too expectant of finding a serious/primary partner and parties = lots of bang for your buck. 😉 On the downside, none of said parties are local to me, so everything involves a fair amount of travel and that kinda sucks.

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When I tell my friends (and lovers) that I am choosing to be celibate for a good period of time (until July 2011), they are often perplexed as to why I would choose this. I’m not surprised; it’s a little shocking even to me, and I’m the one making the decision! In case you don’t know, to give a little background, I have LONG been a supporter of positive sexuality, have been polyamorous for quite a few years, and have no qualms about telling people I LOVE sex. So, why give it up then?

It’s a damn fine question. In fact, I have to admit that I didn’t decide to be celibate for a particular set of reasons; rather, I decided it was right for me at this moment, intuitively, and only later set about thinking of what ways this benefits me at this time. And there are numerous ways…I’m sure I’ll miss some but here are a few of the big ones that come to mind:

A great deal has happened this year, and the biggest by far is my separation from (and soon to be divorce from) my exhusband. I have been with him, off and on (on more than off), for the past fourteen years. We started dating when I was sixteen. He was my second boyfriend, and the second person/time I ever had sex. I’ve been fucking him a LOOONG time! Needless to say, my character was greatly influenced by this relationship, and so was my sexuality. In many ways, for both of us, we have no idea who we would be without the influence of the other. I have known D for almost half my life (I’m 31 now) and actually, truly, moving on from that relationship has had a tremendous impact on me.

We had actually separated once in the past, for two years, but we saw each other very frequently during that time, and were physically involved shortly thereafter. This time is different: he lives three hours away and, although he sees the kids every weekend, we hardly see each other for more than 5-10 minutes a week. Getting this distance has been good for both of us, and it has made me see several things clearly that I have ignored/looked over/glazed over in the past. One of the things that has been a constant between us is an extremely powerful physical connection. The force, the gravity, of that connection was overwhelming. It was an addiction. The physical pull towards each other was so strong, and intensified our emotional connection so much, that we both were constantly drawn to each other despite many significant differences in outlook and personality that caused constant strife between us. We have wildly different approaches to finances, to parenting, to housekeeping, to holidays, to family..and those are only the biggies. With the distance we have now, I can see clearly that he does not share ideals that I wish to share with a primary partner. And here is the crux of things: I do wish to have a primary partner again. For a while, I did not. I did not want the entanglement, the stress, the drama that could easily come from such a commitment. But, as time has gone by, I realized I do miss certain things. I miss the feeling of being part of a team, of having someone to snuggle with at the end of the night, someone to coparent with, someone to share resources with, to giggle with over silly little things.

In realizing this, I began to do something I had never done before: I made a list of qualities I need in such a partner. These things are not complicated: a similar parenting style, financially stable, able to budget, poly, preferably kinky. The only one that surprised me was the realization that I want someone who has their own kids: because I am DONE with that part of my life. I enjoyed childbirth very much, both times, but I have no desire to start over with a baby as I would someday like to have MY life again. Anyway, when I made this list, I also saw that it’s important for me to connect with someone strongly in a mental way first, BEFORE any physical connection. Because I am very “boy” that way – if the sex is great, I get distracted, I overlook important, VITAL compatibility issues. And I am simply unwilling to do that anymore. (I find it rather ironic that, far from the “usual” female reason for celibacy in dating, i.e. to be sure the guy wants to be with her ASIDE from sex, I have the opposite problem: I am fully confident that people want much more from me than the sex, but I need to be sure *I* don’t get caught up in the sex and distracted…that is, I need to be sure I want THEM without the sex lol!)

SO that’s one major reason why I feel pulled to this celibacy thing.

Another one has to do with sex and my libido. When D moved out in May, it hit me hard. I missed the sex something fierce, and I wasn’t really enjoying sex so much with other people. In large part, that is due to the fact that the D/s in our relationship was so predominant, and I really don’t sub to anyone else. So I missed the submission tremendously, and it had a dampening effect on everything else. However, I know myself very well, and *because* I was craving submission so strongly, I knew I could not trust myself to navigate a scene wisely…so I abstained totally from D/s. It sucked, but it was the best thing for me. Meanwhile, my libido continued to be nonexistant. I continued to have sex on a fairly regular basis, but it was mainly driven by other people’s desire. That is, if THEY wanted to, I was fine with it, but if someone else didn’t make a first more, I would have gone the whole night just snuggling. It’s very easy for me to adopt a “why not?” attitude with sex. I don’t have to be lusting after it like crazy to decide “sure” when someone else is interested. I do enjoy it in the moment, I do cum, but the *motivation* to make it happen wasn’t in ME. So a good portion of this celibacy choice is to address that as well. I feel that, to solve the Case of My Missing Libido, being very selfish with my body and allowing ME to feel desire for someone first – and to let that desire build over a LONG period – was a necessary thing. When July rolls around, I WANT to be going completely nuts wanting sex. That would be exactly according to plan LOL! Because this “me not wanting sex” thing? Is weird, and freaks me out, honestly.

OK, so those are some of my main reasons. The “rules” are simple: no sex until July. Dates are fine, kissing is okay, that’s all. Exact date in July to be determined, and hey, I will likely throw a party to celebrate! :p

Questions? Please throw them at me! The more I explain it to others, the more I understand it myself…

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If you’ve ever had an inbox full of newsletters you inadvertantly signed up for and never bothered to remove yourself from the list, you’re familiar with the fact that going along the default, easiest route is human nature. It’s just easier to delete the email (or just ignore it…) than to take that two extra steps to open it and click the “remove” link. Even if all those newletters bother you, chances are excellent you STILL go with the easiest (aka laziest) option. This is just how we’re wired.

So, why is this relevant in life? Because you can USE this “weakness” to your advantage.

I’m very fond of saying “If it’s not easy, I’m not doing it!,” but that doesn’t mean things don’t get done. What it means is, I am always looking for ways to turn “difficult” tasks into “easy” ones, ways to train my default behavior into one that serves my *long-term* interests. Sometimes this involves editing my internal dialogue to reflect a new mindset, but just as often it involves creating barriers. Or, more to the point, HELPFUL barriers.

For example, if my goal is to stop eating ice cream, how do I make that easy for myself? Well, ice cream is yummy, so trusting my willpower is NOT a good plan here. If it’s in the house, I’m going to want to eat it! Constantly! So, instead of having to constantly fight my own impulses (and inevitably fail!), I make it easy on myself: I don’t buy it at the supermarket, period. Now, I only have to exercise my willpower ONCE, while grocery shopping. (And the easiest way for me to do THAT is to avoid the ice cream aisle TOTALLY.) By making this one small change, I was able to drop a fiendish (several pints a week) ice cream habit pretty easily.

Now, I didn’t ban myself from going to the store to get ice cream should I desire it one night, but the fact is, my inherently lazy self would rather NOT take an extra trip just to go get ice cream, 97% of the time. And if I really REALLY wanted it, enough to go out and buy some, than hey, I’m okay with that.

So basically, previously (ice cream in the freezer) all I had to do was “opt in” to having ice cream – it was already there, it was the default. Having it was the easiest thing. Now that the default is NOT having it, to “opt out” of my default requires enough steps that I generally won’t bother.

What happens if those few steps are “too easy” for you? Add some more barriers.

Let’s say that now, once you’re home, you’re ok, but you now buy ice cream at work. You can create a barrier there too: Stop bringing your bank card and limit the cash you carry. This works wonderfully too if you’re struggling to stick to a budget: keep your debit and credit cards HOME. You can’t spend money you don’t have access to, after all!

There are many MANY ways to make your default match your desired actions and make it HARD to veer from the desired default. Think about the habit that you want to change and start brainstorming. Keep in mind that it will probably take some tweaking along the way, and don’t forget that your mindset is an important aspect as well (that is, if you’re trying to eat vegan but still identify yourself as an omnivore, that’s going to be a conflict and your default won’t change that easily). The more ways you can make your desired default EASY and your old default HARD, the better!

Aside from the grocery shopping trick (which I’ve used to cut out junk food of all types as well as “boxed mixes” of any sort) and the cash-only trick, some others I have used include:

– keeping mail in my hand until I sort it over the garbage (otherwise it ends up on a surface…and not dealt with)
– getting dresses and making my bed in a 1-2 punch immediately on waking up (makes it quite a bit harder to snuggle in bed for “just five more minutes”!)
– fold the laundry while standing at the dryer (why it’s easier to put the already-folded laundry away ASAP when I get upstairs versus folding it upstairs and putting it away I could not tell you…but when I bring it up unfolded I am 82% likely to leave it in the bag for AT LEAST a day before dealing with it, so I’ll take whatever trick works!)

I have quite a few more I plan to try soon. 🙂

Do you have any ways to trick your brain into a new “easy” default? Let me know!

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So, I had come across polyphasic sleep through Steve Pavlina’s 30-Day Trial of it several years back. It intrigued me but didn’t catch me on a personal level. However, I came across it again a year or so ago, and it caught my eye again. I did the same thing I did the first time – pondered, plotted possible nap times – but then I started thinking Hmmmm…could I actually do this?

In writing up my plans for 2010, I had a general idea of the shape of my year, and I pencilled in Polyphasic Sleep Trial for September, because I figured I’d be doing the Turbulence Training Transformation Contest in May/June/July, and Burning Man in August, so September seemed a good time. Then, shit happened. The dissolution of my marriage threw off my workout plans and I never really got going with the contest. Additionally, in the process of moving, my ex threw out or otherwise lost the tickets we had purchased for Burning Man way back in January. Many many things got juggled in this whole process, particularly as I worked to keep my head together and sort out my conflicted emotions, as was to be expected.

And in all that, the idea of polyphasic sleep got dropped completely. It was never on my official list, and it simply slipped my mind. Until yesterday.

Now, I had been fairly serious in my research going into this year, and in fact I had bought the definitive book (written by the woman first documented to be on the Uberman schedule as it’s called), so I am fairly prepared, at least as much as one can be. So when it popped into my head last night to do this, and I realized that, quite coincidentally, it was in fact the beginning of September, I didn’t hesitate to say FUCK IT, I’M GONNA DO IT. 😀

The transition period is pretty much a month of hell, but hey I am not working right now anyway, so what better time to try it? The ironic thing is, I was originally shooting for September so that I wouldn’t be pushing hard to work out and get fit at the same time as this major sleep overhaul, and yet…here I am, with the next TT Contest starting September 5th, my last chance to complete one before 2011. (Even better, starting Sept 5 means I will be done just before my birthday – that’s a pretty awesome gift to myself!) And unlike polyphasic sleep, THAT is on my definitive list of shit-to-do in 2010, so that MUST happen. On the upside, I figure working out (and prepping food – did I mention I plan to be mostly-to-totally raw during the 12-week contest?) will give me stuff to do during all those extra hours, especially during the zombie-like transition difficulties.

So, the basics on polyphasic sleep, as I am doing it:

6 naps, 20 minutes each, at 12, 4 and 8 (am and pm)

I have an absurd list of things to occupy my time, several alarm clocks, and have authorized the kids to dump water on me should I not wake up when said alarm clocks go off LOL. I’ve also explained to my sister what I am doing, and given her kill-switch power – so if it seems like I am not getting any better (or start hearing voices or something) after 4 weeks, she will make me quit.

The transition is hellish from what I understand (I am imagining worse than my 9-day fasting experience…and that was pretty epic), so why might a person voluntarily go through massive sleep deprivation in order to train their body to function this radically different way? Well, 6 extra hours a day is 91 extra days PER YEAR. That’s a pretty big plus side.

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