Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions- Less Me

According to a CNN poll, losing weight is the number one New Year's resolution.  I'm sure that doesn't come as a shock to most of us.  It's been on my list more years than it hasn't.

Honestly, I don't usually do New Year's resolutions because they seem to set us up for failure.  They set me up for failure.  To set out to never do something again is like an alcoholic getting sober with the thought of never drinking again.  It's overwhelming.  It's easier to do if you take it one day at a time.  That's how I plan to accomplish my goals this year.  One day, or hour, at a time.  Whatever it takes.

My turning point, this time, was the day after Christmas when I got on the scale and had to call the Suicide Prevention hotline.  When did this get so bad?  How did I not notice?  Oh yeah, I avoid cameras and mirrors.

The snake-oil we buy, hoping for a miracle.  
So here I am at my highest weight ever (I'll tell you what it is when I'm about 50lbs away from it) and I know I have to make the changes necessary now!  I can't continue like this.  All my other goals and responsibilities are going to have to take a sideline to this one for a while.

Anyone with a television or who reads a magazine knows that weight loss is big business these days.  Everyone wants to sell you their book, their method, their diet.  They all tell you the other's don't work and only theirs will deliver the true Holy Grail.   The susceptible public, myself included, becomes overwhelmed at all the choices and decisions that need made and ends up paralyzed.   Doing nothing.  Is it any wonder how many of us are obese?  God, I hate that word, but according to my BMI, that's me.   I'm Rick Flynn and I'm obese. And yes, these pants do make my ass look big.

It's amazing the number of "diets" or "lifestyle changes" one can choose to follow.  You can do the Paleo Diet, which is all about hunting and gathering.  If you can hunt it, you can eat it. Except grains, which apparently don't count in the gathering phase.  There's the vegan diet, where you can eat anything that hasn't come from an animal. This gives you fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, etc...  There's Atkins where you want to eat animal products, along with vegetables, but again grains are limited.  There's South Beach, Jenny Craig, Nutru-System, Medfast and others... Then there's Weight Watchers, which makes the most sense, as it's about portion control and eating a variety of foods.  It's basically counting calories or points that Weight Watchers has calculated for you for the low price of $12 a week or $18.95 a month for the online program.   That's great, but I'm already spending more money buying nutritious food, which is another topic.  Why can we eat so much more inexpensively with bad food than good food?  Oh yes, back to the business of weight.  If we all ate an abundance of fruits and vegetables, the processed food companies would lose money.  The very same processed food companies who want to keep us fat.

I digress.  So, back to the choices.  What ever happened to calories in/calories out?  That does still work, right?  You don't need a fancy plan, just count the calories you're eating and make sure you're burning more than you're eating.  It's simple math, right? I portion my foods. I count my calories. I move my ass to burn off those calories.  I think I can do this.

I've got a plan.  I have the desire to make this work. I have the need to be healthier in 2012.  I'm too young to be feeling so hopeless about my weight.  I have too much I want to do that I can't do at my size.   I want to do yoga.  I want to run.  I want to climb a mountain.  I want to feel good about myself again.  That's not asking too much is it?

I am worth it and it's time I put me first!

Happy New Year everyone!  May we all be our best selves in 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Anger- Another Taboo?

"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore."
~ Network

I've thought a lot about my blog entry yesterday about sadness and depression.  I realized those things aren't the only tabooed feelings.  Anger is another big one. Basically anything that isn't "happy" and "joyful" we don't want to talk about.  If we talk about it, we might have to acknowledge our own unpleasant feelings.

What's the first thing someone usually tells you when you're angry?  "Don't be upset.  Don't be angry."  And then they'll give you reasons to invalidate your anger.  Lost your job?  They'll say, "Don't be angry.  It's the economy."  A loved one dies and someone will say, "she's in a better place."


I listened to that advice when I lost my job and then I became depressed and gained twenty-five pounds in two months.  That's how I always did it.  Stuff the anger and be a "good guy."  Rise above.  What was I rising above? Nothing.  I was stuffing those feelings of anger down as fast as I could shovel food into my mouth.  The only thing rising was my blood pressure.

I'm not saying I should have let my anger rule my actions, but had I acknowledged it and used it to empower myself, there's a lot of energy in anger.  I could have found positive ways to release it and use it.  Denying it only buries it deeper where its bound to escape in a less controlled and appropriate manner.  That's why it's usually the "quiet ones" who take off on a murderous rampage, much to the surprise of everyone around them.

Yesterday as I thought about sadness and depression, an old saying occurred to me, "Depression is anger turned inward."   Okay, Oprah, this might have been my "aha" moment because it all clicked.  Last night I realized just how angry I am and what I've been stuffing down.  Personally, there are a few things I haven't been able to express yet for fear of burning a bridge, but there are many things that contribute to it.  Turn on the nightly news and it's full of reasons to be angry.

Our government is fucked up beyond anything I've seen in my lifetime.  The price of gas fluctuates with the greed of the oil industry executives.  Banks get bailouts and then give their CEOs bonuses.  The prices at the grocery store keep going up and up.  Cheap fast food is the only thing some families can afford and it's making them fatter.  Jobs are scarce and the employers who do hire have us by the balls.  Workers comp cases are down, one friend in the legal industry told me, because workers are afraid to make waves for fear of losing their jobs.  We are becoming a nation of indentured servants to the wealthy one percent.

The clip above comes from the 1976 film, Network, starring Faye Dunaway, William Holden and Peter Finch.  It's empowering and the same speech could be delivered by Brian Williams or Barbara Walters today.  It's that timely.

I think we all need to get angry, not to carry it around with us, but to express it in a positive life changing way.  Individually we can only address what is in front of us, but collectively, we can make a difference.  Say what you want about the Occupy Wall Street movement, but it certainly showed us we're not alone in our anger.  Let's use that to empower us, as a nation, and as individuals.

Personally, today I'm going to express my anger instead of stuffing it down with food.  I think I'm going to need a punching bag to go with my rice cake and salad today.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winter/Post Holidays Blues

"Don't wish it away. Don't look at it like it's forever. 
Between you and me, I could honestly say. 
That things can only get better."

~ Elton John- That's Why They Call it the Blues

We can talk about a lot of things these days. There are very few social taboos left.  We talk about sex, like we're discussing household chores or planning our next vacation. We tell our friends how much money we make. We'll even show you our strategically placed tattoo if you ask.  What we won't do is talk about depression.  We certainly won't admit to it.  If we do admit to it, someone will try to sell you a pill.  "Here, try this green one.  I'm never sad, but of course my sex drive is gone too." 

Depression is a familiar acquaintance to me.  We've hung out occasionally since I was in high school.  He's not around all the time.  Mostly he shows up when I'm feeling stressed or something in my life feels beyond my control.  He's a part of me and I don't need for him to go away.  I just wish he wouldn't come on so strong when he visits. Until I acknowledge his presence, I'm paralyzed.  Everything seems unmanageable.  Once I accept him, I begin to get my power back.   Somehow by admitting I'm depressed, it goes away. 

The gray winters of Dayton, Ohio are a lovely vacation place for my dark passenger (yes, I'm stealing that term from Dexter).  He showed up yesterday and between the post Holidays let down and the rainy days lately, he unpacked to stay for a while. I humored him and we hung out yesterday, but this morning I packed his bags and sent him out again.  He may be back when the sun disappears, but for now, he's out of the house. 

Some may wonder why not just take a pill and avoid all of this?  I've tried that route and it didn't really work for me.  True, the sadness didn't seem as sad, but the gladness was never as glad either.  I want to live a life with a full range of emotions; not just the safe ones at the center of the pendulum.  As a writer, I have to experience it all. 

The holidays are difficult for some people.  We think about the ones who are no longer here and how much we miss them.  We say goodbye to family members as they get back on airplanes and back to their own lives.  We spend too much money and then worry how we'll keep the lights on.  Many things can bring on the blues.  In the advice of Elton John, "Don't look at it like it's forever."   It's only temporary. 

If a friend seems down or sad this time of year or any other, don't offer them a pill.  Offer them a smile and a hug.  It will be more appreciated than you'll ever know. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Finding Something You Never Expected

Henni Fisher as Connie. John Spitler on the
left and Scott Knisley in the back.
If you follow me on Facebook, you already know what I've been up to lately and probably why I haven't done any writing here.  What you wouldn't know is how many times I've started an entry and stopped because I couldn't find the right words to express the range of emotions I've been overwhelmed with.  It all seems kind of silly because all I was really doing was performing in a play, The Blue Moon...Dancing. 

Its not completely unusual that I was doing a play, but this experience was like none I've ever had.  This is where the plethora of emotions come in and I have a hard time putting them into words.

I got to work with some amazing actors again and some for the first time.  I got to stretch myself as an actor in a meaty role that challenged me every night.  The best part was being part of such a supportive cast.  Everyone got along.  We hung out together.  It was almost like college again and for this forty-seven year old, it was much needed.

Josh Lurie, Angela Timpone, Marsha Nowik,
Wendi Michael
The show was about a group of people who have let their dreams pass them by.  Each character has a range of hopes, dreams, and regrets.  Who can't relate to that?  Its a theme that seems to mirror my own life on many levels.  It wasn't that long ago I decided to make my dream of being a writer, a reality.  This experience reminded me of that other dream I put on the shelf many years ago.  The dream of becoming an actor.

As a writer, it's a solitary life.  You don't have a cast to hang out with when you finish writing your pages for the day.  It was a big change.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love my writer friends and I love hanging out with them.  They seem to "get" me, but I think a few of my fellow actors might also "get" me.
Scott Knisley and Kelly Engle

My dear friend, Katrina said it best.  "Acting is the opposite of writing."  I think that's true.  I'm grateful that both are a part of me and that I got to feel embraced by these very talented theatre people and equally embraced by my writer people who came to see the show.  You all fill my heart with love.

Now the play is over and it's back to the writing.  If I'm lucky, when I finish my daily pages, somewhere off in the distance, I'll hear the sounds of laughter and cheers coming from an invisible audience.  I'll take my bow and get back to reality.