Excuses, Excuses

I’ve had my water and then my hot cinnamon smelling oatmeal. Now I’m sipping a cup of hot water with lemon juice to warm me up from my sock feet to my fleece nightgown. It is cold and dark here in Atlanta this morning. 48 degrees and at 7:15 the sun is still not up, although the sky is starting to lighten in the east. I don’t like these mornings. I feel like dragging the covers back over my head, snuggling up next to my husband and going back to sleep.

This morning I thought about the Seasonal Affective Disorder that I’ve battled all my life and I think what a handy excuse that would be to turn over and go back to sleep. But the truth about depression, especially SAD, is that getting up and DOING something, in particular exercise, is as good for me, if not better, than my zoloft or wellbutrin or prozac or lexapro – or any of the others I’ve tried over the years. Yes, they help. Yes, they were essential to keeping me going and not losing my job or ruining my life when for so many reasons I couldn’t get myself moving. But I hated what they did to me. As the drugs would begin to take effect, I could FEEL my voice disappearing. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t analyze or solve complex problems. I was doing busy work and getting things done, but the spark just wasn’t there.  And every year, as soon as I could, I would go off the meds (against my doctor’s advice!) and feel that part of my brain wake up and start to perk again.

But now I know, after a year of NOT taking the meds, that my light therapy and my exercise and weight loss, plus eating well, can keep me sane and stable through these long dark days until spring. And my voice is still here. I can write and think and analyze and solve problems. 

But I don’t think I should also expect to have boundless energy. It’s just not realistic for a seasonal chick like me.  Spring and Summer are my seasons. I wake up as the sun rises and start to fade as the sun sets. In summer that means long, productive days and long, entertaining evenings. In winter, it means I get a few, precious hours to get going and keep going until I do what I need to do.  Or as much as I can, whichever comes first. I’m lucky I live in Atlanta (though I whine about the heat all summer) because when I lived in New England or London, those winters were longer, harsher and more debilitating for me, though I loved both places and dream of going back. In the summer!

Right now I need to find a better alternative for my evenings. I’m working until 7pm, which gives me long mornings to get in my exercise and life maintenance, but after work, I come home, have dinner and spend an hour watching the boob tube, then go to bed. I know I would do better all around if I spent that hour walking or swimming or something other than crashing.  Plus, I’m still eating too much in the evenings. I came home last night to find no dinner on the table and a fridge stocked with junk food. My husband discovered the truth behind that expression “don’t go grocery shopping hungry”. He bought french baguettes and fried chicken. Cookies and ice cream. Dear God! And I didn’t resist. I had corn and white bread and fried chicken for dinner. Followed by 2 Pepperidge farm cookies. I’m surprised I didn’t throw up.  I’m not surprised that I wasn’t brave enough to step on the scales, but tomorrow is Weight Watchers, so I’ll face the music then.

The analytical part of my brain sees that this eating pattern keeps repeating itself: Weigh in at Weight Watchers on Friday. Start to eat poorly Friday afternoon and keep going through the weekend. Begin to recover on Monday, but struggle with carb cravings. Get back on track Wednesday through Friday until Weight Watchers and then slide into a puddle of carbs again on Friday. 3 days a week off track is more than no weight loss, that’s weight GAIN and is clearly the reason the scale said 177 insted of 171 yesterday.  I had managed to maintain for one according to WW last week – I was even down .4 but what will this week bring? I’ve seen the scale go up and up all weekend while I was struggling to stay on track. It will be interesting to see what it says at WW tomorrow. I have to force myself to wear the same clothes and not show up in a silk dress to get that extra pound advantage!

Ah! The first bird song! And the sky is getting lighter and you can see blue. Time to get going to the gym and do my second weight lifting for the week. I was supposed to do it yesterday, but I had to meet with my accountant to do my tax planning (more excuses!) and so I just hit the treadmill for 30 minutes. So many people think of the treadmill as the dreadmill but I enjoyed it. I put on an Inspector Alleyn mystery – “Final Curtain” and walked while I watched it. It would be easy to do that again today, but I need to the weight lifting two to three times a week.

Speaking of the accountant – I have to celebrate that. For the first time in the last 15 years, I am not behind on my taxes. I have my estimate prepared already and the accountant is going to do some planning for me. That is the first time I have ever been able to take advantage of that. Usually I throw together an estimate the weekend before April 15th and then overpay and file an extension. Then around October 1st, I’ll get around to finishing the paperwork (late for corporate) and file. In the past the overpayment protected me, but now, even if you don’t owe anything, there is a late penalty for filing. Cost me $925 for my 2008 taxes and that is never, never, never going to happen again. So that’s another victory for weight loss and getting all areas of my life under control.

Well, the sun is really up now and I am going to exercise. Have a bright and beautiful day, wherever you are. Think about what you need to do to stay sane and healthy. Then take that first step. It’s the hardest, but if you keep going, you never have to take that first step again.

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