Shelley Widhalm

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

A Weight-y Matter

In Exercise, Not an easy task, Weight loss on May 29, 2011 at 8:28 am

Almost is better than not at all.

Right?

To try to meet last week’s challenge, I exercised every day, except for on Wednesday. That was because I slept in and couldn’t fit it in during my break, and I worked late.

Excuses, I know.

I am trying to get in better shape and, for that reason, joined a gym a month ago. With the help of a trainer (I hired one so I would learn to lift using the proper techniques), I noticed that some of the muscle mass I had previously developed through aerobics and biking is returning. My trainer calls it muscle memory.

I have not, however, lost one tiny fraction of a pound.

It could be because I like dieting as much as I like the idea of working a 100-hour work week or hanging out with two-plus spiders.

Despite my diet aversion, I am trying to think about My Pyramid, which disappointedly does not have a section in the triangle allotted to chocolate or ice cream. I am, albeit turtle pace slow, reducing sweets (bye-bye candy bars and gluten-free donuts), increasing fruits and vegetables (well, hello there grapefruit) and aiming for balanced meals, but it makes eating seem so healthy! I like to not think about it and just eat.

Logically, though, if I want to lose 20 pounds to return to my ideal college student weight, I have to make a few changes.

And this is how my exercise goal fits in neatly with my shyness challenge. I like hanging out where it’s comfortable, i.e. next to the refrigerator or decorating the wall with my flower-ness.

But change takes work, and so for next week, I have to continue on my path of better eating, continue exercising one hour a day (every day, not just when my trainer is there) and start a conversation with someone new who I’ve never met before. This person cannot be anywhere within my comfort zone, i.e. someone I would talk to as a reporter or a dog owner (my dog is a pet-me magnet).

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A Rapture-ing Experience

In May 21, The Rapture on May 22, 2011 at 8:29 am

So the world didn’t end on Saturday, May 21. I didn’t think it would, but I couldn’t help asking myself, what if?

Twice, I was in the same large auditorium covering commencement exercises for two high schools.

I thought about my escape plan. I sat in similar seats at the edge of a row and would have to run up a half-dozen stairs and down a hall to the west exit doors. But I wondered how long I would survive in a destroyed world with my high heels and crop pants and no food.

A second time, I looked out the window when I was getting coffee and thought how the intermittent cloudy weather could becoming billowing smoke, buildings could start burning and it would look like Sept. 11. I couldn’t go beyond what I already know to imagine the Rapture.

I missed out on an after-rapture party because I had to work late. Instead, I did laundry (clean clothes are a good thing to have, right, if the world ends) and read in bed. I looked at the clock at 11:55 p.m. Five minutes left, right? And then at 12:21 a.m. I’m safe. We’re safe.

At least until 2012, another time when the world could end.

I doubt it. But what do I know? I wore high heels when I should have worn my hot pink and black tennis shoes.

My challenge for next week (not shyness related) is to exercise every single day. I joined a gym and, due to a list of excuses, do not go as often as I want or should.

The Risk List

In Communication secrets, Shyness, Talking on May 15, 2011 at 8:20 am

I wanted to call this man who I like, and I thought, oh, it’s Saturday night, so I won’t do that. What if it looks like I don’t have plans? The not taking a risk is something I sometimes do – I like to come up with an excuse to remain comfortable in my shyness shell. It’s easier than putting myself out there on the I-might-get-rejected ledge.

My challenge for this past week was to come up with a list of things that could help me break apart the shell. Some of the things I’ve already tried, and a few are things I know about. But I tell myself I don’t want to do them, or I come up with avoidance tactics.

Here’s my Get Over Your Shyness Advice List:

  • If you meet someone new or are sitting next to them at a dinner party, say “hi” and introduce yourself. The worst thing that could happen is they could say their name and turn away. So what? It’s their loss, right?
  • When you start talking, ask questions about the other person’s interests and don’t focus too much on your own. You already know about yourself but could learn from listening to someone else.
  • Try not to worry about what other people think. What you think about yourself is what counts.
  • If starting a conversation seems overwhelming, pretend you’re in a different role, such as a reporter who’s paid to ask questions.
  • Or you could pretend you have an assignment to talk to someone new and if you don’t, you get an unsatisfactory mark.
  • If someone seems not interested in you, it’s not like they’re the only person on the planet. It’s likely that someone else will want to talk to you.

Shyness Evaluation

In Communication secrets, Shyness on May 8, 2011 at 7:53 am

I’ve been wondering whether or not my shyness challenge is an effective tool to overcome the last remnants of my being scared of people.

I used to be wallflower shy, probably until I entered college.

I had to work at overcoming my shyness, particularly the insecurity that resulted from being picked on in junior high and somewhat in high school. I was never bullied, I don’t think, though one girl told me something too awful to repeat.

Back then, I didn’t have the ability to not care what people thought or the wherewithal to push myself to be brave and to start a conversation. I know how to do those things now, at least for the most part.

Part of that knowing came from reading a couple dozen books on communication skills, relationship building and, of course, overcoming shyness. I tried to keep reading so that the knowledge and suggestions would become ingrained. I also practiced being not shy by forcing myself to talk to others and go out to dinners or parties when I’d rather stay home.

What I find strange in all of this is that I keep reading books, more than is necessary for a healthy mind.Readingis much more comfortable than being out in the real world. I’ve built a barrier of words, a castle of paper that keeps me safe and comfortable. I can pretend that the stories I’m reading are a way to live.

I like having things move faster, like conversations and the drama of a story, than real life – a year can be covered in a few pages, instead of 24 hours being 24 hours, especially on Mondays. I can keep up with the pace of reading, but when it comes to being around other people, I have to be on constant alert. When will it be my turn to speak? Will I have something interesting to say? Am I becoming boring?

My challenge for next week is to develop a list of specific things I can do to reach out to others, start a conversation and to experience something new that may be a bit uncomfortable.

Birthday Blues

In Aging, Birthday wishes, Wanting eternal youth on May 1, 2011 at 8:06 am

I’ve got the birthday blues.

Though I’m not sad or anything, I don’t want to think about how a large number of candles representing my new age could possibly fit on a cake.

I make the same two wishes every year: one I’m working hard to make come true and the other I will never give up hope about becoming reality. I plan to make those same two wishes this year.

What my problem is that I’m not in favor of my solid entry into a new decade.

Today, Saturday, April 30, the day I am writing my weekly blog, I am a year older.

I love the fact of birthdays, that friends and family wish you a happy one, take you to dinner and go out of their way because it’s your day – a personal holiday we all get to add to our calendars.

I don’t like the fact I’m getting older and losing my youth. I have a vibrant inner child, without which I don’t think I could be a writer. I get told I don’t look my age, but appear a decade younger. Did I start working in kindergarten two women I interviewed for a newspaper article asked me. I wanted to give them a big hug.

A not uncommon experience, I still think of myself as 25. I feel 25 except at mid-day when I want to take a nap. I don’t like seeing my face change, the etching of small wrinkles on my face and the puffiness under my eyes I get whenever I’m tired or stressed.

I just want to stay who I am, how I believe myself to me: youthful, vibrant and alive. But each year takes me further from 25, even though I cling to that number as if it was a permanent number in my life, like my social security number and birth date.

I guess I can’t have my birthday cake and eat it, too.