Friday, May 29, 2015

Shooting the Curl

Photo by Clark Little

Shooting the Curl: Definition according to

Riding the board inside the wave with the water over your head.

When I was a kid, I wanted to learn how to surf. It’s possible that the movie North Shore had something to do with this aspiration. I mean, Rick learned how to surf in a pool (wave tank)—surely a girl from Indiana could do the same! But I never could find a wave tank, and by the time I made it to Hawaii on my honeymoon the desire to surf had fizzled into a nostalgic childhood dream.

So what does shooting the curl have to do with my weight loss journey? Stay with me for a while (because this post is a bit long) and hopefully it will all become clear.

In the first six months of my FXB journey I had experienced steady progress. I averaged about a one pound per week weight loss. I lost inches. I improved in my sit-ups, push-ups, and mile time. I’ve gotten stronger. I have more endurance. My flexibility has increased. It’s been great, and each day I feel stronger and healthier.

Then around mid-February the weight side of the equation started to slow down. I was still seeing progress, but not as much. I stopped losing weight, and a few of the weeks the number even went up. I know that weight is not my priority; however, I weigh a lot. My joints will not be happy with me if I simply turn all my weight into muscle. I need to drop some pounds—a lot of it actually. So I have to pay attention to the number on the scale. I have learned to not put so much emphasis on the number, but I can’t forget about it either.

I’ve written a few posts talking about some of the struggles I was going through earlier this year with the stress of a new book, my work leave coming to an end, and dealing with unknown emotions about my latest novel. I know that all of this played a part in the slowing of my progress. I also know that for a few weeks I wasn’t as committed to my nutrition as I could have been.

However I was still working hard, and I’m not going to lie—seeing the progress on the scale stall out was hard to take. It was difficult to stay positive when I was working so hard—dripping with sweat from head to toe—and yet the progress was slowing. It was difficult to get back to 100% on nutrition when I was stressed. I mean, I was still eating better than I did before FXB, AND I was killing myself in workouts 6 days a week (plus an extra FIT kick whenever possible), so why wasn’t I seeing something? Anything? Can’t you even give me 1/10th of a pound?


As the weeks progressed with still no downward tick on the scale (yet with the occasional up-tick), I was trying hard to stay positive. I didn’t want to get frustrated, so I did everything I could think of including:
- getting back to 100% on my nutrition and logging everything into MyFitnessPal
- saying no to meals out with friends on non-Fun Days because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stick to plan
- blogging about my feelings and struggles
- changing some things in my nutrition, primarily trying to reduce my bread intake as my carb source

These things started to shift the number on the scale back in the right direction, but not by much. Another few weeks passed, and I was getting desperate.

That’s when I started to shoot the curl.

Most times you will hear people refer to ‘plateaus’ in a weight loss journey. I do this too, because it’s easy to explain and people instantly know what I mean when I say that I’ve hit a plateau. If I told someone I was shooting the curl, I’m certain I’d get a funny look—and not because of the stench radiating off me due to my hard work after a workout (although that would probably have something to do with it too).

But here in my blog, in a format that I am most comfortable these days (words), I can tell you why I prefer to shoot the curl rather than survive the plateau.

First off, that’s one of the main issues with a plateau—you have to survive it. When I tell someone that I went through a plateau, the response is usually something to the effect of, “Oh, that sucks. How long did it last?” A plateau is unpleasant. Even though it’s normal, and even expected, it’s something we want to avoid in a weight loss journey. We’ve been told to anticipate the plateau and be patient when it arrives, but it’s just not that easy.

When I visualize a plateau, I see a vast open space. There is probably some grass. Most likely poison ivy. There might be a sparse tree here and there. It doesnt feel like a place I want to be. Its not exciting. I have to mindlessly put one foot in front of the other until I reach the other side. I have to survive the monotony and boredom. 

In my opinion, it’s best to just think of this part of my journey as something else entirely.

When I look at pictures from inside a wave, a peace comes over me. It’s so beautiful it’s breathtaking. Even though I’ve never surfed or been inside of a wave tube, I’m an author so that means I have a very vivid imagination (and I do research). Here’s what I see, and how I relate it to my journey.

The power of the wave.
I general, I understand the power of waves. If I were in the water, trying to shoot the curl, I know I’d have to have laser focus and be in control of every movement. I know that even the slightest of miscalculations could surrender me to the power of the wave. The wave wouldn’t care about me. All it wants to do is surge forward, oblivious to the life around it, and breaking only when the land below disrupts its flow.

My journey is the same. It has the power to take me down. It will surge forward, oblivious to whether or not I’m keeping pace. I have to stay focused on my movements. It’s the only way to maintain control of my ability to keep my head above water.

The serene look of the water below the tunnel.
Look at the photo I attached to this post again, and focus on the water at the base of the tunnel. Words that come to my mind are calm, peaceful, inviting, refreshing. There is a temptation there to just sink in. By look alone it would appear that that part of the wave is safe—that it wouldn’t hurt you if you sunk below the surface. However, you don’t need to know a lot about waves to know that the reality is that if you do go below, the force of the wave will overpower you. You will ultimately regain control, but you have to work for it.

In my journey to a healthy life, the surface below the tunnel is just as calm and serene. It’s the past—the habits of comfort. There lie my foods of comfort, and on the surface they make me believe that everything will be better if I just surrender. Even though I know that it is volatile and has the strength to overpower me, it temps me just the same.

The turbulent look of the water above the tunnel.
Look at the photo again, but this time focus on the water at the top of the tunnel. It’s jagged and looks unstable. It looks unpredictable. It looks like it wants to crush you. Yet, it’s clear that just on the other side of that lip is the surface.

In my health and fitness journey this represents my new lifestyle changes. They are unstable. They are jagged and gouge me from time to time. And there are certainly the times when I feel as if they want to crush me. Yet, I know that it’s all that stands between me and the future I desire to have.

The light at the end of the tunnel.
Now focus on the end of the tunnel in the photo. There you see the light. You see the end. If you can just endure and shoot the length of the curl, then you will come out still standing on your board.

And it will feel amazing.

I don’t think I need to break this one down for how it relates to my journey.

Give one final look at that photo now that I’ve broken it down. I’ve pointed out all the scary parts, yet it’s still beautiful. It’s still inviting and I want to jump into that moment to experience it for myself.

As I’ve thought about the lack of progress on the scale as ‘shooting the curl’ rather than ‘surviving the plateau’, I’ve come to appreciate it rather than begrudge it.

It’s given me time to think about that seemingly serene part of the tube that keeps tempting me back. I haven’t stressed myself out by trying to focus on my feelings or why the temptations occur. Instead I just looked at that part of my journey for what it is. I’ve simply thought about the foods I have difficulty letting go of and my reliance on them. I’ve thought about how I still depend on what I eat to define if I’ve done good or bad.

I’ve also thought about how the top of the tube sometimes feels like it’s too much to overcome. How I’m actually waiting for the moment when it will crush me.

Then I realized that what I really need to focus on is the current moment. The current second. I need to remember that I am in control at all times, even when I make a choice that might be considered ‘bad’. I chose it—nothing was forced into my mouth by someone else.

I have been in control of each and every one of my actions the entire time. The wave below me has been stable and constant the whole time, tempting me. The curl of water above me has always been turbulent and unpredictable and scary. The light has always been at the end of the tunnel, showing me the way.

And now, looking at this wave, I know that once I reach the end of the tunnel the top of my curl will crash into my past and they will blend into one. There will be no ‘past’ or ‘future’. There will only be the present that is made up of the happy coexistence of the two. It will be a new life that will always have temptations and changes and unpredictability.

No more plateaus. No more failure. No more dependence on food—good or bad. No more fear of when it will all come crashing down on top of me.

It’s acceptance of each movement. It’s acceptance of every choice. It’s acceptance of the volatility of life. It’s recognizing the beauty in every part of the journey.

It’s knowing that the only way to make it out on top is to shoot the curl.

And yes, the scale has started to move again in the right direction. So get off your plateau and join me in the curl—the water’s nice after all.


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