Pleading the 5th on the 4th

My first three cycles of this campaign were not easy; but, I got through them and felt great. My fourth cycle has been an uphill battle and I’m not doing well at all. I have restarted it several times – most recently on Monday, but I’m still not doing it right. However, I believe that I have identified the problem and will start anew. Again.

In my first three cycles, I did several of the tasks every day. For the fourth cycle, I thought I was going to be cute and change it all up. Here’s the problem with that: a habit is a consistent way of doing something. By switching up my exercises, my consistency was lost. That just threw the entire system into chaos – CHAOS, I tell you! I’m not even drinking water like I’m supposed to. In fact, the only habits I’ve kept to are making my bed and taking my medicine.

It doesn’t matter that I’m still watching my diet and am as active as I was when I rode the bike daily, it was the process of actually riding the bike daily that got my brain into the right place. So, I am returning to the patterns that I used in Cycle 3, only adding mowing lawns two days a week and hitting my StepBet active goal of 7322 steps daily.

This is all about developing healthy habits. I lost sight of that and changed (then lost) my foundation habits. My Cycle 4 overhaul was a mistake. I know how to fix it now; so, pardon me while I go ride my bike.

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On Long Repeat

I’ve been quiet this week both here and on my Facebook page because….well, because I failed.

I messed up in Cycle 4 and added too much at once. My mind was ready to tackle more and bigger exercises; but, my body wasn’t. My muscles are all sore, which is fine – muscles do that and they get over it. No biggie. The show stopper was my joints. My hips, shoulders and knees all really hurt – especially my knees. And my foot started to act up. Big time. And I’m not trying to end up back in a boot or, heaven forfend, a cast! Nope. Not even a little bit.

One of the first things I did was to start taking Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. That product has worked miracles for my sister, for several cousins, and a few friends who work at physically demanding jobs. I have never really taken it; but, it’s been a lifesaver for so many people I know that I’d be an idiot not to give it a go. I’ve only taken it a couple of times now; so, I don’t see a difference yet. I expect to soon, though. I pretty much expected my knees and hips to bother me. My shoulders were a surprise, though, and the thing that has motivated me to do something about it. Now, I’ve started the collagen and am being an advocate for myself.

I took a few days off heavy exercising to get my joints to stop screaming at me. Now I am rethinking all of the things I added this time and am redoing my Cycle 4 schedule. I have come too far to give up – that’s not even a consideration. I have to adjust my expectations and do what my body will let me do. Cycle 4 will now exclude Tabatas that include jumping jacks or anything jumping, really. While I don’t believe that running in place hurt anything, I’m going to skip that for a little while longer, too. There are other ways to get my cardio in until my body is ready to jump around. I just have to be patient. No problem. That’s totally one of my greatest strengths.

Jillian Anderson eye roll 2

 

 

Cycle 4: Falling Off The Fridge

HURRAY!!!!! Yesterday I successfully completed Cycle 3! Every day saw me complete every task on my refrigerator calendar – bed, med, bike, water and either Yoga and abs, or Tabata 1 or 2 and planks. The little calendar squares are so crowded with tasks, there’s not much room to add anything and, honey, there are still healthful habits I need to form! Some days I forget to mark things off; so, for Cycle 4, I’m going to drop a few things from the calendar. Making my bed, taking my medicine and drinking a gallon of water every day are habits now. I feel comfortable that I will continue to do those things even if I don’t have a reminder. I’ve been riding the bike since Day 1 and you’d think that would also be a habit that could come off the calendar by now; but, I’m not that much of an adult.

And I still hate to exercise.

During a conversation this week, my sister actually accused me of liking to exercise. Can you imagine?! I straightened her out on that right quick, let me tell you! I still don’t like to exercise; however, I am remembering how great it felt to feel strong and capable. I remember being able to walk past a mirror and not cringe. I remember trying on cute clothes and having them fit. I remember that, I want to have it again, and I’m on my way to making that happen. Sure, I could starve myself back into a size 6; but, that’s not going to make me feel strong and energized. Only exercise is going to do that. So, exercise I must!

The funny thing about moving more, though, is that when you do it, you want to move even more. I find myself not wanting to sit and watch TV in big blocks like I used to. Even when I’m watching something, I keep getting up to do things like fold clothes, tidy the kitchen or sweep. Most of the time, I just opt not to watch television at all. On the weekends, I find myself going places if only to walk and look around. I don’t want to just sit in my house, I want to do something. The weather is finally warming up; so, I also find myself outside doing things in my yard. This weekend, I started planting flowers in pots for my porch and working on some large planters I wanted to make.

The extra activity benefits me three-fold: 1. I am moving, more active and burning more calories, 2. my house is cleaner, neater and prettier, and 3. because I am moving more and my environment is more ordered, my spirit feels calmer. This is just good all the way around!

Movement is great; but, I have not had a rest day since I started this campaign 63 days ago, which is a mistake. There is a reason that trainers don’t work the same muscles groups really hard day after day. The muscles need time to repair and recover. Even if I’m not sore the day after working my arms and shoulders, the muscles still need time. My shoulders have been aching for a few days now and my thighs are feeling weaker than they did two weeks ago. So, I’m taking today off. I’m still watching my calorie intake; but, I’m not going to ride the bike or do any strength training today. I’m also going to switch up my strength training exercises for Cycle 4. Truthfully, I should have done that for Cycle 3, but I let it sneak up on me and got lazy about scheduling. I’m going to schedule this cycle with different exercises to keep my muscles guessing what’s coming next, to give them time to recover after I work them, and to keep me from getting bored!

I will still be printing out a calendar to put on my refrigerator since that has worked beautifully to help hold me accountable on a daily basis. I’m a big believer in doing things that work and this is working. After 63 days, I’m still doing the things I need to do. I have two pairs of pants that I no longer have to unfasten to take off. I’m able to wear another pair of pants I haven’t been able to wear in over a year. My arms and abs are beginning to show some definition even through the layers of fat that still have to come off. I sit on the floor without wondering if construction equipment will be needed to get me up. Good things are happening and I’m excited to rediscover more strength as I tackle Cycle 4 tomorrow!

 

Sinking

Today is the ninth day of my third cycle in this weight loss campaign and yesterday was probably my most difficult one so far. I very nearly faltered. I awoke feeling groggy and sluggish, and I didn’t really perk completely up at any point during the day.

Before I started this campaign, I drank more than two liters of caffeinated Diet Coke every day. (I see you judging. Stop it.) I knew that drinking that much diet soda was not great for my body; but, I don’t like water. I just didn’t think about it. It was just something I did. Before I started the campaign, I started weaning myself off the caffeine, but not off the Diet Coke. I noticed that I began to sleep better and that I woke feeling more rested without the caffeine. As I got into the campaign, I increased my water intake (using sugar-free flavor packets – usually grape) and decreased my soda intake. Now, I have to finish my daily gallon of water before I’m allowed to have any decaf Diet Coke. It gives me a treat to look forward to, although I am finding that more and more often, I skip the soda altogether. Monday, I drank two 20-ounce bottles of caffeinated Diet Coke. I suspect that had something to do with my sluggishness on Tuesday morning.

Another possible contributing factor might have been my weekend.

I try to walk 5,000 steps every day. My friend Erin Oprea recommends 10K, but my foot won’t let me; so, I aim for 5K. Saturday was cold and yucky here in Middle Tennessee; so, I decided to go to Lowe’s Home Improvement store to get my steps in. While there, I saw a beautiful bathroom vanity on sale for over 90% off. Well, I had to have it. But, the thing about something like that is that once you have it, you have to install it. So, that’s what I did. Saturday afternoon and night, I ripped out the old vanity (pictured on the left), repaired the floor beneath it, and, on Sunday, I installed the new vanity (pictured on the right). Recently Updated (As an aside, I decided that the new vanity would be my reward for successfully completing my first two 21-Day cycles. I had originally said I would get a mani/pedi, but I am much happier with this as a prize.) While the process wasn’t rocket science, it was A LOT of really hard work. This physical labor was in addition to, not in place of, my regular bike ride, yoga and tabata routine. Because I had not originally planned my Saturday around installing bathroom fixtures, I had not done my exercises in the morning. As a result, I didn’t actually ride my bike or do yoga on Saturday – it was Sunday morning at about 1:30 AM when I did that. I’m still counting it as Saturday, though, because I had not been to bed yet. Sunday was another late night. Again, I was riding my bike and doing tabatas after midnight. Monday was a regular day, but I was still very tired and sore from the weekend. Because I was tired, I drank caffeinated soda.

Tuesday, I realized my mistake.

I was so tired that I took a nap when I got home from work. When I woke from my nap, I didn’t feel any more alert; so, I decided that I was not going to ride the bike or do my tabatas. I would just have to double up today. But, the longer I laid there trying to sleep, the more feeble my excuse sounded and the more painful it became for me to consider failure on Day 8 of Cycle 3. I just couldn’t do it. I got up and finished my tasks for the day.

And I’m glad I did.

I did not drink any caffeine yesterday and felt much more rested when I awoke this morning. I’m not full-on perky or anything, but I’m no longer feeling like I’m sinking, either. The campaign is still moving forward!

30-Day Check-In

Okay, so yesterday was my 30th day on this campaign to get back to a healthy weight. As of this morning, I lost 13.4 pounds during those first 30 days. And, yes, I’m all kinds of pumped about that! I have to remind myself, though, not to get wrapped around the axle of the numbers on the scale. While they are a way to quantify my progress, they are by no means the only way.

My goal is, of course, to lose fat; but, that doesn’t always mean losing weight. As I exercise more and weight train more, I will gain muscle. If I lose a pound of fat and gain a pound of muscle, the scales aren’t going to reflect any difference, but my waistband certainly will! And that’s the real goal – getting back to a healthy size. I want to be strong and fit. I want to be able to ride a bike. I really want to be able to go for a run. (We’ll see if The Foot allows it.) I want to be able to swim a mile again. And, vainly, I want to feel good about how I look again.

I had gotten so big that a 13.4 pound weight loss isn’t really all that noticeable. I’ll probably have to lose another 10 before anyone but me can tell. Still, 13.4 is a great start and I’m really pleased with it.

Keep Your Prayers

We’ve got work to do.

I’m sure that I’ve mentioned before that my son and I lived in New Orleans when Katrina hit. We left before she made landfall; but, we lost nearly everything we owned in the storm. A renter, I could not afford renters’ insurance; so, when I say that we lost nearly everything, I mean that we lost it.

An experience like that really colors your view of things afterwards. It becomes a watershed moment of your life and you are forever changed.

I became angrier. Well, not angrier, in general, but certainly angrier about particular things – hypocrisy and sanctimony to name two.

A friend of mine asked her brother whose friend owned a climate controlled storage unit to call his friend to see if he had a unit available for her to rent. She didn’t ask her brother to ask for a donation or a discount, she just asked him to make a phone call. She would have done it herself, but she was elbow deep in vat after vat of the reconstituted sewage that she was washing from the belongings she had actually been able to salvage from her house. Let me reiterate: she asked him to make a phone call. That’s it. A phone. Call.

You know what he said? He couldn’t. He had to go to his church to participate in a prayer walk to pray for all the victims of the hurricane.

Say what?

His sister had lost nearly all of her belongings – a victim of the hurricane if ever there was one – but he couldn’t actually help her by making a phone call. He had to go pray for a bunch of strangers.

Right.

This week, I shared a GoFundMe page benefiting a former colleague whose fiance had an aneurysm nearly a month ago. He has been in neurological intensive care ever since and the prognosis is not especially good. Between them, this couple has five children. They both work hard at unskilled jobs, but are living paycheck to paycheck. Now, their income is 40% less than it was a month ago since he is on medical leave in the hospital and she is on intermittent leave to be there with him. In my post, I tagged about 80 people – some of whom worked with her, some of whom didn’t. (Honestly, I couldn’t remember who had and who hadn’t.) Several people commented that they loved her and were praying for her; but, guess how many contributed. That’s right. None. Not one of the people who said that they loved her, were praying for her, were sorry she was going through this, etc., had five bucks to send her way to help her keep the lights turned on.

I was, and am, livid.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that people have to contribute to every little thing that comes across their screens. I don’t think that people have to contribute to everyone they know. I don’t think people are required to do anything, really. Don’t want to give? Then don’t. But don’t claim to love someone while you turn your back on their need. You can do something – babysit, make dinner, clean their house or maybe you’ve got an extra five bucks laying around somewhere. If 50 people gave just $5 each, that’s $250. That’s the electric bill and maybe a tank of gas. Trust me, when you’re down to your last $10, you are thrilled with anything someone chooses to give you.

While my experience after The Storm certainly made me angrier about some things, it made me more grateful for other things. I am so grateful to the sweet friends and strangers who saved me from bitterness by reaching out to us – those people who prayed for us, but who also made sure we had food and clothing and shelter.

Sure, pray for people, if that’s your thing. Pray for the Afghans who are reeling from yet another bombing in Kabul. Pray for our country with its idolatry of ignorance and malice. And, yes, pray for people you know, but help them. Prayer is all well and good, but when you’re drowning, you need a rope or buoy. When you need to keep the lights on, you need a little more than “thoughts and prayers.”

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and :thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” – Matthew 7:15-20

 

 

A Joint Vacation

Joining forces and funds with someone you like is a great way to enjoy a vacation. Unless they’re paying for the whole thing and it’s an amazing, private jet kind of vacation, I don’t suggest joining someone you don’t like. That’s a quick way to jail….not that I know personally, you understand. But I hear things.

Anyway, a couple of years ago, my aunt let me tag along with her when she was headed to New Orleans for a few days. We had such a great time! We stopped in Starkville, MS, to watch a Mississippi State Football game. game-girlsWe also visited with family in Jackson, before heading further south to the Crescent City to catch up with our friends and to catch up on our beignets. I’m so glad she asked me to go along! It was my last vacation and one that I could not have afforded to take on my own. We enjoyed a lovely joint vacation.

Since then, friends have invited me to come visit them in Orlando, Kansas City, Denver and Seattle; but, I have not had the money to go. I look with envy on photos that friends post from beach and European vacations. Those kinds of trips are just not in my budget.

Or, I didn’t think they were.

According to The State of Obesity: “Obesity is one of the biggest drivers of preventable chronic diseases and healthcare costs in the United States. Currently, estimates for these costs range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year. In addition, obesity is associated with job absenteeism, costing approximately $4.3 billion annually and with lower productivity while at work, costing employers $506 per obese worker per year.”  Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health says, “By one estimate, the U.S. spent $190 billion on obesity-related health care expenses in 2005-double previous estimates.” And the CDC reports: “The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are high. In 2008 dollars, these costs were estimated to be $147 billion.The annual nationwide productive costs of obesity obesity-related absenteeism range between $3.38 billion ($79 per obese individual) and $6.38 billion ($132 per obese individual)”

Any way you slice that, obesity related issues are costing our country and our economy a WHOLE bunch of money. Those numbers are all really too big for me to get a good fix on in my mind. I can, however, fix in my mind the amount that my obesity related injury has cost me (so far): $2217.21 to my doctor and another $3444.26 or so in lost gross wages since the injury first surfaced in July. That’s $5661.47. SO FAR! I think that we can agree that I could have taken a mighty fine vacation on that.

Instead, my ankle demanded that I go to my orthopedist’s office – a totally different kind of joint vacation. Granted, he has three locations; so, I’ve gotten some variety there. Still, it’s not like I’m going from the Louvre to the Musée d’Orsay to Versailles, now is it? I think we can agree that Paris would be a lot more fun.

This year, as you go on vacation, share your photos, please. I abandoned my own health and allowed myself to become unhealthy again; so, until I regain my health, I’ll be jealously viewing those photos from my home.

Dang it.