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!

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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.

 

Automatic Fact Checking Doesn’t Exist

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

– Winston Churchill

Dear friends,

When you post a “news” article, please verify the truth of that article using an objective source. Over recent months I have seen ridiculous misinformation and outright lies circulated as truth from a variety of sources and on a variety of topics – everything from health and environmental issues to religious and political issues on every side of every argument. An statement’s appearance in an article in print or on the internet does not make it true.

I have this blog, right? I got the name and site in about 15 minutes for about $30 dollars a year. I could have named it any available domain name – iknoweverything.com, foodfacts4real.com, middletnnewswatch.com, whatever – and I could have filled it with any content I chose. I can write or say anything that strikes my fancy. Guess who fact checks my posts. Me. I do. There is literally no one other than yours truly who makes certain that my statements are true or that they can be verified before I post them up for the world to see and share. I can say that the Mayan god Gukumatz was a time-traveling surfer dude a la Jeff Spicoli. I can say people of Nordic descent will soon have to start wearing winged helmets at all times. I can say that six lemon drops qualify as a serving of fruit. I can say that global warming can be reversed if we all keep open refrigerators on our front porches. I can say anything! My pants will not spontaneously ignite.

I can say anything! And someone will post it.

I have told (and will continue to tell) you that I am an expert only in my own experiences and ideas. Because I am not a dietitian, nutritionist or doctor, and because it is important to me to share valid information, I back up my statistics from reputable sources like the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Disease Control and the like. Not all bloggers will do that. Not all journalists do that.

Be smart. Be wary. Verify.

For instance, these memes are two that I regularly see making the rounds:

ewan-mcgregor

That is not Jesus, people. That is Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi. While he is surely as handsome as a matinee idol, that does not give him actual deific status.

tropic-thunder-cast

And that is the cast of the movie Tropic Thunder. They are not now, nor have they ever been, Vietnam War veterans. You honor no one by posting this picture – no one except Kirk Lazarus who was a dude, playing a dude, disguised as another dude.

While these examples are silly, there are many  more false news stories out there that are inflammatory and which do nothing to edify us as people or as a nation. So, before you share that article which confirms your personal bias, make sure it confirms truth, as well.

Ignorance shouted and shared is still ignorance. If we cannot make all of our posts edifying, let’s at least make them true.

What Does The M Stand For?

Guys, this post is mostly for the ladies; so, you can stop reading now, if you like – unless, that is, you’re one of those super curious men who wants to gain some kind of understanding into why your lady turns into a hormonal monster for three days a month. If you’re one of those guys, be welcome; but, be warned – this ain’t for the faint of heart, sugar.

MI was silent all last week; but, no worries, I’m still here and I’m still fighting the good fight. The week was particularly challenging since I was struggling with PMS while trying to maintain some kind of healthy eating habits. For me, PMS is what the medievals used to call a shape-shifter. No Mild, Meek, or Mirthful for my M. No, sir! My M goes for Melancholic, Mighty hungry, Mean Monster! Not usually all at the same time, mind you. Shape-shifter that it is, it changes from month to month and from hour to hour within the month. Some months I want salty, some months it’s sweets. Some months I’m exhausted – okay, that one is pretty much every month. Some months I’m crampy, some months I’m not. Some months I’m cranky – okay, that one is pretty much every month, too. It’s kind of like Space Mountain in Hell – dark, twisting and turning, leaving you feeling dizzy and nauseated (only also craving puffy Cheetos and chocolate ice cream). It’s a real treat even when I’m on a see food diet. Now since I’m back on a better eating plan, I’d love to tell you that it’s better, but that would be a lie and we both know it.

If you look at my food diary sheets for the last week, you’ll note some seriously unbalanced meals. You’ll see some bingeing and some just plain bad food choices; however, you’ll also see that I keep coming back with better meals and better choices. When I’ve craved something sweet, I’ve turned to grape Crystal Light – the acceptable adult version of grape Kool-Aid, my favorite. To satisfy the salty craving, I go with unbuttered popcorn instead of chips. I’ve eaten lots dried figs which are kind of like mainlining sugar. And that’s worked for the most part; however, I’ve not found a good substitute for ice cream (or frozen cashew milk or almond milk desserts that I eat – I’ll just call them all ice cream for simplicity’s sake). While frozen, blended bananas and mangoes are good and I can eat them most of the month, they’re not ice cream and the Monster is not fooled.

These last few days have been more about damage control than anything else. Sometimes, that’s what a reducing or a healthful eating style has to deal with – damage control. I follow a vegan diet; however, there are times when I’m someplace and I just eat the cheese rather than make a big deal out of it. Chocolate is rarely vegan and there are times when that is as necessary as air (true story, ladies?); so, I eat a little. So, I give a little here and there and make up for it later. To do anything else would be more stressful than I really need on top of my daily, constant stresses.

My hormones are returning to a safe level – thank goodness – although as recently as last night, I was jonesing big time for some Oreos. My sweetie didn’t have any, but he came up with an emergency Little Debbie Fancy Cake, and, because he’s a smart man, he tossed it to me and retreated to a safe distance.

 

 

Once More. With Feeling!

When I first lost 94 pounds three years ago, my lifelong friend Rebecca was one of the people who encouraged me to write this blog to share how I lost the weight and how I was successfully keeping it off. It was a little difficult to write all of that because I’d already lost the weight and really couldn’t remember the struggle step-by-step; so, I wrote most posts from memory, sharing some of the technical information, but omitting a great deal of the feelings because, frankly, I couldn’t remember them at that point. It was kind of like trying to describe child-birth a few months afterwards. You can’t really remember just how ridiculous the pain actually was or maybe you just refuse to believe that that level of pain actually exists. Anyway, guess what! That’s all about to change!!

And here’s why: today I went to my new general practitioner. I haven’t had a regular doctor in a few years and thought I should find one for regular check-ups and that sort of thing. So, I went doctor shopping. Of course, they did the height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and blood oxygen saturation stuff. Everything was just lovely…everything except the weight.

Friends, in the last twelve months I have gained 57 pounds. I can tell you’re not picking yourself up off the floor like I did, but I’m sure you can feel at least a little of my pain, frustration, disappointment, embarrassment, and just plain old irritation. How did I let that happen?! How did I put that much weight back on?!

The same way I took it off – one ounce at a time, one bite at a time, one decision at a time. Taking the weight off, I made good decisions about what went into my body and how active I was. This year, however, I made poor decisions by eating carelessly and mindlessly, and by lying to myself about my level of activity.

Since I’ve been to that facility before, Dr. Allie could see where my weight was once 225 (although not my highest of 236), then went down to 165 (although not my lowest of 144), then came up again to today’s weight of 201*. He commented that, clearly, I could make it happen and asked what I wanted his role in this process to be. He liked that I didn’t want any meds to help me and that I wanted him to help monitor my progress and my blood numbers. He’s a whirlwind who, before I knew what was happening, had given me a list of his weight loss strategies (which I’ll share tomorrow) and who challenged me to start running again. He invited me to bring my dog Ellie and to join him and many of his other patients in a 5K on March 19. I really enjoy running; so, I’m in.

In the last year, I’ve talked a few times about starting over and getting back on track; but, you and I both know that I didn’t do it. That was all noise and I was not walking the walk, even though I know that I feel so much better with better fuel in my body, with stronger muscles and with a lower body weight. This time, though, I have someone local to help keep me honest and to whom I am accountable – I even have my follow-up appointment scheduled already to check my progress.

As for the blog, for those of you not on LoseIt! I’ll be sharing my food and exercise journal, which was key to my success before. And this time, Rebecca, I’ll be chronicling the struggle as it happens.

So, here we go again. Let’s do it once more. This time with feeling!

 

 

* I have hesitated (okay, refused) to share my actual weight before on account of I’m a woman and I didn’t want that gawdawful number actually out there. After all, we live in a world of 110 pound, 5’11” perfection and, honey, I ain’t even close – not in any plane of the multiverse. But, here’s the thing, what I hear most from readers that I know and from readers I haven’t yet met is that you value my honesty. If I hide my actual weight from you, then I’m not being as honest as I think we all need to be about our weight and body image struggles. At 144 pounds, I am thin enough. I’m in a size 6 and I feel great. If I were thinner, I would look sick. In truth, there were those who said I didn’t look too healthy as a size 6. (I respectfully disagreed.) Anyway, the ugly truth is that on this day, I weighed in at 201 and unless I grow another foot taller (and at 48, I’m pretty sure that my days of vertical growth spurts are over), that weight is just too high. So, whatever your weight, know it, own it, and either love it or join me and change it.