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

 

 

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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!

 

Day 60: Morse Code

Today is Day 60 of my campaign. It is Day 18 of Cycle 3. And it is a great day!!

Earlier this week, my sister and I were doing Tabata 1 which includes left and right bridge pulses. Bridge pulse gif EOThey should have looked like what you see pictured here; but Chele and I are not nearly as strong or coordinated as Erin Oprea is. Although we still bear a striking resemblance to beetles in distress, we do our best and we are both getting noticeably stronger. As we were grunting our way through the exercise, Chele asked me (with some desperation and frustration, I might add) exactly what muscles we were supposed to be working. “You’re working your thutt muscles,” I said. You know, the thutt muscles – where the thigh meets the butt. The area around my hips, thighs and butt is always a trial for me. When I lose weight, I always lose first in my face, then in my belly, then everywhere except my hips, thighs, and butt. They are always last. They are last to the degree that as I approach my goal weight, I feel like an apple on a stick. That area is just way out of proportion.

This time, though, things are progressing a little differently. I can see a marked difference in my thutt and in the area where my thighs and hips meet – my thip. My thutt and thips make up the area I usually refer to collectively as My Hams. And, honey, when I started this campaign they were like extended family Easter lunch hams – big, ole things! The idea is to end up with something like a picnic ham. I was prepared for the apple on the stick look for the next several months, but it looks like it may not be as bad as it has been before.

I don’t know exactly why that is. It could be my age and my proximity to menopause. I am inclined to think, though, that it has to do with the cardio and strength training I introduced much earlier in the process this time. During the Great Reduction, I didn’t really start exercising until the first 20 pounds or so were gone. And, when I did start exercising, I walked, nothing else. Because I can’t walk those distances this time, I’m riding the bike, doing yoga and floor exercises. I truly believe that the strength training from yoga and the floor exercises is making a huge difference.

Of course, I don’t think I’m losing fat from those areas any faster because, as badly as I might want to, I cannot tell my body where to lose weight. The only way to spot reduce is very expensive and requires a plastic surgeon. No, the fat isn’t leaving faster, but the muscles underneath are toning, which gives the area a smaller appearance. Additionally, the muscle tissue I’m making and toning there burns fat, making my body more efficient at losing weight – total win/win!

So, here I am on Day 60 with the Morse code dits and dots of my body – my thips and thutts – decreasing at a really satisfactory rate. I’m down at least 23.6 pounds of fat in these first 60 days. My estimated date of campaign completion has gone from December 24 to November 29 (although that will continue to fluctuate) and I just could not be happier about it all.

It’s not easy, but it’s working, y’all!!

 

It Gets Easier

Yesterday, I successfully completed my second 21-day cycle and I feel SO good about it! Like a kindergartner’s finger-painting, my chart is on my refrigerator with all the boxes checked. 🙂

During the Great Reduction, I rewarded myself for every five pounds lost. Each five pounds got me a movie rental. Each ten pounds got me a trip to the theater and each 20 pounds got me a pretty accessory like a scarf or pair of earrings. This time, I’ve decided to reward myself based on my 21-day cycles rather than the pounds. If I stay true to the cycles, the weight loss will come; but, it’s the consistency I’m focusing on now.

In Cycle 1, I had to: 1. take my medicine daily, 2. make my bed daily, and 3. ride the stationary bike for 30 minutes daily. In Cycle 2, I had to do all those things and: 1. do my yoga disc (Peggy Cappy’s Yoga For the Rest of Us) on alternating days, 3. drink a gallon of water daily and 3. do Tabatas on alternating days. I had Tabata 1 and Tabata 2, and I alternated between them. In Cycle 3, I will do all of the preceding things and: 1. exercise my lower abs on yoga days, and 2. do a series of planks on Tabata days. Today is Cycle 3, Day 1 (C3D1), so it’s: bed, med, bike, yoga, and lower abs. Yoga days are my biggest time commitment because the disc is an hour long. However, the process is truly relaxing to me; so, I don’t mind giving up an hour of TV to stretch, focus, and balance.

As I began this campaign (and make no mistake, it’s a campaign – one battle after another), I was talking with a friend who has never had a weight problem, much less been obese. I mentioned shaving getting easier and she looked at me with this really puzzled look as if to say, “How can shaving be hard?” Well, when you have a tire around your middle, bending over is hard. For the obese, lots of easy tasks aren’t so easy: shaving legs, tying shoes, putting on pants (not just the zipping and buttoning, but standing to put them on), some aspects of personal hygiene (Amazon sells this to help those who really can’t reach), climbing ladders, picking things up off the floor, getting up off the floor, and myriad other things. Tasks that require bending can be difficult even without a huge spare tire around the middle because visceral fat gets in the way. And since that is one of the first places I lose weight, bending tasks became easier almost immediately.

Last week, my friend Sean commented that it looked like my weight loss had sped up. I wish! But, I believe that the reality is that while I was losing weight initially, it was coming from around my organs; so, it wasn’t noticeable. Once the weight had reduced sufficiently around my heart, lungs, and liver, my body shifted to my face, neck and abdomen. I’m not losing weight any faster, it’s just that now others can see it. While I won’t deny that it’s a rush for others to see the difference and comment on it, that rush paled next to the one I got when I was able to balance well enough to put my pants on while standing. The yoga that I’m doing isn’t particularly strenuous, but it has already made a massive difference in my ability to balance and in how confident I feel on my kitchen step-ladder, in taking things up to the attic, and, yes, in balancing to put my pants on while standing.

I get it. If you’re young and/or in shape (or at least have never been obese), you’re probably thinking, “Hats and horns! You put your pants on all by yourself. Big deal.”  But, let me tell you, it was a big deal. These kinds of little achievements are worth gold to me. The thing is, you don’t gain 80 pounds overnight. It creeps up on you slowly; so, you lose the ability to do things slowly – so slowly, that you don’t notice that you have trouble doing tasks or can’t do them at all until you can’t. Then, one day, you wake up and realize that you can braid the hair on the outside of your ankles because you can’t reach there to shave. But, I’m proud to say that hair on my ankles is no longer braidable! More quickly than I lost the ability to reach them, I have regained it. It’s easier to get up off the floor. I am much more confident in my movements in general.

This campaign isn’t easy. I can’t tell you how many days I wanted to just blow off my bike ride (that’s the hardest activity and is the one most likely to cause a sneer), but I didn’t. There have been a couple of days when I dialed the difficulty down a little, but I still put in the time and worked up a sweat. I’ve made a commitment to myself that isn’t always easy to stick to…                                                                                                                                                                     …but it’s getting easier.

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.

Counting the Days

For about 20 years, I was a smoker – sometimes with a two pack a day habit. I quit when my son and I had the flu for a week followed by a week of pneumonia for me. Since I couldn’t breathe, clearly I couldn’t smoke. After I recovered, I thought I would see how long I could go without a cigarette – you know, since I’d already gone two weeks. For quite awhile, I counted the days since my last smoke. Then, at some point, I quit counting. Cigarettes just didn’t figure that large in my mind anymore. Now, I think I quite about 10 years ago, but I’m not really sure. I’ve come a long way from those early days of counting the hours.

This morning, I rode my stationary bike for the seventh consecutive day. I have a little calendar on my refrigerator with the days counted out to 21, which is the number of days some experts say that it takes to form a new habit. I hope so. I hope that on day 22, exercising is again something I just do, not something I think about and count. But, if it’s not, then I’ll make another calendar and continue marking off the days until I don’t think about it anymore.

In just seven days, I’ve noticed these changes:

  1. The skin on my face looks brighter. I don’t know if that is from the increased blood flow, the more frequent exfoliation, the increased water intake or something else, and, really, I don’t care. My skin looks noticeably better and I’m all for that.
  2. I sleep better. Making my muscles do some work and actually tire themselves out a bit is making my sleep much more restful.
  3. My lower back hurts less. For months now my lower back has been a tightly coiled spring. Getting out of bed has been a slow and slightly painful process. And I have to be up and moving around awhile before I can bend over to pick up the dogs’ bowls. The last three of four mornings have been much easier. While I still have to move awhile before I can bend over, but the pups are getting fed much sooner than before.
  4. I hate it less. Less be honest, I hate to exercise; I really do. But, this morning, I didn’t dread getting on the bike and the hatred didn’t set in until about four minutes into the 30-minute ride. The ride this morning also seemed to go much faster, but maybe it was the episode of Fixer Upper that I was watching.

I have a very long way to go and I know that; but, I’ve made a solid start and I’m proud of that. I like the change I’m seeing in my spirit and I know that soon, I will see changes in my body shape, as well.

I’m certainly counting the days until that happens!

It’s Just a Phase

I saw my orthopedist on Monday. Although he was encouraged by the range of motion in my ankle, he was also discouraged by my reports of continued pain even with moderate use. We discussed my treatment history and my future treatment options including joint fusion which is not something I want to do. I’ve go WAY too many cute pairs of heels to be going that route! I told him my plan to lose weight and remove some of the stress from my ankle. He agreed that this was likely my best option to recover the most use and range of motion from that joint, although he expressed some reservations about it ever regaining pre-injury abilities.

My plan has been vetted by my doctor. Woohoo! It’s a good thing since I’d already started on it!

Like any good plan, mine has several steps to get me to my goal, my Why which I shared with you back on the 4th.. I need a Why. Just Because wasn’t much of a motivator for me in Mrs. Rich’s kindergarten class and it still isn’t; so, identifying that Why was the first step of my plan. The second step is figuring out the How. I shared some thoughts with you on that on the 5th. Implementing the How requires a few phases:

  1. Motivate – I watched several food documentaries again: Forks Over Knives, Food, Inc., Fed Up, Food Matters, Hungry for Change, PlantPure Nation and The Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue. (I even made my sister/roommate watch a couple of these with me!) Most of these documentaries advocate a whole-foods, plant based diet, essentially a vegan diet without the political connotations. While they are not trying to sell you a product, they are definitely promoting (or selling) a vegan diet ideology. This ideology appeals to me. It may not appeal to you and I don’t think it’s necessary to go this route to get healthier. Most nutritional films differ on how they think you can have better health; however, they all agree on one thing: avoid processed foods.
  2. Cook – To avoid those processed foods, I dusted off the cookbooks, put some beans on to soak and prepared nutritious meals based on a whole-foods, plant-based diet for immediate consumption with plenty to put in the freezer for later. (I had already gone this far by the time I saw my doctor since I knew I wasn’t going to hurt anything with these phases. Where I really needed his advice was on Phase 3.)
  3. Exercise
    1. Cardio – I needed to work up a sweat; but, I was unsure what cardio exercises were safe for me to do. He said that I could swim, use the elliptical machine or ride a bike. He advised against doing anything that would jar or put impact on my ankle. I saw him Monday morning and started back to the gym Monday night where I decided to go with the bike because: 1. my gym doesn’t have a pool (and I don’t think I can get my posterior in my swimsuit), and 2. I am so out of shape that I’d probably last about 30 seconds on an elliptical. So, the bike it was. I went with the cardio program for 30 minutes on Monday and Tuesday. Last night I upped the time to 45 minutes.
    2. Weight training – I will add this into my program next week. I didn’t want to put cardio and weights in at the same time because my beginning fitness level was so low. I knew that if I did both at once I’d be too sore to move and that I’d find reasons not to go back.

I still have not weighed although there is a scale in my bathroom and one at the gym that I could certainly use. I’m sorely tempted to step on them, sure; but, I’m afraid of undoing my Phase 1 motivation. I know myself. If I step on that scale and see what I believe I will see, I am going to have a really hard time not heading straight for Ben and Jerry. I have gained a lot of weight. I know that and, right now, that’s as specific as I have to be. I’m not sticking my head in the sand; but, there is nothing to be gained from my knowing that specific number right now. My job today is to keep looking forward and to keep moving towards better health and a stronger body. To do that, I will keep moving through my planned phases.

Then, someday this year, I’ll be able to look back on this period of being overweight and injured and know that it was just a phase.