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.



The New Why

Way back on March 9, 2016, I shared with you that I had missed a night of work because of what I suspected was plantar fasciitis in my left foot. At that time, I had already been struggling with foot (but mostly heel) pain for months. Now, ten months later, I find myself at home on a second medical leave for that same foot; but, it’s more than just plantar fasciitis.

As you know, I work in an industrial environment for a company that sells EVERYTHING from A to Z. (Think about it for a minute and you’ll get it.) Anyway, on a typical shift, I walk from 15K to 17K steps (there are an average of about 2K steps in a mile). I know this because a friend gave me a Fitbit that counts them for me. In July, we have a ginormous sale marking the anniversary of the program we offer for our premier (or you might say prime, even) customers. That sale increases production activity dramatically for about three days. During those three days, my average number of steps jumped from between 15K and 17K up to between 20K and 23K. The grumblings from the labor force of my left heel spread to rest of the foot and ankle. And they got worse. You know that of course I ignored the grumblings until they became a work stoppage. My ankle and foot went on strike! After all, they were 49, far too old for this nonsense of walking those kinds of distances. On concrete. Carrying this fat body. The pain was absolutely excruciating! I couldn’t make it through an entire shift at work in spite of my boss’s efforts to make me as stationary as possible. On August 8, I went to see an orthopedist who diagnosed an inflamed subtalar joint (or, as my boyfriend says, a swollen ankle) and who put me in a walking boot with instructions to wear it all the time.

Yeah, because I follow instructions so well.


I tried it for a week with poor results. By poor results, I mean that the pain was as gawd-awful as ever – see the photos above. By the unhealed abrasion on my lower left shin, you can see that the photos were taken in a short time frame. I bought some hiking boots and wore those instead. That was the tiniest bit better. The pain continued unrelieved by the meloxicam the doctor had prescribed; but, I continued my normal routine as best as possible. I worked at work; but, I did nothing at home. The pain while walking around was bad enough, but it was nothing compared to the pain of standing up after having been seated for awhile. There were times that I seriously considered just sleeping in the car to avoid having the make the walk into the house. When I did finally get inside, I went straight to bed where I stayed unless my bladder dictated otherwise. Clearly, the labor situation was not improving. My foot and ankle were still on strike. I was just existing. I had no life.

So, I returned to the doctor. An MRI showed stress fractures in the navicular and medial cuneiform bones, as well as a fibrous coalition between the talus and navicular bones. Some of my pain was still coming from that inflamed subtalar joint; but, some of it was coming from the stress fractures. He put me in a hard cast on September 26. (Luckily, the cast was pink and super-cute.) But it meant that I had to go on a medical leave of absence from work. After several days of being in that non-weight bearing cast, I was pain-free for the first time in months and having WAY too much fun zipping around on my borrow little knee scooter.

After a month, I was out of the cast, but the physical limitations set by my doctor kept me in a walking boot and off work until December 7. So, from October 24 to December 7, I walked no more than a normal person. Then, I went back to work. Because I could not walk the distances required in my normal job, I worked in a department that let me stand still more. Even so, between December 7 and 28, I was able to complete only one full work week. Granted, it was a 60-hour week because of the holiday season; but, I was still able to complete only one. I took a few days off while my son was visiting which gave the continually protesting joint some relief. On the 28th of December, I worked the eight-hour shift my doctor had limited me to; but, for those eight hours I got to do MY job. I was thrilled and I had an absolute blast! Then I came home and could not put any weight on my ankle for nearly 36 hours. I was back on crutches….and back on medical leave.

I can’t walk and it’s my own fault. My Why crystallized.

I have walked in excess of six miles a night probably 70% of the time over the four years I’ve been at this job; so, why has the trouble started only now? I’ve walked more at this job and been fine. I’ve been fatter than this and not had these kinds of issues. I’m older than I’ve ever been, sure, but, I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s a combination of the three things. I have never walked this much, weighed this much and been this old at the same time.

My age is my age. I can’t do anything about that. My job requires a great deal of physical activity (which, frankly, I enjoy). I can’t do anything about that. My weight. THAT, I can do something about.

Five years ago, my Why was getting healthy in order to take care of my son and to meet my potential grandchildren. In the intervening years I’ve had small Whys of a gorgeous red dress (hush, you don’t even know!), a pair of cute blue shorts, and an intriguing man with a massive chest and odd green eyes; but, I haven’t had an urgently compelling Why. Until now.

Five years ago my weight made me a potential candidate for heart attack, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. Today, my weight makes me an actual partially disabled woman. I went from a Maybe to a Sure Thing.

It’s time to stop messing around and take my life back.







Measuring Success By the Foot

I missed work one night last week for just the dumbest of reasons: I couldn’t walk. Okay, so maybe it’s not a dumb reason; but, I still felt like the biggest sissy in the world. I strongly suspect that I have plantar fasciitis in my left foot. (That link will take you to the Mayo Clinic’s site on the condition.) I’ve been dealing with it for months and I usually hobble/hop for the first few minutes after I get out of bed; but, Thursday night, those few minutes stretched into hours. I was so annoyed!

plantar-fascia_13Standing for long periods of time, not exercising enough and gaining weight rapidly can all lead to the condition. I’m on my feet on concrete for ten hours every work night and I don’t exercise like I used to. That’s not new, though; so, I don’t think that is the cause of this. I think that the 57-pound weight gain in a year is the culprit. Years ago, I had some trouble with my heels; but, since I wasn’t on my feet all the time, the trouble then was nothing like what it is now.

My first holiday season working at my job was the first time in my life I’d walked that much on a daily basis. I averaged 12 to 14 miles a night and I remember thinking at the time that as much as my feet hurt then, I was grateful that I’d lost so much weight. I couldn’t imagine how much more they would have hurt with 94 extra pounds on them. I still can’t imagine that; but, I know how much worse they hurt with just the added 57!

Lao Tzu reminded us that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I’ve taken the first step in fixing the problem – I’ve committed fixing it. And I’m seeing some progress, which is great! I have to focus on that progress when I’m feeling impatient at the pain in my foot – which is, like, all the time. Progress isn’t always measured in miles. Sometimes it’s measured in feet. But when it comes to my feet, it feels like it’s being measured in inches.

But, as I’ve said before: pennies make dollars, ounces make pounds and those inches add up to feet and to miles. And that’s what I have to remember.


Ethel Thayer’s Thutt

On Golden Pond. What a great movie! At one point, Henry Fonda’s Norman is talking about his wife’s name:” ‘Ethel Thayer.’ It sounds like I’m lisping, doesn’t it?” I love this movie. It’s a great stand-by. Henry Fonda and the incomparable Katherine Hepburn are always going to be great. The writing is always going to be good; it’s always going to be touching. It’s predictable and I like that in this often unpredictable world.

Another thing that is predictable is how my body loses weight. It always comes off my face, hands and belly first. I’ve been a yo-yo dieter long enough to know these established patterns, right? Well, as they say, the exception proves the rule (a saying I’ve never really understood because it seems to me that the exception obliterates the rule, but, whatever). This time, my body chose to drop the weight first from my face, hands and thutt – you know, that area where your butt and thighs meet.

Now, let me say that I’ve found differing definitions of thutt. One is the one I just gave you. The other refers to those unfortunate people who have no clearly defined butt area – those whose rear view looks more like the long side of an acute triangle than any portion of a sphere. But for our purposes, we are going with the definition of a junction, not an editorial about it.

Anyhoo. While others can’t see my weight loss yet, I can feel it. I feel it mostly in how my clothes fit, my jeans in particular. My jeans are easier to button, for sure, and I’ve seen some decrease in the size of my bundt cake; but, the biggest difference has been in the seat of my pants – in my thutt – and let me be perfectly clear: I’m fine with that. A friend of mine used to say, “I don’t care what color my hair turns, as long as it doesn’t turn loose.” The same holds true here. I’ve got a long way to go yet; but, as long as the fat stores are being used up, I don’t care where which stores get used first.

Tho, thayonara, thutt! Hello, loothe jeanth!

Day 3

As I think I’ve told you, I work nights. I am super late writing today because when I got home this morning, I was just too tired to write anything. The night ended unusually stressfully; so, all I wanted when I got home was a hot bath. After having a good wallow in hot Epsom salt water, all I could think about was sleep. I didn’t even eat any dinner: I just went straight to bed and to sleep.

Obviously, I have not hit the energized state of the process; however, to be fair, I have to admit that I have also dropped caffeine this week. My body’s two favorite stimulants – sugar and caffeine – are no more. As a result, I’m dragging – big time. However, having been through all of this before, I know that this is a temporary state and that I really will feel better without those things in my system. (Although I’d probably sell you my sister for a Diet Coke right now.)

Last night was a HUGE test of my will power! My company gave out sugar cookies to all employees (which I was obliged to hand out as a member of the committee), and one of my colleagues gave me a Dove heart, Valentine M&Ms (peanut ones. Yes, my favorite.) and a tiny Snickers. I was in purgatory and I’m not even Catholic! To deal with the strong temptation (after all, those chocolates were really small, how much could they hurt?), I asked myself the question that is the last item on Dr. Allie’s list: “Is this going to help me reach my goals?”

No. No, those treats weren’t.

So, I gave out the cookies with a smile and ate none. I gave the small chocolates to a pregnant friend who was thrilled to have them. And the lovely M&Ms are in the freezer waiting to be enjoyed in a reasonable manner after I meet my goals.

Day 3 was tough. I was tougher. It was close, but I’ll take the win. You bet I will!



Detox: Day 2

It’s a short visit today, y’all, on account of I feel just like the woman in this picture. My headache is monumental. I’m tired. I’m cranky. And I nearly killed a colleague last night for his peanut M&Ms (although in all fairness, those are my favorites). I was offered cheese pizza for dinner and the new cinnamon bun flavored Oreos for a snack. Really it’s nothing short of a miracle that I didn’t completely flip out.

But sometimes miracles do happen.

I remained fairly civil, maimed no one and that one incident of chasing Damon for the M&Ms hardly even counts. It’s Day 2 and it’s been so long since I’ve done this, I don’t really even remember how many hideous days I have to endure before I start feeling sharp, alert, and healthier. I don’t remember how long this goes on; but, I do remember that it has an end and at that end I will, indeed, feel mentally sharper, more alert and a great deal healthier.

So, we put this one in the books and say, “Bring it on, Day 3!”