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.

feet-comparison

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!”

News From the First Weigh-In

scale-with-feet-3

Project 40 has Monday morning weigh-ins; so, obviously, I weighed in yesterday. I had planned to post my progress in that post; but, there’s a reason I didn’t.

As you might have guessed, I don’t write most of my posts on the day they are published. I usually write them the day before; so, I wrote yesterday’s post Sunday night, originally leaving a sentence at the bottom to share my progress number.

Then I weighed in and thought we needed to talk about it a little bit.

You see, in the first week of Project 40, I lost ten pounds. Ten! I had expected five, but certainly not ten. Frankly, ten pounds is too many to lose in a week. I might be concerned about it except for these things:

  1. I know that it was the first week of this program and I always drop a lot of fluid weight in the first week.
  2. I’m a woman and (every 28 days or so) we tend to retain extra fluid. The start of Project 40 coincided with when I should have lost that extra fluid anyway.
  3. I walk a great deal at work and my accidental exercise calorie burns are estimates that are likely on the low side.

So, it is my strong belief that most of what I lost last week was fluid. Will you lose ten pounds in a week if you eat exactly the way I did last week? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. It depends on how much fluid you have in your body, your body weight, how much you move around and a whole bunch of other stuff. (This is when I should also voice that standard warning: Consult your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program. I’m no doctor or personal trainer. I’m just a chick who found something that works for her.)

Speaking of moving around, that is my challenge this week.

Last week, I rearranged my food, this week I’m adding structured cardio exercise to my routine. That means that I must find at least 30 minutes in my day to do some cardio – walk, run, swim, elliptical, stair climber, whatever. I plan to do a combination of all of them so that my body doesn’t get too comfortable in any given routine and the calorie burn needed to complete it.

My clothes already fit better and my skin feels less tight. I feel lighter on my feet and when I sit. I am already feeling more comfortable in my own body again and I have to tell you that it feels really nice. Those first ten pounds were mostly fluid – the easy stuff. Now I’m getting into territory where I have to use and lose actual, stored fat. That is going to mean more physical work.

With an encouraging start like the one I have, I’m thinking: Bring it!

 

Project 40: The Zen of The Diet

zen foodIt’s been a week since I started Project 40. Seven days. 168 hours. 10,080 minutes. 604,800 seconds. And in nearly every single one of those seconds, I’ve had to remind myself of why I started this project to begin with. I want to fit into my clothes again. I want to feel lean again. I want to feel strong again. And, mostly, I want to feel comfortable in my own skin again.

It has not been an easy week. Several times I would have traded one of my kidneys for a Snickers. By Thursday, my mouth felt and tasted like a sock – not that I have tremendous experience knowing what socks taste like, you understand. I just have a great imagination. You know how your mouth feels when you need something to drink? That pasty, sticky kind of feeling? Well, it was like that only with sawdust. Awful. It felt awful, tasted awful, and (I fear) smelled awful. This week I may have to keep some sugarless gum on-hand.

If you review my worksheets for the week, you’ll discover that there are times when Susie Nutrition was on point and times when she was obviously absent. Popcorn? As a meal? Well….. Obviously, it had the calories I needed for the day, but not the nutrition. I was feeling very snackish, though, and that tub of unbuttered, unsalted popcorn did the trick; so, I’m good with it. It’s not like I ate that at every meal. Most of my meals were pretty sound, actually, if not necessarily traditional.

Over the course of the week, I remembered little tricks that helped make the Great Reduction successful and many of them are zen things I saw in a meme this week:

1. Do one thing at a time. – I can’t watch tv or cruise around the internet while I’m eating. That turns eating into a mindless activity where I eat faster, I eat more, and I feel less satisfied. So, when it’s time to eat, I have to turn off the tube, turn off the laptop, and put the phone in another room.

2. Do it slowly and deliberately. – I must eat slowly. Normally, I’m done with my meal in fifteen minutes or so, which doesn’t give me time to savor anything or to let my stomach tell my brain it’s full. I slowed down this week and even put my fork down between bites a few times.

3. Do it completely. – I have to really chew my food. One of the things about eating quickly is that I don’t chew my food much, either. This week, I paid attention to that. Rather than tossing a handful of peanuts into my mouth at once on the day I had them for snack, I ate one peanut at a time, chewed it, enjoyed it, then had another.

4. Do less. – Of course, I have to eat less of the things that are bad for me, although I can still have them. Last night, I enjoyed some So Delicious Cashew Milk Dark Chocolate Truffle frozen dessert. I scooped out 1/3 a cup and savored every molecule of it. I’m not going to lie and say that it didn’t cross my mind to get more (or even the rest of the pint), of course it did! But, I didn’t do it. I have to relearn to enjoy calorie dense foods in moderation.

5. Put space between things. – I take space OUT for this one. I use smaller plates and bowls. It really does make a difference to my mind! When a smaller plate looks full, I will feel like I’ve eaten more than if I serve the same amount on a larger plate, which would look emptier.

6. Develop rituals. – I chop vegetables and store them in the fridge when I get home from the store, before I actually need them. If I keep veggies ready to use, I’m much more likely to actually use them.

7. Designate time for certain things. – I have something of a schedule when it comes to eating. This helps me ensure that my blood sugar levels stay fairly constant, which helps avoid cravings and overeating.

8. Devote time to sitting. – No more eating over the sink! I eat at the table…on a real plate…with real cutlery. I have to get back in the habit of making meals appealing to my eyes as well as to my tastebuds.

9. Smile and serve others. – Forget it. I’m eating.

10. Make cooking and cleaning become meditation. – I enjoy cooking anyway; so, this one isn’t hard at all for me. Now, making cleaning become meditation? Prolly not.

11. Think about what is necessary. – I have to plan my meals with an eye for variety so that my body gets some of all of the nutrients it needs. In addition, it’s such a temptation on a diet to opt for easy foods like salads. However, if I don’t give my body and tastebuds the variety they need, I’ll end up fighting cravings and, well, ain’t nobody got time fa that.

12. Live simply. – My menu consists mostly of things that I could grow myself or make at home if I choose. I do have some vegan cheese, some vegan cheddar crackers, and some cashew milk frozen dessert. Those are clearly processed; however, they are a minimal part of my diet. Most of my menu consists of foods that have one ingredient: themselves.

It was a good week, overall. It was challenging, for sure, but good. Project 40 is off to a good start!