21 & Done….Maybe

Woooohoooo!!! I have successfully completed my first 21-Day Good Habit Cycle! On each of the 21 days, I took my meds, made my bed, and rode my stationary bike for 30 minutes. You might look at the first two things on the list and wonder why it is that a 50-year-old woman has to put them on a list to remember to do them daily. Let’s just say that there are parts of adulting that I don’t do well and those are two of them.

When I first started tracking my food intake and exercise, I went back to the app that worked so well for me during The Great Reduction – LoseIt. I stepped on my scales to get a starting weight and was astonished to get an Overload message indicating that I weighed over 330 pounds. Um. No. That’s not right. Rather than run out and buy new scales, I just entered a weight that I thought made sense – 230. Actually, I thought that might be a little high, but better high than low, right? Anyway, after six days of careful eating and tracking, I was at my dad’s and stepped on his scales. They registered 230 AFTER six days, which means that my underestimation wasn’t – under, that is.

I was so irritated with myself, frustrated, bummed, etc., that I seriously considered stopping at the Sonic that is between his house and mine to buy an Oreo Blast, you know, to make myself feel better and all. (I really like Oreo Blasts!) How could I have gained back nearly every ounce I lost?! After working so hard, how did I let myself get as big as a house again?! Well, I’ll tell you how I let it happen – by stopping at Sonic for an Oreo Blast every time I felt stressed!

So I didn’t stop.

After another five days, I weighed at my bosses’ house. Their scales showed a five pound loss. Hurray! Then I bought a set of scales. Those weighed me at 231 – a pound higher than I’d been at my dad’s. ARGH!!!!!

I had a decision to make – take the scales back and get a different brand or just go with them? When you boil it down, what are the scales for? They are to quantify progress, nothing more. Whether they are correct or incorrect at 231, the important thing for quantification is that I weigh under roughly the same conditions, using the same equipment each time. I elected to keep them and I put their measurement of 231 into LoseIt which then calculated a date when I should reach my goal weight – December 24 – a long way away.

Years ago, I lived in Latrobe, PA. When I would drive to visit my family in Starkville, MS, people would often remark about the difficulty of such a long drive; but, I never really thought of it as a long trip. Sure, altogether, it took me about 15 hours and 15 minutes to get from my house to my mother’s; but, I didn’t look at it that way. Rather than going from Latrobe to Starkville, I went from Latrobe to Charleston, WV. Then, I went from Charleston to Lexington, KY, then Lexington to Nashville, TN, Nashville to Birmingham, AL, and finally Birmingham to Starkville. In my mind, those trips were manageable and much easier to face than a giant road trip.

While December 24 is quite awhile from now, it’s an actual date on the calendar. I can circle it. I know when it is. It is December 24th, not someday, not sometime, not some vague future. It’s an actual date and I can work with that. Still, it’s a long way away and that leaves lots of room for discouragement. So, I’m breaking it up into 21-Day Good Habit Cycles – my waypoints like Charleston, Lexington, Nashville, etc. – and I get a non-food reward when I complete them. My first cycle is done. All the dates are checked of on my refrigerator calendar and I’m getting ready for my reward – my first pedicure. This morning, I put up a new calendar. Cycle 2. This one contains the three items from the first calendar and it adds two more.

Each day, I will drink a gallon of water (That sounds like a ton of water; but, it goes faster than you’d think. I have a liter water bottle. I will just drink four of those each day. ) and I will do either yoga or a Tabata depending on the day. On alternating days, I will do yoga. On the non-yoga days, I’ll do a beginner Tabata. Both of those activities will work on strengthening and toning my muscles.

This cycle will be more of a challenge, I believe; but, losing weight isn’t simple and I remember what it felt like to be fit. I want to feel that way again and this is the only way I know to successfully get there.

So. Here I go again!!


Building A Solid Fort(night)

First of all, let me say that I think American English really should include the word fortnight. It’s so much more succinct than two weeks. Anyway….

In our last visit, I told you that I had started to build some new, healthier habits. To date, I have ridden my stationary bike for 30 minutes on each of the last 16 days (fortnight plus four) – today being number 16 and I got it out of the way this morning. And, yes, I marked it off on the 21-day calendar that I have hanging on my fridge. That visual, while perhaps childish, is a really good motivator. I see it every time I walk into the kitchen. It reminds me to ride the bike on days when I haven’t done it yet and on days when I have, like today, it gives me a great sense of accomplishment to see all of those days marked off. I have five more days on this calendar and I will have completed the 21 days.

Even now, I can already see a MASSIVE change in my attitude! In the first few days, I hated it – like I started hating it 30 minutes before I even did it. I had to force myself to do it and I pretty much trash-talked myself into completing the 30 minutes. This morning, I had to encourage – not trash talk – myself only through two minutes of the highest intensity setting. (Have the bike set on Rolling Hills so the intensity changes from level 3 to level 5.) And yesterday! Let me tell you about yesterday. But, first, I have to start with last week.

Last week, the hot water knob in the shower was stuck; so, I had to fix it. Saturday, my computer showed no password box on the login screen. After a full day of trying all the fixes I found on the HP website and on YouTube, I had to reformat the thing. Monday, the dryer died. All of those things joined a thousand other stressors in my life resulting in a full-on anxiety attack at work yesterday. I called Dad to talk me through it, which was SO great I can’t even tell you. When I got home after work, I did something I haven’t done in a very long time – I did not respond to stress by eating.

As I’ve told you before, I’m a stress eater among other things. If I’m stressed, I take a lawn chair and a spoon to the Publix frozen food section and make myself at home. Okay, so I don’t actually do that, but I do hit the ice cream aisle pretty hard and I eat the whole pint at one sitting on my couch. Yesterday, I didn’t do that. When I got home, I did some chores then I rode the bike. And I felt better. I felt better because of the endorphins and because I won an enormous battle over my own bad habits. It felt truly fantastic.

I’m excited about this attitude change and I want to keep this momentum; so, I am making another 21-day calendar with the same habits I’ve worked on this month plus a couple of new ones. My first two weeks were solid with this cycle and I am feeling psyched about the rest of it. To be honest, I’m feeling kind of psyched about getting the next challenges started!


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!


You don’t hear from me in forever, I write three weeks, then I disappear again. I know. But, really, it’s just like me. Last time we talked, I was super excited that I had gone on a couple of walks with Ellie and that my foot felt fine. Progress!

Except that it wasn’t.

After the third walk, I began to experience significant pain again. Thankfully, no swelling, but I could not walk without limping, not even to just do normal things like walk around the house and maybe do something really crazy like go to the grocery store. I cannot walk a mile and a half without pain and that makes me want to just sit down in the middle of the floor and cry.

If you’ve known me long, you know that I have always said – with clear self-awareness – that I am no Caroline Ingalls. I would have been a horrible frontiersman. The Oregon Trail started in Missouri and ran about 2000 miles to either California or Oregon, depending on your paradise of choice. The average trip lasted four and a half to five months. Ummmmmm. I’m really more of a Boeing-type girl than a covered wagon one. I’d have probably been turning around at the Kansas state line. I just don’t have the patience for that. Zen? Not so much.

I’m more frustrated that I can even say at my injury. I have place to go, things to do, and people to see. I don’t have time for all of this nonsense. Yet, I cannot wish it better. Staying off of it completely didn’t heal it. Using it only sparingly hasn’t healed it. And my weight loss is going much slower than I’d like; so, I don’t have the confidence that even getting all the extra weight off is going to heal it.

Temptation is strong and I hear the sirens’ call from the frozen cashew milk. The Girl Scouts at the grocery store entrance are singing me straight into the rocks with their prepubescent calls of “Thin Mints! Tagalongs (kryptonite)!” I have been really having a hard time. Finally, yesterday, I bought myself a treat – a bouquet of flowers.

purple-bouquetKroger had bouquets containing lisianthus, one of my favorites. These blooms were deep purple and were paired with ornamental cabbage for a really striking arrangement – one that I find myself staring at, enjoying it tremendously, and not adding one calorie to my diet. I think I just added another weapon to my craving-fighting arsenal.

Now if I could just figure out something for this frustration…..



I’m super excited! On Saturday and again yesterday, I went for a walk with my dog Ellie (pictured above modeling her adorable Tennessee flag collar, which you can find here). We walked about a mile and a quarter each time at about two mph – strolling, really – and neither my foot nor my ankle hurt the following days!

The doctor called my injury an “overuse” injury, which makes perfect sense. What also makes sense is that I cannot go from sitting around letting it heal straight back to walking seven miles a shift; so, I’m going to get to that number gradually. I’ll rest the foot again today before walking again tomorrow. I can work up to that distance walking on alternating days. It feels really good to out and walking, plus Ellie loves it. When we approached the park, she started whining and wagging her tail like crazy. During The Great Reduction, I walked there with her and our late Labrador Trey frequently.

I’m thrilled to feel like I’m making some progress for a change! I just have to remember to take it slowly.

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.