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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A Different Kind of Exercise: Positive Affect

All kinds of studies have shown that people with a positive disposition or approach to life  (a positive affect) are generally healthier than people who have a negative disposition or approach (a negative affect). People who are persistently depressed, angry, or stressed are more prone to transient illnesses like the common cold and to chronic and even terminal illnesses like asthma and heart disease. Since my campaign is about losing weight, why are we talking about positive affect? Well, my campaign is only peripherally about losing weight – it’s mostly about being strong and healthy again. Good health – that’s the ultimate goal.

As I’ve shared with you multiple times, I have been treated for depression since my early 20s … so for over half my life now. I take medicine daily to help my endocrine system function correctly in its production and use of the neurotransmitters that are involved in my moods and their stabilization. Like many people with clinical depression and other mental illnesses, from time to time I decide that I don’t really need those medications and I stop taking them. Yeah, well. It turns out that I do need them – every. single. time. I try this bone-headed stunt. Because of my decades-long experience with depression, there are a number of popular sayings that make me roll my eyes:

  • Don’t worry, be happy.
  • Happiness is a choice.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff.
  • For every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness.

Ugh. Bitch, please.

I’m sure that you can add some pithy sayings of your own to that list, particularly if you, too, struggle with depression. As ridiculously simplistic and reductionist as I think those statements are, barring major disorders, I do think that we have some control over our attitudes. There are things we can actively do to be more positive. We are not helpless.

exersiscehappiness.jpgThis week I’ve read several articles addressing happiness and the habits of healthy people. One of those habits is an exercise that I am inserting into this 4th 21-day cycle of my campaign. During November, I often see people make a daily post about something for which they are thankful. This exercise will be similar; but, every day, I will choose one thing that was my favorite thing of that day – whether it’s an event, a feeling, an experience, a song – whatever. I’m going to end my day thinking of one good thing from the day I just finished. I’ll share those things on my Facebook page and I would truly love it if you guys would share your One Things there, too.

I once had a manager who constantly exhorted us to “control the controllables.” (Mike Feldman, I’m looking at you.) That directive was invaluable to me when prioritizing and reprioritizing actions to meet our delivery deadlines. I’m sure Mike would be surprised to hear that now, years later, I still use his advice on nearly a daily basis to address stresses from finances to yard work. In this exercise, there are two controllables. The first is my medication, which I am now in the habit of taking right after I make my bed in the morning. The second is my focus, which I often neglect. I can choose to focus on the person who cut me off in traffic or I can choose to focus on hearing Bohemian Rhapsody and Are You Gonna Go My Way back-to-back on the radio. I can choose to resent having to mow my lawn or be thankful that I have a lawn and that I am physically able to mow it now. I can choose to go to bed exasperated or I can choose to enjoy the feeling of my cat Link snuggling at my feet as I drift off.

12106878_1179470198735299_4750950273050207031_nPositive affect “muscles” atrophy easily, particularly when bombarded by the sludge pumped out by main stream media, social media trolls, and general jerks. This cycle, join me in working for better health by exercising our positive affects.

Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying that people “are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” I still don’t believe that we can be happy just because we chose to, but I do believe that we can be happier.

Let’s make up our minds to be that.

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!

 

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.

(dis)Courage

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…..

 

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.

 

But That’s Cheating!

Years ago, like 15 or so, I had some weight reduction success following the Body for Life plan. That plan allows for one Cheat Day each week; but, it banks on the dieter moving further and further from really bad cheating because eating healthfully the other six days makes them feel so good they don’t want to lose that good feeling. Although I stuck to having a single Cheat Day for awhile, I never really reached that point of wanting to stay on the straight and narrow because I felt so great. Being nutritionally good for its own sake has never been my strong suit. My  diet flow chart looked like this:

Cheat Day → Cheat Weekend → Cheat Once a Day → What Diet?

This is clearly a sub-optimal result.

However, I realize that this is not everyone’s result or everyone’s experience. I said when I started this blog and I’ve said it several times since then: I’m not a dietitian. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not a doctor. I am an expert only in terms of my own experiences. While I’m certainly presumptuous, I’m not presumptuous enough to say that I can speak to every dieter, every emotional eater, every overweight or obese person, or even every sugar addict. I can speak only to my own experience as someone in every. single. one. of those categories.

I tried to quit smoking several times before I was actually successful at it. Each time I failed, it was because I allowed myself to believe the lie that I could have just one. “I’ll just have this one while I drink this beer.” “I can just have one with a cup of coffee.” Just “one in the car on the way to work” became one on the way home, too. Then it became another one at lunch, then another at home after work. The non-smoking flow chart looked like this:

Cheat Drive → Cheat Commute → Cheat Relaxation → A Pack of Marlboro Lights, Please

Bam! I was a smoker again.

It was not until I was honest with myself about my condition as a nicotine addict that I was able to successfully quit. No, I cannot have just one. I won’t stop there. It’s the same with my sugar addiction and the sumptuous Oreo Blizzard, I won’t stop there.

As I mentioned yesterday, I know people who can binge smoke twice a year or smoke two cigarettes a week. I am not one of those people. Similarly, I’m sure that there are people who can successfully manage a single Cheat Day or Cheat Meal a week. Clearly, I am not one of those people, either. If I were, I would not have regained more than two-thirds of the weight I lost.

The trick that let me successfully quit smoking and lose weight before wasn’t giving in to the cravings, it was by-passing or short circuiting them. If I wanted a cigarette with a beer or a cup of coffee, I just didn’t drink beer and I had my coffee in different locations and situations than I had when I smoked. I stopped working crossword puzzles sitting on my back porch because that was a time when I smoked a lot. I changed my routine so that those situations when I might normally have a cigarette no longer occurred. It’s harder with food; but, I believe that it is still manageable.

no-food-memeI pay for my gasoline at the pump, avoiding going into the convenient store where I would normally buy a snack. I change the route that I drive to work, avoiding driving by Dairy Queen and Popeye’s Chicken. I stick to the outside aisles at the grocery store, avoiding the siren call of the frozen food section. I am finding different food choices to mitigate the effects of cravings. I keep lots of whole foods and meals made from them on hand, avoiding hunger panic and the poor food choices it brings.

It’s been only a week; so, these things are not habit yet. I’m still working on them and I’m still struggling; however, I know that changing my habits worked before. And I know that it will work now.

If you are using a Cheat Day but still struggling with your weight or your health, I would challenge you to map your own diet progression. Does your flow chart look like the one the diet book recommends? (Cheat Day → Six Healthy Choice Days → Cheat Day → Six Healthy Choice Days → Better Health) Or does it look like mine above? If it looks like mine, perhaps it’s time to rethink your approach. Because if it looks like mine, it’s not a Cheat Day. It’s just cheating.