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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Whys Have It

Yesterday, I said that part of the reason I stopped caring about my health was that I lost sight of my Why. That’s not a terribly complicated statement or concept; but, lemme tell you, it was a tough one to figure out!

I have tried several times over the last two years to get my head back in the game and to get this weight back off. Each time I start out with guns blazing, taking no prisoners, and showing no mercy. Then I run into my boyfriends Ben and Jerry and all bets are off. (I know people whose weaknesses are wine or chocolate or pasta; but, mine really is ice cream. I’m six. I know. However, no one understands disappointment, boredom, depression, happiness, PMS or Wednesday quite like Ben and Jerry. For me, they are Lex Luthor and they make kryptonite by the pint.) I’m so easily distracted and my efforts so easily derailed. Why?

because-the-why-mattersBecause I lost my Why. Without a reason, a strong enough motivation, I wasn’t choosing the kinds of foods and activities I needed to choose.

My first Why revolved around my son. I went for my annual Big Girl check-up, not feeling like anything was amiss other than that I was tired. At the time, I was working some 90 hours a week trying to get an internet start-up off the ground. Who wouldn’t be tired, right? You know how when you go to the doctor, they weigh you then take your blood pressure (tasks I have always believe were performed in the reverse of optimal order – of course my BP is going to be higher after I see my weight!)? Well, my BP was significantly higher than normal for me and the nurse practitioner would not let me leave until it came down. Hello. You have my attention.

At that moment, I realized that I had started down the road of permanent damage. I knew that I was approaching the time when I would either get healthy or get on a bunch of prescription drugs. With all of the heart-attacks dotting the landscape of my family history, I really began to take seriously the fact that I was headed for heart disease, which 25% of the time initially announces its presence with a fatal heart attack. In addition to the trees of heart attacks in my family landscape, there are quite a few shrubs of diabetes and some boulders of high blood pressure. My high BP that day put me in that landscape for the first time that I was aware of. I realized that if I was going to take charge of my health, I had to do it then since menopause was looming somewhere in the next decade for me. I knew it was time to act and I did. I got serious. I got it done. I got healthy.

Then I got cocky.

My Why was to be alive to see my son become a man, then perhaps a father. My Why involved meeting my potential grandchildren, baking cookies with them, riding bikes, reading stories and playing in the mud. When my son moved across the country, it became more difficult for me to keep my eyes on my Whys. I lost my focus, then I lost my way. (Understand that I’m not blaming my failure on my son for moving away. That would be absurd. I’m just giving a timeline for how and when I got lost.) Having good health for my own sake wasn’t a big enough Why. Sure my clothes were all too small, but I wasn’t sick or anything.

Until I was.

And that gave me my new Why that we’ll discuss tomorrow.

Eye Beam

I say it regularly because I believe it so strongly: maturing is just the process of figuring out what a schmuck you’ve been up to this point. Yeah. So I’ve been doing some, um, maturing lately.

On August 19, 2013, I published a piece called What If You Were Dying?  Take a second to give it a read. I had some good things to say. Don’t worry. I’ll wait.

There are several things you need to know about that piece. First, the woman I’m sitting with in the photograph was my precious Aunt Jo. She died of lung cancer after having smoked for some 60-something years. She killed herself with tobacco. Second, all of the statistics I quoted in there are true (as far as any data used to prove a point can be true). Third, it was my opinion at the time that if you are deliberately doing something that is harming your health (whether it’s tobacco or Twinkies), you’re an idiot. And fourth, I’m an idiot.

plankeyeOver the last two years, I have regained at least 60 of the 94 pounds I lost. I say “at least” because, frankly, I’m too embarrassed and disgusted to get on the scales this morning and tell you exactly how many. At my thinnest, I was healthy and generally pain-free. Now, I feel lethargic and have been struggling with a foot and ankle injury for the past six months. I feel like garbage and guess whose fault that is.

Mine.

The weight gain started after a medical procedure – a side-effect of which was weight gain. (Note, I did not ask my doctor about the side effects of the protocol. If I had known about the weight gain, I would not have continued with the procedure. Henceforth, I will ask about side effects and I strongly suggest that you do, too. How else will you make an informed decision about whether the benefits of the procedure outweigh its physical costs?) The fattening started there, but it certainly didn’t stop when the side-effects were no longer in play. By then, I’d fallen off the wagon hard and was making poor food choices, regardless of all the right marketing words on the labels – healthy, low-fat, sugar-free, organic. I was almost exclusively eating processed foods marketed as health foods. Then, I just reverted to eating processed foods of nearly every kind as long as they were vegetarian. Then I even threw that out the window and just started stuffing my face with anything I wanted until, ta-da! I reverted to a seriously overweight woman at risk for many obesity related diseases: heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers and even arthritis.

I was in a great place physically and I let it go. No, I didn’t let it go. It’s more like I used my spoon still sticky with Phish Food to toss that good health and feelings of well-being and strength out the door. What an idiot! What a schmuck. Why would I do such a stupid thing? I think it’s because I lost track of my Why. Without my Why, I just didn’t care enough to get back to good health.

I reverted to one of the people I’d so smugly started to judge for making poor food choices. Now it’s time to mature, stop being such a schmuck, and get corn dog out of my mouth and the beam out of my eye.

 

 

Child’s Play

I grew up in Brookhaven, MS, about two hours south of where my maternal grandparents lived in Winona and about four hours south of where my paternal grandparents lived near Memphis. Christmas day at our house began REALLY early, with my sister waking first (always), sending me into the living room to see if Santa had been there, then both of us charging into our parents’ room to bring them the glad tidings that loot abounded down the hall! (Mother told me years later that, often, she and Dad had just gotten back into bed when they would hear our feet hit the floor.) After playing with our new treasures and having a little breakfast, we would pack up into the car heading for Mamaw and Papaw’s first, then to Nannie and Pop’s. Each of us were allowed to bring one new toy for the trip.

red-tricycleFor my second or third Christmas, I got a red tricycle. It was fabulous and it was the obvious choice to make the trip north. It stayed in the car for our stop at Mamaw’s, but, because we spent several days with Nannie and Pop, it came out of the car at their farm. (It had been a farm when they bought the place; so, even though they didn’t grow crops or raise livestock, it remained The Farm.) Anyway, although this shiny new three-wheeler came out of the car, Mother said that I was not allowed to ride it inside the converted barn that was my grandparents’ house.

However, in our family, like all families, there was a hierarchy where grandfathers trump mothers. And Pop said I could ride it in the house. I still remember Mother fussing at me and me taking her to Pop so that she could hear for herself that he had given the green light to my ankle-biter grand prix.

Oh! The glory of being able to ride my tricycle inside! In spite of having Pop’s permission, I felt like I was getting away with something.

Fast forward 47 years and I have my first cast. For at least a month I will be sporting this giant pink thing on my left foot. My first days on crutches were just miserable. I flailed around. I fell. And they hurt my ribs. I was miserable and not reluctant to say so. My cousin Jeanna recommended that I get a knee scooter. She said that it had made all the difference when her son Drew was recovering from ankle surgery. So, I rented one.

Oh! The glory of being able to ride my scooter inside!

I took it with me to run some errands and, in no time, I was zipping around Home Depot, Kroger, the library, and Lowe’s, where a man told me to be sure to obey the speed limit and where (like the consummate adult that I am) I stuck my tongue out at a jealous toddler.

Of course, I would rather have a healthy foot and, if the doctor is right, in a few weeks I will have one; but, for now, I have choices to make. Am I irritated because I have a 47 pound cast or am I grateful that I’m not in constant pain? Am I angry that I cannot work or do I take this time of forced inactivity to learn something new? Am I annoyed that getting around is much more difficult than usual or do I find ways to enjoy being able to get around at all?

Naturally, I’m doing my usual Pollyanna Glad Game thing! I’m thrilled that I’m not in constant pain and I’m learning how to make Excel do some neat things that I need it to do. I’m generally healthy. I have a good job and, truly, I have nothing to complain about. So, I’m going to take these weeks to do some self-improvement.

But first, I’m going to take my scooter back to Lowe’s and take a spin around the plumbing department!

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Day 6 (and not counting as much)

Every time I have quit smoking, the quitting started something like: “It’s been 210 minutes since I had my last cigarette.” “It’s been three days since I last had a cigarette.” “I’m on week 2 with no smokes.” At some point in the process, I would stop counting. For instance, this time, I quit smoking sometime between nine and ten years ago. I can’t really tell you when. It became less important to keep track after awhile … because I wasn’t jonesing for a smoke anymore.

In this sugar rehab, I’m approaching that point. I can tell because although I’d still sell you my sister for a Diet Coke and pack of Oreos, I’d charge you a lot more. I baked a cake for work Saturday night and rather than look at it and whimper that I couldn’t have a piece, I looked at it and knew that it would not get me to my  goal. Thus, the cake was verboten. Period. And I was mostly okay with that.

Really.

I know that I’m not out of the woods, but I’m getting closer to the edge. What a relief! This first week has been really hard – okay, it’s been hideous – and I’m under no illusion that it’s automagically going to get easy; however, I have confidence that it will get easier every day. After all, it already has! I feel more energetic. I’m sleeping SO much better and I’m feeling less surly. (Thank goodness!)

You’ll notice a new tab at the top of the page – The Great Reduction Redux. This is where you’re going to find spreadsheets of my activity, my daily calorie intake and how it balances nutritionally. Several days this week I consumed too few calories. I’m working on that because that is absolutely NOT the right way to go about this.

Of course we lose weight to feel better, to look better and to feel like we look better. But the main focus here should always to be on better health. You don’t get richer by spending money you don’t have and you don’t get healthier by expending nutrient resources you don’t replace. You can get thinner, sure; but not healthier. And, really, what’s the point in being thin if you’re not healthy? Since I can’t think of a good one, I’m going for healthy.

 

 

Once More. With Feeling!

When I first lost 94 pounds three years ago, my lifelong friend Rebecca was one of the people who encouraged me to write this blog to share how I lost the weight and how I was successfully keeping it off. It was a little difficult to write all of that because I’d already lost the weight and really couldn’t remember the struggle step-by-step; so, I wrote most posts from memory, sharing some of the technical information, but omitting a great deal of the feelings because, frankly, I couldn’t remember them at that point. It was kind of like trying to describe child-birth a few months afterwards. You can’t really remember just how ridiculous the pain actually was or maybe you just refuse to believe that that level of pain actually exists. Anyway, guess what! That’s all about to change!!

And here’s why: today I went to my new general practitioner. I haven’t had a regular doctor in a few years and thought I should find one for regular check-ups and that sort of thing. So, I went doctor shopping. Of course, they did the height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and blood oxygen saturation stuff. Everything was just lovely…everything except the weight.

Friends, in the last twelve months I have gained 57 pounds. I can tell you’re not picking yourself up off the floor like I did, but I’m sure you can feel at least a little of my pain, frustration, disappointment, embarrassment, and just plain old irritation. How did I let that happen?! How did I put that much weight back on?!

The same way I took it off – one ounce at a time, one bite at a time, one decision at a time. Taking the weight off, I made good decisions about what went into my body and how active I was. This year, however, I made poor decisions by eating carelessly and mindlessly, and by lying to myself about my level of activity.

Since I’ve been to that facility before, Dr. Allie could see where my weight was once 225 (although not my highest of 236), then went down to 165 (although not my lowest of 144), then came up again to today’s weight of 201*. He commented that, clearly, I could make it happen and asked what I wanted his role in this process to be. He liked that I didn’t want any meds to help me and that I wanted him to help monitor my progress and my blood numbers. He’s a whirlwind who, before I knew what was happening, had given me a list of his weight loss strategies (which I’ll share tomorrow) and who challenged me to start running again. He invited me to bring my dog Ellie and to join him and many of his other patients in a 5K on March 19. I really enjoy running; so, I’m in.

In the last year, I’ve talked a few times about starting over and getting back on track; but, you and I both know that I didn’t do it. That was all noise and I was not walking the walk, even though I know that I feel so much better with better fuel in my body, with stronger muscles and with a lower body weight. This time, though, I have someone local to help keep me honest and to whom I am accountable – I even have my follow-up appointment scheduled already to check my progress.

As for the blog, for those of you not on LoseIt! I’ll be sharing my food and exercise journal, which was key to my success before. And this time, Rebecca, I’ll be chronicling the struggle as it happens.

So, here we go again. Let’s do it once more. This time with feeling!

 

 

* I have hesitated (okay, refused) to share my actual weight before on account of I’m a woman and I didn’t want that gawdawful number actually out there. After all, we live in a world of 110 pound, 5’11” perfection and, honey, I ain’t even close – not in any plane of the multiverse. But, here’s the thing, what I hear most from readers that I know and from readers I haven’t yet met is that you value my honesty. If I hide my actual weight from you, then I’m not being as honest as I think we all need to be about our weight and body image struggles. At 144 pounds, I am thin enough. I’m in a size 6 and I feel great. If I were thinner, I would look sick. In truth, there were those who said I didn’t look too healthy as a size 6. (I respectfully disagreed.) Anyway, the ugly truth is that on this day, I weighed in at 201 and unless I grow another foot taller (and at 48, I’m pretty sure that my days of vertical growth spurts are over), that weight is just too high. So, whatever your weight, know it, own it, and either love it or join me and change it.