Category Archives: Thought Patterns

What’s going on in my head

Putting My Back Into It

I have either had or believed I had a weight problem most of my life.  I have lost weight and found it all again; but, most of the time, I’ve just wished I could lose weight or (at least) said that I wanted to.  I haven’t REALLY done much about it other than to lose and gain the same ten pounds about a hundred times.  If there were a Frequent Loser instead of a Biggest Loser, I’d be the Grand Champion!  Several people have asked me what made this difference this time.  What made me stick with it?  What made it work?

I would soooo love to give you some fantastic formula. (Oh, who am I kidding? I’d love to SELL you some fantastic formula!) But I just don’t have one.  The truth is – I don’t know.

Maybe it was realizing that I am approaching menopause when weight loss will be more difficult.  Maybe it was realizing that the health risks associated with obesity weren’t just risks anymore, but were becoming real and showing up in my blood pressure. Maybe it was wanting to meet my grandchildren someday. Maybe it was losing those first 20 pounds so quickly.  Maybe it was some combination.  I don’t know.

Chain GangAs a senior in college, I spoke with a professor when I was thinking about attending law school. “Doty, ” he said, “you’ll fail.  And when you do, you’ll be devastated. You’ll fail not because you’re not smart enough, but because you don’t want it enough.”

He was right.  It wasn’t important enough for me to put my back into it.  I didn’t want it enough to give it everything I had.  I would have failed.  If I had wanted it badly enough, his words wouldn’t have stopped me – but they did.

Maybe, the answer for why the lifestyle change worked this time is just that simple.  Maybe I didn’t want it enough before.

Maybe this time, I wanted comfort, health, and possible grandchildren more than I wanted Phish Food.  Maybe this time I believed it was the worth the effort to save my own life.

Maybe this time, I valued myself enough to put my back into it.

It’s Not MY Butt That’s Dragging!

I love hockey.  I love going to the games, sitting in the stands, yelling my head off.  When the Preds do something great, I jump up and cheer.

When I first started going to games, though, I couldn’t jump up.  The armrests blocked my hips.  I had to turn sideways a little before I got up.  The truth is, that’s embarrassing – realizing that you don’t fit into a seat at an arena.

Me in the hangar
Side shot illustrating how overweight I was.

The last time I flew before my lifestyle change, I realized that I didn’t fit completely in my own airline seat, either.  I didn’t have to ask for a seatbelt extension; but, that seatbelt wouldn’t have held much more.  I’m sure the person sitting beside me didn’t love sharing their row with me, either.  I wasn’t actually IN their seat, but all kinds of encroachment was going on.  That’s embarrassing – realizing that you don’t fit into a seat on an airliner.

Those situations were real, tangible demonstrations that I was bigger than I thought I was.  If you don’t fit into a seat in a room decorated with finger paintings, you’re in a kindergarten.  If you don’t fit into a seat in a lecture hall, you’re in a world of trouble.

Now, let’s fast forward 11 months from my new birthday (July 24).  On a gorgeous June Saturday, we went canoeing down the Harpeth River.  Winter and Spring had been on the dry side, leaving the river a little low.  On several occasions, our canoe dragged the gravel on the bottom of the river.  Embarrassed, I shifted my weight each time, trying to wriggle us off the gravel bars. At some point, I realized that my efforts had no effect.  Huh. Curious.  Then it occurred to me: it wasn’t MY butt that was dragging!

I wanted to sing!!!

Me at near my goal weight
Near my goal weight

I turned to the man I was seeing, a height/weight proportionate tall man, and announced that it wasn’t me!  It wasn’t my fault we were dragging!  I was thrilled. He thought I was nuts.

You see, he’d never had a big weight problem and he’d never known me at my biggest.  He had no idea what it felt like to be truly and deeply embarrassed about his size.  But I do.  And, perhaps you do, too.

People who have quite literally always fit likely can’t appreciate the wonderful, liberating lightness that comes with not being the one weighing everyone down.  But I do.  And I know that you can, too.

Move It

Black Labrador
Our Lab Trey

If you have a fat dog, you’re not getting enough exercise.

Doctors always tell you that to lose weight you have to change your diet AND exercise.  Now, let me let you in on something here: I hate to break a sweat.  Seriously.  Hate. It.  I don’t mind so much once I’m sweaty, but crossing that barrier just grosses me out something awful.  Plus, I would really rather just sit on the couch.  The sitting on the couch routine was killing me; so, it was time to adjust.

The truth is, my Labrador was a little chunky.   So, my exercise started with walking my dogs three times a week.  I started walking for 30 minutes at a moderate pace.  As the days passed, I added distance.  Then I added speed until the pups and I were walking 5 miles in 70 minutes.  The Lab and I were dragging at the end of that.  The Soup Hound was grateful for the warm up.  Nobody likes it when one of the party is that perky after such a workout.

I bought some yoga discs that I did at home once or twice a week.   I started slipping more accidental exercise – parking further from the door, taking my shopping cart all the way back in the store, that sort of thing – nothing particularly strenuous. Before I hurt my knee, I ran one day a week – 2.5 miles on the last time, I went to kickboxing three times a week, I used yard work as exercise one day a week and I went to the batting cages and driving range one day a week.  That day was a light exercise day; but, movement is movement.  It counted and it was fun.

As I told you, after I hurt my  knee, I went sedentary again.  However, I’ve joined one of those 24 gym places now and had my first workout with a trainer.  I couldn’t move afterwards.  It was discouraging.  BUT – I know that as I keep going and keep working, I will see results.

Walking, cycling and using the elliptical machines increase endurance.  Sit-ups, push-ups, and planks strengthen core and upper body.  Squats strengthen legs and rear.  These things will work.  I know they do – they did before.

The biggest challenge then – and now – is making myself go.  I can find a million reasons why I should do something other than exercise.  To be honest, I’m still struggling with that right now as I am more mobile.

What do you use to motivate yourself?

Commitment Doesn’t Have A Past Tense

Noticeable weight loss
(L) May 2011; (R) March 2012

Neither does accountability; but……..

All in all, I lost 80 or so pounds with my lifestyle change – from a size 20 to a size 6.  I went from eating garbage to eating clean, nutritious foods.  I went from feeling like I had sludge in my veins to feeling light, clear and powerful.  I went from refrigerator squats to kickboxing three times a week, running, and rock-climbing.  Then, life happened.

In July of 2012, I injured my knee.  In August, I was laid off.  In September, my only child started college across the country, I started a new (more stressful) job, had knee surgery and was told no impact exercise. November was my first Thanksgiving without my son. December was Christmas and resignation from my job. January was job searching and eating.  February was job searching and eating. March was studying to pass licensing exams, eating, a totaled car, and the death of a precious aunt.  Did you notice that I was heavy on eating, light on exercise of any kind?

My knee was in worse shape than the doctor or I anticipated.  As a result, I was unable to do much of anything for six months.  I could have gone swimming or used an exercise bike every day; but, I didn’t.  Instead, I slipped back into old habits – bad ones.

Here’s the thing: I’m an emotional eater.  Stressed?  Depressed? Anxious? Pull the chair up to the fridge and eat until you feel better!  Happy? Celebrate with some ice cream!  Bored? Cheetos are entertaining! Tuesday? Fried chicken makes for a great lunch!

With the life stresses that were weighing me down, I began to hear those negative voices again. (Not literally, for goodness sake.  Don’t go reserving me a padded room.) You know the ones I’m talking about – “You can’t do this.” “You messed it all up again.” “You’ll never be anything but fat.” I ate a little more ice cream, drank a little more beer and wore a little more elastic.

Unable to button a skirt, I had to take myself to task.

What would I do if I heard someone telling their child, “You’ll never be anything but fat?”  I’d be livid and might just say something.  So, if I recognize that sort of talk as unacceptable from one person to another, why don’t I recognize it as unacceptable from one person to self?  I have to remind myself every day to be kind to myself in my own thoughts.  I CAN do this.  If I messed it up again, I just have to TRY again. I have been at a healthy weight and I WILL BE AGAIN.

I have gained about 30 pounds.  Enough.  I’m  not going to beat myself up because I gained some weight back.  That’s over and done with.  Berating myself for it doesn’t help in any way.  What does help is throwing out nutritionally bankrupt foods, raiding the produce department, and taking the dogs for a walk.

My life is still something of a train wreck; however, today, and every single day, I commit to myself.  I commit to taking care of my body and my mind with good food, drink and thought choices.

I bring commitment back into the present tense and, with this blog, I bring accountability with it.

My New Birthday is July 24

“You’re not leaving here until your blood pressure comes down,” said the nurse practitioner to me at my annual check-up on July 24, 2011.

“I’m sorry…what?” said I.  Then, “You have my attention.”

On that day I knew that it was time for me to make some changes.  I had a job that I loved, but which was extremely stressful and involved crazy long hours.  My idea of exercise was to squat down to get the dip off the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.  I rarely ate breakfast, often missed lunch, then ate like someone was going to steal my food at dinner.  If it didn’t fall off my lap while I was driving or watching TV, then it was a balanced meal.  Family sized bags of chips and pints of Haagen Dazs qualify.  Before a hockey game, it was a Wendy’s Baconator, medium fries, diet coke and maybe a small Frosty.  Any idea how many calories are in that meal?  I certainly didn’t.

I noticed that my Facebook friend Tom was losing weight using the LoseIt!  After my check-up, I investigated the food diary app and decided to see if it would help keep me on track.  What I learned both astonished and embarrassed me.  I started looking up the nutritional value of what I had been eating and was just horrified.  My thoughtless food consumption ranged upwards of 3000 calories on a weekend day.  That one Wendy’s meal alone totes up a big 1390 calories all by itself.  And I’m not even talking about the sodium, trans-fat and cholesterol counts.  I knew that I had to make a massive change.

Now, I need to interject something here: I am not a doctor.  I am not a dietician.  I am not a personal trainer.  I am not formally educated in any way in the fields of diet and exercise.  Before embarking on any diet or exercise program, you should seek the advice of your doctor.  Seriously.

Friends, coworkers, and family have asked me how I did it.  This blog is a way for me to share my experiences, my frustrations, my successes and failures with you.  It is in no way intended to take the place of professional advice; however,  I would love for this to become a community to support healthier choices.  Share your own experiences in the comments.  Let’s use this as a forum to talk about what works, what doesn’t, how we struggle, how we overcome, how we take our lives back one choice at a time.

This isn’t about losing 10 pounds in a week.  It’s about eating a banana rather than a muffin. It’s about eating one cookie rather than ten.  Mostly, it’s about forgiving yourself when you slip and making your next choice a better one.  July 24th isn’t the birthday I came with; but, it’s the one I’ve chosen.  On that day I committed to myself to eat more nutritious foods and to be more active.  It’s a commitment I have to consciously make every single day.

Join me.  Make the commitment to yourself today.  Let’s help each other live healthier lives.