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.

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Gassing Up

When I was the interim manager of a travel agency in Starkville, MS, a coworker joked about going over to Columbus to this Mexican restaurant to “gas up.”  The food was really good, but his assessment was right on the money; so, out of respect for each other, we scheduled those trips on Fridays.

My three kickboxing classes have reminded me about gassing up correctly.  For Saturday morning’s class, I remembered to get up in time to prepare the only breakfast that gives me enough energy to make it through that workout – a bowl of old fashioned or steel cut oatmeal with chia seeds, milled flax seeds, cinnamon and a mashed banana.  I’ve tried cold cereal.  Nope. Eggs, bacon and toast. Nope. Pancakes. Nope.  For me, this is the only breakfast that fuels me properly.  It’s my best way to gas up.  I have to eat it at least 60 minutes before class, but no more than 90.  Fewer than 60 may have me nauseated, but more than 90 and I run out of gas before the third mitt drill.  For my son, it’s different.  He needs to eat two hours prior and he needs a meal heavier in protein.

Speaking of protein, I have been hit this week with some pretty strong cravings…..for chicken and eggs. I know, right?  We’ve talked about cravings before and I truly do believe that they are often direct communication from our bodies addressing a specific deficiency.  When I think of food cravings, sugary foods usually come to mind.  My body is usually feeling tired and is demanding something for quick, ready energy; so, it creates visions of chocolate donuts dancing in my head.  Right now, my body doesn’t need the extra energy – it needs those amino acid chains. Right now, my body is telling me that it needs protein.

Working and building muscles – with push-ups, ab sprawls, squats, etc – actually damages them with tiny tears.  Protein repairs that damage, making the muscles stronger than before.    After hours of aerobic and isometric exercises, my aren’t ultimately feeling tired – they’re feeling damaged; so, my body is giving me A Chorus Line with barnyard fowl. (Take a moment and envision Bob Fosse choreographing for chickens. That’s priceless.)

Chicken Barn Dance by Matthew Finger

Chicken Barn Dance by Matthew Finger

Preparing for exercise, exercise itself and feeding your body afterwards are all crucial and, I believe, all very individual.  Walking is less effective for me than for many I know.  Lifting weights is good for everyone – but different weights and in different manners.  My body craves meat. You may be fine as a vegan. It’s all about YOU – your body, your metabolism, your heredity, your lifestyle.  Because it’s so personal, I think it’s important to educate yourself and to consult a professional.

In my profession, I hear it regularly: people have read this book, watched that show or listened to something else.  More than many, I can appreciate the value of self-education; however, I still go see my doctor for annual check-ups, you know what I mean? So, as you change your fuel and activity, talk with a doctor, a nutritionist, or a personal trainer.  When you see your doctor, your healthier stats are reported to your insurance carrier (which can have great effects on your rates, depending on what coverage you have.)  As for nutritionists and personal trainers,  health and fitness are ALL they do.  They’ve read more than you and I have time to.  They are educated on the subject – sometimes for years – and they know their professions.

You can make significant headway on your own, sure; however, this is what these people do. They are too valuable a resource to waste.

Fencing Fear

foil fencing-001A recent networking function went like they do: socializing, personal introductions, elevator speeches, target referrals, speaker. Jim, the speaker, had some really interesting points to make about fear which got me thinking further.  (By now you know that I’m prone to that kind of thing – taking an idea and running afield with it.)

In the same industry, Jim and I deal with subjects that are less than warm and fuzzy – a lot less.  We talk with people about loss – loss of life, income, and health – the stuff nobody wants to talk about.  Stuff we are afraid to talk about. Afraid to jinx ourselves by even mentioning misfortune lest we summon up that Boogeyman by uttering his name. Afraid to admit that we don’t understand. Afraid that we are not doing it right. Afraid that someone will tell us to change something. Afraid to find out that we are wrong. And, sometimes, afraid to find out that we are right.

We all fear things: failure, success, spiders, change, vulnerability, loss, ridicule, orange food. Okay, that last one may just be Billy Bob Thornton, but the rest of our fears are fairly universal.  We can’t let them dictate our lives; but, that’s a struggle.

I started this blog to talk about losing weight acquired during The Great Regain.  As it happened, I started a new job at the same time and, frankly, the weight loss is not going so great.  I’m terrified that I’m going to gain it all back and fail publicly.  I’m terrified that I’m going to gain it all back and disappoint myself and my son. I’m terrified that I’m going to gain it all back and fail all of you who have been so complimentary and supportive.  I’m terrified that I’m going to gain it all back.  Period.

It seems that every day I start with new resolve and, every day, I let myself get sidetracked by something – muffins at a coffee appointment, M&Ms for lunch, no energy for the gym.  I know what the answers are here.  I’ve done it.  Schedule time for exercise and stick with it. Make your meals beforehand. Fill three-quarters of the plate with vegetables. Plan. Plan. Plan.

Exercise plan. Meal plan. Game plan. Battle plan.  I have to develop and adhere to all four to combat and defeat my fear of losing more ground. I have to go on the offensive to regain the ground I’ve lost. I’ve got to remember that I’m the only one who can do it and that I cannot let up until I’ve reached my goal.

En guarde, y’all!

The Cassandra Effect

Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan (1898, London)Recently, I’ve been identifying with Cassandra – you know, the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba.  With her fair skin, curly red hair, and blue eyes, Greek mythology portrays her as intelligent, beautiful, charming, and elegant.  Check, check, check, and check. She is also shown as friendly, gentle and a great Scrabble player.  Oh, yeah – and insane.  I made up the Scrabble part, but the insane thing is totally there.  But, wait! She was insane for good reason.  Apollo.  (Wouldn’t you know that a man would be involved?) Because of her beauty, he gave her the gift of prophecy. But, he hit on her, she blew him off, he cursed her.  Her curse was that, although she could foresee the future, no one would believe her. Cassandra is the original queen of I Told You So.

Maybe it’s middle age. Maybe it’s new knowledge. Maybe it’s conceit.  Whatever the root, I seem to spend a great deal of time these days thinking, “If I had only known then what I know now.” With my new career, I have the zeal of a convert.  This new knowledge is fascinating and so very useful that I feel compelled to share it with people I know. Everyone I know.  Even the ones who don’t want to hear it. It’s possible that I’m the tiniest bit obnoxious about it.  Just the tiniest bit, mind you.

When I quit smoking, I never really became a non-smoker.  I didn’t become one of those who crinkled their noses at the smell of smoke or gazed condescendingly at smokers. Six years later, I sometimes gaze at them with jealousy, if you want to  know the truth, but never with condescension.  Oddly enough, I can’t say the same thing about food. I’ve gotten really weird about that.

Last month, I went to the Renaissance Festival because I still like to play dress-up and because they have Scotch eggs there. While there, I was nearly physically ill with what I saw – whole families of obese to morbidly obese people eating turkey legs, funnel cakes and fried potatoes.  The lines for the food vendors were ridiculous all day even though authenticity wasn’t on the menu – I’m pretty sure Elizabethan Brits didn’t wander around noshing on chocolate dipped cheesecake on a stick.  I watched as America’s future disabled stumbled around with hands holding literally thousands of calories.  Worse than the adults eating garbage were adults feeding garbage to already overweight children! The view from my high horse was truly amazing.

I’ve told you all I struggle and I lose (these days as often as I win, it seems); so, I’m seated squarely in the middle of a glass house here as far as food goes. I see health insurance rates rising. We all see the panic in the media; but what we don’t see are things we can actually do about it.  Losing weight and eating more wholesome foods are two things we can do to reduce our healthcare costs.  I don’t suspect it – I know it.

Before making these massive changes, I was in the doctor’s office at least once, if not twice, a month.  I didn’t feel good.  Various complaints, but the common thread was feeling tired and run down. Since changing my diet nearly two years ago, I have been to my family doctor…once.  For a rash on my nose.  Once.

We’ve got Medicare and Medicaid helping the retired and the needy in our society and we need those.  I wonder, though, how much health care for avoidable disabilities is costing those programs. I’m talking about people who are disabled because of poor lifestyle choices, not by genetics or misfortune but from diet and exercises choices they made.

The country is getting fatter.  This is a health crisis now; but, if we don’t address it, it’s going to be a financial one in the near future, as well.

It’s Just a Number….Right?

I’m both frustrated and elated this morning.  Frustrated because the number on the scale hasn’t moved in a few days.  Elated because my jeans have room in the waist, thighs and rear.  My number may not be decreasing, but my size is.

feather on scalesI’ve always said that I could weigh 300 pounds, as long as I’m a size 6 or 8, I don’t care.  I have a confession.  That is a lie.  100% untrue.  Blatant falsehood.  I’m surprised I haven’t been stuck dead when I’ve said it.  I want to be able to cheerfully chirp “120, fiddle-dee-dee” while batting my eyelashes and fanning myself when someone asks me what I weigh.  The truth is that I probably wouldn’t weight 120 pounds if I were mummified.

I love to swim. I learned when I was two and have been a fish pretty much ever since.  The thing about swimming is this: fat floats.  At my largest, I floated some 3 cm above the water.  At 15 pounds over my goal weight, I went swimming for the first time in years.  I got in the water and did what I always did – went under and pushed off the side.  When I rose to the top, I began to do the front crawl.  The problem was that I didn’t rise to the top.  I stayed level.  Underwater.  Well, that was new.  At that time, I weighed 160 pounds….hardly petite.

I have to face facts – my body is not built to have a healthy weight of 120.  At 140, I was actually a little too thin.  Regardless of what the BMI says (and I’m told that people who really know don’t use that anymore), my body is best at 145 to 150.  I have a medium bone structure with athletic musculature, if not grace, talent or coordination. I know that I can no more change that than I can change the color of the sky, still, a part of me is wistful.

My jeans are looser and I’ll be back in my cute clothes within a month or so.  I can’t let the bathroom tyrant ruin my day, my thinking or my behavior.  Remind me of that later, will you?

Monday Morning…um….Yellows

Yellow-LightConfession.  Last Monday, I wasn’t annoyed that the scales showed no weight loss.  I was annoyed because they showed a seven pound gain!  I knew that wasn’t valid; however, I was still all kinds of irritated.  If you’ll notice, as of today, 22 April 2013, the weight loss counter shows a total loss of only six pounds.  So, yes, last Monday, the scales showed that for all of my efforts, I had gained a pound.

This morning, the scales show me back down at the six pound total loss.  I promise that from this point forward, I will be 100% honest with you about the scale results.  I didn’t want to do that last week, however, because I knew that the numbers were flawed and I knew that if I pushed through, they would correct.  However, if you are just starting your weight loss journey, that kind of information could just torpedo the whole project right there – or, at least, it would have for me in times past.

So, I’m back to square two, and that’s not such a bad place to be.  The momentum is heading in the right direction and the things I did last week worked; so, I will continue doing those this week:

  1. I drank LOTS of water – in the form of water or coffee, I drank at least 8 pints a day.
  2. I kept my wheat portions down to no more than two in the whole week.  I satisfied my grain needs with steel cut oats.  This week, I will add a little brown rice.
  3. I ate no more than two fruit servings per day.
  4. I got in at least four hours of exercise this week that included five days. I’ll be honest, a couple of those days were kind of phone-in efforts.  This week, I add that I will get in four hours of exercise that include me getting sweaty and include at least five days.

As ever for those of us with chronic, self-esteem related weight issues, the keys are:

  1. modify my behavior.  To get different results, I must do different things.
  2. (and this is most important) DO NOT ALLOW OLD, NEGATIVE THINKING PATTERNS TO DEFEAT ME.  

I will continue to be my own best friend and defender rather than my own worst enemy.

Baby Steps Count

When I first started losing weight, I can’t tell you how many people lamented that they, too, would lose weight if only they could exercise.  My thought was that unless you are a quadriplegic, you can. Then, I injured my knee.

I couldn’t exercise in the ways I had been and in the ways I wanted; so, I pretty much just stopped. I pouted, threw a little pity party complete with cake and ice cream….and elastic waistbands until I forgot how I started.

I walked the dogs.

So, you can’t run a marathon.  Walk.  So, you can’t walk far.  Walk a little and build up. You can’t walk fast.  Walk slowly. Walk the dogs. Park further from the grocery store door. Eventually, take the stairs instead of the elevator.  You don’t have to be able to climb Everest today.  It will wait while you work up to it!

I have a friend whose knees are in such hideous shape that even thinking about how they grind and pop makes me shiver.  She can swim. She can do leg lifts.  She can lift weights with her arms. She can still move.

Remember how when we were children we ran everywhere just because we could? We experienced the joy of movement! Find something that lets you feel that joy again. I felt it yesterday just walking from my office to the nearby grocery store.  I felt my muscles waking, stretching, and contracting as they corrected my balance and allowed me to move.  Our bodies are truly wondrous machines!

Heather blossoms

Heather blossoms

After work, the pups and I went to the park and had a nice, long walk like we used to. We felt the warm sun and the cool breeze. We smelled the perfume of the flowering trees.  They spotted a deer and tried to go befriend it (I’m sure that’s what they had in mind). They loved it. I loved it.

It’s a beautiful time of year to start – to remember the joy of moving and the wonder of Spring. It may be a little cliché to say that we should let the season remind us of our own potential, new beginnings and growth; but, why waste a good cliché?  Let’s use it! Let’s start again.