Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Belly

There is an adorable little girl at my kids' bus stop in the mornings. Her name is Isabella, but her parents affectionately nicknamed her "Belly". She is extremely social, but not in the typical girlie way, almost forcefully social. One morning, just before getting on the bus she asked, "you're a mom? You look like a kid". I love her. She wears a Transformers backpack with no apologies, and loves to tell you about which teeth are wiggly and which have come out. And sometimes, when I'm standing in the frigid Wisconsin winter, waving to my boys as their bus drives away, I can't see them waving back, but I can see Belly, big toothless grin waving frantically. From my point of view, Belly's world must be a fantastically colorful adventure!
I have been fantastically on-track lately, though I don't always want to be. The weekend brought slightly less structure as it was my youngest's birthday on Sunday. Friday night we ordered pizza and I indulged full-on. It was so good. On Saturday my son went out for his special birthday lunch with his grandma, and my husband, my other son and I went to lunch at our newest haunt, a build-your-own burrito joint. I had a fairly clean meal of chicken breast on whole wheat. I still consider it a cheat meal, and it was good. Sunday was clean except for cake. My son chose a small brownie chunk ice cream cake. It was devilishly cravable. I was really happy that it didn't seem to activate cravings after, and had no problem getting back on track. There were times when the rest of my family ate sweets, and I chose not to, opting for fruit or sugar-free Popsicles instead.
My weight seems to not be fluctuating much, and it's a little disappointing, but I'm not trying to put too much stock in the scale, and most days I don't even weigh myself. I do feel somehow, that this particular week will be the one that changes the game, that I'm going to start seeing results. I'm challenging myself to keep my diet clean and not skip any workouts this week. As part of that challenge, I made some wise choices today. The first one was getting out of bed to get to the gym, despite being so sleepy. Then, knowing snow is coming tonight, I figured I might not want to drive in it at 5am, so I switched up my schedule and got my chest/shoulder workout in today, so I can do my cardio at home tomorrow if the roads are bad. The endorphin rush I get from lifting weights is so euphoric. I am also on meds that make me drowsy, so I felt pretty good this morning. And knowing that I am not compromising a weight session feels good. The other good choice I made today was when a coworker won a catered lunch for our office. The place that is catering is famous for their butter burgers, yep, beef cooked in butter. And they have fish burgers and veggie burgers too, I could have...but I ordered a chef salad with turkey instead. I am proud of my decision. I'm sure the salad will be a nice change of pace.
This morning as I was leaving the gym , still dark as midnight out, I pulled up behind a car stopped at a flashing red light. Despite there being no traffic coming, the car stayed put. I said out loud, "it's flashing. You have to make your own green light." And I realized that there are those who do that in life, and those of us who wait for someone else to change the light for us. I bet Belly turns all the lights green for herself. Beautiful, rebellious, toothless Belly.
Have a great day, and don't forget to turn the lights in your favor!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The View From The Sky

I write blog posts in my head all the time. The trouble with that is my memory is not so great, so by the time I sit to actually blog, I think, now what was that ridiculously witty thing I was going to say?
My Id and my Ego were at odds at 2 am. My cell phone, which I use for an alarm, made an obnoxious noise and woke me and I thought to myself, I sure am tired and sore, I could use some extra rest. I reset my alarm for an extra hour. But before I could get comfortable enough to fall back asleep, I realized what I was doing, deciding not to care and not to try, and it is always a slippery slope from there. So the alarm was set back to the original time. I always have to remind myself that I will ALWAYS feel like I want more sleep, even when I get more than enough, so instead of letting that be an excuse for letting opportunity escape, I have to fight against those thoughts with logic.
I got up at 4:30, shivered at the thought of of my ice and snow covered car sitting in the still-black winter morning, and remembered to weigh myself. (holding steady at 176, but my clothes already fit better). I slid to the gym on ice rink roads, and had an awesome chest and shoulder workout. As I was getting my shoes on to leave, one of the Obese Ladies Who Love To Swim (OLWLTS) exit the pool, hide herself in an impossibly large towel, and head to the row of lockers behind mine. Now out of site, she said,"Lets see, do I want to go home and clean for a while?" I was hoping she wasn't talking to me, but I couldn't tell if anyone was over there with her. After a long pause another voice answered, "Nah, take the day off." To which she replied, "I take lots of days off, that's the problem." I have never pretended to be the most ambitious person on the block. After all, I have been known to waste a couple hours playing Angry Birds. But something about that really put me off. Maybe because I assumed that this lady was on some sort of disability due to her morbid obesity. That might not be the case at all, and it's not my place to judge and assume. I started running through my schedule of daily responsibilities in my head, and it started to make me feel sad for her. I have a reason to be at the gym, working hard, because I have two awesome kids that would be devastated without me, and for whom I have to be a role model. And I have to get to the gym at 5am so I have time to get them and me ready for the day. And I don't have time after work because there is hardly enough time to help them with homework, feed them, help them with their bathing, play with them, and get them to bed. By that time, I need to get to bed myself so that I can be well rested when my alarm goes off at 4:30 the next morning. On the weekends I spend a few hours doing my own homework, playing with my kids, grocery shopping, house cleaning, food prep, and reacquainting myself with my husband, who seems to be a passing blur in my constantly busy weeks. Yes, it's busy, but when I think of having a lifestyle of sitting home alone with no responsibility, I get kind of sad. I have been in that place before, when I still lived at home and wasn't in a relationship and had very little to be concerned about. I was obese and hid out in my room, trying to numb my depression with junk food and bad TV. I desperately wanted to be living a different story, but couldn't break my mental addiction to food. Oh! If only I knew then what I know now, especially about the sugars and why I kept craving them and what it was doing to my blood. But that was my sad life, maybe hers isn't like that. It just irritated me because I felt like, if you have a bunch of time on your hands, why not spend some of it doing something productive, or better yet, something that makes you proud? Easier said than done, I know, but usually it's not as hard as we think it will be once we get started. I think we humans have a universal knack for complicating things and making excuses for staying in our comfort zone. To me, that is like a bird with broken wings. The view from above is magnificent, we just gotta find a way to get up there.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Tactics

The moment my alarm goes off, I have an idea of what kind of day I'm going to have by the action that happens next.  I will either get up and do what I planned on doing (work out) or I reset my alarm and go back to sleep.  Really, for me, it is in those few crucial moments that my entire day can slip away from me, mentally.  It is really easy, at 4:30 am to say, I don't feel like caring about all this stuff today.  And that is it, in it's truest form.  It's not about whether or not I have the energy or the health or even the ambition or motivation.  Its about whether I feel like caring about it or not.  Sad, really, but that's how it goes. 
This morning my alarm went off at 4:30 and I reset my alarm.  But not because I didn't feel like caring.  I did it because the roads were covered in frozen rain and blowing snow the gift that Wisconsin bestowes upon her residents over and over and over this year.  I slept an additional 20 minutes and got up to dance in my bedroom instead of risking my life to get to the gym's treadmill.  If it had been a weight training day, I would have gone to the gym, but it worked out really well that it wasn't.  The dancing isn't mean to be a high-intensity cardio session, it's just a fun way to start the day on a high note.  My muscles are really sore from yesterday's workout, but the cardio actually made them feel a little nicer.  And scraping all of the ice off my car got them warm again and provided another ten minutes of unintended cardio. 
I think I have another one of my pitfalls pinpointed.  I tend to get off track when I over-complicate things.  Like when the Live Fit Traniner got to a point where I couldn't do it (because of the knee) I wanted to try to design my own mix of stuff from that program, but the combining of things, and trying to figure out which moves, how heavy, how many and in which order was so compilcated that there were mornings I simply had no clue which body part to train, and I told myself, whoa!  I better wait until I have this figured out better.  And days and weeks passed.  No time to do it now, I've got that statistics exam coming up I'd tell myself.  But now I see it was partially an excuse to not care, and partially the reality of how I tick.  I need a plan in order to follow through with things.  I need to know that Mondays are back and biceps days, and that I will aim to max out at 10-12 reps.  Then I can get fancy with supersets or dropsets if I feel like it, but at least I have a plan.  So I am simply planning out my week like that.  Monday/Wed/Fri will be weight training, saving legs for Fridays so I have the whole weekend to recover the part that usually gets the most sore.  I'd rather have stiff legs at home than at work.  Not sure what I will be able to do for legs, but I will attempt a few things.  Yesterday I did T-bar rows (for the back) and my knee was moderately irritated by it, but a change in position eased it a little.  The last thing I want to do is delay healing in that stinking knee. 
So I have a plan in place, and I will try this for a while.  I know it isn't written in stone, but I do so much better when I know what to anticipate.  Whether is still a factor, and there may be days when I simply can't get to the gym, but I still have my home gym and some equipment I can make work if I have to.  I sure can't wait until spring!  Last year was one of the most snowless winters we've ever had, this year we are over our average amount of snow.  I can only look forward to bright, warm days.  And I am smiling as I type this, because I know I am moving in a direction that makes me happy reguardless of the weather. 
Happy Tuesday, friends!

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Gym

My gym looks like the 80's had a party and forgot to invite the cool kids.  My gym looks like a retirement community where the clients and the slightly younger staff vie for most time spent watching infomercials while zoning out on the treadmills, hanging on for dear life as if the machine was about to give them a wild ride.  My gym has guys slinging weights as if they are trying to throw something out of their hands, then dropping the weights loudly and grunt-panting afterword.  My gym has an obnoxiously-bright orange locker room and hand-painted walls that look like the pattern of a stock chart, painted by what I can only assume is an eight year old.  My gym has tiny Asian women who fling themselves back and forth on ab machines, trying to flatten their already-really-flat abs.  My gym has really mellow music in the morning.  My gym has obese ladies who love to swim, and look the same as they did months ago.  My gym has elderly men with long white hair, who love to sit in the sauna with very little clothing.
My gym has posters that inspire me about core training and being strong enough to carry the weight of the world, and about having arms to make my friends jealous.  My gym has a HUGE room for group workouts or in case one feels like trying out their closeted passion for tumbling routines.  My gym is filled with really friendly, normal people.  My gym has mirrors that flatter me.  :)  My gym has weights I've never seen before (like 12.5 pounds).  My gym has character because it isn't all neon, which cheerleader look-a-likes all running around in booty shorts trying to get attention.  My gym is gritty and raw and I'm so glad to be back!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Internal Spring

Last week was a good week.  It started with doubt and uncertainty, I wasn't sure I should be starting this thing over when I wasn't convinced I could stick to it.  But I have been so unhappy being off plan, seeing the weight come back, complete with some stretch marks (!) that I had to try.  The week began somewhat slow and uninspired, and I didn't even blog every day, because I was just going through the motions of getting back on track.  It only took one day to break the carb addiction, though time of the month probably had a lot to do with that.  But as the biological factors kicked in, I started to feel a positive lift in spirits that I haven't had in so long.  There were a few positives unrelated to my weight that happened as well, news and communication with friends I hope to see in May, both of whom I haven't seen in more than nine years.  That alone fires me up to get back on track.  And my family decided today where we are going on our first official out-of-state vacation, that got us all excited.  Every day it's sunny out I feel like spring just has to be right around the corner, and now that I am back on track, I don't dread the thought of my horrible body trying to survive a hot, humid summer in layers of unwanted clothes, because I'm too ashamed to show my body.
I started to plan out some goals that I want to work on, to form some new healthy habits.  One of them revolves around Fridays, and weekends in general.  I have been treating Fridays as party time where food was concerned, and eating whatever I want starting Friday at lunch, and going straight through Sunday, only to begin again on Monday, constantly rehashing the same few pounds over and over.  So Fridays, at least, have to be considered part of the week, not part of the weekend, and reigned in.  I have been saying I need to do this for probably more than a year now, but I haven't committed to the mindset and always looked at it as a sacrifice and challenge I wasn't ready to face.  It seems that I have a hard time finding the middle ground between not wanting to do anything off-plan and wanting to go completely off the rails.
This Friday, I actually wanted to go out to a restaurant, as this is our family habit.  But the kids were excited that a friend of theirs wanted to play a game with them on-line, and didn't want to leave the house.  And, as often happens to us, no one could agree where to go.  I really just wanted a burger with a salad on the side, I figured that was a decent, middle-of-the-road choice.  But alas, we didn't end up going out.  I wasn't too disappointed, I had been entertaining myself with a go at Angry Birds, my secret addiction, and was content to fix my normal dinner-homemade bean burrito (low-carb tortilla of course) and get a little relaxation time.  My sons have started eating tuna wraps and homemade bean burritos with me, that is really good to see them adopting some of my healthier choices.
Saturday would have been an easy time to cheat and eat all kinds of crazy stuff, as my husband was working, and I was at home with my sons alone.  This is usually when we would go to the store and get a bunch of junk food and indulge in it with no one to judge us.  What a horrible thing I was teaching my kids!  But instead of falling into bad patterns, I decided Saturday wasn't going to be about food at all.  I did some much-needed spring cleaning, donating a whole ten bags/boxes of clothes, shoes, books and toys.  Some of the things donated were my "fat" clothes.  I fished one back out to try it on, a size 22-24 funky dress, and it was simply too big.  It hung like a rectangle tent, even with the built-in belt tied as tight as it would go.  That was a personal victory.  After spending some time catching up on reading some blogs, and doing a little more cleaning, we did indeed go out to dinner.  I had my burger with guacamole that I'd been craving, and instead of fries I had a cup of chicken and rice soup on the side.  I ate a few tortilla chips (less than ten) and a few oyster crackers, and I when I was finished with my meal, I was so satisfied and full.  My family enjoyed some apple and cherry turnovers afterword, but I didn't even want any.  I know what that would do to my blood sugars and my mind!  There is a time and a place for that sort of indulgence, but I'm not in the mindset to let the "devil" in just yet.  My son's birthday is next weekend, I will have to decide what to do by then, I know one stinking piece of cake could totally derail me.  I am approaching this with new eyes, realizing that the choice to ignore what I've learned is always there, that moderation has to happen, and that the less sugar I eat, the better luck I will have at seeing this thing through.
Today, despite my husband being at work again, I stayed on track and did some more spring cleaning and blog reading.  It feels really good to not be a slave to thoughts about food.  It leaves a lot of room for other, more important and uplifting thoughts.
Tomorrow I am going to get my butt back into the gym.  It has been so long I have stepped foot in there.  It is going to feel amazing to get the blood back in my muscles.  I am so happy to have the desire back.  I'm not thrilled that I let things go so far off track, but I have learned much from my mistakes.  And if I can't see that for the gift that it is, then I am a blind fool.
Hope you had a great weekend and are ready to rev up your Monday!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gooder 'N Gum

When I worked at a convenience store many moons ago, I used to have a customer who came in nearly every day. And every day I'd greet him and ask how he was, and his answer was the same always: "Gooder 'n gum!" He would say it kind of dryly and I was never really certain how to take it, so I just let it float until the next transaction.
Today I was thinking about that statement as I was chomping on a piece of gum while driving to work. This particular piece is a new flavor, lemon bar, and tastes so delicious that I almost feel like I'm cheating on my diet. Then I thought, gum IS good, one of my favorite "treats". And that led me to thinking about treats and how maybe the mind trick about treats isn't about avoiding certain kinds, but about changing how we define the word itself. If I call a bowl of ice cream a treat, it has a certain way of turning that bowl of ice cream into something special, rewarding, forbidden and naughty even. So, my train of thought continued, maybe my idea of "treat" is what really needs to evolve. When I'm on a diet, and doing good, I generally try keep my food clean and don't think about those naughty indulgences. But today, while chewing my gum, I realized that the word treat doesn't have to be attached to junk food. Anything that tastes good (in my humble opinion) can be a treat, even if its something on-plan. And here's my new slogan that expands on the idea that nothing is off limits, it's ok to have anything, as long as you don't have everything. Eat a slice of pie, but don't eat the whole pie. Maybe I'm under-simplifying. :)
I feel good today. The sugar cravings are gone, I am not obsessing or planning out when I can eat some more junk food, or what that junk will be and how it will taste. Simple carbs do that to me, they turn me into a shameful addict, indulging in private and hiding the evidence just to get the high. I feel so much better mentally when not on the sugar-coaster, but there is still the naughty indulgent feeling when I give into it. I haven't discovered the limits of my carb sensitivity yet, I'm still learning. I have been eating a lot of fruit this time around, because it tastes ridiculously good and I love the fact that (especially berries) it is so nutrient-packed. Now that is a treat!  And so far, the fruits don't seem to effect my cravings like other sugars do.
Now that I am free of sugar-fog my mind is becoming stronger, and is finally getting on board. I used to think I had to be "in the game" mentally before this weight loss thing would ever be successful, but the longer I do this the more I am finding that's not true. It's like the Nature vs Nurture argument, there's no one right answer for everyone, but for most people it's a balance of the two that make the whole. For me, the biological side of being hooked on sugar makes it really hard for me to commit to getting clean, it truly is like an addiction. So I have to be "sober" for a few days before I can really think clearly and stop focusing on my short-term pleasure-seeking sugar high. Sugar isn't evil, but for me, it has far too powerful an effect on me biologically and mentally to use any more than just occasionally.
I am, however, going to start researching/experimenting with spices/ seasonings and maybe try some more clean recipes to keep things interesting. And I might try to keep a journal of some of the things I'm learning about myself (for example, one of the things that has thrown me off my diet is bringing per-cooked foods- especially meat- to work for my lunch break. I get disgusted at the thought of eating it, and go get something else, usually non-productive food that starts the downward spiral). I trying to keep ahead of my school work so that I can't use it as an excuse to stress eat or skip workouts. I know I will never get to a point where I am not sensitive to sweets, so I need to come to terms with eliminating those things altogether.
Things are looking up, and my spirits are lifting. I think I'm ready to give this another go. Bob Marley said it, "In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty." I am ready to take the sip that waits for me. Today I am also 'gooder 'n gum.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gut(s)

Forgive me if the photo goes in a wierd place, the Blogger app for iPhone doesn't allow as many options as using a PC.
I almost didn't have the guts to post this photo. Me, the one who posted very unflattering photos of myself at the beginning of my journey, and more along the way. I am ashamed that I let all my hard work slip away, as if it were meaningless, let my life overtake me, let my health take a backseat to everything else. Truth is, ever since I started School in fall, I have been overwhelmed and under-inspired. When I came down with Shingles on Thanksgiving it caused me to reexamine my stress levels, and the way I was interpreting my daily challenges. It was only a day or two later that my knee became excessively swollen, and was diagnosed as bursitis even though no injury or stress occurred to the knee. I lived with it for more than two months, limping like a cripple, unable to play with my kids or work out, and I began shoving garbage into my mouth to try and cope with everything. I felt like so much was out of my control, so instead of making an effort to make things better, I checked out of my own best interests and began taking care of everyone else's needs. I'm a great caretaker when it comes to everyone else.
I have been "off the wagon" before and have rebounded quite easily. I've been yo-yoing up and down the scale, my clothes running the gamut from fitting well and flattering me, to "wow! If I gain any more weight, I'll need to start shopping for bigger sizes again. This past weekend I was painfully reminded which end of the spectrum I'm currently on, as I noticed that when I lift my arms up with my winter jacket on, it stays stuck against my too-fat body, barely zipping over my shirt and sweater. For a second, I thought of the fate of having to wear Big Red again, shudder.
Why do we let things go? Why do we let life overwhelm us? Why do we stop caring as much about our health as we do about others, or about how yummy that chocolate or chips will taste? Why am I not there for myself?
I was thinking about my kids, and how I would make almost any sacrifice for them, and then I was sad when I thought of what their life would be like if I passed on. The fat, low self esteem self sees it as that I'm putting their needs before mine. But in reality, eating crap and not trying to live a healthy life is really selfish, and if I died from a preventable disease, I would not blame them for resenting me.
I took this photo on Sunday. When I weighed in mid-afternoon, the scale said 182. The negative way to look at it: that's just ten pounds less than I weighed when I started this whole thing. The positive way to look at it? That's ten pounds I don't have to re-lose. Last week I went to a new Dr. to have her look at my knee and see if she could tell me why the swelling wasn't going away, and why it came in the first place. She put me in an NSAID prescription and told me she will refer me to an orthopedic specialist if the drugs don't work. It is a little better, the swelling has gone down, but my knee is still catching and stiff. I'm thinking I might have a meniscus tear from my fat but trying to run. I have used my knee as an excuse for the past 2 and a half months. I told myself, "I can't do cardio so I'll just take some time off." And that put me in the prime mindset for just letting everything go.
But now spring is starting to pulsate beneath the snow, the days are slowly getting longer, the light feels so good to me, and thinking about hot sticky summer days has me dreading what I've let myself become. I know this happens to so many dieters. I also know that the ones who never give up, usually make it stick. I haven't failed, I simply got lost, and that felt really good for a while, but now I need to find my way back so I can continue to move forward. When darkness surrounds you, you have a choice to succumb to it, or to be your own light. I think I'll chose the latter.
Nice to be back. Hope you are well!