Friday, September 30, 2016

A Wheel for my Wagon

It might be Friday, but boy oh boy did I get out of bed on the wrong note today! 
My alarm interrupted me in the middle of a dream, and the usually happy event of hearing The Clash (my alarm sound) and the warm wet dog kisses that greet me to tell me it's time to give up the wonderful, cozy covers I'm under, managed to only make me want to pretend it was Saturday and stay in bed.  I stumbled groggily to the living room and the first thing I said to my husband was negative, something about hating it when I get woken up in the middle of a dream because it makes me feel extra tired all day. 
The dog managed to add to my stress, making me trapse around outside at 5:20 am( so dark out)  for 40 minutes only to refuse to relieve himself.  He's quite stubborn when it comes to that.  This all made me too late to get ready for work, so I ran around getting the kids ready, fixing breakfasts and lunches and triple repeating myself "Brush your teeth!" while running around like a maniac.  Kids made the bus, I jet back home to try and give the dog one last chance at going, he instead finds a lovely sample of some other doggy's poo to sample.  This, after just a couple weeks ago he got such a bad stomach from poo-eating that I ended up cleaning up his doggy-mess all over my stairs for 3 days straight!  By the time I left for work, traffic was terrible, and I was running late, still not having done anything with my messy hair.  I finally gave up the fight and bought some of my favorite vice:
I decided that, since I was in such a foul mood and I know food won't help it, drinking a few calorie-free drinks with caffeine would help.  I have cut way back on my consumption of Diet Coke in recent weeks, so this really really feels like a treat!  And, I was thinking that, while it's great to work on eliminating it eventually, maybe trying to quit it cold-turkey when I'm also cutting back sweets and carbs is setting myself up for a harder time than I need.  I am well aware of the controversy of many of the ingredients and that it is just generally not good for me, but for now, for days like this, it's a hell of a lot better for me than a family sized bag of Kit Kats.  I consider it a major victory that I didn't let my stress drive me to eating trash.  I consider it one more tool I can use when needed, but I don't plan on letting it become a crutch.
So, now on my lunch break, I have less than four hours left in my work day, and I intend on making them positive.  It is Friday afterall.  Sponsored by Diet Coke, I think it might just rock!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Doing Good

This morning when I woke up, I looked in the mirror and noticed the familiar "on track" signal or progress, my collarbone is much more noticable.  I allowed myself a few moments to really look in the mirror at my face, my arms; I am noticing changes, even though I know at this point it is just water weight going away.  I have decided not to let myself get hung-up in typical diet stuff like weighing myself or taking measurements, it really has such little meaning in the bigger picture.  I want to be healthier.  I am not denying that I also want to look better, but I have been doing a lot more work on my ideas about this, how our society puts so much emphasis on outter appearance and how I know who I am without someone else's approval.  I would never be rude to someone who complimented my looks but I don't let people bug me if they give a disapproving look either.  The other day there was an older lady in the waiting room of the doctor's office where I work.  As I crossed the waiting room to get to my office, she looked me up and down and gave me a disapproving look.  Now, I had a cute maxi skirt on with strappy sandals and since I was just coming in for the day, I had a long sweater jacket on top.  In my opinion, I looked nice.  When I saw her all but grimacing at me, I smiled at her and said, "Good morning!"  She knew she was busted for looking at me that way, and softened her face to at least give a little fake, half-smile.  I walked away trying to stiffle a chuckle.  Oh, to be so ignorant of what you are focusing on when the next department over someone is getting the diagnosis that will change their life.  Its just one more way we live on autopilot that is so unneccessary.  Sigh. 
Today is going well as far as my food change goes.  I generally like all of the foods I am eating (I'll spare you the details) which makes it esay to keep eating them.  I have not had a lot of problems with hunger, but I think my hunger signals are still a little broken.  I am eating roughly every 2.5 to 3.5 hours.  I will eventually focus on putting more produce in my meals, but for now, just getting myself going is a big step.  And, I am not craving sugars, which is a really big deal.
This morning I was thinking about when I want to end the ketogenic phase.  To be fair, I was eating a quinoa/brown rice blend with my tofu and veggies a couple nights so I wasn't completely keto, but definitely lower carb than I typically ever eat.  It is tempting to think of myself ending this low carb part and introducing grains and fruits next week.  Then I realized that it is diet mentality.  I do good with the structure, but only to a point, then when I try to take some of the structure away I end up going a little wild.  I guess I have a tendency to be an all-or-nothing thinker.  So, in order for this to be a lifelong change I have to stop putting it in a pegboard and letting it be natural at some point.  It feels a little frightening and a little exciting.  In the end, I am not going crazy eating this way right now, I actually feel really good-lots of energy and a happy mood.  I'm not going to put a timeframe on making changes.  I do miss fruit, which always happens to me when I go keto, even if I don't typically eat a lot of fruit on a daily basis.  The beauty of not being "on a diet" perse is that I don't have any rules.  I can say with all certainty now, that I feel much better on less carbs, less garbage. 
So that's where I'm at.  Solid and good and happy.  No bike yet today, my muscles were sore today.  I might try to sneak a ride in later tonight. 
Hope everyone in blogland is doing well!  Friday's almost here!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Triggers and Solutions

Day two had some flickers and flutters throughout.  I was a little more aware of food, had a bit more of the desire to simply eat food, and a little sugar craving but it was much weaker than when I am actually eating sugars.  I was much more aware of my triggers, and how I've built them into so many parts of my day without realizing what I was doing.  In the morning, I had gotten used to popping a bagel in the toaster.  It tasted amazing, and it was the easiest "meal" I'll ever cook.  So my morning trigger is for quick,easy foods that taste good and give me a little burst of energy.  Since I've cleaned up my act, my breakfast has been eggs with cheese, which is satisfying but takes more effort than popping a bagel in the toaster. 
Work is another trigger, because I typically snack all day long, and usually on total garbage.  When I take a break to check my phone or take a drink, I grab a handfull of whatever junk I picked up on the way to work (grocery/convenience stores are also a trigger, especially in the mornings) and mindlessly shovel it in.  So not having a quick and accessible snack around feels a little like someone moved all my things, I don't know what to do with myself, haha.  I do have healthy snacks with me, but they are for planned eating, when I am truly hungry, and maybe that part is more of a change that the composition of the snack.  I intentionally chose nuts as a snack because they have a decent fat content to help me feel satisfied, and the sea salt makes them tastey so it feels like a treat and not a punishment, the way some healthy food can taste.  When I found myself craving sweets, I had a piece of sugar-free gum and it did the trick.   Honestly, have you tried this gum?
Anyway, my other trigger from day 2 was coming home from work.  Since my husband cooks for himself (he is very disciplined in his diet and likes things a certain way) I have gotten in the habbit of cooking myself whatever I can scavange from the fridge or freezer when I get home at night.  It could be anything from a veggie burger to a bean burrito to baked greasy turkey(substitute) patties with fries.  Rarely do I get home from work and cook an elaborate meal, and even more rare is it something healthy.  So, when I got home last night, starving, it was really hard for me to not reach for the nearest (and easiest) thing to satisfy my growling stomach.  The meal I've planned for dinners this week is tofu with quinoa and veggies.  In order to give myself time to make it without caving to something else, I ate a few cheese curds and felt much better.  For those of you who aren't familiar, cheese curds are the absolute freshest cheese, in small curds that are easy to eat. 
I am from Wisconsin and count myself lucky to have easy access to them because they are absolutely cravable!  The beauty of eating low-carb is that cheese is allowed. 
So, I feel good that I was able to work through some sticky spots, and being more aware of what my triggers or obstacles are is going to help my build a plan to make it even easier.  I know for myself that having foods that are quick and easily accessible is going to make it easier for me to reach for the right stuff more consistently.  So my work for the week is to find more foods that meet those needs, and making some things ahead in order to have them available instead of having to cook and wait.  It actually feels a little exciting to think of putting my own twist on recipes and planning out meals and snacks to keep around. 
I am making baby steps forward and it feels good to feel like I'm in control of it for once.  I kind of get how willpower alone doesn't work, it's more of a mindgame, a puzzle to figure out what our own personal challenges are and planning ahead to ensure we can overcome them.  I know my triggers and I have some good strategies to get past them right now, but I also know that at some point I will give into the chocolate that beckons me or the piece of pie at Thanksgiving dinner or a restaurant meal with family that isn't the healthiest choice.  My mindset is more focused on gaining health rather than losing weight so I know I'll be OK if that happens from time to time, because that is perfectly normal.  The only difference is, that if I eat those things it will be not because I am on autopilot and just eating mindlessly; everything I put in my mouth is by choice, knowing full well how it will make me feel.  I think I can make some positive changes this time.  I don't feel giddy, but I do have more energy (with less caffeine) and feel a lot more relaxed and content.  I have also been having less problems with asthma (if that's what it is, my test is next week).  For now, I'll gladly take that over feeling tired and disappointed in myself.   

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Time for a little Noodle Throwing

Yesterday marked a day where I went through with my goals I had set out for myself, I went back to ketogenic/ low carb diet and I did a small workout.  We got a stationary bike over the weekend and it beat me up just like I knew it would.  I got 5 minutes in, which was a mile, and then I stopped because I could feel my leg muscles starting to get tired and I knew I'd be sore later/tomorrow.  It opened my eyes, not just to how much quicker a mile goes by on a bike vs walking, but also to just how weak my legs have gotten over time.  My knee tolerated it fine though, so I will keep on it, little by little until I can ride for longer and longer periods.  I have a feeling this will be the perfect way to start regaining what I lost in so many ways.  I like the fact that I can do it in my living room, no matter the weather, no excuses. 
The eating change didn't bother me in the least, which is refreshing.  Typically on my first day of a diet I struggle with wanting to eat all kinds of stuff.  The only tough part was when I made a quick stop at Walmart this morning (I know, ugh, but it was the only place open).  I needed backup sweatshirts for my kids for when they leave them at school, and there is always something about going there that makes me want to buy bags of candy/junk food and binge on it.  Perhaps its the smell of Subway wafting through the store, or the fact that dozens of times, when my kids were small, we did just that, bought candy and ate it like crazy.  I didn't buy or eat any, and didn't even crave it so it was easy to turn down, but it did remind me of a book I've been reading:
I found this book by accident, it was referred to in another book I am currently reading.  This book is about the biological circuitry that is responsible for us wanting food that is not healthy.  Sugar, fat and salt activate the pleasure centers in the brain, in the case of sugar, it activates the brain so much that it almost rivals the brain's response to cocaine.  When these centers are activated, the stimulus (the food that created the response) becomes conditioned and we seek out that pleasure again.  Over time, we need more and more of it to reach the same pleasure activity.  Things in our environment can be strong cues or triggers to what we anticipate happening- getting that same high of an item of food as we got before.  For example, if I have a delicious, indulgent lunch with a great friend, in the cozy coffee shop down on the corner, all of the sensory input (the coffee shop, the smell of coffee, that particular friend, even that part of town) can become a "cue" (I prefer the term trigger because it makes me want unhealthy food without me thinking about it).  We get programmed to food stimulus when it is pleasurable because we are hard-wired for pleasure-seeking activities.  The author goes into great detail about how and why, and how the restaurant/food industry knows these things and puts a lot of research and development into their products in order to keep us "hooked", craving not just the food but the atmosphere and the feeling.  He mentions Chili's and TGIF, how they have created the right mix of elements that keep us wanting more.  In the end of the book, of course there is a section on how to get over the whole biological issues, it isn't really what I was looking for in the book, but I think the message that I keep reaching over and over is that awareness is the path to having a more normal relationship with food.  Knowing what my triggers are (and I have noticed quite a slew of them lately) is the first step to assessing them logically instead of going on autopilot and caving everytime I feel like I need something "special".
I must admit, there was a part of me that was embarassed to let my family know that I am watching what I eat again, but then I thought, I am the equivalent to throwing a noodle against the wall until it sticks.  I don't give up because I know one of these times, and with enough knowledge under my belt, I am going to realize that I don't need junk food to make a moment sweeter or make me feel more special.  It simply doesn't do that, it is the value I am giving to this inanimate object.  Day two today has me in a good mindset.  I have already faced 3 major triggers for me, was able to recognize them and realize why they trigger me and let it go.  That is a big deal for me!  I can use reasoning to stop willy-nilly food desires in their tracks.  The book above helped tremendously to understand the biological wiring of food-focus/seeking, and many of the other books I've read have helped understand the emotional connection and missing coping skills.  I feel like I have a pretty strong foundation to help me this time, but the key to each and every one of those methods is awareness.  Allowing myself to live on automatic mode means I am too lazy or indifferent to make positive changes.  I know that's not me.  I am that noodle that is determined to stick someday, and now, I think I'm "cooked" just enough now to make that happen!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

50,000 Times

I can't believe summer is gone, I am disappointed that I didn't take more time to really appreciate it.  Oh, we did get to the peninsula that neighbors Green Bay a few times:
And my husband and I escaped to Washington Island for a weekend 
Still, it was the ins and outs of the summer that I feel like I really missed out on.  Plus, my stupid sun allergy flared up again, so even ten measly minutes of sun exposure had me itching my neck and chest like I was diseased.  So sun-worshipping was not in my agenda, though we did spend a handful of days at beaches or pools now that my youngest has developed a passion for swimming!   Yet, here it is autumn and I am lamenting that I didn't appreciate summer enough as it whizzed past.  Maybe, more appropriately, I didn't make good use of my summer, it didn't play out how I thought it should have.  In my mind, because I didn't have to get the kids up and ready, I had 2 GLORIOUS hours of free time between getting up and getting ready for work.  I gave myself a little break after all the hustle and bustle of the kids' school year and finishing up my Bachelors Degree and I did take a few morning walks with my dog.

We live in a really pretty area now.  But, aside from a couple walks and a few morning stretch sessions, I really didn't do anything productive at all with those extra hours. I procrastinated my summer away until it disappeared.  And now I think I am heavier than I've been in years, and heading into the sun-deprived half of the year, which has a negative effect on my mood and energy level.  I can always imagine myself doing healthy things like going for morning walks, I can see how invigorating that would be with the cooler weather, but making it happen is another story.  
Last week, on a whim, I decided to sign up for a fitness challenge my company put on, to log 50,000 steps on my pedometer in 7 days.  I wear it every day, and typically average 5,000 steps or more just from my standard day, not including any extra exercise.  After signing up I remembered how bad my Achilles' tendon feels whenever I walk for exercise and I thought of dropping out, but I decided I would suck it up and deal with it, icing and using ibuprofen as needed.  Sometimes I walked at work, pacing back and forth in my office area, I did take a big long walk outside another day, toward the middle of the week I wasn't sure how I was going to pull it of but near the end, I knew it was happening no matter how I had to do it.  Today was the last day of the challenge, and I am already over 53,000 steps.  To be honest, some days I was surprised how fast the steps added up, and others it seemed like a struggle to get some extra paces in.  I'm glad it's over because having the goal made me hyper-focused on it, which should be the goal with exercise I suppose, but this one was a little less enjoyable because the chosen activity caused me some pain.  
During the week I nonchalantly searched up "cellulite suddenly appearing on my thighs" because it's something I've never had to deal with before but it's come on me like a load of bricks.  There were thes standard answers and advice on creams and snake oil but one article really bothers me.  It said there is a strong link between that and pre-diabetes (insulin resistance).  I have had one high reading a few years ago and that is when the doctor I was seeing at the time actually wrote a prescription for South Beach Diet.  At the time, I was already on medicine for high blood pressure and high cholesterol and he warned that the only way to get my numbers to improve in all three areas was to eat less sugars and exercise.  Shortly after that was when I lost my job and started this blog and followed his advice.  I weighed 193 when I started and got down to 152 at my lowest before I slowly gained it all back, and then some.  I weighed this afternoon and it said 203. Sigh.  I've been heavier than this, but not for a long time.  I look bad, I ache more than I should at this age, and I worry about what all this extra weight is doing on the inside.  I feel like this point in my life is crucial in designing what is like the second half to look like, because with menopause changes already beginning, my fight will only get more challenging.  Arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer all run really heavy in my family.  I figure I can either end up like this:
Needing a motorized cart to haul my heavy a$$ around because I'm suffering under the unfair amount of pressure im forcing my body to carry, or I can look like this:
Yes, there are pictures of people doing even more amazing feats at older ages, but to me, this is a biggie right here, I don't want pain to stop me from being able to walk under my own power.  And if I stick to my stretching maybe I can even look like this:
Haha!  It comes down to me making the choices now that will lead to the path I want to be walking then.  I personally would rather hide myself away than have to ride a motorized cart around because I'm fat. I don't know the story of the lady in the photo, but in my story it'd be because I didn't buck up and do something when I had the chance.  
So tomorrow I will be starting my search for a stationary bike and I will keep on it until I find one.  I know my leg muscles have gotten weak and I know it will kick my butt for a while but I think it's a great way to build some lower body strength and support my knee.  Then hopefully by spring walking won't feel so challenging/burdensome.  I will also be going back to South Beach Diet on Monday.  I don't know where that leaves anything or if I'll have trouble with feeling restricted, but I think the books I've read lately are giving me great tools, and blogging more often will help too. I'm not trying to look like a fitness model, I just want to feel better and fight off muscle atrophy and unnecessary mobility issues the best I can.  Taking strides to get and keep my heart healthy are a goal too.  I have more goals in mind as well, for my mental and emotional health but this blog post is already longer than it should be.  So, here's to fresh starts and to never giving up no matter how bleak it may seem.  There's some life left in this old girl yet!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

I Hate Worrying about my Health

When I first started my Vitual Mission I was excited and thought that it might just be a clever tool to get me moving.  And I did move, for a few days, then I really stopped being excited and just kind of dropped out.  Meh.  One reason is because I was pushing myself through pain that probably shouldn't have been ignored.  My Achilles' tendon has sustained several small injuries over the years and is now starting to make me feel awful after walking for cardio.  I stretch it and ice it but still it is irritated.  The knee I had surgery on and the opposite hip were also starting to get irritated with my increased activity too.  Walking is easy but it ends up hurting me.  I think 2 things need to happen before getting back into using walking as a form of cardio: 1, I have to strengthen my entire lower body and 2, I have to take some weight off to start with.  I have been thinking about getting a stationary bike because it does really work my leg muscles, particularly the ones that help the knee track properly, and it's something I can do year-round.  I'll see about that in the coming weeks.
Last Tuesday I had my procedure to remove the polyp from my uterus and have the lining ablated to help me have shorter/lighter monthlies.  I tried to have only positive thoughts, and my husband kept me laughing during pre-op.  I wasnt concerned about the procedure itself or recovery, I was worried that I wasn't healthy enough to undergo general anesthesia.  A good friend of mine died when she was put under, her heart stopped and they couldn't get it restarted.  That weighs on me so heavy whenever I need anesthesia.  Last time was for my knee in 2013, and I was about 30 pounds lighter and in my mind, much healthier than I am now.  Lately ice been needing an inhaler more and more and I've been getting cramps in my throat.  I will try to have an asthma test yet before the end of the year, and just have my lungs tested.  They haven't felt the same since I got horribly sick in May. I think I'm most worried about my heart.  And I think this year when I have my yearly physical I am going to request a stress test to make sure I'm going to be ok.  I hate having to be worried about my health all the time, I know it could be much worse in the future if I don't fix things.  I just haven't felt motivated or inspired.  I need to get that back.  Somehow.  If only there was a magic solution, then we'd all be fit and healthy and we'd have to find something else to focus on as a society!  Maybe someday.  For now my plan of action is to have the nagging health issues checked and start scoping stationary bikes.  I have to believe I'll get my head straight at some point. Maybe I can bike those miles to Sacramento and maybe I'll learn more about myself and this trip along the way.