Weighty Matters

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Cheer Every Effort

The other day in a conversation with a friend I heard myself say, “I only rode my bike for seven miles last night.” My friend gaped at me and I heard my words as if with someone else’s ears. I looked at her and said, “I need to change the way I think and talk about my exercise.”

She vehemently agreed. Really. I only rode my bike for seven miles?? Only? On the one hand, it’s funny that I would think any physical exercise is less than, that I would diminish any effort. Two years ago I could barely walk up stairs and had to help myself by pulling up on railings. The slightest walk had me breathing hard. I hadn’t ridden a bicycle in more than 15 years. On the other hand, it’s not funny at all that I introduce negativity into any of my thoughts about my effort. By the way, that evening that I rode seven miles capped a day that started with 45 minutes of brisk walking. I was hardly slacking on my physical fitness routine!

I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Negativity breeds negativity. I can’t afford to let that mind set or energy develop. If it grows, and takes hold, it could easily mess with my emotions. When my emotions get messed up, I reach for food.

So I’ve committed to framing the messages that I give myself in positive terms and removing the diminishing qualifiers. There will be no more “only did this much” nonsense. I will cheer every effort, every exercise session. Whether I reach 10,000 steps, 15,000 or more, I will declare, “Booyah!” and celebrate.

For the record, I’ve been super active this weekend. My apologies to all of you suffering the series of snowstorms, but the weather’s beautiful in the Florida Keys. A little cool by our standards but sunny with light winds. Yesterday the dogs and I did two miles/45 minutes of a nice walk along the beach road. Later in the day I added a six mile bike ride just because it was so nice in the late afternoon.

A couple of weeks ago, I signed up to participate in a 5K walk/run to raise money for the organization that provides services and a food bank for people in need and oversees a homeless shelter and meal program. I’m not competing to win anything, but I don’t want to be last in my age group. I’ve declared myself “in training” for that walk. Pyxi was limping last night and this morning and she appears to have strained a muscle in our walk yesterday so I needed to keep things easy on her today. The dogs got a shorter walk and then I headed out for the Seven Mile Bridge and walked about 3.25 miles.

After doing some stuff around the house, I realized that it was again a beautiful afternoon, so I rolled out on my bike for 10 miles.

I find that I dearly love these outdoor exercise sessions. I don’t want to lose these feelings so the more that I do things that I enjoy, the more my enjoyment grows. No “only” about it.

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Biggest Loser Winner and CVS

For the last couple of days I’ve seen lots of press and social media posts about two things: How skinny the winner of the Biggest Loser looked on the finale and that CVS announced they will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Both of these topics have triggered reaction, that’s for sure.

I didn’t see all of the Biggest Loser finale on Tuesday night. I was so tired that I set it to record on DVR and went to bed early. So, I didn’t actually see the woman who won until her picture started appearing on Facebook. Wow. She sure as heck did lose a lot of weight! I’m of two minds about the results. On the one hand, she wanted to change her life from one of morbid obesity and while so doing, she wanted to win the competition. Obviously she succeeded. On the other hand, sweet goodness, she went from morbidly obese to downright skinny in a few months. Is she too skinny? Is she now an unhealthy weight? Maybe. Overall, what you and I think doesn’t matter. Determining what’s enough weight loss and what’s too much is up to her and her medical advisors. Also, even if she isn’t a healthy weight now, she was a fierce competitor and she wanted to make sure that she lost a greater percentage of body weight than the other two guys. Now that she’s won, if she wants to put back on a few pounds, she can.

Whether it’s a participant on a weight loss reality show or someone else who has had bariatric surgery, I have resolved to not judge their journeys. It honestly is not my place to assess what they’re doing and decide whether what they’re doing or have done is right. If I go down that road, then I’m no longer assessing the reality of their situations, I’m making a judgment based on what I think. Their journey or their goals and what paths they travel to get there, are honestly none of my business. I have more than enough on which to focus with my own journey, goals, and paths. They can take care of themselves.

When it comes to CVS, I applaud this gutsy decision to deep six tobacco products. I always found it ironic that you could walk to the back of the local CVS for the medications to help when you’re sick and then at the front pass by the shelves of cigarettes, guaranteed to wreck your health. I hate cigarettes and smoking. I regret that I ever smoked and celebrate the fact that I quit. I don’t get obnoxious about it with friends who still smoke. There’s an ashtray reserved for them on my porch. They understand that there’s no smoking allowed in my house. I also don’t do things like exaggeratedly wave my hands in front of my face when I walk by people smoking. I don’t fix them with my most effective death glare. Smoking cigarettes is a personal choice. I don’t lecture them about the consequences.

If anyone asks me what my mother died from, I’ll likely say lung cancer and strokes caused by her 50 year addiction to cigarettes. That’s the reality of it and it makes me sad every day. When she was alive, and before her cancer diagnosis, we shared the family home up in New Jersey. Mom and I had an understanding. If she needed something from the store, I would happily run out and get it for her — except for cigarettes. I absolutely refused to buy cigarettes for her. That was something she had to get on her own.

I used to shop in CVS a lot more frequently. They had my monthly prescriptions on file so I ran in at least once a month to refill. It was also my store of choice to pick up snack foods when I didn’t want to go to a full supermarket. Once I got off of all my prescriptions a little more than a year ago, and since don’t do a lot of snack foods anymore, I have a lot less need for CVS. There’s also a Walgreens a block away. Believe it or not, the new announcement has inspired me to shop CVS more frequently. I might even look for excuses to go. As long as they maintain the “no smoking” policy, I want them to succeed. I don’t want them to lose their other, residual product sales as a result of the tobacco products ban. Shopping there more often is a way to positive reinforce them for their bold move.

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments on either of these topics!

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Lapping the Couch

That post name reads funny, doesn’t it? I don’t mean I’m sitting here licking my sofa. The name was inspired by a captioned photo I saw on a friend’s Facebook page today. The picture was of an obese man jogging. Even in a still image, you could tell he was sort of shuffling along. The caption read: It doesn’t matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping the person on the couch.

I think that’s a wonderful reminder for anybody who is out of shape and overweight but who wants to change. If you’re like I was before surgery, when walking more than a few blocks made me gasp, longer walks made me hurt, and I had to use the stair railing to help myself get up steps, it can be incredibly daunting to take even the first small steps toward exercise.

After my surgery, I didn’t have much energy. Because of the operation, I tired easily. However, the medical staff told me to get up and walk every day. Actually, I was up and walking with company down the hall of the hospital a couple of hours after I was in the room from recovery. That must have been quite the sight as I wheeled my IV pole along with me. At least it was a bariatric specialty floor so the hospital gown really did go all around my body to keep me from flashing anyone. Maybe I didn’t walk far the first couple of trips that day, but I walked. Each time, I walked a little further.

Same thing when I got home. Although I rested and recuperated a lot, I made sure to also walk a couple of times a day, each time going a little further.

As my body recovered and the weight dropped off, my strength, endurance and overall ability increased. You know the rest. Now I can do long bike rides or walks, an hour of Zumba, Tai Chi and pretty much anything else I want to try. It happens — but it all starts with the first few steps.

It doesn’t matter how fast you move as long as you move. Every step and moment of motion is an improvement over the minutes that we spend flopped in our chairs or on our couches. I find this enormously encouraging and motivating.

Sometimes the mental blocks are as hard, or harder, to overcome than the physical challenge. Every once in a while, my lazy brain wants to kick in again and give me reasons why I don’t have to exercise, why it would be too difficult or even why it’s okay to skip it. This morning, for example, the wind was blowing pretty hard. I knew that no matter what direction I went, at some point I’d have to pedal against a 15-20 mph wind. I could have stayed home but I’d committed to getting in a longer ride today. I decided to suck it up and go.

I rode east, into the wind when starting out, thinking it was better to do the harder part when my legs were their freshest. The first two miles were difficult, but I pumped along and got to the beach road where I turned south. That was an easier direction for the next two miles and a very pretty path with glimpses of sparkling water and a lovely sunshine but cooler temperatures. I reached the beach, stopped for a good guzzle of water, and then turned around. Whew boy, did the challenge ever begin as I headed right into the northeast wind!

Usually, I ride on the toughest gear, figuring that gives my legs the best workout. I have to admit that with the wind in my face, I needed to turn down a couple of notches so that I could maintain a decent pace. As I pumped and pedaled, wheeling along the beach rode, I realized that I was smiling. Sure, I’m never going to reach the speeds of the Tour de France, but it doesn’t matter. At least I’m pedaling on a regular basis.

The first weekend that I got the bike, I ran into some long distance bikers on my way home from my first ride. We chatted for a few minutes and I shared that I was only just starting out riding a bike after many years and I hoped it would aid me in my overall weight loss efforts.

The man told me that if I kept at it, I would succeed. He also said that the speed didn’t matter as much as the duration of my rides. After seeing the picture online today, I’m taking what he said to heart. Regardless of how fast, or how slow, I go, I’m still accomplishing more than I would by doing nothing.

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