Weighty Matters

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Rekindling Motivation

I’m annoyed with myself.  Now that my foot is healed, I have no excuse for not getting back to exercising more often.

I’m being lazy.  That’s not acceptable.  I need to be doing much more than I am.  At the same time, I’m really scared of triggering another bout of plantar fasciitis or tearing the tissue again.  I’m also, as I mentioned, being lazy.  It’s like I lapsed into my old slothful ways when I was super heavy and just walking was a challenge.

What I miss most is my excited attitude about being able to move and be much more physically active.  When the world of movement opened up, I experienced joy in my body, in myself.  I’d like to find it again.  I know it hasn’t disappeared.  It’s merely… misplaced.  Every once in awhile I catch a glimpse, like when I swim around snorkeling for an hour or when my friend and I kayaked for a couple of hours.  I haven’t ridden my bike much, but when I do, it’s still a source of enjoyment.

When I was in pain and then undergoing treatment, I couldn’t do Tai Chi.  Oh, I missed it for so many reasons.  I’m glad to be back in class.  Even though I spell myself a little to work my heel and myself back into the routine, whenever I do the moves, I experience contentment and peace, simple pleasure in how easily I move.  (Although I have to work on regaining my balance now that I’m adjusting to doing the moves in sneakers.)

I’ve been able to walk the dogs more regularly.  Today I did workout moves in the pool, including treading water for several minutes, doing several short laps (It’s a small pool so short laps are all I can do.)  I even worked on my triceps, abs and biceps.

I’m also making a commitment to myself — and stating it publicly on the blog — that I’m going to check out rowing classes.  Several friends have tried them and pronounced them great workouts that are fun.  They’re also low impact so my heel and knees shouldn’t be at risk.  I’m shooting for trying the first class tomorrow – provided the evening class isn’t full.  I’m going to call first thing in the morning.

In the meantime, I keep reminding myself that any movement is good movement.  More movement is even better.  I think I just need to keep pushing myself to be active and believe that doing so will rekindle the motivation and lead to me doing even more.

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Routine Change

I’m four days into the new program. So far it’s going pretty well. I’ve dropped some of the weight I gained. I’m doing the exercise routines. No lie, some of the exercises challenge me. In each routine, there is a woman doing the modified version of each exercise so that you can still benefit even if you aren’t quite up to the peppy, totally toned, I’m-an-absolute-fitness-beast level. Today, my body really felt the effort, particularly in my abs. Since I had to stop Zumba to protect my knee, I haven’t been crunching those abs and they made their discomfort known.

I do the full version of each exercise that I can handle. There are some, like jumping jacks or frog jacks, that I can’t do right now. So I do the modified version with good results. In today’s routine, I finally hit an exercise that I can’t do at all, even when modified. Called a Surrender, it requires quickly kneeling and getting up. I just can’t manage that motion smoothly enough to derive any benefit, even if I force myself to struggle through and do a quarter of the reps. It really bummed me out but I tried to put it out of my mind and substituted squats instead. Squats probably work a different set of muscles but at least they kept me moving.

On the set of the workout routine hangs a chalkboard sign that reminds us every effort is one day at a time, one pound at a time. Love it in all its 12 Stepness. Back at the beginning of the journey, thinking of having to lose more than 200 pounds overwhelmed me. Breaking it down to one pound at a time really helped.

The leader of the program said something today that also resonated. As we sweat together through the different exercises (I might not do them all great but I give them my all, moving up my heart rate and working up a real sweat.), she reminded us that the exercise is just part of the program. We have to follow the good, nutritional eating plan. In a nutshell, the message was to not put in all the hard, physical work and then blow it in the kitchen.

That thought stayed with me throughout the day. A short time ago, I had a thought on how I can offer the best protection to my own efforts and set myself up for the greatest success. I’m going to try changing my routine.

Right now, the most challenging time for me food-wise is at night. I eat a healthy dinner, drink a cup of tea and should be done for a couple of hours until it’s time for my final fruit as a snack. Should be done, but instead I’m frequently beset by the compulsive desire to eat something else or something more. I’m not hungry. I don’t need more to eat. These are false needs fueled by the eating disorder. Yet, I frequently fall into the trap. Maybe it’s only a few pistachios or a tablespoon of peanut butter, but the quantities don’t matter as much as giving into the behavior.

I do my workouts in the morning. After 30 minutes of pushing my body to go harder, stronger and faster, followed by a 15 minute or so dog walk, all I want to do is drink my protein drink and get ready for work. I have no desire to pick up anything else.

So, I wonder if working out at night will make a difference to my eating desires. If I spend 30 minutes working my muscles and elevating my heart rate so that sweat pours down my face and soaks through my clothes, will the energy and great feeling of accomplish counteract the compulsion to eat off of my food plan? Will it be easier to battle the urges?

I don’t know, but I’m prepared to find out, starting tomorrow. I’ll let you know if changing my routine helps.

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Mary Does Disney

The last time I visited Disney World theme parks was in 1997. While still weighing more than 300 pounds, I was no where near my heaviest weight ever. I was a lot younger, had more energy, and my knee had not yet begun to really weaken. My friends and I had a great time.

A year later, after my Mom got sick, I’d put on about 35 pounds. I went to a theme park in Texas with a friend, got into the car for an old roller coaster and was too fat for the bar to come down securely, That pretty much ended any plans of going to a theme park ever again.

Since weight loss surgery, a trip to Disney has been on the Promise List. I have a conference starting today in St. Augustine and decided to come up a day early with a slight jog inland to Orlando for a Disney Day. I bought a one day park hopper pass and started with an 8 a.m. arrival to Animal Kingdom. Just going through a turnstyle without an issue is a mental relief. Climbing into a ride with a bar or a seatbelt and not giving the slightest, worried thought as to whether I’ll fit is a miracle.

I had a lot of fun. I didn’t do every ride that I wanted but caught different shows and attractions. I managed to hit all four parks at some point. According to my FitBit, I walked more than 14 miles, or 33,000 plus steps. Needless to say I was exhausted by day’s end. I confess that my body was sore and I treated my knee and ankle to an ice pack before going to sleep.

Unfortunately, my eating wasn’t stellar. I received some sad news about a foster dog that I care about while I was eating lunch. I was shocked to see that I’d eaten the entire sandwich completely mindless to what I was consuming. I so need to keep working on this! My mind blanked about my food as I was swept up in the emotion. I ate some other junk later in the day but I have to think that the day-long physical exertion will balance it all out.

Today I’m giving my body a day off to let it recover and I’ve begun the day with a mindfully-eaten, healthy breakfast. There were many yummy, off-plan choices that I could have made, as well as some overly abundant but healthier options. I actually spoke to the servers about the large quantity of food on the offered breakfast platters and asked if we could customize something smaller in portions. To my pleasure, they agreed and worked with me.

So, check Disney off of the Promise List. I’ve shown that I can do theme parks again and am looking forward to returning in the future. Booyah!


Choosing Not to Pig Out

One of the things that I continually reinforce to myself is that while I might have a compulsive eating disorder, ultimately, it is a choice whether to act with compulsion. This doesn’t mean that it’s easy to withstand when the compulsion hits. Often, depending on the circumstances, it’s downright hard and so quick that I feel like I eat before my brain even has a chance to slam on the brakes. However, there are other instances when I have time to think it through and make the healthy choice.

I hit an emotional low on Sunday. I felt lonely, sad, and angry. That’s an emotional soup that, in the past, would trigger a binge. I’m happy to say that I worked my way through it without bingeing. I chose to eat healthy and exercise. Yesterday I went to a morning Aquacize class and then attacked my “room of doom”, firing the first salvo against the impossible-to-navigate around clutter that I’ve created in there over the years. I made really great progress and now feel that I can continue the effort in easy stages.

As a treat last night, I went to see the new X-Men Then and Now movie. I really enjoyed it and the lingering shot of Hugh Jackman’s naked body was just an extra bit of awesome fun.

Through it all, I chose to not pig out. I ate healthy food in moderation. That’s a victory over disease.

I’m over the emotional low, and out of it came the realization that I need to make some positive changes in my social life. I don’t quite have a plan, but the recognition creates the intention and starts the process. However, the key thing is that I’m happy with myself today.


Feeling It

When I lived in a state of morbid obesity or super obesity, I only felt the ill effects of too much eating, or of eating too much crappy food after a binge. It really took stuffing myself with massive quantities of food for my body to complain. My spirit, my head, my emotions suffered, but I was so physically conditioned to eating a lot that lesser amounts didn’t make an impact. Even if my lesser amounts would have caused gastric distress in a “normal-sized” person, they didn’t register.

Now that I’ve lost more than 180 pounds, my body is much more sensitive and aware. This is beyond my surgically altered stomach. I’m not talking about how packing too much food in at one time triggers me to throw it back up. I truly notice physical reactions if I eat too much in a given day — even spread out over several meals — or if I indulge too often in crappy or not-as-healthy-for-me food.

This past week was a perfect example of this new awareness. As I’ve shared, I was incredibly busy at work with three days of media filming that required longer days, largely spent outside. My schedule of eating was thrown off and it was more challenging for me to find time to sit down and eat one of my normally healthy meals. Add in the stress and, let’s face it, I ate more crappy food than I usually would in a month. Ok, ok, the occasional small serving of french fries alone wouldn’t kill me, but when combined with other food items that have too much salt, too much fat, or too many carbs over a few days, my body sent clear messages. Eat crap = feel crappy. I bloated, I ached, I felt sluggish so I had to work harder to muster the energy I needed for the job. I’m sure this all made me feel even more tired at night. Overall, I was just off.

Sorting through all of this, crystallizing the realization, and processing the experience helped me take action to feel better. I ate unhealthy for so many years. Now that I’ve made it a practice to make healthy choices — not only in quantity and selection but in the quality of the food selections, I know how much better healthy feels.

Yesterday and today I’ve consumed mostly vegetables, fruits, and yogurt while also raising my hydration level. I haven’t had overly processed foods, nor anything that salty. It’s amazing to me how much better I feel, and in how short a time. I just took the dogs out for a long walk and felt really connected to my energy again. Honestly, I could have gone longer but Pyxi is still building back up after her mild injury. I may pop in an exercise DVD just for the hell of it.

I’m psyched that I’m more in touch with how and what I eat affects me. I’ll take it as another sign of my ever developing recovery. I like that, for the first time in my life, I’m aware of my body’s signals rather than being numb and oblivious.


Going off the Clock

For three days in a row, I didn’t set my alarm for 6 a.m. I made the conscious choice not to get up super early for a hour of exercise to start the day. Frankly, I needed sleep more than I needed the workouts first thing in the morning.

This does not mean that I slacked off. I might not have made 10K steps every day, but I still moved my body enough in beneficial ways. For example, when I rolled out of bed closer to 8 a.m. yesterday, I went out for a 10 mile bike ride. Today I walked the dogs twice and went to a three hour Tai Chi intensive. Okay so “tai chi intensive” sounds like an oxymoron. It isn’t the same as power aerobics, but three hours of movement is still movement. We did two full sets to begin, each of which takes 15-20 minutes. These were followed by “foundation” exercises. Among these are something called danyus which are similar to squats. I’m sure we did 30 of them alone.

Honestly, as focused as I am on my physical fitness, it is not a bad thing for me to skip a couple of days. I don’t have to go full out seven days a week. It’s good for me to remember this and create balance. Sleeping a little later each morning for three days definitely created much needed balance. Whatever the case, doing so really helped. I feel much more rested tonight than I have in the last three weeks.

Overall, I feel terrific. My mind feels as rested as my body and I’m still riding that stress-release wave. Going off the clock turned out to be another useful form of self-care for the weekend.

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Getting Moving

For the last week, I’ve been sluggish. Even though I got out on the bike several times, I fell off on my steps and didn’t get in my longer walks for a few days. I was exhausted at the end of every evening and craved even an extra half an hour of sleep in the mornings.

When I fall off of my game for even a few days, it affects how I feel about myself. Not only does my body weigh down, but my mind and emotions also experience their own kind of sluggishness. The more days that I go without significant, or at least fully adequate, exercise, the more I feel like a slug and the more difficult it is to self-motivate.

This morning, my alarm went off at 6 a.m. and I completely did not want to get out of bed and exercise. I scolded myself, laced on the sneakers and went out for a 40 minute brisk walk, followed by another 12-15 minutes of more leisurely walk with the pups. One the way home I realized how good I felt emotionally. My whiny ‘tude evaporated, I had more of a spring in my step, and I was smiling while I sang along to the tunes on my Nano. I not only no longer felt tired, I was rejuvenated.

After so much time, it shouldn’t surprise me that positive energy first thing in the morning sets me up for less stress and more energy throughout the day. The better I feel about my body and my self, the better I do with everything or anything that comes my way.

I’m really glad that A) I got my ass up and out of bed for the walk and B) that I was aware of how I felt when I started and then how great I felt with the endorphin release. I’m going to remember this tomorrow at 6 a.m. when the alarm goes off. Getting moving is a positive on which I can, and need to, build.

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My First 5K

I love the community in which I live. We do a lot of events to raise money for various organizations throughout the year and they always seem to be well attended and also supported by the businesses in the area. It’s not like we’re a huge metropolis either. We have maybe 8500 full time residents and the “full time” part is questionable. I think there are a fair number of people who claim their home here is their full time residence but they actually spend a chunk of their time elsewhere. Whatever the case, we collectively turn out to support the area events.

Today was the Sombrero Beach Run to benefit KAIR. This organization runs a food bank for low income people and also a homeless shelter and kitchen to supply meals to homeless folks. Every dollar raised is a big help. When I saw friends sharing about the Beach Run on their Facebook page, the announcements captured my attention and I decided to sign up. Not only do I like to support KAIR, but I also liked the message I was sending to myself. I can do a 5K walk! Two years ago, even though I was post-surgery and losing weight, I still wasn’t in good enough shape to walk so far. I sure couldn’t have done it prior to my weight loss surgery. Now, today? A whole different story!

The overall event had several competitions: 10K Run; 5K Run; 15K Challenge for runners who wanted to do both races; and the 5K Walk. A friend who has done the race before assured me there would be plenty of walkers so I didn’t feel strange about signing up for the least challenging competition.

For me, this wouldn’t be a competition at all, really. I wasn’t walking to win. All I wanted to do was walk, complete the 5K in less than an hour, and not come in last. Yesterday, a friend texted me that she was going to sign up too, so I’d even have a walking partner.

Last night, I went to the beach to pick up my number, t-shirt, and goody bag. Can I just tell you that I felt absurdly pleased to be so official? I had to think and plan my food for race day. I opted to eat a protein-rich breakfast and got up early enough to make a frittata with sautéed spinach and shallots mixed in and a slice of very crisp bacon. (My dogs love when I make bacon because I always make a slice for them too.) After eating, I had plenty of time to let the meal settle before putting on my socks and walking sneakers. I pinned my number on my shirt, grabbed my water bottle and headed out.

The weather could not have been more perfect! Apologies to those of you enduring endless snow storms and frigid temps. Down here this morning it was in the low-mid 70s with bright sunshine and a cool breeze off the ocean.

The 10K race started at 8 a.m., more than an hour before the 5K, so there were lots of folks milling around while a D.J. played dance music. A couple of people I know and I danced on the beach to the Electric Slide, the Cuban Shuffle and the Cha Cha Slide. Why not? I considered it a warm up routine. What fun to be part of this crowd of people! I knew so many of the folks who were either working the food tents or getting ready to hit the course. The area businesses did a great job. There were platters of cut-up bananas, bagels with cream cheese and various pastries if anyone wanted carbohydrate energy. Other volunteers were grilling hot dogs and sausages and wrapping them in aluminum foil to distribute after the races.

Finally, 9:15 approached and we gathered at the starting line to depart en masse. We were off! My friend and I chatted the whole way and also applauded runners who passed us coming back as they completed the 10K run, and then the 5K. Volunteers and residents along the route cheered and applauded us as we passed and handed out cups of water if we didn’t have any to drink. The energy from everyone was glorious. I was having a blast!

On the way back, I noticed that we’d lagged a little. I think we got distracted by our own gabbing. I urged my friend on and suggested that we should finish strong, so we picked up our own pace. Thanks to that, as we neared the finish line, I saw that we were, indeed, going to finish ahead of the one hour mark. 57:45 to be exact. Best of all, we were far from the last walkers to cross the line! All goals met and I was all smiles. We asked some volunteers to snap this photo as a keepsake.

After finishing my first "official" 5K walk.

After finishing my first “official” 5K walk.

When I think back to my life pre-surgery and how walking any distance physically challenged me, I can’t help but feel big time happy and not a little proud of where I am today. I don’t need to be the first to cross the line in my age class to feel like a winner. Just getting out and doing it at all feels like a win. Having fun and enjoying the effort? Bonus!

I’m going to keep my eyes open for additional 5K walks for other fundraising events. I know that I can beat the time we set today. Like I said, we were gabbing and not paying attention to our pace. That’s just a personal challenge that will make it even more fun. In the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy the glow from entering and completing my first official 5K event!


Misplaced Guilt

I got up at 6 a.m. today but it was raining so I didn’t go out for a walk or bike ride. I also didn’t put in one of my home exercise DVDs. Instead, I prepared and packed lunch for work, turned on my DVR recording of last night’s Scandal (OMG!), and ate breakfast. By the way, that whole mixing of some vanilla extract and honey into plain non-fat yogurt turned out great!

I feel really guilty that I didn’t exercise. I know this is misplaced guilt and just another great example of how diseased thinking can strike. I exercise for at least an hour a day, usually seven days a week. That’s even more than the usually recommended amount. Even when the number on the scale is slow, the inches coming off and the reshaping of my body are evident because of the exercise. Bottom line: I have no reason to feel guilty because I skipped a day of exercise.

Particularly when I haven’t skipped an entire day. I could make it up tonight after work — or not. It’s okay. The only person who disagrees isn’t even a person — it’s my subconscious or some part of my brain that likes to make me feel bad or feel like I’m letting myself down or doing something wrong to screw up my recovery.

Right now, I’m going to declare that I will not listen to that part of my psyche. I will not spend another minute feeling this misplaced guilt. I will not compound it by also eating off of my food plan. I will remain in recovery today.

I needed to get that out. Thanks.

By the way, have I mentioned that tomorrow I’m doing a 5K walk race? I’m not in it for competition. The whole event benefits a local service organization that runs a food bank and homeless shelter. I wanted to support the organization. Not only will tomorrow give me a chance to do that, but it will put me squarely back on the exercise wagon.


Here’s to Taking Care of Ourselves

Okay, I’m going to wave a banner, lead a cheer and completely urge everybody reading this to find one great thing that you can do for yourself this week. Pick something that you completely enjoy and that falls in the category of Good Self Care. Then go and do it.

I did some of that tonight by going for a massage. The massage therapist I use is A-Ma-Zing! She pays attention to energy in my body, where it’s blocked, what’s tightened, what needs to release, etc. A session with her is so much more than a head-to-toe rub down. She can tell if an issue is rooted in muscle, tendons or nerves.

Thanks to the work she did on me this evening, I have immeasurably better range of motion in my left shoulder than I’ve enjoyed in weeks. I can’t tell you how much time she spent on the nerves and muscles in my right leg but the flexibility is incredible. That’s my weaker, more arthritic knee and it feels ten years younger tonight. I also am not experiencing the phantom ache I’ve felt in that leg every evening for the last week or so.

Yes, caring for self is a wonderful, positive thing.

Now, some might argue that everything I do is caring for myself. Eating healthier, exercising, working on my eating disorder and food issues — the whole kit and caboodle. That’s a valid argument. However, I will argue that it is incredibly important to also add extras. The additional things we do for ourselves might be physically, emotionally or mentally good for us, but they’re also treats which boosts the emotional benefits. These acts of self-care are great positive reinforcement.

Bi-weekly manicures and a monthly pedicure are self-care for me, but I’ve come to think of them as essential and routine. I guess coloring the gray in my hair falls into this category, too. I’ve always considered massages and facials as “extras”. I’m starting to think that I should schedule them more on a regular, routine basis, too. Ooh, now here’s a slightly indulgent dilemma. If the extra self-care treats are turned in regular occurrences, do I then need to find myself new extras with which to treat myself? Hmmm. I’m sure I can figure out a few ways. 😉

What are a few ways that you can practice self-care this week? Take a bath, find some alone time to read, get a massage, a facial, your nails done? What can you do to reward yourself for just being you?