Weighty Matters

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Keep Calm and Be Well

I was going to continue the idea started by Hope in the comments and go with Keep Calm and Eat Kale as a title. Then I decided that Eat Well was more universal.

That realization yesterday that these slow months of remaining weight loss have been necessary in order for me to build lasting recovery has done me a world of good. It’s like my emotions can stop fighting each other, or my emotions and my mind can quit blaming each other — or something. Today I’ve been extremely calm and matter-of-fact about eating, food, and the weight I still want to lose. It’s no surprise to me that I haven’t had to struggle to stay on the food plan either. No white-knuckle abstinence today, thank goodness. Lack of obsession over food, absence of compulsions all further advance the calmness. There is a lot to be said for serenity.

I had another realization over the weekend. More accurately, I finally accepted something that I realized a while ago. Yes, I am incredibly more fit and much more physically active than ever in my life. However, I also need to be aware of some limitations. Remember when I talked about not needing to take over-the-counter pain meds very often anymore when I used to take them a couple of times every day? That continues as long as I respect my body, specifically my right knee, and not push it further than it’s good for it to go.

The Saturday of the 5K walk, I logged more than 16,000 steps. That evening, my knee throbbed a lot and I finally took some ibuprofen tablets so that I could sleep. All week long I stayed in the 10-12K steps range with walking and some bike riding. Occasionally my knee got stiff or twinged, but at no time was it really bad, nor did it interfere with my life. This past Saturday, I topped out at close to 16K steps all with walking, no bike riding. I also pushed my intensity on the treadmill that night.

Small wonder that when I tried to sleep, my knee really hurt. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any ibuprofen with me at the hotel. I did my best to adjust, cushioned my knee with a pillow, got some ice for a while. Eventually, I fell asleep but discomfort woke me up a couple of times before the throbbing eased.

Yesterday with the long drive home, I didn’t reach the usual 10,000 steps. Mentally and emotionally, I need to remind myself that taking a day off is not only okay, it’s a good suggestion. Today, I am back on track, beginning with a 40 minute walk before sunrise.

I’ve been trying to gradually raise my step level to average 15,000 steps every day. Now I get that this is an unrealistic goal at this point. It is one thing to encourage myself to work out and make sure that I don’t get lazy and complacent. It is another thing to push myself to the point of pain. If I do that too often, I risk truly messing myself up which could make it so that I can’t keep up with my fitness regimen at all. That’s a worst case scenario that I want no part of. So, I’m going to continue with my average of between 10K-12K steps per day and make sure that I ride my bike as much as possible, which greatly reduces the impact on my knee. With this approach and my Tai Chi, I can continue improving my physical condition and remain fit.

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Road Tripping

I took a road trip this weekend. I love baseball and spring training is underway. A lot of pro teams, including my Phillies, train on the west coast of Florida. Every year I’ve thought about going but never have.

This year I found a date, bought a ticket, and made the plan. The drive takes about 6 hours but with nice weather and good tunes, I didn’t mind.

Even long drives are more physically comfortable with my weight loss. I can sit with greater ease for longer periods of time. At my heaviest I think the sheer weight of so many extra pounds wore on my body internally. I know that my legs would sometimes tingle so somewhere inside the circulation was impacted. The small of my back would begin to ache.

Not so these days. I still make sure to stop once or twice and walk around a little. Overall I’m simply more comfortable than ever before.

I was good with my food in the trip, too, and didn’t indulge in crap. Got a chuckle at dinner. I stopped in a burger and brew restaurant. The burger was excellent and I ignored the roll. The servers had tee shirts on that read, “I’d be a vegetarian if bacon cheeseburgers grew on trees.” Yes, I’m a carnivorous omnivore. I laughed.

When I got to the hotel I decided that my body would thank me if I exercised after the drive. I changed into work out clothes and went to the fitness room for treadmill time.

I know it’s weird but I watched Diners, Drive Ins and Dives while I walked. Nothing like walking to burn calories while watching people eat loaded plates of delicious, if not always healthy food. 🙂

I persevered for an energetic 45 minutes and felt pretty pleased with myself for putting out the effort.

This morning I slept a little late for me and then turned on the tv. The morning news was airing a live shot of friends and former coworkers of mine who are sea lion trainers. Even though I knew this, I didn’t connect that we’d sort of be close to each other.

My baseball game wasn’t until 1 so I asked at the desk how long it would take for me to get to their park. It turned out to be closer than I thought so off I went to surprise them.

Friends, it isn’t everyday you get to log your first 5000 steps in a day walking around a zoo! What fun. It was also great to see my friends doing well with their new venture.

After that I took off for the game. Beautiful afternoon for baseball, made even better by a win by my team.

Whenever I leave the Keys I do a little shopping. There are simply too few stores in the Keys for some of the things I prefer so going off the rock is an opportunity not to be wasted. I found a great mall with every store I’d hoped to find. In between Sephora, Soma, Crocs and Bath and Body Works I also took time for dinner before calling it quits.

When I got back to my hotel I felt like I’d enjoyed a full, fun and active day. However, I didn’t feel like I’d adequately exercised. Sure I’d topped 11,000 steps but my body didn’t feel worked. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to visit the treadmill again. Now, after 30 minutes, I am happier about my day’s fitness effort.

I’m chilling in a chair while I type this on my phone. Tomorrow, I head back home. I’m going to leave early enough to stop at the beautiful, long Skyway bridge. I’ve never gone there except to drive over it but I know there are walking/fishing expanses. Might as well take advantage of it for my morning walk, don’t you agree?

I’m going to try to upload a few pictures. Hopefully it will work from the phone.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend!

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Things I Love Right Now

I have a guilty pleasure. I like to occasionally buy a little soap opera magazine. The only soap I watch is General Hospital and I’ve done so for decades. The DVR records it daily and I watch when I get home at night. I like reading about the show, the actors, the storylines, what’s coming up, etc. One of these magazines has a feature where the editors/writers name the Five Things They’re Loving Right Now about a certain show. They also name the one thing they could do without.

In the spirit of this feature, I started pondering about five things I love right now about my journey, my progress, myself. Yes, I’ll also pick the thing I could do without. Here we go, in no particular order:

Whenever I’m going on a trip, whether for a weekend or longer period, I love that I automatically pack exercise clothes, walking sneaks, and my iPod. These items are now as necessary as any other wardrobe item or my cosmetics and toiletries.

I love the I’m increasingly more open and willing to choose healthier alternatives in my food. No more turning up my nose at natural, organic peanut butter (I purposely buy without added sugar.) or fat free plain Greek yogurt. Sure, let me use spaghetti squash instead of pasta under my red sauce for an Italian food fix. I’m sampling a greater variety of less processed foods, too. A friend shared something she heard from a television or celebrity doctor — she can’t remember which one. He recommended that one strong step to eating healthier is to avoid food items that are advertised on television. Sure, as with anything there are some exceptions – like quality Greek yogurt — but think about what products you see most often in commercials.

I love that I no longer take over-the-counter pain relievers every day any more. My left knee will never be 100% but it doesn’t throb or ache at the end of every day. My whole body doesn’t hurt after a full day at work. At my heaviest, I took the equivalent of prescription-strength non-aspirin pain relievers every day, sometimes a few times a day. Now I don’t even think I take them once a month.

This one might be a little shallow, but forgive me, okay? I love that I’m no longer the heaviest person I know, the heaviest person at work, the heaviest person I see most days. When you’ve lived most of your life as the most overweight person present in any situation, it wears on the self-esteem. Having that weight off of me, literally and figuratively, lightens my spirit.

I absolutely love that I can both see and feel definition in my muscles. Sometimes I have to move around a bit for the definition to be obvious because of some remaining flab or saggy skin, but my muscles are toned! I not only feel stronger, I feel powerful. Booyah!

There are more things, of course, but these are the ones that most strike me today. Now for the thing I could do without. That would be how reactive my body is to carbs. We started this week with me annoyed because I ate a few carbs and my body decided to hold onto four faux pounds of water weight. I stayed with my plan and flushed them away, then lost an additional half pound so far. This makes me happy, but the fact that it was necessary still ticks me off.

So, my friends, what are five things about yourselves or your lives that you love? It’s okay to share the thing you could do without, too.

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Days Off and Getting Things Done

I’ve really enjoyed not getting up at 6 a.m. for the last two days. Not that I haven’t embraced purposely setting my alarm earlier than I did for years just so that I can exercise, but having two days off where I can sleep in even a little longer is nice. I’ve taken full advantage, even if that’s changed a bit over the years. These days, sleeping in means staying in bed until at least 7:30 a.m. Going further into the morning is better, but I’ll take what I can get.

I told you about yesterday on the previous blog post. Tonight, as I look back at the day I’m sort of impressed that I both relaxed and was still productive. I also had fun. Today I started my second annual post-Thanksgiving three-day detox. You might remember that this time last year I tried a detox promoted by Dr. Oz. I drank fruit and vegetable smoothies, four a day, for three days, plus drank green tea and took a hot bath every night. My body felt great through it all and I lost seven pounds.

This year, it just felt like a good time to do another three day detox of some sort. Okay, I mostly didn’t want to do the one drink that Dr. Oz included that had cucumber as an ingredient. I don’t like raw cucumber unless it’s in tzatziki sauce. Even for the sake of a detox, I couldn’t stomach it. So, I changed up the program a little, adding in some different ingredients. Dr. Oz might have had some magic combo, but I don’t think my alterations are taking me too far off of the charted course. I have healthy fruits, some veggies, including super greens, unsweetened almond milk, the occasional tablespoon of almond butter — you get the idea. I’m also incorporating some protein powder so that my muscles have enough protein for support.

For some reason, these efforts are easier to stick to when I’m not at work. I have no idea why, but I was successful last year and figured that I’d go with what worked. One day down, two to go.

The dogs and I began the day with a good walk. I thought about a bike ride but the wind was blowing pretty hard. When we got back, I worked on a package project and loaded my car with some boxes that I needed to ship. I then headed out to take care of a few errands. The pet supply store and the health food store are in the same small shopping plaza. After I picked up some dog food and put it in the car, I walked across toward the health food store, but my attention was caught by a rack of clothing outside the woman’s clothing store.

I have only been in that clothing store once before and it might have been 20 or more years ago. Even then I only went in because my mother was shopping. The clothing sizes didn’t go up to anything that I could wear. Today I thought that might be different, so I went in and browsed. I’m in sort of a funny size place right now. There are polo shirts I can wear in a men’s medium. In Women’s sizes that are more generously cut, I can wear a 16W pant or a Large shirt. I figured that I had nothing to lose by just trying different things. I discovered that a regular 18 pant zipped up just fine. For tops, it depending on the style whether I could wear a regular large or needed an XL. Whatever the case, I found exactly what I needed — black capris and khaki capris. These are basics that will get me through and the ones that I have are too big and can now be donated.

I also found a long sleeve red knit with a little sparkling detail that will be good for a holiday party next week, a cute aqua top and a periwinkle nubby knit zip up sweater. Believe it or not, it occasionally gets cool enough down here that I need a sweater. You know what made all of these even more fun, besides the fact that I could shop locally? Four of the six things I bought were already marked down and then they took an additional 40% off at the register. Score!

When I got home after the errands and impromptu shopping trip, I experienced a surge of energy. Earlier in the day, I’d entered my Room of Doom, aka the third bedroom which is supposed to function as an office. Instead, it is so loaded with clutter that it would qualify me for one of those shows where professional organizers are needed. I’ve said for a few years now that I would tackle the mess and yet, somehow, I always manage to fill my life doing other things. I believe I might even have stated on this blog sometime earlier (way earlier) this year that I was going to clean up that room before the end of the year.

Have you looked at a calendar? The end of the year is a month away. Tick tock, Mary, I said to myself.

Well, I took the bull by the horns, which is to say that I picked up the shredder and carried it out to the dining room table. I then grabbed several piles of unsorted papers and documents and buckled down. I believe I attacked the task for a full two hours. I can actually see a few square feet of the floor in that room. I have a lonnnggg way and many, many more hours to go, but at least I made a positive start.

I was so pleased with myself that I was even more energized. It appeared that the wind had died down somewhat, so I strapped on my bike helmet and went for a ride.

That whole “wind had died down” bit was an illusion. Heading into the wind, I was okay as long as I rode opposite some buildings. I had to pump, but that felt kind of good and challenging. I got some respite when I looped around to the path that runs around the golf course and headed west. However, eventually the path led me back in the other direction and this time there was no break. Holy wow, the wind was fierce! I had to dial down to one of the easiest gears! Thank goodness this only lasted about another mile before the golf course loop was complete. Pretty soon I was on my way home with the wind at my back which made it all much easier.

I guess that energy feeds energy. When I got back to the house I still wasn’t ready to call it quits so I leashed up Nat and Pyxi for another walk. I figure that three quarter mile stroll served to stretch out my muscles after the challenge of the bike ride.

When we got home, I mixed up the evening smoothie and chilled out for awhile. Everything I did today must have stimulated plenty of endorphins. I feel terrific — mentally, emotionally, and physically. There’s a lot to be said for taking a day off and getting things done.

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Taking Care of Me

Before I get into the topic, I have to share about something sort of strange that happened yesterday. There’s a nice older gentleman who spends a few weeks in the Keys each fall and volunteers where I work. He just got back into town and yesterday was the first that I’ve seen him. I hugged him and welcomed him back, asked how he and his wife have been and so on. He then looked at me and rather hesitantly asked how I am doing, with this expressive hand motion that indicated my changed body. He said that he wasn’t sure how to ask but hoped that all was well.

I realized then that he didn’t know whether I’d lost so much weight on purpose or because I had some sort of illness or bad condition. Friends, this has never happened to me before. I’ve never considered that someone might wonder if I’d been horrible sick. Thankfully, I was able to quickly reassure him and he was, naturally, relieved and happy for me.

So on to the rest of the post. I’m doing well with my food plan which does wonders to stabilize my mind and emotions while getting some pounds off. It isn’t the full liquids so much as getting back into the “don’t compulsively or impulsively grab for food” routine that’s making the whole plan work. Weekends are sometimes more challenging, but I’m psyching myself up to continue on track.

I’m focused on taking care of me. One of my roles in my life has been that of caregiver/caretaker. Funny how they sound like they should be opposite things but mean pretty much the same. I give care to others. I take care of others, but often don’t take care of or for myself. Being a caregiver or fixer is pretty common among children of alcoholics or addicts. I think I fell into the role even before Mom’s drinking tipped (tippled?) over into a disease. Natural course of events, actually, since both of my parents were caregivers by profession – Dad a doctor and Mom a nurse. Add in that one of my grandparents was frequently ill which meant that both would move in with us for awhile, and I helped out with their care.

I’ve almost always been calm, steady and effective in times of crisis too. This is not bad. None of it is, actually. There are worst traits to have than to be someone who can provide care and help to others, particularly loved ones. The down side though is that, when you’re young, you shouldn’t always have to be the caregiver. Someone should be helping to take care of you.

Providing care for myself is something that I’ve had to work on. I’ve learned a great deal gradually over the years and then really gained a chunk of experience with it over the last two years as I began all the steps and actions necessary for the weight loss surgery. Then, of course, I’ve had to continue the strong self-care in the many months since.

One of the challenges is recognizing when I need to lavish a little extra care and then doing it. Sometime mid-week I realized that I was feeling pulled in many directions, stressed, and overtired. It came to me that I really needed to step back from the demands of a busy life and schedule some me time. Originally, I was supposed to go to a Zumba event tomorrow, held about an hour away. I changed that plan in favor of staying closer to home. I even went to a Zumba master class here in town for a while tonight. I’ll do my Tai Chi class in the morning and made an appointment for a facial and a treatment called manual lymph drainage. Never had one before but it’s supposed to be beneficial, so I’ll give it a try.

The wind is supposed to stay high and gusty all weekend which means no boating. Windy or not, I will make time for a couple of long bike rides because the exercise makes me feel terrific physically and mentally. On Sunday I’m going in for another dolphin swim. There has never been a time that swimming with some of our dolphin family hasn’t brought me joy. I’m going to make the most of the opportunity.

The next work week will come soon enough. I’m going to make the most of my days off. In keeping with that attitude, I think I’ll go enjoy a nice soak in a hot, scented bath. After all, there’s no harm in the rest of the evening being all about me!

What’s on your weekend agenda? How are you taking care of you?

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