Weighty Matters

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Cruise Day Four – Mindful Eating and San Juan

I slept in and missed the morning Wellness Program but still took a good four-five laps around the promenade deck to make up the steps. I’ve focused on mindful eating (reading that again in my journal reminds me that I still need to do this all of the time, whether at home or out) which means that I stop before I eat, close my eyes and remind myself to eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and stop eating when I’ve had enough. Doing this demonstrated to me that it is indeed possible to be satisfied with one small waffle and two skinny sausage links. Yes the waffle is just a carbohydrate and I had a little bit of syrup on it, but I figured that I would more than compensate with the one hour line dancing lesson. Besides, after my deck walk, I’d skipped the elevator and taken the stairs to the buffet restaurant — up six decks!

I believe it’s obligatory to play Bingo at least once when cruising, so I did. Lost but had fun, which was also pretty much my reaction to my less-than-successful visits to the ship’s casino. After Bingo, I ran over to the line dance lesson. Then I went down several flights of steps to take my cowboy boots back to my room. I then went up four flights again to grab a light salad, again eating mindfully. (At this point, those waffle calories were definitely gone!) We were pulling into port in San Juan, Puerto Rico which is an American territory. So, for the first time since leaving Ft. Lauderdale, I turned on my phone and did a quick check of personal email and Facebook. I did not, however, check my work voice mail.

I’d taken my salad outside to the sundeck since it was such a pretty day. On my way to get more water, I ran into country start Jo Dee Messina. In her concert she’d shared that she and her siblings are caring for their ill mother. She’s very nice and we ended up chatting about being caregivers to our parents. I also ended up giving her and her husband a quick tutorial in QR codes and how she could use them in her Facebook marketing. (Yes, you can take me away from work but you can’t take marketing instincts out of my brain. If her soon-to-be-released album has a QR code on it, you’ll know why. 🙂 )

My excursion for San Juan wasn’t scheduled until 3:50, so I simply sat in the sun for awhile, writing in the journal and reflecting on what I terrific time I was enjoying so far. It’s like I carried around this little bubble of happiness. I was having fun and also feeling incredibly good about myself, my eating, my activity level, and everything else.

I had this big realization while sitting on that deck. Nobody on this cruise knew me as a super obese woman. I’m not sure why, but that wowed me. It was both exciting and cool to think about it, even if I’m not exactly sure why it tickled me so much. Maybe it was the complete absence of lingering shame. Maybe it was the fact that I wasn’t doing any of my leftover projecting. Whatever the case, it was extremely freeing.

When it was time to gather for the excursion, I got in line with everyone else and just started meeting the people I’d be with for the next several hours. We’d signed up to go on a night kayaking trip to the bioluminescent bay. To get there we had to first take a 90 minute bus ride from the ship. This meant we had lots of time to get to know each other. I first met a 30-something year old woman named Emily. Since she was also a solo traveler, we paired up to paddle together in the two-person kayak. This cruise was filled with lots of friendly, interesting people. Emily is a project manager for construction companies and had recently quit her job to return to school. her goal is to work for nonprofit organizations, preferably Habitat for Humanity.

Also on the bus was Dave, a sound engineer for the Gatlin Brothers. The three of us talked a lot.

Kayaking at night was fun and I was thrilled beyond measure to discover that I no longer have the slightest bit of discomfort sitting in a kayak. My legs used to go numb after a while, but not anymore. My body has strengthened even more in the last year than I realized, at least for kayaking. We paddled out through a mangrove channel to get to the bay. Emily and I cracked jokes, sang river and water songs, and I did my impression of narrators for BBC nature shows. The bay itself was cool! Dinoflagellates in the water fire off a photon when disturbed — one sparkle of light per 24 hours. When you stick your hand in the water, or your kayak paddle, the water starts to glow. Not so great for pictures, but pretty to see.

The kayak trip took about 90 minutes and then we had another hour plus back to the ship. We were very late and missed most of the Vince Gill concert. As it was, we ran to the theater in our kayaking clothes. Thankfully, my bathing suit bottoms had mostly dried in the towel I’d wrapped around myself so they didn’t dampen my shorts when I pulled them on. I’m sure I looked like a sticky, salty hot mess, but we just stood in the back of the theater. If anyone gave us funny looks, I didn’t notice.

None of us had eaten any dinner to speak of so we went up to the buffet for the late night offerings. Seriously, if there is food put out, people will eat — even if they don’t normally show down at 11 p.m. when at home. A light snack satisfied me and we spent most of the time chatting some more before calling it a night.

Remember when I said I thought I’d work off the morning waffle? Well, before I went to bed, I looked at my FitBit. For the first time ever, I logged close to 21,000 steps in a single day! 21,000 steps plus 90 minutes of kayaking. Booyah to the nth degree!


Setting Goals, Earning Rewards

I set short term goals before the weekend ended. Along with pledging to wake up each day and choose to live the day in recovery and adhere to my food plan, I also set workout goals. I changed my wake up time on my clock radio to 6:00 a.m. from 6:45, determined to get up and do at least 45 minutes of exercise each morning before work. I also promised myself that I would rack up a minimum of 10,000 steps each day on my Fitbit. In addition to this, I’m mindful of the need to stay hydrated. I’m aiming for 100 ounces of fluids (water or green tea) per day.

Wednesday is winding down. All three days I’ve met the goal of adhering to my food plan and staying in recovery. I’ve taken long bike rides the last three mornings, pedaling 8 miles, 10 miles and 8 1/2 miles respectively.

Cycling confused my FitBit a little, I think. I put the gadget on my shorts leg so that it counts my pedaling as steps, otherwise I don’t get credit for the exercise. However, even though it adds up the steps, although I doubt it’s 100% accurate, it doesn’t track the miles anywhere close to correctly. If it had a brain it would be puzzled as to how I logged a couple of thousand steps in less than a mile.

Tonight I forgot to move the gadget to my pant leg for Tai Chi class, so I didn’t get an accurate accounting of my steps. This meant that when I got home after class, my daily total was less than 9500 steps! This would never do! I’d set a goal, I tell you. 🙂

I could have taken the dogs for another walk. My neighborhood is safe enough to do so, even after dark. However, several of my neighbors go to bed really early. There are also a lot of other dogs in homes up and down the street. It’s nearly impossible for us to walk around without setting off a chain of barking dogs. In the interest of preserving the peaceful evening, I decided to get those last 500 or so steps at home.

There was a movie on that I wanted to watch, so instead of turning on the in-home walking program DVD, I got creative. At every commercial break, I stood up and walked around or practiced some Tai Chi moves. I even jogged around a little. I also laughed at myself in the process — but I made my 10,000 step goal! Booyah!

I have a large remaining weight loss goal. 45 pounds to go. I am not, however, saying 45 pounds by a certain date. If the last few months of slowwwww creep down the scale is any indication, my body is not making this last push easy. I don’t want to frustrate myself any longer, or risk the emotional disappointment if I say I want to lose XX number of pounds by a particular date and then don’t accomplish it. That kind of numbers game can really mess with my mind and serenity. The most important thing is not how fast I lose it, but that I lose it eventually.

I’m sticking with the daily goals — abstinent with food, 10,000 steps a day (factoring in the equivalent if it’s a bike riding day). This week, I want to get a good push going so I’m sticking with the 45 minutes of cardio for seven days in a row. I think my metabolism needs revving. The combination of goals should help. At least that’s what I hope.

Once could say that the physical benefits are reward enough and they are, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t treat myself with something extra. I like fresh cut flowers. I believe that I will reward myself with a gorgeous bouquet. As soon as my massage therapist returns from her trip, I’m scheduling another massage too. I’m working hard and deserve to treat myself well as a reward.

Are you goal-oriented? Got any that you’re working on that you’d like to share? How do you reward yourself?


A “Hey Baby” Look

Friday night was the annual fundraising performance at our local community theater. I made plans to meet a friend for appetizers and a drink beforehand. I ran home from work to shower, do my hair and dress up for the evening. Dressing up is a relative phrase in the Keys. On that evening it meant a cute, casual dress, kitten heels instead of flip flops, more makeup than I usually wear, etc.

I parked the car and walked toward the restaurant. I passed by a couple of stores that were still open A couple of men stood at the curb. As I approached, one said hello and gave me a definite, “Hey, baby, how you doing?” look and said hello.

It’s been years since I got a look like that from a man, but a woman doesn’t forget. I have to tell you, it put a little extra pep in my step. I smiled, said hello back, and kept walking, pretty sure that he was checking me out even though I could no longer see him.

I don’t know if I’m ready to start following up on expressions of interest. I still have some issues about my body, particularly how it looks now with sagging skin. At the same time, I really can appreciate that I’m gaining a nice figure, with, dare I say it, sexy curves. That there are men who might, from time to time, give me that appreciative, interested look and throw out a little flirtation feels great. Booyah!

In other stuff, I haven’t quite hit 10,000 steps yet on any given day, but I know that I did the equivalent and more so yesterday. At the end of the day, my FitBit step count was at 8876 but I also did an 8 mile bike ride! Definitely a good fitness day. Today the wind is blowing more than 20 mph with gusts to 23. This pretty much kills any long bike rides. I can muscle through with winds up to 15, but it’s hard to do that for more than a couple of miles. I’m trying to compensate and took the dogs for a longer walk this morning. I have several things to do around the house today, and plan to work in some additional fitness somehow — even if it’s the two mile in-home walking DVD along with practicing Tai Chi. I’ll plan on another long walk with the dogs this evening. (They don’t do as well in the bright sunshine on their furry bodies.)

This week I really need to prep my mind to stay on track. In a fit of terminal helpfulness, I volunteered to bake six dozen cupcakes this week for a fundraising event next weekend. I honestly don’t know why I put myself in this position. Although I have baked my brownies for different things, I usually can get through that without too much damage to myself. Baking over a couple of nights is going to challenge my willpower. I’ll make sure to not do it until right after I’ve eaten dinner so that my stomach capacity is full. At least I’m not making the frosting. That would definitely trip me up. It’s much more tempting than raw cupcake batter. I won’t eat the baked cupcakes themselves since they’re intended for a specific purpose. Once more into the breach!


Candy Holidays

It was my first full day with my new Fitbit. (Thanks for telling me about this, Susanne!) I logged 7800 steps in a fairly normal day that included a short dog walk in the morning and a longer one this evening. Of course I’d hoped to hit 10,000 steps but, realistically, I know that I had to spend a lot of time at my desk working today. Even realizing that fact, my mind churns with ideas on how I can hit the 10K step goal every day. Naturally, if I’d had a Zumba class I would have gone beyond the mark. So, I guess I should feel pretty good about coming close on a day that didn’t include a lot of exercise time. I’m strategizing of course. I can get up earlier and take the dogs for a longer morning walk. I can definitely get up from my desk at some point during the day and walk around the facility. That’s perfectly acceptable and really good for my head, too. Tomorrow is going to be a more active day at work because I have a media shoot in the morning. It will be interesting to see how the day’s count tallies. I’ll report on my results.

Tonight is Halloween. In the 9 or 10 years that I’ve been home here on Halloween, I think I’ve only had trick or treaters two or three nights. Yet, I dutifully buy a bag of candy. Oh, you know, last year I think I bought miniature boxes of raisins. I can’t remember and I didn’t post about it. This time of year in 2012 I was pretty wrapped up in anxiety over Superstorm Sandy — first when it brushed by us in the Keys and then when it attacked my home state of New Jersey.

Anyway, I bought a bag of candy, even though I knew I probably wouldn’t have kids knocking on the door. I couldn’t help myself. I was positive that if I didn’t have it in the house, there would be a sudden parade of costumed children coming to the house and leaving in disgust and disappointment. I don’t know why the thought of it concerned me so — it’s not like they would have been deprived of candy All. Night. Long. and I’d be personally responsible for the worst Halloween e-v-e-r — but I caved.

Now I have a big, bag of candy in the house and, of course, I’ve snacked on some of it. I’m calling a halt. My plan is to take it all into work and spread out the calories among my co-workers, but I still have to get through the night. Even though it’s cooled off some temperature-wise in Florida, it will get all melty if I put it in the car now. How’s this for a plan instead? Dump the candy from the bowl back into its bag; put that bag inside a plastic bag with handles so I can tie it closed; put bag in fridge. If I find myself weakening, at least I’ll have gotten the candy good and cold. Then I’ll put it into an insulated cooler with ice packs and put it in the car.

I’m fairly confident that I can defeat an urge to still eat candy in the time it would take me to go out to my car and get some.

Candy holidays suck for compulsive overeaters who really, really like chocolate sweets. Not only do they surround us with one of our drugs of choice which can screw us up physically and mentally, but they twist us up emotionally.

I’m sure Halloween was always a source of upset for my parents too. How hard it must have been to watch me, their overweight daughter, go out trick or treating with her friends, knowing she was collecting a pillowcase full of candy that she shouldn’t eat. We won’t even go into the challenge of finding me costumes. At a certain weight, those child outfits made of that shiny acetate material with plastic masks just don’t fit big kids.

So, factor in that I already hated everyone studying my food choices and making an issue of them, and you know that I was in a constant emotional tug-of-war. All I wanted was to have fun with my friends and just get to enjoy some damn chocolate like everyone else and not have it be such an issue.

Easter is another big candy holiday. We always got two Easter baskets — one from our folks and one from my Nana (Mom’s mom.) Both baskets were great and I give extra credit to Nana. She always went to this neighborhood, family-owned chocolate shop where they made their own goods and ordered each grandchild his or her favorite type of chocolate Easter egg. They were beautifully decorated and even had our first name’s piped on them. For the record, I preferred chocolate filled with butter cream. I think my brother was a coconut cream fan. I don’t remember Easter being as much of a candy stress-fest, however. Maybe because, even with the big egg and some chocolate bunnies and jelly beans, the overall haul of sweetness was less. We also spent a lot of time on the decorated Easter egg hunt. When I got a little older, my folks switched to one basket from Nana and they instead gave us each a different gift that they would hide for us. Most often, mine was a book. Even then, I loved books so I didn’t feel deprived by this change.

If I lived in a neighborhood with a lot of kids, I tell myself that I would make homemade, healthier treats that would be delicious and welcomed by the little goblins. I love that image of myself smiling and offering the treat tray to kids at the door. In my little Halloween fantasy, the dogs wouldn’t go crazy every time someone knocked on the door and I’d watch the tykes wave and call out a chorus of “thank-yous” as they walked onto the next house. Oh, on my dream Halloween, nobody would be worried about whether I’d laced my homemade treats with razor blades or poison either.

I don’t live in that neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t modify my dream. Maybe next year I can still come up with a healthy treat that I can make and share with my co-workers. That way I’ll feel like I’m still participating in Halloween without contributing to an overbuzz of sugar.


Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart

Thanks to Susanne for telling me about FitBit. Yes, I know I’m becoming a little bit of a fitness-tech geek with my apps and stuff. In my defense, not only do I find them helpful, but they’re fun! The FitBit should arrive tomorrow, thank you Amazon Prime, and I’m looking forward to finding out just how many steps I walk on an average day.

I was thinking about something on my bike ride tonight. (Seven miles after a full day at work and another MLD treatment.) A long time ago, probably 1980 or 1981, my family attempted a little intervention with me about my obesity. My brother, who stopped eating meat and started eating healthier when he went away to college in the early 70s, told me I was sedentary. I hotly protested! I mean, after all, I worked a full time job and was usually out with my friends dancing at the rock clubs four nights a week. I was a busy, busy girl!

Now I’ve grown to realize that busy does not mean active. Dancing in the clubs doesn’t come close to, say, an hour of Zumba which is full out fitness exercise in the form of dancing. Working a 40-50 hour a week job and adding on other responsibilities, memberships in organizations, and so on, all makes for a very busy life, but that doesn’t mean a fitness-based lifestyle.

I really wish I’d gotten this when I was younger. There’s an old proverb, one that’s been picked up for book titles and other things now, that says, “We grow too soon old and too late smart”. That about sums it up. I’m filled with gratitude that I smartened up.

It doesn’t mean that I’m immune to doing dumb things or making stupid choices, but I hit the mark more often than not. Figuring out that I can make flavorful food that isn’t loaded with fat, salt, and calories is another advancement. Did I talk over the weekend about roasting a chicken? Picking up a cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket is a great convenience, but there’s something to be said about roasting your own when you have time. After the bird was done, I picked off the meat and then plunked the carcass and drippings in water with veggies and herbs to make a yummy stock.

One thing I’ve discovered is that I enjoy inventing soups. Sometimes I just muse about different ingredients, adding and discarding choices in my head, then I think about how to add flavor in healthy ways. Tonight I attempted another soup experiment. To that homemade stock I added sautéed garlic, onions and carrots, then mixed in a small can of Ro-Tel tomatoes and chilis. Red lentils and sautéed kale went in next. Finally, for a bit more flavor without contributing too much fat, I stirred in some chorizo sausage. The results are delicious! Other than whatever sodium was in the tomatoes and chilis, I didn’t add any salt. The soup doesn’t need it. There are layers of flavor, with a small kick of heat from the chilis. It’s seriously yum. I have a decent sized container for myself at home, which I’ll probably divvy up into smaller portions to freeze. Even then, I had enough to fill another container to share with friends at work.

Active, healthier lifestyle. We might grow older but it’s never too late to grow smarter.