Weighty Matters

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Fat Days

Ever hear someone talk about feeling fat on a particular day? I used to hear this lament from friends, usually when they were approaching their period and experiencing water weight gain and bloating. It wasn’t an occurrence that I experienced because, to be honest, I felt fat every single day. Because I was.

Since I’ve lost 170 pounds, even though I still have around 50 to go, I don’t often think of myself the same way that I did. I mean, I know I’m still overweight, but I honestly don’t go around thinking, “Ugh, I’m still so fat.”

Today, I get it. I’m having a fat day. I’m pretty sure this is an emotional residual from the physical eating of yesterday. Is it possible to have a truffle hangover? Anyway, this morning it felt like shirts just didn’t fit right. If the shirt fit, then I decided that all of my clothes were showing the still existing rolls and bulges of my body — particularly in the belly and hip areas. I tried on three shirts that I only bought a few weeks ago. I know damn well they fit because I tried them all on in the store. Today, in my fat mode, I was overly critical of how everything looked and felt on my body.

Geezus, having one these days sucks. No. Likey. I shared this with a friend who assured me that I did not look fat and, in fact, looked nice. She then told me that she was also having a fat day for different reasons. In my case it was the truffle hangover. For her, it’s because she hasn’t been able to workout for several days since she fell and hurt her knee. I think it’s interesting to see how we can experience something that honestly cannot immediately result in increases to our size or imperfections in our appearance (and who needs perfection anyway?), but we automatically go to that place of self-criticism. I was able to assure her in return and we both acknowledged that nothing can change our self-viewpoints unless we change them and let them go.

So, I’m trying to process it out and believe that tomorrow, when I get dressed, I’ll be able to see, recognize and celebrate the positive changes that have produced a much more attractive and, certainly healthier, physique.

Overall my food was better today. I’ve resisted the cupcakes. I also have been paying attention to my fitness. Yesterday, I almost made it to 10,000 steps. Technically, I think I actually did, but the FitBit doesn’t accurately track the amount of movement that I do with my in-home walking program DVD. Yesterday, I did the DVD’s One Mile Walk, but FitBit only counted some of the steps. I have to test it out and see if it only does front and back motion. If so, then I did not get credit for the side steps or kicks. This morning I woke up early and did the brisk paced 30-minute two mile routine. FitBit only counted it as .83 miles. It should have been two miles and at least 1600 steps.

Even though FitBit only has me at 8027 steps today, I’m positive I’m “owed” another 1500 steps at least. I guess I should stop focusing on the number so much, but I’m motivated to hit as close to 10,000 steps as I can every day. That’s why I not only did the two mile walk today, but I also walked the dogs in the morning and took them for an additional 1.5 mile walk this evening. I had a lot of desk work today, but I will do my best to add in some midday walks, even if they’re shorter. I will hit these goals.

For anyone who might have noticed that I haven’t spoken much about my bike riding, it’s been blowing the last several days. This morning the winds hit 30-35 mph! Even 15-20 mph winds make riding a big challenge down here, so I’m trying to compensate with more walking. I haven’t been to Zumba in a few weeks. Even though my legs are strong and powerful, I’m currently experiencing some significant pain/achiness in my left shoulder and some soreness in my right shoulder. Zumba might be all dance, but we do a lot of arm work too and I just didn’t feel up to it. Thank goodness for my feet.

So, how was your day? Do you experience Fat Days sometimes?


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?


Taking Nothing for Granted

I haven’t been to a Zumba class in to weeks because of meetings, renovations to the place where classes are held and then my vacation. I looked forward to tonight’s class ever since I got home from my trip. After work, I took the dogs for a walk, fed them and then went to the bedroom to change into workout clothes. When I balanced on one foot at a time to pull on my exercise shorts, I flashed back to two years ago.

Getting dressed was a challenge. In order to pull on underwear or a pair of pants or shorts, I either had to sit down or I had to hold onto a bed post or table for steadiness. Even with that support, I still need to bend down as far as I could to drag the clothes on over my foot. Putting on sneakers was even more difficult. The easiest way was for me to sit on the bed, bend my leg at the knee and prop it on the bed too so that I could reach my foot. The other option was to again sit in a chair, bend over and sort of contort myself to get my sneaker on. I can remember a time when I had to pause and suck in a breath so I could finish tying the laces.

***** Before I forget, I need to digress a minute. Someone asked me why I share these memories of the way that I used to be when I was at my heaviest, most awkward self. I do it because it’s important that I remember what it was like. It also matters to me in case there’s someone reading who is struggling with morbid obesity. It helps to know that someone has lived what you’re experiencing and understands. I hope it also helps to know that things can be better. *****

Okay, back to the topic. Tonight I changed clothes with balance and ease. Putting on my sneaks was a simple as crossing one leg over the other, slipping on the shoes and tying in a few seconds. No stress or strain, no struggle or shortness of breath. In that moment I thought, “As long as I live, I will never take this for granted.”

I then grabbed my water bottle and hand bag and bopped out the door. Millions of people do this every day without giving the ability a thought. It’s just normal for them. Now it’s normal for me too, but I will never forget the days and decades when it wasn’t.

Zumba kicked my ass tonight. Even though I’ve been doing Tai Chi, brisk walking and that 7 Minute Workout, I could feel a reduction in my ability and endurance. I pushed on through to get the most benefit from the exercise, ignoring the internal whimpering. When we finished the cool down and stretching period, I picked up my water bottle and towel, said goodbye and made my way to the car. For a second I slumped in the seat and just felt the gratitude sweep through me. I thought again, “I will never take this for granted.”

I need to appreciate every day, every pound lost, every time I walk or dance or move with control and balance through the 108 moves in the Tai Chi set. I want to remember the times that I say no to eating the wrong thing and yes to healthy choices. It’s all hard work and I’m grateful for the willingness to put in the time, energy, effort and determination.

Recovery is precious. It also isn’t automatically permanent. I have to keep nurturing my progress, reinforcing the healthier practices, and maintaining my determination. I don’t want to lose what I’ve fought so hard to achieve so I can never, ever, take it for granted.


Exercising Options

As usual, you all were terrific with your support when I definitely needed it.  Thanks again!

The last 24 hours have been a fun exercise in, well, exercise.  Yesterday, I had a work thing going on that necessitated me being on my feet for three hours straight.  Let me just tell you that this is a whole hell of a lot easier to do since I lost weight.  Overall I just move with greater ease and less pain.  It isn’t a chore for me to escort people around and handle the physical aspects of the job.  After one of those types of days, I also no longer need to go home, knock back 800 mgs of OTC pain relief, put up my feet and whine about my throbbing knee and ankles, stiff back and overall exhaustion.

Sure, I still get a little tired and my knee might be a titch more stiff and sore, but it’s definitely better than it’s been for me in years.  As a matter of fact, after I got home, ate dinner, and three a load of laundry into the machine, I leashed up the dogs and we all went for a nice, relaxing walk.

I then returned home and became engrossed in the live news coverage about the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing.   The most bizarre aspect was discovering that I really didn’t need to watch the television knew.  Friends in Boston learned of each development first via their police scanners and posted on Facebook.  We knew the suspect had been taken alive before the networks announced it as breaking news.

I was busily trying to keep myself awake because I had plans to join friends for a late night Zumba session.  Zumba at night?  Yep!  Last night was our area’s Relay for Life to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  My Zumba instructor friends arranged to entertain the crowd at 10:30 and wanted regular class participants to come and dance with them, so I agreed.  Once the music started, a couple of dozen other people — mostly middle school and high school students — joined in.  It wasn’t easy doing all of the steps on the field — harder to pivot — and sometimes I was a little self-conscious about doing the routines all out in public instead of the dance studio.  However, for the most part I had a “Who Cares?” attitude and just threw myself into the exercise and fun.  I think we went for about 40 minutes and had a blast.

When we were finished, I hurried home, washed up and went right to bed, setting the alarm for 6 a.m.  I had to meet up with friends by 7:30 to drive up the Keys for a Tai Chi intensive.  We did three hours of Tai Chi, with one short break.  First off, two full sets, each of which takes about 15-20 minutes.  Then the guest instructor took us through “foundation” exercises.  While some of these do not require a lot of full body movement, in each some part of your body is always moving.  The Dan Yus involve a move much like a basic squat — really good for leg strength, particularly when you do 25, 30 or more of them like we did today.  I also lost count of the number of repetitions we did of a move called Go Back to Ward Off Monkey.  A few dozen, maybe more.  Then we finished with another full set.

It doesn’t matter that each Dan Yu, Tor Yu or other foundation is done slowly and deliberately, or that we aren’t running marathons when we perform a set.  We were bodies in motion again and again and again.  I have to say that I feel incredibly limber and stretched out from all of the Tai Chi.  Between that intensive this morning and the Zumba last night, it’s safe to say that I’ve worked out this weekend, don’t you think?

I’m hoping for decent weather tomorrow morning so that I can get the dogs out for a good bridge walk.  If it’s too hot for the bridge when I get up, then I’ll make it up to them with a walk later in the day.  I find that around 7 or 7:30 is a great time.  The sun’s mostly down so it’s cooler but there’s still enough light.

Zumba dancing, Tai Chi, or simply a nice walk have become my three favorite forms of exercise.  I might not usually do all three of them in a relatively short number of hours, but I really like that I enjoy them all and want to do at least one of them, maybe two, almost every day.

It’s great to have options.