The Two Sides

I have my period.  It’s not anything necessarily noteworthy except for a couple of things:  First, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to see a loss for my weigh-in tomorrow (we all know TOM lovingly gives us some additional water bloat) and that really kind of sucks because I kicked ass this week with my exercise and my calorie counts.  All things being equal, I should lose at least a pound from last week… but I’m pretty sure I’m going to wake up tomorrow at 176.6 yet again and even though I know I’ll be down a whole bunch all at once… blah.  The second thing about my period is the hormones make me emotional and introspective and melancholy.

And with the hormones surging through my system, I’ve been sitting here all morning sort of thinking of all the things I miss.  This is when you expect some sort of message about how much I miss my grandmother, right?

Did I mention my period hormones make me shallow as well?

I woke up this morning craving breakfast.  Not an ordinary breakfast – but a meat lover’s skillet from the local diner.  YUM.  I have no idea how many calories such a thing contains.  An entire day’s worth?  Quite possibly that and then some.  And it got me to thinking about my weight loss and the things I miss.  I won’t list them all but let me spout off a few:  Obviously, eating a meat lover’s skillet without knowing how many calories it contained and not really caring.  I miss the way I had no idea eating 5 cookies was bad for you.  I mean, I knew they were sweets and thought it was mostly the sugar content that was bad.. not that eating 5 cookies meant you’d just inhaled 1500 calories or better.  I miss the solace and comfort I could find in food, coming home at the end of a stressful day and finding comfort in a bag of chips.  I miss staring at a quart of Ben & Jerry’s and not thinking that I should probably just forego the ice cream altogether.

See… stuff along that line.  Self-pity brought on my period hormones.  Seriously, I’m not this big of a whiner.

So then, as I was switching out a load of laundry and my side ached as I bent over into the washing machine, I began to think about the things I did not miss.  You know, like hating the way I looked in every photograph.  I don’t miss that.  I don’t miss feeling worried I won’t physically be able to do something.  I don’t miss feeling winded when I try to keep up walking with my friends.  I don’t miss gasping for air during a lecture.  I don’t miss feeling ashamed of my body.  I don’t miss how ugly I felt in the eyes of the public.  I don’t miss shopping at plus sized stores.  I don’t miss the lack of new experiences I had.  I don’t miss drifting through life without goals.

And really, aren’t both paragraphs up there filled with negative things?  I mean, who needs to find solace in food?  No one, that’s who.  Who needs to be ignorant of how many calories 5 cookies contain?  No one.  And I certainly don’t need to miss anything in the paragraph of things I don’t miss.

To put it simply, even though I’m whiny today and feeling sluggish because I’ve taken one day off exercise this week… I’m able to realize that my life has a lot less negativity in it these days.  I’m not perfect.  I don’t have all the answers.  I have so much more to learn… but the big deal here is… I’ve come so far from where I was.  My life is better now.  I am happier now.  I fear less.  I live more.

I hope you do too.

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What am I resisting?

So I’ve been calorie counting for nearly all of June.  I’ve logged in to MyFitnessPal faithfully every day except for 3 days when I got together with my sisters (and ate about a full pound of extra calories).

And you know something?

There are days when I really scare myself.  Days when I get the urge to just sit down on the couch with something incredibly unhealthy – or even not so incredibly unhealthy – and NOT log it.

And it’s really incredibly strange because it’s not as though I’m only eating healthy foods – I’m not.  I eat my fair share of ice cream and chips – I’m just doing it within my calorie limits.  And honestly, I may not even eat all that much of it.  The feeling is there because I’m resisting being controlled…. or controlling myself… I don’t know.

I didn’t feel this way before, when I’d sit down at the beginning of the day and plan out my meals and tally up the calories.  I never felt like I wanted to rebel against the rigor.  I think the difference is that I’m doing it on my phone and I”m logging as I go.  Thus, every time I put food in my mouth, I’m forced to log it.  And I think it’s making me think more about they WHY of when I’m eating.  There are times when I know I’m not actually hungry and I’m eating because I’m bored and that is truly annoying to log.

So yeah, I’m feeling the urge to rebel and I’m fighting against it.  I’ve plenty of calories, I don’t feel deprived of food, I’m rarely hungry… there is no reason to change what I’m doing.  I just have to struggle through the discomfort of looking at the whys behind what I eat and when I eat it.  And I have to absolutely look into the eyes of the knowledge that I absolutely COULD eat less most days and own that.  No more can I sit here and think that I can’t be smaller than a size 12 because I could never sustain that low calorie eating for a lifetime…. It’s looking like I COULD… and that’s pretty scary.

It will never cease to amaze me what a journey weight loss is.  The numbers on the scale have always only been a small portion of it.

Reeling Myself Back IN – Food

Food.  Exercise helps, but it doesn’t really mean much unless you start looking at what you eat.  I know this.  I know that exercise helps me to be able to eat more but I also know it’s not going to do crap unless I stop shoving food in my mouth every time I feel like it.

And yeah, it had sort of gotten to that point.  Mind you, I tried to be reasonable about it.  I would usually keep a running calorie count in my head… you know…. until I ate something I didn’t know the calorie content of, like a cupcake.  And even a single cupcake every now and again isn’t awful.  It’s when you have that occasional treat….say… every other day, or even every day…. that it starts to make a difference.

I’ve already mentioned I’m up 8 lbs from my pre-accident weight and that’s not bad at all.  What’s bad?  I think most of that weight is right in my middle.  It’s horrible.  I want it gone.

And it’s not like I don’t know what I have to do to get rid of it.  I did it for two whole years.  And perhaps there is something about exerting that much control for so long that made me reluctant to come back.  I’m pretty sure I only remember the hard parts.  The initial shock of eating 1800 calories when who knows how much I was eating before when I weighed 230 lbs?  The initial need for extreme self control or you’ll fail right at the beginning… that’s what I think my psyche remembers.  That’s why it’s taken me so long to focus on my food again.

But I’m doing it! (Finally)  And I really have to thank Beth and Sarah (who never blog here) for motivating me to do it.  I’ve had the MyFitnessPal app on my iPhone forever.  I’ve even logged my calories occasionally.  I don’t know how many times I’ve logged a partial day or gone months without logging but it’s been a lot.  Dieting with friends is easier.  And, since they’ve started using MyFitnessPal, I decided to start logging my food again.

Before I show some photos, let me begin by saying that I have lost absolutely all of my weight on an 1800 calorie a day diet.  Why so high? (You know, because doctors routinely put women on 1200 calorie diets.)  Well, for one, I didn’t want to diet – I wanted to change my eating habits.  Dieting means I’d have to change my eating habits… and then change them again to maintain whatever weight I reached and wanted to stay at…. not the best of situations.  I’ve heard so many people say that maintaining was harder than losing…. and I believe it.

So I did some soul searching and decided that I could reasonably eat 1800 calories a day for the rest of my life.  Some of you will think that number is really high and you’ve got to understand that I don’t necessarily want to be skinny.  I want to be a size 12.  I want to be able to do things without worrying that I might be too fat.  I don’t want something I’m going to have to work terribly hard at maintaining because that scares me.  And my idea of “hard to maintain” may change over time… and I’m open to that.  I’m open to going lower if it seems like something I can do without making my every waking moment about calories and food because you know something?  I am so tired of my life being about food and how hard it is to climb stairs.  (Ok, so it’s not hard to climb stairs anymore.)

So yeah, 1800 calories.  Anyway.  MyFitnessPal lets you put in your current stats and it also asks you how much you’d like to lose per week.  I had to play around with this to find a calorie count around 1800.  It wound up being about half a pound per week…which is pretty awesome, really.  It does tell you to eat your exercise calories, so it would add anything I burned off during exercise to my daily calorie goal.  I don’t always eat my exercise calories…I go with how my body feels.

 

The interface is pretty easy to navigate.  Also, it’s pretty easily customized if you go to the website.  You can change the names of the meals if they don’t suit you and your eating patterns.

 

The database has a very large amount of foods in it.  I can find almost anything I want.  There is also a barcode scanner, so if you have the package, you can just scan it.  It will also remember meals for you.. like my breakfast smoothie which I eat nearly every morning.

And, for motivational support… when you complete your entry for the day you’re met with one of these.  Now, don’t worry… it doesn’t tell you that you’d weigh MORE if you go over your calorie counts.

But yeah, I’m finally tracking my calories again and having an app to do it with is really nice.  Also… having friends is super fun.  It makes me feel more accountable AND… I can look at what THEY ate that day… which is fascinating… kind of like food porn.

Reeling Myself Back IN – Exercise

I haven’t been the best fitness oriented person on the planet since my car accident.  I mean, prior to the accident I was like… I don’t know, ready to run a half marathon and ready to climb tall mountains and ready to do all the things I was always too fat and out of shape to do before.

Mind you, I wasn’t skinny.  And mind you, I wasn’t trying to lose weight anymore as a lot of people tell you that’s really hard to do when you’re running longer distances and, quite frankly, running made me super hungry and I was having a joyous time eating anything I wanted and not gaining any weight.

Ok, the whole “I used to be a size 22 and now I”m a 14” thing probably played into my attitude.  It’s easy to feel like a million bucks when you’re in a 14 and you’ve lost 55 lbs and you feel like you have control over your body for the first time in your life.

So anyway, I likely wasn’t in the best mindset for maintaining a loss when the accident happened.  I also don’t think I could have ever anticipated how long my recovery would take seeing as how nothing was broken or bloodied (aside from a broken tooth) – three cheers for hyper-mobile joints that never want to recover!  (Please note the sarcasm.)

I realized I was in a bit of trouble last summer, which was 7 months after the accident and during which I exercised very little.  It was so easy to fall back into my old, lazy habits and just not do anything.  I did get up off my butt a few days/week and attempt to run but the failure of being able to do what I used to do – or even a fraction of it – just discouraged me.  And then the school year hit and I stopped exercising for the most part.

And for all of that, I’m up 8 lbs since the accident.  I don’t think that’s the worst thing in the world.  I’m feeling mildly accomplished that I didn’t gain like 15 or 20 lbs back.  I could have.  What that tells me is that I really have changed SOME of my habits.  But you know, the longer I went without exercise… the worse I started eating.  It’s a slippery slope.

So, first thing?  I got back into exercise.

It hasn’t been easy.  My back still isn’t where it used to be – and even back then it wasn’t tip top.  A busy week can see me not exercise at all.  A bad week with my back can also see me not exercise at all.  Like last week?  I went on two walks one day – a 3 mile walk and then a 2 mile walk later in the day.  Nothing I didn’t do all at once in April… and yet… by the end of the two miles, my hip joints were wasted.  I could barely walk the next day.  Exercise?  Yeah right, not without a chiropractic adjustment… which costs $20 every time I go… and yeah, that adds up because I go once a week regularly (loose joints, remember?) and spending $40 in one week just seems madness.

I also can’t go crazy.  I can’t set a distance goal for my running/jogging.  I can’t do high impact exercise all the time.  And so I find myself doing a lot of walking.  It feels like a failure, walking.  I have to remind myself it’s not a failure.  This is what I can do without over taxing my body.  This is better than nothing at all.  And it’s true.  However, compared with the crazy goals I was setting for myself before… this exercise for the sake of exercise feels a bit empty… and so I am currently trying to remember that exercise can just be taking joy in movement – and that’s ok.

And June 7, I hit a milestone.

See that?  I hit 100 miles.

I started using that app sometime in March.  I don’t always run, there are two bike rides in there and an awful lot more walking than running…. but I hit 100 miles.  I also know I didn’t really exercise for about 3 weeks of that time.  So I’m feeling pretty good about the 100 miles.  It’s also given me the ability to make a new goal – a distance goal.  I just have no idea what sort of goal to set…. but at least I’ve got an idea of a type of goal I can set without meaning I’m going to injure myself trying to get there.  A distance goal I can do.  A distance goal doesn’t mean I have to run 3 miles, it doesn’t mean I have to run at a certain pace.  I don’t even have to run.  I just have to put in the distance.

If you haven’t checked out the mapmyrun app, it’s pretty nice.  It’s easy to use, pretty user friendly – I’ve never had to look up directions for anything, and it even connected pretty easily with my heart rate monitor once I got the thingy to plug into my phone.  I was worried as the thingy (yes, it’s the official name now) wasn’t made by mapmyrun, and my heart rate strap is from my old garmin… but the thing worked!

So yeah, I’m feeling ok with my exercise level.  I’m doing the best I can.  I’m trying to make every session about fitness and movement and not about what I think I should be doing.  I’m not being so hard on myself, and I’m not feeling discouraged.  This is improvement.

Oh yeah, The April Exercise Challenge

So the last you heard of the April Exercise challenge I was furious over some person reporting an insane number of hours in a week.

So I asked about it the next time I went in.  And I was told they’d asked this person about it as well and apparently his doctor had told him he needed to start exercising or he was heading for a heart attack.  Lots of walking, I guess.  Lots of walking and retired.  I’m telling you, those retired folks can put in a lot of easy exercise time with the morning and evening walks!

So I calmed down a bit but when the third week came and went and that guy STILL beat me in hours (but not by nearly as much) I realized I wasn’t going to come out the office victor.  However, that insane person WAS on my team and so I consoled myself by realizing I would be on the winning team this year.

After the first week the office had reached 250 hours and it was a 2000 hour challenge.  I really didn’t think we’d make it.  At the end of April the office had accumulated 2381 hours.  I have to admit, I’m impressed.  Everyone really stepped it up.  The break down looked like this:

Final Team Totals

1st place Red Team = 486 hours                   Top Competitor = 51.5 hours

4th place Green Team = 329.5 hours             Top Competitor = 30.5 hours

5th place Blue Team = 280.5 hours                 Top Competitor = 35.5 hours

3rd place Orange Team = 393.5 hours             Top Competitor = 36.25 hours

6th place Black Team = 254.5 hours                 Top Competitor = 22 hours

2nd place Yellow Team = 425 hours                  Top Competitor = 39.25 hours

7th place Silver Team (staff) = 212 hours        Top Competitor = 32 hours

Awesome stuff!  My prizes?  A t-shirt, a reusable bag, and a hot/cold pack.  Not too shabby!

Enabler part 1

(Note:  Per my mood, I am swearing an awful lot in this post so please don’t read if it will offend you.)

For nearly as long as I can remember, my mother has had issues with money.  There was a brief time after the divorce when she seemed to have her shit together.  We moved to a nearby town, rented a townhouse, and really… things went well.

And then she started dating and her priorities got all fucked up.  I remember her staying out all night and leaving my sisters and I at home alone.  I remember waiting up for her.  I remember when the food started to become scarce.  I remember digging in the couch cushions for enough change to buy a box of macaroni and cheese, the generic variety, which would be made without the benefit of milk or butter.  I remember being kicked out of the house we were renting.  And I remember my mother never again being quite the same.

Prior to my fourth grade year (the year all of the above happened), my mom had been a woman who could pull herself together and look good despite being a larger woman.  She would do her hair and makeup and she would look classy.  She had the ability to just pull it all together.  She’s slowly lost that ability.  The next decade or two would be spent with her becoming an alcoholic, living with an alcoholic, her abandoning her job as a realtor and working for a telemarketing company, and then abandoning that job as well and beginning her “work at home” career which is still going on now.

Throughout all of these things, my mom has had very little money.  There is no savings plan.  No savings account.  There is sometimes a checking account which invariably gets overdrawn and closed due to her writing bad checks.  There are times when she’s got money and she spends it generously but quickly.  And before you get solely a negative view of my mother – she is far from being “all bad.”  She is the parent who has always supported me, the one I can tell anything to, the one who has shown me unconditional love, and you can have amazing conversations with her.

However, she’s also always borrowed money from me.  Every so often mom needs something and it’s frequent enough that I have a savings account for it.  Every pay period, some money goes into an account for the next time she calls and tells me she’s 400 behind on her electric or her laptop has died.  The appointment setting doesn’t really pay the bills.  It does at times, but it’s incredibly slow at other times and with my mom’s lack of saving savvy, it spells trouble.

The most recent fiasco:  She called needing me to pay her 400 electric bill and explained that it was because her paypal card hadn’t come.  (She suffers from depression and neglected to get her mail for so long the post office refused to deliver any longer and she apparently had issues getting them to deliver again… Mind you, they hadn’t delivered in a few months so I’m not surprised her bills went unpaid.)  Two weeks later, she is calling again for me to pay her 200 cable bill.  Oh, and…by the way… she’s so far behind in rent that she gave them her 30 day notice because she was inevitably going to be evicted.

I have to admit, I came unglued.  Un-fucking-glued.

I’d ASKED her when I paid the 400 dollars how her other bills were and she had assured me she had everything under control if I could pay the 400.  But, just like always… that wasn’t the case.  And she was talking about renting an apartment in another town and all I could think was “and just where does she think she’s going to get the first, last, and deposit for that place?”  Because, my mom with her depression, also lives in filth.  I’ve tried to help with that.  I’ve tried to go in and clean for her and really it does nothing.  So she definitely isn’t going to get a cent of her deposit back – even if she didn’t owe them money.

And this is where people usually butt into the story and say “don’t give her any more money, let her figure it out on her own.”  And I have to explain that my sisters and I did that once.  And that my mom ended up losing her house and having nowhere to go.  So then it came down to letting my mom live on the street, or letting her move in with one of us.  We sometimes joke that the occasional bill we pay for my mom is our “not having mom live with us tax.”  We can’t let her “figure it out on her own” because she doesn’t.  Been there, done that, and we lost a lot in the process.

And this is where people usually say “make her get a real job.”  And I have to tell them that my mother likely isn’t physically able to get a real job outside of the home anymore.  She’s grossly overweight, is a chain smoker, and has lived an incredibly sedentary life for a looooooooong time.  Even 8 years ago she would avoid coming to visit me because of the two flights of stairs to get to my apartment.  These days?  She’d never make it up the two flights.

This seems as good of a stopping point as any on this story.  I’ll fill you in on the rest in a day or so.

 

And here I thought I was kicking ass…

I know it’s been a while since I posted.  I have excuses.. allow me to list them.

Last week was crazy at work.  We had a big project in one of my classes, plus there was a school-wide project which culminated on Friday so things were crazy at work.  By the time I got home at night, put in my 1.5 hours of exercise, ate dinner, showered, gave the cats sufficient attention, and perused the job listings… I was beyond tired.

Plus… Monday night there was that whole… April Exercise challenge report that threw me into a bit of a funk.  I was fully expecting to be the top person on my team again… or at least CLOSE to the top person on my team.  I had 9.5 hours that I’d reported and when I got the reporting email… the top person on my team had done 18 hours.

Naturally, I immediately called them a liar.

I mean, I smoked the entire office the week before with 10.5 hours and someone comes out of nowhere with 18?  Excuse me?

I stewed over that, folks, and I’m not all that proud to admit it either.  Instead of focusing on my success in general, I was totally peeved at this person.  This person also beat me out this past week, but only by 1.25 hours.  I had 11 hours for last week and they evidently had 12.25.  Whatever.  The big picture here? My team is looking like we might be the winners!  I’ll take that… and maybe next year I can do something incredibly insane to be the overall winner.  I don’t know though, 18 hours in a week seems pretty steep.  If it were warmer and I was riding my bike… possibly.  I just don’t know.

So yeah, I got sidetracked and started with the negative thinking….which led to selfish thinking…which led to me being totally preoccupied with myself….which led to me spending senseless energy doing nothing but huffing and puffing and feeling angry.  Why did I let that happen?

I’m still kicking ass though… my own.  I have to keep reminding myself not to push it with the running.  I have begun googling to see if I can find other people who have the high heart rate problem I have and I’ve found a couple of threads that mention it… but nothing which gives it a medical name, and nothing that really gives much advice other than “do what it takes to keep your heart rate at 85% of maximum.”  You know… that would pretty much leave me “jogging” at a slower pace than I walk.  I am encouraged to see that others have this problem and they’re not all overweight… and they seem to be in various levels of physical fitness… so I’m going to keep researching and see what I can come up with…. because…. man… I had really forgotten how much it sucks when my heart rate jumps up into that 185 – 195 zone after about 2 minutes of jogging… and then trying to keep jogging.  It’s HARD.

Just keep moving forward, right?

It’s like Jenga… only with your life

I ran into someone I sort of know recently.  I say sort of know because she used to be the receptionist at my chiropractor and while we are friendly, I wouldn’t say we are friends or anything.  However, she too went on a lifestyle change and lost a lot of weight a while back.  When I ran into her I told her she looked great and she admitted she’d not been doing so great lately and had gained 5 lbs.  I told her I could relate and joked about how, the moment you stop exercising… you suddenly start hating your body again.  And those 5 lbs?  Doesn’t matter if you used to weigh 50 lbs more, those 5 lbs make you feel like the heaviest woman on Earth.  We giggled and I told her Id’ recently found my workout groove again and told her she’d find hers again too.

You know, it’s one thing if the exercising stops.  However, what I’ve found is that once the exercise stops… the healthy eating slowly slips as well.  Folks, my eating over the past year has slid backwards in horrific ways.  That is… until I found my groove with this April exercise challenge.

Let me backtrack first.  Last week I clocked in at 10.5 hours and when the results came in…. I was a full 2 hours ahead of the closest competitor!  I was completely surprised and also completely thrilled.  I am determined to match last week’s time and, while I’ve had 2 days of short workouts, I haven’t taken any days off this week (and I did last week) so, I’m looking like I CAN get there… which is awesome.  I’d like to be the overall top competitor.

What I found this week has been really surprising:  I am craving good foods.  My breakfast has improved, my lunches have consisted of mostly fruits and veggies (and I’ve thrown in Greek yogurt which is totally yummy).  And dinner?  I craved salad all week long.  I didn’t have the stuff on hand to make a salad, mind you… but I wanted it badly.  I finally got my salad Thursday night in the form of a Wendy’s salad which included grilled chicken, pecans, apples and was so yummy I was in heaven.  Last night?  Same deal, I was craving salad again so I got another fast food salad, this time from Burger King.

So, as I’m sitting here right now I”m reading through my salad books (I’m horribly unimaginative when it comes to salads) for inspiration because I believe I should plan on eating a few salads for dinner this week.  It’s been a while since I’ve craved a good salad.  It’s been a while since I’ve looked ahead at the menu to see what kind of salads a restaurant has before agreeing to go out to eat, but I remember once doing so.

It’s amazing how everything sort of fits together.  If you remove one thing, it can all come toppling down.  Put that piece back in… and everything stabilizes.  I feel good about myself again.  I’m not thrilled with the extra weight, but I’m not throwing a girlie hissy fit in the morning when I get dressed, either.  I just feel GOOD.  And that’s the big difference, isn’t it?  When you’re working out there is no guilt to feel for not working out.  When you’re working out, your body craves the good stuff.  When you’re eating well and working out… life feels good.

And that, my friends, is where I am right now.  (Until my next post when I update you on the job search and rant and rave about crap I’m frustrated with.  haha.)