Like the Chinese say “It’s been an interesting year…”

To my readers, I apologize for the lengthy absence. Like the Chinese say “It’s been an interesting year!” On the weight front, it’s been follow the bouncing scale readout for months now and frankly, I’ve been struggling to go from day to day.

Yes, there have been some health issues, but they are getting under control. But I’ve lost my motivation, direction, and sight of why I started this journey in the first place. While it was understandably for potential serious health reasons (borderline diabetic, developing sleep apnea, having trouble with simple walking, and generally feeling like crap), after losing a large portion of the weight and those issues now resolved, the last roughly 40 pounds to lose (I’ve gained back almost 10 pounds since the beginning of the year) now seems an unobtainable goal. The difficulty stems partially from struggling with constant bouts of depression since April that only now are getting under control and being just plain tired.

Tired of struggling to lose even a pound, working out 5 days a week, eating like a bodybuilder (i.e. a fly!), only to gain 2-3 back after 1 pancake breakfast. The depressions come with major sugar/carb cravings and it takes weeks to lose the weight from falling off wagon after wagon. We’ve talked about “flipping the switch” – looking at problems from the opposite direction or a different point of view. So here I am with you, dear readers, admitting I now need help to get back on track and figure out why this journey continues to be important, and what it’s true value is to me, not just now, but in the future as well.

Because what I’ve learned is this: this is not a journey – it’s a way of life, a commitment to set aside fleeting instant gratification and “sweet treat pleasures” for a healthy body and nutrition and loving movement that keeps my mind on track. I am getting help with this, going back to a therapist after 4 years without one and making a major med change that I am praying will help with the sabotaging food cravings.

So today’s lesson: yes, I’ve fallen down this year, over and over again. But I keep getting back up and part of that is coming back to this blog. It’s very hard admitting here that I’ve lost my focus and dedication. But committing to writing here, finding inspirational messages, quotes, stories, and pictures for you (and myself), and using this as part of holding myself accountable, all these actions will help. Yes, they will take work. Yes, it will be a pain in the ass. Yes, I would rather be eating cheesecake and watching “Farscape” than sweating in the gym and staying true every day to making healthy food choices.

But I commit to myself, and to you, tomorrow is a new day. We’re going out to eat for our anniversary, but even then, and the rest of the day, I will make healthy food choices. I will go to the gym for a 1 hour cardio and strength training session. And I will report back to you on whether I was able to honor these 2 commitments for 1 day. Sadly, like a 12 stepper, it’s going to be 1 day at a time for awhile. But I hope you’ll support me and, as I get back on track, I’ll do the same for you.

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2012 Yearly Wrap Up

2013 3Hello and Happy New Year!!!

After taking a short break to my “get crap back together” after the school thing, am very happy to be back and will be blogging again regularly. Missed everyone but have been busy learning new fitness, nutrition, and motivation tips and tricks to help us all!

But first a quick wrap of “2012 Goals Achieved“!

INCHES LOST: I lost 4 inches off my bust, went from 22 to size 16/18 in pants and from 1X to Xlarge and some Large/Medium as well. Sold or Donated 80% (or more) of my clothes and shoes and, except for one shopping trip, have gotten everything but sneakers from Goodwill.

FAT LOST: I lost 15 pounds this year and have kept it off. Went through a cycle of gaining and losing, then plateaued for about 5 months but kept going.

STRENGTH: I am doing much better. Can do 3 rounds of full range of exercises with trainer. Bench press 40 pounds and squatting 60 pounds. Much better endurance and able to run 2 miles easily.

MOTIVATION: I began working in July with an amazing trainer and hit the gym at least 3 times a week now, if not more. That includes fitness classes, strength training, C25K training, and yoga. Also tried P90X with a group.

RUNS ACCOMPLISHED: I completed 3 separate 5K’s this year, up from 1 last year. Also decreased time on the last one – Thanksgiving Day – by 15 minutes!

DIET: This year I struggled with sweets and junk food, especially pastry, but was able to get friends on board with my “healthy eating program”. Also did a great job with food choices during the holiday’s compared to last year, and did a 1 day water cleanse yesterday – even with going to a friend’s gathering a being surrounded with AMAZING FOOD.

BREAKFAST: Eat breakfast every day, use stevia not sugar, cook with cooking spray.

WATER: Drink it like it’s out of style (at least a gallon a day). That, coffee, and protein shakes are all I drink now.

ENDING THE BLAME / GUILT CYCLE: I am finished blaming my weight gain on my condition (1 med a bit of an issue but have overcome it), my mom for passing the condition down, and beating myself up when I slip off the wagon, hit a wall, or fail at something. Now I can accept life as it comes, deal with it, and move on to make healthier, smarter decisions next time. This is a HUGE step for me!

TAKING CARE OF MYSELF FIRST: After the whole “class thing” and backsliding, I have been extra vigilant about self care, meds, preparing healthy meals, eating on time, and getting to the gym. The healthier I am in all areas of my life, the better wife, friend, and overall person I will be. Can’t help others with half a tank!

OTHER GOALS ACHIEVED OF NOTE:

SOCIAL: Went from anxiety/depression central and trapped at home 2 years ago to planning and hosting 3 parties/gatherings this year: a “Harry Potter Movie Marathon and Authentic Menu” Party, “Cocktails/Mocktails” Party, and a “French Country Christmas”. Also captained the 2012 NamiWalk, great success! Am almost anxiety free now and ready to kick another med to the curb! And will be reconnecting and visiting with friends monthly.

EDUCATION: Signed up for and completed 90% of a college class.

FINANCIAL: Also studying and creating a financial plan for my family for next year to knock out our debts. Paid off car and refinanced house this year. Exciting plans for 2013.

Have another set already of goals for 2013, some carried over from 2012, but many new.

Pleased to report that achieved almost everything on our “2012 Vision Board“. So for those of you who don’t know what a vision board is or just haven’t used one – I HIGHLY recommend it! Seeing your goals in color every day and the “check marks” stuck to the one’s you’ve achieved is an incredible motivator. Gives such an amazing feeling of pride and accomplishment. Have a blog entry from January 2012 explaining how to make your own vision board but even if you just create a “2013 Goals List” and display it where you’ll see it every day, then check things off as you do them, you’ll still get those “warm fuzzy feelings”.

So, welcome back everyone! 2013 is a year of challenging myself like never before, beating the sugar monster, and getting in the best health I’ve been in since my late 20’s. And I challenge you to go after your goals and “knock them out of the park” as well! Would love to hear some of your plans and goals for the New Year and your accomplishments in 2012. This is going to be exciting and thrilled you’re along for the Ride!

There is NO “I Can’t”

There truly is no “I Can’t” and the only limits we have are those we impose upon ourselves. No one exemplifies this more than South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius, a quadriplegic who is competing head to head with the rest of the those running in this summer’s 2012 Olympic Games in London.

“Oscar Pistorius, running on prosthetic legs, finishes last in race, first in hearts”

(South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius pops out of the starting block in the men’s 400m semifinals during the Summer Olympic Games on Sunday, August 5, 2012 in London, England.)

At the tiny gym I go to now (not sure it’s really a gym, more like a place where serious athletes and body builders train), one of the owners – my trainer Liz – is going to put a huge poster of Oscar on the wall so anytime anyone says “I can’t” or wants to quit when they still have something in them, she’ll point him out as an example. Not only did he make it to the Olympics, and even with all the padding, those prosthetics HURT! He’s in pain and he’s still running! And maybe he came in last in his first race but he still has the 400 to go. Talk about “never say die”!

I’ve posted the “Versus” motivational video numerous times because it is so powerful. Any goal we want to achieve – mental health, weight loss, getting in shape, relationship or career goals, school, whatever – can be daunting, especially if we don’t have a solid ground of support and/or achievement. There comes a time when it’s necessary to become our own cheerleaders. To discover the strength we have RIGHT NOW inside us to start down a new path. If it helps, print out Oscar’s picture and put it where you’ll see it the most. Use his example to remind yourself that anything is possible, anything that can be dreamed can be achieved.

I believe in you. Now it’s your turn. If you’re already there, I’m working my a** off to catch up!

What Will They Think Of Next? Fitness Teas! And a Bit More…

I was taking a few minute to look through recent Facebook posts and one jumped right off the screen at me!

The Republic of Tea (a pretty good company with a wide range of mid-priced but tasty teas) has come out with a whole range of “Fitness Teas“, a sporty “tea” bottle and cute cups, for those who have to have the whole set.

Everything from revving your metabolism, increasing flexibility, achieving better endurance, and helping your recovery time, these teas have exotic sounding herbs and a nice video to endorse them.

Will need to read up a bit more on these but am including the link for you here:

Category.aspx?c=ACTIVE

http://www.republicoftea.com/facebook/Category.aspx?c=ACTIVE

But for those of us who’ve been doing this for a little while (a very little while for me), it seems like there is a bewildering number of products out there to do all the same things, at varying price points. Dynatise has a great protein powder and I recently invested in their “recovery” powder, basically a branch chain amino acid mix that supports you during your workout and helps decrease soreness and shorten recovery time. Personally, I found it very helpful. It’s a bit pricey though. Supplements are always an option at a lower cost. So is a few ibuprofen and a rest day :-).

And, just when you think you have a handle on things, there’s something new to learn. At least the basics hold true. Staying hydrated ALL the TIME with plain water, preferably cool so it gives your stomach something to work on, supplementing that with green tea for metabolism if you can tolerate it, throwing cinnamon and chili into food as another metabolism booster, and frequent small, balanced meals. Those seem to be pretty consistent.

But then you get into what time of day is best to work out, how long is a good rest period, how soon before and after working out should you eat and what and how much, stretching, using a foam roller, machines versus free standing strength training, to run or not to run, the whole sugar thing…Whew!!!

In that vein, yesterday, the wife came home and said she spoke to her doctor who said your last meal should be at least 3 hours before you go to bed, otherwise the food just sits in your small intestine. Ok, so no chocolate chunk ice cream an hour before bed. Or ever! (That last one’s not true – treats are important for the long term so we don’t completely burn out and go on a carb/sugar/fat (the holy trinity!) binge.) But your small intestine??? Yet another thing to wonder about and finally do some research on.

The NerdyGymRat had a great post today about the best time to exercise. Am? Pm? WhenM? Turns out, according to studies, it doesn’t matter what time of day you exercise as long as you’re getting your heart rate up and exercising consistently. So if you wake up late tomorrow and can’t get to the gym until the afternoon when you’re usually a 6am’er, no worries!

Hope you enjoyed today’s post. No pretty pics of food but some good information and a new product to look into. We’ll close today with a nifty motivational quote – more tomorrow!

Finding Beauty In Movement

Beautiful isn’t it! It’s an ad from this month’s “Yoga Magazine”. Look at the expression on the woman on the right’s face…A Madonna’s smile. Amazing!

Achieving this kind of balancing act obviously takes years of training and practice. (Plus probably some circus / acrobatic training.) But after the “Tough Love” post, thought it might be helpful to see the other side of this whole “getting in shape” thing. Yes, it’s hard, mostly unpleasant, even with the whole endorphin thing, but it can also be incredibly beautiful. Take a close look at the placement of the hands, the strength in the feet, the elegance of the pose itself, perfect symmetry.

Maybe you are training for a 5k, a body building competition, or using strength training to help with weight loss. Maybe you don’t have any goals currently. That’s just fine! But when you look at images like this one or watch someone rockin’ out in Zumba, pulling moves that don’t look humanly possible, let it inspire you. Don’t think about where you are now, the bulges, flappy skin (if it applies, and yes, sadly it does!) but the muscles that are sculpting underneath, the strength and grace you’re working toward. These things come at a price – are you willing to pay it?

Hint: the answer’s “YES”!!!

It’s All a Matter of Perspective…

No, duh right?!

Seriously, isn’t it easy to lose that priceless thought process when life throws it’s slings and arrows our way/weigh? When the scale pulls it “evil overlord” prank, we have an argument with someone we care about, the dog gets sick and we’re hit with a big medical bill and we scour the furniture for change to help pay for it, etc.

The Buddha isn’t the first to say that life is suffering. It’s painful to be born, all the most important lessons in life are usually learned the hard way, and I can’t count the times I’ve swallowed lemon juice instead of lemonade. You, too right? But there is a way out of suffering and it’s not some amazing spiritual awakening or giant light bulb over our heads.

I’ve found that no matter how bad the depression is, how hopeless I feel about ____, how worried I am about money, the future, the cost of tea in China, as long as I remember my wife’s advice about perspective, I know I can get through anything. It’s a simple question: Did anyone die or lose a limb? If not, go ahead and cry and get upset, then sit down and breathe. Then either get out pen and paper or call a friend and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’re able to get at least the basics of a game plan. This is absolutely not to minimize how tough things can get, just to help put it in perspective.

That includes a slower than planned weight loss, awhol motivation, and getting sick and tired of working out so hard and not seeing hoped for results.

And, as someone who’s been through the “yes” to the perspective question – it’s the hardest to get through, it takes for many a lot of time, and a lot of help and support, but each of us is stronger than we could possibly believe. The kernel of the superhuman capacity to overcome literally anything life throws our way is within all of us.

At this point you may be wondering the point of all this: easy, if you, like me, took the holiday weekend off from our particular weight loss / activity journeys, no one lost a limb. No beating up ourselves for that 2nd hotdog or excessive use of puff pastry! Once again, get back up and on the elliptical! I’m behind you 100%!

Celebration Time, C’mon!

You’re Invited to the “Virtual 1 Year Celebration” of my Weight Loss Journey!

Please join me for a bit to enjoy virtual cake, virtual ice cream, virtual balloons and party favors, and, my favorite, virtual martinis and cosmos, to celebrate my 1 Year Weight Loss/Life Transformation Anniversary!

First, thank all of you for your support during this amazing, challenging, and oh so rewarding time. You have helped me so much with your following, comments, and encouragement “on the weigh”. And if I can do this, and keep working toward the main goal of losing the rest and then maintaining/thriving for a lifetime, then so can you!

A Quick Recap:

Here’s a very quick recap of the positive changes from the start point to today.

1 Year Ago – April 14, 2011

  • Weight: 278.8 pounds
  • Classification: Morbidly Obese
  • Clothing Size: 28 Women’s, 3X Women’s
  • Activity Level: Sedentary (butt glued to couch!)
  • Social Life: Almost non-existent, rarely left the house, isolated
  • Diet: Awful – high in sugar, fat, salt, fast food, bad carbs, very little fruits/veggies
  • Cholesterol: High in all the Bad Ones
  • Blood Sugar: Pre-Diabetic (in the danger zone)
  • Mood: 3-4 full episodes a month, depressed most of the time – A MESS
  • Sleep: 12-16 hours / night

A picture is worth a thousand words:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY – April 14, 2012

  • Weight: 205.2 pounds (74 almost 75 Pound Loss!!!)
  • Classification: Moderately Overweight
  • Clothing Size: 16-18 Women’s, XL/1X Women’s
  • Activity Level: ACTIVE (4 sessions at Gym, 1 Hatha Yoga Class, 1 Exercise Meet-Up – every week!)
  • Social Life: out at the gym, friends at yoga, weekly motivational/exercise/social meet-up, out and about almost daily, blog/email/even talk on phone – Huge!
  • Diet: 160 degree change – mostly lean meats, chicken, fish, veggies, fruit, good carbs/grains, still struggle with fast food and sugar/fat bombs but major change
  • Cholesterol: All in Normal Range
  • Blood Sugar: Normal Range
  • Mood: 1-2 episodes a month, managing depression, snap out much more quickly
  • Sleep: 8-10 hours / night

A picture is worth a thousand words:

(And that’s from 2 months ago! But the changes are about 10 pounds down so it’s close enough.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I can do it, coming from being barely able to walk a block or climb a flight of stairs, sick and tired all the time, and chronically depressed – So Can You!

So let’s Celebrate wherever we are in our own “Weight Loss Journey’s” and be proud of our accomplishments, every big and every little, one of them. I would love to hear your stories in “Comments” and to see pics of your “before” and “now”s. Celebrating is more fun when we do it together!

Here’s to staying on track, meeting our goals, and thriving, a little bit every day “along the weigh”!

Back to the “Cool Stuff”: Shake Up Your Weight Loss Part Deux

Remember when we talked about busting through weight loss plateaus by shaking up your workout? It really helps when you take your own advice!

In January, I did the “21 Day Yoga Challenge” until my ankle gave out. But did finish about 70% of it, so was feeling pretty sprongy. Good loss that month.

In February, I ate and ate and ate. But I still did my workouts and yoga. – gained that month

In March, I ate a bit less but wasn’t as on point with the exercise side.  – lost what I gained but still not much.

BUT – it’s April and my gym just sent out a snifty email advertising their “Fit Club“. If you take a certain number of their classes you can get a free tote bag, free t-shirt, and – Lose More Weight and Tone Up! You know me, “wow, a new challenge! and OMG I am truly insane to do this!” So of course I called the gym and the nice guy who answered helped me figure out the 12 classes I’ll be taking this month. Yes, I am crazy – that’s 3 a week, plus 1 yoga, plus 1 Saturday am session, PLUS walking the dang dog for cardio in the am. Many of you may be saying, “Psshaw, that’s baby stuff! I run 15 miles a day!” Sorry, my fingers are in my ears and I’m humming. What was that you just said?

I spent yesterday chilling out, knowing the first incident of a new activity is typically an anxiety party. ~ You know, I don’t know anyone, ~ will I be able to handle the class without making a fool of myself, ~ what if they have props and stuff I don’t know what to do with, the usual. But with the help of my beautiful supportive honey, I got over that anxiety episode and left and actually made it to the gym. Yay me – Yay you if you’ve been there!

Lesson Learned:

First, due to the class, I lost 1 whole pound yesterday – 1 pound! And I still have 4 exercise sessions this week. Aside from that you’re probably wondering how the class went. Yes, it was scary at first as I watched the previous class working out like Rocky, but after handing our teacher my Fit Club score card, she was super nice, asked if I was new and said not to worry, it takes a few classes to get it. When we went in, everyone headed over to the “wall of weird fitness equipment” and started grabbing 5 or 6 different items – for 1 class! The teacher saw the stricken look on my face and showed me what I needed and what weights to use. Basically the Body Pump class consisted of using the classic dumbbell for strength training, a step up thing for lunges (which I used, terrified I would fall), a mat and free weights. The good news is that I not only completed the ENTIRE 1 HOUR CLASS, but by watching a veteran and the teacher, then the other students as they used and then put away the different pieces of equipment, I learned that the horrible experience of my first aerobics class in 1987 was a fluke. I followed along, only needed to stop for breath a few times, and felt pretty empowered by the experience. Oh, and like a very limp noodle.

That’s a lot of explanation for an underscoring of an older piece of really good advice: to keep losing and then maintain, you HAVE to shake up your routine! If you’re only doing yoga, add some strength training. If you do strength training, then cardio, switch it. Try a session with a trainer to give you other ideas. The “Get Fit Guy” recommends switching up every 1-2 months for consistent weight loss and to prevent the dreaded work out boredom. Plus if you have Netflix or Hulu, they have some great classes you can do right at home. I know I’ve said this before, however, the key is to take a class you’re not sure you can do. Because you can, you just won’t know til you’ve done it!

Results:

I lost 1 Whole Pound in just a day. Sure that’s happened before, however, with 4 more sessions this week, I am hoping for another 2-3 pound loss and reaching my next “chunk” of under 200 pounds in 2 weeks. After 2 months of very slow weight loss that might be a lot to ask. I’m still willing to literally work my butt off to do it!

And Ladies, if you’re like me the thought of using dumbbells/free weights might be a little scary, but it’s actually cool and empowering. If the guys can do it, hey, so can we!

Exercise Program A Bore? Here’s A Few Ways to Shake It Up!

From “The Biggest Loser”, How to take the “Boring” Out of Exercise

1. Use Exercise to Get What You Want Out of Life
Many people look at exercise only as a way to burn calories. How boring! If that were the only reason to move, I’d skip it too. Think of exercise as a means to get other things you want in life; a walk on the beach, a trip to the museum, playing soccer with your kids. Then, as you get stronger, actually go out and DO those things. There are hundreds of rewards of being active that have nothing to do with calories and scales.

2. Seek Support
You can’t do it alone. It’s true that you have the power to make your own choices and only you can control your success. But having a great support network gives you two very powerful weapons. First, being accountable to someone helps you take an objective look at both your victories and your challenges. And second, having someone to lean on in the tough times is invaluable.

3. Quality Beats Quantity
More, more, more is a dead-end road when it comes to exercise. Eventually you’re going to run out of time in the day. Plus, there is some evidence that exercising more than an hour per day increases your chances of dropping your workout program altogether. If you’re already exercising 30 – 60 minutes on 4 – 6 days per week, focus your attention on making your exercise more challenging instead of longer.

4. One Step at a Time
When you increase a part of your exercise, like duration or intensity, stick with the increase for at least a week to 10 days before making another change. Like walking up stairs, this will let your body “rest” at one level before you step up again. Making changes more quickly will work for a short time, but your chances of injury or burnout are far greater.

5. No Comparison
Focus on what works for you, not what works on TV or in a magazine. Your exercise plan needs to take into account your schedule, abilities, limitations, preferences and goals. Not everyone likes group classes. Not everyone is meant to be a runner or a swimmer or a cyclist. Choose what feels best to you and fits best into your life.

6. Baby Steps Are Important Steps
Many people get overwhelmed thinking that unless they make big changes all at once, they are wasting their time. But if you can’t maintain 20 minutes of exercise per day then aiming for 60 minutes per day won’t make you more successful. The temptation is that 60 minutes per day will bring faster changes and greater weight loss. But your plan won’t work if you can’t stick to it.

7. Give Support
Helping others is a great way to clarify your own beliefs, goals, strategies, strengths and needs. When you teach someone a skill, offer encouragement or simply tell your own story it makes you take inventory of what has helped or hindered you, take credit for your successes and stand up for what you believe in.

8. Be an Active Person, Not Just a Person Who Exercises
I’ve seen people fight for the spot closest to the front door outside a gym. Wow! How silly it seems to take the time to go the gym for an hour a day only to spend every other hour of the day looking for ways to be as sedentary as possible. There are occasions to choose movement everywhere you look. Look for those times when you can take a few extra steps. They’re opportunities, not inconveniences.

9. Don’t Be Afraid of Muscles
Strength training is a scary proposition for many people, especially women, because they don’t want big muscles. But as you get older you’re far more likely to lose muscle by being sedentary than you are to gain it by working out. It’s far harder to gain significant muscle than you might think. But, challenging yourself with calisthenics, exercise tubes, free weights or machines will help you retain precious muscle mass that keeps your metabolism revving as you lose weight.

10. Celebrate What Your Body Can Do
Too often people are caught up in trying to make their body look a certain way. Many men and women struggle to look like a cover model. That’s like working out with the goal of making the Olympic team–it leads to frustration, and it misses the whole point of being active. Your body is capable of lots of great things and taking you lots of wonderful places. Enjoy what you can do now. Don’t wait until after you lose the weight to begin living.

Tip:

We all know that our exercise routines can become just that: routine. Find ways to mix it up as well as focusing on how the exercise you’re doing impacts other areas of your life. And to integrate this into our lives for the long term, I really like the “quality over quantity”. I have found as my program progresses, the basic stuff gets easier so tweaking and making changes is crucial. More challenge, same time allowance!

Hope this has been helpful and great way to move into the weekend!

On The Ball Challenge – Day 1

“On The Ball” WEEK CHALLENGE

Day 1: “Accountability Check-In“:

  1. Today’s Weigh In: Goal: 1.5 pounds lost – Start: 208.4, Now: 208.2 (.2 loss, 1.3 to go!) Result: On Target,  but need to average .2 loss daily.
  2. Diet: Carbs 2 meals out of 5 – 1st: protein+veggies, 2nd: veggie+carb smoothie, 3rd: oatmeal-carbs+protein , 3rd: lemon chicken+asparagas (protein+carbs), 4th: hummus+handful of carrots (some protein+5gm carbs+veggies) Result: Off Target, too many carbs today!
  3. Exercise: 1 10-minute yoga workout in AM. Gym – total 1 hour, 30 minutes strength training in arms, back, core, legs, then about 30 minutes doing cardio intervals. Result: On Target
  4. Stability Ball: 2 hours today, Result: On Target

Check in tommorow for Tuesday’s Results!