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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Extra Weight Gain? Is it Food or Meds? Or What?

I’M UP 5 POUNDS, I FEEL LIKE CRAP, WHAT NOW???

We all know it starts with food – what we eat, how much, frequency, when, etc. Then it goes to activity, water consumption, getting enough sleep, but then it gets murky. In a depression, there’s tons of science about eating more, craving sugary/fatty foods, eating less or not eating. There are tons of factors but many of us end up with extra weight gain and feeling worse about ourselves as we move out of the depression or other episode. Not all, but the “I could care less” during the episode changes pretty quick for me when I look at the scale. The question is: did the depression cause the weight gain or did I gain weight by self medicating with food???? What other factors are in play?

For me, the main culprit has usually been meds. They helped me gain most of the weight, than I helped myself. Took 2 years to titrate (lower dosage) down 1 main culprit and another I was worried about dependency with. Then wham, bad episode, doc ups the “evil weight gain med” and a week later I’m 5 pounds up and feeling like a double failure. The pain of the episode, both mental and physical, pushed me over the edge to self medicate with food. Chicken, egg? The point: the med change helped me so much emotionally I’ve been coming out of the bad funk over the last few days. Have been able to slowly knock the increase back. And the 5 pounds, well with the lower dosage, lots of exercise, cutting back carbs, and increasing protein, not only are they gone, I’m actually back to July/Aug weight.

Lesson: There are so many factors that impact weight gain and loss, but for us on mood meds, they can have a very real impact on our hard work. Some are notorious “weight gainers” and while they help us feel more stable, we look in the mirror and are pretty unhappy with the side effects. What’s critical to remember is that mood stabilization, mental health, and mental safety come first. You can only do so much when you’re in an episode. Once you’re more stable, then you can talk to your doc about the weight issues and what you can safely do to address them. Be good to yourself – hopefully you have a plan in place and support system to call on when needed. If not – DO ONE!!!!! I wouldn’t be here typing away if those two things haven’t been my lifeline for 12 years. Although I’m preaching to many in the choir, hopefully this will shed some light for some others of you.

Huge Shout Out to Sandy Sue for her friendship and amazingly great advice/insight! Hugs!

Train Like Your Stronger Fitter Evil-Twin is Plotting…

How hard do you train? More importantly, what are your real fitness goals? Are they written down? Have you even thought past just losing weight and being able to shop in cooler stores?

When I started this journey in April of 2011, my only goal was to lose weight, mainly because I was just so miserable and disgusted with myself. But actual fitness goals aside from what I needed to do to lose the weight, not really. There were a few ambiguous ones like being able to walk for 20 minutes, get through a whole yoga class, that sort of thing. Now, a bit over a year later, 80 pounds lighter, and spending more time at the gym than I ever dreamed I would, now I have goals. They are:

* Consistently do at least 30 minutes of sustained activity 30 minutes 6 days a week.

* Complete 2 5K’s by December 31, 2012. (Have 1 scheduled for October. And doing the C25K program.)

* Complete a Half Marathon in 2013. (Start training in January.)

* Reach my goal weight of 160 by December 31, 2012 – and be at 25% body fat percentage (the normal range).

* Biggest: At least double the amount of weight I can lift, strength training I can do, and incorporate a program like P90X to really push losing fat and building muscle.

* And of course, ditch the “white stuff” – sugar, white flour, salt, butter/margarine (ok they’re not white) and eat as cleanly as possible.

These are my goals – sure that yours may be different in many ways. However, the next most important piece is planning how to reach whatever your goals are. Planning how you’ll do it, creating a schedule, journalling/charting your progress, and celebrating milestones. All this seems pretty basic, right?

Basic until you ignore your eating regime to have oatmeal right before bed. Til you blow off gym class to do, well whatever. Letting your schedule slide because life is getting in the weigh (family, work, school). Unless you have a plan, look at it regularly, and have a method to hold yourself accountable, it’s so very easy to let life takeover one tiny piece at a time until you’re sliding backwards and even more stressed out.

If you don’t have a plan, consider making one. If you’re not journalling to keep your food under control and charting your fitness progress, there are tons of great sites and apps to make it quick and easy. A small notebook works, too!

Don’t do what I did last night – ignore my trainer’s advice to have a protein shake at night if I get hungry and instead carb load and let it turn to fat overnight. Especially after busting butt for over an hour with my trainer that afternoon. Stepping on your own success is only frustrating and discouraging. Let that “future you” you’ll become be your guide and advise you. I ask “what would future Lara want me to do right now to help her become the fit, toned, and healthy person she became?”. The answer is: move more, eat clean and smart, and keep going! This journey is truly a marathon not a sprint. Pace yourself, do your best, and you’ll get there. In the meantime, be firm but gentle with yourself “on the weigh”!

 

 

What Can You Do Now?

Depending on where you are with your personal weight loss journey, and at regular intervals, it’s a terrific idea to think back to where you started and take a few minutes to compare what you could do then versus what you can do now. Not the obvious things like being able to walk around the block, finish a gym class, are overall healthier and have more energy.

The less obvious ones:

* Being able to run to the car through the rain without being winded.

* Being able to bend over in the shower to shave your legs.

* Automatically reaching for an apple instead of a donut without realizing you’re doing it.

* Doing a yoga pose instinctively, perfectly, the first time, to your own amazement.

* Getting up from a low couch without leaning on something or needing help.

* Comfortably crossing your legs.

* Leaning over and wrapping your arms around your legs while seated on the floor, again without thinking about it.

* Moving past the conscious decision to do a healthier activity because so many are now second nature. Like taking the stairs and parking farther away to get a little extra activity.

* And the very little things like going to sleep at a decent hour because you’re honesty tired, not because you’re eyes are fried from too much tv or video gaming, but because your body has reset itself.

* Finally, the feeling developing deep in yourself that you’re a thin person, a healthy person, temporarily wearing a fat suit. That happened to me a few days ago and it’s been instrumental in strengthening my commitment to reaching my fitness and weight goals.

As you keep a food journal, an exercise journal, maybe think of starting a list of “new developments” list of thoughts and actions that you look back and realize how long it’s been since you were able to do them, if at all. More than a number on a scale or the amount of weight you’re able to lift or miles you can now run, it’s the little things that we now take for granted that truly make all the difference.

Start that list – you’ll be glad you did. Plus you can use it for a confidence boost when your commitment wanes or you hit a plateau!

Help, I’m Out of Control!

I’m Out of Control And Really Need Help

After 6 weeks I finally got the scale back and guess what, I’m almost 4 pounds heavier. Pretty upset about this.

It’s time to admit that I have a problem and figure out what to do about it. Yes, I’ve lost almost 80 pounds and for the most part have kept it off. BUT since losing that bulk of weight and still having 40 that I want to lose, I’ve been fighting a losing battle with emotional and impulse eating for the last 4 months. I’ve plateaued and been ping-ponging on the scale.

One of the reasons I’ve gained back 4 pounds is 2 weeks of limited exercise (no trainer sessions, no body pump classes, only a solid weekend of hard work outside). Even after the major lawn overhaul and then the following week getting ready for and getting some major dental work, the 2nd reason is that my eating is out of control. I try to stay with the plan my trainer gave me but during the weekend and the time around and after the dental work (about a week), it’s been carbs, carbs, carbs and SUGAR. Getting takeout, going out for lunch complete with pancakes two days in a row. Ice cream one night, a half container of caramel almond butter with chocolate chips another. Making mega brownies. Eating half a challah loaf two days in a row. No wonder the pounds are flying back on.

Add sitting on my butt on the couch for hours a day and not using the fitness equipment sitting in the other room and it all makes sense.

Although my trainer says over and over, it’s your fat percentage that counts and how your clothes fit, especially as you gain muscle and lose fat (muscle weighs more), because I am still so overweight that’s not the issue now. Get me down to 10 pounds to goal and we’ll talk.

I feel like I’m at the end of my rope – I’m sneaking sweet stuff again, staying on plan during the day and then blowing it at night, not getting in enough movement, and letting temptation rule my food choices. I’ll go for weeks on plan and then blow it over a weekend. And to make matters worse this Friday and Sat we’re eating out to celebrate with friends. So I’ll do great until Friday night then blow it with the bread at the restaurant. Saturday is a birthday party complete with cake that I’ll be making and dinner out at a japanese steakhouse. That’s what’s been happening the last few months and why I’m not making any progress. I’ll stay on plan and then at the slightest opportunity, fall right off. Sure I get back on but the damage has already been done.

Crappy factoid here: within a few hours of a high fat meal we put on 3 teaspoons of fat around our middle, waiting to move somewhere else on our body. 1 meal!!!

I’m feeling so discouraged when I should be grateful that for the most part I’ve kept off what I lost over the last year. The problem is I’m not at the maintaining stage yet and still have a ton to lose. And my willpower seems to have taken a vacation.

I don’t know whether I need to go see my therapist again for a booster or figure out what’s really going on mentally that’s blowing my progress. Going to a training session today and hopefully trainer will help put this in perspective. That and planning ahead for this weekend’s meals, making a single layer cake (just use 1 pan), and starting to journal food again. The picture journal is a lot of work and a real pain which is why it was a short lived venture. Trainer has nixed the calorie counting but a simple daily listing of intake seems like the best way to go.

Even bought a book about stopping emotional eating, which I put down after a few chapters and haven’t picked back up. Can’t tell if I’m not ready to face this yet but if I want to achieve my goals I really need to suck it up and figure out how to be the winner when faced with chocolate (and ice cream)! Something has to change and stay changed for this journey to continue and figure out how not to fall back into sabotaging habits. Many of you have inspired me so much and would love your feedback on this. Right now I’m my own worse enemy!

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!

Pain, Agony, Hungry, And It’s All Going To Be Worth It!

(Thanks to Erin Says… for the terrific graphic – and grats Lady on the weight loss this week!)

Days of Pain and Ibuprofen

The new trainer gave me – finally – my new “eating plan” and not only is it incredibly strict, I feel like I’m either eating or preparing meals all the time. Which is true because I eat every 3 hours.

She also killed me in the workout side to the point that I had to lay down with my feet elevated. And stopped short of an hour and she had me ride the bike for 20 minutes. Felt like a workout wimp.

So I decided to do another monthly challenge and this one is a “take an hour for you to improve in some area” and of course mine is fitness. In that vein, started the C25K program this afternoon. Then did 20 minutes of strength training and limped to my car. Was Ms. Cranky at home until the worst of the soreness passed. Funny, even my toes hurt. And during the running portions, felt every one of the extra 40 pounds I’m lugging around as they bounced around!

Am contemplating an even bigger challenge but considering that although I finished the first C25K session, Week 1, and went on to work out more, I’m exhausted and will probably go to bed in an hour or so.

Yes, even after a well balanced meal, still hungry, in pain and on to the ibuprofen, but happy to have finished the first workout. Next, will check back in after finishing the first week. That and sticking to the meal plan…am seriously craving a cupcake – evil, bad cupcake!!

This post is a kind gentle warning for those of you considering starting the C25K program – definitely eat an hour before, make sure you do protein plus a carb, and stretch before and after. Good idea to do it on non-strength training days – major tip!

Still considering the “major challenge”!

Love to hear your stories of recent challenges you’ve decided to take on – virtual support can be just as good as the real life stuff.

 

Tuesday Night Inspiration – And “Food For Thought”

Happy Tuesday!

After hardcore workout yesterday, a bit tired all day but found some terrific items to share with all of you.

First off, an incredibly inspiring story about a 19 year old rockclimber “Making Her Way to the Top”.

Rock Climber Sasha DiGiulian, 19, is making her way to the top”

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And just when you thought the weight loss related articles, items had fled after the last few days of posts, here’s one that truly is “Food For Thought”:

“Western Diet: A Killer in Okinawa –  a YouTube News Story

This second story is, I think, yet another glaring example of how the “fast food, bad habits” western way of life is spreading and impacting otherwise historically healthy and long-lived populations. Cheap corn and government subsidies aren’t the answer. Access to healthy, non-gmo foods for EVERYONE is. What can we do, each of us, as part of the answer, not the problem? (That’s a big question I know – let’s all run over to TED and look for presentations!)

Enjoy, learn, laugh, and think a little! Have a great night!

 

 

This is Just A Phase

Been inspired reading “Epidemic of An Illness” about the frightening rise of diagnosed mental illness in the last 50 years. For those of you with BP or any type of mood disorder / mental illness, the book is quite enlightening.

BUT – what I found incredibly inspiring was the story of one woman, who after being diagnosed and dealing with over 20 years of hospitals, med changes, nasty side effects, etc. is putting her life together. Although she has been on SSDI for quite a few years, her perspective is “being on welfare (disability) is just a phase in my life, not the end”.

Not only is this important for all of us on disability who desperately want our lives back and to get back to work and being productive, it also applies beautifully to all of us on this weight loss journey.

Maybe you’ve been heavy since childhood, maybe tried diet after diet with limited success. That doesn’t mean you have to accept obesity as a way of life. Why not consider it a “phase of your life, not the end”. Flip that perception and start changing 1 habit at a time.

I was concerned yesterday that my weight loss has slowed down so much. Thankfully my wife reminded me that this is not a race. We don’t get a medal for who loses the most weight the fastest. We do get the personal pride of accomplishing our goals, the flexibility to change them as our lives change, and the knowledge that we are strong enough to get to the finish line and maintain afterward.

Don’t worry: your family and friends will be at that line cheering whether you’re there first or last. Order doesn’t matter. Developing healthy habits you can maintain for a lifetime and feeling good when you see your reflection in a mirror are the true rewards that are truly priceless. 

Have a happy and healthy Weekend!!

Whew…Back on the Saddle Again

Today’s Lesson: See Above!

After a 45 minute mixed strength workout yesterday from sparkpeople and other online video workouts, today I WENT BACK TO THE GYM!

And it felt good to be back, especially since I was meeting with a trainer to help me get back into the “groove”. After 2 weeks of much lower activity, this week I did a power yoga class, 45 minutes yesterday, and 20 minutes of interval training on a stationary bike with a trainer today.

Did I feel lightheaded and like I was going to throw up – YES! Did I do it anyway – YES!

I would apologize in advance for having down days, days I just can’t drag myself to the gym and blow off workouts, and occasional food disasters. But that said, I’ve lost almost 80 pounds in a little over a year – and am keeping it off. This is good news for you because if I can do it, you definitely can too!

And even though my weight loss has slowed to a crawl, my body is still changing. I can buy XL sizes in regular stores for the first time in years. And some XL’s are too big! The scale will go back and forth, you will have lapses and blow off days, that’s normal. What’s important (and I’m saying this to me, too) is to pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and (sing along) start all over again!

Together we can do this thing!