Monday, April 30, 2012

My non-break

I haven't fallen off the wagon.  Just in case you were wondering.  I'm still here.  I'm sticking to my goals and I'm seeing progress.  Just how much progress will be determined in another 2 days.  My monthly weigh-in is coming up and I'm honestly looking forward to it.  How can I look forward to something I normally dread?

This month has been hard for me.  As I settled into the Weight Watchers rhythm, I remembered why I had to quit the program.  Counting points or calories is tedious.  WW has done their best to make it not tedious, but no matter how you look at it, you must track each and every morsel that goes in your mouth.  Honestly, I spend a lot of time tracking the morsels that don't go in my mouth as well.  I get so bogged down with the numbers and the counting that I give up and just stop.  I worry that I'm never going to succeed with a program based on tracking and counting because some days I just don't want to.  And without consistency I worry that I've bitten off more than I can chew.

That is still not an answer explaining my sudden excitement.  Despite my tracking issues, I've done reasonably well keeping my food in check.  There was one unfortunate nacho relapse and a few pepperoni snack attacks, but they were limited and I've forgiven myself.  I've stuck to my workout goal, managing at least 4 workouts per week.  And I walked a 5K this month!

Additionally, I added a goal of skipping the elevator at work.  I can honestly stand up and say that I am professionally 6 days elevator free.  While I'm still out of breath at the top, I don't feel as though I can't make it.  I take my time and conquer each flight as it presents itself.  In the interest of full disclosure, I still take the elevator at the hospital's parking garage.  Stairwells in garages are not places I like being alone or when I'm feeling weak.  I'm at the hospital by myself for physical therapy with makes me by definition alone and weak.  I take the elevator.

All this adds up to me being proud of myself and hoping that the scale will reflect my hard work.  There is a chance that it won't and I'm pretty nervous about my reaction if it doesn't.  But for today, I'm hopeful.

And in all this hopefulness and hard work, I've been neglecting to write everything down.  I'm thinking of changing the format up a little here and that takes some offline contemplation as well.  In the coming weeks I am going to transition out of PT which is going to require a bit more workout planning on my part.  Also, if I choose to break up with WW, I'm going to have to devise an alternative there as well.  We'll see.  I'll keep you posted.  *grin*

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Goal.

Today I was stuck in an elevator.  It wasn't stuck for a long time, only about 10 minutes.  I was even lucky enough to get stuck on an elevator on the ground floor.  There are a lot of things that I have to be thankful for in that scenario.  And I'm writing about it now outside of the elevator - there one more to add to the list!

Being in relatively spacious metal box for any length of time made me realize a few things.

1. I experience anxiety.  The last time I felt it so acutely was in the weeks before my planned Cesarian to deliver my first baby.  I didn't faint or have heart palpitations.  My face went numb.  Most noticeably my lips and nose start to tingle as if they've fallen asleep.  It is a disconcerting sensation and I work to avoid experiencing it.  After about 3 minutes in the elevator, I noticed the tingle.  I focused on my breathing.  I ran through the positives of my situation including being on the ground floor.  I began looking for a way out.

2. I don't read when I'm anxious.  I look for clues but I don't actively read and absorb anything.  Thankfully I have generally good instincts and common sense; jumping up and down in an elevator clawing at the smooth solid shiny metal door is not going to get me out any faster.  It was tempting however.  But, this being a blog focused mostly on weight loss, I take note of this realization to consider a bit more thoroughly next time I decide between tortilla chips and a banana.

3. Anxiety is motivating.  My heart rate was increasing.  My lips and nose were alerting me to the fact that I was not happy with my present situation.  I started to search for a way to change it.  There was a red phone in the elevator with me.  It had a dial tone.  There were people outside the elevator.  They could hear me when I called out.  I didn't actually remember that I had a cell phone in my pocket, but I think I'd have gotten there eventually.  My plan of action began to form when the elevator started to move.

4. I don't have to take the elevator.  Upon obtaining my freedom, I really really don't want to get back on that elevator.  In fact, hours later, my face still goes numb when I think about being stuck int he elevator again.  My building only has 4 floors.  There is NO reason that I have to take the elevator.  In this quest to reshape myself as a healthier happier person, I have the choice to stop taking the elevator.

And stop elevating I will.

Welcome to my newest goal.  My goal is to be able to climb 3 consecutive flights of stairs without being winded at the top.  I've already climbed 3 consecutive flights once today and I had to stop a couple times to catch my breath.  I wasn't honestly sure that I could do it, but I did and I survived.  Now I'm motivated to continue and hopefully just the act of climbing the stairs will help me achieve my goal of not being winded.  I'll keep you updated!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Plans for the Weekend

This weekend I will walk my second 5K.  This 5K is truly a walk.  It's a fundraising event for the National MS Society.  I'm participating in the MS Walk for the first time.  I've followed the event for years, but the timing has never worked out.  I'm so happy to be able to join in this year.  We'll be walking around downtown Annapolis, MD as a group in bright Hawaiian shirts.  It's going to be a blast!

And for a wonderful cause.  In the past 10 years, my life has been personally affected by MS.  I do not have it, but two of my family members do.  I can say that watching their struggles provides motivation for me to get my health in order as well as participate in an event like this.  This is something I can do to help them as well as help myself meet my goals.  I love when I'm reaching goals efficiently.  *smile*

Looking at the website, there are other events all around the country.  In Washington DC later this year there is a Challenge MS event.  Challenge Walks are 30 - 50 mile walks over 2 - 3 days.  There are 10 of them going on this year.  Imagine walking 30 miles is 2 days.  What an inspiring way to raise awareness for a disease which robs people of their ability to move.  Maybe I could do something like that.

I'm not signing up today.  Just thinking about it right now.  My focus has to be getting healthy and out of PT before I take on something like a 30 mile walk.  I imagine my physical therapist would have more than a few choice words for me if I presented the idea right now.  But walking 5K is an approved and encouraged event.  One which I am very very excited to do on Sunday!

Please consider supporting me and my team by making a donation today.  Thank you!

Workout 120420: Got one more!!!

Friday Morning Workout:

Hip Warmup Stretch
15 min Elliptical - Interval Level 3
Hip Abductors - 10 Reps 3 Sets each leg
Bridges - 15 Reps with 5 sec hold (held the last one for 16 secs)

I'm so proud of myself right now that it is good you aren't in a room with me.  I might just be nauseating.  *grin*  I worked out FIVE times this week.  Three mornings in the gym and 2 afternoons at PT totals FIVE workouts.  Woohoo!!!

To add just a little humility, three of my workouts were abbreviated this week.  Today and Wednesday I woke up later than I would have liked and shortened my cardio routine to make sure that I completed my workout in time to be on time to work.  Also Monday I had an appointment after PT so I only had 45 minutes with my therapist instead of 60.

However...  I still worked out FIVE times this week.

*happy dance*

Does the dancing around count at workout 6?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

PT: Day 20

Wednesday's PT overhaul:

6 min Elliptical - Level 4
Hip Warm-up Stretch
Reverse Curl with Stick - 20 reps
Cage stretch
Assisted Squats - 5 reps (40 pounds of assistance)
Modified Side Planks - 3 reps each side for 30 sec
Modified Planks - 2 reps for 30 sec
Side Lunges on Bosu - 10 each side

First thing...  I haven't been blogging all my PT visits.  I know.  Hopefully I'm nearing the end of PT, but in the meantime my progress feels frustrating and slow.  20 visits to PT and everyone knows my name.  They know my kids' names.  I know where they live.  And when they're having a bad day.  Not just my therapist, but a couple of the others as well.  I'm nearing the end of my 4th month of PT.  A lot has changed for me physically and emotionally.  And I'm worried about PT becoming a crutch.  I can't stay there forever.  Eventually I have to work through this and move on.  It's a lot of baggage.

Now for the actual workout... The Assisted Squat was something I'd been introduced to in the past, but wasn't deemed ready for.  My tendency when doing squats it to compensate by leaning forward too much.  It simply isn't the right way to do a squat.  My weak gluts are causing the bad form so this exercise adds weight to help them out.  The weight is attached to two pulleys which I hold onto with my arms.  Then I lower into the squat.  I'm unsteady enough that the therapist stands behind me to make sure I don't fall backwards.

Wednesday I was reevaluated.  I'm doing well, but my coccyx is still sore most days and my knees have begun to feel tender again.  There is a balance somewhere in all this I have not attained yet.  For the coccyx I continue working and we hope.  For the knees, I'm to reduce the treadmill incline to 0 for the next few weeks.  First to see if it helps, second to give my gluts a break.  Adding the incline makes them work harder and the suspicion is that they are just giving up.

Workout 120418

Wednesday Morning's Workout:

Hip Warmup Stretch
20 min Arc Trainer - Interval Level 3
Hip Abductors - 10 Reps 3 Sets each leg
Bridges - 15 Reps with 5 sec hold

This being a Wednesday I weighed myself for Weight Watchers.  I wasn't thrilled about the results.  I'm still not thrilled, but I have a plan.  This will be the week of measuring my food intake.  And maybe avoiding dip at all costs. 


Monday, April 16, 2012

Workout 120416: Weekend Parties

Monday morning's workout:

35 min Treadmill Walk (3.0 - 3.3 mph for 26 minutes)
Hip Abductors (10 reps 2 sets)
Bridges (15 reps with 5 sec hold)

The past two weekends have each included family gatherings surrounded by my all time nemesis - chips and dip.  Either one by itself is ignorable.  But combined?  They are irresistible.  Following the conquering of the queso calling on Friday I was hopeful about this weekend.  I could avoid the allure of chips and dip.  Even if they were in the same room at the same time.  Really I can do it.


I fell off the chips and dips bandwagon again.  *sigh*  However, I did attempt to track all the chips and dip consumed.  It doesn't appear that I've gone negative on points for the week, but I need to workout a way to deal with this weakness.

First problem - portion control.  One complete chip leveraged to scoop up one teaspoon of any style dip is not a deal breaker.  But the chips must be counted and the full quantity of dip must be understood.  The drive-by dipping can really add up.  Especially when I'm thinking "Oh, it's just one..."  I must retrain myself to get a plate, place a specific number of chips onto said plate and scoop up a predetermined amount of time.  And once that plate is empty - STOP DIPPING!

Second problem - social hour.  I think I can train myself to control my portions.  However, it is the hovering around the limitless dip buffet while chatting that seems to cause the bigger problem.  While standing there, 1 chip & dip combo can turn into 20 or 30 or more!  At some point, even the best laid plans can be overwhelmed.  At Cal Tort, there was a short window of opportunity to obtain the illicit substance.  Once averted, I was safe.  For future parties, I must get my plate of chips and dip to be savored and high tail it to the other side of the room.  During this maneuver I test my outstanding social skills by luring those I'm conversing with away from evil as well.

So I have a plan for the future.  It however doesn't fix the tummy ache I have today from over indulging.  Oh, how I look forward to the days when I'll be better at all this.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Small Victories

I love Mexican food.  I have a weakness for queso.  One of my favorite lunch places, California Tortilla, has gotten more money out of me for queso than I would like to admit.  Today I needed lunch and I heard the queso calling me.  I almost didn't go to Cal Tort, simply because I wasn't sure I could go in there an not eat 500 extra calories in chips and queso.

But this mornings ruminations ran through my mind one more time.  I researched their nutrition online.  The Southwestern Chicken Salad is a ton of really good food.  And it is still good if I leave off the cheese and/or tortilla strips.  I had formulated a plan.  I could handle the allure of queso.

And handle it I did!  My salad without cheese was just perfect.  Leaving the restaurant, I'm stuffed!  Small victories.  Maybe next time I'll even try leaving off the cheese and the tortilla strips.  I felt that would be rushing things today.

Start Believing

Did you know that I can be a negative person?

Shockingly, I might be a pessimist.  Maybe I'm the only person this surprises.  I hope not.  I always thought of myself as a happy person.  But lately...  Between my struggles with PT and adding dietary restrictions in my life and some deadline pressure applied at work...  I've been very negative.

I appear to look at the bad side first.  I complain before I appreciate.  I critique the process before I fully engage in it.

And I'm starting to notice.  Maybe, just maybe, I'm starting to change.

I've always thought there are two kinds of people, optimists and pessimists.  All shades of gray between the two are represented by cynics.  Cynics are people who were once Optimists but can't keep up the energy any more.  They start to see the frayed edges, the faded colors.  In time, Cynics become Pessimists.  I remember years ago when I was an Optimist.  But then I grew up.  I became cynical, skeptical, suspicious.  Without noticing I became a pessimist.  I stopped believing.

How is this relevant?

Today a friend posted that she'd achieved a BMI of 24.6 with regular exercise.  Initially I dismissed the number.  BMI is just a way to label people, to judge them for being less.  I won't let that number define me.  I have enough to feel bad about without worrying about a number that doesn't even really mean anything.  That number doesn't show how hard I work or how much I like vegetables.


The healthy range is 18.5 to 24.9.


The overweight range is  25 to 29.9.


My BMI is 38.8.

That is a very sobering thought.  Where I am now is terrifying.  Doctors use this number as a guide.  it helps them assess where a person's health might be and what issues they may need to focus on.  It's problem solving 101.  And I have a big red flashing light over my head with siren blaring.  There might even be one of those Vegas style neon signs.  The doctors are paid to see the lights and sirens.  That's why they've bugged me so much.  I've refused to accept it.


I need to lose 54 more pounds before I get to overweight.

The goal appears so very unattainable.   Losing 54 pounds, just to be overweight at 179 pounds.  Fifty four pounds and I'll stop being obese.  This is an intermediate goal.  This is a GOOD intermediate goal.

It's still gigantic.  Huge.  Obese, if you will.  Bigger than I can wrap my mind around. 

I have to start believing.

Others have done this.  It is far from impossible.  Everyone's process is different, but there are proven steps to attaining a goal like this.  Move more.  Eat less.  Make better food choices.  Love yourself.  Be patient.  Discard what doesn't work.  Search for what does work.  Keep fighting.  Believe.

My definition of optimism was that of a pessimist.  Anyone starting there had only to wait until life got hard and reality changed them.  Pessimism was inevitable and I'd never considered a way out of it.  Why would I?  Once you stop believing, what could ever make you start again?

Results.  That is my only answer.  I have to embrace positive results.  My results, but also the results achieved by others.  I need to search for inspiration.  As I reach goals, I must accept and celebrate the work it took to get here.  As I progress, I pray that proof translates to belief.  Belief in the process.  Belief in myself.  Belief that I can do this.

Friday, April 6, 2012

PT: Day 18

Thursday's PT regimen:

6 min Elliptical level 4
Swiss Ball Squats - 14 reps with 5 sec hold
Bird Dogs with Stick - 20 reps each side
Reverse Curl with Stick (was: Leg Lifts with Arms Raised) - 15 reps
Side Steps with Band
Assisted Crunches on Swiss Ball - 2 sets 10 repsModified Planks - 3 reps with 30 sec hold
Modified Side Planks - 3 reps each side with 20 sec hold
Cage Stretch

Thursday I got a massage.  I want to say it was awesome, but I can't really say it was awesome when every motion my therapist made burned with the heat of a thousand suns!  OW!  Ow! OW!  It was awesome.

Apparently my collection of butt muscles is a mess.  They are all weak and tense and not doing what they should be doing.  Due to the mess, they are sore.  Not just walking around achy sore, but "please don't touch me or I'm going to punch you in the face" sore.  Did the PT cause this?  No.  Was I functioning prior to the PT? Yes.  Was this pain there the whole time?  Yes.  Why am I only dealing with this now?  Ugh.

I've hurt for so long.  Not a hurt so intense that I need pain killers or can't function on a day-to-day basis.  I just hurt.  Through trial and error and tears, I've learned what motions hurt and what parts of my body are overly sensitive.  I avoid the painful motions and protect the sensitive spots.  It doesn't make it go away, but I've dealt with it, managed it.  And I've avoided thinking about it.

Thinking or talking about this kind of pain is hard.  It is a constant in my life and makes me feel vulnerable and weak.  These are feelings that I can't afford on a daily basis.  Or I believed I couldn't afford.  If someone caught a glimpse of it, I would quickly derail the conversation while quashing the tears that came to my eyes.  The mere suggestion that I address this pain with another human being was utterly overwhelming.  So I accepted it.  I accepted that this was just the way my body was and I moved on.  This was my normal.

I'm defining a new normal these days.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Workout 120404: Progress

Today's workout:

Hip Warmup Stretch
30 min Elliptical (interval setting)
5 min Treadmill cooldown
Hip Abductors (10 reps 3 sets each leg)
Bridges (15 reps with 5 sec hold)

Today felt good.  I was able to complete 30 minutes on the same Elliptical machine that had me crying for mercy a few weeks ago.  Woohoo!!!  I'm thrilled to be making progress.  I still have to focus on my motion when I'm on the Elliptical but I didn't have any pain.  I'm really starting to think we might be figuring all this out in my physical therapy sessions.  Such a relief!

Supporting my good feeling this morning, I actually got everything on my nightly must do list done last night.  A few months ago I spent 4 weeks following FlyLady's recommendations pretty closely.  I can't say that I completed a step everyday.  And I definitely didn't make it to the end of the list.  But after a month, I started to understand that I really did need to prep for the next day each evening.  Without that prep, my days fall apart so quickly.  Maybe that is part of running a house, or being a full-time working mom, or just being a human being.  I have no idea.  But the past couple of nights I've really pushed to get all the tasks done on my list including being in bed at 9:30pm.  Last night I succeeded and it makes such a difference in starting the next day.

I'm reaching the gushing point so I'm going to stop.  I'm happy right now.  I might make a new happy tag to link all my posts where I just love life.  I definitely need to remember this feeling on the days when I feel crushed.  It's pretty awesome!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

PT: Day 17

Monday's PT Regimen:

6 min Elliptical level 4
Prone Press Ups Right Side - 2 sets 10 reps
Swiss Ball Squats - 10 reps with 5 sec hold
The Swiss Ball Squats involved me doing a squat with my back against a swiss ball against a wall.  I lower down until my thighs are parallel to the floor using the ball for support to allow my back to curve properly.  I hold the squat for 5 seconds and then raise back up.
Bird Dogs with Stick (this is the name the therapist used for the Arm/Leg Back Extensions) - 20 reps each side
Side Steps with Band
Modified Planks - 3 reps with 30 sec hold
Modified Side Planks - 3 reps each side with 20 sec hold
Assisted Crunches on Swiss Ball - 2 sets 10 reps
For this exercise, I lean back into a reclined position on a swiss ball while holding a weighted pullie in front of me with both hands.  I tense my abdominal muscles and then slowly allow the weight to pull me up to sitting.  The therapist tells me how far up constitutes sitting by feeling for the point where my abs "pop out".  This has been translated to me as the point there they can't stay tensed any more under the activity I'm doing.  Strange enough, I do need her to tell me this; I can't yet feel when that happens.
Cage Stretch

I felt pretty tired after yesterday's PT, but it was a good tired.  My abdominal muscles let me know that they were still there and I slept like a rock.  It's good to know that I can continue working out these non-responsive muscles.  The new exercises are harder and I'm beginning to really be able to focus on the correct muscles in the ones I've been doing over and over.  Whew!  Yeah for progress!

Finding Balance

Yesterday was the first workout of the month.  I have a new number to report.  A number I am feeling pretty good about.  And that number is...


I am down 6 pounds in a month!  To say I'm thrilled doesn't quite encompass how truly pleased I am with this result.  It's a bit of validation that I'm doing something right.  My choices are starting to pay off.  I'm losing weight!  This number is the lowest number I've seen on the scale since just after my second child was born.  That was only 1 1/2 years ago, but what a time it has been!

While the weight lost is something to celebrate, I'm celebrating more than that this month.  I have found balance in my current schedule.  Gym two days a week.  PT two days a week.  I can't say this looks like I'd envisioned it, but it's working for me better than anything has in a while.  For that I am grateful.  I've maintained this routine for 3 weeks now and I'm feeling better mentally and physically.  I'll still work to add a 5th workout in there each week, but it feels so good to have a plan and stick to it and feel good when its complete.

There is still fear in me over what this number means and all the numbers to come.  I also alternate between worrying and anticipating the end of PT.  But those concerns will be there tomorrow and the next day and probably many days to come.  Today (and yesterday) I'm just going to reflect a little and enjoy the progress I've made and the balance I've found.  I can dream a little today about the months to come.  In a happy mode.  Ahhh.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Workout 120402: Inspiration

Today's workout:

20 min Arc Trainer (interval setting level 2)
10 min Treadmill (2.5 mph for 5 min; then cool down)
Hip Abductors (10 reps 3 sets each leg)
Bridges (15 reps with 5 sec hold)

There are two people in my gym right now who inspire me.  I'm not sure they even know they are there.  I don't know their names.

One I first took note of about 6 weeks ago.  He's an older man in decent physical shape (from the looks of it).  There are a group of men and women who work out in the mornings and have been for so long that they know each other.  He's part of the gym community. About 4 weeks ago, I overheard him talking with one of the women.  He was going in for major back surgery.  He'd been putting it off for years and finally the time had come.  Today he returned to the gym.  Wearing a back brace and looking a bit more tired than before, he was working out on the elliptical.  People greeted him and welcomed him back.  He smiled and chatted, the whole while continuing his workout.

I want to achieve physical fitness in my life.  I see that in him.  I want to gain control over my physical health and make maintaining it a part of my life.  I think he personifies that for me.  Someone who had made going to the gym and maintaining his health part of his life.  Maybe it isn't even a priority, just something he does everyday.  I don't know, but I like the dedication I see there.

The second person is a woman.  I started seeing her in the gym about 3 weeks ago.  She's heavier than me.  She also appears to be more out of shape than I am.  Each day I'm there I see her working out by herself or with a friend.  It's hard work.  She puts in at least an hour each morning.  I don't know exactly how long, because I only put in 30-45 minutes.  She's there working before and after me.  While that is enough to admire, it isn't what inspires me.  Every time I look her way, she is smiling.  She chats with her friend and laughs.  Though we've never been introduced, she smiles in greeting when we pass in the hall.

I want to appreciate the time that I have at the gym.  I don't know why that woman smiles.  Given the state of my health, on down days, I don't see a lot to smile about.  I struggle to see the positive side of things.  Maybe it is because I've never had it really bad.  Maybe it is just my disposition. But in that woman I see hope.  I don't know if it is real or just what I want to see, but that's what I find when she smiles at me.  And, in turn, that hope in her makes me smile.  I appreciate the time I have to work all this out just a little more.

PT: Day 16

I went.  I worked.  I cried.


Sorry for the lack of details, but I'm finding is particularly hard to write up frustrating PT days.  Thursday was one of those.  We attempted a new exercise where I held a kettle ball and did a squat.  Then as I rose up I lift the kettle ball (bell?) to shoulder height.  Rinse.  Repeat.

I couldn't do it.   Not only that but I couldn't do a regular squat.  Then I couldn't do a squat with my back supported.  THEN I couldn't do a weight assisted squat.

Now when I say I couldn't do it.  I mean that I couldn't do it with proper form and no pain in my left knee. And that is monumentally frustrating.  I thought I was doing squats correctly!  I am very frustrated to be further back than I thought I was.

On the flip side, I still have time.  I am in the right place to relearn all this stuff and to relearn it correctly.  So, in response, I did the most mature thing I could think to do under the circumstances.  I scheduled another month of PT.  Then I went to my car and had a good cry.