Friday, August 31, 2012

What's in a Word

As I come to grips (again and again) with all that I'm trying to accomplish, I strive to be as honest with myself as I can.  I attempt to set reasonable goals and deadlines.  My progress I try to view as I would someone else's; in that way, I am kinder.

Lately I've been using the word obese.  It's a word that I've fought with for a long time.  When my BMI began to exceed the overweight range, I argued that I had big bones.  Not that I even know what that means.  Then a little while later I just stopped talking about it at all.  I had to protect myself from people who would use that word against me.  Hearing it aloud triggered an immediate fight response in me.

In time, I began to look at BMI the same way.  It was a tool others used to point out all the things that were wrong with me.  I clung to how incomplete the measurement was.  Talking about my BMI, doctors would find that I immediately tuned them out.  Earlier this year, I started making piece with BMI.  Mine was 38.8 at the time.  That shocked to me.  At the start of the year it was 41.2.  These numbers are so far outside the range of normal.  I could no longer look at that number and believe that BMI was a useless measurement.

Today, four months later, eight months from the start, my BMI is 36.8.  I've made progress, significant progress.  I like looking at the original number compared to now because the leading 4 makes the leading 3 seem all that more impressive.  I'm struggling to look at that number as a measurement and not a character flaw.  But there is a truth I'm starting to accept...

I am obese.

As such I've been attempting to allow the word back into my vocabulary.  It is a medical condition.  Looking at the definition, I can understand why I've fought that word.  At least according to Wikipedia, a person cannot be obese and healthy.  They have to be obese and otherwise healthy.  Obesity means that the person is carrying excess body weight which will lead to other diseases.  I guess this is where the problem lies.  It's a medical condition with a loaded future, more loaded than might be warranted.

A few days ago, I was discussing my struggles of late in person with someone who loves me.  I used the word obese several times while describing the overwhelming feeling I've been experiencing.  Each time I said the word, it made my listener cringe.  As I stopped talking, she said, "I don't use that word.  It's an ugly word." I went onto explain my feelings about the word; it certainly isn't pretty.  And I'm definitely conflicted about it.

It's Voldemort.

It's the Condition-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named.  We don't know what it means.  We don't know how to fight it.  We are scared of what it is doing to our health and our children's health.  We see it shaping the world around us.  We don't feel like we can stop it.  Or even help.  So we stop talking about it.

I'm not going to rid the world of obesity on this journey.  But I can accept its effects in my life and myself.  I am obese.  I say that not to embrace and celebrate it, but to say that I know where I'm at and what I have to do.  I'm accepting these changes as forever changes.  I am serious.  I will change this for myself.  And one day I'll link back to this post and add some new characteristic to my self description.  I look forward to that day.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Going the Distance

Last week I started a new walking program.  At least, it is new to me.  I did a little reading and decided to walk Jeff Galloway's 5K training plan.  I looked at his and Hal Higdon's and decided that I like the simplicity of Galloway's.  Neither is overly hard considering it is all walking and the times just get changed up.  However, I plan to workout 3 days a week on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.  I can following the Galloway 5K training plan by simply shifting the whole schedule forward one day.  I would need to add a 4th day to follow the Higdon 5K walking plan and I'm just not ready to commit to a 4th day in the gym yet.

Having already walked three 5K's this year, I've been resisting backing up and trying one of these programs.  The first 5K was completed through force of will.  I was only a few weeks into PT and really should have backed out of the race I'd planned on running.  Completing that walk was painful and exhausting.  And cold!!!  It had snowed that morning.

The second was the MS 5K Walk 2 months later.  That 5K was a slow walk with friends.  We talked and walked and stopped and dawdled.  It was a day I will never forget.  I know I've not written about it here.  Some day I might, but there is one moment from that walk that I will share now.  Hitting the last quarter of a mile my hip started to cramp.  I was wet and cold and ready to be finished.  Rain had pelted us the entire walk.  The approach to the finish line was, of all things, uphill.  As I approached the finish line, I saw my oldest daughter waiting.  She was wearing her Hawaiian rain jacket and matching boots cheering me on.  Even better than that moment are the many moments since then when she's told me that she is going to do a 5K when she grows up and she wants to run it in the rain too.

And most recently I walked a 5K on the treadmill in the gym just to see how I felt.  As with the first two my hips started to cramp in the third mile.  I worked through it and it wasn't nearly as bad as during the first 5K, but still...  I'm not pleased.  I feel like all my time in PT and hard work are simply not paying off.  How long is it going to take?  How many leg lifts in various directions are required to get these muscles in working order?

While my two official 5Ks left me needing a week to recover, each had moments I won't forget.  I begin to understand why people race over and over.  Why they keep moving.  I can see that getting out there and moving will make a difference.  However, my last unofficial attempt left me frustrated and knowing I shouldn't sign up to make a third official.  Exercise is supposed to be about moving and nourishing a healthy body.  My body is getting healthier, but it is not ready to walk 5K.  I'm not sure why this distance means so much to me.  Maybe because running it will always be the first goal I made for myself.

Versus trying again and again with the same painful results, I'm doing a walking program.  A slow progression to walking a 5K.  It's 15 weeks, 3 days per week.  At week 11 I actually walk 3.5 miles.  Which is more than a 5K.  As I approached Couch to 5K, I'm going to keep repeating each week until I can complete the walk without pain.  Maybe this is the answer I need for getting past this hurdle.  At a minimum, I now have a program to follow, a specific online to progress along.  That is something I've wanted and needed lately.  Best case, I might actually whip these stubborn muscles into shape.

For now, I'm mostly working on being thankful to have yet another chance.  And more time to practice patience.  Practice makes perfect right?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Perfect Day

Since adding two little girls to my life, perfect is a redefined word.  I have many perfect moments.  They are gleaming memories sitting atop a pile of dirty laundry, cartons of diapers and an endless rotation of dirty dishes.  Not to mention the mommy sanity timeouts.  But in all of my complaining there are awesome memories, ones I'll remember for years to come, and every once in a while I get a perfect day.

Yesterday was a perfect day.
It all started by me waking up at 6am to a quiet restful house.  My girls are visiting their grandparents for the week.  Having my house to myself and only my own schedule to maintain is such an awesome luxury.  For the first two days of this week I gave myself permission to simply exist each day, sleeping late, going to bed whenever I felt like it and making meals whenever.  I seriously debated staying in bed one more day, but it was Wednesday and I haven't missed a Wednesday at the gym since I returned to working out at the beginning of July.  I'm not giving up a 6 week streak now!

For a pleasant change of pace, my husband got up and went with me.  We exercised side by side.  It was my second day of my new 5K walking program.  A short warmup followed by fifteen minutes walking.  I walked; he jogged.  We marveled over the differences between Fox News and CNN.  That's my new hobby while in the cardio room in the gym - studying the difference between the news networks.  Following our walk, I ran us both through a PT style workout.  By the end of it, my legs were shaking and I think I might have even inspired a little awe.  He's never seen all the stuff I learned how to do.  *grin*  It was fun to show off.

Workout accomplished we hit our respective locker rooms and got ready for work.  He drove me in.  I invited him to breakfast at my usual morning stop.  I was dropped off at work with a kiss and promises of dinner plans to be emailed.

My work day was fairly typical.  I'm about 3 months into a 9 month project.  The pressure is present but motivating.  Towards the end of the day I did get a bit of a scare when an issue was discovered with one of my releases.  I didn't take it in stride at all, but I do understand what happened, presented to my manager and came up with some alternative quick workarounds.  All-in-all it was one of my better days at the office.

And then came dinner.  Mmmm.  Given that we were child-free, Hubby sent me a few options which we would not consider with the kiddos.  Having heard amazing things, we headed to Carrol's Creek.  It's a marina restaurant with outdoor seating, decadent appetizers and an overall relaxing atmosphere.  Our feast included baked brie, seafood cocktail and southwestern seasoned scallops seared and served with black bean corn salsa and a cilantro cream sauce.  So yummy and cooked just perfectly.  I'm glad the sauce wasn't available until my main entree; I would have had to try it on everything!  To top it off Hubby ordered a caramel cheesecake for us to share for dessert.  It was delicious.

I wish I'd taken a photo of all the yummy goodness we enjoyed, but alas...  I was too busy enjoying it.   At least I did manage to snap this picture.   Could the evening have been more beautiful?

After dinner, we walked around talking for a while.  As we headed home, we called our girls and attempted to say good night.  I could hear all their glee in the background, but talking to Mommy and Daddy while they are hanging at Grandma's doesn't seem to be high on their list.  Soon enough they will be back making a ruckus and inspiring simple moments of glee.  But for just one day, I had a perfect day just me and my husband.  It's not often we have moments together without our kids mixed in.  I'm so happy to have one perfect one in recent memory to add to the list.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Finding my track

I'm being very quiet right now.  Words are a bit elusive.  I want so much to share all that is going on in my head, but I'm afraid.  Too much of it is conflicting and way too much of it is negative.  I'm struggling to figure out how to balance striving for a goal with loving yourself just as you are.  Especially when that goal is centered on the imperfections you see in the mirror.  I do not have the answers.  Some days I wonder if there are answers.

The numbers have officially gotten to me.  I've been obsessing over them for weeks (maybe months now).  They have infected my happy and I haven't been able to shake them.  All I find is more reason to criticize myself.  To judge me.  Not only is it counter productive, but I'm too close.  There is no objectivity when looking at oneself.  How can there be?  The numbers were to provide objectivity, but I've turned them negative.  All I tend to see is how much better I can do.  Not how much I've accomplished.

Last week I was introduced to a movement called Fat Acceptance. I understand this to be a movement to change the perception of fat people in society at large.  I can appreciate the need for that.  I'm obese, but I'm not lazy.  I have weight to lose, but that is not the source of all my medical issues.  Obese people need access to the same things people of normal weight need.  All that I can buy into.

However, I also believe that being overweight can cause stress on the body which would not occur at a different weight.  Similar to how running will cause stress on the body that wouldn't be experienced by a non-runner.  The idea that you can be 100% healthy regardless of weight is not something I'm sure I agree with.  My weight is a symptom of the lifestyles I've lived which, at the points when I was gaining weight, were most definitely not healthy.  For me at least, I do not consider my health to be 100% with the weight that I carry.

Where does this leave me?

This process is going to take years.  For me it is not as simple as reduce calories, exercise more, lose weight, be happy.  At least I don't think it is.  The first two steps I believe will lead to the third.  This is what I have witnessed, how I've succeeded so far this year.  The fourth step is the problem step.  Will doing these things make me happy?

Or do I have to be happy first?  Be Happy.  Exercise More.  Reduce Calories.  Lose Weight.  Is that the correct order?  If so, I have to start with a much much harder question.  What makes me happy?  Is happy even the right word?  I'm not always going to be happy.  But I need to be making healthy decisions even when I'm not happy.

This is what I mean by confused and conflicting.  I'm stuck in this place of inaction and I'm scared if I don't get out of it all the weight will creep right back while I'm busy trying to figure out my next step.  At this point, the pragmatist steps in and says 'Just do something.'  I tend to listen to the pragmatist.  So here's what I'll do.

First, no more number posts.  I'm pretending to be objective when I'm really not.  Time to knock it off.  I'm continuing the calorie counting.  That is helping me.  But I don't need to analyze it.  Not right now.  I am on the fence about my weigh-ins.  I've been weighing myself each Wednesday and that is a good practice.  I just have to work on not beating myself up over what the number says.  Monthly I'll still share as I really want to keep track of how my weight changes over time, especially with regard to how I'm feeling.

Second, I'm modifying my workouts.  All this started because I decided to run a 5K.  That hasn't happened, but I've pushed myself and walked a 5K three times.  Each time I've done better but still experienced cramping in my hips by mile 2.  I did some looking and there are a few walking programs out there that get you ready for distance walks.  I'm going to pick one and see if taking a more gradual approach will help me overcome these muscle issues.  That will be shared here of course.

Third,  more of my day to day life will be showing up here.  I do a lot when it comes to health only a portion of which has been shared here.  Given that I'm not going to capture a miraculous 100 pound loss in a year on this blog, I can capture some other very awesome things that I'm learning or doing.  And really won't a record of all that be even more miraculous?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lizard Toes

I'm new to the smart phone world.  At the same conference where I decided to change my life, I also determined that I needed to get a smart phone.  I'm deep like that.  You see this was a conference of seemingly together professional women who also happened to be mothers.  And the single common accessory was an iPhone.  Not just a smart phone or general techie tendencies.  Nope.  Everyone BUT ME had an iPhone.  I made it exactly 34 days past the conference before I ordered one of my very own.

It probably helps that I love Macs.  Apple has a company has its issues (Huge cop out, but I'm not sure there is any company that doesn't), but the make a fine product and I have drank the Kool-aid.  So into the smart phone work I dove.  My first 6 months were bliss.  I could do things I never knew I needed to do all from the phone in my pocket.  We had so much fun together.  Playing games, taking pictures, editing pictures, shopping for real estate.  List list is endless.  It was love.

All this is relevant because I got a pedicure!!!  See the pretty lizard toes?  They are mine and I love them.  I love them so much that I wanted to post a picture here for you to see.  The light shining off the pretty teal polish.  It makes me so happy.  I almost had to go out a buy a pair of sandals so that I could show off these beauties to the world.  However, you, my loyal readers, are the only people outside me immediately family to observe the results of an hour of pure unadulterated pampering of me.  Something I needed so much.  I'm so thankful I took the time.

And it has taken me 3 apps and 65 minutes spread over two days to provide you with this picture.  *sigh*  I'm not sure how other people do this, but I've got to be doing something wrong.  Here's my steps to get this picture here:
  • I took the picture
  • Edited it in Instagram (not registered with FB)
  • Emailed myself a link and uploaded it somewhere (does anyone know HOW instagram works?)
  • Found a copy on my phone
  • Downloaded the Blogger app and failed to comprehend how to add a photo to a Blogger post via the app
  • Tried linking to the photo via the URL Instagram gave me
  • Got instructions for using Google+
  • Downloaded the Google+ app and learned that all the pictures I've been posting for both my blogs are publicly accessible and linked to me via Google+ (so much for this being a secret)
  • Refused to enable Instant Upload of all my pictures from my phone to Google+
  • Shared this single photo will all my Google+ followers
  • Found that I could then see it from Blogger via Picassa (???)
  • I clicked the button to include it in this post

Wow.  I'm definitely doing something wrong.  Or...  Or!  This smart phone thing has us all convinced that it takes an advanced degree to do anything.  But wait!  I HAVE an advanced degree.  In Computer Science.  Why is this so hard!?!??!?

Anyway, figuring all this picture stuff out was fun.  The honeymoon is over with regards to my iPhone.  I love it.  I'm going to keep playing with it.  But this has to be easier.  I'm also not sold on having all my data being shared in one place.  I know that is the trendy thing to do, but I'm not that trendy and all these companies linking back to Google makes me a little nervous with the overall picture you can get all to easily of me on the internet.

All that aside, I loved getting a pedicure.  I don't know that I will get them regularly, but I'm going to enjoy my lizard toes as long as possible.  The massage portion of the pedicure was also an awesome treat.  I've been beating up my legs lately and it felt nice to relax and have someone take care of me for a few minutes.  Maybe I need to work on allowing some pampering simply because it makes me feel nice.  No mountain climbed necessary.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Celebrating Progress

I've drafted three posts now and haven't published a single one.  I'm so tired of complaining about my life and my progress.  I'm actually tired of hearing myself complain.  Every time I've tried to justify not writing I read my words and hear a whine in my voice that I don't like.  This is taking too long.  I'm working so hard.  I messed up my diet.  I'm tired.  I'm tired.  I'm tired.

As of this month I've lost 21 pounds.  I've been ruminating over the number for days, actually weeks, now.  I think about it all the time.  At no point since I started this weight loss iteration have I obsessed over a number like I have this one.  I've lost more than this in the past.  Forty pounds lost was the climax of my weight watchers experience.  Twenty of that never came back as anything more than temporary baby weight.

Having reached 21 pounds lost, I'm now at my lowest weight in my adult life, 219.  I don't remember the moment when I crossed into the 220s for the first time, but I know it was before I graduated from undergrad.  Reaching 219 is a huge accomplishment.  One to be celebrated!  Every step forward from here is a step into unknown territory.  I'm no longer reversing the ups and downs of failed diets.  I'm breaking new ground with every forward step.

Thinking back I didn't diet in college.  My weight management plan was to buy another Diet Coke with a side of cigarettes; a substitution habit which began in high school.  Food was impulsive and secondary.  I don't remember thinking more about it than where the free food locations were (Engineering Building Atrium), how much a box of Rice Roni cost (89 cents) or if the 7 Eleven nachos were fresh (No, always No).  Looking back, my many attempts to quit smoking definitely contributed to my weight gain.  I don't remember ever losing weight when I would give into the cravings; smoking would just stop the upward trend.  That habit steadily declined until late 2007 when I decided I wanted kids.  Finally I quit for the last time.

Now I find myself at my lowest weight.  I'm no longer a smoker.  Diet Coke still happens, but on the order of maybe 32 ounces a month (I easily consumed 64 ounces a day).  I've learned buckets about food and portions and exercise and nutrition.  I'm working out harder and longer than ever before.  I can feel myself getting stronger.  And none of the changes I've made to my life are dangerous, unhealthy or unsustainable.

Wow.  I have so much to celebrate.

Why do I hesitate?  Fear that I can't do it without those habits.  Nostalgia for all the plates of nachos consumed without a care.  Doubt that the weight won't come back two fold.  Fatigue from pushing myself to change while maintaining a life I love.  Remorse over not taking care of myself sooner.  Worry that it is too little too late.  How can I celebrate when I still have so far to go?  I'm a fat person celebrating being less fat.  It's obscene.

And I'm being harsh.  I know that.  I recognize it.  I'm not being nice or kind or forgiving towards myself.  That is one of the things my husband called me out on months ago.  This process is all about learning how to take care of me.  What habits will serve me well.  What does my body need to thrive.  How can I feed my soul without food.  As I try, learn and incorporate new things, even discarding previous staples, I'll feel better and the weight will come off.

Celebrating would feel good.  I should try it sometime.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Yesterday I was feeling strong.  I was positive.  I started thinking about what I wanted to teach my girls as they watched me go through this.  Because I know they are watching.  Ideas that kept swimming in my mind include:

Take care of yourself now.
Prepare to succeed.
Hard work opens doors.

Those first two lessons are something I wish I'd know 20 years ago.  Maybe they were offered; maybe they weren't.  I didn't see, internalize or act on them.  And I truly wish I had.  I focused for years on working hard to make up for my perceived shortcomings.  I've pushed so hard to excel at my course work, advance in my career, build my family, I neglected major parts of me.  Most notably my body and health.  I hope that realization doesn't turn into the regret in the coming years.  Me is something I plan to take care of now.

Which brings me to this month's weigh-in.  Today I weighed in at 219.  I have lost one pound since June.  I started writing up a list of all the reasons why I should still feel good about the last month.  The list didn't feel right.  It was me talking myself out of feeling what I'm feeling.

Quite simply I am disappointed.  In my progress.  In myself.  In this process.  I want all this work to pay off much MUCH faster than it is.  I'm tired all the time.  With today's weigh-in I am also sad.  I'm telling myself this is okay.  Permanent change isn't fast.  Results will come when I make sustainable changes.  It's okay to be frustrated and fed up.  Which brings me to another lesson.

Don't compromise.

It's not PC.  It's not pretty.  And it's not always nice.  When you find a goal that means the world to you.  When you decide it is your mission to reach that goal.  When that purpose lights you up and makes you want more.  Do not give up.  Don't settle for less.  Don't let anyone get in your way.  Including yourself.  Especially yourself.

This month  I've allowed some old habits back in.  Those habits have chipped away at my resolve and my progress.  I've let them.  I have actively looked the other way while I made poor decisions.  I hate that I'm a self-saboteur, but I'm not sure I can call myself anything else.  One thought keeps coming to mind as I chew over the last month - I'm tired.  I'm not completely sure why.   After 7 months and 21 pounds, is some sort of mission fatigue setting in?  Is this a yet unidentified funk?  Do I just need to get to bed earlier?

Now is the time to figure it out.  I'm not giving up.  Back to earlier bedtimes, homemade lunches and weeknight prep hour.  Back to stopping when I know I've reached my calorie limit for the day.  Back to believing that I not only can but will accomplish this goal.  If the tired continues, I will see the doctor.  But first it's time to dump all the excuses.