Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Size astonishment

Today I am wearing a skirt and shirt I have not been able to wear for 6 years. I found them in my closet during my closet shopping spree the other day. They have been packed away in a storage container all this time. I meant to finally ditch these containers last winter, but didn't get to them before the end of year purge I was doing in the house. Now I'm super glad I didn't get to them as I have a whole wardrobe to choose from as I continue to inch my way down. I need to get some more in between clothes, but found quite a few things.

One skirt I found was a favorite. I probably didn't ditch it even though I know it had gotten to loose to wear because it was a favorite. It was a "Melissa thing" as I like to call them. It's skirt that fits my personality. I remember loving this skirt and I remember dropping more weight back then so that this was too loose. That's why I can wear it again as it was an in between size. It feels more thrilling to wear it again, because I had all but given up hope that I would ever have control over my sugar demons again enough to drop a significant amount of weight.

I just looked some more through the clothes for current season items. I had skipped over somethings in my initial search as I didn't expect any larges to fit. I was a 2X. How can a large fit me? Well, after doing some local shopping to replace a few shirts, I had to change my plan. I was finding that several shirts I thought would fit as large were too loose. I exchanged them as larges to find many of them fit. I had gotten a lot smaller than I realized!

So, shopping closet shopping round 2. Now, a LOT of the things in this closet are too small for me and might always be. I had gotten to my lowest adult weight ever and my fittest ever with working out intensely 6 days a week. I could not maintain it. My goal now is to be healthy and to eat for what I feel I can sustain for eating. What I did last time was great in many ways as I learned so much about my needs for eating, etc., but I lost my ability to be moderate and in the end, that was devastating.

This is all about health for me, but sugar addiction is fierce. If I need to weigh than what doctors say is ideal for my body, it is better to weigh more and to be able to keep my sugar demons in check. It is better to be able to keep the level of activity sustainable. 

I got so unbelievably frustrated when I was so close to my artificially created goals and got sideswiped by several overuse injuries. It took me some hard knocks, but I while I feel fitness is important - that it's not about just the weight on the scale, there is also a level that causes physical harm and takes a mental toll trying to keep up with it. New goal is to live an active lifestyle. That means walking, biking, hiking, etc. I just need to keep moving and that will have to be good enough for fitness as doing anything more than that is not maintainable for me. Not now and maybe not ever.

Right now I'm able to deal with the demons quite easily because I'm taking metformin which is suppressing my appetite. As my sugar levels regulate even more, allowing my weight to approach a healthy level, I will probably be told to stop taking metformin. That or my body will adjust to it. This ease of weight loss and sugar control is a huge gift to my health right now. I don't want to have to battle this again to this degree.

Here's hoping I learned some new skills to controlling sugar and if I find I'm stuggling again to seek medical help immediately. I was trying to beat these demons by will power. I can't. My body just can't deal with the extra weight and remain healthy. So, seeking help when needed with either antidepressants or whatever they recommend is what I need to do.

So... some photos. Like aways, these are raw, non glamour shots.First the skirt and top I can now fit comfortably. Second the biking shirt. As you can see, still new with tags. I got it, loved it, but then gained weight. It's snug (as all biking shirts are snug), but it is wearable! I guess I didn't completely too away the $70 I paid for this. Ironically, it doesn't go too shabbily with this skirt.

Monday, July 2, 2018

3 months post stroke

I write so sporadically that it hardly makes sense to write, but once in awhile I just need to open up and let it out. Now is one of those times.

Writing is a difficulty for me right now with a stroke. My brain wants to go at two speeds and it's not good at letting me know when I'm going too fast! What happens is that one side of my brain says, "what stroke? Just write dammit!" The other side of my brain says, "Woah, woah, woah, hold up. Did you hear me? Dude. Seriously, slow down! No? OK, I'll skip a word here and jumble this here," etc.

That this is the main problem I'm having. With some apps, I can catch most of my writing errors. It slows me down a bit, but I'll get used to this new routine.

What I wanted to comment on though was these phases of healing. First, I was in a sort of denial. I knew it happened but was too raw to think about it. I just wanted to be able to think properly and to read. Then, as that was getting better, it was the feeling of despair, terror, hope, anger and so on. I would cycle through dozens of emotions a day. I had many days I just wanted to die. I wished I had died during the stroke. I didn't want to live this new reality. And, honestly, if I knew of a way to die where I wouldn't have burdened Sven and my kids, I would have planned for it. I did not want to be a diminished me.

It has now been 13 weeks and my head is in a much better space as I can see a diminished me still has value, but I still cycle through tremendous emotions. So much of my world is completely the same. I can now drive, go to work, teach Henry, make meals, etc. But I'm not the same me and I never will be.

It isn't like an illness where I will get better. I have forever damaged my brain. It will never be the same. Sure, I will improve and I will probably forget a life of the old me, but this isn't a scar that will fade. It's not just a mark. Part of my brain has died. That has changed me forever and since this is not how my brain was laid out or circuited to run, it can get better and make new connections, but it will never be as good as it was before. And that is the part that I'm having to deal with now. How do I say to myself, "this new me is good enough" when I constantly sense that I'm not as good as the old me in any way.

That is the part that I am having a hard time with now. I'm working, I'm driving. I'm being a fully active participant in my life, but I am mourning the Melissa I was.

And then I am sad because I knew I was mistreating myself too... and I couldn't break free from the cycle of my own self-abuse until I severely damaged myself. And the reality right now I'm also dealing with, is that maybe by damaging myself so severely, perhaps I save myself from an even worse reality.

I know I'm not unique in that. I think that is why I get so deeply saddened at hearing about celebrity suicides, drinking, etc. We all are trying to cope with the world and while I don't think it's easy for anyone, I think some of us got dealt a more difficult hand.

And then I sound to myself like a wuss. But I am pleading mercy. Yes, some people have harder lives than I do, but I'm doing the best I can and obviously, sometimes I have a very hard time dealing with life.

I am not feeling that right now. Right now I'm feeling, "Melissa, why did you neglect your health?" Look at you now? I've lost a not of weight in a few months, you are exercising regularly, you feel good. You are happy and content most of the time. How were you so low?  I've had these episodes my whole life. I can hope I'll never be there again, that hasn't been my reality.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Making our own choices about life and death

First, NO ONE WORRY! I am not suicidal. I've just been around a lot of people at end or near the end of life and I just experienced a life changing event that has me thinking about life and death and illness. Then just today I saw this article that has me thinking more.

On the day of stroke, I got admitted to the hospital the same day my mostly estranged mom got taken to the hospital for what we thought was a stroke. There is no history of stroke in my family, so it that was so weird timing. Turns out my mom did not have a stroke, but she was incredibly confused. After many tests and screenings - while I was dealing with my own medical emergency, we learned that my mom couldn't be released as they suspected dementia. Days and events later, we learn that my mom at 70 years old has Alzheimer's disease and it was probably caused by years of poorly controlled diabetes.

Add this all up as you can image a whole lot of thought was happening about my own battles and my own future.

Also, I live with an 82 year old woman, my mother in law. She is a psychiatrist and a neurologist. So, than means she knows exactly what is gone on with me my brain. She knows details... but  she couldn't help Sven while I was in the hospital because she doesn't know where to find things in the kitchen or how to prepare meals. She wanted to be helpful, but she doesn't know how to be helpful in tasks anymore. Her world is very small. She knows how to drive to and from our house, the mall a mile from us, and her doctor's office. She doesn't cook, she doesn't load the washer or dryer, nor does she do anything outside of this. This woman who is very intelligent and skilled is a shell of her former intellectual self.

For all my adult life I have been pretty clear about my thoughts on death and dying. Being able to choose my own timing of death, if allowed by law is really, really important to me. I don't think I should be able to have a voice in any one else's end of life decisions, but mine should be MY choice - Period.

So today I read this article that is basically saying my thoughts.... if I don't feel life is worth living any more - whatever and whenever that is, and I can pass the mental health criteria, I should be allowed to die.

I've had time to think of this because I could have died from this stroke. I could have survived, but wished I hadn't. Again... what is considered "livable" is so individual, like that doctor said in this article, he chose where his line in the sand was for what was he considered tolerable living and what wasn't. 

It gets so tricky when it's declining mental capabilities. The doctor in this article was mentally "there". Look at his sweatshirt - Aging Disgracefully - his mind was there, it's the rest of his body has given out. My mother in law has said since I've known her that she would rather die than lose her mental abilities, but she no longer is aware of her decline. Possibly, if she were to travel back in time to see where she would be  at 82, she might have decided to end it... or maybe not. She enjoys meeting with her friends, having dinner with us, watching her tv shows and experiencing life. Isn't that a life worth living?

I just hope I have a choice. Not to die prematurely and to enjoy my life until I don't find it enjoyable any longer.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Starting again... and not in a good place

I am not going to to into all the details now - that time will come, but I decided to continue with this blog as it's the whole story. There are lots of gaps, but this whole journey of trying to be fitter and living healthier is here... me trying to fight my demons over and over again.

And I'm emotionally tired.  My fear is that I will die prematurely from these demons as I cannot keep it all under control.

There is literally only one more avenue I can think of that even has a glimmer of hope for me for finding longer success in beating these demons and that is using antidepressants for my seasonal affect disorder. I'm pretty sure I need them now too as I'm miserable. I am NOT dealing well with the new world I find myself in. I can find no joy in nearly anything. I can't eat what I want. I don't even want to eat anything as the food is making me hate even thinking about food. I'm trapped at home or on my bike. My life goes between therapy appointments for my stroke and home. I don't ever recall feeling this low for this long. My life is  cleaning cat vomit or poop, teaching my son some units of English or Geography and avoiding my mother in law whenever she is home. And my my patience for ANYTHING right now is zilch. And because I'm not myself and gloomy and miserable, no one wants to be around me, so I'm more lonely and miserable.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Inching towards the end of October

My "test weekend" is coming up (first weekend in November is always a conference that trips me up). But, it has gotten easier to steer away from the carbs. When I'm hungry I eat and when I get hungry enough to eat, I keep it lowish carbs by grabbing a cheese stick or some nuts.

And, it's working. I am NOT counting calories. I am NOT trying to limit how much I eat to a degree. When I say that I "AM" controlling what I eat, I am. I am not just eating whatever, but I'm making sure to only eat when I'm hungry, not getting too hungry, but I don't stuff myself. I enjoy my food and stop when I know I've had enough. If I am still hungry 30 minutes later, I eat more. I tell myself that it's better to eat that extra slice of cheese or protein bar than it is to give into the donuts or the chips. THAT is what is helping me - I'm realizing I need something and if I don't eat something, I know that means I will eventually grab something that starts a downward spiral. It's much better to eat an extra 200-300 calories in a low carb, satisfying snack than it is for me to deny my hunger and then eat 1000 calories or more in Oreos later.

My need for carbs, for now, is diminished too. I have been dealing with those temptations much more easily. Could change tomorrow, but for now, it's true.

And to see "how much damage" eating low carb and for hunger has caused - meaning... I'm not restricting and eating more than I would if I were restricting to X calories, I realize my hunch is right (so far)... I am losing weight - which isn't even a goal. My goal is to just get through this tough time of year and not gain MUCH over the fall/winter.... But, the scale is down 6 pounds for the last 3 weeks. And, no that is not "it's a new diet loss" either. I started eating lower carb the beginning of July... who knows how much I lost between then and the end of September - My clothes are fitting better and I can wear some things I couldn't "again", but it's not feeling like WORK because I'm not restricting... I had just gotten so carbed up that my caloric intake had gotten out of balance with my hunger.

Who knows where I'll stabilize, but if this keeps up, I'll believe that perhaps I found my secret to success (I barely dare to believe it)... don't worry so much about calories - just where those calories come from and if I do that, the damage done will be FAR, FAR less than just giving in to the carb monster. Still 20 pounds over where I was last end of October though, but I it's a snail's race... a lifelong race.

Just how to deal with times I can't control my food for longer periods of time. The next few days my younger son and I will go on a trip to Philadelphia. Then... in the beginning of November I go to a conference where I have even less control over my food... Thanksgiving is fairly easy as I make a LOT of delicious low-ish carb dishes I adore. Christmas is fairly easy too if I don't do much baking (and I haven't done much the last few years)... New Year's we've adjusted by making it a cheese fondue with veggies... It's these "trips" that derail me more than ANYTHING... while fall is hard and that compounds problems, each time I've fallen off the wagon with limiting carbs has been while on a trip or at a conference in the fall. Heck... even our vacation to Croatia 5 years ago did me in... but it was still summer, so I was able to get it back together at least temporarily before I got derailed in the fall (after going to a conference).

The good news - more and more places are picking up on the "low carb" lifestyle, so getting a satisfying meal that is low carb is easier, but quick/cheap meals that are low carb is still difficult.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

And still chugging - test will come in November

I am definitely feeling the desire for more food and more sleep as the summer closed out and fall began. My heart last Sunday sank when it realized that waking at 6:15 am now meant waking in blackness too. The seasons fly by me even faster as my life is fuller and busier. I feel like summer foods and eating just started and yet, we are having to go back to our fall standbys of brussels sprouts and store tomatoes already as the apples and pumpkin spice everything roll in.

The last two years where I had lots of good losses on the scale in summer, I tried to keep up with the same pattern of eating and loss... which lead to 30 pound weight gains both winters as I couldn't keep it up. I would get too hungrier and sleepy and that makes me want sugars and eventually and gradually I would go from allowing one sweet a day, to 1500-2000 calories a day of sugar (or more).

As I stated last time, my goal is not to try to keep up with the same level of restriction, because I've learned I can't manage that. My goal is to keep my carb level low. So, if I want to eat more, I choose low carb foods for that "extra". The hope, is that perhaps I'll see no weight loss, but maybe also no weight gain or minimal weight gain. When you eat low carb foods you don't get the insulin spike which then makes you want to eat even more. Carbs start that vicious cycle for me of ramping up more and more sugar highs that are really hard for me to  "come off" carbs in spring/summer. This year it took until July. The year before that it was late May.

How am I doing so far? So far so good. I did step on the scale the other day out of curiosity and my guess of my weight was correct. I've gone up and down so many times and no what clothes fit when so well, that it's easy to know.  I've lost some weight as some clothes are significantly looser and some that were too tight are fitting now... which is great as I feel better, but I'm not going to get stuck on looking at numbers. Goal is STRICTLY to keep low carb and not worry about weight and see where it leads me - while adding in more movement to my days too.

The movement part was going great with daily walks, until I sprained my foot and "slightly" sprained my ankle almost 2 weeks ago. I had to stay completely off my feet for 5 days and ice it, but after that I started moving around a bit and after 10 days took a walk... I'm about back to normal. I even did some jump rope with the kids in Sunday School this past Sunday.

I created a "junk drawer" of low carb snacks too - roasted almonds, roasted peanuts, 3 different kinds of low carb protein bars and a low carb shake mix and in the fridge apples, cheese sticks and in the pantry, peanut butter. At dinners I skip the starch or don't even serve it. I'll eat a protein and veggies. My treat for the night is one square of dark chocolate.

I really have no idea of what my caloric intake is... It varies from day to day. Yesterday was around 1500 I think, day before was about 1300, probably the day before that was around 1900.

The real test for keeping it low carb will be the beginning of November - THREE TIMES now I've gotten derailed the first weekend of November and it started the downward spiral. So, that I'm seeing success now is great, but that isn't new for me... I was able to keep it low carb (though more difficulty)... November is the trick.

I've also considered have one day every 2-3 week "carb day" as staring at all the yummies and never having them is REALLY hard, but I don't know if I can handle it or not. So, for now. I'm not going that route. For when I do want a treat/snack, I'll try a few things I've discovered that have a hint of sweet, but are low carb enough to not spike me. Like rolled oats with almonds or pecans and a bit of brown sugar and butter baked over sliced apples (with skins on) and topped with a bit of slightly sweetened whipped cream. Kind of like this:

Monday, September 5, 2016

Way too long - but I still try to plug along

I am here. You are probably are not! So... what's the deal with me?

Well, last year when I got back into this (some time in May) I started great. I was doing great. Fall hit... I started to slip. Winter hit, really slipped. Slipped all through spring getting worse and worse... and then when it was FINALLY full swing summer, I finally got my act together.

This season fluctuation for me is either worse, or my life is such that I handle it worse - I think it's the latter.

So... I decided I needed to try something different as I couldn't have half a year of doing great and half a year of doing horribly.  (and last year it was more than half a year of doing horribly!) I had to really find what are the big issues I have and find better ways of dealing with them as what I was doing - being near perfect and being healthy to falling completely off the wagon and falling back on all terrible habits was horrible for my health. And to figure out WHY I was failing so much....

What I know about myself - without a doubt:

  1. I am a carb addict.
  2. Carbs are terrible for my blood pressure, mood, and make we gain weight AND make me congested so I snore and therefore get worse sleep, which then leads me to wanting to eat more carbs.
  3. My ability to cope with good habits are extremely seasonally influenced. I can and do eat well and move well in late spring, summer, and early fall. I feel horrible, eat horrible, and give up in late fall, all winter, and early/mid spring.
  4. I am more tired in Fall and winter (I must have been an animal who hibernated in a former life).
  5. I am more hunger in fall and winter (you know... have to bulk up to survive the winter hibernation!)

And this is what I have tried to do in the past:
  1. Get really good habits going by limiting carbs.
  2. Move more to dull the depressive state of fall/winter with SADD.
  3. Daily weighing in to keep motivated and stay on target (as that has been a good motivator - for when I'm doing well).
  4. Try to stay in the "losing" column as I am overweight and I don't like being overweight and it's not healthy for my body.
  5. Exercising in some way to keep the nibble "bug" out of my head.
Well, obviously, something I was doing (repeatedly) wasn't working if I couldn't keep it up. I needed to figure out a new plan. Plans needed to be more forgiving and more accepting of my tendencies... fall/winter is hard... I want to eat more. I am more tired. I am wanting to give up more easily and quite literally say, "fuck it" to myself.

Now, fortunately, I haven't COMPLETELY given up since I started out with trying to live healthier 6 years ago. While I keep yo-yoing tremendously, I still feel I can do this (need to do this) and I haven't come to getting back to my top weight. I "think" I didn't get close to my last year's top weight either because clothes I wore last year fit with more "ease" this year than when I bought them last year. So, as much as I struggle.... I am, overall, in a better place than I was 6 years ago. It's just finding a better way.

So, my plan has shifted. I have no idea if it will work, but I hope it does as I learn more about myself. Here's what I'm doing.
  1. I am trying to steer mostly clear from sugars/carbs. And if I eat them, I try to make them potatoes as for some reason, my blood sugar doesn't spike with potatoes.
  2. I am not weighing myself. I haven't stepped on a scale in 3/4s of a year.
  3. I try to eat for hunger and try to make choices that will fill me long term- fat and protein, not carbs.
  4. When I want a snack... even though I "probably" have had enough calories for the day to break even, I allow myself a protein/fat snack, not a carb snack. 
  5. I am admitting to myself right now that I should concentrate on staying away from carbs more than anything else. I should not be concentrating on losing weight to "get back into those cute clothes". Restricting in spring and summer has worked for me, fall and winter leads to carb craving and caving... which then leads to weight gain - lethargy, snoring, etc.

My hope is that if I can stay away from the carbs, even if it means in eating a bit too much in fall winter in fats/proteins, that they weight gain would be modest in winter (if at all) and that it would be easy to get and stay in better eating modes in spring and summer if I don't have to detox my body of carbs over and over again. That, the overall trend would be to lose weight, but at a slower pace. Like, Lose 10-15 in spring summer, gain 5-7 in winter, lose 10-15 in spring/summer, etc... That is much better than what I had been doing - losing 30 in summer, gaining 30 in winter, etc.

If it were just about the weight, I would be annoyed with these HUGE swings year to year, but it's not just the weight. The weight is the least of it. It's that I get so sad... and lethargic... and my blood pressure goes up and my blood sugars go out of balance and I start to snore which not only disturbs my husband, but disturbs my sleep too and it is 100% related to eating too many carbs. I MUST keep that carb count low for my health - mental and physical.

It's only September, but I have been doing this plan for the last 2 months. I know I've lost weight as I can see it in my face and see it in my clothes, but I have no idea with the weight loss is. I don't want to know, actually as I don't want to see that I'm "failing" at more weight loss as winter approaches. I am concentrating on moving more and eating few carbs PERIOD.

Like yesterday, I have had a very stressful week. I had little sleep (due to a stressful week) and I wanted to EAT. I really wanted to have carbs... instead, I stopped and got a chicken sandwich and fries for lunch (taking off the bread). It was good... satisfied my "fuel" need and it was so filling that I didn't need dinner last night - except for some salted tomatoes (yum!)... in the end, I probably broke even with calories yesterday, but more, I didn't eat the insulin boosting carbs my body REALLY wanted and therefore, ate FAR few calories than I would have for the day and didn't start that carb roller coaster I cannot manage.

I hope this approach will work. I need it to work as I'm tired of feeling tired... and worn out... and beaten up half the year and I blame the carb monster telling my brain that all I need to fix that lethargy is CARBS... it is such a temporary fix... but in fall/winter/early spring, my brain believes it! And once I start, the addiction is renewed and fiercer than ever.