Friday, August 31, 2012

What is it about being outdoors?

I heard this morning that it was going to get to be a hot day today - mid 90s. Not very pleasant, so I guess it was a good thing that I was signed up for a step class. Mornings are nice though and I like being able to walk my younger son to school every morning, but the last two mornings he's been too sleepy. I was having to wake him up just in time for school which meant driving the half mile instead of walking it.

This morning, however, he was up early. I had slept like crapola last night for some reason, but a walk in the morning sounded good. It sounded so good, in fact, that I put on my sports bra, my work out clothes and shoes and even strapped on my Garmin gizmo. If I walked early, I could avoid the heat as the nights do cool down now and the humidity wasn't crazy high.

So, we walked to school this morning. He likes it too and it's a great way for him to start the day - with a bit of some physical movement. I then continued on the way. I just wanted to walk 4 miles. I wasn't going to kill myself in going super fast, but wanted a good pace to stretch my legs, get some air and sun and just enjoy the morning.

And I did. I first passed by the cross guard in front of my son's school crossing and then 10 minutes later passed by her at another elementary school that starts 15 minutes later than my son's school. My little gizmo is so smart, that it pauses when I paused to chat, tie my shoe, and stopped and looked at something. So, while my pace for the walk was 16:40, my actual moving pace was 15:47.

The walk was great. I saw so many people out and about - with their dogs, groups of friends, couples, moms pushing strollers. Just friendly faces saying hi. Because I had my gizmo on, I knew I would know how far I walked and didn't need to worry about going in any particular path, so I just walked up some streets I had never walked before. All the streets around here are tree lined with mature trees, so even though the sun was hot, I didn't feel too hot.

During the walk I got to thinking about what work I wanted to touch on today. New ideas for stories for my part-time job talking about the community association I belong to and who is responsible for making so much of what I love about Columbia, great! I wouldn't have been able to think about stuff during a step class. During step, I have to think about how I'm moving and sometimes I just need time to think - really think.

I finished up my 4.25 mile walk and just felt great - so very great. I need to keep walking a big part of the fitness plan. There are so many places to walk around here and all of it is pleasant, that it's not even a chore to do it! Love that!

So, this walk this morning was great. Ever so much more enjoyable than a step routine would have been this morning. When I came home, I cancelled the step class for today.

Tonight I also have bodypump with my husband to keep the muscle strong, so it will be a good day!

Oh, and here's my walk for the day: Untitled by berryblondeboys at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Yesterday was my son's 16th birthday

How can you not look back on days like that? How could I not remember 16 years ago - the labor, the joy of holding my first born child. You remember so much of it.

I look at him now and he's nearly a man. He's about done growing. He has adult ideas and adult conversations. And while he still needs his parents for financial reasons, for the most part, he's grown.

I think back to when I was 16. How my boyfriend came to my house and brought me a rose. We had only been dating for a few weeks and it was never anything serious (as none of my relationships were until much, much later), but I remember how grown up I felt to be turning sweet 16 and having a guy like me.

How is it that I'm now almost 43 years old? How is it that while my oldest child is 16? I was 26 years old when he was born. I had been married just shy of 3 years.

As he's entering adulthood, I'm watching my body change. I'm seeing my waist become less defined with the middle age body settling in. It's now been 2 months since I've last had my period. It should have come by now (again) if I ovulated when I thought I ovulated (if I even ovulated).

To be sure, I did buy a pregnancy test to rule out the possibility of a pregnancy (even though I knew I wasn't pregnant). I've been pregnant 3 times and I knew each of the three times before I even missed my period that I was pregnant. I feel none of that now, so I knew, but I needed to be sure. Nope... it's either my thyroid messing with me or my fertile window is closing as I go through menopause.

How fast the time flies. 16 years ago I gave birth to a child that was conceived the first month we tried. Now, I'm probably infertile as that time for fertility has passed.

It is a bit sad. Even though I have no plans for any more children, it's knowing that I am truly 'too old' to have children. That I'm past the child bearing years even though so many women these days are having babies in their 40s. An era of my life is ending.

But as it's ending, I've started a new era of my life of taking care of me. I've dedicated most of my life caring for others and I've only just begun to start thinking about caring for me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This week has been rough

And it's 100% because of lack of sleep.

This getting back into the school routine is taking it's toll. Add to that my younger son is having nightmares and waking every other night and is not able to fall back to sleep. My sleep only gets disturbed. His is lost. Which, then of course, means his behavior goes south which then frazzles me even more. At best I'm getting 6 hours of sleep with trying to be sure everything is done before going to bed. That would leave me about 6-6.5 hours of sleep. Then add in those waking disturbances and I'm a zombie. A zombie who then gets frazzled by another zombie.

What that also means is that my eating goes south. I start snacking on sugary foods for energy. UGH... I know what is the problem, but I simply cannot reel things in when I'm sleep deprived. I just don't CARE enough when I am so utterly tired.

So, my son had one of those nights last night. I've had about 5 hours of sleep. I need to get to the grocery store. I need to make more yogurt. I need to make dinner and a birthday cake for my son's birthday tomorrow (it needs to refrigerate overnight).  And, of course, I need to work. I'm nearly in tears thinking about all I have to do today as I have no energy.

I sometimes wonder even with synthetic thyroid meds if things just aren't right ever. Like, is it normal to feel this tired from a few disturbed nights? Is it normal to need to rely on carbs and caffeine to make it through the day? I can feel my eyes... like they are looking through a foggy window. Everything about me today is just fuzzy due to lack of good sleep.

Of course, the best remedy is to take a nap and I think I will do that. Much better to take a couple hours out of the day than to slug through it getting nothing done.

Because of eating sugary foods the last few days, the scale is up too - of course.

Stats for 8/28/12:

Highest weight: 275  Now: 178.2

Monday, August 27, 2012

First day of school

Today is the first day of school for the kids. While we were ready physically - everything was purchased and organized, I don't think we were ready in any mental way yet. We are just off the trans-Atlantic vacation jet lag and then BAM! School starts.

My teen got up fairly easily - probably the only time all year that will happen.  He's entering the 11th grade and will turn 16 in 2 days. That late August birthday really gets me every year. I have a December birthday, so when I was almost 16, I was entering the 10th grade - NOT 11th grade!

I had to wake up the 7 year old this morning though. He was still sound asleep at 7:50 am. So, I gently woke him up and it was easy enough as he got excited about the first day of school.

I took photos of the younger one before school and got the two of them together after school. The older one was not up for a photo at 7 am. Or, of a solo shot. Ah, teens!

When I look at these photos though, I realize how different pounds look on different body builds.

First, there's my 7 year old. He's 7 years and 4 months. We measured him yesterday and he's exactly 54" tall which is 4.5 feet tall. He weighs 81 pounds. For both height and weight, he is off the charts. And he is a tank, but look at this picture. BIG he is, but not chubby. He is a lot like me:

My older son is about 6'2" tall and weighs 140 pounds. That's 98th percentile for height and about 55th percentile for weight. Though, he's thin. He's not too thin. he's just right for his body build - which is almost identical to my husband, just a bit bigger than my husband and he looks a lot like my husband

Here are the two boys together:

If you were to do BMI charts for the oldest one, he is within the healthy BMI range. My younger son's BMI puts him in the obese range (19.5).

From WebMD:

Your Child's BMI

Based on your child's age and gender, his BMI of 19.5 places him in the 95th percentile. This means that in a room of a 100 kids the same age and gender of your child, on average he has more body fat than at least 95 of them. A BMI that is in the 95th percentile or higher is in the obese range.

Looking at these two - I say they both look just right and healthy. They are just built differently. Height and weight are only part of the story! Is my younger son HEAVIER than most kids of the same age? Yes he is. Without a doubt. But I do not believe for a second that he has MORE FAT simply because he's heavier... the calculation is flawed. That does not look like an obese child to me.

But seriously, how I wish I understood this as a kid. I totally didn't understand why my peers of the same height always weighed less than me! Now, as an adult looking at kids, I totally see how different all kids are built, and therefore, how differently adults are built.

Oh, and to all my boardie pals. berryblondeboys is in reference to my red-headed boys (my husband has black hair and I have dark blonde/light brown hair). Though, copperpennyboys might be a better name, though BBB flows better.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Remember all that landscaping?

In April I took a bunch of photos of the pretties in my yard and the not so pretties. You can see that post here: The Fruits of my labor from last year's gardening. I still had a lot of work to do. And a lot of work I did! My husband got roped into helping me with laying the stone pathway, but otherwise I did it all myself.

I finished just before we left for Croatia with most of it. That last part was removing half a ton of sand off the driveway  and removing the remaining stones. No wonder I didn't lose much upper body strength these past few months!  I took photos the day we were leaving for vacation, but never had a chance to post them.

Upon coming back, things have reallllllly filled in. A couple things croaked. The entire side yard of plantings was eaten by something, so I'll have to replant this fall, I guess. But all in all, it was a big success.

Am I done? Heck no! At the tail end of our property line in the back are overgrown forsythia that is invaded by all sorts of nasties - including poison ivy. I need to get in there and just hack it all down, but I don't even know where to start or how to do it. I want the one forsythia just plain GONE. It's in a bad spot and I have other plans for there. The other side just needs to be weeded out and trimmed up. That's a fall project.

Eventually, I would like to grow some vegetables too in a raised bed for square foot gardening. But, that will take time, money and work. I will have to fence it to keep out the groundhogs, the rabbits, the deer and I'm sure other critters too. I love where we live and being so close to nature, but, it's not the best place for gardening! Remember, as always, click on the pictures to see them in full size.

Ok, here's our new stone pathway and flower bed. I will need to get an updated photo of this as it has already filled in a lot. When we moved in 2.5 years ago, there was just the lamp post and a sewer pipe (now being hidden by plants - sedum). Last year I dug up an oval connecting the lamp and sewer pipe. This year I manually pulled up the sod with a manual sod remover, prepared the site, added a sand base, laid the stone (with my husband's help) and filled it in. We planted a gazillion plants and then mulched. Oh, want to know how much mulch we had? This isn't our yard, but it's the same amount of mulch! 12 cubic yards

 This is how our yard looks from the street now. Oh, the guy in the front door? My 7 year old watching me.
 Here is around our front tree. Last year I planted the hostas, but this year I removed the bricks and tidied it up as the Bradford pear is constantly sprouting new crap at the base. (as can be seen in this spring's photos)
 I planted a Japanese maple to the side of the front yard.
 I moved the lilacs from the back side yard to the front side yard. It wasn't getting enough light in the back. It seems happy here.
 These next two pictures are brand new flower beds to the side of the house. Its a pretty big bed. 40 feet long by 12-16 feet wide. I showed them this spring as a big mess of sweet gum balls and of planters waiting to be planted. Most of these plants you see here I bought last year, but they didn't make it into the ground. They did this year and are doing great.

 This is the back of the house. You can see the figs in the small containers. They are waiting to go into the larger containers you see there. This will look tidier and they will get more sun and room to spread out.
 This is the existing side flower garden built on a slope. It had FOUR layers of weed barrier. I removed those four layers, replanted everything I had planted last year and added more.
 This is in the back yard and near the side flower bed in back. I manually removed the sod and added mulch. This is where I tend to get poison ivy. I figure, if it's mulched, it will be easier to see new poison ivy popping up so I can get to it before it gets me! In front of this, the grassy parts, this is all new sod. Well, new to the area sod. This is the sod from the front yard placed over the roots of the dead and cut down pine tree. We very likely will put in a rain garden in front of this sloped side flower garden and this swing in back. Water just flows like a stream down our yard during a heavy rain storm.
These next two show the boulder rock garden in the back yard. When we moved in there was nothing around them. Just the boulders set randomly in the yard. Last year I planted a few things. This year I expanded it a bit and planted more. Makes it easier to mow around too.

 This is a remaining problem spot - an overgrown forsythia bush with a raspberry bush there and...
 Poison ivy - a lot of it. I have no idea how to handle getting rid of this WHOLE thing, but I want to!
 Here is the other side of the end of our back yard (you can see the Community trail just there). The rest of the forsythia we managed to get trimmed up last year. This last bit is still a big mess with weeds growing in it. This is a fall project.
 Back to the front yard - some lantana in a pot as well as some annuals in the front flower beds.
 Another front of the house shot. I planted 4 flats of annuals in the front yard alone.
 Another turtle nest in the front yards. Seems living 100 yards from the lake is a perfect distance for turtle nests. I should go check to see if they've come up yet.
 Well these were hostas I planted. They were getting too much sun, but something came and mowed them all down. I guess they were yummy. I'll plant some roses there this fall or early next spring.

That is a lot of work for 3 months. And it got HOT. Though, I'm already itching to get to it again when the weather cools down a bit. Of course, it needs weeding already too.

Back to fitness for a bit - did bodypump and bodystep yesterday - both express classes. I was wiped out afterward, but I did it! Scale rewarded me with a pound lost because of my recent efforts. Woohoo!

Stats for 8/23/12:

Highest weight: 275  Now: 176.8

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day one of getting to that 5K

So, as you recall, I decided that I wanted to start running, but starting with walking until my heart rate couldn't stay high enough with walking any more. Then I would switch to running using the C25K schedule.

I figure this way I can run a better time if I'm already at a pretty good walking pace before delving into running. Keeping things lower impact for as long as possible is also easier on my body - my shins, my ankles, my knees and my poor bladder. Man, I didn't miss bladder issues during the months of just gardening, landscaping and hiking.

The plan is on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays to walk 4 miles a day - fast walking. That turns out to be about an hour of walking (for now).

Here is yesterday's walk around my very hilly neighborhood: 8/21/12 - First walk to get to 5K Run by berryblondeboys at Garmin Connect - Details

That shows you everything. You can see my splits, my elevation, heart rate, etc. I tried to keep a steady pace, no matter the elevation and it seems I mostly did. I tried to copy and paste things in details here, but either I'm too dumb, or I can't do it. My first mile I did in 15:17. That's from my front door with no warm up through the first mile. Second mile was 14:53. Third mile: 14:36. Fourth mile: 14:37 and then I walked just shy of a half mile for cool down in 8:41 seconds.

My average heart rate the first mile was: 132. Second mile: 145. Third and fourth miles were 152. Obviously, I was working hard, but sustainably. I felt great during the walk and after the walk. Even with fast walking, you get that runner's high.

The terrain is never flat. I'm either going uphill or downhill. Sometimes it's steep, sometimes it's a slow climb or descent, but this definitely not flat like a track would be. And it was fun. I did one loop around the lake, then I went up some paths behind some homes and then as it was getting dark, I moved to the sidewalks along the streets for the last 2 miles. I love that my town has sidewalks everywhere even though there are paths. I never had to go in the streets until I got to my cul-de-sac. That is much safer.

I worked hard, my heart was beating fast and hard, so when I plugged it into my iphone app for counting calories, I was shocked to see that it gave me 334 calories for 4 miles at 4 miles an hour. What? The Garmin Connect site gave me 663 calories burned in that hour. That seems more like it. But these discrepencies are why I don't ever eat back calories or count them as a gurantee of "I should lose this much weight this week" based on calories burned. These are estimates only.

All in all yesterday was a great day. I ate 1430 calories and walked for an hour at a fast pace and I'm not sore because of it. My shoes though are toast. After the walk, I realized how sore the balls of my feet were. They have been worn to death, so I guess I'll be doing shoe shopping soon. It has been 10 months of a lot of use, so I guess it was time.

ETA: how could I forget? While I was walking - the first two miles (my slowest two miles), I was following behind a woman who was obviously doing the C25K program. She would walk mostly and every once in awhile she would run. She must have been on week one where it's mostly walking with a few 1 minute runs thrown in. Anyway. When I started out walking, I was about 30 feet behind her. When she ran, she would get a bit ahead of me, but when she walked, I walked faster than her, so I would almost catch up to her. Every time in those 2 miles (so 30 minutes) I would get within 10 or so feet behind her and then she would run a bit, I would catch back up when she walked. She didn't know I was behind her, but of course, I knew she was in front of me.

This just proved to me that walking fast first is a better approach because basically, we both had the same pace going on - just hers was a mix of running and walking and mine was 100% walking - easier on the joints! And with a faster walking pace, the heart rate stayed up higher.

Stats for 8/22/12:

Highest weight: 275  Now: 177.8

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I just found shocking pictures I never knew about

I was just going through some photos to find something for a blog post I'm writing. This is also where my son has stored all of his photos. I found these photos below that I didn't know existed. I know when they were taken because of my hair length and location. We moved into this house in  November 2009. Remodeled our house pretty much for the entire first year. I chopped off my hair (it hung below my butt) in November 2010. I found out about my health problems in December 2010 and started my weight loss journey in January 2011. These photos were all taken between April 2010 and November 2010 when I was 39 years old and weighed 255 pounds. Which is already 20 pounds lighter than my heaviest weight and 10 pounds lighter than the previous few months before that.  They are shocking to me actually. Yet, in many ways, I still 'think' of myself as looking this way. Like, I don't recognize myself immediately when I see myself in more recent photos.

Recent photos of me from the trip will be contrasted below. 

Compare that to a few weeks ago from our trip to Croatia. I'm not even at goal weight yet, but I look like a different person. I even included one of me in a swimsuit (gasp!). None of them are touched up. None are with makeup. Just me, Melissa, as I am always - in the natural state:


 I look healthier too, don't I? In this last picture, I'm up 20 pounds from my all time low too (with about 5 of it being water weight). So, I know I can look even better. Boy, if this isn't proof that weight ages you and looks awful, I don't know what is.  Here's to getting the rest of this weight off and getting more and more fit so that the next time I have candid photos taken, I look really great - getting better with age like a good wine!

Stats for 8/21/12:

Highest weight: 275  Now: 178.6

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thinking about what I want to do for fitness now

Now that I'm back and school is about to start and I'm still working from home (mostly) with two jobs, I have time to think about what I want to do for fitness and when I want to work-out. For now at least.

My one part-time job really kicks in mid-September, but since that's running a Sunday School, that's basically taking Sunday's out of the rotation for exercise. I'm usually wiped out after traveling an hour to get there, "working 2.5 hours" and then driving an hour back, if we come back directly, which we don't usually. I leave the house on Sunday at 9ish and get home usually around 3ish - 6 hours. Then it's thinking about dinner, getting things ready for the kids for school the next day and so on. All gym classes are over by noon on Sundays anyway.

The other part-time job is mostly from home and writing. There are meetings I need to go to and people I need to meet up with to research stories, but those aren't predictable. I just have to work around those. Morning, afternoons and evenings are possibilities for needing to work or attend something.

All in all I'm working 30 hours a week at least through November sometime. Then, for the local part-tie job, they will look at our contracts to see if they want to renew or stop them. Since the person who hired me (all of us part-timers) is no longer working for the company, I really have no idea what the future is with that job. I just keep plugging away, trying to do good work in a timely fashion to see where it leads. What I want the most from this is to get fresh references so that when I go on a new job search, my references aren't stale.

All this is to say, I have work to work around with my fitness goals and not much less than a full-time job, minus the commute, but I also have a lot of flexibility with when I can work out.

I was just looking at the schedules for the three gyms I can take classes from and there are classes I know I want to take. I like the Mondays step class at 5:30 pm, Express bodypump and bodystep classes on Wednesdays from 6-7:30, bodystep Friday mornings at 10:30, and bodypump on Saturday mornings at 10:30 am. My husband and I are really faithful with the Wednesdays and Saturdays since we both go to those classes. The other ones I try to fit in, but sometimes things conflict.

Of course, any class that starts around dinner-time is difficult. Like tonight I'm signed up for the 5:30 pm step class, so that means making dinner early and eating early, but having it be something my husband, teen and MIL can eat later and still be fresh for them. There just aren't many classes during the day hours, which makes sense as most people work, so even though I'm a stay at home mom/work from home mom, I still have to fit into the schedule of the working/commuting mom when it comes to classes.

So, I'm thinking maybe I want to start running. I started it this late spring, but then got that injury and stopped. The weather is cooling down soon and I can run whenever I want to - I don't need to rely on a gym schedule. I already know that on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays there aren't any classes I'm interested in taking. The C25K program is a 3 times a week run program. it would fit in my schedule just fine too. And since I'm on fire with motivation right now, I want to up my workouts to get to goal gosh darn it!!!

We will see - today is the step class and I'm looking forward to it. I will still keep the extra riser out, but will do the propulsion stuff. Then on Tuesday I might try the first day of the C25K. It will probably be rougher than when I tried in the spring as I was at my best fitness then. Now, I'm just getting back into things after a long vacation and less aerobic work before that, but it's still not going from the couch, right?

Stats for 8/20/12:

Highest weight: 275 Now: 178.0

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Been back for a week - my weight and fitness

This morning marks a full week since we've been home (plus a few hours). In that time I've gotten back into the groove of everything.

On Sunday, it really was purely recuperation and doing laundry and more grocery shopping. It was the first day I tracked my eating and tried to eat on plan for over a month which means getting rid of all sugars and grains. My face was a pimply mess from all the grains/carbs. I also braved the scale. I was up to 184.0 (up 15 pounds from leaving - but I knew a lot of it was water weight). That day I ate 1174 calories - my body was so messed up, I wasn't hungry.

On Monday, I got caught up on emails for both my part-time jobs, cooked some and finished the laundry, but I still felt wiped out. I ate 1484 calories and the scale dropped to 181.2. Yep, lots of water weight.

On Tuesday, I started working for my part-time job in Columbia and started to feel more in the groove and rested and went again to the grocery store. I ate 1545 calories and weighed 180.4.

On Wednesday, I was on a roll. My sleep was back to normal, house duties were caught up and I was ready to go. I worked 6 hours for my job and then did a strength training work-out in the evening. I ate 1426 calories and weighed 179.4.

On Thursday I worked another 6 hours for my job, started to hobble from the workout and cooked and took a walk. I ate 1350 calories and weighed 178.8.

On Friday, I worked 3 hours for my job, took a step class at the gym (which went amazingly well), made a steak dinner, and was hobbling really bad from the strength training class. Going up and down stairs about killed me. Then I went back to school shopping for the little guy for shoes and clothes. I ate 1567 calories and weighed 178.8.

On Saturday, I took the same strength training class at the gym, did more grocery shopping, worked a couple hours for my job, and then took my little guy to a "Back to School" party at the gym. Made dinner and yogurt. I ate 1648 calories and weighed 178.2. And my face was mostly cleared up as my body is getting rid of the carb toxins. My gut is feeling smaller too.

And here we are on Sunday and I'm finally not in pain from the workout, I plan to take a long brisk walk today and I have 4 loaves of bread rising, more laundry going, and I'll make some healthy muffins for snacks for the kids, I'll clean the kitchen and the dining/living room and  probably work a bit for both jobs. Today I'm on plan to eat about 1450 calories and I weighed 178.8.

So, it seems that I gained 9 pounds over a month's time in Croatia. I don't miss the carbs at all. I'm not even tempted by them. Actually, the idea of eating bread or a sweet is super unappealing. I simply don't want them. I was starved for greens, so we've eaten a lot of salads and cooked green veggies since coming home. My face thanks me. I now have no pimples and my face is not oily where it was a mess for the last week or two of vacation, especially. My gut is feeling less huge too, despite the weight gain.

That means, I have gained 14 pounds over my all time low. Now, it is true I only held to that 164.6 for a millisecond and I don't even know if I can count it. Most of the time before we left, I was hovering around 168-171. But, I'm up quite a bit, as you would expect from being off plan for a month.

The good news is that I wanted to get right back on plan and missed eating the way I had grown accustomed to eating. And, after seeing what inactivity does to the body, I wanted to get back to the gym and working out. I actually missed it!

All of this has me believing that this is a new way of life for me. That I won't, really won't gain all the weight back. Will there be times I need to buckle down? Of course. Like now, after a long vacation, but I did. I didn't even say, "In a day or two." I was immediately back on plan - the very day we got home. I'm proud of myself for that.

Of course, this also means that when I get back down to my previous all time low there will be a huge party going on my end. That's my new mini goal . Well, first mini-goal is to get out of the 170s FOREVER and then to tackle the 164.6. I'll get there though, and I KNOW it.

Highest weight: 275  Now: 178.8

Saturday, August 18, 2012

5th Vacation Observation - European sizing versus US sizing

I didn't go shopping while in Croatia for a variety of reasons. One, I don't have any clothing needs right now as I've been at a pretty stable weight for a long time. Two, we were in tourist towns, even if my wardrobe still needed something, I didn't want to pay jacked up prices when I know I could get the same things for far less elsewhere and three, I didn't want to see that I might be too big for the store's sizes.

In the US I've gotten used to being able to wear a size 10. I can wear a 10 anywhere that sells clothes that appeal to me. There might be some teeny bopper stores that I would be too big for, but those clothes don't appeal to me and probably never would have.

I know, however, that this size 10 is a size 14 or even a 16 from not that long ago. Remember, I have a size 16 skirt in my closet that fits me perfectly from 1995. A size 14 is like top of the line for regular sizes - or at least used to be, in a lot of stores. But have European designers adapted to the larger customers as I see Europeans getting chubbier too? I don't know. I was too afraid to look and my husband would have killed me for looking on vacation - wasting time shopping.

What I do know is that my mother in law got a t-shirt for a gift from a friend. The T-shirt would fit me or her. It looks like an American size Medium. It says XL.  I know if I were to order a dress or shirt from the UK that I need to order a different size.

This goes in line with her getting kid's clothes in the past too. Sizes run smaller than they do here. Now I wish I would have tried on a pair of pants or a dress while there just to see, but too late now. And who needs to feel crushed on vacation when realizing I'm too big for a regular department store? Maybe next time when I feel I'm at my best weight and fitness level I can get to. Then how could I feel bad?

Of course, this now has me wondering if the difference in sizes has always been that way or if it's a recent change with American's vanity sizing? A trend, I'm reading which will continue as it's profitable. Women like feeling smaller and smaller numbers make you feel smaller than you are. I wonder how long this trick will work?

Highest weight: 275  Now: 178.2

Friday, August 17, 2012

4th vacation observation - how we treat our bodies

This vacation was a seaside vacation. I've detailed before how the first part of the trip was in a town with mostly local tourists from Croatia and the remaining two spots were tourists from all over - Croatia, other European countries, USA, Australia and some Asia.

Everywhere people were going to the beach during the day, strolling, drinking, eating ice cream and listening to music in the city at night.

Most day trips to other islands involved some sightseeing, but always time to cool off on the rocky beaches.

Everyone goes to the beach - all ages and sizes. Babies, young children, teens, 20s on up to 70s. Most men wear speedos or tighter boxer style shorts (with some wearing American board style swim shorts), all women of all ages and sizes wear bikinis, kids under 4 or so go naked.

When we were in Biograd, the people would head to the beach in the morning and spend the entire day there. In Mljet and Dubrovnik, tourists did hikes, bike rides, tours in between bouts at the beach for cooling down, but basically were in the sun all day long.

These tourists and locals were brown and I mean brown. Either that, or they were fried red over their brown tan. Even at the end of our vacation when we had been outside for many hours every day, we were still so white - tan for us, but white compared to everyone else. Part of it was that we are extremely fair, but we are also very careful with the sun. Most of these people on the beach? Not so much.

The entire week we were in Biograd, only our family had rashguards to protect us from the midday sun. I'm also guessing we were one of the few who used strong sunscreen. People were brown or red. Lots and lots of sunburns. When we were on Mljet I still didn't see any tourists with rashguards even though there were more foreign travelers. Only when we got to Dubrovnik did I see any other families using rashguards and only on little toddlers and they were American. Only two families out of thousands used rash guards. In the United States at the pools midday? 10-15% of kids will be in rashguards, those under 2 to 3 years old, about 50%.

That was during the day - the big skin bake. Hadn't any of them heard of the dangers of too much sun? Or was a good tan worth the risk? Was a tan a status symbol? Like, "Look, I have enough money to go to the sea and bake myself all day while you had to stay back and work?" I have no idea why they do it. Frying themselves in the sun, but everyone we saw was super tan from serious time out in the sun.

In the evenings, everyone came into town - had dinner, had drinks, strolled. I get shocked every time I come to Croatia at the number of smokers of all ages. I swear it's near 100%, but my husband says that's not true, just that it seems like a lot because I'm not used to seeing it in public in the US, but it is a shockingly high number of smokers of all ages even he will admit smoking is a big problem. One of our last nights there, a German group sat down next to us. A very good looking, very fit, athletic group of 3 couples. I thought to myself, "These are athletes, I bet they don't smoke." Yet, within a couple minutes of sitting down, they all lit up.

Again, I was shocked, don't they all know how bad smoking is for them? Why are so many people smoking cigarettes?

And, of course, I've touch already on the increasing obesity problem.

Here I was on vacation and I was just shocked at: 1. the number of increasingly heavy young people. 2. the super tan, ignoring all warnings about sunburns. and 3. the heavy smoking. All things we all know are bad for us. We all know that right?

Then why do we do these things? I'm not just picking on these tourists and locals - I'm guilty too, obviously. Hello - I used to weigh 275 pounds! I knew that was bad for me! I like diet soda - I know that's bad for me. Stuff like that. Why do we persist in doing things we know shorten our lives and diminish the quality of our lives? I just don't get our human tendency to self-destruct.

Highest weight: 275  Now: 179.0

Thursday, August 16, 2012

3rd Vacation Observation - Who is Traveling and their fitness levels

Traveling is expensive for everyone. When you go on vacation, especially vacation outside of your country, you are seeing only those others who can afford to travel great distances. Those you will see typically in major destination spots in Europe are the young backpackers, the locals who avoid airfare at least and oftentimes know friends of friends to get cheaper accommodations and then the older set who have raised their kids and are now traveling abroad seeing all the places they planned to see - most often, it appears this older set travel in group tours. The smallest segment of travelers you will see are families from abroad and it's obvious why - it's just cost prohibitive for many families to be forking over for 4-5 tickets! for airfare.

All of this is to say - who you see traveling is a biased sample. It's cutting out the lower socio-economic tiers, especially for the families and older populations from abroad. And, studies have shown, it's the more affluent that tend to be the most fit. Why? Because they have more time and money to spend on fitness. Pretty hard to stay fit or to even care about fitness if you are working 75 hours a week and raising a family, right? It makes sense. So, in my observations, I already know that what I'm seeing for travelers is already a biased sampling of the middle class and up only, and, therefore, they are more fit than the general population too.

In our traveling, among foreigners we saw a lot and I mean a lot of young people - college age or twenty-somethings - before kids, those who could afford to take a summer off. Many of them were backpackers going from spot to spot. Many slept in tents or stayed in youth hostels. Most traveled for the summer or at the minimum 4 weeks. Many traveled by themselves, but many traveled in groups of friends. This is the most economical way to travel as you cut your lodging expense down to about zero and with using trains and ferries between spots, you can get to a lot of destinations fairly cheaply. Most didn't stay in the same spot for more than a few days before moving on to another destination spot.

The family with kids and 30s/40s-somethings can't do hostels and backpacking it is difficult. Most stay in either hotels or vacation rentals. The savvy travelers and the more fit of that group will rent apartments for one third to one quarter the cost of a hotel stay. Families tend to stay in one spot - not changing their central location, but will take various local day trips. Depending on where they are from, they may stay for 2-4 weeks.

Then there is the older set who are traveling on their own. These are the people you will see most often in a tour group. Some travel by ship, like on a cruise. Some fly in and then travel on a tour bus city to city. Most of the time these groups only stay 1-2 days in a city. Sometimes they have free time in whatever city they are traveling too. Some have paid for tours for everything and of course, a mix of both. These groups either stay in hotels together or on their cruise ship. Everything was organized for them. All they had to do was pay for it, select which tours/events they wanted to do in addition, pay for those and then show up. All the rest was taken care of for them.

The fitness level tends to follow along with the type of traveler. The young backpackers? They are fit and thin and usually very good looking (why is that?). It makes sense as younger people tend to be thinner overall, but I think the type of person who would choose to travel by backpack, sleeping in tents or hostels is not the typical person. It's the self-selected group that tends to be more adventurous and more fit/outgoing in the first place. The idea of carrying a heavy pack and sleeping on the hard pack doesn't daunt the fit traveler. It sounds like fun. To an unfit young person? No way.

Next in line for fitness were those who rented apartments. They were willing to walk a bit more. Willing to do a bit more 'leg-work' literally with planning their trip and dealing with slight inconveniences as living in an apartment means going to a market to get food for breakfasts or going out to eat every morning - needing to walk there either way, unlike in a hotel.

Next in line for the fit - getting less fit, are those who booked in hotels. Why arethey less fit? Because hotels typically do more for you and the less fit are more likely to be willing to pay for the extra amenities like shuttling you to and from airport. Plus most hotels are close to all the local action which means less walking which also appears to the more unfit. The more fit traveler won't find those conviences worth the price, the unfit will.

Lastly, are the most unfit travelers who tend to be those who take cruises and tour groups. Now, these are generalizations, not that every person who travels on cruises and travel in tour groups are unfit, but... it fits the majority. This group of travelers want it all planned out for them and want all the conveniences. This also tends to be the oldest set of travelers.

So, that's what I observed. Younger were more fit and chose ways of travel that required more fitness. Older travelers were less fit and traveled in a way easier for the unfit.

What I didn't see in any of the three places we traveling to were truly older people. My mother in law was with us. She turned 77 during our trip and this trip was very, very difficult for her and it's probably the last time she'll do that kind of trip. From now on when she goes, she'll probably go visit a couple friends and stay put - not exploring different areas, but swimming at a local spot and resting at a single residence - a comfortable one.

Many of our day trips my mother in law was the oldest by at least 15 years. Rarely did I see anyone over the age of 60, especially foreign travelers and the ones I did see were very fit seniors.

In Dubrovnik there were a lot of tours going through from around the world. Every day there was a different cruise ship in the bay. They were in and out of that historic city which I felt deserved a two week stay - not a one day stay.

On the day that we walked the walls, without my mother in law as she knew she couldn't handle all the stairs,  we gave ourselves two hours to walk the 1.5 miles. We climbed every little stairway, taking it all in. It was hot, but it wasn't strenuous, really. During those 2 hours, several tours passed us by. The average age of the tour groups was about 50 and most were pudgy. No one was over the age of 60 and they looked like they were about to pass out. The tours stopped at each little fortress for people to go up and take a look, but no one in the groups stopped to go up the 20 to 30 stairs to get the best views. I heard a couple times people basically saying they just wanted to get down as soon as possible. They were barely able to do what they were doing physically, taxing themselves to their limits. The kids and young people on the walls? Going up and down with ease - no problems.

That same evening we took the tour of the walls in Dubrovnik, an older couple of about 70 passed us. They had shocking white hair on tanned, fit bodies. They were strolling down the street hand in hand, looking fabulous. I saw this same couple the next day coming back from an excursion to a little island with walking/hiking that we had also taken. They looked good, not frazzled and worn out.

I compared and contrasted that to my 77 year old mother in law who sat in the house the day we walked the walls because the walls were too strenuous and the air too hot. And while she went on the day trip with us, she skipped walking up to the mausoleum above the city to avoid the stairs (there were 187 of them). Just going up and down the 47 stairs to our apartment was almost too much for her.

I compared this fit older couple to the 50-somethings on the walls of Dubrovnik who were gasping for air with the steps they were taking.

I compared it to all the people I saw around me and saw the key.

Being fit is the key to living a good, long life. It didn't matter if you were thin or not. My mother in law was very thin her whole life. At 77 she has a bit of extra weight on her, but she's not fat. She's just very unfit and has been most of her life.  Of all the people I saw traveling, it wasn't their size that made them tired and worn out (though that was part of it, as fit people don't tend to be very heavy), it was their fitness level. It even affected how they traveled - costing more to travel as an unfit person than a fit one.

The age of the travelers were skewed so young because there are so few fit enough older people to do that kind of traveling. I looked and realized that if I didn't maintain my fitness (and keep working at being more fit), I wouldn't want to travel like that either - or even be able to. I realized that 18 months ago, I wouldn't have been able to climb on those walls, or climb that mountain.

I also know that I will be 53 when my youngest child graduates from high school. 57 (my husband 60) when my younger son graduates from college. I want to have an active life after the kids leave the nest! I want to travel with my husband, seeing all the places that I've dreamed about seeing. We can't afford to go to all those places as a family - heck it took us 6 years to get to Croatia this time! But if I don't take care of myself, I won't be able to do all the things I want to do and see all the things I want to see.

The only older travelers I saw (those over 60) outside of sitting on a beach, were the fit. If that isn't an eye opener, I don't know what is. Don't we all dream of traveling when our kids grow up and we can afford it? Well, for most of us, we get too fat and lazy to do it and the best we can do is a cruise that drives us by sites, basically. Sorry, that is not traveling to the fullest. You miss so much.

All that did for me was to make me realize how extremely important it is to stay fit. To hell with staying skinny. Skinny means so little. What good is skinny fat at age 70? Fitness is the key to enjoying a fuller, older life.

Highest weight: 275  Now: 178.8

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

2nd Vacation Observation - How Europeans look

I've been to Croatia several times - 1995, 1998, 2002 and 2006 and now in 2012. We were at the beach in 1998, 2002 and now in 2012. So, it's been 10 years since I've been to a European beach.

The last times I went, I felt humongous (and well, I was - as the last time I went I was 275 pounds!), but it was more extreme than it would be in the United States. In the US you would find other heavy people out and about. In Croatia? None except for older people, and even then, they weren't HUGE.

So, I was surprised this time. While, in general, they were still thinner as a whole than Americans, it wasn't by a heck of a lot. Croatians are getting fatter too! And it's easy to see/evaluate at the beach as people are nearly naked. The only one pieces on the entire beach were typically Americans - and in Biograd that meant only me! In other stops, again, only bikinis, even the Americans. I'm way too 'ruined' from weight gain and loss to ever be able to don a bikini without cosmetic surgery. It became obvious that at least for NOW the travelers and Europeans hadn't done the weight gain and loss like I had- in middle age, especially.

In our first beach stop, Biograd, it's a touristy area, but not from other areas of the world - mostly it's a Croatian destination point for Croatians who want to get to the sea. It's not so far from major cities, easily connected by good highways and not as well known to outsiders. So, I wasn't seeing fat Germans, Italians, Americans, etc. These were Croats - and since I was on the beach with them, I could hear they were Croats.

Interestingly, more men had weight problems than women. I saw very, very few men over the age of 30 without some added fluff and even younger men were often 'fluffy'.

Single women, women before kids were more likely to be trim, but most moms in Biograd were a bit fluffy. Again, surprising. And still many younger women looked a bit too jiggly as well. And then kids - lots of chubby kids. Not as many in the US, but the last time I went, I didn't see any chubby children. Now the beach was full of them. Even if the parents were slim, their kids were not. It was shocking, actually, that I was about average on the beach. In previous trips I still would have been one of the biggest. Things are changing!

Then we went to Mljet. Mljet is an island, so it's not as easy to get too, it's more expensive, and it's known as a popular destination for tourists from other nations as well. While there, there were people from all over the place - Europe, the Americas and some Asian, though mostly Americans, Brits, Australians and Germans if they weren't Croatians. This island has a large national park and is good for swimming, hiking and biking. The Body Mass Index on this island was much lower. More fit tourists came here to not just laze on the beach, but to do things  - to be active. The couple of times we went to a public beach, I was definitely one of the biggest - and one of the most unfit, but not as much as I would have been in years past. Basically, I became more aware of the more work I need to do and that my loose skin is more noticeable than I care to admit. I will see people around me here in the US that are jiggly, or have loose skin, but the people at this beach were trim and fit and probably have been their entire lives. What it wanted me to do was not hide but to reevaluate where I wanted to be for an end goal for fitness and weight. I'm pushing for 155 again and for sure a 25% body fat or lower. We'll see as I get closer. Right now, with time off for vacation, injury and gardening/walking instead of the gym, I've softened up!

Last stop was Dubrovnik. A world destination stop. People were from all over the world. We heard languages from all over the world and again, the BMI went up. We saw thin people - gorgeous people and quite heavy people - and not just Americans - Finnish, Germans, Italians, Croatians, French, Americans, Australians, etc. The only non-heavy people I saw were the few from Asia - India and Japan. The world is changing! We are getting fat as soon as we modernize!

I'll talk more on fitness tomorrow, but it's sad, really to see young, dating people out in the evening and so many of them with a bit of flab. To see kids with flab. This didn't used to be this way and it's changing very quickly.

Highest weight - 275  Now - 179.4

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Observations from vacation - types of food

I am going to break down various observations I made over vacation every day this week - all related to diet or fitness in myself or others. I will start with the most ego centric - observations about myself.

I really, really think it's key to look at ourselves - our tendencies, our strengths, our weaknesses, how things affect us physically and emotionally - for all things so that we can constantly learn and improve ourselves.

So, I observed how foods affect me.

During our stay, we stayed one day in Zagreb, 7 days in Biograd, 10 days on Mljet, and 6 days in Dubrovnik. We also spent about 3 days in travel - two on the plane and one on a bus. All of these places, save Zagreb, were on the sea in dry climates. Primary diet is meat, potatoes and bread. Very little green and bread is a huge staple.

In Biograd we stayed in an apartment where we could cook. In the morning we got bread and cheese for breakfast. For lunch we made a salad of tomatoes and green peppers and cheese (served with bread) and for dinner we either went out or made a meal at home of meat, eggs and the same type of salad. But... we also ate a few cookies and ice cream in the evening, every evening - mmmm gelato!

Then we went to Mljet. ARGH!!! At this place, we had an apartment within the National Park of Mljet. We were 1.5 miles from the little village and we were in a single residence. For breakfasts we opted to have our own - we walked into the village 4 times during the 10 days to buy juice, cheese, cookies, milk and other little things for breakfast and snacks. 3 times during our stay a vegetable guy came to the house and we bought stuff for lunches and fruit for snacks. And every day the bakery guy came to the house and we bought bread and pastries for snacks and breakfast. For dinners, we ate at the home of the family and she prepared a meal - family style. This was tough as we only had what she gave us and most nights it wasn't enough for the 4 of us (little guy pretty much didn't eat with us) and if it was, it wasn't tasty. This meant, of course, a lot more snacking before and after dinner to get enough food.

During these ten days, we had almost no greens as none were available. We had super over cooked zucchini a couple times during dinner, but otherwise it was tomatoes. We filled up on potatoes, bread, pastries and butter cookies basically.

Then we went to Dubrovnik. We had breakfast at home (same bread and cheese and fruit breakfasts). Then we packed rolls and pastries and cheese for lunches on the go and then had dinner out every night. Most days we got an ice cream midday and always, more butter cookies for snacking when there was nothing else.

There was really no easy way to avoid eating  a lot of carbs on this trip - without major refrigeration issues or meat overload. I get a lot of protein at home, but from nuts primarily - not a big option there. I ate more bread in those 26 days than I have all together in 20 months. Probably triple the amount of bread as I have basically gone without bread except for a party here and there for 20 months. And cookies and pastries? I haven't had those much either. Ice cream? Lots of carbs.

All the while, I enjoyed the flavors, but I watched my waistline expand. I hold so much glycogen when I eat carbs. My gut expands a couple inches quickly. All my shorts were beginning to feel tight. Not in the hips, but in the waist.

Then, my face started to break out. I haven't had pimple problems since I switched to a lower carb diet. My face went from a fairly even skin with 'normal' amount of oil, to an oily mess with pimples popping up everywhere like I was a teenager again. Who knew it would be carbs that did that to me?

Then, my digestion. When I eat a lower carb diet, I only need to go poo every 3-5 days. I am not constipated. Definition of constipation is not how frequently you go, but how difficult it is to go when you go. When I eat higher carb, I go daily and I go a LOT. It's like the carbs mostly don't get absorbed and pass through my system quickly. When I eat lower carb, I process things more - kind of like a breastfed baby that is past the newborn phase and before the food stage where they may only poo once or twice a week.

So, what I've learned is that I don't handle carbs well - that's grains basically. Some might call it gluten intolerance with the new fad, but it's not just the flour... as rice and sugars and oats also affect me the same way. It's the simple carbs period. My body just sees all of it as junk food.

When I eat a high protein and high fat diet with limitations on carbs, I feel good and my body feels and looks good. So, back to lower carb I go. Since back I've eaten NO bread (on day 3 now) and have turned back to almonds and peanuts for protein as well as yogurt. For fats, again, less on meat and cheese and more on nuts and avocado and olive oil.

I eat carbs, please NO ONE think I'm doing some fad diet of eating just fatty meats. I'm not. For breakfast the last two days I hate cantaloupe with yogurt a bit of oatmeal (yes grains, but not much). For  second breakfast I ate a peanut protein bar. For lunch I ate an apple with cinnamon with 3 tablespoons of peanut butter. For a snack I ate a handful of almonds and sunflower kernels. For dinner I ate tomato, orange pepper and romaine lettuce salad with olive oil and vinegar and had a pork cutlet and for a snack, a small square of dark chocolate. For the day I had 1500 calories with 55 net carbs. It's not a bacon diet! Though, yum bacon!

Weight is still dropping too. Water weight is coming off and I figure will continue to come off slowly. I think my body is trying to ovulate this month too, so there's weight there too. We'll see with that one. Other than that, one day at a time with better eating for me - eating that my body prefers - lots of green veggies, nuts, fruits and meats. Tastes good too! Right now the idea of eating bread makes me feel icky.

Highest weight: 275  Now: 180.4

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back from vacation!

And I have so many things to say, but they are all disjointed - thoughts on food, diet, noticing others' eating and fitness habits, etc. Let's hope I can remember them all eventually, as of course, I didn't write anything down as a reminder! That would take too much planning, right?

But... I'm back. it was a good vacation. A very good vacation. We saw a lot, did a lot and relaxed. My husband said this morning, and it's true. It's the first time in years that we have been able to recharge our batteries. For the last several years it's been working on fixing up our homes, moving, dealing with family, etc. But 3.5 weeks of getting away from the daily rigidity and enjoying life (for the most part) is what we needed. It was way overdue, but at least it finally happened!

We arrived home late Saturday night after traveling 17 hours. We were exhausted, and the little guy and my mother in law went to bed almost immediately (old people really do have similar schedules to young children), but I knew if I didn't get to the grocery store, we would have nothing in the morning. So, at what my body felt was 4:30 am (really 10:30 pm), I went to the grocery store for milk, juice, bread, yogurt and fruit.

We got a good night of sleep and spent all of yesterday getting back to normal. Well, I did and my mother-in-law did. I did 4 loads of laundry, went for major grocery shopping, cooked, talked with our neighbor who watched our cats/yard for us, cooked dinner, did dishes, caught up on emails for work and home, and did a walk-through of the yard to see what's making it and croaking in the yard while we were away. And, I'm proud to say, I jumped right back in to what I needed to do to get back on plan for eating and fitness.

I've dealt with this for long enough to know what works for me with kick starting weight loss. Eating to calm the "hungries" and so on. I need to return to low carb. I also braved the scale yesterday. I knew it was going to be high as a. my clothes were fitting snugger. b. I hadn't been watching what I was eating and I was eating WAY more than the 1500 that keeps me at a stable weight with little exercise.

 My worst guesstimate was 185, but I figured it would be more like 180. It was 169.6 before I left for vacation. A ten pound weight gain seemed 'probable' if it played out like similar times I've been off track for a month. And yesterday, it read 184.0. I was HOPING it was high from traveling. Today it was 181.0 and I'm pretty sure it will drop a bit more from water weight as I can feel my shoes are tight on my feet.

But even still a 10 pound weight gain in 26 days means that I ate on average an additional 1350 calories a day. And it's not like I was inactive either - we were swimming about half the days, walking/hiking on other days. Really, eating on average 1350 extra calories a day? Kind of scary how fast the weight can pile on. BUT, what's different is that I knew that I would have to buckle down and that I knew that this is normal.

No one and I mean NO ONE stays at a super stable weight year round. We all go up and down a few pounds. My fluctuations are just a bit more drastic due to so many things. One, I have to continually battle over-eating tendencies, and I probably have a slow/low metabolism, and three, I tend to hold a lot of water weight for a variety of reasons.

Most of that I can't control, but I can control how I react to weight gain. I just need to do what I know works. So, yesterday I ate about 1400 calories of GOOD food and took a walk. Today I'll eat about 1500 calories and take a longer walk. Tomorrow I'm taking a gym class and will eat well again and little by little the weight will come off as it did before. I can't sweat it. I enjoyed vacation and now I need to buckle down to work off the excesses!

Highest weight: 275 Now: 181.0

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Many months of doctors not believing me, well...

I was right.  I started taking thyroid meds and blood pressure medicine in December 2010. Within a month, like a switch, I went from having a normal, healthy sexual response, to being mostly anorgasmic. I waited on it with talking to my doctor. My body was so messed up with the thyroid, that who knew what was causing what. Maybe it would sort itself out when I got everything regulated. But, my numbers got about right (a bit over 3, down from 50 something) . I knew they could get lower, but to be almost anorgasmic still?  Maybe it was the blood pressure medicine?Then, I got my blood pressure under control by diet and exercise and was off those meds... Still the same problem.  I finally mentioned it to my doctor about 9 months after it started. His response was, "things take time. Your body has to readjust".

A few months later and my thyroid was out of whack again. They upped my meds.  Now I was completely anorgasmic. I talked to my doctor about switching meds. He didn't see the point. Excuse me? How would he feel if he all of a sudden could get aroused, but not climax during sex? This same doctor didn't think my levels were off. He  was fine with them hanging around 3.5 when I knew that most endocrinologists liked it closer to 1.0. So, I made an appointment with the endocrinologist.

When I got to the endocrinologist (I about cried when I was told there was a 4 month wait list to get in unless there was a cancellation, but lucked out at a 3 week wait only when I got a call for an opening), the doctor saw my numbers and wanted to get them lower. She increased my dosage again, for the 4th time. I told her of my problem and she had never heard of that problem before.  Maybe it was just menopause? She wouldn't believe me when I said I thought it was the thyroid medicine. I explained that it happened like a switch. One day I could climax, the next I couldn't.  For a few months I could only around ovulation, but soon, not at all.

She thought it was coincidental. She only gave me the name brand synthroid versus the generic because I wanted to try something different to maybe puzzle out WHAT was causing it. I knew it was just a shot in the dark. Maybe it wasn't the generic, but something in the main drug of synthroid and it wouldnt improve. Maybe I needed to get to a natural dessicated thryoid hormone. Maybe anything not produced by my body would cause this problem. All I knew was that I had to try something and that I knew it had to do with something with the thyroid medication. I just didnt know what about it was causing it. I needed to try evereything I could to try to figure it out as the idea of living the rest of my life unable to enjoy sex fully was not appealing. I was struggling with it and so was my husband.

So, she switched them for me to Synthroid versus the generic brand.  I would get checked again in 3 months.  So, starting about 4 weeks ago, I started getting hot flashes. What was that? menopause? Wrong dosage? And then I didn't have a period this past month. What was that? Thyroid? meds? menopause? Argh...

But, once, just before we left for vacation, I climaxed during sex.  The first time in over a year. Was it a fluke? Was it just overdue? I would still sometimes have night/sleep orgasms like I always have gotten - about once a month. Imagine how frustrating that was? To be awoken by orgasming in my sleep, but not able to orgasm during coupling or even masturbation?

Then it happened again, then again. In Less than one month I had reached orgasm during sex 3 times. More than I had all together in the last 20 months. 20 months!! I've been on this name brand versus generic about 8 weeks. I got worried that my assumption was wrong when after a month nothing had changed, but these things take time. I was just lucky it was that easy to figure out. A simple switch from generic to name brand. One of the inactive ingredients in the generic, and not in the name brand, was the culprit.

And it's not just the climaxing that had changed.  The entire sensation/feeling of sex had changed, I realize now. It wasn't so much that I couldn't climax, but that I had lost too much sensitivity. Like, I was having sex through a cotton blanket. I just didn't feel enough to get to the point of being able to orgasm.  I could get excited, toe curling excited, but not enough to reach orgasm, no matter what.  Now, from the beginning, I feel like the cotton blanket has been removed and I FEEL things the way I should - the way I remember. I feel like a young woman again who has just discovered sex. I cannot believe I was missing out for 20 months!!! And almost like a switch it happened again... From not orgasming, to getting back to what it was before. Which is orgasming mostof the time. Yay!

Why do I share? Because I can hardly believe that I'm the only woman in history on this drug to have had this problem. There is some Ingredient in the generic, I'm now convinced of it, that deadened my sexual sensations. Maybe this will help some other woman who finds my blog so that she doesn't have to wait 20 months of puzzling it out, or worse,  nevere figuring it out and living the rest of her life orgasmless. Yikes!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

We climbed a mountain yesterday

Like most days on this island, we spent the morning breakfasting, lazing around, going down to the private beach and then lunching.  In the cooler hours, we have been trying to plan little trips around the island.  Last night we decided to climb a mountain, the highest point on this island for a great panoramic view. We climbed Montokuc (moan toe kootz). We took a lot of fabulous photos, but it's difficult to show them while they reside on my son's laptop.  I'll create a slideshow when we get back from our trip.  The link above shows photos others have taken on Montokuc and it really does look that amazing.

We could have walked from where we are staying to the mountain, but that would have added another 4 miles to the walk which is asking a bit much of our 7 year old. As it was, it was 4.5 miles with half of it climbing up the mountain, zigzagging along. So, one of the people at the house took us across the lake in their fishing boat to the nearest dock.  That was about a mile walk from the mountain. Then it was another mile or a bit more winding up the mountain side.  First it was a wide gravel road for walkers and bicyclists.  Then the remaining .4 mile was a path crisscrossing up to the summit.

The entire walk, from the beginning, our 7 year old was saying he was exhausted (we knew he wasn't) then he kept saying he didn't want to go to the top as it was too scary.  We weren't sure how the last bit of the climb would be. The locals here said it was quite a trek and a little difficult, but I saw that it was an easy climb going up slowly as it wound through the woods. A typical footpath we had been walking elsewhere with no problem.  The choice was either to stay at the bottom with Henry while my husband and older son went up to take photos and hope ther was enough daylight for me to go up too when we switched places, or we all go up. We all went up.

Then my youngest started to get excited about going to the top. We were on an adventure. He walked behind me the entire way up while holding my arm/hand I had behind my back with my husband right behind him.  On then last few feet was stepping over bare rock (tree line stopped) and it was still carefully laid out for safety.  At the top, there're was a ranger's hut with a bench for him to sit on and look around.

We got there just before sunset, so the views were spectacular, but that also meant we couldn't lolligag. We had to make our way back down.  The first part he went ahead of me with holding my hand, the bottom half, he was more sure of himself and walked without holding my hand.  When we got to the gravel road, I had to hold his hand again just to speed him up as now he ally was tired.  It was another 2 miles of waing to meet the boat.  We met the boat Justin time and got back just as dinner was being served. Perfect timing.

This is something I wouldn't have been able to do 18 months ago. Or maybe I could have done it, but would have been exhausted. Most likely, I would have decided not to climb to the summit and would have volunteered to stay down with the youngest, robbing us both of the breathtaking views. But now?  I wasn,t winded or tired.  I could have gone up and down that path 2 more times easily.  This was at the end of the day, after. Couple hours of swimming where I also swam about a half kilometer taking in the views underwater. I didn't fall into bed exhausted either. I felt great, like I finally had a chance to stretch my legs.

While we were heading to the mountain, we met a grandmother and grandfather with their grandkids.  They had to have been in their mid 60’s, but they were fit, both of them.  I want that to be my husband and me.  I want us to be in good condition after our kids are grown so that we can take more adventurous vacations together - not lazy cruises or bus trips  that all we do is take motorized tours. I want to get out and enjoy it by going into it by foot. And with us being 35 and 38 when our youngest was born, it's going to be awhile until we are empty nesters (53 and 56 just when the youngest gets through high school)!

So, it was a good day. A very good day.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How we all need to find our thing for exercise

It's been interesting this vacation to see how my husband and I differ in what we prefer to do for exercise.  He loves to swim. In the swimming pool he swims laps- lots of them.  Like a mile of laps.  He says that it gives him a chance to concentrate on what he is doing. He can concentrate on micro-fixing parts of his form (he's following Total Immersion founded by Terry Laughlin).

Now here at the sea, he takes long swims along the outline of the salt water lake or up and down the coast.  The other day he did 65 minutes and about 1.5 miles. I have done some swimming.  I'm a good swimmer, but I cannot stand the monotony of swimming laps. Open water isn't much better.  It is good exeercise, and I know it, but I find it boring.  Mostly because I'm stuck with not seeing much and having just my thoughts to keep me going. It's too easy for me to say, "that's enough".

I like to walk and walk fast.  I don't change my pace going uphill.  I make it a challenge to see if I can keep the same pace.  I like that we have a walk of 1.5 miles to the little village.  About a half mile of  it is going up and down stone steps, two at a time and then a patch of sloping stone pathway.  On the way back we are carrying packs filled with juice, milk, wine and fruit, but I don't mind.  I go quickly and feel energized by the brisk walk.  We could ask someone from the house to drive us to the village to buy th supplies, but I would prefer to hoof it and volunteer to go each time and was a bit unhappy the one time I couldn't go.

Today we did that walk and then also walked to the boat dock and back and then hiked around the monastery on Mljet. We walked about 5 miles. I loved it.  I love seeing all the things outside. I love discovering the little things like how trees weave their roots around boulders, how they, over time, break down the rock and so on.  I love looking at the birds Nd the butterflies while I walk. Walking, for me, will be a form of exercise for me forever. I love it.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Taking a sort of break might have been just what I needed

My weight loss has stalled the last couple of months.  I even gained a wee bit (but just a wee bit).  I was burned out, I realize now. Burned out with counting every calorie, fitting in planned exercise every day and burned out with thinking about weight loss nonstop.  This vacation has helped me a lot.  I have had a break from it.  I am not eating like crazy and we are walking and swimming every day. So much so that my husband is losing weight we think.  I'm not pigging out. I'm not throwing in the towel or even binging.  I'm just relaxing a bit and not worrying about it.  With that, I'm beginning to look forward to the gym again.  I'm beginning to look forward to a stricter regime with eating to get this last bit of weight off too.

Here at the beach, I see so many fit women in their 40s and 50s and unfit ones too.  I want to look like one of the fit ones!  And I'm not quite where I want to be yet, but it's attainable, so I just want to get there and with this mini break, I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the last little bit.

When I started the total weight loss seemed so formidable. Now this last little bit seems attainable and I desire attaining it.  I know I'll never look like the thin women I see as I have all this loose skin, but I can get closer.  My goal is to get there by the end of this calendar year.  I want to get to 160 for sure and I think I still want to try for 155, but in the fall, late fall, I will do a body fat percentage test and see what I need to do to be in the desired fat percentage, under 25%. That is what I really want.  The number on the scale is irrelevant.  It's the fitness level I want.