Thursday, January 31, 2013

Some wise words

Yesterday on a weight loss forum, someone posted this:
I've put my life on hold because I can no longer get along with myself. In a last ditch effort to make myself worthy of myself, I hit the gym, hard. I've lost 50 lb in 5 months which is something I'm proud of but not necessarily happy about. I want more, I need more, I can't celebrate 50 lb when I have 50 more to go. Sometimes I fear enough will not be enough, I fear I'll always remain lost. Have any of you reached a goal and still felt unaffected? Do any of you fear this happening to you once you reach your destination?

And it got this wonderful reply:
You only have one body, and nobody ever hated themselves to health. Give yourself a break and be realistic - YES, you still have a ways to go. But the remaining distance does nothing to diminish the importance of the road already traveled. Quite frankly, if you never lost another pound but kept off those 50 you'd be doing an incredible and laudable feat that few dieters ever manage.  
Consistence, determination, and a willingness to never get frustrated to the point of quitting are what is required to not only lose the weight but keep it off.  
Self loathing, crash diets, or alternating between either diet perfection or complete abandon are NOT the recipe for success. 
I say this because your upset and inability to celebrate a huge achievement like losing 50 pounds throws up a big red flag in my mind. If you never lose the last 10 pounds, will you become so disgusted with yourself that you regain the other 90? If all you can manage for six months is another three pounds lost will that be failure in your mind? Keep it in perspective - losing is incredible, simply not GAINING is as good or better, given that most people are putting on extra weight every year. 
Losing weight is important, but please don't pin your self image and definition of success on a number. That way lies regain and self loathing for far too many of us.  
Your success hinges not on losing that other 50, but on permanently redefining how you look at food and your own body. If those things don't change permanently and for the better, what does the weight lost matter? Most people can lose weight, few can do it and keep it off, and the difference between them is often as simple as who is most patient, forgiving, and determined with their bodies and choices. 
Which one do you want to be? The choice is yours, and it all begins with the proper mindset.

I've read a lot of things from people who are losing weight or want to lose weight or have lost weight and I've read lots of wonderful things right alongside lots of coo-coo things, but this response is probably the best post I have ever read about losing weight and maintaining weight loss. It is so well said and I'm glad that I've gotten to know the author of that post a wee bit and hope I know her for a long time - such a positive force!

I know that's the mindset I hope to have and maintain. I could have been all "Man, I regained 30 pounds!"  No.... I thought this, "I can stop this. I know better and can do better. It's only 30 pounds and you took it off once, you can take it off again and you can learn from this so it doesn't happen again."

And I hope I can learn from it. I learned that: a. lack of sleep is extremely detrimental. I knew it, but I 'forgot' it.  b. sugars are bad, bad, bad for me. If I eat them, I want them and can't resist them. I simply cannot take a week or two off and hope to be able to jump right back in. Those sugar cravings are akin to an alcoholic's addition to alcohol. 

I am proud of the success that I had and continue to have. As of this morning I weigh 187 pounds. I used to weigh 275 pounds. Yes, I have 28 more pounds to get to my goal, but look how far I have come? Look how much I have accomplished? That is awesome!!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Where has my waist gone?

I used to have a very nice hour-shaped figure. Even when I was fat, I had the right proportions. I just called it a 12 hour glass versus an hour glass.  But now that I'm 43? Where has the shape gone?

My measurements as of January 5th were this:

Bust: 41
Waist: 35
Hip: 43

That is only a 6 inch difference between bust and waist and almost all that difference is in boob size as I have large breasts.

The hip measurement is the lower hip, so across the buttocks. And it is only an 8 inch difference. I look pretty straight when I look at myself in the mirror.

When I got to my thinnest weight so far on this journey (around 165), my measurements were:

Bust: 39.5
Waist: 30.5
Hip: 40.5

Almost a 10" difference.

So, see where I gained most of the weight this fall/winter? I gained it mostly in the gut. Waist went up 4.5 inches while the bust went up 1.5 and hips went up 2.5.

Now that I'm losing again, I can tell I'm losing the spare tire (again), but even when it goes down, it's still not as sharp of a waistline that I had as a teen.

When I was 15, my measurements were 35-24-36. My body was still growing after that point and I never took measurements later - or don't remember them, so who knows what they were as a fully developed teen. But you can see there was a much bigger difference in waist to hip way back then.

Last year too I tried on a skirt that for some reason I still have from HS. I was the same weight that I was in HS when I wore that skirt, however, I wasn't even close to being able to close it at the waist! My waist is much, much bigger than when I was a teen, even when I was fitter at 42!

WHY??? I see it. I have eyes. Most older women have no waist. Especially those that are overweight, but why is that? I know it has to do with menopause, but I wanted to know more.

Well, I was just stumbling across some articles. This one sums it up fairly well:

All things menopause are against me! I wonder how much worse it will get as I go from perimenopause to menopause?

Being fit will help, but I don't think it can stop it. I can keep things from getting too saggy and loose by building muscle, but I can't change my hormone levels!

Now I'm wondering if a under 30 inch waist is attainable and if it is attainable, will I be able to keep it that way? I guess I can only try, right?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why don't they teach you to do things in gym?

Gym sucked for me as a kid. I cannot even blame one school system or one gym teacher. They were all the same wherever we lived. I went to 3 grade schools, two junior highs and one high school.  We would play these games and test on things, but we were rarely taught how to do anything. We were just expected to know how to do it.

Also, every one of these schools we had to fitness tests. Those wonderful Presidential Fitness Tests. Man, how I hated them. They would be sprung on us from out of the blue. Situps, pushups, flex-arm hang (for girls), rope climbing, 12 minute run or one mile run - depending on the school, and a flexibility test on a box. I might be missing some. I cannot remember. I was so glad that in high school that all stopped. Basically in high school all we did was play volleyball or indoor softball with that super huge softball. At least we were moving and we weren't graded on our physical abilities.

The worst for me was junior high, 7-9th grade. I sucked at most things in the gym. The only units I wouldn't get a just barely passing mark was swimming  and social dance where I would get an A. For volleyball I would get a B. In gymastics - D, Fitness tests - overall D. Basketball - C. My average grade in gym 7-9th grade was a C/D. Pathetic and it made me feel awful about myself.

In gym we were graded on what skills we could do. So, since I took years of swimming lessons, I could do well in swimming as I was one of the best swimmers. I wasn't a fast swimmer, but I was a competent swimmer. Social dance was a joke and as long as you could move, you would get a good mark. Thank goodness for that. I did learn a few things in Volleyball, but could have learned more. I was absolutely pathetic in the rest. My gut would sink when we had fitness tests and gymastics especially.

I mean seriously, who can do gymastics if they've never done them before? We would get an A for being able to do certain advanced skills, but no one TAUGHT us how to go about doing those skills. We would rotate from station to station and just try to do the things they told us to do. Sometimes a peer would try to show us how to do something, but how well can a 13 year old teach another 13 year old?

But the worst of all were the physical fitness tests. They were the worst because not only did we get  graded on them, they weren't very anonymous and if you didn't do well on them, you really felt like a fat, lazy, slob.

This is how it went for me. Keep in mind that this was 30 years ago and I still remember the tests and how I did on them. Left a lasting impression of my ineptitude, wouldn't you say? The only thing I was good at was pushups and I have no idea why I could do those and nothing else:

Running - D (as I couldn't run a mile in 12 minutes)
Pushups - A (being able to do 50 girly pushups was an A)
Situps - D (I don't remember the number, but I think you needed to do 100 in a given time frame. I could do 60.)
Flex-arm Hang - D (I couldn't hold myself up nearly at all.)
Rope Climb - D (I couldn't pull myself up even an inch.)
Flexibility Box - D (You needed to be able to touch your toes to get a C - even at age 13 I couldn't touch my toes).

Now, I wasn't a heavy 13-15 year old. I was just not physical fit. I wasn't in any sports. I didn't 'do' anything outside of gym. I wasn't from a physical fit and active family. So, how could I be strong and athletic? And I wasn't alone. There were a lot of kids like me - especially girls.

But the bigger question was - we had gym every other day all school year long for 50 minutes. Let's say 35 of those minutes were actually time in the gym doing something. Why didn't I get more fit? What were we doing that allowed me to stay so unfit?

And why didn't a gym teacher ever talk about pacing yourself when running and what they meant and how to go about it? They would just say, "Run around the gym 5 times." What is the point of gym if it wasn't to learn new skills?

I wasn't trying to get out of doing active things in gym. They were just hard for me and being an early teen I was very self conscious of the fact that I sucked in all things sports-like. I would just try to be inconspicuous.

I asked the teachers then as I ask now, "Why did they grade on what skills you could do?" Wouldn't it be better to grade on improvement of skills? Wouldn't that have taught me the power I have in myself to improve my fitness instead of showing me that I sucked at sports/fitness?

Even with this Biggest Winner event I'm doing with the fitness centers, we take these tests and at the end we take them all again to compare - so we can SEE how we have improved and hopefully it will push us to keep trying to improve.

How great would it have been if one single gym teacher in 13 years of gym would have taught me to enjoy doing physical things? Where would I have been if one teacher would have taught me that I too could run? or taught me that progress is the most important? That anyone could get an A on the physical fitness tests if they were just given the means and the time to learn those skills? All I got was a teacher that just thought I was pathetic - you could see it in their faces. As well, they couldn't "get" me. They were athletes and probably naturally athletically inclined. They didn't know how to break it down to the basics as they never needed to have it broken down that completely.

So, one thing we are trying to teach our kids as they too are not natural athletes, is that being active is just a part of life. You don't need to be fast or the best at it to be beneficial. Movement is for health, not for getting an award or for winning. And if it means breaking it down into minute steps (which it does for both my kids - especially the oldest), then so be it. He's learning and that's more than I ever got.

It wasn't until I was married and I was trying to run with my husband that I learned about pacing. He told me quite simply, "If you can't talk while you are running, then you are running too fast. SLOW DOWN." And voila - all of a sudden I could run farther than I ever ran before with those simple words only. How hard would it have been for a teacher to say that? but they never did. I thought I needed to run as fast as the good runners. All that led to was me needing to stop - panting and feeling pathetic. Shaking my head at the way things were done and wishing I could undo them.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Two ways of looking at things

Every other week there is a fitness challenge for the The Biggest Winner. The first was the squat challenge and today was the 1 mile treadmill test.

I am not a runner. I fast walk, I do step aerobics and zumba and other aerobics, but I do not run. The biggest reason for that is that I have bladder issues as I've stated before. Two enormous babies (10 lbs 9 ozs and 11 lbs 14 ozs) have destroyed the super muscle control needs of high impact exercise. For most things, I can modify movements to keep leakage to a minimum, but not running.

So, today I went prepared with my Depends pad on. Yep. I did. I did a 5 minute warm up and then I reset the machine and started running. I ran the first half mile at 5.8 mile per hour pace. My heart rate was pounding at 169 which is HIGH for me. I then dropped it down to 4.5 miles per hour for a fast walk and did that for a quarter mile and my heart rate slowly came down to 158 - still high. I then cranked it back up to 5.8 miles per hour to finish the last quarter mile, but had to slow it first to 5.5 mph and then to 5.3 mph to keep running. In the end, I had a 11:25 minute mile. And yes, my Depends pad was very useful.

11:25. I know that is not a great pace, but for a non-runner who is 30 pounds overweight, I can't be unhappy about it.  I could look at it as: "Man, that is so slow. 11:25 after working out all this time and losing weight? And I couldn't even run for that full mile, but had to stop and walk?  I am pathetic."

But I'm not going to look at it that way. I'm going to look at it as a victory. I just mostly ran a mile. I am not a runner and never have been a runner. I am still also working to get my cardio level back to where it was. I can only see improvements from here on out. But you know what else? When I was 13, 14 and 15 and we had to do a 12 minute walk/run for a grade, I couldn't get a mile in under 12 minutes. I got a D for a grade every year. And at most I could run 2/3s of a time around a track before getting side splitting stitches. I had no idea about pace. I was all or nothing. It was my husband who taught me about pace years later that finally allowed me to run.

The one time I tried to run years and years ago (before kids), it used to give me terrible pains in the legs - not any more. My legs are stronger. I can run pain free.

So, at 43 I can run/walk a 11:25 minute mile. That is better than I have ever been able to do it in my life - better than at 13, 14 and 15. Doesn't that say a lot more than the actual time posted? I think it does!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Funny things that happen when you lose weight.

Three things have happened in the last 36 hours that make me realize the comical side of losing weight. At least I choose to see it in a funny way.

First yesterday. Yesterday the family was going to go to one of the fairly local ski/snowboard resort. I was going as the pack mule as I don't ski or snowboard (yet). I had stayed up late the night before getting stuff ready and got up early the morning of to get stuff ready. All was good. I didn't forget anything and we were well prepared. Well, there were a couple of glitches.

Here's the story. I knew I was going to be standing outside for at least 4 hours yesterday in the below freezing temperatures. I haven't been to the ski place since I lost a lot of weight, but I thought I was set. First, "uh-oh" happened when I went to get a warm coat. My day to day coat for this area is a lighter weight down jacket. It doesn't cover my bum and it's not overly warm. I had already gotten rid of my 2X down coat the year before as I could wrap two of me in it, but in the closet I had stored a Men's XL down coat I bought when we lived in Chicago. I rarely use it as I rarely need it here. I had gotten too big for it when we moved to Ontario, which is why I needed to buy the 2X down coat.

Well, this one might be smaller than the 2X coat, but I still swim in it! The sleeves cover my fingers, and I can wrap the coat around me 1.5 times almost. It has a waist cinch, but the waist now hits me on the hips, so to get it on my waist, I have to hoist it up, making a bubble top. I can cinch the bottom too, but each of those cords is now 15-18" long. I looked like a big green marshmallow blob.

Next problem I had was that I couldn't fit into the snow pants I bought end of season last year. Well, I could fit into them if I got on the bed and fastened and zipped them that way - not the way you want to wear snowpants. I was 25 lbs lighter than I am now when I bought them, so they are too small. There's motivation for me right there to lose the weight I put on (again). And wouldn't that have been a lovely combo - skin tight snow pants and a huge bubbly coat over top.

So, I couldn't wear the snow pants. I'm now rushing to get out the door as my son has a lesson schedule that we couldn't be late for. I reach into my armoire and pull out a pair of cuddle duds and a pair of corduroy pants. I know the cords are a little big, but with cuddle duds, I should be OK. Well, I was not OK. These size 12 pants were fitting only slightly loose a few weeks ago, but now they are quite lose (like I can move the fly in 2-3" at the waistband kind of too loose). So all day I went around with my huge bubble coat and every once in awhile I would have to hoist my pants up before they dropped to my knees. When I had to go to the bathroom I didn't have to undo the fly. What I would have done for a belt!

Then today. Today I was teaching Sunday School, I get dressed a little nicer on Sundays and all was good. I decided on my wool dress and tights and off I went to Virginia.

While I was there, I had to go to the bathroom and while in the bathroom I realize that I have put my underwear on sideways. Sideways? Well, this is the deal. When you lose weight you drop underwear sizes. My very big underwear are long gone, but I have some in two sizes. One are a little big and then I have some two sizes smaller and they are  a little tight. I was wearing the pair that are a little big. What I had done was put on leg in the waist hole, one in a leg hole and then pulled them up so that a leg hole was now a 'new' waist hole. That could only happen on a pair of underwear that are too big!

I just had to laugh. All these things you don't think about when you lose weight. We know and look forward to replacing our large sized jeans and tops and dresses, but we don't give much thought to the underwear, the pajamas, the winter coats and even the shoes that most likely will need to be replaced.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Amazed at how the scale can just hold still

Today is day 50,000 that the scale has read between 189.4 and 189.8. Ok, it's only day 13, but 13 days to be bouncing around the same half pound feels like 50,000 days. If my body is following it's usually ovulation rule (which I cannot rely on any more as I'm in perimenopause), it will be another 4-5 days of no losses and probably gains.

Now, if I really think about it, I'm lucky to not have seen any substantial gains as my body gears up for ovulation (which by calendar should be Monday - not that my body follows a calendar any more) as that means I must be working hard and eating right, I should see a gain Sunday and Monday for sure though if I do ovulate as I always spike up temporarily.

But, when I look at my eating and my exercise for the past 14 days, I should see a loss according to the gizmo I wear (and by past history of what it takes to lose).

Here is what my gizmo has to say for the last 14 days including today which is still blank. That only means my totals will look even better at the end of the day. I might update this chart this evening to reflect that. (remember to click on them to make them full size).

I didn't copy page four as all that shows is my weight change over the course of those 14 days and of which you would find nothing as I didn't record the minute up and down movements on the scale.

So, according to my gizmo, which doesn't even record accurately what I do for movement, I should have lost 3.2 pounds. And, it undercounts my activities. It doesn't count strength training almost at all (the low days you see on the chart were all strength days except the two Sundays where I don't work out). And it also only counts step aerobics as a moderate exercise, not vigorous. I've done that 5 times in the last two weeks and it is rigorous exercise. I didn't wear my heart rate monitor while doing it, but during the heart rate checks, where we actually slow down to be able to do the checks, the checks were both over 150. So, my heat was going up into the 155-160 range - that is vigorous for me! Last night, for example, it gave me only 5 minutes of vigorous activity when I actually was in the aerobic zone for at least 26 minutes (as I was watching the clock) - that does not count any warm-up or cool-down time. 

So, basically, I probably truly lost MORE than 3 pounds in the last two weeks, but the scale still says I haven't lost anything -yet. Man, even when it does show the losses on the scale eventually, it takes a lot to lose 4 pounds and is so easy to gain them!

All I can do for now though is to speculate and hope that it will show a 3-4 pound loss in a few days. Ugh... so hard to see the same weight on the scale day after day when you are working so hard on losing!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My husband put a bug in my ear about maintenance weight

So, I was having breakfast with my husband before heading to the gym yesterday. We got on the topic about exercise and fitness. I said that I can see I'm bigger than I was this summer, but bigger seems HUGE, but I'm still wearing the same sized clothes, so it's not that I got all the way from a size 10 to a size 20 even though in my head I feel like I'm back to a size 20.

I then said that when I get back to my weight this summer (165), I'll probably be smaller as I've built up quite a bit of muscle this fall/winter. My husband asked me how much I weighed and I told him (he's known my weight the whole journey - up and down).

Then he said this, "Maybe that weight (165) is too low for you to maintain. I think maybe it might better for you to stay around 175 and maintain/hold that weight than to bounce around so much. If you have to work so hard to stay at 160, then is that a reasonable goal weight?"

My initial reaction to it was, "Well, but it's not that I've gotten to that weight and been stable. I started eating things I know I shouldn't. It's hard for me to know what a good stable, easy to maintain weight is if I haven't figured at that balancing act yet."

He then said, "Well, what I see is that several times in our marriage you've gotten to around 175 and were fit and active and healthy and looked great. Going below that seems to be where you start to have problems."

And again, it's because I never tried to maintain it - life got in the way and I messed up. And several times is like 3 times in 20 years. Is that enough "proof" that 175 is a good number?

But a few hours later, and after a workout at the gym, I'm asking myself, what is a good end weight for me? Do I shoot for perfection? One that is "ideal" - like the 25% body fat? Or do I shoot for something that is good and healthy, but easy enough to maintain so that I don't have to fight tooth and nail to get there and to stay there?

Especially with being overweight for so long (like 27 years?), is it even reasonable to expect to be able to easily maintain 25% body fat and around 160 pounds? (that's about where those numbers would line up). 

I know for sure that right now I feel and I am too heavy. I want to be a thinner and smaller and I can get there, but what SHOULD be the magic number or body fat percentage?

Yes, the final weight finds you, but how long does that take really to find it? I think it's going to be awhile for me as I can't possibly know what will feel maintainable long term.

So, what is a REASONABLE weight. What is something we should be happy with - that would make us WORLDS healthier if we were at THAT weight versus the heavy weight we are now?

I think that's where we as a society and as overweight people trying to lose weight get caught up too - this all or nothing mentality - like me wanting to be 25% body fat when at 255 pounds - still 20 pounds under my highest weight, I was 50% body fat!

Even if I stayed where I am now at 190 and pretty fit I am WAYYYYY healthier than I was when I was heavier, but I want more to feel better (and look better).

Someone brought up insurance will see me as still "fat" at 175 as it's over the highest normal range on the BMI chart. Well, this is true.  but... I will never, ever, ever be able to be 150 pounds and maintain it which would be in the "OK" range. Actually I think anything under 158 would be "OK". I would have to work out 6 days a week and I would need to eat 1200-1300 calories and I would probably have a body fat percentage around 20%. Do MOST people have to work so hard just to be an acceptable weight? is that reasonable?

But what about those extra pounds? It is true that the extra 20 pounds is harder on my heart. Sure, just as it is for a big, built athlete. Just like it is for large cats and dogs - they live shorter lives because their organs tend to fail faster than their lighter/smaller kin.

But I can't change my body build. 

I know there are TONS of people who say they have a large frame when they don't but guess what, some of us do. My 7 year old is WAY over the BMI chart for his age and height and has been since birth and never, ever has anyone say he was fat. His pediatrician says, "those charts aren't useful for him, so don't worry about it." Guess what... I'm his mother and he's built like me, just has more height from his father.  And not even as large built as they come! I've seen some really large built women who you just know could never fit on those BMI charts and be a "good" weight.

I will continue with exercise and losing weight as I don't feel THIS weight is good. I had a bod pod test done in January and will have one in March. I will do one again when I get to a weight I'm happy with and see what it says for body fat percentage.

So far, the bod pod, the fancy tanita scale at the gym (used by PTs) and mine at home all say the same thing. Which, if that holds true, when I was 165, I had 27% body fat and I'm definitely more fit now than then (with more muscle). So, we'll see.

I LIKE feeling strong. Plus, it 'supposedly' allows me to eat more. I cannot imagine how little I would be able to eat if I were not exercising and lifting weights! Eek!

I am not really answering the question yet of what is a good maintainable weight, but I think in my head I'm going to say anything over 175 is too high and we'll see from there where I settle, but I might make 175 that line in the sand (like that's helped me from going over it TWICE now). but I need to get better at finding and keeping that maintenance weight.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thoughts about an article on when one partner is fat and the other is not

Someone on a weight loss forum linked this article yesterday: Put a Stop to 'Do I Look Fat?' When One Partner Is Overweight, Resolving Conflict in the Relationship Takes Two. Take a chance to read it through as my thoughts today have to do with this article. It's short.

I'm not going to say the study is a perfect study (43 couples is a ridiculously small sample), but I'm not surprised by their conclusions. Nor am I surprised at the couple's experience highlighted in the article.

It is terribly hard on both people in a relationship when one is overweight and the other is not - especially if this was not the situation for the entire relationship.

While my situation was not as extreme as the couple sharing their story in the article, a lot of similarities are there.  I was the heavy one. My husband was the thin one. My husband has always been thinner as is everyone in his family. He has really good eating habits and self control with food. He moved more, nibbled less. He was never a sports enthusiastic or a great outdoorsman, but he liked being fit and strong.

I have battled weight since high school. I have a terrible sweet tooth and I tend to be very sedentary. I don't seem to have this need to move.

When we met, I was about the weight I am now. I was just much less fit. So, I was overweight, but not enormously heavy. At first in our relationship as we spent a lot of time walking and playing tennis, I dropped weight and got fitter, but then I started working, got pregnant, had a baby and the weight just kept piling on. By our 5th anniversary I was quite, quite heavy.

I knew it bothered my husband. I knew he worried about my health. I knew it affected his attraction to me, but I couldn't lose the weight for him. I tried once, but then regained it all plus some. Problems got worse.

He tried to bring it up, but how could he without hurting me? We were both hurting because of my weight - I was mad at him. He was mad at me. He felt I was letting him down. I felt he only loved a me for how I looked - that it was all that mattered. And the anger remained in my heart, but I couldn't do anything about it. I felt paralyzed.

I cannot even explain to myself why I felt so powerless with the weight gain. I know some triggers now - sleep deprivation and carb/sugar addiction, but I truly felt hopeless - completely.

When I started to take my health more seriously and actively started working on losing weight and getting fit, my husband, I'm sure of it, was too afraid to be hopeful. He had gotten hopeful in the past only to see I couldn't keep up with it. It was frustrating for me as I needed support to help me, but I understood where his head was and didn't get mad at him for doubting me. He had every reason to have doubts.

When I had lost about 40 pounds, I could see him starting to believe in me. And he gave the support I needed. He didn't judge me or comment on my choices. I shared with him my struggles, my discoveries and we learned together. He trusted my findings as they were rooted in experience and research.

Last Christmas and this vacation we both rolled well with the small weight gain. We both trusted that I would relose the small amount of weight gained and I did. Actually, I think he was worried the first Christmas that perhaps I would relapse, but my immediate dive back into good diet and exercise set his mind at ease.

This past fall was extremely difficult for me and I  did regain.  I was losing the balancing act I had gained. I kept up a good fitness routine, but got too lax with eating and added too many carbs to the mix and had too little sleep.

Just as I was getting things back together after the new year, my husband made a comment about my weight. I could hear in his voice his fear of saying anything to me about it. He wanted to be supportive, but was afraid at the same time. He asked, "Just how much have you gained recently? I can see it in your arms and your gut."  I didn't tell him the pounds (as the number doesn't really matter), but I said, "yes, I gained quite a bit. I'm already working on relosing it."  I didn't get mad at him, but if I weren't on top of it already, I might have and that is really so unfair. It's just that weight issues really are that sensitive an issue. As a spouse to an overweight partner you really are damned if you do and damned if you don't. I feel bad about that and now that I'm in a better position mentally, I can see how terribly hard it must have been for my husband to watch me balloon up in size and to get so unfit and unhealthy.

He always loved me, but he feared for what our future would be. And now that my eyes are open and I really see things more clearly, I see what an unhealthy future was awaiting me. Heck, had already hit me! At 40 I was falling apart!

I know that my weight is something I will always struggle with. As this 30 pound regain that I had shows. I think this fall scared my husband and I both a bit. Things didn't go to extreme - I can still wear the same sized clothes and I'm still working on my fitness, but these 25-30 pound swings can't be good for my body either. My husband mentioned just yesterday when I said how bad the sugar cravings are for me, "You just can't let Christmas get to you any more. You're going to have to be more careful."  I hear him say that and it's what I'm saying in my head too, but quite honestly, the idea of going a lifetime or another 43 years with low/no sugary treats is a bit daunting. If it just didn't taste so good!

So I struggle. I could lie and pretend for you all that I'm on top of it all the time. That I am superwoman. Well, I am not. I struggle. Things were going great and I somehow lost control. I am still learning. Learning what makes things easier and harder to follow routine. Regular exercise helps, but it's not enough. There's so much more to the equation. I just hope the next time I'm super busy and pulled too thin that I handle my diet better. I deserve  a healthier me. My children deserve it. My husband deserves it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Noticing the little changes in your body

I remember hearing as a child about how things sag and bag as you get older. And well. of course this happens, but I think most of it is from becoming inactive than it is from actually aging.

I'll take the butt for one. Neither my husband or I had nice, firm butts. They are flat and in my case, wide. Our 7 year old has a nice butt, but he also jumps and runs all the time. It's solid muscle.

I thought with age that my butt would sag and get worse, well, no, it hasn't. It's gotten firmer and nicer. So has my husband's derrière. 

Now my body has been fat for a very long time, so of course, a thinner me and fitter me is going to look better regardless. But my husband's body has always been trim, yet he looks better now than he ever has in the 20 years we have been together as a couple. He has muscle definition in his arms, legs, chest, core - everywhere basically.

My body is a wreck of stretch marks and saggy skin and muscles are again under a layer of fat as I lose my recent gains, but even I notice little changes.

Yesterday I was at the gym with the personal trainer and the other gals I'm working with. I was at the far end of the room at a machine working the triceps. I always worry about good form, so I tried to see if I could get a look at my form in the mirror on the far side of the room. What I saw shocked me. The mirror was a good 30 feet away, but I could see my triceps muscles moving/working. Me? with visible working muscles? What? And under a layer of fat? You could see it?

Today while I was getting dressed in the bathroom I could see my behind. My butt has filled out with muscle (somewhat). I could now pass the pencil test with flying colors as there is no 'fold' to hold a pencil any more. I remember doing this sometime last year and the pencil stayed... not any more. 

I look around at the older fitness instructors at the gym and older fitness enthusiasts. Their bodies look great. Maybe to them they see it's not as good as it used to be if they've always been fit, but when you compare a fit 50 year old to a standard 50 year old? the difference is HUGE. Huger at 50 than at 35 for sure.

So, I'm noticing the little improvements to my own body - a firmer butt, visible muscle movement from across the room and just an ability to do so much more than I could when I was younger. Hopefully as I get thinner and even more fit, I'll notice even more little changes and not focus on the things I don't like - the saggy skin and stretch marks and wrinkles!

Monday, January 21, 2013

I'm hoping maybe I've learned my lesson with sugar

I have now had three 'run-ins' with sugars that have left me fatter, feeling icky, and addicted to getting MORE sugar.

First run-in was Christmas 2011. I took 3 weeks off - mid-December through the first week of January. I enjoyed all the goodies I wanted and I thoroughly enjoyed. I didn't make it to the gym much either - only getting there like twice in 3.5 weeks. In that time I gained 14 pounds (about 7 of which was water weight). It took me about 2 months to lose the rest of that weight.

Then, this summer we went on vacation to Croatia for a month. It really would have been impossible to eat grain/sugar free for that time as everyone eats bread there - and mostly white bread. Even their "dark" bread is mostly white flour. Plus, when you are on vacation, a lot of enjoyment is eating the local food. So, I gained 14 pounds there. Again, about 7 of that was water weight. It took me 2 months to take off the remaining weight.  Then, I just got too stressed and time crunched.

I was still going to the gym about 3-4 times a week (two of which being strength training), but I was way too stretched. I had two part time jobs which equalled to over 30 hours a week. Then I had physical therapy 2 hours week (throw in driving and that's another hour). Then, my younger son had three therapies a weeks and with driving that was another 8 hours a week. I was keeping up the house, cooking, cleaning, etc. It was a full-time job PLUS. And I was sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation equals bad food choices, so I was eating more sugars than I should have.

I started to get back on track (but had put on 10 pounds) and then the holidays hit and add to that I got a cortisone shot for my shoulder injury which temporarily affects how I process sugar. Put the holidays and stress and all of that together and I didn't even try to resist the cookies, etc.

That 'unhinging' led to me gaining 30 pounds total. And worse, I felt bad. I had no energy and I felt down in the dumps.

I got myself together, dropped a quick 5 pounds of water weight and now it's back to work to lose the 20 pounds I've gained this fall plus the 5 I hadn't lost yet this late summer.

I have to ask myself, as now I feel better that the sugars are out of my system, "Was the freedom to eat the sugary treats worth it?"  Those sugars do more to me than make me fat. They make me feel BAD and worse, I feel out of control as my brain finds it hard to resist sugar when it's pumped full of sugar. It truly is an addiction. And I swear it gets harder and harder to resist each time I indulge in having off days.

I'm hoping these three huge learning moments have really taught me something permanently - that sugary treats are never worth it. They are bad for me on so many levels.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Break day and slow losing

And I have to admit, I really didn't want it to be a break day and if I didn't have so much to do, I would have enjoyed some time at the gym or outside. But, I teach on Sundays and drive in to do that. And I had dinner to deal with, dishes, etc.

Now that it's 9 pm, I'm fading big time. Like big time. So, maybe it's good that it was a rest day. I don't know.

Scale is staying the same and I wish I knew what that meant. According to my gizmo, I should be steadily losing. I know losses come in fits and starts, but we'll see when I'll see them. Hormones aren't helping me at all - this peri-menopause stuff is for the birds!

According to my gizmo, I "should" see a nearly 2 pounds lost for the week. So far nada. So... Pfft on that.  I know it will happen, it's just waiting for it to happen. But, the clothes are fitting better. I'm noticing I'm holding my stomach in as a natural state versus a forced state. So, it's moving in the right direction. It's just a slow, slow process.

You know, I "used" to say, "the weight didn't go in in 6 months, so it doesn't need to come off in 6 months." And that was true for me before as the weight came on slowly over years - little by little. However, my recent trends are the opposite.

My last experiences have been that I've put on 10-25 pounds in 1-2 months (with every time about 7 of it water weight) and it will take months and months to undo it. So, one month to put it on, 3 months to take it off, or in this last case, 2 months to put it on and about 5 months to take it off. So much for the "it went on slow, take it off slow". Even if it goes on fast, it still takes a long time to take it off.

But I will and I will get there this time and hopefully have a better time of maintaining those losses. I just can never lose sight of how harmful sugars/grains are to my body. I just can't handle them AND I can't handle prolonged sleep deprivation, which I'm always battling in this household with a night owl teen and night owl spouse.

So, my progress for the past week (according to my gizmo) is this (click to enlarge):

Not too bad when it counts in today which is a break day from exercise. But you can also see that I need more sleep. Less than 7 is not a good trend and it got worse and worse as the week went on.

With that, I think I will call it a day and head to bed and be thankful for no alarm clocks this Monday morning.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Feeling like my new old self again

I think I've gotten most of the carbs crap out of my system. My gut is smaller and I'm feeling more energetic. I feel less weighed down and I look better. My husband noticed it too - my gut is visibly smaller even though I've only dropped 7 pounds in two weeks. Well, 7 pounds is a lot and about 4 of them were water, I suspect - mostly in the gut.

I have managed to get exercise 6 days a week so far and I want to keep that up. Even on my rest day, I would love it if I could fit in a walk, weather permitting, just to move and re-energize myself. I spend so much time sitting that moving with a purpose helps clear my head too.

I have come such a long way. I guess I realize it somewhat, but it's not until I am next to a new beginner that I realize, "wow, that was me a couple years ago!"  And when I see a beginner I try to encourage them and help them. I did that today in strength training class. We all have to start from somewhere and learning to do it right helps a lot in being able to keep up with it.

Ok... I'm tired. Looooong day. Off to bed! (at least sleep is good with good exercise too!)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Again, the mental side of weight loss

My pattern of weight loss has been, forever, to hold steady after my period starts until ovulation hits and then a few days after ovulation, a big WHOOSH!

I know this. I've experienced it for the last two years and in weight loss attempts before. So, why do I still hope it will change this month?

I'm feeling it especially this month as I joined that Biggest Winner Contest at the gym. I have 3 other gals on my team, plus the personal trainer rooting us on.

While I know that I will not see a loss this week and probably not next week, how can my teammates really believe me that I'm eating right and exercising right if the scales don't reflect it?  They are also post-menopausal, so they don't have those monthly hormones interfering. I think my personal trainer sort of gets it (as she said that all women who cycle see fluctuations in their weight loss according to their cycles), but I think I'm an extreme case.

I haven't heard of many women (any?) who don't lose weight for 2 plus weeks every. single. month. and then have these incredible whooshes after ovulation for a bit more than a week. every. single. month. Well, what used to be every. single. month.

What is getting more frustrating to me is now that I'm peri menopausal, I cannot predict like clockwork when ovulation will hit or if it will hit. I have now had two months where I skipped a period (and a cycle) and during those times I don't have those stall outs and big drops, but I can't know when I'm going to have those months as my body doesn't tell me what it's doing.

So, in my head, I'm all "well maybe this month I will see a drop this week as maybe I won't ovulate at all or will ovulate later." I watch the scale, hopeful that it will drop. When it doesn't, then I get a bit worried, "maybe I'm not working hard enough?" "Maybe I'm eating more than I think I am?" "Or is it not dropping because I'm gearing up for ovulation?" Ack! The mind games!

Though I know all I can do is just keep plugging along. Some part of me wants to be able to do something about it, but I I am eating right (mostly - did a head smacking mistake yesterday of unknowingly drinking a can of regular soda!) and exercising daily. My caloric intake is close to ideal and my exercise is close to ideal. All I can do is just see how it plays out for the month, but I would so love it if my body could speak to me. Maybe have a little print out that gives the agenda for the month?  In this day in age where we try to plan and control everything, I'm wanting to have that same control over my body which is, of course, impossible.

Needless to say, the scale has held steady the last few days. Well, that's not true. It's gone up a few tenths of a pound. Please just let it be hormones!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eating 5-6 mini meals or 3 big meals - which is better?

This is something that you can find as many experts touting one way of eating as the other and I have to say even for myself that I have gone back and forth between these, but I have some new found thoughts on it. At least for those of us who have weight problems or tend to have or have had in the past, blood sugar problems.

The thought used to be that what was best for people with blood sugar issues and who are NOT on medications  (and I'm not diabetic, but have had gestational diabetes with my second pregnancy and a bout of blood sugar issues when they got my thyroid figured out that I was able to control by diet alone) was to keep the blood sugar at a constant or close to a constant. Diabetics were to eat a well-balanced diet which included a lot of whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, etc). and they were to never skip meals and to eat at consistent intervals. This is still probably what the ADA is recommending.

However, it's not what my specialist for gestational diabetes told me to do nor is it what a nutritionist now is telling me to do OR what my endocrinologist has told me to do.

All of these specialists are on board with ridding the body of things like bread, rice, etc and they are for eating three solid meals a day (or less), but low glycemic and with lots of proteins and healthy fats.

What they are learning now (and this has certainly been true for me) is that if you eat less grains/easy to break down carbs, your blood sugars never spike and the food takes longer to digest, so your blood sugars go up slowly and go down slowly - with no spike. Also, it's better to have blood sugar levels be around 80-100 for a few hours between meals than to have it constantly raised a bit with these mini meals. Your need for insulin (naturally produced) is lower if you avoid certain foods, so you don't produce as much and therefore you never crash. Your body just stays at this steady, lower level with rolling hills instead of mountains of blood sugar levels going up and down.

Now, one reason I think that some have recommended several smaller meals for those dieting is so that dieters don't feel deprived or hungry. Eat a bit here and there and make healthy choices and then you don't have to feel hungry.

The problem with that for many people (and yes, it does work for a lot of people, so if it works for you great - but we are not all the same) is that they are still hungry after breakfast or lunch or dinner and they are already thinking about when they can eat next. Then, they can get too hungry between meals and besides grabbing their healthy snack, the grab a cookie or a soda or something else as a quick fix.

Or, like I'm want to do is that I think to myself, "Well, maybe I don't need that snack today. Maybe I can save that extra 100-150 calories for a bigger deficit for the day." Sounds good, but in the end, I get so hungry that either that day or the next day I grab more snacks (usually unhealthy ones) to stave off the hunger and low sugar pangs.

New research is showing that perhaps having a fuller breakfast you can stave off hunger until lunch and then lunch until dinner and then dinner until breakfast.

I was a skeptic of it. I was. Why? because when I was eating a richer carb diet, I would still get hungry between meals even if those meals were huge or high in calorie. My blood sugars would spike and then come crashing down which would have me scrambling for another sugar fix and so on. It's how I was probably eating 3000 plus calories a day.

However, if I eat a lower carb, higher protein and fat breakfast or lunch, I am satisfied for hours and hours and hours. I'm not thinking about food until it's time for the next meal.

Having a breakfast of coffee (half decaf) with whole milk, a protein bar and two eggs holds me for a long time - from 8 am until noon. I feel satisfied. Eating an apple with 3 tablespoons of peanut butter, a couple cheese sticks and some green pepper slices or the like has me good from noon until 5-6 o'clock.

In the end I'm even eating the same foods I would have eaten as snacks in between the meals, but before I would get hungry. In the latter case, I don't  get hungry as often and I'm less likely to grab unhealthy, quick fixes snacks too.  The big difference for me is the quality of the meal.

Now... don't believe me? Fine... but do some research and you'll find the experts are all over on this topic, but it's what makes sense and what works for me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I think I'm doing so much more, but I still need to rev it up!

I am trying (and mostly succeeding) at doing something physical every day, but when I review it, I realize I could be and should be doing more. Going from doing it two to three times a week (my pattern in late November and all of December) to 6 days a week is a big jump, but I can do MORE each day than bare minimum.

Yesterday I felt yucky - hormones and headache. I was super proud of myself for doing the Reebok Step video at 9:30 at night for those 45 minutes - adding in an extra set of risers to up the intensity a bit.

But really, if I want to meet my goal for June 1st (a self imposed goal), I need to take it up a notch or two. 30-45 minutes a day probably won't cut it. I need an hour a day, 6 days a week to get to where I want to be.

I have two reasons to push myself. The first being, my summer clothes are size 8s and 10s. I'm currently sitting at a 10-12. I want to be able to WEAR my summer shorts (and not just the stretchy summer dresses). Two, mentally I don't think I could handle that it was take longer than 6 months to undo 2 months of damage.  It is so much easier to put on weight than take it off. THAT sucks!

So, what I've done so far this year:

January 1: Nada
January 2: Strength Training (45 minutes)
January 3: Body Vive (25 Cardio 25 toning)
January 4: walk/run 30  minutes
Jaunary 5:  Body Vive (25 Cardio 25 toning)
January 6: Nada
January 7: light weight training (met with PT for the first time)
January 8: super fast 3 mile walk (one mile pace was 13:54)
January 9: weight training (30), step 45
January 10: Body Vive (25 Cardio 25 toning), 2 miles moderate pace walk
January 11: Zumba (1 hr) some strength with physical therapy
January 12: 1 hr. Strength, 1.33 mile walk - moderate pace
January 13: Nada
January 14: 30 minute strength - 2 minute squat test - 108 squats
January 15: 45 minutes step.
January 16: 30-45 Strength training

What I need to do is to throw some cardio in on the days that I have a lighter strength training day. But I don't want to use the machines at the gym as I hate them and the weather has SUCKED the last few days. So... that meant I didn't do as much as I should on the 14th and nothing on the 13th because of it. Some people will go out in the rain - not me.

I think I want to get some more videos (on DVD) to use in the basement. Now that we have a better tv down there, it might be a good alternative to classes at the gym. I just prefer "group" over machines. Even being alone but following a group along on a video is better than those dreaded machines at the gym. ICK!

But, at least I'm DOING things again. I just don't feel I'm in a groove yet.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This whole carb sensitivity thing

One of the biggest things I learned about myself through this weight loss journey (and man is this a long journey) is that I am more sensitive to carbs than I realized and carbs affect my whole body - more than I realized.

So, I started on a lower carb diet because my doctor told me to and because it worked for me before when I had gestational diabetes during pregnancy. I knew without having to do too much tweaking what foods would spike my sugars and which wouldn't. (anyone can check this as anyone can buy a glucose monitor - EVERYONE'S sugar spikes, it's just how fast it comes down that determines if you are diabetic or not). So, I know to avoid things like bread, rice, pasta, sweet potatoes and bananas.

What I really didn't know is how easy it would be to give them up, but what I also didn't realize is how hard it is to give them up. Confused? It's hard to stand the first 2-3 days of lowering the carbs (and again, I'm not talking about going to Atkins 20 grams low carb, but just ridding the simple carbs, but keep complex carbs like peas, beans, apples, etc). Once your body is rid of the simple sugars and is regulated, then you don't crave those sugars any more and you can have them in front of you and can resist them.

The hard part is GETTING THROUGH those three days. Your body is addicted to the sugar highs, so skipping that donut or that cookie is really, really hard.

I think I exasperated things this time with having a cortisone shot in my shoulder - which can mess up sugar metabolism. So, resisting the sugars was even harder and I LOST my control - big time - gaining 15 pounds over the holidays!!!!!

But what I've also learned is that sugar doesn't just make me crave sugar, but it does this to me:

1. I have to get up during the night to go pee if I have a lot of sugars.
2. I get sinus headaches if I eat too many sugars.
3. I get bloated, especially around the mid section if I eat sugars.
4. I feel very lethargic if I eat sugars.
5. I reach orgasm better if I eat sugars.
6. I need to use the toilet more (#2) when I eat sugars.

I have FINALLY (I think) figured out how they are all connected - or all but #6. It's pretty easy to know if you are getting up in the middle of the night to pee or not. Same as it's easy to know if you have headaches or not. Or have orgasms or not.

In every one of these cases (except #6), it's all caused by bloat/swelling/inflammation I think - based on my unscientific observations.  My gut is swollen, so my bladder is pressed on, so I can't hold as much pee, so I need to get up (and I always need to pee LESS, just more often - like during pregnancy).  My sinsuses feel more pressure because they are swollen/inflamed by the sugars, so they ache.

What about orgasms? Well, I have always found it much easier/faster to reach orgasm when I'm mid-cycle (around ovulation) or right before more period. Why? More blood flow/bloating/swelling of the area, so I'm more sensitive. Why would it be different for when I eat more sugars?

I thought my "problem" of anorgasmia was getting better this summer with the switch from generic to name brand drug for my thyroid. But you know what else changed then? I went on vacation and ate more sugar. I am eating less sugar and I'm having problems in that area again. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Now, #6? I think that this is different. I just think my body doesn't run as efficiently or absorb as much into the gut when I eat higher sugar content foods, so it passes through quicker.

One thing I can't know is if it is sugar or wheat. As for me they tend to go hand in hand. I rarely have too many sugars that don't involve wheat, but both are know to be inflammatory foods to the body. I just must be super sensitive to one or the other or BOTH. Though, I think it's sugar.

What this is POUNDING into my head though is that it's not just making me fat - it's causing other issues. And I really need to stay away from those delicious treats as my body doesn't like them in almost any area (except my genitals it seems).

Again... sorry for speaking so bluntly, but a. how else do we learn if we aren't honest? And b. I'm a sex ed teacher - I've learned that talking about natural body needs and functions is healthier than being all hush-hush about it. I'm married. I'm not dead, therefore, yes, I do have sex.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Trying to catch up - Starting with the Biggest Winner

Here I said a couple weeks ago that I was back and at it and what happened? I didn't blog! HOWEVER, I was getting with the program with eating and exercising - just not writing.

So... to get you all up to speed (who ever still bothers to come here as I'm sure I lost my readership). I gained some weight this fall instead of getting down to where I wanted to be. The Rock Your Jeans event was a big failure and I'm so mad at myself. I just got toooooo busy and overwhelmed - two part time jobs, nursing an injury, my son in tons of therapies, etc, etc. etc. I kept up SOME of the exercise, but everything else slipped. And then the holidays.

Oh boy. I wanted to stay in check, but wanted to and doing it are two different things. I have found that there is no such thing (for me) of either having none or some - it's none or too much. More on that in a future post.

So... I find myself up quite a few pounds on the scale. I was at 197 on New Year's Day. Enough to make me choke! I knew some of it was water weight, but not THAT much.

January 5th "The Biggest Winner" started at my gym. I was going to try this personal training and event thing ONE MORE TIME. And see how I do. I had already dropped a lot of the junk from the diet, so my official weigh in was 194.4.  Yesterday morning it was 190.0 - a bit more than a week later. That first water weight has dropped plus some fat.

The Biggest Winner contest has us in teams of 4. We were pretty much randomly assigned together and with a trainer. Though, I'm not sure if some groups have friends together or not - I have no idea.

We meet twice a week. Our group meet on Mondays and Wednesdays at noon. We are all women and I'm the baby of the group - which is kind of different as I was the oldest one by far with the Rock Your Jeans event (my partner and trainer were in their twenties).

My goal is to just do the best I can. I know how to eat. I know I need to push myself with exercise and I need to do it consistently. I'm not there to win anything (though if I do - woohoo!) I'm just there to push myself to lose that fat I gained the last few months and to do it in the fastest HEALTHIEST way.

Today was our third meeting and our first challenge. We did a squats test - how many could we do in 2 minutes. I wanted to push myself. I do squats for 3 plus minutes with a barbell 2 times a week - pushing myself to my max. I wanted to try to get to as close to one rep a second as possible. Yes, I like to challenge myself like that. I was close. It was 108 squats - full range in 2 minutes. I have 7 weeks to build on that before getting retested. Let's see where I go from there. Maybe in 7 weeks I can do a full 120. I'm not competitive with other people - just myself- trying to improve MYSELF.

Tomorrow I'll talk a bit on how I've learned a bit more about my carb sensitivities.