Day 10 – Preparing to travel

July 30, 2015

Today is my last day home alone. I leave for my grandmother’s house tomorrow, and the family will be home when I return. I’m excited about how much house cleaning I got done this week. Normally, a clean house is not a priority for me. I am a firm believer that I have better things to do with my time than silly stuff like dust. I do keep up with the basics (keeping the kitchen counters clean is a matter of health, but the floors – well, nobody eats off of those.)  Right now my house has less than 10% of the fur it used to have. You can actually SEE my steps instead of just wading through the fur like a cat creeping through fog.

Today was an easy day. I did go 50 calories over my daily allotment, but that just means I at 1420 instead of 1360, so I’m not really stressing about it. I’ve been fully satisfied, and I think that’s what really matters. I’m not tempted by high calorie foods right now, and that’s amazing!

I’m a bit worried about the next few days. Traveling can always be challenging, so I’m bringing most of my favorite food with me. I’m hoping my inherent laziness will cause me to view the healthy food next to me as much more accessible than anything requiring leaving the road. I am NOT giving myself permission to stray from healthy eating on this trip. This is not a vacation, celebration, or even a mildly special event. I’m just going to see my grandmother, and I deserve to stay healthy while I do so!

I’m starting to understand how this journey is really about determination. I’m determined to change my habits and lose this weight! It is NOT okay for me to give up on myself. Well, I need to pack. I’m going to try to remember to take pics of my workout tomorrow evening, since I’ll be walk/jogging in a different state!

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Day 9 – New Thinking & Surviving Change

July 29, 2015

I woke up unhappy this morning. With my family gone and my focus on healthy choices, I somehow never got my coffee yesterday. I didn’t even notice it was missing until I woke up this morning with a major caffeine withdraw headache. Put that on top of a miserable night sleep (our house doesn’t have AC and humidity put our “realfeel” temp above 100 degrees as late as 8pm last night), and going for my walk/jog this morning sounded akin to skinning myself while sucking on a ghost pepper. I kind of decided to just postpone my workout until this evening, but as I drank my morning coffee, my headache dissipated, and I started thinking it might be best to just get it over with. I was really afraid that I would find a reason not to go if I waited until evening, so I put on my shoes and went. This seems like such a small thing – pointless commentary on a normal internal monologue. For me, though, it’s a revolution. My “normal” inner monologue sounds more like this, “I can just wait to exercise until tonight, and by then it might be storming or raining or I could be too tired or be busy doing something else and I just won’t work out today and that’s okay. I mean I’ve worked out FOUR times already in the past 8 days, so I totally deserve a break.” Then I would spend the whole day letting my but melt into my favorite chair as I watch one more day of my life slowly drain way like the water twister after my son’s bath. But not today – Today, I got up and went for my walk/jog!

I’m having similar moments with my eating. I’m on day 9, and I haven’t lost control yet. I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long, doing this well before! I’m so excited, and proud, and hopeful! Out of fear that I will jinx myself, and because I know that it won’t always be this way, I’ve made a list of the challenges I know I’ll face in the next month alone:

  1. Family comes home – My husband is supportive, but I always feel like he thinks it’s weird for me to weigh and measure my food. (He is naturally super skinny.) I suspect this is more my perception of his judgement, or at the very least it’s only 1 of MANY “weird” things he sees me do, and he loves me anyway, so… The bigger issue here is that I’ll also have to prepare meals that everyone will eat.
  2. Teacher work week – there will be at least 1 pot luck lunch and 1 professional development that involves a catered lunch. This also means I return to a normal work schedule, so I’ll have to plan my workouts and stick to the plan.
  3. School starts 3 weeks from today, and that will bring a whole host of issues – not the least of which is general emotional exhaustion. (Imagine being “mom” to more than 25 kids – As a real mom, I can say that my feels for my students are an only slightly diluted version of my feeling for my own child.)

The up-side to all of these challenges is that once a routine is established it can actually help me stick to my healthy choices. It will just be tough getting there. I really worry about food. Hubby loves chips, pizza, and fried food. It will be hard for me to either convince hubby to change habits, or not let his choices influence me. I’m also thinking I want work out in the evenings. In many ways, mornings are better, but that has never worked for me for long because I HATE to get out of bed. I’m hoping evenings will be better.

Today’s achievement involved making Brussel sprouts tonight – one of my FAVORITES, but I don’t often eat them because they give me gas. Hubby isn’t here to complain, so I enjoyed every bite!

I love Brussel sprouts charred just a bit - like these are. Super Yummy!

I love Brussel sprouts charred just a bit – like these are. Super Yummy!

Day 8 – Scale Irrelevance

July 28, 2015 – 216lbs

Today is a test, and it sucks. This past week, I’ve been focusing on making healthy choices – one choice at time; one day at a time. I have NOT ONCE set a goal other than to make the choice to eat healthy every day and work out every other day. This change in thinking stems from my realization that I cannot control the scale. I cannot force it to tell me what I want to hear – no matter how much I stomp on it and threaten it. It was actually a few years ago that I had that realization, but in the past it meant an attitude of “I can’t control what the scale says, so I might as well just eat everything I want anyway.” This time is different. It’s not about the scale. It’s about the choices I make every day. I hope that the scale will reward my healthy choices, but I won’t stop making them if it doesn’t.

Today my scale is testing my commitment to that statement. Week one is a week when most people lose a “few” pounds – often more than any person would normally expect to lose in 1 week. Knowing that, I had really hoped that the scale would reward me with at least a 3lb loss, and I must confess to daydreaming about the possibility of even seeing five pounds gone. It was not to be. My ancient, analog, scale (who always weighs me at 10lbs less than my doctor’s scale) only says I lost 1 stupid pound. My mental reaction went something like this, “This SUCKS! A whole week of healthy habits, and I only lost 1 pound!?! What the heck am I doing this for?!” At this point a new voice in my head spoke up and said, “You’re doing this to be healthy, Dumbass, and by the way, what do you care if it happens one pound at a time if you’re going to be making these healthy choices for the rest of your life, huh?” I should point out that this new voice is very smug and kind of a know-it-all. It was also right. I certainly still hear the old voice, and part of me still wants to try and negotiate with the scale (or go buy a fancy new digital one), but I’m broke, the scale won’t answer my rants, and there is a new part of me that knows it doesn’t matter. I could NOT WEIGH myself AT ALL on this journey, and the journey would not change, because it’s not about the scale. It’s about me and my choices. I don’t need a scale to get healthy. My healthy choices will make it easier for me to move. I will gain energy, and my clothes will fit better and eventually become too big, so long as I make healthy choices – whether I weigh myself or not.

For now I am down 1 pound, but more importantly, I’m up 7 days of health. Today is day 8, and I am going to “just not think about” numbers on a scale. I am choosing to eat an appropriate amount of food that will satisfy my body, because I deserve to be healthy and fit, so that I can more comfortably have fun.

Here's my tracking for the past week. I'm not sure why last Tues. didn't show up, but it was about the same.

Here’s my tracking for the past week. I’m not sure why last Tues. didn’t show up, but it was about the same.

I didn't realize just how grossly dirty the scale was until I saw the pic. The corner chews are the cat stamp of approval.

I didn’t realize just how grossly dirty the scale was until I saw the pic. The corner chews are the cat stamp of approval.

Day 7 – 1 week of healthy choices!!!

July 27, 2015

Today has been okay. I completed day 4 of my workout and it wasn’t bad. I definitely feel like I’m too fat to be running. I remember running in college, and my biggest challenge was breathing. I would run 4-6 miles a few times a week, and I never had problems so long as I went slow enough to keep my breathing steady. Right now, breathing isn’t even close to being my biggest issue. My feet hurt; my ankles hurt; my knees ACHE horribly; and my hips complain. I have no doubt that this is a direct result of asking my legs to transport WAY too much weight. For now I will keep with the C25K program, but I’m prepared to switch to strictly walking training if I feel that my joints just can’t handle my weight. Notice that I will NOT QUIT! I will just focus on walking faster. I set my expected finish time at 54 minutes which would be an 18 minute mile pace. A week ago, I could walk 2 miles in 38 minutes. Based on that, I figure 54 minutes is totally doable, but I must confess to a secret goal. I’d really like to complete the 5k in under 45 minutes. This would force me to get just under 15 minutes for each miles. With the walk/jog intervals, I’m currently averages right at 15 min/mile for 2 miles, so even if I have to walk it, I think I could meet that goal. It would take work to walk that fast for that long, but it’s doable.

I’m also seeing a trend with my diet (as in my daily eating habits)

. When I glance back through my food log, I’m discovering that I consistently consume fewer calories on days that I work out. It’s not a big variation (less than 100 calories), but as I looked back through my journal (Oh, yeah, I got my blog started today!) I noticed that work out days seem easier for me to stay on track. This leads me to believe that I need to be more active every day. Even if it’s just taking the dog for a walk on non-workout days. I’ve also given the term “sedentary” all new meaning these past 2 days. With the family gone, I kinda took the last 2 days off. It’s been nice, but I really need to get stuff done tomorrow. To help with that, I’ve assembled my “TO DO” list, in order of priority:

  1. Weigh in
  2. Walk the dog (and normal morning care for animals)
  3. Clean out the laundry room
  4. Clean out the fridge (some of our “leftovers” are beginning to walk and talk)
  5. Do dishes
  6. Take out trash
  7. Drop off library books
  8. Go buy yarn for new afghan

    This is the pattern I'm trying out for my new afghan. It will be a sampler, and mine will be multicolored.

    This is the pattern I’m trying out for my new afghan. It will be a sampler, and mine will be multicolored.

Finally, my achievement for the day really covers this whole past week. I know it’s only been 7 days, and I know that is nothing compared to the rest of my life, but I’m really proud of the consistently healthy choices I’ve made this week. I don’t want to define this week by what the scale says tomorrow. I feel better for the choices I’ve made. The scale is just a way to track one part of who I am.

Day 6

July 26, 2015

Today was another mildly challenging evening. I’m thinking about the fact that this is a permanent life-long change to my eating habits, and it kind of feels like I’m thinking, “I will NEVER get to eat chocolate, cookies, ice cream, or excessive quantities again!!” It’s pretty easy to remind myself that I WILL get to eat the yummy foods I love, but I’ll CHOOSE to eat them in APPROPRIATE quantities. I know, I’m using lots of shouty capitals, but it feels intense today. There is a part of me that doesn’t want to stop stuffing myself until I’m ready to explode. There is a part of me that somehow finds… comfort, or vindication, or penance in eating until my body hurts. It’s weird that the range of feeling swings from the positive “comfort” so quickly to something akin to punishment. I wish I understood why I feel the need to punish myself. Why do I feel that it’s not okay for me to be successful at losing weight? I deserve to be happy and even more importantly, I deserve to be healthy, right?

I know from past failures that this desire to overeat will continue to pop up every evening. In the past, I haven’t asked the questions listed above. In the past, I’ve told myself that it was all about my will power, and that I wanted to eat because I’m too weak. This time, I’m calling bull shit on those thoughts. I don’t understand why I have always stopped myself from getting healthy, but I do know that I don’t deserve to be punished. I do not need to perform penance. I do not deserve to eat until I hurt. I deserve to have a body that is as healthy as my mind. It is OKAY for me to stop eating when I am full. (I don’t currently know what “full” feels like, but I intend to figure that out somewhere along this journey.)

The funniest part about this whole post is that I almost didn’t write it. I was thinking about just skipping my entry for today. It’s been a blah day. I really haven’t done much (though I did start work on my new afghan and made a delicious salmon and cucumber sandwich for dinner). In some ways, the blah nature of the day makes it that much more of an achievement that I kept my controlled my eating. At the same time, I know that this is still just the beginning. If challenging days can be rated on a scale from 1-10, today was only about a 3. I know that many much tougher days are yet to come. I didn’t realize just how much writing all of this down would really help me clarify my thoughts, but it has. Maybe it will help me to see, in writing, that I do NOT deserve to be punished with food, and that getting healthy is OKAY. Strange that I would have to actually sit down and explain that to myself. I’m off to bed now. Tomorrow I will get up and complete day 4 of my C25K program, and then I will get some house work done.

Day 5

July 25, 2015

This week is going to be a real trial for me. My dearly beloved family is off visiting other family, leaving me home ALONE. Now, I should point out that they did not simply abandon me, nor did I pitch a fit and refuse to join them. I’m staying home to take care of the animals and because I could really use to the week of peace and quiet to a) clean the house, b) get ready for the school year, and c) take a quick trip to see my grandmother before all hell breaks loose (the time known to non-teachers as August (and December)… (and May)… you get the idea).

Normally, I would spend all week devoted to food and seeing how close I can get to actually turning into that inflated blueberry girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This week WILL be different. Correction, TODAY will be different. I will think about tomorrow, tomorrow. Today I completed workout #3 of C25K. I pushed myself, because it felt easier today, and I was feeling good. That meant that finishing was tough, but I did. I did NOT quit, and as a reward for my perseverance, my handy-dandy little app informed me that I traveled 2.2 miles in 30 minutes today, instead of my previous 2 miles! YAY! I did pause at the halfway point to take a picture, because it was just so pretty. I really do love where we live right now!

This is almost exactly 1 mile from my house.

This is almost exactly 1 mile from my house.

I did go to the store today, but I only bought food that I will be proud to eat. I had to really think about how to word that last sentence, because I didn’t only buy “healthy” food. I didn’t buy any “diet” food, and I would actually consider some of what I bought to border on “indulgent.” Here’s my list, and then I’ll explain: Creamy Almond Butter, Wildflower Honey, Quick Oats, Vanilla, Apples, Carrots, Steak, Almond Milk, Heavy whipping cream, and frozen berries. I also bought lots of general stuff like dog food and toilet paper, but I didn’t think you’d care to hear about that.

Since this is only week one, I’m completely unqualified to say anything about what does work. Since this is attempt number 465,382.4, I can tell you about an undetermined number of things that did NOT work for me. Since you are not me, feel free to try them for yourself:

  • Eating mostly salad – this just left me dissatisfied and so ravenously hungry I recall visualizing my husband as a giant loaf of bread with burgers for feet, steaks for hands, mashed potatoes for a head, and an ice cream sundae on top. It doesn’t help that while I love an occasional salad – the key word is “occasional.”
  • Closing the kitchen at 7pm – the first time I tried this I just started hiding food in the bedroom, bathroom, and anywhere else that wasn’t the kitchen. The second time I tried this it actually worked fairly well, until life stepped in and kept me out past 7. Then I was faced with skipping dinner or breaking the rule. Once the rule was broken…
  • Eliminating Carbs – Atkins was big when I was in college, so I tried it. I think it was around the 36 hour mark that I broke down and ordered a pizza and cheesy bread and ate every bit of it.
  • Any plan that tells me not to eat something – even if the whole plan is just that I’m not allowed to eat chicken liver, that will be the day that I decide I absolutely MUST try chicken liver with onions.
  • Low calorie eating – this one may sound like contradiction since I’m counting calories, but I think there is a big difference between “tracking” the calories you eat and “limiting” the calories you eat. Thinking about it as tracking means that I get to eat until I’m satisfied. The tracking just reminds me to choose something that has a reasonable enough calorie count that it won’t break myfitnesspal and to stop once I am satisfied. By putting the food before the calories, I feel like my daily calorie count is an achievement (when I stay where I’m supposed to), but it never becomes a punishment. I just eat what I eat, and as long as I track it, I’m sticking to my plan.

This doesn’t even come close to covering all of the that doesn’t work for me, but it’s a start to explain why I focus on getting the quality and quantity of food that truly satisfies me. Nut butters give me the sweetness I crave, but they are easier for me to put down when I’m satisfied. This morning, I had cold oats with milk and a teaspoon of peanut butter, a half teaspoon of vanilla, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It was something that felt like a super delicious “treat,” and it really satisfied my hunger. It was a reasonable breakfast, and I didn’t feel the need to keep eating once it was gone. I keep reminding myself that it’s okay to have a 500 calorie meal. My concept of “appropriate” is way out of whack when it comes to food.

Day 4 & a picture

July 24, 2015

Today was my first mildly challenging day. I say mildly because I know that it will get much worse. I’ve never before made it past “much worse,” so I really don’t know what will come after that. Anyway, at the end of the day today I was still hungry. I knew that I was out of calories for the day. Normally, this would lead me to think, “I’m still hungry, so I’ll just eat something small, but it was good and I’m already over my calories for the day so it doesn’t really matter if I eat a bit more, and now I’ve completely screwed the whole day, so I might as well eat everything I can get my hands on tonight, and then I’ll just eat NOTHING tomorrow (you know, since I’m all prepared to hibernate, now). Today I recognized the craziness of that thought process, and I made the choice to think something different. I did NOT reach for chocolate. I did NOT suck honey straight from the bear’s head. I did NOT prepare to hibernate. Instead, I made a big bowl of my favorite cucumber salad. It means that I went 95 calories over my daily allotment, but I don’t feel bad about it – AT ALL! I was still hungry, so I ate something – not everything, just something. It was something healthy, but it was something healthy that I really like (I make a creamy dressing to go with it, which is wear the calories came from). Anyway, that is my achievement of the day – I did NOT freak out and eat everything in sight!

I took some “before” pics this morning. Boy, are they SCARY to look at. I’ll keep taking pics fairly regularly to compare and see what happens. I’m particularly interested in the way the exact same number of pounds on the exact same body can look totally different depending on their fitness level. I’m hoping the pics will help me keep perspective for the times when I don’t necessarily lose pounds. I did step on the scale about the same time I took the pics, and it registered 216lbs. I replaced my face with a sunny, yellow face. If you show the pics to my mom, she would totally recognize me, but if a student runs into this page, I think I’m okay.

PS – All teachers fret about everything they put online (or at least they should). Students (middle schoolers in particular) are scarily good at finding the ONE thing their teacher hopes they don’t see

This is me at 216lbs.

This is me at 216lbs.

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Day 3

July 23, 2015

My workout went well today. I actually traveled 2 miles in my 30 minutes, so that’s pretty awesome! Turns out that if I turn on the GPS on my phone, it will track my distance even though I have no cell service anyway near where I live. I felt pretty good while walking and jogging today. In some ways it was harder than Tuesday because I knew what I was getting into when I started, but I stuck with my “Just don’t think about it” mantra. I will say that Tuesday I definitely experience the euphoric endorphin high that people talk about, but it was followed by a major crash a couple hours later. I felt really insecure and kind of depressed. This morning my “high” wasn’t as extreme as Tuesday, but I did feel really good about the whole thing. It’s now been a bit more than 2 hours since I finished, and so far there’s no crash. I’m hoping it was just a one-time thing. Maybe it has to do with working out in the evening (Tue) vs. the morning (today). That would be okay since I’m planning to work out before school this fall. This weekend I’m planning to take some before pics. I’d like to take pics fairly regularly over the next couple months with the hope that seeing progress will a) happen and b) help my motivation to keep going.

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between all of the half-hearted attempts that quickly ended in failure and the attempts that have previously led me to success. See, I can remember being 13 or 14 and eating a Little Debbie snack cake after school one day. I remember realizing that I wasn’t hungry and didn’t really want the “treat,” but was still eating it. I remember being baffled about WHY I was eating it, so I stopped. Without any knowledge, tracking, or weighing myself I dropped from wearing a size 11 or 13 to being very comfortable in a size 9. There was also that rough time in college that led to the “Just don’t think about it” mantra. I just refused to deal with that tough time by stuffing my face and focused the energy on scrap-booking and refinishing antique furniture. That decision led me dropping from a size 12 to being very comfortable in any size 8. In both situations the “decision” was not really a conscious one. I can only describe it as a switch being flipped deep within my psyche. I don’t know what triggers the flip of this switch, but I know it feels different. I can also tell you that it has been flipped this time. I can even tell you what triggered it. It was 2 posts found on the blog “Runs for Cookies.” I was scanning through Facebook and came across the 15 best weight loss blogs of 2015, which led me to Runs for Cookies, where I “met” Katie. The “met” is in quotes because I don’t actually know her at all in any way, shape, or form. I only know her blog. Specifically, I’ve read her 2 posts about completing the Indianapolis ½ marathon while weighing more than 200 pounds – TWICE! The idea of completing something like that before losing weight was revolutionary for me. I’ve always seen that as something that can only be done AFTER the weight is gone. It totally changed my mindset and flipped that internal switch for me. It’s what led me to decide to do the 5k that is in just 6 weeks. I will also confess that this is the first time I’ve tried diet and exercise at the SAME TIME! I know that sounds nuts but trying to tackle both at once has always overwhelmed me. I always figured that I could start out with a diet and then add exercise once I’ve started to lose weight, or I’ve started working out and figured that healthy eating would magically happen as I became more fit from my workouts. I wish I knew how to find that trigger that completely changes my mindset, or that I could tell you how to find it if yours hasn’t been flipped yet. If anyone has any insights, please share! For now, I’m just going to keep taking it one day at a time – especially since this time I’m starting at a size 18.

Day 2

July 22, 2015

When I was in college I went through a bit of a rough time. I was kind of emotional (okay, fine – I was an emotional basket case). One of my best friends, at the time, looked at me like I had 4 heads and said (as if I was a moron), “Just don’t think about it.” Over the years, I’m learning that tidbit of wisdom is more and more useful. As a mom, there are many things that my son does that scare the crap out of me. My solution is to try and take reasonable precautions (meaning that I make him wear a helmet when biking, but not when fishing), and then I just don’t think about it. I don’t think about the day he hooked himself in the cheek and scared my husband so bad that both fishing poles ended up in the lake. I don’t think about how I’m uncomfortable wearing my hair down right now, because I’m trying to go “no-poo.” I don’t think about the uncharacteristically gentle way the PE teacher told me that I didn’t HAVE to join the kid’s on the field day if I wasn’t comfortable playing kick ball.  I don’t think about how amazingly yummy a sub from Firehouse sounds right now, and I, sure as heck, don’t think about how long 30 minutes is when you’re trying to work up to jogging that entire time. It’s amazing how powerful NOT thinking can be. Since I have no intention of thinking about working out tomorrow until I’m off the driveway and headed down the road, I’ll not be sharing any many of my intentions here; I’ll stick to sharing my accomplishments. Today’s accomplishment was to stay within my allotted caloric intake for the day! Now I’m going to bed before I can screw it up!