Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Done with the plateau (168.2)

Thanksgiving was fun but exhausting.  I didn't eat as healthfully as I'd like, but I kept the quantities in check.  I also ran twice--Thursday 4.2 miles and Saturday 6.5 miles. 

I really FELT my extra 20 pounds this weekend.  I was surrounded by thin women.  I'm talking size 0s & 2s.  No matter how stupid and counterproductive and harmful it is to compare myself to other women, I still do it.  I think it's coded into my DNA.

At any rate, yesterday I weighed 170.2 and decided to be finished with this plateau.  I started tracking my calories on an Apple app called "Lose It."  I've used it before, so it has a lot of foods already recorded for me.  I'm on the 1 pound a week plan, which gives me a budget of 1,587 calories a day.  It deducts exercise like most programs do.

I'm not going to get hung up on eating exactly 1,587 calories a day.  I want to stay in that range.  Some days I'll eat more; some days I'll eat less.  Some days I'll eat the exercise calories, and some days (like yesterday, when I was under a net 235 calories b/c I ran 3 miles) I won't. 

What I did learn yesterday is why I've been in this plateau for so long.  Because I've been eating too much.

This is no big revelation.  I've been eating healthy foods but still eating for comfort, especially at night.  I've been eating exactly what my body needs to stay in the 168-170 range. 

And that's been fine and what I needed for the past few months.  Now, though, I'm ready to be done and move on.

I am not looking at December and thinking "oh hell, it's the holidays and there's no way I can stick to a diet now.  I will just start in January."  That path leads to a 10 pound gain, and I refuse to go there. 

I have a goal of being under 160 and in size 10s by my race at the end of February.  It's a goal, not a line in the sand.  I just need something to work toward.

The other broker hired a new assistant last week.  I like her.  She's here on a conditional basis; trying her out for 30 days before he hires her officially (he found her through an employment agency).  She's young and has 2 kids and is recently divorced and has a lot of personal issues that may cause problems with her being reliable.  But she also really needs a job.  So, time will tell. 

I am overwhelmed with the amount of work and activities we have going on.  December is insane.  I am so thankful I have my running plan and running buddies in town to keep me running.  I'm also glad I have gotten into the habit of getting up early, doing my SAD light and Bible reading, getting to work earlier, working out at lunch 3 days a week, getting to bed by 10:30.  All those pieces have to stay in place or I will lose it.  I am making sure I take care of myself, so I don't lose it. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

We're in Indianapolis for Thanksgiving with Mark's family.  We got in last night around 10 pm our time (11 pm Indy time).  I was awake this morning at 5:30 our time, probably because my body clock is set to that time, and also because I just don't sleep well the first night in a hotel (even with my sleep meds).

Rather than fighting it, I got up, went downstairs to the breakfast area, had as healthy a breakfast as possible, and now getting ready to go running with Kate & her friend Jen.  We are doing 4 miles this morning.  That will burn about 400-450 calories--which just about equals a slice of pumpkin pie.

Family dinner is late afternoon.  I can't wait.  I love Mark's family & the time we get to spend with them.  His brother & niece (with her fiance) and nephew flew in from Colorado.  It's the first Thanksgiving in his sister's new house (she & my BIL moved from Evansville to Indy this year). 

My goal for Thanksgiving weekend is to not gain weight, to maintain at 168ish (Tuesday I was 168.6).  I'm sure there will be water weight to lose the first few days home, but by the middle of next week I want the scale to read in the 168s.  Then, seriously, I want the darn thing to start moving down again.

Goals need a plan, so here's my plan:  I'm running today, I'm running 6.5 miles tomorrow or Saturday, and I'm running Sunday morning.  I'm going to focus on relationships and conversations and relaxing at dinner, and not be obsessed about eating a piece of every dessert offered (I could skip all the dinner fixings & go right to the sugar, as I'm sure you're not surprised).  I know I can't exercise off bad food choices, but I can run so I feel healthy and energized.  Nothing keeps me focused on being healthy like a long run. 

I brought my hot tea fixings with me to the hotel for my night time relaxation hit, which is what I've been doing at home.  I have apples and raw cashews in the hotel for snacks.  Travel food is tough. I'm going to do the best I can. 

I hope you all have had a wonderful time this Thanksgiving with the people you love. 

I'll leave you with this picture that I got from a blogger/Facebook friend.  I really have to find this t-shirt. It is my new motto:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Success begets success (168.2)

When my daughter was a baby, a friend of mine gave me a book called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.  One of the most important things I learned about babies and sleep is this:  sleep begets sleep. 

It seems counter intuitive--shouldn't a baby or child sleep better or more if she's tired?  As it turns out, no.  The more well rested a baby is, the easier she falls asleep and the better she stays asleep.

I thought of this "sleep begets sleep" lesson yesterday, and applied it to weight loss.  Success begets success.

You'd think that being 20 pounds overweight, tired, out of shape, and unhappy would be all the motivation I'd need to get moving.  And, don't get me wrong, those things ARE motivating.  But sometimes, in the muck and mire of obesity, it feels impossible to overcome the desire to throw up my hands and say "what the hell, I'm this fat already, what's the difference if I eat junk food or skip my workout today?  I'll start tomorrow." 

Now that I have lost almost 20 pounds and have been working out regularly for a couple of months... And now that I can feel and see muscles in my quads and calves and shoulders and biceps and triceps... And now that I can run a 10 min mile for half a mile and a 9 min mile for a couple tenths of a mile...  I have the kind of motivation that doesn't wait for tomorrow. 

Now my motivation is based in success.  It's not based in hopelessness any longer.

I keep moving and eating breakfast and cutting back on sugar because I want to be better.  I want to be stronger.  I want to run faster.

Yes, I want to look better and wear smaller, cuter clothes.  But honestly, that's not the core of WHY I'm doing what I'm doing now. 

I want to hold onto this feeling of success.  I want the fat to come off my body so I can see the cut of my muscles under my skin.  They are MY muscles--I'm earning every ounce of them.  I am proud of them and I don't want them buried under a layer of fat. 

I want to weigh less so I can run faster.  I'm only in competition with myself.  I want to run as fast as I did in 2008, when I finished a half marathon in 2:15:42 (the printout of my race results are on my cubicle wall, where they've been since October 14, 2008).  I want to run even faster than that someday.  I want to run a full marathon in the near future.  Running is possible at this weight, and I do it well and (knock wood) without injury.  But I can run better when I carry less weight around.  Watch the next to last episode of any of the recent Biggest Loser seasons and you'll know exactly what I mean.

It may seem counter intuitive that becoming and feeling fit and healthy are more motivating than being overweight and out of shape.  But it's not. 

It has taken a long time for me to get here, but I feel like I've crossed the tipping point into "success begets success" territory.  I'm fighting hard to stay here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas in November (168.4)

I'm swamped at work and at home.  The busy time of year has begun.

We put up the Christmas decorations this past Saturday--everything but the tree.  The weekends are crazy full from now until the end of the year, and it was either start Christmas in November or only put up the tree and no other decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving. 

We spent 5 hours getting everything out & decorated & then cleaned up.  I brought in the stuff from the garage, Sophie & Luke unloaded all the bins, I decorated the fireplace mantel, and Sophie decorated everything else.  We decorated the family room/kitchen and the dining room. 

We listened to Christmas music and watched Christmas movies.  It was relaxing and fun.  There was no pressure, no hurry, no stress.  Usually if I do everything in one weekend or sometimes even in one day, it's no fun for anyone because it's just too overwhelming.  And some years, I just do the tree because I'm not up for the work involved to do it all.

I've never decorated for Christmas this way before, since I generally dislike decorations going up before Thanksgiving.  But it actually put me in a better spirit about the holidays.  I don't feel so curmudgeonly about the decorations in the stores or the commercials on TV. 

And putting up the tree will be fun and relaxing and a family event.  The way it's supposed to be.

I had a good weekend, food and exercise wise.  I ran 3 miles on Friday after work and 5 miles on Saturday morning.  My food wasn't perfect, but it was acceptable and I didn't gain weight over the weekend.

I was a bundle of stress yesterday, and after work I got on the treadmill for 40 minutes.  I mostly walked, because I don't want to overdo the running miles and stress out my knees.  It was just what I needed to calm my nerves and keep me from raiding the cookies. 

Today will be 3 miles of running at the gym.  I'm in Week 4 of my half marathon training and haven't missed a training day yet.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Sun and the Moon

I took the day off from work today.  The kids are off school b/c of Veterans Day, and I really, really needed a day off.  Thankfully Mark was okay going to the office by himself.   I slept till 7, did my SAD light and Bible reading, have read a few blog posts, am blogging myself, will run in a bit, and putter around the house.  Tonight I'm going out with my girlfriends to a Christmas bazaar and dinner.  I'm hoping for a relaxed, peaceful, refreshing day. 

It's been a rough week, and my food has been good and bad.  I've struggled with night eating (stress eating) this week, a lot.  I ran on Tuesday and took a weights class Wednesday, am running today, and running 5 miles with the girls on Saturday.  Exercise has been a constant lately--the whole "a body in motion stays in motion" thing.  It really helps.

About work: we still don't have another assistant.  Other broker is having a 2nd interview next week, and wants me to sit in.  I don't think my opinion matters.  He interviewed 3 people.  One lady would have been great, at least from her experience.  She was middle aged, in her 50s. She's been an assistant to a department head at a University.  The girl he wants to bring back for a 2nd interview is 25, has kids, is working on her degree, but is "more bubbly" than the other 2 women.  More bubbly.  This is his criteria for hiring someone.  I'm sure she's prettier, too.  I told him my opinion--that hiring someone strictly on personality and "bubbly" is a bad idea. It doesn't matter.  This is not something I can fight.  It is his assistant.  Mark & I are working toward leaving this office in the near term, anyway, so I am not invested in his decision.  It is HIS decision, not mine.  I just want to get someone in there so I don't have to do his work anymore and so I can take time off without my husband being stuck in the office by himself. 

OK, enough of that. Onto today's post.

A Facebook friend posted about the full moon the other day, about how much it affects her mood and attitude.  She is a very positive, effervescent, happy, open soul who I only know from High School but would love to know in person. 

Her post about the moon garnered a lot of comments.  People in medical and psychiatric fields confirmed that activity increased around the time of the full moon.  There may or may not be scientific evidence on how the moon affects people, but there is a boat load of anecdotal evidence.

She posted this three days before the full moon, which is today.  I started examining my feelings and behavior--and those of my daughter, who is also very sensitive--and how they've been difficult this week.  I've felt SAD symptoms of listlessness, tiredness, depression.  I've binged on sugar.  I've been moody and on edge and bitchy.  I had to take half a xanax on two mornings because I was wound up so tight.

I've always explained these feelings and behavior on hormones or food intake or lack of sleep or stress or lack of sunlight or lack of exercise (basically any lack in self-care).  And all these things DO affect me.  I'm not dismissing them or diminishing their importance. 

I know all about how the sun affects me.  I know how weather systems affect me.  I've never looked at how the moon might be affecting me.

The first website I pulled up on the moon's cycles had this to say about the lunar cycle:

Astrology and the Lunar Cycle
Aside from the scientific explanation, the term "moon cycle" is often heard in astrological circles. According to astrology, the moon's cycle can affect the way we feel about things. In particular, when the moon is full or new, both males and females can experience dramatic changes in their mood and behavior.

When the moon is full, stress becomes a major factor and people become more sensitive to details. An overload of work will add to the frustration and people will deal with their own needs rather than paying attention to others' needs. Often, a lack of assertiveness will be obvious.

A new moon brings with it the sense of calmness. In this moon cycle, people's emotions get back to normal, their determination will return with the feeling that anything can be accomplished, and there will be more energy and acceptance of other other's ideas.

Now, I am not into astrology.  I don't read my horoscope, and never have.  So I don't see these explanations as "astrology" in the traditional sense.  Maybe they are, and maybe it's hooey.  But it sure as heck struck a major chord with me.

I go through these cycles.  I feel these feelings acutely.  My rationale on the moon being at least partially responsible for the state of my being is this:  if the moon can move the oceans, then surely it can move me, as well. 

In my eyes, this is one more tool for me to use to get through the rough times.  It is one more way for me to 1) tell myself that what I'm going through is temporary, 2) prepare myself ahead of time for dealing with these feelings, especially at the full moon, and 3) honor the fact that not everything that happens inside of me is in my control. 

That last one could be seen as a cop out.  But to me, it gives me a small sense of peace.  I can't always Make Myself Well.  (Do you remember the movie Mask, with Cher?  When her son would fall sick, he would chant to himself "make myself well, make myself well."  Sometimes it worked; sometimes he was helpless.)  Sometimes I feel helpless, and all I can do is wait it out. 

That doesn't give me permission to descend into a binge or self-pity.  On the contrary.  It gives me an added responsibility, to myself and my family, to take extra care of myself, to be generous and loving to myself, and to remember to pause before I say the wrong thing or take the wrong action.  I'm often emotionally unstable during these times, and it can affect those around me significantly (in other words, I can be a real pain in the butt to live and work with, and for the sake of those I love, I have to work on toning my frustrations down to a healthy and kind level).

But it does give me permission to not expect so much from myself.  The times I feel like that, it is freeing to know that I AM OK, even if I'm not being Super Mom and Super Wife and Super Employee.  I don't have to be Super at all. 

So that's all the full moon bad stuff.  The good news is--the days before and after the new moon can make me feel strong.  I definitely have times of feeling amazing energy, strength, and invincibility.  I checked, and the new moon is at Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.  That's something to look forward to!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Difficult days

I've had a rough few days.  The time change kills me.  I'm also hormonal.  We had a very full weekend (it was Luke's birthday Sunday).  I skipped my SAD light treatments on Saturday and Sunday (b/c of time constraints).

All this, plus the availability of cake and pizza on Saturday and Sunday, has had me In The Sugar for 3 solid days. 

Sugar makes me mean and miserable.  And bloated.  And tired.  And gain weight.

Sugar's pull is so strong.  I am nearly helpless to avoid it when I am weak in other areas--like the time change, hormones, and next to no down time.

I have been exercising.  I worked out 5 times last week, including running 5 miles (in an hour.... I am getting faster and stronger) and an hour-long yoga class on Saturday.  Saturday morning is pretty much the last time I felt good.

I didn't bother weighing this morning.  I was so bloated I knew it would just further depress me. 

I am working today to get back on track and back to my healthy normal.  I started the day off with a good breakfast.  I have a good lunch ready.  I don't have dinner planned yet, and I need to go to the store tonight after work. I am running today at lunch. 

I did my SAD light at work yesterday, and at home this morning.  I still feel like I'm jet lagged from the time change and I'm feeling SAD symptoms--listless, unmotivated, tired, moving through mud, moody.

I'm just not in a good place right now.  Getting out of the sugar is KEY.  Being in the sugar makes everything worse.  It's a vicious cycle. 

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Halloween 2011

My post for today is below.  Thought you'd enjoy some pics from the weekend.

Peter Pan and Captain Hook (this is a man's Hook makes me look bigger than I really am.  Of course, I'd fixate on that instead of how awesome we look!). This was taken at our church friends' house after our dinner with them Friday night.  We got ready there.  I don't have a white wall in my house, ha.

Hermione Granger and Captain Rex (storm trooper)

They are having a battle... Sophie flying on her broom stick with her hand, and Luke battling back with his light saber.  It was the perfect night to trick or treat. They had a great time.

Update on my back, neck, arm (169.2)

I've spent a good deal of time and money this year dealing with my neck, upper back, and arm injuries and pain.   The problems mostly stemmed from poor placement of my computer at work, a worn-out office chair, and carrying too much weight on the crook of my left arm.

My physical therapist worked through the majority of these issues, helping heal the nerve in my arm with ultrasound treatments and giving me exercises to do at home.  The cost for PT came out of my insurance deductible, and it was not cheap.  In other words, I have an investment in my body that I need to maintain.

At work I elevated my laptop to eye level, got an external keyboard and mouse, added a keyboard tray to my desk, and got a new chair.  I pieced them together one at a time, but it took ALL of those things combined to finally eliminate the painful knots in my neck and upper back.  In only a couple of weeks with the new chair and keyboard tray, the pain completely went away. 

My left arm is taking longer to heal.  I damaged the nerve at the crook in my arm, and my PT said it could take well over 6 months to completely heal. 
Lesson for you all--don't be a "one trip wonder" when carrying in your groceries, loading tons of weight on your arms.  You will eventually cause serious damage. 
If I overuse it, mostly when doing free weights classes, it gets tender and slightly weaker.  So I'm careful about bicep work and not loading up the bar with too much weight.

I am careful about adjusting my chair in different positions throughout the day.  I also pay close attention to my posture in the car now, keeping my abs tucked in and my shoulders back against the seat. 

Running regularly is also improving my back and posture.  When I run, I focus on keeping my shoulders down and in my "back pockets."  Running motions from my arms moving strengthen my upper back significantly, too.

The quality of my life has significantly improved because I'm not in continual pain and stress everyday. 

It took years for the small things to build up and cause injuries.  None of this stuff bothered me in my 30s.  I had used my laptop as it was for over 4 years before I had problems with my neck. 

Many small changes resulted in big results.  It was no One Thing, and it took trial and error to figure it all out.  

There's a bigger lesson to be learned from this, too.  Many small changes--baby steps--can impact every area of my life.  I have much more to work on, a little at a time.