Fat Fridays: Becoming More Like My Kids

I spent this evening being a sports mom. This is a new role for me. Our family has not done sports with our kids. We are not very sports oriented (at all) and the logistics of getting kids to practice and games when there are twelve people in the family made it feel impossible to try. So this year my twelve year old son started at a new school and they have a middle school basketball team, boys and girls. And they don’t do tryouts. You show up, practice, you are on the team. So, my kid who has never played basketball decided he would like to play basketball. Yay! Alright son, we’ll support you! He went to the first practice and I picked him up afterwards. 

How was it?

It was fine. Oh, by the way, I also joined the cheerleading team. I talked to the coaches and they said it was fine. I can cheer for the girls games and play for the boys games. 

Ummm. Ok. 

And that is how I became a sports mom. So this evening I worked the concessions stand and watched through the doorway as my son was allowed to play during the 3rd quarter. He really is a beginner. Very eager, but obviously just learning the game. I always feel grateful when the coach lets him get some time. And then I handed over concessions duty to another parent after the boys game and went and sat in the bleachers and watched my son cheer with the cheerleading squad for the girls game. Go team. 

How does all this relate to diet and exercise? Well, I was sitting here thinking about all this, and thinking about how important it is that I exercise and pursue health in front of my children as a role model to them. But as I sat here and thought about it, I am beginning to think that my kids have had more of an influence on me in this area than I have had on them. My kids take after their dad, they seem to have confidence oozing out of their pores. They are very comfortable in their own skin. They have interests that are different from their peers and it never occurs to them to not pursue those interests just because others might think they are weird. 

I, on the otherhand, tend to be very self-conscious. And I’ve got legitimate reasons for why I became that way, but it’s not something I need to hang onto. I feel really self conscious about exercising. I’m not an athletic person. I’m not particularly skilled. I’m overweight. I feel like, if people see me running, they are automatically going to look and see who’s chasing me, instead of thinking I’m out for exercise. So, it’s been a big stretch for me to go out in my neighborhood and run on a regular basis. But, I’m enjoying it. No, I will never be a marathon runner. No, I will never win any races. But am I having fun doing something I like? Yes. And the big bonus is that it’s also good for me. 

And so I find myself in a place where I can continue to encourage my kids to pursue what interests them and try new things, and they are encouraging me at the same time. It’s a good place to be. 

Fat Fridays: In Search of New Strategies

Well, it’s Friday, and I’m still fat…Guess I don’t have much else to say. 

Just kidding.

I’ve been “training” for my 5k. Which sounds really pretentious. But, I don’t know how else to put it. Last Saturday I ran 5k in 37 mins and 28 secs. Which was an improvement over the 40 mins it took me the time before. I think I’ll be trying it again tomorrow. Today I’m supposed to run 5 mins at a moderate pace, 5 mins at a fast pace and 3 mins ALL OUT. I am not a fast pace or ALL OUT pace kind of person. So, this will be interesting. Ok, so here is a question. How do you keep track of these times when you are running? I have a fitbit and I have a cellphone. Running with a cellphone in my hand is awkward. Trying to press the button on the side of my fitbit to light up the screen while I am running is also awkward. And sometimes I accidentally bump the screen and it pauses my workout and then I’m frantically trying to make it start again, while still running. It does not make for a smooth running experience. And I can just see myself today, trying to go ALL OUT for a whole 3 minutes and I’ll keep having to stop and look at my watch. Not an ideal situation. So how does everyone else do it? 

The other thing is I run in my neighborhood and there are awkward breaks where I have to cross a big road and so I’m trying to figure out how to map my route so that when I’m going fast and ALL OUT, I don’t have to pause and wait for traffic. RIght now I’m thinking it might be easier to just do the same half mile stretch several times because I know approximately how much time it takes me to run that and I’ll at least have some clues as to when to look at my watch. 

We’ll see. It’s cold outside. I’m not going to go out till it warms up a little bit more. 

Diet is going horrible. I find myself thinking, maybe I just need to try to maintain this weight until January when I can get all hyped up about healthy eating again. Why does January always seem like a good time to diet? Looking at the upcoming holiday season, it does not feel like a great time to be eating healthy. And this is my old, unhealthy thought patterns having full control right now. My memories of past holidays where I ate carefully are that I felt great from not over-indulging. 

Right now my brain is in high-stress mode and it’s really hard to practice self-care when your brain is in this mode. Really hard. I’ve been able to keep exercising and make that happen. I just don’t know how to keep the healthy eating happening. 

We have an important meeting today which I’m hoping the outcome is that I will be less stressed afterwards. We’ll see. The problem is that we can’t wait for the stress to go away before we try to be healthy. My experience of the past two years is that the stress is not going anywhere. It appears to have moved in to stay. And my main strategy has always been to wait for stress to pack it’s bags and leave. So now I need a new strategy. And actually, writing about this has been helpful. I don’t think I’ve put that reality into words before. The problem at least feels a little more simple. I need a new strategy for handling stress because I need to accept that the stress is here to stay so waiting for it to leave is no longer an option. 

Well, I think I’m going to spend the rest of the day pondering that. I’ll see you all next week. 

Fat Fridays: Big Changes, New Goals

It’s Friday. Thank God. This has been a very long week. Very long. Today is going to be one of my busiest days. I think I will be able to start relaxing somewhere around 5:30 tonight. I’m counting down the hours. 

I received news this week about our foster daughter who has been with us for two years,  possibly starting the reunification process with her family in the very near future. It was unexpected news. I’ve been a bit out of it the last several days as I try to process how I feel about this. 

Last weekend I decided to sign up for a 5k race on December 18th. I’ve never done a 5k before or any kind of race since I was in elementary school. I felt like I was needing some motivation to keep on exercising. A goal to work towards. I’m pretty excited about it. At least, I’m excited about it until I’m actually out running. And then I find myself wondering why on earth am I choosing to do this? This is hard. I’m not feeling great joy. And then I finish running and all the good feelings come back. Yay! I’m going to do this! 

I talked to my trainer and asked her to give me workouts that will help me get ready. I think she’s planning on having me run four days a week. I have very modest goals. 

Goal #1 Run the whole race without having to stop and walk.

Goal #2 Try to finish in 36 minutes. 

And that’s it. And even if it takes a couple minutes longer, I don’t really care. Just running the whole thing without stopping will be a big accomplishment for me. 

I am glad that I set this goal. It’s been helpful this week as I’ve been dealing with crazy emotions. Here, I’m going to take all this nervous anxiety and go run it off. I’ll let you all know how the training goes. 

See you next week.

Fat Fridays: The Stories Behind the “Why”

I grew up in the North of Haiti as a missionary kid. Our final four years there was a very turbulent time for the country, during the time of Aristide’s presidency. We were there when the US placed an embargo on the country and it was a very difficult time of food, gas, and medicine shortages. 

We lived in a flat roofed, two story, concrete brick house at the top of a mountain pass (ok, it was really a very tall hill, but it had the feeling of a mountain, and the road was steep enough that it might as well have been a mountain.) We had a view of the Bay of Acul and the Plan du Nord, a beautiful plain dotted with rice paddies and sugarcane fields, surrounded by distant mountain ridges. I spent a lot of time outside, just gazing at the view, maybe trying to sketch what I was seeing, thinking a lot. 

We didn’t have electricity. We had a generator, but during the embargo we had to be very careful with our fuel. We would turn the generator on every couple days so we could get the water pump working. We had a utility room that was full of 5 gallon buckets and water jugs that my brother or I would stand and fill with a hose. This would be our water supply until the next time we turned our power back on. (I mastered the 5 gallon bucket bath.) We had a kerosene refrigerator, but no kerosene, so we just made do without a fridge. Our stove was gas, but somehow we were able to get the fuel for that. 

My mom was a genius at making do with what we had as she tried to feed the family on a very limited budget and very limited available resources. We had friends in the States who would send boxes of food occasionally and there was the local market place. By the time of the embargo, the few grocery stores around were mostly empty. I remember that my mom would buy a giant bag of flour and a giant bag of sugar that she would keep in a steel barrel in the kitchen. The barrel was to keep all the bugs out of the food. My mom baked our bread every week.

There were many times that we were unable to leave the house due to unrest and disturbances. While that sounds exciting, it was actually very boring. Imagine a fifteen year old sitting at home with nothing to do. 

Mom, I’m bored. 

One of my favorite things to do was look through old GOOD HOUSEKEEPING magazines that someone had sent us. They had so many amazing pictures of food. Imagine. Decadent desserts, fancy roasted chickens. Our diet at the time consisted of a lot of canned tuna and Spam, because that was what people sent in food boxes. My mom is a gourmet cook, but she didn’t have much to work with. We will never let her forget the “Sweet and Sour Spam with Angel Hair Pasta” that she made. One of the few times I think I just didn’t eat. 🙂 So, here I am, bored, looking at food magazines, wanting to make all these amazing recipes. I asked my mom if I could bake something. Sure. She handed me her Better Homes and Gardens cookbook with the red-checked cover. 

Find a recipe that we have the ingredients for. 

Ok. 

Turns out, the only recipe I could find that we had ingredients for was simple sugar cookies. Sugar, flour, margarine. Some salt and baking powder. Eggs. Ok. We can make this recipe! I mixed everything up and then pinched some dough when my mom wasn’t looking. (Salmonella! Don’t eat raw cookie dough!) We baked the cookies. A bit too long. They were rather crispy. But they were sweet. It satisfied a longing. It pushed away the boredom for a little while. The cookies made me feel good. 

And cookies and other sweets still make me feel good. For a little while. Until I look down at myself and see the consequences of too many cookies. Check my blood sugar, see some more consequences. But how to change this life long habit? I’m bored. I’m feeling antsy. I’m not happy…food will make me feel better. 

I am discovering that it’s a really hard habit to break. 

Fat Fridays: The Juggler

Fat Fridays. The day we talk about diet and exercise and triumphs and failures. 

I did not write last week because I was neck-deep in failure and I had nothing to say. The last couple weeks have been rough. And the hardest part is that I haven’t been sure why eating healthy and exercising suddenly became so hard again. 

I think I finally got some insight today. 

As a mom with eleven kids, I’m keeping track of a lot of things. I have made the comparison before of being a juggler who is trying to keep a bunch of balls up in the air. I’m juggling away, getting into the swing of it. Yeah. I got this. And then someone offstage suddenly starts pelting me with a bunch more balls. You’re keeping ten balls in the air? Here, take five more. And then I start dropping balls all over the place, everything gets out of sync, and I end up picking the most vital balls (how about let’s keep everyone fed and alive) and tossing them in the air while I regroup and try to start getting everything back up in the air and going in rhythm again, with five new balls added. 

I think that is what has happened this month. Extracurricular activities starting up for the kids, several home repair crises that we’ve been putting off for as long as possible, and now they can’t be ignored anymore. All of our vehicles suddenly having problems and needing various parts and repairs. And as all these new things got thrown my way, the first ball I dropped was diet. I kept exercising, but even with that, this week I ended up missing two days in a row. 

This morning I woke up at four am and lay in bed stressing over all the things I needed to do. I finally fell asleep maybe a half hour before my alarm went off. I did not wake up in a good mood. I was grumping at my husband and he blessed me by not responding with an equally grumpy mood. Instead he helped me sort out all the things I was stressed about for the day and helped me figure out some solutions. Then later in the day, one thing got cancelled, and that made it possible for me to do three other things on my list with a lot less stress. And as I realized how much my mood improved just from one cancellation, I started cluing in to how our newly busy schedule was throwing me off kilter in all areas of my life. 

When I reach a certain level of stress, I start grasping at anything to make me feel better and I tend to fall back into my unhealthy coping patterns. Which includes using food for comfort. 

Do I have a solution for this? Not really. But at least I know a lot more what I’m up against. And for me, understanding my behavior always has to be the first step before I can change it. 

Fat Fridays: Still Broken, but Working on It

Happy Friday everyone. Hope you all are well. I was dragging my feet about writing today. Mostly because I cheated on my diet last night. And that does not motivate me to want to write about diet and health. But, a nice car ride this morning gave me some thinking time and perspective. So here I am, writing again. 

This is what happened. The past two weeks I got determined and stuck to a super strict diet. I lost three pounds. Yay. Then last night I snuck down after the kids were asleep and ate two bowls of chocolate cereal. Not yay. 

It’s a really tricky balance. On the one hand, I have to learn how to not beat myself up and say harsh, mean things to myself when I do things that aren’t in line with my diet or quest for health. On the other hand, I’ve got to be curious about why I self-sabotage. What is broken inside of me and how can I fix it? 

I feel like I’ve got a good handle on my food history. I can look back and see patterns and events that shaped the way I deal, unhealthily, with food. But, I haven’t figured out yet how to break free from those patterns and habitual thought processes. Two weeks seem to be my limit on sticking to a strict diet. A not-so-strict diet is easier to stick to, but the results come a lot slower. And I’m impatient. I had set a “wish” goal for this year when I started my journey in January. It’s now October and I am only ten pounds away from reaching my goal by the end of December. It’s so close I can feel it. So why am I eating chocolate cereal late at night? 

I am still waiting for a breakthrough in this area. The progress I’ve made is that I can tell you why I did it, all the history that led up to that decision. The progress I haven’t made is figuring out how to break that cycle.

In other news, I have started running three miles instead of two. I still have to take walk breaks, but I can now run an entire mile without a walk break, and I’m pretty sure that I could push myself to do at least a mile and half, maybe even two, without stopping, if I was motivated enough. My new goal is to try and run three miles in thirty minutes. I’m at thirty-seven minutes right now. Yeah. I’m a real speed demon. 🙂 But, I’m not trying to be fast. I would just like to be able to run a 5k and not be embarrassed about how long it takes me. Thirty minutes is decent for a middle-aged, still overweight, lady who has never been very athletic. So, that’s my goal. 

I would like to point out that I didn’t think I was able to run three miles until my trainer gave me a very ambitious, difficult workout that had me running for forty minutes. Doing the workout, finishing it and not giving up, that was what I needed to realize that I was capable of doing more than I thought I could. Being challenged to do something hard, taking up the challenge, and then succeeding: I’m learning that all those things are key to upping your game. 

Here are my takeaways. When you mess up, don’t beat yourself up, be curious instead as to why you did it. Try to figure out the root that is causing the behavior. And, let yourself be challenged, it’s the doorway to doing more and being more. 

See you all next week. 

Fat Fridays: Progress and Setting New Goals

Happy Fat Friday, that wonderful time of the week when we ponder on all things weightloss and health. I’m sorry I missed last week. To be honest I thought about writing all day, but my brain was so dead I just couldn’t do it. We were finishing up our last days of quarantining and the stress was buildling up. The school had told me the kids could return that Friday, then on Thursday, after further consultation, they said, sorry, next Tuesday instead. And my heart faltered and I think I mostly just stared into space all day while kids careened around the house crazily and I counted down the hours before we could get back into a good routine again. 

So, kids are finally back in school and I finally got my house back in order and am feeling like I might have my life back in control again. Part of getting my life back in control this week was sorting through all the clothes in my closet. I gave away three garbage bags of clothes this week. All clothes that are now too big for me, or clothes my size that I had been saving, but now that I’m this size, I realize that these clothes simply aren’t flattering. They don’t make me happy. So they’re gone. Yay! My closet feels so much nicer now! And it’s pretty fun to get rid of clothes that are too big. 

I have to say, it was a step of faith to get rid of my summer clothes that I just wore this summer. The nagging thought of, What if you don’t lose weight between now and next summer?  You’ll wish you had these clothes! But I was firm. No. These clothes are NOT going to fit me next summer because I’m going to continue working hard and I’m going to continue to lose weight. No going backwards!! I ditched the clothes. 

I started this weight loss journey somewhere around January 20th of this year. I have now lost 50 pounds. And I had a goal to be a size 16 by my birthday and I’ve hit my goal. So, now it’s time to set some new goals. Small ones that I can reach quickly. I really want to lose another 13 pounds. I’d really love to have that off by Christmas. I’m not sure if I can do it or not, but it’s worth a try. I’d also like to plan to go on a big hike sometime soon. Work on increasing my stamina with my workouts so the hike will be fun instead of grueling. We’ll see. I think the main thing for me is looking forward, having something to hope for. I really need that. 

In the meantime, I will continue on this messy journey called life where nothing is ever perfect, things never quite match up the way you want it, and progress is a series of ups and downs. Talk to you all next week. 

Fat Fridays: Moving Forward Inch by Inch

This past week I’ve been fighting a lot of my food addiction demons. Mindsets and thought processes that make me binge eat or just completely not care about diet, health, etc. It’s been a bit frustrating. I’ve done the heavy work of recognizing my unhealthy thought patterns, but how do you get rid of them? Sometimes, logic is not enough to break free from a sugar addiction. Or emotional eating. 

I’ll admit that my diet went out the window while I’ve been trying to figure this out. Then yesterday, I went to the store to get a pair of jeans. I live in the South. It’s still pretty hot around here, but I know that cool weather is on it’s way, and since my weight loss, I don’t have any pants my size. So, I went to the store and pulled about four pairs of pants to try on, all in the size I thought I was, and low and behold  none of them fit. They were all too big. What?? So I went back and got the next size down and that worked fine. I don’t know if men have this in their sizing but women have these W sizes which are cut a bit baggier in the butt and thighs. So, I am a solid 16W, down from a 22W. I was able to fit one pair of regular 16, but another style was too small. 

I decided then and there that I was going to just focus on losing the next ten pounds and maybe with that weight loss I’ll be a solid regular 16, not just 16W. I’m finding that looking at how far I have to go to get to my Dream Weight is overwhelming. So, I’m just going to focus on the next ten pounds. 

I think, in all of this, I keep having to remind myself that I am human. Not perfect. And perfection isn’t required of me. I’m on a journey towards health and sometimes the journey is going to be backtracking and side trails and mess ups and just standing in one place for a minute. But each day I get to decide to try again and see if I can move forward another couple inches. So, here’s to the next ten pounds!

See you all next week. 

Fat Fridays: A1c and Mountain Biking

Happy Friday everyone! Hope all is well with you. I had some good news this week. I went to the doctor for a regular check up and got my A1c checked (a blood test that gives you an accurate snapshot of how your blood sugar control is doing). So, my numbers came down this year from 6.0 to 5.6. Yay! It’s low enough that the doctor wants me to go off my Metphormin and see if I can maintain these numbers without medication. 

Weirdly enough, the thought of going off my medication is a little scary. I think the medication has always felt a bit like a safety net. Ok, I’m not eating exactly the way I’m supposed to, but this medicine will help with that. Not the healthiest thinking patterns. So here I am, taking the plunge and having to take full responsibility for keeping these numbers down. No medicine to help. It has certainly reinvigorated me to get back on my diet more strictly. 

I’ll be getting another A1c check in about three months, so that will be enough time to tell if I can continue to be responsible with how I’m eating, and keep up the exercise. It would be great to get that number even lower. 

In other news, my husband got me to go mountain biking with him last night. He is an avid mountain biker and I have never been in good enough shape to go with him. At least that has always been my excuse. Now I’m in good enough shape to go, but the real truth is that mountain biking terrifies me. The trail we went on was so narrow! And then there’s this cliff-edge drop off. And I fell several times because I couldn’t figure out how to downshift, pedal and do a switchback turn all at the same time. Fortunately, all my falls were in slow-motion cause they always happened when I was climbing. But still, I feel way too old to be falling off a bike. 

I know that Mountain Biking is something my husband hopes to share with me (evidence, he bought me a really nice mountain bike). So, I’m going to commit to his suggestion that I just ride the same trail over and over again until I get comfortable with it. But, I better get comfortable fast cause I am NOT an adrenaline junky! And that ride, for me, was pure adrenaline.

But, it was a good workout. Heart rate was definitely up. My fitbit informed me that I burned 575 calories in an hour. And I did have some satisfaction in knowing that I tried something that scares me. 

Today, I’m tired and sore. I had already run two miles yesterday before I went biking. So now I’m just going to get my workout cleaning my house. Have a great week everyone! 

Fat Fridays: The Inconvenience of Getting Hot and Sweaty

Ok, all you exercise people. How do you work around the Hot and Sweaty part of exercise during a regular work day? I am finding the whole Hot and Sweaty question a bit of a stumbling block for exercise. 

First of all, it’s August. That is our State’s hottest, muggiest month of the year. It’s just kind of miserable. That means that any time you exert yourself, even for a walk down the block, you are going to get hot and sweaty. No avoiding it. 

Then, you have days like today where I get up and can’t figure out what to put on. I have to take a child to a doctor appointment in the middle of the day. Before I go to the doctor I have to drive children to school (and yesterday I made the mistake of thinking, no one will see me, I’ll just wear this ratty camisole shirt when I go to drop off the kids, and then my preschooler flipped out and I ended up having to walk him in instead of dropping him off, so yeah, I have to dress for drop off), I have to do laundry and mop some floors, but then, in the middle of that I have to go to the doctor’s appointment. And then this morning, I was just tired of wearing shorts and tshirts and so I put on a summer dress and sandals. Not exercise clothes. But very nice for going to appointments and school drop offs. And then I think, maybe I just won’t exercise today because I don’t feel like getting hot and sweaty. And I feel all fresh and pretty in my dress. And who wants to ruin that? 

This is a real hurdle! 

And my trainer is going to text me today when she notices that I haven’t completed my workout and she’ll say something like, So, how’s it looking for getting your workout in today? And I’ll have to say, sorry I couldn’t do it. I put on a dress this morning and I don’t want to get hot and sweaty. 

Arrgh. 

What’s going to end up happening is I’m going to have to finish taking all my kids to their various schools and then I will have to come home, change my clothes, exercise, take a shower, and then put the same clothes I started off with, back on. Not convenient. But I don’t know how else to do it. 

Exercise is not convenient. This is my take away. 

But, it’s worth it.