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. 

Fat Fridays: Stress and Weight Loss are Incompatible

Today has been my first glimmer of hope that I can have a peaceful semester with my children in school. Today, the last of the sick kids went back to school (we are in our second week back, first week back, one child brought two different childhood viruses home). My preschooler went for another staggered day of preschool today (first two weeks he only goes part time, full time starts next week). My homeschooler finally had his first day of homeschooling co-op this week where he got assignments for the next week in all his core subjects. And this morning he diligently sat down for four hours straight and got all his work done without a murmur of complaint. 

I went to an appointment, had a quiet breakfast, did my exercise for the day, cleaned the house, washed the dishes, made some phone calls. I picked up the preschooler from his half day and then we read books together. I’ve got homemade blueberry muffins in the oven for after school snacks for all the kids. I’ve got supper prepped and ready to start slow cooking for the rest of the afternoon. This, right now, is the moment I have been waiting for. A peaceful day where everything is getting done in a non-frantic way. And here I am, writing my blog hafl a day early. Woohoo!

So, let’s talk stress. I did a cursory internet search which gave me all kinds of articles explaining how stress makes you gain weight. Last month, when I was on vacation, I did not stick to my diet. I exercised. I didn’t go crazy. But I was eating donuts. I still managed to lose two pounds. That made me kind of scratch my head in bewilderment, but whatever, I’ll take it. But, now, I am pretty sure that weight loss was connected to how little stress I was under. Yeah, there was wilderness adventure stress, but that was short term, and still not a lot. 

Since I’ve gotten home from vacation, my stress level has been off the charts. The last two weeks my heart has been randomly racing, kicking up my anxiety. Just because. (And yes, I talked to my doctor about it, she said it definitely sounded stress related.) I’ve decided that I’m not going to try and lose weight this month. Just keep exercising (it helps with stress!) and not gain any weight. I know that as we get more and more settled into our new routine, this stress is going to ease up. Lord willing. Or at least get to more manageable levels. Like today. It has been idyllic. I know when the kids come home, the activity will ramp up, but it helps to counterbalance it with a more peaceful morning. 

I am seventeen pounds away from my end of the year goal! Argh! It seems so far away and so hard to do. But I also have a daily goal of staying sane and helpful to the people around me. So, I’m not going to focus on pounds this week. I’m going to keep trying to make good food decisions, but I’m not counting calories right now. 

To any other parent out there who is looking at starting your kids in school soon, while still dealing with pandemic life…

Fat Fridays: Trying Not to Capsize

A couple weeks ago we were on a river canoe trip. My canoe had me in the back, my seventeen year old daughter in the front and a seven and eight year old in the middle. It was the last day of the trip. We were tired. We did not want our canoe to tip over like it had the day before. We were on high alert. We were going through some rapids and despite our best efforts we hit a big rock and got stuck. The canoe started to tip over, one side getting centimeters from the water that was threatening to pour in and capsize us. My seventeen year old and I both threw ourselves to one side to try and counterbalance the boat while we made efforts to push off the rock. We were both yelling instructions to each other, pulse racing as we fought the river. Suddenly the two little girls in the middle started yelling frantically. LOOK! LOOK!!! Thinking that there was some other disaster happening to the boat I craned my neck around, trying to see what was wrong. They were both pointing at a bald eagle that was flying low overhead, very close to us. Everything froze for a second while we stared at the eagle, watching it fly gracefully through the air. Then we got sucked right back into our emergency. I don’t have time to look at a bird! I’m trying to save the boat!!

Ok. So, I feel like this story is an analogy of how my diet is going. My life and trying to get NINE kids settled into FIVE different schools with all the BACK TO SCHOOL fuss that happens for each school, my parents being sick, trying to bounce back from a vacation, get my house in order after a long summer of not having my house in order, and still dealing with the daily stuff of doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, dishwashing, and laundry…All that is me in a canoe trying not to capsize. Diet and exercise are the bald eagle flying over. 

I am trying to exercise every day. I’m having my one homeschooler join me as part of his PE. But today my trainer has me doing a 45 minute hill workout. And I’m not sure how that’s going to happen as I have a sick child that has to go to the doctor this morning and in the afternoon I’m supervising a family visit for my foster child. It might have to wait till tomorrow. 

I’m trying to eat healthy and modest portions, but a lot of my meals have been on the run with not enough time to stop at the store to get my healthy snacks etc. 

I am anticipating probably two more weeks before life starts settling into our FALL ROUTINE. But right now, I’m just trying to keep this canoe from tipping over. 

Fat Fridays: A Day Late

Good morning. I am late. I contemplated skipping and just waiting a week, but it seems more appropriate to write a day late. 

Yesterday my “Give a Damn” broke. It does that every once in a while. I’ve had a hard week. Last Saturday we drove twenty-four hours straight with nine children in the car, driving through the night, to get home from our vacation. My husband did most of the driving but I did Pennsylvania, from 2am to 6am and I did a four hour stretch of Virginia. The kids were amazing. The biggest problem was the three youngest being TOO cheerful and rambunctious as they played in the row right behind our seats. It was while we were driving that my mom called and let me know that she and my dad were sick with covid and headed to the ER. And then this week has been the uncertainty of how my dad was going to pull through. And unpacking. And doing all the Back-To-School shopping, and trying to help my mom long-distance as she recovered at home, and catching up all the errands that stack up when you’ve been gone for a while. 

I started off the week healthy. Went grocery shopping and stocked up on fresh veggies and fruit. And then, on Tuesday I went to the dentist to have my last appointment to get a crown on my tooth. And then the dentist had an “oops” moment and my tooth got messed up and they ended up having to pull the tooth. And then my jaw got infected and I’ve been in pain all week and couldn’t eat all the fresh veggies cause my mouth hurt. 

Anyway. This Friday I shut down. I tried. I made an effort. I put on exercise clothes. I tried to tackle the giant list of things that needed to be done, but my brain wouldn’t focus. I would decide, Ok, I’m going to go take a walk. Then I would think, well, maybe I should get the kids settled doing this activity first. Or maybe I should go run those errands first. Or maybe we should clean the house first. And I completely froze. Didn’t know what to do. I finally left the house, ran the errands, and then sat in a chair all day, playing word games in an attempt to not have to think about my life. 

I did not exercise. I did not eat vegetables. I did not accomplish much. And I didn’t care. 

So, here we are, the next day. I’m feeling a little more rested. And I’m not feeling guilty. I’m not superwoman. This is something I have to tell myself often. I actually can’t do everything (though in my last Friday post, I did feel like I could!). And sometimes my body and brain just need to check out for a while. And it’s ok. Today is a new day. I’ll try again to make good choices for food. I’ll try to get moving again. The important thing is to keep trying. 

Fat Fridays: Taking My Pulse

Hey everyone. Hope your week has gone well. I’ve had a great week! We’ve been on vacation and it’s been a lot of fun. Now, my diet? It’s not going so great. 

When I was getting ready for this trip I was planning ahead, thinking about the KickOff App I’ve been using to keep track of everything I eat and get my daily exercises. Do I still need this? Do I still need this level of accountability? I knew on this trip it was going to be difficult to use the App. We don’t have good phone connection or wifi where we are staying so I knew that regularly logging my food throughout the day was going to be next to impossible. I finally decided that on this trip I would use the app to get my exercise, but I would hit pause on logging my food every day. 

That is not going so well. It has become very clear to me that, even though it’s been almost seven months of using this app, I still need a high level of accountability. Like, really need it.  My default eating habits are just Not Good. Which is kind of depressing. 

As usual, I have to fight the feeling of, Well, I messed up a bit, I might as well jump off the cliff and mess up a lot. You know what I mean? You eat one donut and think, that’s it, I’m off plan. Might as well eat the whole box of donuts. This is REALLY BAD THINKING. And I think that’s what I’m going to be working on during this vacation. Moderation!!

This time off has been a good chance to take my pulse, see how I’m doing. And I’ve figured out that I still need a high level of accountability. But at least I know what I need moving forward. 

Fat Fridays: New Esther versus Old Esther

Yesterday was a really rough day. Like, envision a bloody battle with swords and shields and everyone is wounded and bleeding. That was my day with food. 

Yesterday I hit that place where I just didn’t care anymore. I didn’t care about my diet. I didn’t care about eating healthy. I didn’t care. I’m too tired. Too stressed. I found myself hunting the house for sugar. I just needed something sweet. Anything. There was some cereal and I grabbed several handfuls of frosted flakes and stuffed them in my mouth. I just didn’t care. One of the kids had a leftover ham and cheese sandwich they didn’t want. I ate it. Cause the thought of fixing myself a salad or cooking up vegetables just sounded horrible. And there’s nothing wrong with a sandwich right? Except, it wasn’t even really that great of a sandwich. Something I would usually deem not worth wasting my calories on. But I just didn’t care. 

I had to drop my teenagers off at youth group and then I needed to go Walmart to get some things for my kids. And I started thinking about what I could buy as a special treat at Walmart since I would be out by myself. That is, after all, my old pattern. Go out by myself, get something yummy to eat as a treat. I thought about all the things I haven’t eaten in a long time. Chocolate cake. Debbie cakes. Donuts. Ice cream. A big bag of Chips. Which one should I get? And at the same time there was this sinking feeling going on. I’m doing it again. I’m falling off the wagon. I’m blowing my diet. I’m returning to all my bad habits. And I felt kind of hopeless. Like, I’m never going to win this battle. I will always be overweight. 

I was in the car, still driving, and I had the thought, What are you hoping that food is going to do for you? (Which seems to be a theme this week. I mentioned in a previous blog about asking the question, What am I looking for? when I turn to mindless distractions.) And this is a good question. Why am I wanting to eat all this food and what am I hoping to accomplish? And I had to remind myself that eating food was NOT going to make me feel better about my life. In fact, I was going to feel a LOT worse if I turned to food. But, if I made good choices, I would feel better about myself. This is the place where you imagine two warriors hammering away at each other with their swords. Old Esther verses New Esther. Flesh verses Spirit. 

I sat in the parking lot. Staring at the store. Ok. Make a plan. I will buy some blueberries and some carrots and hummus. And then I will stay away from the food section. 

Walmart is a dangerous place when you are trying to resist temptation. I felt like a nun at a nudist colony. AVERT THE EYES! Dont look there! No! Don’t look over there either! Keep walking! Get away from the food!! 

I needed to get some things for an upcoming car trip and I contemplated getting my kids some yummy snacks, but quickly decided against it. Nope. Can’t do it. If I buy that stuff, I will eat it too. So I bought them some gummy snacks (which they love, and I think are disgusting) and determined that on THIS trip, they will be eating fruits and vegetables right alongside me. 

I finally got out of the store, got in my car, slammed the door, and did some deep breathing for a minute. I made it. I did it. I didn’t binge, splurge, over-do or anything. I bought some healthy food and walked out. Whoosh. 

And I do feel better about myself today. A lot better than if I had just given in. But man, that was hard. And just a quick note. I think what has put me in a bad place was my two weeks when I went low-carb. My personal dysfunction with food cannot handle diets where entire food groups are eliminated. It stirs up a lot of unhealthy emotions like feeling deprived which then makes me want to binge. So, moving forward, I’m going to continue my LowER carb diet where I just try to eat grains in small portions and with moderation. 

New Esther won the battle this time. But I anticipate a lot more skirmishes in the future. 

Fat Fridays: I really don’t want to mess this up.

Hey All. (Short for the Southern: All a y’all or all of you all or everybody.) Hope you have had a good week. Mine has been busy. As usual. In fact, it would be really weird to say that my week has not been busy. You would think by now I wouldn’t be surprised that I had a busy week. But here I am, still looking back in wonder, Wow, that was a busy week! Like it’s a surprise or something. 

This week of diet and exercise has been up and down. I’ve stayed consistent with the exercise, and most days I’ve done more than my trainer assigned me. Food, on the other hand, has been a bit more difficult. There have been days when I have breezed through the day eating salads and berries and lean meat and I haven’t had a single urge to eat anything else. And then there have been days when I’ve been stuffing the Chocolate Brioche into my mouth which my mom bought for the kids. And days like yesterday where I have stayed healthy all day, and then my teenage daughter asked if she could make pancakes for supper and I said sure, and I went off and ate a salad on my own. But then my four year old needed help serving his pancakes, and I got called, and so I ended up preparing these beautiful homemade pancakes with butter and syrup, cutting them up for him so he could eat and then running from the room because all I wanted to do was grab his plate from him and stuff my face with pancakes. And then I sat in my room trying to not think about pancakes, and I was about to sneak out and just grab one when I remembered something I’ve said to myself a lot. “If you’re going to cheat, cheat smart.” So I went and got the last of my skinny pop kettle corn popcorn. And ate one serving which was only 140 calories and which satisfied my sweet tooth. And then I stuck a piece of gum in my mouth so I’d stop eating. 

In other words, it’s been a pretty normal week. Small victories and lots of challenges. 

To tell you the truth, I’m getting nervous about this weight loss journey. About four years ago I tried to lose weight and I got right around the weight I am now before lots of stuff came up that derailed me and I ended up gaining all the weight back plus some more. I have a tendency to do well for about six months and then start petering out. 

I really don’t want that to happen again. And I don’t trust myself to not mess it up. So I’m feeling a bit on edge. I just want to get past this weight zone and into a lower level so I can assure myself that I’m not going to repeat old history. 

I don’t know what to do about it except make myself self-aware so that my “falling off the wagon” doesn’t happen so slowly and gradually that I don’t really notice. So, right now I am on High Alert as I try to keep this weight coming off. I really don’t want to mess this up. 

Fat Fridays: Which Direction are You Looking?

Losing weight is kind of a funny thing. You drop some pounds and you look at yourself and you’re so excited. I look great! I look so much better! Isn’t this wonderful! But then, after a while you start looking at yourself and thinking, man, I need to lose so much more weight. Look at all this fat. This is so depressing. 

It really has to do with your perspective. Which direction are you looking? If you’re looking backwards then losing weight feels great. I used to be THIS much and now I’m a lot less!! Yay me!! But when you’re looking forwards, it can get depressing. I want to weigh THIS much and I still have so far to go. Uggh. 

This week I found myself kind of in the UGGH category. I’ve lost a lot of weight (44 pounds as of this morning!), but in order to hit my goal weight, I still have 62 pounds to go. Argh. I’ve been having to encourage myself. I’ve been keeping a log of my weight loss and I went back and looked at the numbers. Ok, a month ago you weighed this much, you’ve made a lot of progress! 

It also makes me think about the WHY of weight loss. Why am I doing this? I know when I was in my teens and twenties, weight loss was about achieving a certain look. I want to wear THIS size clothing. I want my measurements to be THIS much. If I can look like that model in the magazine, then I will be happy. And I think I thought I would be happy because then I would be attractive enough. Which is what our culture teaches us. You have to look a certain way or you are not really worthy of being loved. 

Well, I have been happily married for almost twenty-two years now and my husband has proved to me that he is capable of loving me through thick or thin. And while I would love to look my best for him, I don’t feel like I have to look a certain way to be lovable. (I say that breezily, but it was a long, hard-fought journey to get to this place.) 

I now find myself being motivated a lot more by health concerns. I am prediabetic. I know that my weight is a major contributing factor. I have spent long periods of my life completely inactive and I feel like I’m missing out on things I want to do because my body simply isnt’ strong enough to do it. I want to climb mountains, go on long bike rides, go running. I want to have energy to do active things with my kids instead of just watching from a chair. 

These past six months as I have been exercising daily, losing weight, getting stronger, I have started to appreciate and love my body more. Look at you! Look at what you just did! I am excited to think of all the things I will be able to do as I shed more and more weight. 

But, all of this brings me to the final point I want to make. This week I was at the park taking a long walk, almost four miles. It was so nice to be outside in nature. The sunlight was at that perfect evening slant, the trees were shimmering in the breeze, the grass was extra green. It was just a perfect time. And I was thinking about my goals, ONE DAY, I’ll be at the weight I want. ONE DAY I’ll have arrived. And I was thinking about my WHY for weight loss. And it occurred to me that I was already doing my WHY. I was taking time for myself to get out in nature and walk. I was being active and doing something I liked. I don’t have to wait for some nebulous time in the future when my scale finally says the magic number. I’m already living the life that I want. Right here, in the present. And instead of swiveling my head back and forth: future, past; focusing on the here and now seems better.