It’s a Place Worth Fighting For

I went jogging in my neighborhood this morning. I looped around and went over some sections of the road twice. I finished running and started walking towards my house. An elderly woman came rushing as fast as she was able, out of her house. She had a big grin and was holding a cold bottle of water. She called out, I’ve been watching you! And handed me the bottle of water. I’m Karen! And then she turned to go back to her house. 

The other day I was jogging/walking and I had hit my walking stretch and another lady called to me from her porch, wanting to know if I got out at a regular time every day, wondering if I wanted to join her on her morning walks. She also wanted to know if I needed a drink of water. 🙂

This morning, as I was running down a familiar road, I realized that I had a nodding acquaintance with almost all of these neighbors. My kids had played with a lot of their kids. I passed another lady out running and we waved at each other. We met last summer when a different neighbor held a block party. Her kids bring their dog to come greet my dog pretty regularly. 

Our next door neighbor has a little girl who is best friends with my foster daughter. That friendship, and their willingness to have my daughter over to play regularly, has been a life-saving thing for us. 

I ran into another neighbor at the grocery store last week. I testified at the trial of the murder of his son. He came up to tell me how the family was doing now that the trial is over. 

One of our elderly, very civic minded couples that live in our neighborhood has started a text chat with as many neighbors as they can add. I think we have forty people on the chat right now, and they are always looking for more people who want to join. They talk about the monthly neighborhood meetings, a community garden that we have down at the park, congratulations to the new parents on the birth of their child, does anyone know who this stray dog belongs to? (pictures attached!) 

Neighborhoods are great things. Our neighborhood has had a rough year. Lots of gun violence, deaths, craziness in our high school. At times I have had the thought, we should just move. This is ridiculous. We talk about it. Where would we want to live? (Definitely the country!) Wouldn’t a small rural school be better? But so far, every time I think about moving, I have a check. No. Not now. This isn’t the right time. 

And I think we don’t give enough thought to what we would be giving up. We have lived in this community for almost seventeen years now. And it’s taken us a long time to establish all these connections. But they’ve been established. They are here. This is our neighborhood. This is our community. And it’s a good community. Lots of good people. 

And I guess this is part of the  answer to the question a lot of people think, but don’t come right out and ask..Why do I live here? Why haven’t I moved? Because it’s home. It’s a good home. And it’s worth staying and fighting for the changes needed to make it a safer and better place. 

Fat Fridays: Success with Low-Carb

Good morning everyone. I hope your week has gone well. I’ve had a super-busy, super-stressful week. But here I am. It’s Friday. I have survived. 

Despite the craziness of this week, (or maybe because?) I managed to lose FIVE pounds since last Friday. I don’t know if I’ve ever lost that much in one week. Which is great because I had stalled out. I had seventeen days where the scale didn’t budge. Of course, during those seventeen days I went on vacation and ate vacation food and then I went on a retreat and ate retreat food and in general I was eating more processed foods. Last Saturday I decided I was going to take a break from grain and sugar (the two things I crave the most) and see if I could get this weight loss moving again. And apparently, it worked. 

I’ve been trying to be really low-key about it. I keep telling myself I’m just going to do this for a week. This is not forever. I have a tendency to go into binge mode whenever I feel like I’m being deprived. So I’ve been trying to be gentle with whatever it is inside of me that reacts that way. Soothing. It’s Ok! You can do this! You can eat that bag of popcorn next week! (I think the bag of BOOM CHICKA POP sweet and salty kettle corn that is in my cupboard has been the only thing that has offered real temptation.) I haven’t missed rice or gluten-free stuff at all. 

I bought this giant box of SPRING MIX mixed greens and that is quickly becoming a main staple. I also found this stuff called SKINNY GIRL salad dressing that has no fat or sugar and actually tastes really good. Only 10 calories per serving. Yay! Cause I can eat all kinds of salad if I have salad dressing. So, my go-to this week has been a big pile of mixed greens with some tomatoes and then some beans and either some grilled meat or some vegan sausages. Add a sprinkle of cheese and the Skinny Girl Honey Dijon dressing and it’s yummy and filling. I’ve also been eating lots of blueberries. 

I’m not sure how long I’ll keep up the NO GRAIN, NO SUGAR. Losing five pounds is pretty motivating though. I’ll definitely do it again this week and see how things go. 

By the way, this weight loss now puts me at a grand total of FORTY-ONE pounds lost! Woohoo. It’s been 6 months and a week since I started this journey. 

Besides changing my diet, I’ve also been exercising more. Or more intensely. I’ve been getting my 10,000 steps most days and I’ve been jogging three times this week. Plus some yoga and weights and swimming. I am finding that an intense workout really helps with all the stress I’ve been going through. I am feeling strong and fit. Which is a brand new sensation for me. 

Well, I’m off for another week of Low-Carb and exercise. I’ll let you know how it’s going next week!

Fat Fridays: Angel or Devil?

I am late posting this today. I’m going to blame that on a really fuzzy brain. Last night I went to bed with the thought that I would write my blog first thing in the morning. Then this morning I puttered around the house aimlessly, not thinking about blogs at all. Then, when I set myself to a task, I suddenly remembered I hadn’t written. I will write as soon as I am done with this task! Except I forgot again. I’ve done this three times today. So, here I am at last. 🙂

Yesterday I saw this sappy meme that ended with this: “Focus on your own voice. It’s the only one that matters.” And I thought it was ironic that I was reading this because my thoughts this week have been how my inner-voice is one of my worst enemies. 

The kids are eating a dessert. My inner-voice says, Go ahead and have some! You deserve it! 

I think about whether I should stop and get some fast food after a long stressful day. My inner-voice reminds me that cooking a healthy meal is going to take a long time, and maybe I will have to wash some dishes first before I can even cook. And does healthy food really taste that good? Don’t we deserve a break? 

This past Wednesday I went to the park to jog. I was supposed to walk two minutes and then jog two minutes for a total of thirty minutes. I jogged the first two minutes. My inner-voice spoke up. Why are we doing this? 

I jogged the next two minutes. My inner voice got louder. This is not fun. You should just walk. Walking is still exercise.

I jogged the next two minutes. My inner voice was yelling by now. This hurts! You are tired today! You don’t have the energy to do this! Just walk. Noone cares if you walk. You should only run if you Really Really want to. And you don’t want to. 

Fortunately, I’ve got two voices in my head. And every day I have to decide which one I’m going to listen to. 

The other voice said, ignore that. You can do this. You are not a quitter. You only have to run two minutes at a time. You have given birth to ten children: You can run for two minutes. You are not a quitter. Keep going. It’s going to be done soon. You’ll feel really good if you don’t quit. 

And in the end I just started chanting in my head, I am not a quitter, I am not a quitter! And I finished the full thirty minutes. And I felt good about finishing. 

Remember those cartoons where the person has a mini-angel on one shoulder, and mini devil on the other? It’s a pretty accurate picture of our two voices that are constantly talking to us. 

When it comes to weight loss and exercise and lifestyle changes, that devil and angel voice get into some pretty fierce fights. It’s a daily battle to figure out which one I’m going to listen to. 

Fat Fridays: Restriction=Binge Eating

I”m writing this on a Thursday night. It has not been a great day as far as health is concerned. Yesterday I was jogging and I didn’t take the time to put the right shoes on, and I ended up pulling something on the side of my knee. Not real bad, but noticeable enough that I knew I had to rest it today. So, I told my trainer about it and she cancelled my jog for today and said no walks or runs for a couple days. I think I’m going to do some strength training tomorrow. But, I was really looking forward to my jog, and being inactive hasn’t been great for my mood. 

Then, earlier this week, I was talking about some problems I was having and my trainer suggested that I take bread/wheat out of my diet for a little while and see if it solves the problems. Ok. I can do that. Except, on the same day that I decided to do that, our neighbor, who works in a food pantry, ambushed me. While I was out, she dropped off two cakes, cinnamon rolls, carrot cake sandwich cookies, and muffins. She needed a home for them and thought of us. I walked in the door and was bombarded by baked goods (my number one weakness) and I caved and ate two cookies before I even gave myself time to think. I did manage to stop after that, but felt crummy for caving in the first place. I sent a lot of the food with my husband to his work to share, but we still had two cakes in the house. The kids asked if they could cut one of the cakes this afternoon, and me, just wanting these things gone, said yes. And then suddenly there was chocolate cake everywhere and I caved again. And then I made the family chicken alfredo while I had a chicken salad, but still caved again and ate some alfredo. 

And I’m sitting here thinking, what on earth is wrong with me???? 

And I realized what it was. It all started with deciding to cut bread/wheat out of my diet for a while. I do really, really, really, bad when I feel like I’m being deprived of something. If someone tells me I can’t have something, I immediately crave it. I get this mentality of, better eat a bunch now, cause I’m not going to be able to get any later… 

I have done a lot better these past months telling myself I can have whatever I want in moderation. And as I’ve started counting my calories, I’ve gravitated towards nutrient dense food just so I can get more bang for my buck. I mostly eat Ezekiel bread now, and no more than two slices at a time so I can keep my carb load low. I made that choice naturally without having to set strict guidelines about which kind of bread I can eat. If I feel like I have freedom to choose whatever I want, I am much more likely to make good choices. But if I feel like I am being restricted, it sets off a bunch of weird cravings and bingeing. 

So, moving forward, I think I’m going to have some good bread alternatives laying around the house (I found some gluten free ancient grains waffles, and I found some low calorie popcorn), but I’m going to give myself permission to eat whatever I want. And hopefully, without the weird emotional response to restriction going on, I will feel free to make better choices. We’ll see. I’ll let you know how it goes. 

Fat Fridays: Cheerleaders

Today my exercise assignment from my trainer was to do some core exercises (crunches, planks etc) and then go and run/jog two miles. Already this week I have jog/walked twice, thirty minutes each time, but it was more walking than jogging and I didn’t have a distance I was aiming for, just a time frame. 

So, I did my core stuff and then headed for a nearby park that has a walking track loop. I have presumed that this loop is .25 miles. There aren’t any official signs that give you the exact distance, but it looks about the same size as other parks’ .25 mile walking tracks. 

Well, today I downloaded the “Map my Run” app and discovered that this loop is .27 miles. Not .25. And I just have to wonder…Why? Why would you do that? It would have been very simple to adjust the circle so it was only .25 miles! So, 8 laps around gave me a grand total of 2.1 miles, instead of 2. And when you are gasping for breath and flooding your brain with inspirational comments so that you will keep going, that .1 miles is a big deal! But I digress, back to my story…

So, I decided that I would run one lap, and then walk half a lap, then run a full lap, then walk half, etc, etc. This worked out pretty well for me as that half lap was just long enough to restore my breath and walk out some of the cramps in my legs. 

As I was gasping my way around the track, there was another woman walking in the opposite direction to me. She was an older black lady with brown circular glasses and a warm twinkle in her eye. The first time we passed, I nodded hello and smiled, she nodded back. The next time we passed, we made eye contact, but nothing else. Then the next time we passed we smiled again. (I live in the South. We interact with strangers. It’s kind of the expected thing to do.) We kept passing each other, and it didn’t take too long, I’m sure, for her to realize what a giant task this was for me to be jogging. The last time I passed her she grinned and said, “You’re doing great! Keep going!” I grinned and I felt my shoulders go back a bit and my legs got a bit stronger. It’s amazing what encouragement can do for a person. 

I was also encouraging myself the entire time. I had a little mantra going on in my head, in rhythm with my pounding feet and gasping breath, You can do it! You can do it! You can do it! Having a random stranger cheer me on was icing on the cake. 

I can’t imagine trying to do this weight loss journey without my cheering team. My family is my number one cheerleader. Of course, I kind of force them into it. Guess what! I lost 2 pounds!! Great mom! Good for you! I text my husband, Guess what! I just ran 2 miles! And then I expect him to say something positive and encouraging. I am shameless when it comes to eliciting positive comments from my family. But I need it, and they are willing to oblige. 

Any time we take on a hard task, it is significantly easier when there is a support team in the background, ready to cheer you and celebrate all your victories. I am thankful for all the encouragement that has come my way, and I hope that I can be an encouragement to others as they go on a weight loss journey too. So, just keep this in mind…You can do it! You’re doing great! I’m proud of you! 

Fat Fridays: Guess What I Did?!

So, you all will never guess what I did this week! This fat, middle-aged mom went jogging…Twice! My trainer had given me some kind of an exercise called Farkel (have you heard of it?). It was basically intervals of fast and slow. The first one was a total of 24 mins, 14 of those mins were fast, and the rest slow. The second time it was 30 mins and 15 of those mins were fast. In the past when she has written fast vs slow, I have speed walked, or gone a lot harder on the elliptical. But, I just suddenly had a thought, maybe I could jog? So, I tried. And survived 30 seconds of jogging. Then I survived 1 minute of jogging. Then I survived 2 minutes of jogging, and then, by that time I was determined to jog every time it called for “fast”. 

The first time I tried it we were at my parent’s house, out in the country, and all my kids were playing outside. I was determinedly jogging along and I glanced to the side and there was my four year old son, sitting by the path. His mouth was wide open in shock while he watched me. I was too out of breath to laugh. I managed to gasp out, “Mommy is exercising!” He stood up and announced that he could run too! And then he came and joined me, out-lapping me very easily. 

I felt very accomplished and proud of myself afterwards. 

The second time, two days later, I went to the park and took my seven and six year old with me. Fortunately it was in the morning on a very cloudy day, so there were only two other people at the park. Adults sitting under the pavilion. I say this is lucky because I really didn’t want to jog in front of an audience. When I say that I am “jogging” I mean that I am making my body do jogging movements. I am actually going about as fast as a six year old can speed walk, as was shown to me on Wednesday. This time I had to go “fast” for 5 minutes, and I actually jogged an entire lap around the park (quarter mile). I have no idea why, but this has been a big boost to my confidence. I have been out of shape for so long, I really didn’t know if my body could do “fit” things properly every again. Now I am envisioning myself one day actually Running!

At the same time, my jeans that I’ve been wearing since the beginning of this journey, finally started being really loose. Women’s plus size pants accommodate a lot of pounds. Which is great when you are gaining weight. A little depressing when you are trying to lose it. But, this week, I finally tried the next size pants down and I was able to get into them. Still a bit too tight. Maybe another 5 pounds and they’ll be wearable? 

After all the confidence boosting I had this week, it was a bit of a let-down to find that I had only lost 1 pound. But, I am determined to not care. My fasting blood sugar was 100 this morning and I am planning on going on a hike this weekend with my family. I have lost a total of 19 pounds in 9 weeks, and I am feeling good about my accomplishments.