Fat Fridays: Vacations and Diets

I went on a vacation last week. We were gone for five days. I talked to my trainer ahead of time and we talked about things I could do to stay on track with my diet and exercise, but in the end I told her that my main goal was to simply not gain weight while I was gone. And I am happy to say that I accomplished that goal. But it was hard. 

One of the problems was that all the grownups on the trip were tired and weary and cooking was not a top priority. We did a lot of pizza, hotdogs and sandwiches. Cereal. It was a vacation after all. Cooking healthy meals is not exactly what you feel like doing when you are relaxing. I think the other problem is that our family, and the other family we were vacationing with, had all just finished a very long, hard school year. So we were especially tired. 

In order to make up for not eating super healthy I decided I would get more movement in. I made sure I was getting my 10,000 steps a day. I went on walks, bike rides, went swimming…In fact, on the day we went to the beach I got over 20,000 steps! Three miles of that was walking barefoot in a wet swimsuit down the beach. Not something I recommend for overweight people. I’m still recovering from rub burns. I think I was a little obsessive about getting exercise. I got up early (not on purpose, my inner clock was still set to “gettting-kids-to-school” time) and then I would find a private place and do the workout my trainer had set for me. Then I would take a walk in the neighborhood where we were staying. If I didn’t have all my steps at the end of the day, I took another walk. But it worked. Five days of eating pizza and hotdogs and sandwiches and one trip to an icecream place where I indulged in chocolate icecream with all kinds of chocolatey toppings, and I managed to not gain any weight. 

Of course, I didn’t lose any weight either. But the good news is, since I’ve come home, I’ve doubled down on the healthy eating and exercise and have already dropped two pounds in three days. And, after all the indulgence, the healthy food tastes really good. 

I keep having to remind myself that my diet and exercise are not a short-term thing that I’ll just do until I reach my goal. This has to be a complete lifestyle change. Which means that it has to fit with all areas of my life, including vacations. So, I am feeling a bit more confident about the future as I have now tackled staying-healthy-while-on-vacation and have passed the test. 

Fat Fridays: Quick Update

So, last week I had some big slip-ups involving cake. And pasta. And maybe something else I can’t remember? I figured out why I was in binge-mode, but I was still bummed at my set-back. On Saturday I decided to weigh myself, kind of as a punishment. Here, weigh yourself so you can see how badly you did from messing up. I weighed myself, and low and behold, I had lost three pounds. 

????????

Life doesn’t make sense. 

This means I hit my thirty pound weight loss milestone! Yay!!! 

This was very inspiring and I jumped right back on the wagon, and have done very well food-wise this week. 

In other news, I ran two miles yesterday, two minutes faster than before. Still ridiculously slow. I realized that right now, my running time for two miles is the same time I used to have in college for running three miles. And I wasn’t fast in college. But, progress is progress. We take what we can get. The other big progress is that, after running, I was not crazy sore. And today I don’t seem to have much lingering after effects either. 

This week I have been making a slow shift to gluten-free. I’m not being legalistic about it, I have told myself I can have bread if I want to, it’s an option, but I’m trying to have some gluten free options readily available. This week I’ve been eating VANS gluten free ancient grains waffles that I found at KROGER. They’re pretty good. I like them because they have a bunch of different grains and aren’t just rice, potato and corn flours. 

I also had a first this week. I went biking one day for my exercise. I was supposed to bike eight miles. I was happily biking along when my phone in my pocket beeped, reminding me of an upcoming appointment in ten minutes. I was at least fifteen minutes away from my house. It was a zoom meeting where I was supposed to be actively talking, not just silently observing. Yikes. I rode as fast as I could toward my house but was still a mile away when it was time for the meeting to start. So, I got off the bike, logged into the zoom meeting and kept my camera off. The person running the meeting asked if we could turn our cameras on, and another person chimed in to say that they were driving and would turn their camera on soon. I jumped on this excuse and said, Yes, I am heading home, not quite there, I’ll turn on my camera in a couple minutes. Then, I put the phone in my pocket, where I could still hear the meeting and started riding like crazy towards my house. I almost made it, I was maybe two minutes from my house, but then they asked everyone to go around and introduce themselves. I had to get off the bike so I could hit the right buttons and turn on my speaker to introduce myself, but then I was out of breath and breathing hard cause I had been pushing so hard to get home. I ended up apologizing and saying, sorry, I’m on my bike, out of breath, almost home. 

Sigh. 

Technology creates weird situations. 

Well, that’s my update for now. I’ll see you all next week!

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. 

Penance or Grace?

This past week I’ve been thinking about penance and grace. The dictionary gives the following definition for penance:

pen·ance

noun

  1. 1.
    voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.

I have been on a journey this year to lose weight. At the beginning of my journey I was losing two pounds a week. Yay! It felt like I was making good progress. Then the weight loss slowed down to one pound a week. And that just feels agonizingly slow. Every week I am working out six days a week, I am keeping a record of everything I eat, keeping my calories at the right amount, always choosing the healthier options, checking in with a personal trainer daily…it’s a lot of work just to see the scale move one pound. 

And I had this thought. This is my penance for being overweight. My punishment for gluttony and sloth. My just dues for allowing myself to get to this place of needing to lose so much weight.

And that thought felt very comfortable. Yes. I am facing the consequences of bad choices, and I’m just going to have to work really really hard to get myself back to a good weight. It’s all my fault and this is my punishment. 

So, I kept hold of this idea for a couple days and then, all of sudden, out of nowhere, this thought popped into my head. What if, instead of punishment, this is grace? 

Definition of grace (Entry 1 of 2)

1a: unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification

What if I have simply not been in a place, mentally or spirtually, to be able to fully learn how to take care of my body the way I need to? And finally I am in that place. And God is teaching me how to care for myself. And it’s a long process. A long process of breaking off bad habits and establishing good ones. A long process of learning how to gage how much food is “enough” and how much is just gluttony. A long process of learning how to enjoy movement, exercise. A long process of changing my lifestyle so that it embraces health. What if that one pound a week is a symbol of grace. Proof that God does not simply leave me wallowing in my sin, but has opened a way for me to change. 

Last night I attended a Celebration of Life service for a man who had recently died of Covid. I was not personally friends with him, but I am friends with his wife and one of his daughters. As people shared stories of his life and personality and character, a picture was painted of a wonderful father and husband and friend. But what really stood out to me was the observation, by more than one person, that this man was who he was because he was a follower of Jesus. It was Jesus’ grace in his life that enabled him to be this wonderful father, husband, friend. And I think about this as I think about penance and grace. 

God’s grace in my life enables me to become the best version of myself. It’s not about punishment any more. Jesus already took that punishment on the cross and then declared that It was Finished. Yes, we face the consequences of our sins, but it is not in a spirit of punishment and condemnation. It is a spirit of Grace. Here, my daughter. The way you are choosing is not bringing you life, try doing it my way instead. Let me restore you, strengthen you. Walk with me and I will turn your ashes into beauty. 

Penance or grace? I choose grace. Or rather, grace chose me. 

Fat Fridays: Fatigue

I do not like being tired. I hate it. It feels like I have to do a task that requires 10 units, but I’ve only been given 4 units. And then what do you do? 

Fatigue is one of the leading reasons I started pursuing a better diet and exercise. I needed energy. Really bad. My poor diet messed with my blood sugar. I would eat too many carbs and then my blood sugar would spike and I would feel like I was about to pass out and I would have to lie down. My lack of exercise made climbing the stairs at my house a major event. I felt like I was dragging myself through each day. 

So, I changed my diet, I started really keeping tabs on my carbs, trying to not go over 30grams per meal or snack. I started exercising and felt my endurance growing by leaps and bounds. I now started running up the steps at my house. I stopped taking naps every day. I started averaging about seven hours of sleep, instead of needing eight-plus. I started taking a handful of supplements, like B vitamins and Vitamin D.  And while I will never be accused of being the Energizer Bunny, I felt fine getting through my day. 

And then this past couple weeks happened. Last week I was on a stress-high from the recent gun-violence in my kids’ highschool and our community. Then this week that stress turned into depression. I have barely been able to get out of bed in time in the mornings. I do all my early morning stuff of getting kids off to school, getting young kids fed and settled in, and then I crash mid morning. Fall asleep. And though I don’t sleep too long, it takes me several hours afterwards to get myself up and functioning again. 

I’ve been rolling with it. Been sitting on the couch reading to my little boys instead of trying to tackle grammar and math lessons (I homeschool my six year old). I haven’t attempted to fold the six baskets of laundry, just made sure the kids grab something clean out every night for the next day. I haven’t tried to do any heavy-duty cleaning, just the basic daily tidy-up. My personal trainer is still sending me daily workouts, but twice I’ve traded in a tough workout for a long walk instead. And I’ve just been trying to be patient with myself. Depression is something I’ve fought before and I know it will pass. 

But, I have to say, I’ve been a bit surprised at the fatigue. I think, in the back of my mind, I always presumed that all my fatigue came directly from lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet. I never thought a lot about stress and depression being a significant factor as well. But, I think it is. 

The big reminder I’ve had to give myself is, even though my diet and exercise aren’t giving me energy right now, it would be a hundred times worse if I went back to my old lifestyle. I am still nourishing my body in the way it needs, moving it the way it needs. Fatigue is not an excuse to stop. It’s a motivation to keep going. No reason to make this any worse than it already is. 

Fat Fridays: Working on Not Being Discouraged

Good Friday morning everyone. It’s early. I just dropped my kids off at school, and frankly, I would rather go back to bed than continue with this day. I’ve been in a funk all week. We had spring break last week and it was so nice to sleep in, take the kids to do fun things, and just relax. This Monday morning was especially painful as the alarm went off at 6:15 am and I had to drag all my grumpy kids out of bed again. 

This school year has five of my kids doing school in-person, one doing virtual at home, and two doing homeschooling at home. I think most of my homeschooling friends would agree that by the time spring shows up, we are about done (as in over-it) with homeschooling. So, this week has basically been me prodding, cajoling, threatening, trying to encourage my six year old to get his stuff done every day. Not fun. Not exciting. Not inspiring. 

My weightloss journey has kind of felt the same this week. Not fun. Not exciting. Not inspiring. My weight has decided to do a shuffle in a three pound range and the fluctuation is discouraging. I know, I should just not weigh myself. But, I waited the whole week I was making myself wait, and the scale still didn’t show any movement. I think my body is comfortable at this weight. I am actually at a weight that I have hung out at for quite a while in the past before the pounds started creeping on even more. 

If I step back and think with perspective, I can see that this is all part of the journey. Some days you lose, some days you maintain, some days you fluctuate. If I stick to the plan it will stay on a downward trend. I know these things. But when you’re already feeling blah, it’s hard to remember that. 

I was texting with my trainer the other day and she asked me what things I was worried about that would keep me from sticking to my weightloss journey. She suggested that I make a list, and then start working on solutions for each of those things. I still haven’t done it. But I’ve thought about it some. And I need to be careful, because I know that one of those things that derails me is discouragement from very slow weight loss. You know, when you are really careful with what you eat and you are exercising diligently…and then nothing happens. After a while you start wondering, Why am I even doing this? 

So, this is how I am combatting this dangerous mindset. First, I am trying to remind myself why I am on this journey in the first place. Yes, I am trying to lose weight, but I am also trying to battle pre-diabetes. This past week I had a fasting blood sugar of 93, which is just amazing as I had been averaging in the 130s before I started my program. I am also trying to get in shape so I can do things with my family. This past Saturday our family went on a four mile hike up, down, and around a mountain. I was able to keep up with everyone and didn’t feel dead or exhausted the whole time. I am also just trying to stop my food addictions that had me using food to self-medicate all my moods. That is no longer a driving force in what and when I am eating. I am counting calories, keeping track of carbs and protein and managing to feel full on significantly less than I used to eat. These are all good things that I am succeeding in. 

I needed to remind myself of all that. I also think I need to work on that list of potential obstacles and start brainstorming more solutions so I don’t derail myself without even realizing it. 

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. 

Fat Fridays: Fighting Stress with Exercise

Good morning everyone. It is an early Friday morning here. My kids are just getting up, grabbing their breakfast, getting ready for a virtual day of school. We have been in-person this year, but have had to move to virtual occasionally for covid, weather, and now, this week, gun violence in our neighborhood that has been taking the lives of our school kids. On Tuesday, there was an incident of someone shooting a gun in the parking lot of our elementary school, while children were playing on the playground. On Wednesday, we learned that the fourth high school student in six weeks had died of gunshot wounds. On Thursday, my body kind of shut down from all the stress, and in between doing life: helping kids with virtual school, doing my daily exercise, preparing meals, I climbed into bed and just slept. I think I took three separate naps. All of  them interrupted, none of them long enough. But I just couldn’t stay awake. 

Last night I went out on date night with my husband and we took a long brisk walk in the woods. It was nice to get physically tired instead of just mentally. 

This is one thing I have found as I’ve done my new exercise and diet program, I am finding myself starting to crave physical exercise.  

I especially like walking. There is something very therapeutic about being outside, breathing fresh air, getting out of your house. 

Almost every day my trainer has me doing some kind of weight/body resistance kind of workout and then she gives me twenty to thirty minutes on the elliptical. Sometimes I go on the elliptical, but sometimes I just go walk outside. The elliptical gives a better workout, but walking outside is more rejuvenating. 

You know, 2020 was crazy for everyone. But, I had high hopes that 2021 was going to be a lot better. So far this year, I haven’t had a normal week yet. Each week has had something big and crazy in it. And the stress of that can really pull you down. So, I am very thankful for exercise and the role it has been playing to keep me sane. 

Fat Fridays: Fighting Stress

Emotional eating has always been a thing for me. It’s a source of comfort for every imaginable problem. Since I started this journey, about six weeks ago, I noticed that after the first couple weeks, food stopped having such a strong hold on me. I haven’t been tempted to grab something every time my mood swings. I think a big part of it is that I am losing weight, and I have a definite goal that I want to achieve this year, and that goal has been front and center in my mind. No, I don’t want to just eat whatever, whenever. I wouldn’t reach my goal if I do that!

This week has been a bit of a test. On Wednesday I received word that my father’s cousin had died, (someone I had made a connection with online and who often commented on my posts and engaged in conversation with me), and then that same evening I received word that a dear lady from our church (who had long been a source of encouragement to me) had also died, of covid. 

I admit, my first reaction was that I just wanted to binge eat. Forget this diet. I’m just going to make a bunch of food and eat it. Maybe I will feel better. But, by the grace of God, I walked past the fridge and went in my room and cried instead. Which is actually what I needed to do, instead of trying to stuff the emotions down with food. 

The next day I was pretty out of it. We’ve had a lot of death in our neighborhood due to gun violence and everything just seemed to be crushing me down. My trainer asked how things were going, and I mentioned briefly what was going on. She suggested that I use exercise as therapy, and later that day I went outside for a long brisk walk in the sunshine. It helped. 

In the past, I have always had this mentality that I can’t start a diet until my life calms down. Like, adding a diet and exercise to an already stressed out life would just send me over the brink. But this year I am realizing that the exercise and diet are actually tools to help deal with the stress. Bingeing on donuts does not help you deal with stress. Knowing that you are eating healthy DOES make you feel better though. Like, the world is falling apart, but at least I am taking care of my body! 

In other news, I woke up early this morning and took my fasting blood sugar and it was 96!! I haven’t had a reading below 100 in years. That also made me feel better. 

So, my takeaway for this week is diet and exercise aren’t causing me stress, they’re fighting stress. 

Fat Fridays Begin with the End in Mind

It’s been a rough week. We have been dealing with gun violence in our community that took the lives of two highschoolers this week, days apart, both times they seem to have been caught in a fight that had nothing to do with them. On top of that we have had inclement weather that has kept my elementary kids home this week doing virtual school. Today I have simply been feeling weary. 

I weighed myself this morning, hoping to cheer myself up with my progress, but I had only lost one pound in six days, which is frustrating when I look at how much I exercised and how good I ate, despite the fact that we had a Valentines’ weekend. 

So, now I am trying to have a good attitude. I have lost ten pounds in five weeks. That’s good. I have been exercising around fifty minutes a day, six days a week. Also good. I can feel myself getting stronger. I have been eating for hunger instead of boredom or as a coping mechanism. That is awesome. 

My kids’ elementary school was a “Leader in Me” school for a while (not sure if they still are?). They incorporated Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits for Highly Effective People” and they went over these habits every day. It was impossible to not hear about these seven habits on a regular basis every time you visited the school. I don’t know if it made an impact on the kids or not, but there is one habit that has been on my mind this week, “Begin with the End in Mind”. 

I am tempted to get frustrated at the slow weight loss when I look at how much work I’m putting into the process. But, I need to step back and look at my end goal. My end goal is to have more energy, to not have an unhealthy addiction to food, to be in shape so I can do more activities, and to get my prediabetes under control. 

If I step back and look at these end goals, then I am doing very well. I’ve been taking my blood sugars more often and the numbers are already looking a lot better. I’ve been able to push through a very stressful week without binge eating anything, and have kept my intake at the level that it needs to stay for the rest of my life. I’ve been pushing my body to do a lot more than I thought it could do, and I can feel myself getting stronger and more capable. I’m jogging up the stairs at our house without giving it a lot of thought and I’m enjoying the rush of getting a really good workout. In other words, no matter what the scale says, I’m living the lifestyle I need to.  

I imagine I will have to remind myself of this often.