Me and My Dog NOT on a Diet (Or How I Stopped Dieting and Learned to Love My Body)

Riva in MotionIf you know me at all, you know I’m a dog lover. We currently have four in our pack, including my sweet Pit Bull rescue, Riva. She’s an amazing pup – loving, smart and just a bit submissive, which is awesome, as it makes it easy for us to regulate her behavior around the other dogs.

Six or seven months ago, my husband took her to the vet for her annual exam and vaccinations. As he put her on the scale, he was shocked to see she had gained close to 40 pounds. We distinctly remember her starting weight, as she came in at 66.6 at her first appointment, just a few days after we picked her up from the shelter. At her last visit, she was 103 pounds, up 37 pounds. Yikes.

According to my husband, the vet looked a bit shocked, too. Then he left the room for a moment, returning with a tiny little cup. “Use this and feed her one cup a day,” he said.

This thimble-sized device is actually a true “cup,” though we just can’t imagine it’s enough food for our 100+ pound dog. Though we’ve continued to feed her less than she used to eat, in spite of our fears that she was “starving.”

At first, I watched Riva’s waistline and didn’t see any difference. “Poor pup,” I thought, “She’s just like me. We’re feeding her less and she’s still not losing any weight.”

That feeling lasted for several months, until just recently. In the last week or so, I’ve noticed that our big girl is getting her waist back. There’s a small, but obvious, indentation.

Hmmm … I guess it does work. It just takes a really long time and you have to stay the course. That’s something I’ve never been great at doing, though watching my Riva lose a few is inspiring me to get back to my effort, after a short hiatus, during which I “tried” to exercise and eat right “most of the time.” (I also had an injured shoulder, though that shouldn’t have affected my exercise schedule as much as it did.)

That effort (or lack thereof) didn’t do me any good. No pounds lost. Not any fitter or healthier. To get back on track, I made a promise to my MasterMinds girlfriends that I will take on one behavioral change a month for the next year.

First step? Make the list. What 12 changes could I make that would have me losing 40 pounds over the course of the next year. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

December: Take LoseH8NotW8 program. Exercise for – at least – 20 minutes every day.

January:  Meditate for 20 minutes every day.

February:  Drink more water every day. I’ll shoot for 8 cups a day and see what happens. If I land at 4 or 6, it will still be a greater volume than I’m consuming now.

March:  Cut down on my carbs. I will keep a very close eye on my intake of white potatoes, bread and sweets with the goal of minimizing, though not depriving myself.

April:  Do yoga for 20 minutes 3x a week.

May:  Journal for 20 minutes 3x a week.

June:  Eat an extra serving of green veggies every day.

July: Draw 3x a week.

August: Walk 10,000 steps every day, without fail.

September: Do push-ups every day.

October:  Add weight training 3x a week.

November: Annual review – look at what happened in last 12 months.

Of course, I will mix it up here and there. For example, today, I’m feeling puffy and icky because I’ve been eating so much sugar. I’ve told my husband – for accountability – that I’m going to take on three days of minimal sugar to see if it helps me get rid of that feeling.

I’ll keep you posted on how things go.

The Tides on This Battle Are Turning – Or Not

Tides are TurningIn flipping through our TiVo menu, I came across Joel Osteen’s program and it felt so uplifting to watch it. While many know Joel Osteen for his “prosperity gospel,” and some deride him for it, I appreciate his uber-positive message. It’s kind of a mix between traditional bible-based Christianity with new age abundance principles.

What I loved about this week’s show was the story Joel told about Susan Boyle and how she became a commercial success in spite of unthinkable odds. The singer was in the audience as he told the story of her oxygen-deprived birth and how it was anticipated that she would be at a physical disadvantage for her entire life. She’s now a public figure, known for her amazing voice and story of overcoming adversity.

Of course, this has me thinking about how much I get in my own way. I know what to do to lose weight and create new healthier habits, yet when I don’t feel hopeful, I revert back to old, unhealthy (easy) ways of doing things.

During today’s program, the line “the tides on this battle are turning” struck me loud and clear, primarily because he presented it as a decision, rather than some defining moment that is created by an outside influence. It’s from the inside. If you want the tides to turn, you get to turn them. You “start talking yourself into it.”

I have started talking myself into doing what I need to do to become healthy, self-aware and strong both emotionally and physically, into my 50s and beyond. It reminds me of a quote that I post on my social profiles:

“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.” ~ Bradley Whitford

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Why Are the Grooves So Deep?

medium_5331511724I’m feeling stuck. Stuck in the grooves of my usual behavior. I love sitting on the couch with my laptop, conversing with my friends on social media, watching bad movies or playing my beloved Bejeweled game. (It’s how I hang out with my husband as we relax during the weekends.) And I would also LOVE to have my life and my home organized, everything in its place where it belongs, the unneeded flotsam and jetsam having made its way to the porch for pickup by a charitable organization. These two loves of mine are conflicted and so far, the couch is winning in a big way.

This past weekend went by quickly. The closet I had planned to clean is still overflowing onto the bedroom floor. The kitchen counter where the mail lands every day looks a bit tidier. At least the bills got paid and I have a few phone calls to make in response to correspondence we received.

Where did the rest of the hours go? There were a few naps, a few movies, grocery shopping, a few long walks with the dog. We helped my son get ready for his winter formal and attended a wedding reception on Saturday night.

The one thing I didn’t do was make a list. I’ve been promising myself that I would make my master to-do list soon. I work well from a list and it’s the major principle behind the “Getting Things Done” program (GTD) that I have committed to follow.

The grooves of past behavior that gets repeated over and over, even if it’s not quite working, are deep. This week, I will go through the GTD process and create that master list. Period. This blog will be my accountability tool and I will report back on Sunday with how far I’ve gotten on my list. (Accountability tools are excellent ways to keep yourself on track, though I can be sooooo squirrely!)

What about you? What system or approach do you use to stay organized and efficient? 

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Getting My Butt in Gear, or Those Times When Motivation Just Shows Up

Clock GearsThis weekend, I decided to start working out again. After a few decades of steady workouts like kickboxing, step aerobics and yoga four to five times a week, I have been forced, for almost the last year, to “take it easy.” In the process, I gained an additional fifteen pounds. Ugh.

Fortunately, a few months ago, I finally found a physical therapy practice that was able to turn around my chronic piriformis muscle problem and I’ve been almost pain-free for over a month. The physical therapists at the Michigan Institute of Human Performance seemed to know exactly what I needed and within three weeks, I have no pain in my backside. (No real pain anyway, there will always be “butt pains” in life, though, right?) I feel ready to ease back into working out, beyond the (almost) daily walk that I’ve been able to do for the past three months.

Then, over this past weekend, the universe decided I needed to see three people who have “done it,” aka lost weight and kept it off for a significant amount of time and be reminded of the importance of exercise to the process.

First, we stopped by the pet store to replenish our cricket supply. (Frogs need them.) The woman behind the counter has worked there for several years, though we almost didn’t recognize her after she lost 30 pounds a few years back. This time, when we went in, I was struck by how great she looked and how it appears that she “got it” and been able to stay fit longterm. As we talked about a friend of hers who had appeared on local television news that morning with a giant African Bull Frog, she mentioned that she’d watched it at the gym that morning.

Then, we watched our favorite weekend television show and they did a segment on comedian and game show host Drew Carey. He talked about his weight loss, which he’s sustained for the last three years, and what had motivated him to get fit. When he’d been heavy, he’d felt tired all the time and had aches and pains that were a detriment to being active with his child. He changed his diet and took up running and now those aches and pains are gone.

And, finally, this morning, Tory Johnson showed up on our local morning news program. She’s lost 72 pounds and kept it off for a year. She’s incredibly motivating and happy, touting her new book, The Shift. She looks fantastic and gave a bunch of great eating tips, including reducing carbs and changing the way you think about food.

Those three stories have stuck in my mind as I start this week with a goal of amping up my workout routine. I’ve always felt better when I exercised, something I did for years before I was injured in December. Today, I’m committing to starting out with three full body workouts a week, in addition to my walking schedule. To make sure I don’t overdo it, I’m going to focus on yoga and a few other moderate level programs that I have on DVD at home. Sorry, P90, but you’re just too much for me right now.

Here’s to getting my butt back in shape – literally and figuratively!

What about you? What workouts do you enjoy?
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Reconsidering the Promises I’m Making

CommitmentMy days are busy. I work a 40+ hour a week job, writing social media posts for an ad agency. I’m an entrepreneur with a partner in a  customer service business, selling training and workshops to companies that need to enhance their organization’s service excellence. I plan a menu and grocery shop every week so I can make dinner for my son and my husband just about every day. I’m on a fitness journey, so I’m taking walks every morning or evening, sometimes both. I’m on the board of directors for a marketing and sales trade group. I blog here and on our customer service blog. I manage the family finances. I have a MasterMinds group that meets twice a month. Plus, I like to take on freelance projects doing sales coaching and social media planning.

Whew! Just writing about it brings me a bit of that “overwhelm” feeling, though I know I’m leaving out a lot and I can’t imagine what I’d cut if I had to. And, yes, I do have a choice in what I take on. My biggest issue with all the “busy” right now is making sure that I honor the commitments I make. Like most women, I want to say “YES” to every request. And I always always always think I have more time than I do. (Of course, I might have time if I omit any relaxation and “me” time, running myself crazy in the process.)

One of the new habits I’m creating is to look at the commitments I make and say “NO” when necessary. I love helping people, though when I try to help too many people, I end up letting them, and myself, down, either by not spending enough energy on what I promised or letting it slip off my radar.

Moving forward, I will give some thought to my commitments before I say yes. I will consider my available time and my energy stores. And I’ll only say yes when I’m sure I can give it my all. I will make slow and steady progress on this one, though I will definitely improve on making and keeping my commitments.

What about you? Do you do too much? Ever overcommit and let someone (and yourself) down? 

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Plodding Along, Changing Habits On the Way

My Weight Doesnt Get to DecideThey say “Slow and steady wins the race,” and that seems to be my motto for now. A few weeks ago, I posted about walking every day, since I was struggling with my PITA injury. (PITA = Pain in the Ass, aka “piriformis syndrome,” an issue with a muscle in the rear end that when it acts up, causes severe muscle cramping and pain.)

So far, so good. By using my FitBit, I’ve managed to increase my average daily steps from 3,000 to 4,500 to 8,000 to 10,000. I feel stronger and have managed to honor this commitment about 90% of the time. (Awesome, right?)

Coupled with drinking more water, paying more attention to what I eat, ingesting less sugar/more protein, and going to three regular physical therapy appointments every week, in hopes of resolving my PITA, I’m on a strong and steady path. Not only am I changing some bad habits that impact me physically, I’m also – slowly and surely – evolving my mindset. I’ve not stood in front of the mirror and criticized myself harshly for being “fat” in at least a few weeks. My self-flagellation has been reduced to a minimum, quite an accomplishment, considering that it was previously a daily habit.

In the morning before work, I get dressed, I take a quick peek in the mirror and I move on. I look “good enough.” Not perfect, though who is? I look good enough for who I am: a 50 year old, somewhat overweight woman who struggles with an extra 40 pounds, who is working on getting physically healthier. My weight doesn’t determine my value and it doesn’t get to decide how happy I get to be. I am on a path and if I stay on it, I KNOW good things will come.

And to reinforce this approach, I saw a story on Good Morning America that really resonated with me. Tory Johnson, the contributor who does the “Deals and Steals” segment, has written a book, entitled “The Shift.” On GMA, she shared how she lost 60 pounds in the last year and a half with a consistent approach that had her losing less than a pound a week. Tory mentioned that, in the past, she’d give up when it didn’t happen fast enough, and that it wasn’t until she kept at it, persistently, that the weight came off. You can see the GMA story here: Tory Johnson Makes “The Shift” 

Thank you, Tory, I think I may just be on the right track.

What about you? What small changes are you making that will contribute to your health over time? 

Trying the FitBit

fitbitFor my birthday – yes, it was the big 5-0 – I asked my husband for a FitBit One. It’s a tiny little electronic device that helps you track your movement, including the number of steps you take throughout the course of your day and how you sleep. It comes with an account on the FitBit website and it synchs wirelessly through your computer or iPhone.

I clip mine onto my bra strap or put it in a pants pocket, depending on what I’m wearing. After using it for the last four days, I’m actually having fun tracking my food, my activity, my blood pressure and heart rate, and my sleep habits. (Surprise! I’ve never found tracking anything to be fun.)

These first few days, I’ve simply been tracking my normal eating and fitness habits. I’ll use it as a starting point for improvement over the next 90 days to see how it works.

I’m really pleased that my husband got one, too, and seems to be even more interested in using it than I am. We’re enjoying comparing our numbers and trying to figure out how the FitBit knows when we’ve gone up stairs. (Yes, I’ve tried to imitate walking up and down, which looks really goofy, though I can’t fool it.)

I’ll keep you posted on how the FitBit works, since this week, I will be using it to upgrade my activity and nutrition stats.

What about you? Have you ever used an electronic device to help improve your fitness efforts?

 

 

 

A Change in Focus: Let’s Get Real

LJV Get RealWhen I first started this blog, I was feeling enthusiastic and frightened at the same time.  I wanted to lose 40 pounds and I figured I could do it in six months, if I made a concentrated effort. I was excited about the accountability a blog would give me and about putting my efforts out in front of the world. I was six months out from my 50th birthday and afraid of getting older. I wanted to make a major life change in a very short time. I knew I could come up with 40 bad habits I needed to give up and I figured I’d throw that in there, too. I would drop 40 bad habits and 40 pounds before I turned 50. No problem!

Not so fast.

Right after I started this effort, I injured myself doing P90. Basically, I got a major pain in the ass, literally. My piriformis muscle decided to act up and I ended up in the ER twice, on some pretty heavy pain meds and muscle relaxants for three months, and unable to exercise, or even focus my thoughts very well. I’ve since recovered to about 85%. I’m grateful that it wasn’t a permanent injury and I can now go back to working out, though I must do it slowly and carefully.

Sure, I’ve made some positive changes. I’ve changed some habits – I drink more water and cleaned off the kitchen counter that’s been covered with paper for at least a year. I’m more organized with my tasks. I have more self-love and less self-loathing. I’ve lost 3 pounds. (Nowhere near the 40 I’d hoped to lose, though I’m not giving up. I just know that it will take me longer than six weeks to do.)

I turn 50 in three days and I’m here to tell you that – in my dropping 40 effort, as I originally envisioned it – I failed. Brilliantly! So, I’m starting over.

I’m going to refocus this blog and my future efforts to be more realistic. Moving forward, I’m going to put my effort toward dropping those 40 pounds and those 40 bad habits, as I let go of my 40s. As I practice becoming comfortable with my age. As I reach for, and achieve, the goals I’ve set for myself. And I will keep failing, as needed, until I get there.

 

 

Searching for Inspiration for Self-Love – Another Stream of Consciousness Post

I’ve read – over and over – that the first step to losing weight is to love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, you won’t lose weight. Over the past several months, I’ve been watching women I know, who appear to be comfortable in their skin and happy with who they are, in spite of the fact that they’re not “thin.” While I can’t see their thoughts and the truth about what they really believe about themselves, I imagine that they’re perfectly content and wish I could be, as well.

“Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.”

~ Margo Anand

The thought is – if you don’t love your body, you won’t care for it as you should. If you don’t accept yourself the way you are, you’ll soothe your feelings of angst and anger with food. There’s even a woman (Laura Fenamore) whose work is all based on this who says you can start with One Pinky. If you can love one pinky, you’ve gotten a start on loving your whole body and you’ll start taking better care of it.

I’ve also made a new friend, Ursula, who was featured in a fashion story in one of the major metro Detroit newspapers. She’s not the typical fashion model type, though she’s learned to love herself, for who she is, and celebrate her body and her beauty with fashion. She’s bold, fun and enthusiastic about life. I had brunch with her this weekend and was inspired on my journey to self-love.

I’ve come to the conclusion that one of my biggest fears, which holds me back, is that I won’t be safe if I’m not the chubby girl. I’ve mentioned previously that when I was in my teens and early 20s, weighing in at what I thought was a very heavy 109 pounds, I got way too much inappropriate attention from older men. They took advantage of my naiveté and I look back in shame. Research has proven that shame contributes to eating disorders and other maladies, like substance abuse. While I don’t believe I have an “eating disorder,” id do believe I have a tendency to soothe myself with food. While I’ve worked on this issue a few times, it still needs some more exploration and resolution. Shame is a strange and unproductive emotion, which can cause all kinds of problems. Now, in addition to shame from my teen years, I also carry shame about my body.

As I looked into shame to discover what I could do to resolve it, I found a Ted Talk by Brene Brown, who (coincidentally) Ursula had mentioned to me during our brunch last week. It’s an amazing talk and you can view it here: The Key to Overcoming Shame. I love how she brings humor and lightness – and extraordinary depth – to what can be a dark and difficult topic.

Just another stream of consciousness post…hope you find a nugget of good information here.

Busy is Not a Valid Excuse

protein-shakes_cThe last few weeks have gone by in a blur and I’ve been kind of ignoring my Dropping 40 blog. Busy is one of my excuses though it’s also one I’m changing. If I get distracted, I will bring my attention back, so here I am. Here’s what’s gone well since early March:

Meditation: My husband and I are doing Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge and it’s been wonderful. It’s relaxing, focused on optimal health and has me feeling more calm and centered. If you’d like to try it, it’s free: 21-Day Meditation Challenge  Since I’ve been talking about creating a meditation practice for at least five years and not doing it, I’m ecstatic that it seems to be “sticking.”

Accountability: One of my Facebook friends posted a link to a weight loss group that recommended posting pictures of all of the food you eat every day on their wall for accountability. Whoa. That got me thinking. How am I not accountable for my food intake? What am I missing? Am I not acknowledging the unhealthy choices I make? After thinking about it for a bit, I asked a good friend if I could text her pictures of everything I ate. It’s only been a few days, though it’s been an eye opener. (Seriously? Try it. It’s crazy how it changes what you pick to nosh on.)

Exercise: I’ve not gotten completely back to P90 six days a week, though I’m doing it three to four times a week. It’s a tough program, even though I’m still doing the phase one and two videos. As I continue to heal from my nerve injury, I’ll ramp it up to six days, hopefully by April.

Protein Shakes: I’ve always loved a good smoothy and they say that protein is key to weight loss. To get things moving a bit faster, at the grocery store this weekend, I bought some protein powder and frozen fruit. I’ll be replacing meals, here and there, with protein shakes to reduce my overall calorie intake. Today’s lunch was a shake made with blueberries, Greek yogurt and milk. Yum!

What about you? What are you doing to achieve your optimal health? What’s working? What’s not?