Taming My Squirrely Brain

large__4053123799My brain can be so squirrely sometimes. (Is squirrely really a word? I’m not sure.)

I keep telling myself that I can lose weight with a few minor adjustments. In reality, it’s going to take lots and lots of minor adjustments. So far, I’m consistently exercising more, drinking more water or iced herbal tea, and eating more mindfully. Letting go of snacks between meals, unless it’s an apple or something else healthy. Avoiding the donuts and bagels in the kitchen at work. No more snacks on the couch while watching TV. No cream in my coffee. No more donuts on Sunday morning. Reducing gluten-based foods and white carbs.

And the weight’s not coming off. I lose a few pounds, then a few pounds come back. Then I lose a few more. Then they boomerang back and apply themselves to my belly.

My squirrely brain wants to give up. It keeps telling me, “See? You’re stuck. You can’t lose any weight, unless you torture yourself and starve yourself and make yourself miserable. Might as well give up.”

In the past, I’ve lost between 20 and 30 pounds at a time, though it’s always been through that eat-very-little, feel hungry all the time and punish myself kind of way. Then I go back to my normal self and the pounds come back.

Since I’m focused on losing these stubborn pounds in a healthy and sustainable way, I will continue to make changes and keep adding healthy habits. Go take a rest, squirrely brain. I’ve got this one.

What about you? Do you struggle to stay on track when the pounds don’t come off quickly? 

photo credit: Tomi Tapio via photopin cc

 

Pushing Through Midlife Aches and Pains

Who could resist this guy?

Who could resist this guy?

My husband and I are both in our early 50s – he’s 51 and I just turned 50 in May – and we’re both amazed at the aches and pains we experience these days.

He just finished three solid days of yard work. Weeding, mowing, and spreading mulch have left him moaning and groaning in pain at every turn. I’ve been getting back into P90 and suffering the same issues. It’s actually somewhat entertaining when we get in or out of the car. “Ugh,” he’ll say. “Ouch,” I’ll add.

We’re hoping that we’ve simply been overdoing it lately and that our joints and muscles will catch up to us in the next few weeks.

I’ve also been reading more about exercise and how it can actually strengthen our telomeres, the “end caps” of our chromosomes that can cause the detrimental effects of aging as they deteriorate. So, I will continue to exercise and allow my poor body to catch up with me as I push it past its comfort level.

These days, I’m trying a combination of walking, climbing the stairs at the office and P90, which includes some yoga and weights for strength training.

I’m sticking with the P90 program for several reasons. The trainer, Tony Horton, is a bit of a goof so it’s not too serious. He encourages you to work out at your level and not to overdo it. Plus, it covers all the basics – weight, cardio, push-ups, sit-ups and yoga.

Hoping that I can keep my telomeres long and healthy!

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.

 

 

In a Rut Rut Rut and Trying Something New

First meal on my first week of Diet to Go plan - Low Carb Option

First meal on my first week of Diet to Go plan? Breakfast – Low Carb Option. Great tasting, huge portion and visually appealing, too.

I love getting inspiration from people who do the cha-cha. Of course, I’m not the only one trying to lose weight and get fit that’s sharing my story on a blog. I came across “The Weight is Over” a few months ago on Facebook and she’s doing something similar. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following Wendy, the blogger, because she’s authentic and fun and HONEST.

Her post this week resonated deeply with me. She’s braver than I am and posts her true struggles and fallbacks (and actual weight!) on her blog. Yikes. AND she’s lost 35 pounds in her effort so far!

This week, Wendy posted about her “one step forward, two steps back” journey and made a commitment to get back on track. I’m going to follow her lead and own that what I’m doing hasn’t resulted in much weight loss. A few pounds, sure, though that’s it.

Yes, I’ve been exercising, drinking water, eating better, avoiding most carbs most of the time, though it’s not working. I’m eating better and exercising more. And the weight’s not coming off.

Fortunately, today I’ve gotten a gift that will help me jump-start my efforts. I’ve been selected to be a Diet to Go ambassador and my week of meals came yesterday! I’ve always wanted to try one of the meal services, figuring that perhaps I’m not gauging my portion sizes or selecting the right foods that work for me, and if I take those decisions out of my hands, I might be able to lose some poundage.

This week, I’ll be posting photos of my meals and information about the plan and hopefully, dropping at least a few pounds.

PLUS, I’m considering asking for a FitBit for Mother’s Day. I keep hearing that one of the keys to weight loss is tracking your intake and physical activity, though I’m SOOO resistant to it!

What about you? What are you trying that’s new? How’s it working?

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.

30 Years Later and 40 Pounds Heavier – Now What?

I had an interesting experience the other day that’s still hanging a dark cloud over my head, though I hope to turn it into inspiration. I had a business meeting in the early morning on Wednesday, as I’m serving on a committee for a trade group. This was the first meeting I’d attended, so I wasn’t sure who was serving with me.

After about 15 minutes and a half cup of coffee, in walked a man I immediately recognized as the ex-boyfriend of one of my college roommates. We’d not seen each other in 30 years. Though he looked a bit paunchier than I remembered, he’d held up well.

The meeting was fun and energizing and the two of us stayed a few minutes afterwards to catch up. As I was driving away, my thoughts turned to what he may have thought of me. I had gained a significant amount of weight in the last three decades and it’s my experience that when you’re heavier, you generally look older. (After all, I was only about 19 when I last saw him. Oh. how I’d love to have that metabolism back!)

I felt sad. And a bit ashamed. While I’ve not “purposefully” allowed my weight to get out of control, I’ve allowed it. I also realized that I’ve been avoiding reconnecting in person with some friends that I’ve recently found on Facebook, people I’d really like to see, if only I didn’t feel shame about my weight. Shame isn’t helpful and it feels awful, so I’m turning it into acceptance and motivation. And inspiration. And hope.

First, it’s what happened. Right now, I’m about 30 to 35 pounds heavier than I’d like to be. I’ve had a child. I became hypothyroid, so my metabolism has slowed down. And I’m in that icky time of life when a woman’s hormones start to fluctuate and weight loss becomes even more challenging.

Second, I’m very aware that I’ve used my weight as a protective garment. When I was thinner and significantly younger, I got way too much of the wrong kind of attention from men. As a teenager, older men were way too interested in me in the wrong ways. It was confusing and damaging. It’s an issue that I’ve attempted to resolve in therapy, though it’s a tough one to completely let go. There’s a confirmed link between weight gain and sexual abuse, linked to production of the stress hormone cortisol, so I’m going to do a bit of research to see what I can discover about reducing that hormone.

Third, I’ve been talking/planning/writing about weight loss with an airy-fairy overly-optimistic attitude that I can do it without “dieting.” Yep, I’ve lost a few pounds, though it’s not getting me anywhere close to my goal of forty pounds by the end of May.

So, what’s next? I came across a Facebook group that encouraged fans to post pictures of everything they ate. Hmmmm…that could be interesting, I thought. I asked a friend if I could send her my pics and over the last week, I’ve either been sending her photos (when I remembered) or a list of what I’d eaten that day. It was eye-opening and it makes sense,  now that I’ve observed my overall eating habits, why I’m not dropping the pounds I’d like to drop.

I’m continuing, with the goal of losing as much weight as I can, in a healthy fashion, by my 50th birthday. It’s not easy and I’m having to peel away some significant denial to get there. It’s not necessarily about what’s on my plate. It’s really what’s going on in my brain that’s getting in my way.

What about you? How have you managed the mental roadblocks to weight loss?

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Does It Mean to “Act My Age”?

LJV with blue hairI don’t feel 49. Or almost 50. There are days when I feel 30, 27, 40. Sometimes I feel 9. And when I’m at the office, where I manage social media as a part of the creative department of an ad agency, I feel like I’m somewhere between 27 and 40. Definitely not almost 50.

What does it mean to age gracefully? I’m not really sure, as I’ve never done it before, though I do have some great role models. What do they do? They keep doing whatever they’ve been doing, acting like they’ve always acted, plus they add in a few new things. They keep up with popular culture, keep their brains young by exploring new concepts, pick up a few new hobbies, and make exercise and nutrition a priority. In other words, they don’t “act their age” as we might expect. They don’t slow down, or sit on the couch. They know how important it is to maintain their health. They are optimistic, enthusiast and interested in life. And they definitely don’t limit themselves by “acting their age”.

My 80+ year old neighbor goes to Curves to exercise several days a week, walks for miles and studies different types of spirituality. When her son married a woman who was a Buddhist, she went to the local Buddhist temple to learn more about it. She also flies to different cities with her daughter to see spiritual leader Esther Hicks speak.

I have another friend who’s in her mid-60s and she’s a riot of crazy, positive energy. She’s so involved in life, creating new film projects and traveling the world. She’s also a Pilates devotee and a style maven with an amazing figure.

As I sit here, on the verge of leaving 40 behind, I’m really not sure how I’m supposed to act, though I certainly have some great role models. I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing – wearing my funky glasses, diving into new ventures and loving life. And if I feel like adding a few blue or green streaks to my hair, I will.

Getting my weight down to a more healthy number will be important to aging well. Every woman who serves as a stellar example makes an effort to eat well and exercise. I read a book on aging by Andrew Weil a few years back and he recommended an ongoing commitment to exercise, so that when you reach your 80s and 90s, you still have the stamina and ability to really enjoy your life in your later years.

With this effort to drop 40 pounds, I know that by the time I hit my 5th decade, I’ll be ready.

 What about you? Are you doing anything to help you “age well”?

 

Generation Fabulous

At Least That’s What They Tell Me

More pounds are coming off. Slowly, but surely. In the last month, I’ve lost 6.2 pounds. Not quite the 2 to 3 pounds a week that I want to lose, though I’m celebrating because

EVERY

POUND

COUNTS

Every single pound lost will eventually add up to my goal of 40 pounds lost by the end of May. Patience has never been my strong suit, though I’m reminding myself that it has incredible value, particularly when I’m on a long journey like this one. To keep myself going, I’ve watched an inspirational video about a man who suffered from obesity and  disabilities. He was extremely overweight and unable to walk unaided. That was before he started doing yoga. He ended up losing over 100 pounds and I’ll let you watch the video to see his results.

It was just the reminder I needed – big changes don’t happen quickly. In the past, I would have given up by now, because things weren’t happening quickly enough. This time, I’m doing this for good. If this gentleman can persist through his adversity, so can I. I believe I can do it. I know I can do it. I believe in myself. And I will be patient. After all, patience is a virtue. At least that’s what they tell me.

Habits Update:

Healthy Habit #15: I’m taking on a “be on time” commitment as my next healthy new habit. In the past, I’ve joked that my middle name is “ten minutes late.” That’s done. Gone. Over. Moving forward, my being late will be the exception, not the rule.