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? 

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!

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?