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?
photo credit: .sandhu via photopin cc

A Post-Father’s Day Contemplation

On Father’s Day, my social media accounts are always flooded with pictures of men who are lauded for their support of their children – what they taught them, their jokes, their constant strength, always being there. And while I’m happy for those who celebrate, I also wonder why I had to miss that type of connection with a “dad” as a child.

I actually had two “fathers.” My biological father, who left our family when I was five, and my stepfather, who was an ongoing presence, though he sexually abused me when I was eight and was the root of the constant destructive chaos that overshadowed any happy moments I had as a child.

I tracked down my biological father, Gary, more than once over the years. When I was in my early twenties, I had a year or so of visits and phone calls. Then a few phone calls in my thirties, and five years of once-in-a-while emails or phone calls in my late forties. Strange, though, how I never felt like I was getting the connection I really wanted. While we talked about the whats and whys of his disappearing act, he always seemed so removed from any emotional expression. The conversations were never any deeper than those I have with the cashier at the grocery store, as she’s scanning my groceries. It was unfulfilling and empty. And somehow, I always always always hoped for more. Emotionally, I wanted to have a loving relationship with my father, even though intellectually, I knew it would never happen.

My stepfather Tommy, on the other hand, joined our family when I was in first grade. I remember that I loved him at first, and that I asked him if I could call him “Daddy.” I was so happy when he said yes. A few weeks later, he and my mother got in a fight and he told me I wasn’t allowed to call him that anymore. By the time I turned eight, he was coming into my bedroom at night. It was a confusing, shameful time and when it was discovered, a huge fight erupted and he moved out, though just for a short time. When he came back, my sister and I were vigilant in our attempts to stave off any nighttime “visits.” When it almost happened again when I was twelve, I told. He was arrested and we went to court. I was so ashamed that I minimized what had happened and the case was dropped. (I’m sure the lawyer asking me what I was wearing probably didn’t help my feelings that it was all my fault.) This sick man was a part of my life until I moved in with an aunt at fifteen.

Last month, both of these fathers died, within three days of each other. It was a very strange time. I felt sad for a short while, though overall, I somehow feel safer.

Has this lack of any father figure played a part in my relationships with men? Absolutely. My early relationships were yearning crushes on men who weren’t as interested in me as I was in them. I felt a gaping hole where there should have been self-love and self-care.

Did the sexual abuse play a part in my ongoing weight issue? Yep. If I’m the chubby girl, I won’t get inappropriate attention from men.

Fortunately, I’ve married a man who is able to give me the unconditional love I never had from a father figure as a child. A month after the deaths of the two men who should have been positive influences in my life, I have an interesting sense of finality that actually feels pretty good. It’s finally time to move on.

What about you? What has your experience with fathers been like? 

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?

 

 

 

Staring 50 in the Face

Whoa. I’ve got six short months before I hit the big 5-0. It seemed far away last May when I had my 49th birthday. Now it’s looming large and has me a bit short of breath.

What’s so big about 50? I’m not sure, though I remember in my early 40′s when one of my colleagues rolled her 4 over to a 5. I felt bad for her, as if she was then officially “old.” Now it’s my turn and while I could feel sorry for myself, I’d much rather start the next decade from a stronger place than where I now stand.

So, I got to thinking, what would make me stronger? Making some changes. Dropping some weight. Letting go of some of my less desirable habits, like being late to just about every appointment, spending too much time on Facebook and procrastinating.

This blog will follow my efforts to drop 40 pounds and 40 of my less desirable habits between now and May 28, my 50th birthday. Your support and accountability will mean the world, so please chime in with your comments and if you’d like, join me on my journey.

You can follow me on twitter at dropping40 and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dropping40

And….we’re off!