Walking is the New P90

LJVSince December, I’ve been suffering from piriformis syndrome, a condition that can be roughly described as an ongoing pain in the ass. Basically, the piriformis is a muscle that runs across your rear end, from the outer hip. It’s hard to believe that this little muscle can send you to the ER in an ambulance, though that’s exactly how it started for me in December. After x-rays and an MRI to rule out other causes, I was diagnosed with an unruly butt muscle.

Since then, my piriformis has decided that it likes to cramp continually, one side or the other, causing me continual early morning pain. It’s not fun, though with muscle relaxants and pain killers, I’m able to get it under control most days. Then, fortunately, as the day goes on, it warms up and feels better.

It’s put a huge damper on my exercise program, as every time I feel like I’m back to something resembling normal and can get back to P90 or even yoga, it flares up again. This past week, I’ve decided to go back to basics and just walk for 30 minutes every day. It’s something I can do consistently, it doesn’t seem to cause a flare up and it’s a great way to clear my mind every morning.

It helps that I have my FitBit, too, as I can gauge my activity by steps and stairs. It also helps me realize how few calories a woman my age and weight burns when we’re not active. Yikes!

Sometimes, going back to basics is the best way to get back on track.

What about you? What exercise helps you maintain a consistent level of activity? 

 

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? 

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?

 

 

 

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?