Insert Title Here (Cause I’m at a loss)

Perhaps the last 20 pounds are the hardest. No, the first 20 pounds were. Wait, maintenance is – experience tells me so. No matter, something has been going on in my body-brain connection that has me stalled. Suddenly cupcakes look tasty. Processed food no longer is a turn-off. The drive to eat healthy is not driving me. Even my thoughts about eating are disheveled, chaotic, fragmented, manifesting in dreams.

I could blame this on my breast cancer (99.99% chance of cure from surgery in May) and the discomfort – fuck it – agony of reconstruction. I could recall all of the literature on sleep disturbance and how that messes with one’s existence, not to mention weight loss. I could blame my coping skills, realizing that my teeny-weenie anxiety disorder is off the wall now as I await the next surgery in 1 month. Or, I could give myself a break, realize that the past 4 months have indeed been sucky on me and Sue (who is starting to crumble also), that it’s OK to be fragile even if your partner thinks you shouldn’t be, and that I do have adequate coping skills that do not include eating protein bars – 3 at a time…

Exercise has become a relief. The 30-minutes on the indoor bike are a time to experiment with the digital output, play with my heart rate, see what activities make me go faster (music) and with less boredom. I can walk in the heat but pay the price in, um, chestal swelling. Walking is much more relaxing, uses more muscles, and is still my exercise of choice – just not at 5 a.m. Writing helps. The kind of writing that simply is free form then putting it away. Tracking my eating had become sporadic – I’m back to putting everything into Livestrong. How easy it is to slip on such an important behavior!  I now am more avoidant of political issues, which was only fueling my anxiety and deflecting my true emotions. (I can’t do anything about which moron is chosen in the Republican primary anyway.) Sue and I have agreed ways we can help each other with my eating (rather, not eating protein bars), dealing with my increased anxiety, and her tolerance, or lack thereof, of anything Jan 😉 , and acceptable methods for her to be more verbal about her needs. I have a serious goal for a certain waist size and optimal health for surgery because it is going to be another long recovery process for my new foobs. I expect this one to be less painful and for both of us to cope better.

I’m OK, really. I’m not. But I’m working on it.

anxiety cartoon

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Time Warp

♪♫ It’s astounding (cue music from “Rocky Horror”); I’ve got to keep control… Let’s do the time warp again.♪♫

Besides a referral to the classic cult film, I am truly in a time warp and back to the start of a behavior change – physical activity. Cleared by my plastic surgeon to return slowly to whatever my body can tolerate, I cannot stay on a regular schedule of anything. Sound familiar? Oh, kinda like, “I just can’t stay away from sweets.” “I can’t lose weight again.” “I can’t stop bingeing.” ARGHHH!!!!

Yes, I am discouraged by the complete loss of stamina after 2 months of next to nothing besides walking for daily activities. And, the Tucson heat does not encourage my favorite activity, which is walking. Swimming is out because I still have incision sites that have not fully healed – heck, even my therapeutic tub is off limits. Upper arm toning is beyond me now for foob reasons – trust me, I’ve tried. WAIT! I need to go back and approach this like I did my weight loss.

What is the specific behavior(s) I want to do now? Walk at least 30 minutes a day; cycle indoors at least 30 minutes a day.

Where am I in my readiness to change? Preparation – meaning getting ready to act and maybe still a bit ambivalent. (Hey, I’m still losing weight while being inactive. JUST KIDDING)

What should I do to help me move into the action stage?

  • Prepare a plan of action: Move the recumbent bike into our huge bedroom where I can watch TV or listen to music. It will be more visible than where currently stashed and in a more comfortable (read air conditioned) environment. Walk whenever the temperature allows, which means the morning hours. I plan to drive to a beautiful nearby track to avoid snakes and uneven terrain for now. Can’t imagine falling on my foobs. Whenever there is no time of day that is comfortable, I will pull out a walking video that is timed to 30 minutes.
  • Seek support: By choosing to come forward here about my difficulty with exercise, (which is not easy after so much success in changing my eating) and knowing most readers have successful experience with physical activity, I am hoping you will poke and prod me along. I also will pay more attention to exercise blogs and start commenting (maybe) on those. Engage Sue’s support – at least she can help me move the damn bike and perhaps walk with me on weekends.
  • Make a list of motivating statements. Well, duh. OK, off to do that in private.

If I really do all of the above, I should be heavy-duty in the action stage next week.

All suggestions from your own experiences are more than welcome!

dancers from rocky horror movie

Maybe dancing would be good exercise?

One Year Of Gratitude

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my journey to a thinner and better me. A laparoscopic cholecystectomy (complicated by a bile leak) kick started a life style change:  nothing like being ill for several weeks, looking at the 3 Milk Dud-sized gallstones – probably brought on by repeated large weight losses and regains, and finally really seeing my body to put me into action mode.

Twelve months later and 85-pounds less fat, I wish my goal was in closer reach. But… the past year has been full of many blessings (there’s a word that doesn’t appear often in my writing).

  • I am grateful for the understanding, encouragement, hand-holding, morale boosting, food hiding management, and unconditional love from my family, especially Susan.
  • I am lucky to have stumbled into supportive online weight loss and life-style change communities.
  • I am indebted to my blogging friends and colleagues who provide daily support, knowledge, skills, and inspiration via their writing on blogs, commenting here, and responding to my comments.
  • I am forever thankful for the final 10-months of my mother’s life — even though I didn’t realize those would be her last ones with us.

I am a happy woman.

red dragonfly

Update on (Drowning) Gym Rat

Eleven months and 85 pounds into my weight loss journey, I feel pretty comfortable that I have mastered techniques and behaviors around eating that will keep me going to my final goal weight and even into maintenance. Now that I am embarking on a similar path to changing physical activity, I am hitting a wall. I have an exercise plan developed with a personal trainer (that I might need to modify given the amount of knee swelling after the first workout); got my workout music on the iTouch; picked aquatic classes for my level of fitness; after experimenting with the so-called non-weight bearing elliptical (ha!) decided that the treadmill and recumbent bike will be my cardio machines of choice; even have a schedule – OK, a kinda schedule. But, I am not following through. What the heck is going on? Why can’t I apply the same internal motivation to change around eating to exercise?

I looked at a post from January to help answer my question (partially). I used a model of behavior change called the Stages of Change (proven to show how people change successfully on their own or with help) and applied techniques that matched the Stage (action) that I was in to changing how I ate.

Now I’m going to do the same thing with physical activity and see if I can’t generate some more internal motivation and confidence to stick with my exercise plan. First, the behaviors that I want to accomplish have to be very specific. So here they are (don’t laugh, I’m starting out slowly because of my damn knee and to make these initial goals achievable):

  • Exercise in some form 6 days a week
  • Aquatics class M,W,F – if the aquatics class I chose doesn’t work out, there are 3 others to select from
  • Gym workout T,Th,Sat or 60 minutes of outdoor walking or 60 minutes on home recumbent bike or 60 minutes of walking/bike
  • Check off activities on trainer’s worksheet in the gym

OK, there it is in writing. I can do that. I can. I think.

I am in the action stage for exercising. I need to remind myself of why I am doing this. These new behaviors are very important to me. I want to reclaim my self (body) as an active person, believe life long physical activity is crucial to successful weight loss maintenance and health, and know once I get started that I will feel so much better about my body and reap emotional benefit. I am, however, not so confident that I can carry out this routine even though I just said that I could. Building my self-confidence (not the same as an ego boost) is important now and for the long-term. I worry about my knee flaring up; I reflect back on past failed efforts to exercise; I wonder what to do when family and vacations get in the way (walk maybe?); I know that the very recent death of my mother and my raw grief reaction are probably impacting my ability to act. I need more confidence. So here are things that should help:

  • I have set realistic goals and know that I can modify the goals as needed based on how my body reacts (not on how my brain does)
  • Seek positive support for efforts – spouse, family, close friends, fellow bloggers. All negativity will be booted out the door. My spouse has not been as supportive with the gym. “Why do you need to spend the money? Why can’t you just walk?” Negotiations in progress.
  • Reward myself for small changes – something I didn’t do with my dietary changes. So I’m going to have to think about this. What can I give myself for staying 100% on track for one week?
  • Continue reading/watching the successful exercise experiences of others like myself. “Hey, if she can do it, so can I!”

Those of you who have been successful in becoming a regular exerciser, feel free to let me know how you did it. I’m open to any suggestions on the how to do – not necessarily the what to do. Really, I’m drowning here.

Sarah Harford's "To Save a Drowning Rat"

Resurrection of a Gym Rat

Don’t laugh – I once was an athlete. Back in the days before athletic females were cool, volleyball, softball, basketball, and tennis were my games of choice. I was a bona fide jock and loved the smell of a gym. (Not the guys’ side!) Back in 1991-92 when I lost a lot of weight and was in a gym for toning and cardio, my endorphin levels would soar just walking in and being surrounded by the sounds, smells and sights – all before I started my workout.

gym ratNow I am embarking on another gym experience. For years my fear of being laughed at, talked about because of my size (and my fitness level) kept me out of sports and out of gyms. Even going to physical therapy for my knee tendonitis made me uncomfortable. Last month my primary care doc (yes, physicians go to doctors too) suggested a gym geared to people rehabbing from injuries and those over age 50. After checking it out twice and an extensive interview with the manager, I am now a member of The FitCenter, which specializes in providing services in a non-intimidating environment. My yearly membership (for about $1 a day) provides me full access to every piece of equipment one could want, a great pool with adult only access, all the free classes I can stand, and a few sessions with a personal trainer to get me started. Sure there are old folks (they were celebrating a couple of birthdays for 90-year olds) but there are also young people who hate the LA Fitness-type environment and others who like the programming offered.

My fitness assessment is tomorrow – that shouldn’t take long 😉 then I’m up and running, errr exercising and swimming. Cannot wait!

doctor lecturing about exercise

Dieting Is Not Natural…

Of course neither is being overweight or obese. My body and mind are rebelling a bit after 9 months of caloric restriction under the guise of becoming healthy. So, incoming expression of my current state of mind.

Sorry, but humans did not evolve to eat low caloric diets for a prolonged period, well, except those of us with especially “thrifty genes” 😉 Yes, I am aware of the numerous studies in various species of animals suggesting that caloric restriction (-30%) with a diet that maintains appropriate nutrients might prolong life through revving up cellular mechanisms which stave off chronic diseases and aging. (Free JAMA article here) Dieting is not the same as eating a rich diet lower in calories than the typical American one. Plus, the concept of caloric restriction to live longer – there is not enough evidence that this is generalizable to all people, or that it really does work in humans, or that people want to trade their quality of life by going hungry for an extra few months to few years of living. (Suggest you at least read the abstract of the article for both sides of the argument.)

Back to me and my body/mind. Convincing myself that losing weight is healthy is easy to do, but I finally need to stop pretending that I am just embarking on a “way of eating”. True, I am eating healthy, but 1200 calories a day is not normal. This older body of mine knows that better than I do and is showing this by losing weight at a slower and slower rate. If I am going to survive getting to my goal weight, I think that I need to reframe what I am doing. I am on a diet. I am eating healthy (hopefully), but a diet it is. While dieting, I am preparing for maintenance because I certainly do not intend to eat 1200 calories all my life. Also, I am preparing for maintenance by reading about those who have lost and successfully maintained for years. (Need the role-modeling, skills, and knowledge, and something to look forward to.) I am trying to routinely incorporate physical activity while my damn knee ever-so-slowly heals from whatever “itis” has afflicted it for the past few months. I continue to seek support from others close by and on the web for this journey. Hell, I’m even back in therapy routinely as of this week (good grief did I just type that out loud?) to deal with the emotional turmoil surrounding my response to my parents’ illnesses and the crap that is emerging.

Bottom line: Don’t be surprised if I use the word “diet” more often. Once I hit maintenance then I truly will be eating healthy.

cartoon of woman at diet doctor