Friday, March 19, 2010

46 pounds down as of today!

Yes, I am sure some of this is muscle mass loss...but at this point I will take what I can get until I can get strong again.  :)  It has been YEARS since I weighed in the 230s!  I had originally wanted to lose 50 by March 25th (my 10 year wedding anniversary) but I had readjusted my goal to April 15th due to my injury...will I make that original goal of March 25th?  hmmm...

I just may...plans are to adjust my eating accordingly (a little less chocolate I guess) between now and then and tons of time (that I can tolerate) on the exercise bike next week...I would love to surprise myself and meet a stretch goal like this one!

Excited!  More Progress!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This News is Good News!

Today I had my cast sawed off - what an interesting (and loud and a little nerve wracking) experience!  The length of my leg hair and amount of dirt between my scaly toes made me shudder....other than that I was excited to have the cast off.  I can put weight on my foot but it was a little like walking on jello at first.  I'm planning on taking it slow...

Doctors orders are physical therapy 2 times a week for 6 weeks.  Physical activity I can start with walking on Monday, on a treadmill for as long as I can tolerate.  I can also do the stationary bike and elliptical trainer...don't have much access to a gym, but the college gym does have some of that equipment working, so I plan to be there bright eyed and bushy tailed on Monday morning!  I got a nifty new brace that helps with stability and sorta fits in my shoes...that will be the challenge mostly.

So I just weighed myself - I know, mid-day isn't the best idea...but I couldn't help it.  I have been on the scale in the last few weeks, but not easily and not accurately with the bulky cast on.  I've preparing myself mentally not to be disappointed that in 3 weeks I have probably only lost a pound or least I haven't gained, right???  That's a big step in the right direction.  Drumroll...I weighed in at we're up to 43 pounds down!  I did measurements too (I do this monthly) and I have lost 42.5 inches total (measuring arms, calves, thighs, hips, upper stomach, belly button area, chest) only up a few small inches inch since my injury - this is a GREAT thing! 

I took some time to readjust some of my goals this week.  2010 is a huge year of goals for me.  I will be finishing my Bachelors degree in June, hoping to lose 100 pounds total, and running a 5k among other things.  If you had told me a year ago those would be my goals for 2010 I probably would have laughed.  Its amazing how your perspective can change in just 7 months.  My original "first" goal was to lose 50 pounds by my 10 year wedding anniversary, which is next week, March 25th.  Since I likely won't lose 7 pounds this week (although who knows I'm certainly motivated!)

So my new goals for weight loss are as follows:
*down 50 pounds by April 15th
*down to my pre-pregnancy weight (214) by June 27th
*down 100 pounds, the weight I was when I married Stephen by October 10, 2010

I have NO DOUBT I will reach these goals.  Injured or not, I am motivated to get myself back into losing regularly and well again.  I'm so pleased to not have gained and to have actually lost in these three weeks - it just shows that my eating is spot on! 

You know, people talk about goals all the time - how important it is to have them, blah blah blah...but I can really say that having a goal to work toward has been pivotal for me in this weight loss journey thus far.  Because looking at needing to lose 100 pounds is incredibly daunting.  And when things look like they are too challenging, I begin to shut down.  Like, completely.  I have abandoned so many things in my life that I probably could have done had I changed my focus to be on the small parts of the large goal rather than the hugeness and improbability of not reaching said goal.  I also would set completely unrealistic goals for things.  I am a hugely positive person...and I see sunshine and flowers when others see reality sometimes.  Giving myself over a year to lose 100 pounds makes the most sense for me.  Its coming off slowly.  After losing 43 pounds I don't have hanging skin everywhere...because I am toning at the same time.  A "quick" fix wasn't going to help me.  Counting every calorie I put in my mouth wasn't going to help me.  Short of a "biggest loser" intervention, the only thing I have and had to help me is my own will.  It was strong enough to eat crappy before, now it is just as strong to eat healthily 90% of the time.  And I love eating the way I do now.  More on goals and eating plans at a later date...lets just revel in the right now.  In my very happy day of news.  And in the sight of me reaching my newly adjusted goal on its new schedule.  Ah.  Life is good.

Now to go finish making the buffalo chicken sandwiches, spinach salad and baked french fries for dinner...



Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One foot in front of the evenly as possible.

So this has been a challenging few weeks for me.  I can't exercise like I was before I fell and badly sprained/slightly fractured my ankle on February 19th.  I have a cast on my leg almost up to my knee.  It is supremely irritating but I know it will help me heal more quickly.  I get the cast off on Tuesday March 16th.  I can't wait!  I'm hoping and praying I will be able to at least start walking a little bit for exercise soon. 

I have two "skinny girl" moments I need to share with you.  But first, let me add the disclaimer that I am not looking to be "skinny."  That isn't the point of this journey.  The point is to get to the healthy weight my body is best at...and I couldn't even tell you today how far away that is because I haven't decided on a final number yet.

So on the skinny girl moment #1...I went to lunch last week on my birthday with one of my best friends at work, who happens to drive a BMW Z4 convertible.  If you've ever seen one of these cars, they are spiffy, and TINY.  I had a moment of panic - would I fit in this car?  I highly doubted it.  Hondas are uncomfortable since they aren't made for large j-lo type taters like mine...  I told my friend nervously that if I didn't fit in the car, we could take mine, which was a few spaces down. 

I opened the door and slid in and waited to realize it wasn't a fit.  Then I realized I did fit.  I grabbed the seatbelt, easily buckled it, and for a moment was a little bit giddy and excited.

You see, when I flew on a business trip last year for work, I couldn't buckle the airplane seatbelt around my waist, which was embarassing.  I would hide it under my sweater or shirt in order to fool the stewardess and would sweat bullets hoping no one offered me a seatbelt extender. 

So to slide effortlessly and comfortably into this tiny person car really excited me. 

Next skinny girl moment - a great work friend returned from maternity leave and we had a meeting this week.  She arrived at the meeting, we hugged and then as we walked into the meeting room she said "You look so skinny, wow!"  That absolutely made my day.  She asked how much I had lost and I shared with her.  It truly felt great to hear it, especially from someone who looked great herself having just had a baby a few months ago!

There have been a lot of mini-wins along the way.

When I hurt my ankle, before I had the crutches, I found a quick way to get around my house - I would hop on my good leg, simulating jump rope using my arms as leverage.  Man, I was fast.  Talk about achieving muscle failure in your good leg tho - then you're out of luck.  I could never have done that a year ago today.

I'm really getting a charge out of amazing myself and its almost like I'm pulling a rubber band against its nature to snap back to its original place.  I'm so strong it just keeps stretching.  Its almost like I spent so much time being morbidly obese that I thought there was no way I could ever again accomplish a feat like even walking 2 miles...and soon I will be running it.  The empowerment you get from the little things at first - clothing being more roomy, making good choices day to day, and conquering your own insecurities is enough to keep you going for the times you fit into that tiny car and someone exclaims that you are "skinny" (which is funny - I wonder if I told her I weigh 242 pounds how shocked she would be then?  lol).

By nature, I'm not a very confident person.  I have confidence in certain things.  My faith, my relationships, my ethics, and things that I know that I know.  (say that 10 times fast).  But when it comes to believing I had what it took to take control of my health...until now I could never have told you I *would* do it.  I would have said I wanted to do it.  I should do it.  I wish I could do it.

But now I AM doing it.  Amazing?  I think so.  What's the difference this time?  Why is this "program" working?  Here's what I think...
1) its not a program.  not a "diet" where I can fall off the wagon then eat the wagon and the horse.
2) I love the way I feel now - and it didn't take long to feel better than I did when my nutrition and activity were severly lacking.
3) I decided to do it.  When I say decided, I am really using that word strongly.  Its not that I made a fly by night decision or that there was any hemming or hawing going on.  I made a passionate, intense decision to change my life.  And every day I am deciding to stay on the journey and not look back, except to reflect on what I have accomplished.

Since I can't "do" much now, I am just continuing to eat like I have been.  There really isn't much pressure there to do any different.  I've conquered and beaten down the french fry gremlin enough times that now I can't even stand the smell of the grease now.  I am not worried about backsliding into past poor nutritional behavior even with this inactivity.

But man, do I ache to exercise.

Wait, did I just say that?  Giddy.  Again.  I saw a picture of a girl running and literally had a stirring in my heart today.  I can't wait to get back out there and do something, anything.  Hobbling around is quite annoying.

So I plan to really try to let my ankle no high heels for me for awhile.  I'm a little sad about this, and a little excited too. They hurt my feet so bad, but man are they cute.  :)  I'm excited to give these new flat shoes a chance. 

I've been SO sluggish these last 2 weeks.  Exhausted.  Which is crazy since I usually exercise way harder than just gimping around.  Amazing how it takes using energy to create more. 

Right now, where I am sitting, I am putting one foot in front of the other.  Granted, I'm a little gimpy right now, and really no shoes are even with my sneakers, but I am not going to let this injury stop me from reaching my goals.

I WILL get back to exercise (after listening to the doctors orders of course).
I WILL reach 100 pounds lost this year (may adjust my September goal based on the lack of exercise)
I WILL continue to treat my body like the blessing it is.
I WILL continue to learn about nutrition and tweak my eating as I see fit.
I WILL continue to share with others about my journey in the hopes it can help someone else.
I WILL run a 5k without stopping in 2010.

At the end of each day, when you have a chance to reflect on your day, and the decisions you made for your health, are you glad you did what you did?  If it wasn't so great, do you love yourself enough to do better tomorrow?  I have had to forgive myself for the times I have failed at taking good care of myself, and then made a life-long commitment to never go back there again.

One foot, hobbling around, in front of the other will get me to where I am going.  Eventually.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Part II of the Back Story...the Beginning of the End

All good stories have a turning point.  A point where someone makes a decision that at the time seems simple, but ends up changing the course of history.  In July of 2009 I made one of these decisions, and I know for a fact that I did not have any idea that I would be changing my history.

I knew I didn't want to be on cholesterol medication at the age of 30.  I knew that I didn't like who I saw in the mirror anymore.  I knew that I was shortening my life with every sedentary day and bite of unhealthy food.  I knew that I wanted to have energy again. 

But what I didn't know was how or even where to start.  285 pounds is so far from where I wanted to be. 

One random day, I was emailing with one of our coaches at work, Barb.  She was midway through the P90X program and was feeling awesome.  I could tell in her words in email she was energized and excited about life.  I told her in an email that I knew I was nowhere near where I could do something like P90X...but that I wanted to make a change.  She responded with an offer...would I let her help me make a plan that was doable for me to change my health? 

It still amazes me to this day that she would even offer that.  I happily accepted and we set up a lunchtime phone call for the following day (we live in different cities) so I could give her some info on historically what had not worked for me and my health issues that came into play.

Together we put together a list (most of the input from her of course) of what "small changes" I could make that would yield eventual "big results."  The list included things like weaning myself off of caffeine, starting to walk regularly and eating less fried food.  It was a long checklist, but it had stages to it, so nothing was cold turkey. 

I actually had run out of diet coke that day (my caffeine of choice) so I decided to implement the caffeine and water challenge immediately.  I went out and bought a 32 oz water bottle.  After a few weeks of caffeine withdrawal headaches, I was free.  It was incredibly empowering to find myself energetic without the use of the drug caffeine is.  And I found it easy to drink 100 ounces of water a day given it was July in Florida.  :)

I also decided to start walking.  My amazing friend, Heather, started walking with me.  Heather is one of those people who is thin and active, and she would run to my house, walk the 2 miles from me and then run home, which in my eyes was such a gift to me!  We walked a 2 mile loop 3 times a week to start.  My toes were bleeding from blisters and it being August I was sweating like crazy.  I wondered many times if I could do this.  I know my pace was slow and I felt bad for Heather slowing down so much to walk with me.  But I was also so incredibly grateful for her support.  It kept me going knowing I was going to meet someone out and they would be looking for me.

My focus really wasn't on "weight loss" as much as it was on saving my own life.  I didn't even have a number goal yet for my weight.  At the same time, the company I work for had started an "Active for Life" program and we got points for each minute of exercise activity we completed each day.  I focused on getting as many activity points as I could.  I ended up increasing the number of walks I took each day.  I also did walking videos when the weather didn't cooperate.  When I traveled to corporate for my week in the office each month, I walked with friends there.

In time, I felt strong enough to try Tae Bo again.  I love kickboxing.  So I did that here and there in addition to my walking. 

I bought a scale a few weeks into it and began tracking my weight, BMI and body fat percentage (its a cool scale) on a weekly basis.  I also took body measurements at the very beginning and I retake them each month.

My friend Barb and I talked every week for ideas, accountability and the like.

My eating changed alot.  One of the things on my check list was to figure out more healthy options when I eat out.  I travel alot for work, so that would be hard...and yet I did it.  At McDonalds I get a grilled chicken sandwich and a yogurt parfait.  Or a BBQ grilled snack wrap and apples.  Now, everywhere I go, any restaurant, I can find something that is healthier.  It isn't about "I can't have that" because that is a dieters mentality and I'm not dieting.  It is more like "I am making a better choice and getting this instead."

As time went on, I amazed myself at how great I felt.  It was as if someone had turned a switch on and it was permanently stuck in the on position.  My little girl and I walked a 5K in October to benefit breast cancer research.  It felt awesome to walk in honor of my grandmother, a friend's sister and a wonderful friend I lost earlier this decade.  On the grand scale of what I need to lose, 18 pounds didn't seem like too much...but it motivated me to keep going.

I started snacking as well - this is a very important point. I eat when I am hungry, which some days seems like every few hours with all the exercise. But I eat healthy snacks, like a cheese stick or almonds. I have even become a huge fan of dried plums (the old prunes).  Part of the program at work was to learn about nutrition, so I dug into healthy eating habits. I knew alot about what was "good" for me by years of weight watchers and other diets. But I started learning about what foods would fuel my body to be able to do more. Being a pro at dieting I would never have eated a handful of almonds a day - they were loaded with fat! Now they are a daily staple in my diet as I learned the difference between good fat and bad fat. I stopped eating fat free food, or food that was pretending to be food I used to like...I realized that eating three low fat sugar free chocolate chip cookies would NOT satisfy the craving I had for one real chocolate chip cookie. But instead of baking them, I would go to Subway and buy one. Craving solved. Day not ruined.  My body NEEDS fat in order to be fuel efficient.  I had gauged successful weight loss weeks on how hungry I had felt during the week.  No longer did I have to feel hungry and the weight was coming off.

We had 2 Thanksgiving dinners to attend in November.  I walked that morning, then took the family to walk with me again in between meals.  I lost weight that week.  As the first of the year approached, I watched people everywhere set huge goals for themself and I did not feel pressured to do that.  What I was doing was working for me.  And it was SO not a diet!  How crazy, right?

In January my friend Barb challenged me ~ what was I going to do to step up my exercise?  I was a walking pro by now, walking 6 days a week at least 2 miles.  Even walking to my friend Heather's house (about a mile away) instead of driving.  I had heard alot about the Biggest Loser workout series.  I got some random spam email about it and decided to look at Amazon and check it out.  I purchased the Cardio Max DVD and waited in anticipation for it.  I mean, these trainers know how to work a thick chick out, so this was going to be good.

The video came and it has 3 levels - the first is 20 minuts of cardio (after a 5 min warmup, followed by a 5 minute cooldown), then you graduate in a few weeks to adding another 10 min cardio segment, and then another.  I LOVED this video so much I bought the Power Sculpt DVD next.  I was still walking too, a few days a week.  But something about doing 300 lunges was really appealing to me and extremely effective.  Weight continued to drop, but the biggest thing I saw drop at this point as inches.  By January, I had lost about 25 inches total (measuring arms, bust, stomach, hips, thighs, calves).  6 weeks after starting the Biggest Loser DVDs I had lost another 20 inches.  It blew my mind!  My favorite part?  The people I was exercising with on the DVDs were NOT skinny.  It was the BL contestants themselves "before" for the most part.  I felt like I was exercising with people who were just like me.  If they could do it, so could I!

Then some friends in New Orleans decided to start the Couch to 5K running program.  I had tried this once before after being sedentary (no exercise at all) and wasn't able to get past week 3.  I decided to try again.  My first two runs were amazing!  I felt so strong, so excited.  I found a running store in Panama City and planned that Saturday to go and be fitted for running shoes. 

Friday night (February 19) I fell down my front steps in a completely freak accident.  There are a few things that could have happened.  One, my jeans are too big and therefore too long, and caught under my boot and made me slip.  Two, Dixie was pulling me and I just lost my footing.  Or, three, we will blame it on Fernando, my brain tumor.  Yes, he has now earned a name.  He's too famous in my daily clumsiness not to be named.

I cried while on the ground, as I knew I had really hurt my ankle.  Not because of the pain, but because I was so depressed that my running and exercise would be halted.  Now I sit here with a cast on my ankle up to my knee almost.  It will be 2 weeks before my cast comes off...then who knows how long before I am able to walk for exercise and even run.

But the best part of this is that I will not gain weight back.  I may not lose as quickly either (dang it) but I will not gain.  I know how to eat now.  I can do my weights with my arms and focus on core training.  On the days I am not exhausted from gimping around that is.

I look at every day right now as a day of decision.  What will I decide to eat today?  Will I make good choices 90% of the time?  That is my goal. 

One of the girls on the Biggest Loser DVDs said this in an interview.  "I used to look at how much weight I had to lose and it was too scary, too big of a number.  Then I decided to just put one foot in front of the other, every day."

One of the trainers on BL says "Its all about progress, not perfection."

I have lost 42 pounds and 45 inches to date.  I won't be able to get on the scale again until after I have the cast off.  And I'm ok with that.  My cholesterol has gone down 52 points.  My doctor is very happy with that. 

I have a goal of losing 50 pounds by March 25th.  That is 3 weeks away.  The significance of that date is that it is my 10 year wedding anniversary.  Now that I can't exercise the same way, I am not entire sure I will make it.  In fact, I won't even know if I'm close until March 16th when I get my cast off.  :)  But I am excited nonetheless.  If I don't make that goal, I'll readjust.  And it will be fine.  I want to have lost 100 pounds by September of this year.  That will put me at the weight I was when I got married, 185.  Then, I will decide how far to go from there.

I am incredibly excited, energized, and interested in how my future will look.  I don't feel like my health holds me hostage anymore.  I feel so completely calm about food choices.  I can't wait to get back to my BL videos and walking/running again.  But I will do so slowly and carefully so my ankle can heal completely.

So, my posts from now on will be about where I am now.  You're all caught up on the back story.  If I think of other things I've missed, I'll add them in.

I'm excited you are on this journey with me.  This weekend I will try to post a "now" picture.  It is kind of unbelievable how 42 pounds has changed how I look so much.  I can't wait to share that with you.

Until next time,