Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review...Resolutions vs. Decisions

2011 has been an interesting year.  While I sit here reflecting on the year, I may not be 100% happy with where I am right at this moment, but I won't let that overshadow what I've achieved.  Let's review my goals for 2011 and how I did.


Goal #1: Get faster at my 5k (3.1 miles) running time.
My fastest 5k in 2010 was 42:27. 
My fastest 5k in 2011 was 32:16.  GOAL ACHIEVED!

Goal #2: Run a 10k race (6.2 miles)
Finished my first 10k race, running the entire time, in 1hour 11 minutes on Thanksgiving day. 


Goal #1: Reach ONE-derland (weigh less than 200 pounds).
Reached ONE-derland on March 5, 2011.  GOAL ACHIEVED!

Goal #2: Reach 100 pounds lost, from 285 to 185.
Reached 185 pounds on August 31, 2011.  GOAL ACHIEVED!


Goal #1: Healthy Cholesterol panel.
In August 2009, triglycerides were at 228, in August 2011, measured 106.   GOAL ACHIEVED!

Goal #2: Healthy resting heart rate.
In August 2009, resting heart rate was 112, in August 2011, measured 61.  GOAL ACHIEVED!

Goal #3:  Not need that horrid C-Pap Machine to sleep - cure my sleep apnea.
Current report as of 12/31/11.  Only used the machine a few times in 2009...suffered with exhaustion for awhile...but have not snored since 2010!  Sleep apnea cured! (according to me; the doctors can stuff it on this one as they told me I would never be cured of sleep apnea, even with losing weight - the CPap machine industry is a racket if you ask me).  GOAL ACHIEVED!

You might be reading the above thinking it's a bit of overkill.  How many times is she going to say "goal achieved?"  AS MANY TIMES AS I ACHIEVE GOALS. 

That's right.

Every goal you set and achieved along your journey, no matter how big or small, needs to be celebrated.

I'm sitting here on New Years eve, December 31, 2011, thinking over my last year and considering the next year.  The entire months of November and December have been a bit of a "bust" as I've traveled like a fiend and been slightly "off" for a few months, then completely off track for the last few weeks.  A nasty cold led to not running and all the travel led to me backsliding alot in my eating.  I absolutely physicaly feel like CRAP right now and I know exactly why.

So January 1st is tomorrow, and like the last two January 1sts I've celebrated, for me it will not mean making "resolutions" that won't last.  It's about setting new goals for 2012.  Because, I have proven that I CAN achieve the goals I set for myself. 

And while I'm ending this year, likely up about 10 pounds from a few months ago (ouch - will confirm when I arrive home tomorrow), I am still VERY PLEASED with my 2011 progress and all of the awesome goals I've achieved. 

And VERY HOPEFUL about 2012.

Here is an excerpt from a blog post this time last year, where I talked about the difference between RESOLUTIONS and DECISIONS.

Lets start by talking about New Years Resolutions.

{insert groan here}

This is where I go on a serious rant, so please depart if you have found the wrong page (lol).

Because the word resolution takes on such a flippant meaning in our culture.

The dictionary defines resolution as:
"the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc."

Our culture defines resolution as:
"something we do every January 1st as kind of a joke, sometimes with all intentions of breaking it by Valentine's day, if we make it that far and then we'll all laugh about how badly scraped we are from falling off the wagon and letting it drag us 300 yards."

To me, diets are like resolutions. Diets from the start, are doomed to fail. For every person that says "but this diet really worked for me" I have to ask a hundred times "if it worked, why oh why are you having to do it again?"

If something works, it works forever.

Does it need new batteries sometimes? Yes. But it still works. Diets have no warranty. You can't get your money back. But they are for sale everywhere. And they all claim to be "it." Trust me, take it from a girl who has lost 100 pounds. I sort of know what I'm talking about here. When you get ueber restrictive, you will automatically resent it from the start. The diet is all that stands between you and ice cream, chocolate chip cookies and french fries. The diet is why you are miserable at the buffet. The diet causes you to hate yourself when you slip up. The diet makes you physically uncomfortable when someone (or everyone) brings in birthday cake. The diet makes you snippy with your family and makes you kick your dog.

How unfair to everyone around you...and how unfair to YOU.

Diets spun from resolutions just give you a short term good feeling before your resentment wins out and then they leave you with self-loathing, anger and sometimes more weight than you came into the diet with! How in a million years is that worth it? Not to mention most of the popular ones cost money! Forget it!

So I challenge you to ditch resolutions in the American sense for 2012 and ditch your silly temporary diet plans...and make DECISIONS instead to be healthy in 2012 and forever.

The dictionary definition of Decision is:
"the act of or need for making up one's mind."

I love that. Making up your mind. That is what a healthy lifestyle is all about. I had to decide, like really truly honestly decide that my life and health was worth a little bit of hard work (ok a lot of hard work) and some sacrifice. And I didn't change everything overnight.

This business of starting to be crazy restrictive on January 1st is ludicrous. And unlikely to last.

Instead, once you've decided, really decided (and seriously, I mean decided, not just wished, hoped and thought about it) then you can begin to make changes.

Here is a list of questions to ask yourself to determine if you're really ready to make this decision:

1) Am I willing to change the way I eat? Try new foods? Track my input (food) and output (exercise) until I've maintained my healthy weight for 6 months?
2) Am I willing to MAKE time to exercise, doing something active at least 3-5 days/week?
3) Am I sick and tired of being sick and tired? Do I want to feel good? Do I want to live again?

If you can say "yes" to all of these questions, then you might just be ready. But it doesn't stop there.

Now the logistics.  Here is a to-do list once you've made your decision:

1) Talk to your family. They have GOT to decide to support you. If they are going to be eating fried twinkies while you eat as many super foods as you can cram on your plate, I can tell you this is not going to last. Ask your family if they are willing to go on this journey with you. Don't cut all their favorite foods out of the house (this is where self-control really comes in). But ask them to support you and cheer you on, and help them realize that not having crap for food in the house will help you immensely.

2) Talk to your doctor. Don't ever start an eating or exercise program without talking to your doctor about what would be best for you. I'm not a doctor, I'm just a fat girl who knows what worked for me...there is my disclaimer.  Some of you may have issues with sugar due to diabetic conditions, or other issues that may cause you to need to eat differently than me, or others you know who are trying to get healthy.  It is really an individual thing when it comes to health. 

3) Research and find some activity/exercise that you might enjoy. Be willing to try different things! Not everyone will want to be a runner like me! Maybe you will like cycling? Maybe swimming? Shoot, I started just by walking! Do what you can... just MOVE.

4) Make a list of healthy lifestyle changes you want to make. Here is an excerpt from my list August 2009:

*reduce caffeine
*drink water - go for 64 ounces.
*eat less fried food
*move more - do something active 5 days/week
*eat more vegetables
*makeover favorite fattening recipe into a healthier one

I made these changes one at a time.  Small, incremental, doable changes.  Not cold turkey, overnight misery.

5) Research and educate yourself about nutrition.  The more you know, the better your decisions will be.  Research Super Foods. Go ahead, google it. Or take a look at this article on Web md: Super Foods Article .
Set a goal to try to incorporate super foods into every single day. You won't regret it - and I guarantee you will find you like more foods than you gave a chance ever in your life. I can totally say that. I love asparagus, broccoli and fresh spinach more than I ever thought I could. And I'm being completely serious here and have not been brainwashed by farmers of green items.

So are you in yet? Think this over...and DECIDE. Really decide to make a change. I know if I can do it, you totally can.

My 11 year career in human resources and my degree in marketing have absolutely not prepared me for this journey. I have made this journey my own and constantly learn as I go. And you can do the same!


I will be working on a blog post of my goals for 2012, and should be ready to post that this week.  For now, as I reflect on 2012, I encourage you to celebrate the goals you've achieved.  Even if, right this moment, you aren't where you expected you would be. 

Maybe you've made poor choices for the last few weeks of the holidays (like me) or the last few months (ahem - still like me).  Maybe you aren't sure you can make a lasting change.  I'm here to tell you that you CAN.  And if you set some good, realistic and achieveable goals for 2012, you will.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Me and Mud Mountain

You may have wondered where I have been lately.  Well, aside from being insanely busy with some year end projects at work, I have also struggled with what I could say here.  Yep.  Been busy, but partly avoiding you on purpose.  Sorry.

In the last almost 2 years since I began blogging, I have developed a feeling of responsibility to all of you who are reading.  I feel responsible for giving you good advice, sharing my successes and struggles, and overall leaving you with things to ponder and encouragement to run with.  There is a blog I read where I feel the blogger seems to have good intentions but jumps from diet to diet, and excuse to excuse, never finding success and never moving forward but never admitting they fail, just jumping to the next thing, exclaiming "this must be it!  this will work!"  Until it doesn't.  Again.  It pains me to read blogs like that; its like a bad train wreck though and I can't look away.  I keep hoping they will get it.

So that huge sense of responsibility has kept me from blogging since my 10k debrief at Thanksgiving.  I have not felt like I had anything encouraging to say, and I was struggling.  It's not like I want to pretend this is an easy, perfect journey, I've been painfully honest before for anyone to accuse me of that.  I just didn't have the words.  And maybe, until this last 24 hours, didn't really understand what was happening anyway.

This last 20 pounds is anything but a cinch. In fact, if you look at my weight loss, I have only lost 3 pounds since I finally hit 100 pounds down on August 31st.  So that means I have lost a little over 1 pound a month for two months.  Um...slow weight loss much?  I'm even struggling there as I keep gaining and losing the same 3 pounds it seems.  I'm back up to 185.  It seems to be my body's favorite number.

Now to be fair, my body is still changing as well. I'm now solidly in a size 12, and even have some dresses that are 10s that fit me well.  I can physically see some changes, but I can also see, and admit honestly to myself, that I have another 20 pounds at least to lose, not due to the stupid BMI chart, but due to seeing the fat on my body and knowing my body fat % is not yet considered healthy (I actually think that chart is right).

So I'm done being fair, and if you follow my facebook page you know that I have mentioned a "slippery slope" here and there.  Let me explain.

My metaphor is that building and changing your lifestyle is sometimes a bit like running up a muddy mountain.  You see footprints ahead of you so you know it is possible to climb it.  You feel strong when you are at the bottom and begin your ascent and sometimes you even make it ten steps (or days/weeks/months) before you slide backward.  There are times you are using your hands and feet, to steady yourself, pull yourself upward, and at other times, you have to have friends giving you a shove from behind in the right direction.  But you continue to look up.  Every success keeps you focused on the peak.  Every failure makes you want to look down...and then you slide a little bit more.  This slope is unforgiving, yet encouraging.  Many have climbed, lost and slid home.  Many have climbed, pushed through, achieved their goals and the climb is a distant memory.  Some, like me, are close to the top but continue to slide backward.

I have yet to crest this mountain my friends.  And I think I know why.  I have baggage holding me back.

I've addressed having issues with food on here.  I'm an emotional eater at heart with little self-control.  Ok, stop gasping, those that have only known me since on this journey, believe it or not I am not fixed of that issue.  But I really think it is more than just being an emotional eater which has become very clear to me in the last few weeks.

I think I am addicted to food.

Oh the sense of relief I'm feeling right now from admitting that out loud, or typing it out loud.  Same thing these days; I did say it out loud to my friend this morning as we were running.

Hello, my name is Clara, and even though I have lost 100 pounds, I am still addicted to food.  I am still on the slippery slope and right now I am hanging on for dear life. 

Last night, I consciously chose to eat something I would never have touched 6 months ago.  Chicken fingers, french fries and a biscuit from Bojangles.  It smells good when people in the office eat there, but they have all discouraged me from eating there as they know my general food rules.  And I ate there anyway.  This followed a day of many unplanned treats, as vendor gifts are pouring in by the basketful. 

All of this is following a few months of more travel than normal and being busier than ever.  I think I began to go sideways on Mud Mountain.  I was using both hands and feet, but not moving forward.  Just sideways.

I've come full circle and am back where I was in August.

Listen, this is still not the worst place to be.  I am happy with my progress.  But I realize there will not be further progress until I fight this food addiction head on.

Know how I came to this realization?

Through other people.

Now, no one has staged an intervention (though I would really welcome one if any of you are interested), I haven't had anyone sit me down and tell me they are concerned, and I am not upset with anyone for supposedly sabotaging me.  None of that has happened.

A few comments here and there are what clued me in to the realization last night that something was not right.

Last month while traveling, I had the opportunity to eat at a really awesome restaurant in SC.  The food selection was incredible. I absolutely could have made a good choice.  But the sweet potato chips sounded really good, and how bad could they be?  So I made the choice to have pretty much an entire plate of fried food.  FOOD FAIL.  Fried crab cakes (which were not actually good compared to the broiled ones), hush puppies, sweet potato chips and fried shrimp.  And lots of diet coke to wash it down.  A comment was made, by someone who spends alot of work time with me, that they had never seen me eat anything fried.

Twisted my good ankle on Mud Mountain.  Continued to move sideways.

Later on that really sunk in.  In the 9 months I have worked for this new company, I have maintained my good eating habits in work situations; like when we all go out to lunch, etc.  Not perfect, but never ordering fried food.  This is how I lost the weight, and this is how they knew me.  Fried food was out of character.  Huh.

Then the food has just been rolling in, literally, over the past few weeks.  Holiday treats from vendors.  Amazing dipped this and that. Candy in the office.  Freaking cookies!  I have not had my snacks with me and therefore, I have indulged way more than I should have. 

I was hungry on Thursday afternoon and one of my co-workers offered me an apple.  I didn't want an apple, I said.  I wanted something else.  An apple would have been a perfect choice, and would have made me feel fuller longer.  My co-worker asked me if I was drinking my water like I usually do.  Another interesting, thought provoking comment.  I mean, I was drinking water.  But I haven't been up to my normal 4 bottles a day lately.  Clue #2 that me and Mud Mountain were preparing for departure.

I ended up eating a bag of popcorn from another co-worker. Popcorn really isn't the worst thing.  So why did I have to eat a bunch of maple dipped peanuts after that?  Seriously? Especially on a day where I already indulged in some chocolate covered raisins.

Then we went to a bonfire at a friends house and ate hot dogs, chili, chips, chocolate chip cookies and smores.  Yep.  All of that.

My body is freaking out.  Mud Mountain opened up a trap door and invited me to jump in.  I continued to shuffle sideways.

Yesterday I ended up indulging in more cookies, more double dipped maple nuts (yep TW that's where they went) etc.  And then I met Mr. Bojangles for dinner.  And he sang to me.

Full frontal face plant on Mud Mountain.  Complete with backward slide and bojangles man singing. 

When I got home with my food, my husband was shocked at what I had ordered for dinner.  He was being very careful, but was asking me questions about why I made that choice, etc.  I wasn't offended by his questioning, more just convicted by it.  He said he knows I feel better when I'm making better choices.  He just wants me to feel better.  I haven't even mentioned my diet coke consumption as of late.  Ridiculous.

I hugged Mud Mountain and we shared an ugly cry.

In all honesty, I haven't actually cried about this realization even though I should have.  It isn't like an earth shattering revelation that I am in shock about.  I think underneath my looking-good-in-my-size-12-exterior, I have simply been avoiding the fact that I have a problem I have not yet dealt with. 

And until I really learn about and deal with this problem, there will be no scaling this mountain. 

There it is, my friends. Challenge explained.  Now, what am I going to do about it?

I'm going to pray.  Alot.  If you have read my profile, you know I am a Christian.  I'm not going to judge you, so don't judge me...I won't be preachy here but I will honestly share what I truly believe is going to help me over this addiction that is blocking my access to the top of this mountain.  God is.

I am simply not strong enough on my own to do this.  Or, by now, 27 months after starting, it would be smooth ascent to the peak.

As described above, I'm between a ledge and a mudhole.  I need divine intervention.

My husband is a pastor, and my own prayer life, partly due to being busy but mostly due to not making time, has been anything but regular.  Yep, gasp again.  Preacher's wife is not a saint. :)

Today I will finish reading a book I've mentioned on Facebook called "Made to Crave" by Lysa Terkeurst.  She is a Christian author who writes in this book about satisfying your deepest desires with God, not food.

Since I began reading her book I've continued to struggle, though I've had some amazing realizations. 

At first, I was skeptical, as she talks about how she is pretty restrictive on treats in her diet.  I don't ever want to be diety, as you've heard me say a zillion times.  But as I read more, her rationale is that she may one day get to the point where she is strong enough to, say, bake 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies and only eat one and not sample the batter.  10 times.  But she isn't there yet.


But I was made for more than chocolate chip cookies and their evil dough.

There are tons of amazing thoughts, good, direct, thought provoking questions and relevant scriptures in this book.  Today, I'm going to purchase the workbook to go along with it and begin working through this food addiction once and for all.

I will take you along on the journey with me, if you're interested.  I almost have that feeling before you start a new exercise program, or start taking a new class at the gym. 

I have anticipation of healing this addiction.

I have excitement over being stronger than I've ever been and finally losing weight again.

I have joy knowing I am not on this journey alone.

It starts with asking that no one give me any food treats for Christmas.  If you want to give me a holiday mug, just give me the mug. :)  No candy, no cookies, etc.  I'm not swearing these things off, now, I may end up going cold turkey as I learn more about this issue and how to handle it; but as of this moment I'm not making a proclamation that sugar is the devil and I'm done with it.

Though it may be.  And I might be.

Time will tell.

Thanks for listening to my rant...and for praying for me if you feel so inclined.  I want so badly to have my light shine brightly for others; I desire to help anyone who wants it, to get healthy and love themselves more than food. 

My heart truly is in the right place.

Now lets get my head there.

Love you all,