Right for you, wrong for me

A few of my closest female friends are crossfit fans and encourage, cajole, try to bully me into joining them in this endeavor. Mostly we agree to disagree, but 2 of my friends have completely guzzled the koolaid and are born-again crossfit disciples. L started about 2.5 years ago, and B about 2 years ago. Friend M has been doing crossfit about 5 years. Just some brief background of their longevity in this pursuit compared to my training partnership with J (about 2.25 years).

L is having shoulder surgery next week, her second this year. Both shoulders were injured doing something at her crossfit box. B had to have her knee repaired last year, and just did something very serious sounding to her low back earlier this week. Either way, she’s not going to be doing much other than walking until that heals. M has had 3 serious exercise-related injuries in the last 5 years, 2 of which resulted in surgical procedures, and has been sidelined for more than 12 weeks on various occasions this year due to exercise-aggravated injuries.

All have lost significant amounts of weight: L is down 86 lbs., B is 60 pounds light, and over 100 lbs. for M since taking up this hobby. Each of them average about 4 days in their gyms each week when healthy and capable of that type of exercise. They use their weight loss and lesser time commitment as rationalization in our discussions about diet, exercise, better health. I would not classify them as arguments, but we have many times had discussions escalate and grow heated and shut down that topic by agreeing that we  disagree about priorities and what matters most to each of us in our overall health pursuits and reaffirm that we remain caring friends.

I am not especially strident in defending my methodology, but when the topic comes up, I start ticking off the injuries, surgeries, weeks and months of physical therapy for them as a group versus me with none of the above. And when it comes to their weight loss progress versus my own, I believe we are speaking in terms of apples and oranges. I am diplomatic and tactful in not pointing out how much weight is regained or how much more lock-down restraint must be deployed with diet while they are sidelined with injuries.

There was a time when I would remain silent in such discussions, having limited experience or confidence in my own opinions and no skin in the game. But that’s changed; I have now notched my second year of consistency in the gym and do have some thoughts about the reasons we do not exercise or improve our eating habits.

It’s too hard. It IS hard, especially at first. Social media, television, glossy magazines in the checkout line in the grocery store are full of promises of quicker, easier methods to drop weight than spending hours in the gym or eating rabbit food for the balance of our lives.

I don’t have time. Our world is full of distractions that are far more interesting and pleasurable than slogging through sets of squats and rows and presses or the cardio equipment. There are way too many more cheap and easy food sources than buying and preparing healthier meals at home.

I need to lose weight before I can exercise. Our minds are full of the idea that everyone else in the gym or who exercises regularly is thin and fit and not struggling, not breathing very hard, not sweating, not swearing where our untrained selves want to die on the floor in a puddle of sweat in the first 5 minutes.

I don’t know how. This is one I can completely get behind, because it can be complicated. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Everyone knows how to walk. If that’s all you feel confident to do, go forth and do it. There are also millions of online fitness resources and videos. Or if you have the resources, join a gym and book a few sessions with a personal trainer.

If you’re just getting started, I feel your pain. From direct personal experience, I know how difficult and how painful it is to take the first baby steps into altering our lifestyle habits. But there is no fool-proof supplement that melts fat or minimizes the need for a consistent movement program. There is no magic bullet or perfect program that is fun, easy, and fast. Obesity is an expensive condition, both on our bodies and on our wallets.

So yes, I am well acquainted with the excuses and reasons we don’t take better care of ourselves. Heck, I still employ a few of them on occasion myself. But telling me what I’m doing is somehow less correct than what you are pursuing with regard to exercise and diet is a lot less effective than just letting me go forth to work toward the best version of myself possible. Why does anyone do that? Why do we (sometimes) insist there is only one true way?

I posed the question in an email to my crossfitter friends. They all responded, a bit embarrassed that I perceived it that way, particularly with the specific examples I cited. In their defense, they are very excited about their weight loss and what they have found, what has turned their lives around, and they are eager to share their success. I’m very excited for them, delighted they have found something that works for them and provide satisfaction and success. My polite declining their invitations to try it is not a snub or disapproval; it is simply that their program does not suit me. We are friends, and they were understandably upset that I received their enthusiasm as criticism of my own approach. Faced with their words from prior conversations, they have the grace to admit that they have gotten carried away on occasion. That’s fair; it’s not like they are clubbing me over the head every time we chat. (Most of the time we’re too busy talking about work, parents, kids, other family relationships, and their dating interests to talk too much about exercise and diet.)

In many ways, I understand why it happens. We are middle aged women, taking control of our health and fitness and making genuine forward strides. There are a lot of reasons to be very excited about where we are now, where the path leads next. My concern about the injuries they are sustaining mostly relates to my concern for their health and longevity as well as to their criticism of my own efforts. Fab trainer J describes crossfit enthusiasts as “cult-like behavior” and from my own experience I know it a genuine and accurate observation. Anyone pursuing crossfit as their mode of exercise – I wish you well and hope you get stronger, stay safe, remain healthy. But is it the best method when you are continually getting injured in the process?

I love these ladies and I only want them to remain happy, healthy, and physically capable. Anything that gets all of us up and off the couch is important and to be applauded, and while I have reservations about their choices, I fully support and encourage all efforts to move more and lengthen our lives with regular exercise and movement, better food choices, healthier lifestyles.

With so many injuries between the 3 of them, I simply question the sensibility of their choice of sport.

I freely admit the very idea of getting hurt, being sidelined from injuries is extremely frightening to me. I have worked so hard to get this far and do not want to lose any ground because I am stupid in or out of the gym. As someone who could trip over hairline cracks in the sidewalk, I am accident prone and well aware of all the dangers in the day-to-day business of living my life aside from all the perils of the gym with the weights and machines (death traps, all of them if I am not careful). So I hired fab trainer J to teach me how to do things correctly, to hopefully minimize my access to injuries from poor form or general exercise ignorance. Our training partnership has never been about motivation, inspiration, or even accountability; it has always been about teaching me and expanding my level of understanding with regard to an area of life (exercise) I knew little to nothing about.

Perhaps this is a difference in perspective between me and my crossfitting friends. They are strong-minded, intelligent women, and I suspect that quality alone relates to the depth of our disagreements. But they are more independent and blaze-their-own-path whereas I accept that my natural brilliance has a lot of built-in limitations. I have endured plenty of frustrating setbacks in the gym – everything from completely baffled by hinges and Romanian deadlifts to balance to the limitations of generally untrained muscles getting slowly whipped into shape. I am painfully honest that I can only handle so much disappointment from my own independent effort before I simply abandon the program and the quest.

I strongly disagree that a crossfit gym program is equal or somehow superior to my training partnership with fab trainer J. I also do not believe that one-size-fits-most when it comes to our individual better health quests. So imagine my lack of delight when anyone suggests I’m somehow “wrong” in my approach. Excuse me – off diabetes drugs, losing weight (albeit slowly), reshaping my shape, HAPPY –  please do not be so bold as to tell me I am doing something incorrectly.

The email exchange on this topic has been a productive and ultimately positive conversational interaction and cleared up a lot of misconceptions about what we say and how we say it. Yes, I too have developed strong opinions on best practices when it comes to exercise. I don’t think anyone deserves to get hurt; I know injuries happen no matter how careful we are in our individual pursuits. However, I am true believer in learning how to exercise safely and sanely, including consistent practices between training and absolutely committed to the idea that warming up appropriately before getting started on my List of the day will go a long way to prevent injury. While I am not someone who does a lot of stretching, I do understand the benefits and anticipate that it will become a component of my exercise routine at some point in the future. Time is a finite resource and right now I prefer to spend my available allotment in the gym and primarily with resistance training.

What prompted this discussion among my friends today? Injuries in my fat loss group. Not crossfitters there, but a torn back muscle while doing goblet squats and some other back injury from chest presses. Both were admittedly more inconsistent exercisers utilizing more weight than was wise to burn more calories and fat in this outing. Now they are both gym/weight training sidelined for 6 to 8 weeks and confined to walking and physical therapy. Nothing wrong with walking, but they also lose any flexibility with diet if they wish to achieve their fat loss goals.

I honestly don’t get it.

I know I am far more conservative in my exercise pursuits, but I’m a true believer in the long game. A healthy lifestyle includes a sensible diet and regular exercise, and it is a process, not a goal to be achieved and then celebrated as a triumph. If there was a way I could get from fat to fit significantly faster that did not feel like I am living a miserable life, I might be willing to consider it. Ultimately, I value my joie de vivre too much to be so reckless about abusing my body with exercise or winnowing my diet so severely that I instinctively know is unsustainable.

For me, this is the right path. And as I told my friends, your mileage may vary.

This date in history

Dr. U went over my latest labs, my A1c is at 11.4. Disappointing. After getting it down to 7.2 just over a year ago, here we are again. Humalog increased to 20 units before breakfast, 28 units (each) at lunch and dinner. Scale has gone from 1 additional unit for every 25 points over 150 to 1 additional unit for every 20 points over 150 before each meal. Lantus is on the upswing as well – 30 units morning and bedtime. We are going to discuss adding yet another injection medicine – Victoza 

Yet here I sit writing this drinking a glass of coke and eating pizza for dinner. I deserve to die via the slow diabetes death spiral because I have zero self control and no motivation to try to exercise. My rower is sitting in the front room right next to the arc trainer and the set of dumbbells. M is running 20+ miles daily and I’m sitting here swigging soda and eating junk food. I also deserve every side-eye glance of disdain and disbelief I get from his old running friends. I’m such an embarrassment.

That was an entry from my personal journal dated May 7, 2015. From where I am sitting right now, it’s painful to look back and to read.

In another 3 weeks M and I would be signing up for gym membership again. It would be another month after that before J’s then-manager would get in touch with me about personal training. Because both the membership and fitness managers in 2015 have moved on to other clubs or ventures, I can be truthful in saying they let me down. The membership manager told me he would have J call me, and it would be another 3 weeks before the fitness manager reached out about scheduling. With the confidence I now possess, I would have been far more assertive and contacting her rather than waiting and burying my head in the sand about getting started. But this is now, that was then. My expectations of painful, awkward meetings and crashing and burning in 3 sessions was profound and not a venture I was eager to begin. It shows in my response to her, that while justified and measured, is still sort of passively-aggressively telling her she dropped the ball and that I am not happy about it. I ended up apologizing, because if I am going to complain about something, I am typically far more direct and factual about it. My doom-and-gloom pessimism and anxiety about trying to work with a trainer had me in its thrall.

What a difference 2 years and a lot of time spent in the gym toiling at my Lists.

It has been a busy week, my Thursday recap still languishing in my drafts folder. I took a couple of days off from the office and was busy being leisurely with other things. Since I nearly always take the same couple, few days off each year to celebrate my birthday, I like looking back at what I was thinking or feeling or writing about in my private journal, assuming I took the time for an entry.

The improvement in my self-criticism and viewpoint is almost impossible for me to read. Because I thought I was doing so well at that point. To be fair to me, I was doing well enough at that point. I had nothing else to compare to it and no particular reason to feel like I could ever do or be more.

Life is still imperfect with so much room for improvement. But what I thought about me then, what I think is possible for me now – lightyears of difference. I have had to work so hard to like myself, to not compare and highlight all the faults and ways I fall short when compared to other people. What I think and how I feel changes as the days pass. Maybe it’s just maturity, or the change in prioritizing myself and my needs. No matter what the rhyme or reason, I am grateful to be standing here and looking backward at who I was and the real positives in the quality of my thoughts and behaviors.

I have come a long way. And my personal yellow brick road continues to stretch out in front of me into infinity.

And now I am off to the gym to pursue a List of the day, and to make myself do some push-ups. Arch nemesis will only be conquered with time and practice, probably A LOT more practice. And I remain ridiculously excited about the idea.

#diet, #eating, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #mental-health, #positivity, #progress

Training myself to be hungry

Food and diet seem to be the final frontier in my better health quest. Probably if I had my way, it would be The Thing I put off until the very last minute … like 60 seconds before drawing my last breath or my last rational thinking moment. But life is unfair, and unless I want that very last minute to be far sooner than absolutely necessary, I need to pull myself together in the healthy eating realm.

I kind of thought 2016 would be my year, that I would do better figuring food and portion control out and implement it for me. This did not happen. While at one point I would have characterized this as a complete and utter failure, reality is that my expectations might have been too extravagant and reality of how much change I am capable of processing is limited. Curiously to me, I feel no guilt about it, nor do I beat myself up for not trying harder, doing more, being more successful. If anything, I am mostly philosophical. My big win – being well controlled diabetes without medication and a completely normal A1c – continues into 2017 despite not feeling like I made much progress toward overall healthier eating and food portion control. The much smaller win of eating significantly less junky food is imperfect, but it seems doubtful I would be this healthy if I were still had my old eating habits with lots of processed foods and gratuitous sugar.

But I can do better. I ponder weight loss and I ponder other health markers. While everything about my blood tests says normal and healthy, my BMI, scale (when I can bring myself to utilize it), and waistline say otherwise. Playing the long game, I do not see this as a sustainable situation. And even if it were, there is likely a lifestyle cost to carrying extra weight. Ultimately it impacts my gym time and exercise pursuits. Not sure I am willing to allow that for the longest haul and whatever objectives I may choose to pursue into the future. Will my knees and hips continue to be fully functional with this much extra weight on my frame? What about my shoulders and arms if I ever become entranced with the idea of pull-ups? My thoughts about future endeavors do not include power lifting or supersized weighty weights, but I would like to be the most efficient with the strength gains I will achieve. And yes, maybe there is some super flashy thing that does not interest me at all right now that will evolve into a future obsession.

Sometimes my association with trainer J is almost frightening, like some sort of mysterious and invisible mind-meld. While I have not specifically said “hey, I really need to overhaul my diet and eating” recently, I have been thinking about it. This month was blood tests month. My A1c is holding steady at 5.0, everything else within the normal range. However, there is room for improvement. My “good” cholesterol is squeaking into the normal range and my triglycerides are on the higher side of the normal range. Some miniscule progress in 3 months, but frankly, it feels inadequate. I want better, and I am capable of doing better. These factors are entirely within my control; I just have to pull up my big-girl pants and start taking the steps to improve these healthy markers.

But the mind meld thing with trainer J. Thursday he was telling me about a tribe member who has been having challenges with pain and gym tweaks as well as with weight fluctuations. I want my fellow tribers to be successful no matter what their goals, and from my own struggles with healthy eating and exercise consistency, not being a baby about gym tweaks, etc. I know it’s not easy or fun. The discipline and the hard work is not glamorous, sexy, or all that much fun. Combine that with the day-to-day business of living with the demands of work, marriage, family, friends, and life very quickly gets even more complicated. I sympathize. But I also appreciate J’s tough-love realism about the choices that have to be made to implement sustainable change.

Even before that, he had shared with me a Facebook post from a very sensible woman who writes regularly about diet and fitness. She is infinitely sensible, very down-to-earth and exhibits a common sense approach and “let’s be realistic” attitude. Refreshing. This particular post, she was talking about food. Her opinion that foodies who tend to struggle with their weight like food enough to overeat, and thin foodies tend to be either moderators (a bite, a taste of rewarding food) or possess extreme will power. Truthfully, from where I’m sitting and my own relationship with food, I think being a moderator about food is in and of itself an ongoing example of extreme will power.

While I’m likely watering down and garbling the message of the post, I can still feel the defensive reaction it inspired within me. For all my advances in exercise, confidence, healthier body image and acceptance, a random post written by someone who does not suffer from food triggers practically drew emotional blood from me. It was not upsetting so much as enlightening, a stark reminder that I still have work to do in this area.

Despite my visceral reaction, I am quite happy J brought it up and to my attention. The more we talk about it, the more open we can be about our individual struggles, the less taboo and the less shame attached to not being perfect with our eating and successful in the lockstep death march toward mainstream thin right out of the gate. While there is no taboo about what I talk about with J or even here on the blog, not everyone feels that way. Obesity is no joke, the struggle to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is real for so many of us. On top of those general, everyday feelings and thoughts on the subject, I had just gotten my test results and was meeting with my endocrinologist and was in the mindset of what big and small changes are needed to improve some of my test results.

Because while being leaner would be swell, my eye remains firmly on the being healthier prize. While I am within the normal range on everything, I am not comfortably enough in the normal range for cholesterol to have wiggle room for setbacks. This is nothing new; it has been going on for at least a year, occluded by my victory lap surrounding diabetes control. My vision is clear right now, though, and my focus is turning toward the cholesterol and triglyceride results and taking the steps necessary to improve.

The regular, consistent exercise has had an enormous impact. To take it to the next level, though, will require greater discipline with food first and foremost. My particular body type and build, further reducing or outright eliminating any remaining processed food I consume, lowering my carbohydrate intake, and controlling calories are likely a first steps. And already, I can feel mind and body simultaneously reacting with disdain to the mere thought of further cuts and changes to diet, not to mention the immediate rebellion launch at the idea of tracking/controlling calories.

It has to be done. Body has no idea what it’s like to be tolerably hungry because mind’s insistence we are starving at the first twinge of hunger or stress/boredom/other random emotion masquerading as hunger and insisting we must have an immediate snack. Or worse, my using whatever willpower I possess to avoid snacking, only to massively, uncomfortably overeat at my next meal.

I know I am not unique in this cycle. I also know my snacking choices are technically not terrible – multigrain seed crackers with a piece of cheese or a tablespoon of peanutbutter, piece of fruit – eat enough snack food and the calories become a major impairment to the better health quest. What I already know very well – carbohydrates are not my friend. *sad face* (I love my carbs!) Looking at the stark reality, the overhaul is not complicated to plan, but implementing and sticking with it is hard. Ask anyone who has ever successfully changed their lifestyle and they will likely agree with me on that. Or they are somehow far more superhuman than I am.

So as I do everything like this, I am creating a basic plan and starting small. As I did when I began my exercise consistency, I set an objective for a set time period, in hopes it will stick and become a habit.

My first appointment with my new doctor is on May 10, and I would like to have taken some practical, trackable steps to advance my better health quest objectives. With that in mind, my first little change is actually twofold: cut back on snacking AND track food consumption in MyFitnessPal. The snacking will be a walk in the park compared to the food tracking. I have started and I have faltered within a very short period, mostly because it was sort of a random piece in my overall long-term strategy. But I know it needs to be done in order to have a productive and candid conversation about what I need to do to improve my cholesterol numbers (again, presently in the normal range, but lots of room for improvement), become leaner and ultimately healthier.

As much as I shy away from the concept of goals, I have an achievable, measurable objective to improve my next set of test results in a few months. I have not set a specific number or range of numbers improvement to be satisfied with my progress. At this point, any higher numbers in HDL (good cholesterol) or lower numbers in LDL (bad cholesterol), total cholesterol, and triglycerides than what I achieved this month will be a win for me.

I am also prepared to be prescribed at least a couple of dedicated cardio sessions per week and am factoring that into my time management calculations, because I am absolutely unwilling to give up my present weight training schedule. By the time our first appointment arrives, I will absolutely be prepared to discuss his recommendations and have at least the framework of a plan prepared to get started.

To that end, trainer J himself has embarked upon a 30 days of dedicated cardio burning 500 calories per session. For someone who lifts most days as well as works in the gym, this is no small undertaking. I respect his dedication to gaining insight and improving at his craft. Do I expect him to start converting the tribe to cardio bunnies? Not hardly. But I can imagine him suggesting some dedicated cardio sessions in addition to pursuing regular, consistent resistance training depending on individual goals. Mostly, though, I am looking forward to the outcome and his conclusions from the process. In the meantime, I am reading his regular updates and enjoying his comments on this process. I believe his experience will have a direct benefit on me, generic training client.

For now, I’m enjoying my lunch and then taking a walk around the block with my cohorts here in the office. Day 2 on my limited snacking quest – thus far I survived 1.5 days without gratuitous snacking and dutifully logging in MFP. I suppose it helps that I am someone who can eat the same things, day after day after day, thus making it easier on myself by using the “copy yesterday” feature for each meal. That’s something. And it’s not cheating; it’s good use of my time and resources.

Happy weekending everyone!

#diet, #food, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration, #lifestyle

Better health – it’s complicated :(

April is my month for medical appointments. Yay!

Tuesday I was in my endocrinologist’s office having a professional-model continuous glucose monitor attached to my arm. During my adventures in restrictive, calorie counting style dieting, I had daily, sometimes 2 and 3 times daily low blood sugar events. Kind of hard to be watching calories so closely if your blood sugar is dropping like a rock and you’re having slam juice to get back to the normal range.

It is perplexing because I am not on any sort of diabetes medication that would drop my sugar so rapidly. Could be the allergy stuff I have been taking to keep my nose and sinuses under control, but I kind of doubt it. I think in that period it was simply not eating enough calories or frequently enough to keep me going. Protein shake in the morning before gym, gym, then an apple until lunch and another protein shake and then nothing until dinner – my system was unhappy. Once I got back onto my more routine eating schedule, the low blood sugar events have mostly stopped – more like once a week during the day and maybe once or twice per week overnight.

After yet another one last night and me keeping track of what I ate yesterday, a new thought has popped into my head about the gratuitous sugar I eat. Yesterday was busy, stressful, crazy with self-employment client work, and I had both a decaf coffee-flavored milk drink and a cookie late in the day, normal dinner, and voila – 5  hours later I’m waking up drenched in sweat and low blood sugar. Sucks. Drank a couple of ounces of apple juice and a couple of saltines, and went back to bed. Just a few hours later, when my alarm went off at 4, sugars were low again and my disorientation and fatigue in trying to recovery made me miss my exercise window.

Totally sucks. I know what to do about high blood sugar; I am having a lot of difficulty coping with low blood sugar.

Hence my doc wanting to see what my system is doing throughout the days correlated to how and when I exercise and fuel body. Other than the early days when I was still on insulin, I have yet to have a drive-to-juice event at the gym. The protein shake concoction I drink faithfully before going every time seems to be my safety shield. I just hope this sensor stays glued to my arm for the whole 2 week cycle. The information it provides will be worth the inconvenience that comes with having to think about it and wear sleeved tops everywhere.

This is also the month for my blood tests and rechecking my A1c. My hope and yes, expectation is that there will be little change from its nice on-the-low-end-of-normal results last time. I like having the buffer that allows me to food transgress periodically without stressing about having to be back on the medications. But with this latest and not so great health issue, I am having that sinking feeling that the potential for penalties for any food sins remains with the realm of possibility.

The specter of a ultra low-carb eating style looming large in my future is occurring to me more and more. While I actually feel as if I am doing that now compared to former versions of myself and the types of foods I love and would eat regularly, I know there is always room to make more adjustments.

Before I get there, though, I will be more deliberate in my food treats and cheats. No cookies. No coffee-flavored milk drinks. Those two things are the worst offenders of late. My bread consumption was already down before this latest round of challenge began, although I do typically consume normal portions of potatoes or rice with my evening meal in hopes of avoiding these overnight events. It is really easy for me to forego desserts and nearly all other sugary treats. Candy, particularly chocolate, is a just-say-no item because kicking back the craving after I start is harsh. I haven’t had french fries in months and while M and I do have cheeseburgers while out and about on weekends at least once a month and pizza night is a staple for during-the-week visits with G and K, curtailing our periodic junk food fix should not be much of an issue.

It’s the things like chinese food, with it’s sugar-laden sauces and carb-palooza noodles and such that are probably going to have to be added to my super special occasions list versus whenever I feel like it or am out with friends or on business. There are a lot of healthier choices available, but unfortunately I do not enjoy them nearly as much. But when it’s business or socializing with friends, I will just continue to remind myself it’s all about the company and the food is a very distant secondary enjoyment factor.

But if any of that is a contributor to these low blood sugar crashes, it becomes a lot easier for me to feel less resentment about avoidance.

Eating healthy – it is just hard. Developing the discipline after a lifetime of not having much discipline is not easy for anyone. But now the blood sugar crashes are starting to impact my exercise, and I simply cannot allow something I can most likely control to impinge upon something I have worked so slavishly to implement and maintain. When I am feeling a little sorry for myself – like this morning, when I was feeling crappy and miserable – I feel persecuted and as if I am being somehow punished for trying to do better. Which is such bullshit and a big reason why I do not indulge much in self-pity; it is a complete waste of my time. If lifestyle changes were easy there would not be gazillions of self-help books on the subject and bazillions of experts offering advice and counsel on making it happen.

In the end, I did not end up calling in sick as I was worried might be necessary – after 2 overnight incidents I was having a very hard time making myself wake-up and then once upright, was feeling disoriented and dizzy. Food helps; a little juice at 4 to get me back from 58 into the normal range and a few hours more sleep. The protein shake for breakfast is infinitely better for me than juice, but makes falling asleep very difficult and uncomfortable.

So I am carefully tracking my food and timing for the next couple of weeks, hoping my doc and my dietician can help me sort out where I am going wrong this time. For some reason it is psychologically easier for me to do this sort of loose tracking when it has a direct impact on my overall health versus the more abstract weight loss objective.

While Wednesday nights are typically a for-fun workout, tonight it is the real deal to feed my need to stay on track with it. The world is not going to end if I slack and go light or even if I blew it off and just went home and to bed early. But I cling to my schedule for good reasons and know I have to make an effort or feel negative girl start nipping at my heels.

I kinda/sorta want to pooh-pooh myself and make my usual derisive comment about me and my first world problems. But something is not right with me lately, and it is becoming a genuine issue for me. I discussed it briefly with my doc yesterday – no, I am not overtraining and continuing my daily exercise is the very last thing I should be cutting back on or concerned about. WHEW! It is possible stress could be a factor, but this was starting to amp up long before the major stressors of last week. Part of me idly wonders if my reactions to the stressors of last week was overwrought because of whatever seems to be ailing me. Which really leaves diet as the next logical subject for exploration. I am going to just hang in and hang on until my labs and this continuous monitoring study are completed and results disbursed, and hopefully my system will settle back down.

Until then, food tracking – I loathe you, but in this instance I can understand the benefit. Getting to bed on time and adequate sleep is back to a highest priority. Gym training and practice will continue as normal, hopefully back on a normal cycle and schedule going forward.

Waiting is hard. But worth it as a step forward in my better health quest. Thankfully no one is telling me I have to actually like it.

#blood-sugar-events, #diabetes, #diet, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #health, #healthy-eating, #hope, #impatience, #lifestyle, #positivity

Injury report day

Let me preface this entry with assurance that this is not about me and any potential mishaps I have suffered. I had a careless moment this morning with FreeMotion machine and one of those random gym tweaks with my shoulder, but since nothing went snap, crackle, or pop I continued on an exploratory pace first set and successfully finished full reps of my normal 3 sets with a little lighter than my usual weight. Half a day later it is not squeaking any louder the rest of body.

But other close friends are not so fortunate.

My one close friend, the crossfit addict, had shoulder surgery a couple of weeks ago and is struggling under the weight of the actual pain of the injury and surgical repair as well as the depression that cold-turkey withdrawal from her exercise addiction has caused. We had a late lunch today after a doctor visit, and she at least a few months away from doing much exercise. With healing and the medications she has to take for pain, she is still several weeks away from being able to drive.

I have a basic understanding of how much her injury and recovery sucks. I get that she has room to complain about her lot in life right now. What I cannot really fathom is the desire to return to the style of exercise that brought her to an orthopedic surgeon in the first place. M reminds me that the reality of this injury and repair has not sunk in just yet, and her tune may be changing once she is in physical therapy and gains a better understanding of her new normal with regard to shoulder mobility and range of motion. I certainly hope he is correct.

But it is a challenge for me to see a good friend in pain and frustrated by the anxiety of 18 months of hard, steady work and careful dieting flying out the window while she recovers. I have no answer for that, other than to do her best to keep spirits up and maintain healthy eating discipline. Perhaps soon she will be okay to sit on a recumbent bike and pedal away some calories and kill some hours each day? Guess she will broach the subject at her next appointment in a couple of weeks.

Makes me really, really glad I never got bitten by the crossfit bug. Then again, I am the worst possible candidate for group exercise programs in general, which is likely why yoga has never taken hold of me. But of course I do not say that out loud to her, especially now. I just want her to be better, heal up and feel capable of returning to her normal work-related activities.

Another friend called earlier today to let me know she had taken a tumble off a treadmill and sprained her wrist. I did not laugh or ask her how she managed that – I have a scar on my own wrist from falling down while walking on a treadmill in my own living room. She knew I would by sympathetic, having an almost unhealthy respect for my treadmill desk, and we had a little laugh over her clumsiness. Shit happens. In her case, after having gastric bypass surgery, she is learning to balance a steadily shrinking body and an expanding sense of her significantly smaller self. After a bit of a rocky start right after the surgery, she has had enough emotional/mental health counseling and worked with a dietician to stay on the right track. The delight of thrift store shopping for new, smaller sized clothes every few weeks is its own reward. As for the wrist, at least temperatures are warming up and she can do her walking outside during the day, with wrist confined to a sling for now.

I love that her confidence and body image are improving to the point where she is seriously considering enrolling in some aqua classes at her local community pool. Even without the classes, she is feeling brave about purchasing a swimsuit and swimming laps. I am super happy for her and hope she continues to feel this good about herself and her efforts and follows through with the swimming or aqua classes.

In my 27 days fat loss group, an interesting mix of people working on the diet aspects and less and less on the exercise. Either that or not talking about it very much. I myself am feeling a little guilty for not trying harder to be more hardcore about my eating, and failing miserably. Protein shake, salad, dinner, piece of fruit here and there to supplement for hunger or light-headedness. I refuse to subject myself to a daily weigh in and am keeping notes for my feedback at the end of the month. Other than that, I am encouraging others in the online group and trying not to mention the gorgeous weather we are enjoying while others are buried in snow.

And finally, chatting with another friend just now about going to the gym and trying to improve her diet. She has been using a Planet Fitness for a few months now, going 3 times per week. Her comment was that she hopes to be able to afford a “better” gym sometime. That rankles. Honestly, I think the best gym is whatever gets you up off and couch and moving regularly.

This exchange just reminds me why I would suck as a professional life or health coach. Having the same conversation every few months with the same person would make me crazy and dread going to work every day. Probably just as well that I have a very good understanding of my own limitations with regard to career aspirations.

#exercise, #fitness, #friends, #gym, #health, #injury, #inspiration, #positivity

Intermission

Busy, and uber FUN, Tuesday for me today, so I have not yet written the second half of my training recap. This is what happens when your days start early and work and work-related commitments take over the whole day until 8:30 at night.

Sometimes I think my time in the gym is so much fun anymore I am missing out on something else. Could I or should I be working harder? Just become my Lists have ceased being primarily grim and painful does not minimize the calorie-burning and huffy puffy exertion of the workload. Or I don’t think, anyway.

I feel like my List rotation is a bit out of sorts right now, but honestly, it does not matter a whit to me. I went through my current favorite lower body this morning and can feel my glutes squeaking in protest no matter what I do, but oh well. A good thrashing every now and again blows the cobwebs out, I suppose.

The lower calorie eating program, however, could be the source of my low-energy testiness when it has occurred the past few days. I have not really snapped or been grumpy with others, but I simply lack the extra energy to go forth and pursue non-work and non-better health tasks on my to-do List. For each of us how many calories consumed is unique and individual, and while I am doing well eating more protein, trying to limit myself to 1200 to 1400 calories with my level of activity is kind of harsh. Reshaping my shape will take as long as it takes, and I do not want to do terrible things to my body now just when everything else about it seems to be improving by leaps and bounds.

Simply put: I’m not sure I’m that interested in doing harm to myself or my system by keeping it in this uneasy state. I am having daily low blood sugar events and mid afternoon headaches and difficulties with concentration and focus to accompany them, so I made the executive decision to eat more calories. It’s silly to chase this, and as part of a beta group I will report my experiences honestly. The simple summation: this ultra low calorie phase feels more harmful than anything else. Perhaps I am giving up too soon, but I have a much better understanding of what feels right to my body and what is just a temporary state of discomfort. My eating habits these last several days do not feel right to body, so adjustment is required.

It is a good experience for me to have, but after 5 days and daily bottoming out with my blood sugar and being robbed of my good-feeling energy along with it, I am waving the white flag of defeat. Less carbohydrates, more protein, and the increased levels of fresh fruits and vegetables will are working out better for me, but I seem to be more active or just have a body that needs more calories that the rest of the group. Or I am not dedicated or hard-core enough about wanting to move the scales.

Adjusting my diet is in order, but this ultra low food volume is not for me. I want to get back to my 24/7 happy place where I enjoy my days and am not feeling unusually testy and impatient, battling a headache, and possibly, vaguely hungry as well. It feels wrong to me, but not in a deprivation way, but in a regressive, backward step in the better health quest way.

So essentially I am moving on into phase 2, where I use protein shakes and berries or a piece of fruit for one meal and eat sensible meals for lunch and dinner. Which is pretty much how I ate before starting this plan. Cutting back further on my carb consumption will help, and a second mid afternoon protein shake on days where I do a second practice, with or without associates in tow.

For the most part, an excellent day for me, even with the return of sneezing and runny nose this afternoon. Hoping for a good night’s sleep; it will be my first in the last several days, coinciding with starting this eating plan. M made tacos for dinner, and they were amazing.

 

 

#diet, #exercise, #fitness, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #progress

Thank you, body

Of all the things I bitch, moan, complain, and obsess by omission about, body image is somewhere in the top three. I am not a small-framed woman, and growing up with a very petite mother and a taller, next-size up proportionally naturally slender sister, I grew up feeling like the “you would be so pretty if you just lost weight” Hulkette without the strength or green-tinge to my skin. Tiny people I am not.

My mom was 82 when she passed away (uterine cancer), my sister 47 (breast cancer). Both exhibited doctor-adverse behaviors – my mom, in her 80s, was suddenly again having menstrual-like bleeding and waited 2 years and intense, unrelenting pain before even mentioning it to her doctor. My sister, upon discovering a lump in her breast, waited for almost 9 months and for it to grow to the size of a walnut before consulting her doctor about it, only to die of bone cancer less than 3 years after the initial confirmed diagnosis. I see my doctors regularly and discuss any weird aches and pains with them. I also recognize my intense denial of how quickly my type 2 diabetes was advancing before getting myself organized enough to actually follow their recommendations about diet and exercise. Eventually I got there though.

Family history – all of my family of origin died of cancer. My parents were heavy smokers most of their adult lives, and my dad had various types of cancer and fought and good fight for 8 years before succumbing. My sister did not smoke or drink, yet she fell to breast cancer, which is very common within our family. Thus far, I’ve been lucky. But I also do monthly self exams and have been enduring mammograms since I was 30 (now 55), so if that should ever find me, I suspect it will be caught early, not at the much later stage my sister let it get to before consulting her doctor.

More than just the better lifestyle habits, I am truly blessed to have no impacts to my overall health. Yes, I am a well controlled diabetic, but if I exercise regularly and am reasonably responsible about my diet, my pancreas are in good enough shape to support me without the benefit of additional medication. My stomach processes the food I feed it without many hiccups, although I know there are certain trigger foods that will give me a stomach ache or worse if I eat them. So I don’t eat them, despite how much I love them. In-n-Out french fries and fatty and delicious beef ribs are not worth the terrible suffering for hours afterwards. In-n-Out is a rare, rare thing, because there are so many other good burger joints for us to get our cheeseburger fix it’s not much of an issue. M makes these amazing beef ribs at home, but he always makes bbq chicken for me to eat while he’s snarfing down ribs. Or I will make a pork version and enjoy those.

What brought about this latest train of thought: on another board I follow a young woman was discussing her efforts to get a health and wellness coaching business off the ground yet being impacted by digestive issues that regularly zap her energy and challenge her ability to get her own exercise regimen completed as well as participate in marketing efforts to build her fledgling business. Since she is trainer J’s age, she is still a young woman. It is unfortunate she is troubled by this type of health issue and how it impacts her energy and ability to pursue opportunities in this new field. But from there it morphed into a lot of other thoughts that i find a little unsettling, but I’m human and decidedly as flawed as most people and probably more flawed than many.

I know it is difficult to get a new business off the ground, especially it seems to me in health and fitness, when there is so much competition from others in the field as well as youtube videos and online coaches. Having now worked with someone I admire and respect for almost 2 years, I think my judgment is more specific, sharper and to-the-point than it was when I first started. Starting out, I hoped trainer J would be patient and kind, not yell at me (in tone, inflection, or word choice, not volume) for my many shortcomings. As we have “grown up” in our training partnership, I have come to admire the way he walks-the-walk as well as talks-the-talk. In 100+ training session, low-energy sessions have happened, but so rarely they and the reasons behind the low energy impression and feels stand out in my mind. A lot of that is professionalism, powering through and putting on the trainer face and faking it until he’s making it. J has now been toiling his craft long enough that he has worked hard to build and expand the tools in the toolbox to make up for the extremely rare low-energy, don’t-really-feel-it-today days.

The young woman on the budgeting board, I do not sense she has developed that level of discipline and professional demeanor. While I make allowances that this is a board where she can vent about her finances and the struggles of her new business venture, so much of what she says makes me feel it leaks out in her sessions. Or I am simply hypersensitive to it having to be “on” at my primary job and with my clients so much of my days.

I tried hard to frame my comment in a positive way, to suggest that with the struggles she is presently experiencing perhaps it might be best to dial-back on some of her efforts and focus on the things that seem most likely to bring her the greatest immediate success. But inside my head, I was idly wondering how successful I would have been with someone who is suffering with digestive issues and low energy while trying hard to teach and by extension incite interest and excitement in my better health quest.

While I know it is not my trainer’s (or any other trainer’s) job to motivate me to pursue my personal objectives, I think those who market themselves as life and/or health coaches have a different job description than a personal trainer. I use the terms trainer and coach very interchangeably when I speak about J, but our partnership has evolved to the point that I trust his judgment and will ask his opinions on a variety of topics, not just exercise and diet. Maybe it’s just me, but the relationship has to grow into that level of intimacy and support; it is not created out of thin air because you have chosen “coach” as a professional title. It’s earned, not bestowed.

Trying to explain my thoughts to her – she didn’t get it. She fails to understand how the relationship, the trust, has to evolve. I wish her success, but unless something changes, I think it will continue to elude her.

The primary reason I hired a trainer was to learn how to exercise safely and sanely. I thought he’d look me over, see how insanely uncoordinated I am, show me how to use some basic machines, and then send me off to work at it for a few weeks before coming back to evaluate my progress. With lots of cardio to fill in the gaps, of course. Obviously, how I thought things worked and how they did work are very different things, and every day I am grateful for the good things regular, consistent exercise has brought to me and how it colors my whole life. That did not come about because J has magic, transformative words to share. I am thinking back through so many conversations we have had and cannot really recall a time where we have had anything directly related to body image. It seems a natural byproduct of my level of engagement with the better health through more exercise, improved eating habits process.

I still have body image issues, although they are very tiny, minuscule, single bite cupcakes in the bigger picture of the things I think of on a routine basis. If anything, I am having to train myself out of reaching for larger size clothing than I routinely wear now when shopping, and I recognize my successes feed into tendency to reward myself with new workout clothes (Zappos gift cards from Christmas certainly did not help). But oh well – this fixation will fade and I will return to admiring shoes I won’t wear. This morning at the gym I was doing concentration curls and was marveling at how pretty my bicep was looking rather than looking away so as to not see the flabby ugliness of fatty batwings. Oh, I still notice the significantly reduced batwings, but I care so much less about it these days. I have bigger, better, more positive things to consider, like that I actually have biceps and where my elbow is when looking at J’s scapular plane diagram on my sheet.

It is a new thing, being thankful for body I have. The exercise brings forth this new sense of fascination, because suddenly I have biceps! And suddenly there are creases showing muscles in my shoulders and legs. In the past I have struggled with a sense of shame, because I’m not now and unlikely ever to fit the model of petite equals more feminine. And to be clear – this is not a view presented by M or any other close male friend in my world. Quite frankly, this is a body image opinion presented by many women I know, based on their interpretation of what mass media has us brainwashed into feeling this is what is approved and others desire to see.

Healthy, feminine, pretty comes in all shapes and sizes. Being very honest, there are still things I might change if the opportunity presented itself and the cost – physical and emotional as well as financial – was not too dear. Fortunately, my eye is adjusting and I know what looks and feels good to me about me. Body is getting stronger, fitter, but so is my heart and mind along with it.

Progress is accepting myself and really knowing that improving my overall health has never looked or felt better. Thank you, body, for hanging in and hanging on while I sorted myself out and stopped a lifetime habit of being so unmercifully abusive to you.

 

#balance, #diet, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #happy, #healthy-eating, #hope, #mental-health, #positivity