Afraid of food

I have always loved food and eating! I admit that the foods that I love most are not always the healthiest – I love a good, messy cheeseburger and as I discussed in Tooth Extraction, I have a definite sweet tooth! Starving myself to get thin has never been an option for me.

When I was first living on my own, I got really thin. The two main reasons: one, I was poor and couldn’t afford to go out or buy much food and two, I often biked to work plus picked up running to spite an old boyfriend (another story for another time). At that point in my life, I didn’t drink much alcohol and I didn’t go out to eat. My diet consisted of baked potatoes, bagels, and rice. I enjoyed eating those things but mostly because that was what I could afford.

The second time that I got really thin, I had started using Nutrisystems and was working out about 2 hours every day. This was during the time of my “awakening” when I decided to leave my marriage and live on my own. The time proceeding, I had not been taking care of myself and when the fog lifted, I went heavy into exercise followed by restricting my diet to what came in a pre-packaged, chemical-laden “meal.” This was not a sustainable lifestyle and I ended up with a knee injury and a bum thyroid.

Today, I still struggle with consistently making healthy food choices because the greasy, sugary stuff tends to taste so good but I work at it. One thing I do not do is neglect to eat or let myself go hungry. I have friends and family who literally seem afraid to eat because they don’t want to gain weight. They are not only rejecting the “bad” stuff but also the nutritious items for fear of weight gain. It boggles my mind because we need food to live.

Therein lies a major problem, we have become so confused and twisted about body image and self-worth, that we will deny ourselves the fuel we need to live in order to get or stay thin. I don’t have the answers except to listen to our bodies and feed them what they need in order to live a full and healthy life. Sometimes that may be spinach and other times that may be Red Velvet Oreo Cookies – either way, moderation is key.

Shake it up

My sister has started drinking SlimFast shakes to lose a few pounds. Yesterday she said that after drinking them, her stomach was really talking! Looking at the bottle today, she noted that they were lactose and gluten-free which made me start to wonder what type of protein is in them. Turns out the ones she is drinking are made with whey protein which is derived from milk.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved drinking milk but milk does not love me. One of my favorite after-school meals was a tuna fish sandwich with a few plain potato chips, and a big glass of ice-cold, whole milk! Seems that milk intolerance is a family trait as my sister is impacted by it too. I’ve tried a variety of protein shakes with non-dairy proteins to include soy and pea proteins. Truthfully, I am not a huge fan of shakes, I enjoy chewing my food but have found shakes to be a good meal replacement option.

There are a number of types of protein powders, enough that even the pickiest shaker should find one to enjoy. I’ve been looking for a pre-made one to keep in the fridge for quick and easy access. According to this article, the Vega ones are the best plant-protein based options. This weekend, I’m going to pick up a pack and see how they do in terms of taste and keeping me full for a while. I’m excited about my weekend trial run!

Speaking of running, I’m off to check out some local trails…maybe I’ll even break into a jog to see how the old knee and lungs hold up. As always, to be continued…

 

7th Inning Slump

Ugh, it has been a tough week so far as getting out and moving is concerned. One of my biggest struggles is putting myself first when it comes to exercise. I fool myself with the early morning thought and plan that I will get to it after I’ve had a cup of coffee then when that doesn’t happen, at lunch which turns to I will get to it before dinner then after dinner… Before I know it, the day has passed and I have not exercised. Typically, I’ve gotten a lot of other stuff done just no exercise.

The other night I had a dream that I was running again. Fortunately, in the dream, I wasn’t running away from anything rather running for fitness and pleasure. It felt great. I woke up pondering if that was a sign that it was time to get back to it. Then I finished a book on Kindle and was looking for another in my library to start seeing that one of my unread downloads was A Beautiful Work in Progress written by Mirna Valerio, a unique and inspiring ultra-distance runner. The desire to run again is bubbling right at the surface – now to put desire and action together.

A good thing, health and fitness-wise that has happened this week, is that I have started a 12-week program focused on nutrition and movement aimed at women 40+. The first week has started with writing down foods consumed. What I have noticed is that I am sorely lacking in fruit and vegetable consumption! It’s amazing what we find out about ourselves when we start paying attention to our patterns and habits.

The building desire to run again plus the 12-weeks program hitting together will hopefully help to bring me out of this current fitness slump, moving me in a healthier direction which if the stars align and the gods are on my side will help me shed some of these extra pounds! To be continued…

 

Tooth Extraction

I don’t drink (a lot), don’t smoke…what do I do? I love desserts!

After most meals, I feel an overwhelming need for a little something sweet. Breakfast, lunch, dinner…doesn’t matter the time of day, the cravings are strong with this one. Truthfully, people who don’t eat sweets mystify me. I question their overall sanity.

Last night, my son and I went to a Chinese buffet for dinner. I made sure to save plenty of room let for these little chocolate cupcakes with funfetti on them…they are tiny and available at most any grocery store. I don’t buy them at the store but can’t resist them when we go to the buffet. This morning, I had two strawberry toaster strudels and put a little sugar in my coffee…

I have a rotten sweet tooth and I want it gone! I got it honestly from my mom who has a fierce one too. She actually hides sweets in her room along with green beans but that’s a story for another time. Whenever I ask if she wants something from a restaurant, her response is some sort of dessert.

Coupled with what I’m calling my genetic predisposition to love confections, my sweet, sweet Granny used to spoil us rotten with yummy treats. It was her primary love language.

Not too long ago, I had an appointment with my P.A. One of the topics was my entry into perimenopause and the fun of night sweats that have come at this stage of my life. Along with trying Black Cohosh as a natural treatment she also suggested that eliminating all sugar had proven helpful for some of her other patients in a similar boat. I must have looked at her like she had multiple heads because she quickly backed up in her seat, acknowledging that was a tough route and maybe not for everyone.

Today, the extraction process goes to a new level as I’m starting a 12-week program for women 40+ who want an electric charge to their metabolism. I have the shopping list in hand and the task of tracking what I eat. May the force be with me.

 

Walking with a Broken Heart

Alicia Keys has this beautiful, sad song called “Sleeping with a Broken Heart.” During times of heartache and pain, it flows through my head on repeat which is at once comforting but also further exacerbates my feelings of sadness.

Today, I was walking with a broken heart. My boo and I had a disagreement yesterday then he cut off communication with me, not sending a good night or replying to the one I sent, not answering my phone call, then waiting until mid-morning to call me back.

Needless to say, my sleep last night was punctuated with multiple awake spells where my brain was running away. Fortunately, I had a book that I would read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any more then fall back asleep until the next jolt of worry, sadness, anger, anxiety shook me awake. And, of course, around 4 am there was a catfight in my driveway!

Disagreements and hurt feelings are part of most any relationship whether it is parent-child, sibling-sibling, friend-friend or boo-boo. We have had our share of disagreements here lately which he and I approach differently though in the end have come back together for a resolution. Today, I’m not feeling confident about our walking toward one another and meeting in the middle for resolution. It remains to be seen. I’m hopeful that we will because I do love him dearly.

One of the best ways for me to stay sane during stressful times such as this is through physical activity. It would be easy for me to allow myself to slip into my black hole of depression and anxiety but I’m not going to do that this time. I felt the draw of the couch this morning, thinking a day of mind-numbing movies would be the thing but instead of giving in to that, I put on my walking shoes and went for a brisk walk. I am still sad, confused, and hurt but I feel a little bit stronger and more capable after taking myself on a walk.

What will be the outcome of this? Will I continue walking with a broken heart for a while? I don’t know. To wrap on a platitude, it will be what it will be. I know, either way, I will eventually be fine and keep moving forward.

Bloodletting

Yesterday, I gave a double donation of blood affectionately called a “Power Red” by the American Red Cross. Being a ginger, I know in my heart that this is my superhero name and that giving life through blood donation is my superpower! Aside from donating an organ, donating blood is the next best way to save a life and has a shorter recovery time plus the post-donation snacks are usually on-point. Though this time, there were no Famous Amos Chocolate Chip cookies…

If you’ve never given a “Power Red,” it’s a cool process where you’re hooked up to a special machine that takes a pint of blood separates it into whole blood and platelets then when the whole blood bag is filled returns the platelets mixed with saline. It takes you through that process twice. The benefits of this include giving a double donation in one sitting, more time in between donations, and the blood is partially processed making it ready for donation sooner.

Donating blood is something that I consistently do and feel is an important way to give back. To date, I am only a pint shy of having donated 2 liters of blood! There is always a shortage and crisis when it comes to blood supplies. I routinely encourage people to donate, in turn often hear a variety of reasons they don’t give. One is that they don’t’ like needles…I don’t particularly like needles; I can’t stomach the look of the needle going into my arm. I look away when they are sticking me and I ask that my arm is covered once we get things going. People are also afraid that they will pass out. Only twice have I felt like that was going to happen – both times I hadn’t eaten enough prior to the donation. The donation team works fast when a person indicates that she feels woozy – legs are popped into the air, above the heart, and apple juice is quickly administered.

According to some research, there are also personal health benefits to donating blood that I hadn’t previously realized. To donate blood, you have to have a certain level of iron in your blood – not too much or too little. Donating regularly can help lower your risk of elevated iron levels which can wreak havoc on your system putting your liver, heart, and pancreas at risk for a myriad of issues. Check out this blog post from brms on the health benefits of blood donation.

There are a variety of ways that one can donate. An old friend, when she could donate, always gave “peds packs” which is the same amount as whole blood donation put into smaller bags and used in pediatric cases, there are the Power Reds which we’ve discussed, standard whole blood donations, platelet, and plasma donations. All are needed.

If your company, school, or a community organization is hosting a blood drive, sign up! You can also make an appointment at your local blood donation center. You won’t regret the time you spend to give someone another chance at life.

Motorcycle Mama

Since I was young, the sound of a motorcycle has always given me butterflies of excitement! I still remember when I was about 17 going to a Fourth of July festival where motorcycles circled the grounds. The distant low, rumble of them coming then the overwhelming sound and sight of them once they got to us was one of the most memorable things from that summer.

Wanting to be part of the world of motorcycling, I stepped WAY outside my comfort zone to take the basic rider safety course which follows the curriculum set by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Though I have been fascinated by bikes for most of my life, I am the ultimate beginner having never even cranked up a motorbike before Saturday morning!

I was nervous and excited as we walked silently out to the range. I was ready to go – though also a bit apprehensive due to imagining myself flying over the handlebars or tipping the bike over with a leg trapped under. Plenty of people I know have at least one horror story about bike accidents. Certainly, it is a dangerous pursuit but also one gives a sense of freedom like few others. There is also an inherent notion of rebellion in riding a motorcycle which appeals to my wilder side.

It’s important to note here that I am not the most coordinated or graceful person. Learning physical activities is typically difficult for me even when I understand conceptually. Zumba, kickboxing, BodyPump, fast-moving yoga – I’m always at least 4 steps behind! One reason running appealed to me was because it is one foot in front of the other, consistently for a set period of time or distance – no quick changes or complex moves that involve your feet doing one thing, hands another, and hips yet a different one. I used to kickbox regularly and I LOVED it!! I made wonderful friends plus relished the feel of punching a bag and the sore, tired feeling at the end of a tough workout. It took me a lot of practice before I felt comfortable and could get through a sequence without screwing up but I did it with time and patience.

Approaching with caution, I hopped on my assigned bike.  As we proceeded through the class, the exercises got gradually more complex and challenging. I struggled to get through the slow, tight maneuvers such as weaving between cones and doing a figure eight. The friction zone often evaded me with my letting go or pulling in too much at the wrong times (yes, I stalled more than once). Rolling on and off the throttle often got confused. And don’t even get me started on the notion of counter-steering!

I tried hard and listened to my instructors, both of whom were excellent. At the end of the day, I did not pass the riding evaluation. A combination of nerves and the need for additional practice did me in. Truthfully, I’m okay with it and knew ahead of time that with my non-physical/kinetic learning style, I needed more time on a motorcycle before I could even fathom passing the evaluation. The instructor who told me I didn’t pass gave me clear and helpful feedback then welcomed me to come back to the class, feeling confident that with more practice, I would indeed get it.

The weekend was not a bust because I learned a lot, had fun, met some nice people, and got in a great work-out (bikes are heavy!). I’m going to stick with it because I am determined to figure out this whole motorcycle riding thing. It is just going to take me more effort and time before I can truly call myself a Motorcycle Mama!

The SCALE!?!

Yesterday morning, I stepped on the (dreaded) scale…I haven’t been on one since my last doctor’s appointment. I don’t typically worry about what it says, only decided to get on to gauge where I am right now so that I will know where I am going. Still, I was a little shocked at the number. It’s my highest weight since being eight months pregnant almost 14 years ago!!

I knew my clothes weren’t fitting like I wanted even though I had gone up another size but hadn’t figured the scale would throw out such a high number. Over the past few months, I have been making some slow, steady changes to include cutting back on wine during the week, smaller portions, less fast food, and more cooking at home. None of those things have made a dent in my belt notches.

I’m not throwing in the towel on any of the changes I’ve made, in fact, I’m going to double-down on cooking at home more and cutting out fast food (why has even typing that given me a hankering for an Arby’s roast beef?!). I also believe that adding in exercise will help tighten some things up and may help the scale go down.

Today, I had my blood pressure checked and it is excellent. My pulse was good as was my oxygen level. Aside from frustrations at work, my mental health is good and physically, though I’ve got some work to do, I am not falling apart. I have a supportive family, wonderful friends, and a silly, sweet boyfriend. Overall, I’ve got a lot of great things going for me.

If for some reason, re-incorporating fitness into my life and eating more of the good stuff doesn’t result in significant weight loss, it is not going to be the end of my world. I am still going to be me and that is more important than a number on a scale.

 

 

Hip Hop Cycle

The other day, I was watching my favorite tv show, Jane the Virgin which is a funny, loving, and dramatic series done in the telenovela format. I highly recommend. Brooke Shields is on the show as a character named River Fields. She wore a beautiful evening gown in the last episode I watched; I was awed by how great her arms look and how fit she looks in general!

Immediately, I went online to research what the heck her workout routine was. The article I read mentioned that she does SoulCycle and yoga. My gears started turning…I don’t know that I have SoulCycle in my area but I do know that all of the local YMCAs have cycle classes!

I have participated in cycle classes in the past, even have the clip shoes. I also had some special cycle shorts (extra padding in the saddle area – trust me, it’s worth feeling like you’re walking around in a diaper!). The shorts no longer fit so I hopped online and found an inexpensive pair of cycle capris. They arrived yesterday and I took myself to Hip Hop Cycle tonight!

Walking into the class, the energy was amazing. The instructor, Mesha, was welcoming, energetic, and positive. She also led a killer class with a fun playlist that ranged from the classics to newer songs. Of course, there was one Queen Bey song where we seriously sweated – high-geared, long, slow, standing with squats…

My clip-in shoes let me down, I could not get them to clip – it used to take me a long time before too. I’ve forgotten the trick to clip-in but my trail runners saved the day. The woman next to me even had on the same ones! My new capris were on point, stayed in place and gave that oh so necessary extra cushioning. I will admit that I had to take a few additional breaks but know that as I continue going, my strength will increase and I’ll be able to keep up.

So, thank you, Ms. Shields, for being my inspiration to get back in the cycle room! Now to get these jelly legs of mine in the shower…

Rest Day?

Yesterday, I wrote a post about my motivation and how I practiced yoga AND went on a walk! It was a win for activity. Today may be a different story. It’s raining (thank you, Mother Nature!), I’m tired, and I don’t know if I will make it to the gym due to some other commitments. Am I making excuses already? Is this going to be an early derailment?

I don’t think so. I’ve been eating well today. Drinking water, too.

A few years back, I went to see a nutritional counselor. It was a short but interesting experience. She focuses on helping her clients break out of the “diet” mindset and embrace themselves as a whole being, not in need of the fixing that the diet and fitness industries capitalize upon. I went to her because I felt broken and ashamed of myself. I had “let myself go” and couldn’t find my way back to the size 6 jeans that had felt so good. There was something wrong with me and I needed to be fixed – I had fallen hook line and sinker into the “smaller is better” life-plan but was failing to get and stay there. Like many others, I have a long and painful history with body acceptance but that’s for another time.

One of the biggest takeaways from my time with the counselor is that we need to listen to our bodies and hear what it needs. For eating, she recommended a book on intuitive eating aptly named Intuitive Eating. I ordered the book and flipped through it – it’s on my list to pick back up. But the take away was to listen to your body because it will tell you what and how much to eat. The body knows what it needs and when it had enough. I am taking that same approach to movement. It’s not that I will be a couch potato today but I feel in my body that I need rest today. Things may change later in the day but for now, this is where I am and I am okay with it.