Monday, June 3, 2019

Living the Normal Dream

It's been 12 years since I began this journey. I remember once asking a WW leader, a woman who had been maintaining her weight for something like 20+ years, asking her if she feels like she has a "normal" relationship with food. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: after all this time, do you feel like you have a normal relationship with food?
Her: yes, I think I do.
Me: how long did that take?
Her: around 13 years

At the time I was 6 years into my journey, and 13 years seemed like a long way off. But as I inch closer to it, I'm taking notice of my relationship to food (who am I kidding? I'm always taking note of that). And not only my own, but others too. I'm a regular observer of the food-woman relationship dynamic, always curious about what women say about such things.

One of the things I've noticed is how many "normal" women (a category I define as women who haven't been hugely overweight) struggle with their food intake. I'm thinking of a woman I work with who is tall and thin and has never been more than a few pounds overweight. She and I talk all the time about our attempts to lose weight. She goes up in this 5-10 pound window, then loses it before vacation, then gains it on vacation, then loses it when she's back, and the same around the holidays, and on and on.

I'm doing a sort-of version of that. Though the 5-10 pound window I'm in is not cool with me. I'm currently right around 160. In the winter I got up to a startling, depressing, scary 173 before I broke that streak and did something to change it. I was down to 157 and hopeful about getting back to 145 (my original goal weight) but then started loosening up the food intake again. And so now I'm "focused" again. And so it goes. I've been open to the very real possibility that this might be it for me. That I'm never going to get back to 145, or even 155, but I've not given up just yet.

My point is not about the numbers, or about the fact that I'm 15 pounds over my goal weight, but more about this bouncing around. I'm realizing a lot of women live this way. And A LOT of women see their ideal weight as 10-20 pounds less than they are. And for me, those women always fell into the "normal" category, the one I mentioned earlier.

I guess what I'm saying is, maybe I'm becoming normal. Not quite though. I know my relationship with food remains a little "off". I still use food when I'm bored, or tired. Or angry. Maybe sad too. Probably happy from time-to-time. I sometimes eat in a way that leaves me feeling like crap, physically and emotionally. I still want that to change. I know it might never go away altogether, like it did for my old WW leader, but something less than what's happening these days would be nice.

Otherwise, things are going pretty well in my life. A little over a year ago I was so frustrated with my lack of regular exercise I did something I never thought I'd do. I joined a specialty group-exercise studio that charges what I think of as a ton of money; OrangeTheory. For a while I went 5x a week but I burned out and after skipping pretty much the whole month of December, I got back on the horse and now only go 3x a week.

I'm a big fan. All the classes are a mix of cardio and weights. The cardio tends to be a HIIT model, though not always. They are an hour long and I usually sign up in advance. If you cancel within 8 hours of the start, they charge you $12. Who knew $12 could be so much motivation?

But the thing I like the best, is that you I don't have to think. I show up, work my butt off for an hour, and leave. I just have to get myself in the door, and everything else falls into place. Of course this was true with the gym too, but I think I was bored with my routine. OrangeTheory is anything but boring.

In other news, the kids are good. I took them to the beach a few weeks ago and we had a blast.

Work is good. I started a new job about a year ago and I'm enjoying it. It's running a mental health program. Very challenging, but dynamic and interesting in a way that makes the challenge worth it.

So I think that's my update for now. If you're still out there, drop a comment and say hello!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

10 Years and Still Going!

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Yes, I'm still here. On March 25, 2017 my blog celebrated its 10-year anniversary. And I'm still here. Still fighting the good fight, as I sometimes call it. It's funny, despite thinking about my blog quite a lot, I haven't been writing. Mostly I think about the blog when I have a positive moment, or when I'm struggling, or when I do something ah-mazing and feel kick-ass afterwards and want to share my joy. So yeah, that means a lot of thought. It hasn't translated into writing but it affirms my idea that the blog has been an anchor for me in this journey. To think that I've had 10 years of living a fuller, more satisfying life because I got off the couch and made a change. I still get emotional thinking about it. 

I guess I should do a quick update as to my weight/exercise stuff. Last autumn I wrote about being back on the wagon. Well, it didn't entirely stick. I stayed the course until late October and then fell back into a state I'll call all is not lost. To be more positive, maybe I should call it a state of something is still found. Anyway, it's a state where I sort of eat ok and kind of exercise. I stayed in that place for a few months, gaining back the 5 pounds pounds I'd lost and maybe a couple more.  

But all the while, I kept on living. We had a birthday party for Ms. Myra, who turned 6 last September.
Happy Birthday Myra Lynn!!
Mr. M and I did more Tahoe hikes.

I enjoyed a dance night out with the moms.

We got to celebrate Myra being selected as the Player of the Week in her soccer league.

Went cycle wine tasting with some friends...


Dressed up like Sandra Dee for a grown-up Halloween and a witch for the kidfest. Myra was a police officer and Marek was Harry Potter.

Took the kids ziplining, a first for all of us.

Marek was nervous at first but found his courage and crushed it all day.

Myra's courage ebbed and flowed but she never gave up. Our family motto!

Went on a field trip with Marek.

Took the kids to see Snoopy and friends at the SF Symphony.

Went on several more snow days with friends, including ski/snowboard lessons for the kids, which they loved.

I'm realizing this could go on forever. During that time I also celebrated the holidays with family and friends and made an effort to not throw in the towel altogether on my healthy lifestyle. There were some gym visits here, healthy salads there, and the more-often-than-not scale queries. In other words, despite not being entirely on the wagon, I kept paying attention. Not slipping into denial is huge.

Finally, in late January, the embers of motivation sparked into a flame and I got myself back into an exercise routine. Looking back, I think the autumn effort was driven more by fear than by a natural desire to change. I had gained enough weight that I was downright scared, and I was seeing things get hard again, my energy was dipping and it all made me very nervous. Fear is a fine motivator to get you started, but it won't sustain you.

I think the motivation I found in late January was different. It feels different. It's now mid-April and I'm still at it. I've lost those 5 pounds, plus the few extra. I'm back around 157 right now. My clothes are mostly a size 8, some smaller. I have no idea what my maintenance weight will be but for now, I'd like to get to 150 and see. Other than my midsection, I actually really like the curves of my body at my current weight. So I'll lose a few more pounds, maybe, and see if I can find the balance of a smaller stomach but still some curves. But I'm not that focused on all that. Mostly I'm focused on the payoffs of feeling good and more energy, on the overall mojo to get out there and take on adventures. That makes life better for me and everyone around me. That's the biggest payoff. The size on my clothes, the numbers on the scale, they aren't as important as that.

Here are some pictures from last month that I think explain it all. Marek turned 8 and we had a birthday party, complete with a dunk tank and pinata. 

Happy 8th Birthday Marek!!

As you can see I contributed to cracking open the pinata and also took my chances in the dunk tank. Despite my pleas for mercy, Marek hit the target and dunked me. It was a beautiful day. And because I'd started taking better care of myself, I enjoyed it all the more. And that's what this is really about.

So there's my update. More changes are afoot in my life but I can't update you on everything in one post so more to come later. Thank you for checking in.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Mt Tallac Summit Hike

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Ahh, the slow, deep breath that is a holiday weekend. M and I came up to the mountains and I enjoyed a break from the busyness of wrapping up summer. The kids are back in school (that sure snuck up on us!) and soccer season has started. 

Also, I've made a work-related change, recently starting a part-time job in addition to my private practice. I'm feeling really good about my career situation right now. The new job is well-balanced with my life, at least in terms of the number of hours and schedule I'm working. I sketched it all out, with time for exercise calculated in, before I accepted the position, and I know it can work. Now I'm just left to managing any stress from the job, but regular exercise goes a long way to taking care of that!

My eating and exercise are still going really well. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get to a WW meeting this week. But at home my weight is trending down, which feels good. I've had a few moments of feeling sluggish and not wanting to exercise, or like eating junk - but mostly I've been motivated to stay the course. 

This past weekend was my first big indulgence since getting back on the wagon. When we got to town on Friday we stopped at a restaurant for dinner. We shared a salad and then split a cheeseburger (with bacon!) and a margarita pizza for dinner. I also had a few sips of M's wine but skipped the martini I really wanted. I felt good about my choices knowing we were doing a big hike the next day. 

I'll write more about the hike in a minute, but first, the dinner we had after...woah. It was at a nice restaurant and I finally had that martini. And a few glasses of champagne. For an appetizer we had oysters and a scallop ceviche. For my entree I had another appetizer, bay scallops, because I had already decided on dessert. We ordered two, a peach pie with whipped cream and a chocolate tort with chocolate gelato. Holy sweetness! The whole meal was so good! It helped a lot that we had worked our butts of on the trails...

Mt. Tallac is located within Desolation Wilderness, west of Lake Tahoe. We've started the hike before, but never with enough time to actually make it to the summit. 

Near the start
The trailhead is at 6,440 ft elevation and lulls you in with nice views of Fallen Leaf Lake and only a moderate incline. After about a mile-and-a-half we came to Floating Island Lake and then a mile later to Cathedral Lake. After Cathedral Lake the hike went from easy/moderate to hard.

But of course the work is balanced out by the massive beauty of the surrounds, and helped by having a couple Shot Bloks. We took our first break at 4.3 miles, having reached 9,039ft elevation and .7 miles from the summit. I was hungry and had an apple. We'd packed lunches but saved those for the top.

An area called the bowl. Tough going here.
Pristine hiking weather, mid 60's, some clouds and a light breeze
The last mile of the hike was pretty tough! But we plugged along and after 3 hours of hiking and climbing over 3,000ft in elevation, we made it!! My sandwich of roasted turkey, swiss cheese, avocado, arugala on Alvarado flax bread was SO GOOD!!

I took a video at the top. Can you believe the view! 

Sitting on the summit. Thank you legs!
After pictures and eating our sandwiches, and before our muscles seized up, we started the trek down.

Panoramic of Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake
The hike down was almost harder than the hike up, definitely the case for my knees anyway. They were NOT happy. To give you an idea of how much up, up, up and then down, down, down there was, check out the elevation profile from my Garmin. Yikes!

We arrived back at the car a total of 7 hours after our start. We figured we probably spent 30-45 minutes resting, which leaves at least 6 solid hiking hours. 

So now you know why I had such an indulgent dinner. I figured I'd earned it! I'm pretty sure I ate more calories than I burned but that's ok, I have all week to balance it out. I never know how to track meals like that so I entered all my activity and then wiped out those points plus the weekly points I had remaining. I imagine my meal might have been even more than that but, like I said, I have all week to balance it out.

The next day, Sunday, we took it easy. Very easy, including getting a massage, which was painful but in a good way. I ate healthy all day, dinner was grilled swordfish, quinoa with onion and anaheim peppers, roasted brussells sprouts and a salad. Good stuff. I
stayed within my daily points (30), which I plan to do the rest of the week. Ok, I'm off to enjoy another day of not working too hard and avoiding stairs.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Major Victory!

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Yes! This is for real. I've had a few false-starts this past year at getting my mojo going but there is nothing false about this start. I'm in week three of exercising and eating better and I am seeing SO MANY results. I can't even believe how much better I feel. I should make a list.

Things that are better now that I'm eating better and exercising regularly (and getting more sleep):

1. My body already feels better, fewer aches and pains
2. I wake up feeling rested
3. I have energy to last all day, no need/want for an afternoon nap or coffee
4. My mood is better, fewer cranky/grouchy moments
5. My clothes are fitting better 
6. I feel more confident and optimistic knowing I'm taking care of myself
7. I am already seeing improvements in the gym. I did two sets of 10 pushups the other day.
8. I'm more relaxed about social functions knowing I can handle the food/drink temptations.

I would say I don't know why I waited so long but I know why, I wasn't ready. And you know what, I've been thinking, and this whole thing is a major victory. MAJOR. 

I went into a sustained period of low in months and months, maybe even more than a year, of not feeling it. And what's the worst thing that happened? I went 15 pounds over my goal weight and lost a lot of fitness. Totally. Manageable.

What didn't happen? I didn't slip into a totally sedentary lifestyle and I didn't give up and eat a bunch of crap on a regular basis. In other words, I didn't fall off the wagon into an all-is-lost, who cares anyway?, denial state of mind. I didn't stop weighing myself, I didn't hide from the issue, I didn't lie to myself and pretend it wasn't happening. That's what would have happened in my old life, that's what DID happen in my old life. But no more. Now, I can go through a rough patch and keep it sort-of together. I am choosing to give myself a HUGE pat-on-the-back for coming out of this with just a little catch-up work to do but no major renovation. YAY!!

I'll close with a few pictures. I made this blackened chicken salad with low-fat blue cheese, avocado, tomato and cucumber (no dressing) last night for dinner with my buddy Michelle. We got to hang out, catch up and enjoy this feast of a meal.

Soccer season is back! And Myra is WAY into it this year. Practices are in the late afternoon so this is a good example of my having energy. I don't sit there feeling exhausted. So fun! This is a picture from Myra's first game. She scored goals and was so happy and I loved watching her play.

And this is from Marek's first game. He's totally into it and it's a joy to watch. Both of them have great coaches. So lucky to have a sport they both love!

Ok, that's it from me for today. Thanks as always for all the encouragement.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Motivation, YAY!

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So much has happened this summer, including my annual women's backpacking trip, which I hope to write about soon, but the most exciting thing I have to share is that I feel confident in saying, my mojo is officially back. And not a moment too soon because the path I was on did not feel good and was scary and playing with fire. 

I appreciated a comment from Karen on my most recent post, what she called a cautionary tale, about not taking weight gain during maintenance seriously enough, how she wishes she had taken her initial 10 pound weight gain more seriously and maybe she wouldn't have gained so much. Maintenance is so tricky isn't it?

Speaking of comments, in my last post I wrote about not feeling like I had done something "wrong" by gaining weight, but also that I was unhappy with the weight gain, and working (mostly mentally at that time) on shifting course. This is such a fine distinction, and I responded to some of the comments that I'd interpreted as having a moralistic judgment of weight gain...I'm so careful with NOT doing that for myself that I'm quick to squash any hint of it in my orbit...BUT, in the process, I don't ever want to make a reader here feel like I'm coming down on them or calling them out for the way they say things. I love the feedback and have learned so much from comments and I'm sorry for the reactionary response to your comments on "admitting" to weight gain. 

So, as I said above, my mojo is back. What does that mean? It means I'm motivated, positive, means I've shifted from thinking about making changes to actually making changes. What changes? A lot. I've started tracking again. You might remember that I'm not a believer in lifelong tracking (for me. I know it works for others) but I do use it as a tool when needed. AND...I'm exercising. 

But the really big deal is, I'm doing both of these things because I want to be doing them. For at least the past 6 months, if not longer, exercising and paying attention to what I eat have felt like something I had to do, that nagging voice inside my head that tells me I need to, should be, have to....and I have never responded well to that voice.

Once I noticed, really noticed, the external voice had gotten hold of me, I started actively working my thoughts to banish it. What do I want? What feels good? How are my current behaviors affecting me? Do I want something to change? What is it I want to change? How might I go about changing it? What price am I paying for the choices I'm making? Where will this lead if I don't make a change? Is that where I want to go? ...and so on, and so forth. 

So I've probably lost about 5 pounds of fat, and gained a tiny bit of muscle. Going back to the gym was painful, both psychologically and physically. I've lost SO MUCH strength. I used to do 40 pushups, now I can barely do one. And I'm sore. I did legs/shoulders yesterday and, ouch... BUT, it feels so good to be using my muscles again, to be doing something I love, and feeling good about it, that the discomfort is worth it. I know how this works, if I keep going, I will get my strength back. I am lucky, I know what works. I talk to a lot of people who struggle to find the right formula to lose weight.

And I am mining this experience for lessons...what did I do right? Well, I didn't beat myself up, I showed patience, I did what I could to prevent a total free-fall/relapse, I weighed myself regularly despite the number going up, up, up, I never-for-a-moment gave up, etc. What could I have done differently? I'm not sure about this one yet. Maybe I could have changed up my workout routine, tried something new? know, this one will take me longer to understand. I had a slump that lasted a long time, but it wasn't a full relapse, but...I don't know. Maybe what I did was the best I could have done? And still, I want to learn something so maybe if this happens again I can not gain almost 20 pounds. 

I want to write more about what I've been up to this summer. Because even though I've been in a slump with eating and exercise, I've managed to keep living. The couch did not win. Most important, I want to write about my backpacking trip, because that helped light this fire. Because of my lack of fitness I suffered, not too badly, but more than I wanted to. What price am I paying for the choices I'm making? Plenty of time to think up in those quiet, pristine, gorgeous Sierra mountains.

I'll close with a few recent pics that say a lot about how I'm doing...

My first day back at the gym

A grocery store run.

An actual run. On the beach in SF. One hour.

How I handled a burger night at at friend's house