Setbacks Don’t Last Forever

The title above is something I’m working hard to remember this week. You see, on Tuesday I spent the day prepping for a big event on Wednesday: we were getting air conditioning installed in our house, woot! So that meant running myriad errands on Tuesday. I hit up Target, and Home Depot, and went to the grocery store…

And then my back, which had been feeling a bit iffy in the days leading up, completely tensed up, causing sharp pain and general immobility. So much so that I needed to call my husband back from work to assist me.

It wasn’t fun! And it totally disrupted my plans and the routine I had gotten into. I was supposed to oversee the A/C install on Wednesday, start back at the gym on Thursday, and continue with my food making, water drinking, and tracking. All that gets tossed to the wayside when your back decides to be a ninny.

So up to today, I’ve been resting my back and making careful movements around the house to let it relax and heal. It’s really worked for me, but the backslide was definite. I cut my water intake down so I wasn’t running to the bathroom every hour. And food has been convenience only; I’ve relied on my husband to provide food, mainly. He doesn’t really cook much – especially after working so hard every day –  so it’s been a lot of frozen pizza and takeout, or Soylent meal replacement drinks.

Only today am I feeling more self-reliant, and I’ve put myself on a liquid “diet” for the day (Soylent and Orgain protein shakes) to feel a little less mired down after the inactivity, dehydration, and junky eating I’ve been experiencing since Tuesday. Tomorrow I’ll get back to a more normal eating method.

And I gotta say, I’m proud of myself.

Proud for not feeling stuck. Proud for not taking this setback as a loss of momentum. Proud for not letting this experience trash my willingness to keep moving forward. Sure, it has been a hiccup (and to be fair, on Tuesday I cried a little feeling like my back had, once again, sidelined my plans), but as I said in the title, setbacks don’t last forever.

It doesn’t matter that I had to devolve a bit into old patterns for a few days, because I was doing the best I could do on those days. And today I’m able to still do my best, which happens to be a bit better than the previous day. They all won’t be better than the last, but when needed I can wait it out and get back on the proverbial horse when I can. No sooner. No pressure. No shame spiral.

Looking ahead to the coming week, continuing the forward momentum is my goal. Continue with tracking, get to the gym once or twice (only light stuff – this is more to get a feel for the facility, get comfortable there so when I can hit it hard, I won’t be intimidated like I often am in a new environment), and get back to preparing the majority of my own meals. And to get back to drinking my water! This starts today, so excuse me while I end this now, ‘cuz I gotta hit the ladies’ room! 🙂

 

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Water Week Went Well

Can you tell I’m an admirer of alliteration?

How are you, friends? Last week I re-introduced this blog and my efforts to feel healthier, and my goals were to increase my water intake over the week, and to start the process of getting back in the water (a pool) to start some training.

I’m happy to report that both goals were achieved!

Last Monday I dropped by a local gym that has a couple of indoor pools. They’re not gigantic, Olympic-sized pools or anything, but they’re certainly enough for me to do some water walking or the low-key water aerobics that my doctor has recommended in the past. I have a 5-day trial starting next Monday, and so send any encouraging thoughts, because I’m gonna need to get into swim clothes and face the gym-going public in them. *insert grimace emoji here*

Speaking of swim clothes, I ordered and received some pieces from Torrid. I have to check the fit – I think the main suit I ordered (I ordered a classic swimsuit and then some swim shorts to go with it) is waaaaaay too big. But that’s just at a glance. One thing about me is that I have this weird minor body dysmorphia. Sometimes I feel way bigger than I am, and sometimes I feel way smaller. Maybe that’s just normal? Hopefully everything fits reasonably well and I can start the pool stuff this week, otherwise I’m gonna need to call customer support which is always a pain, right?

Regardless of how the swimsuit turns out, I will be going to the gym this week no matter what. They have an indoor basketball court that basically no one uses (it was deserted when I went on my tour, at least) – and I really love shooting hoops – so I’m looking forward to getting the heart rate up on the court a bit.

My second goal for the week was to gradually increase my daily water intake. It’s been really tough for me, over the course of these last couple years, to keep getting in 64-72 fl. oz. of water each day. I know how much proper hydration means to the body, and so I just need to be a little disciplined in remembering to drink it. It’s been tough this week, but I’m happy to report that I’ve worked myself up to the 64-72 fl. oz. range and am gonna keep working to keep those numbers consistent.

I’ve been weighing myself each day, which wasn’t a goal, per se, but I’m a data fan, and thus wanted to start seeing how my body weight and composition is affected by my goals each week. I got myself a fancy new scale that not only reads weight, but also percentages of muscle, fat, bone, and water. It’s too early to spot any patterns there, but I’ll report back any interesting findings.

This week’s goals:

I don’t have any “themed” goals like last week, but for Week Two, here’s what I’d like to accomplish:

  1. Go to the gym at least twice.
  2. Get the swimsuit stuff figured out (if needed).
  3. Keep tracking my food intake.

You may have noticed the word “Keep” in my last goal. See, I’ve started tracking my food off and on this past week, and began to notice how many calories I was eating, and what my eating patterns were. I’d like to keep the tracking up and slowly refine the caloric and nutritional makeup of the food I’m eating. Key word there is “slowly”.

Last week was actually pretty epic on that front. Prior to last week, I had been eating a staple diet of crap. Taco Bell, frozen meals, junk food, and lots of juice. But last week my husband left town for a business trip, and I knew I’d be left to my own devices, so I actually WENT TO THE STORE. Yeah, two stores even – and twice during the week! So I only ate out once (Taco Bell, you’re a hard habit to break!), and felt really great about making most of my meals.

I know that when I’m making my own meals, I can be more successful with managing my health. I won’t really set a goal for that or anything, I just need to keep on truckin’ with that one. I’m doing well, and I don’t wanna put any additional pressure with that.

Hope you’re truckin’ along with any goals you may have for the week. If you’d like to share those goals, feel free to leave a comment. And of course, thanks for reading!

No Happily Ever Before-and-After

Hello friends. It’s been a minute. And by minute, I mean a few years. A few rough years. My last entry was at the peak of my fitness. Down 90 lbs, stronger than ever, starting to run, feeling confident and optimistic about the future…

At least my optimism doesn’t change.

Sure, I’ve had my moments of extreme pessimism and a sense of repeated failure, but I’m #blessed with an inner resilience that always pushes me to keep trying, even when I flounder in the most epic ways possible.

Today finds me far, far away from that lovely summer of 2014. I felt on top of the world with a great new job, great health, and a great sense of pride. Now I recollect that time longingly, as if it’s not even me. And I know, in abstract, that I am her and she is me, but still.

Today my weight is much higher than when I started this blog in September of 2013. And I feel more out of shape than ever, and FEEL bigger than I want to be. I’m certainly not in a happy place with my body, and my mind has recently been in the same dark place.

I’ve been working on my mind though. Recently re-diagnosed with bipolar depression, I’m now on medication that has stabilized my mood to a certain extent and got me thinking about working on something else in addition to my mental health: my physical health.

Now, I’ve struggled a lot with the idea of “weight loss”. After some counseling, I even rejected the idea as a losing paradigm – a Sisyphean struggle that I was gonna let roll down the hill because I was SO OVER DIETING.

But the fact is, I must work to improve my health because IT’S WHAT I WANT. I want to feel like Julie from 2014. No doctor is frowning down at me about my weight, and my husband has never ever treated me with an unkindness about my health; it is my own core being that’s screaming out for change.

And so here I am. Back onboard the blogging train. Hoping to make a go of it once again. My path is different going forward, as I’ve learned more about myself, and how my habits work, so things will be slower.

I’m going to work on little things, week by week. Small, yet important changes that will help me improve my health and feel stronger – and yes – hopefully leaner.

This week the focus is on water. I’m a water sign, and while I don’t believe in that astrological hocus-pocus, my birthday is coming up, so it feels appropriate to focus on how water can reshape me.

I’m planning on two goals this week:
  1. Gradually up my intake of water
  2. Start a path towards taking water aerobics classes (checkout a local gym, get swim clothing, etc.)
I’ll check back in next week to let you know how I did. And I hope that whatever you’re working on, you also achieve your goals this week!

New Vlog and Weight Loss Update: 90 LBS DOWN!

Two weeks ago: 182.8
Today’s Weigh-in: 182.0 lbs
Change: -0.8 lbs
Total Loss: 90 lbs!

This has been a banner week, folks! Lots of stress in my life, but I continue to experience breakthroughs in my fitness. First things first: I’m down 90 lbs total since my highest recorded weight – huzzah! I might be struggling with feeling like I haven’t been “giving it my all”, but I have to take this opportunity to celebrate this milestone. **Cue party whistle**

The week before last I got pretty excited because I ran a full mile on the treadmill without stopping. I’m proud to report that I’ve shattered that best-distance and last week I ran a full 5k on the treadmill without stopping. That’s 3.1 miles!

I definitely know what they mean by a “runner’s high” now. For me it happens about 20 minutes in. The first 5 to 8 minutes everything’s okay, then around the 10-minute mark my legs start to harsh my good vibes. It’s a huge struggle until around the 20-minute mark, then I get into a “zone” and my calves don’t hurt as much and I feel like I can just keep going.

The other thing that I love about running is that it really is a singular activity. At this point I still can’t focus on anything else EXCEPT the act of running while I’m doing it. I had some family drama pop up and while I tried to think about it while jogging on the treadmill, my mind wouldn’t let me. As if the activity itself required so much concentration the whole world outside of that alone washed away. All I’m thinking on that treadmill is, “How is my breathing?” and “Ow my calves hurt now” and “Just keep moving forward” and “Wow this lap is taking forever”. No “I wonder what I should eat for dinner” or “How do I deal with such and such problem”. I get anxiety from time to time and this seems like a fantastic mechanism to break the anxious thoughts when they creep up on me.

I feel so strong about the running that I’ve signed up for my first 5K… AS A RUNNER! I walked a 5k back in March, but now I’ve gone and registered for the Biggest Loser Run/Walk Seattle on October 12th, so there’s a real commitment made to the idea of running. My hope is to be able to jog the whole thing without stopping.

I’ll leave you with my latest video diary recorded just a little while ago – enjoy!

New Vlog and Weigh-In Update: AM I A RUNNER NOW?!?

Hello friends! First off I have to thank everyone who came forward to support me through my rough patch last week. If there’s one thing I know for sure about weight loss it’s that these bad weeks happen. The goal in managing them is having them only be weeks, and not letting them turn into bad months, bad years, or a bad life.

I’m happy to share that I got back on the proverbial horse and since the end of last week my food choices have been solid, I’v felt more in control, and I’ve gotten back into the swing of things with my activity. I’m still not rockin’ the cardio as much as maybe I should, but I’m putting in my best efforts, and that’s all I can really ask of myself!

In fact, last night I broke another personal record: I RAN A WHOLE MILE WITHOUT STOPPING!!! That’s a first, folks! I’m definitely feeling like running isn’t something I can say I “can’t do” any longer. I can run for over ten minutes at a time, and that’s amazing to me! Next goal is to run a 5k. I GOT THIS!

Next up, the weigh-in. I was very curious, this week, to see how my body dealt with my binge episodes and my return to activity. I like how my body approached it 🙂 Last week I weighed in at 186.0 lbs. This morning I weighed in at 182.8 lbs. That’s 3.2 lbs lost this week! Woot! That makes my total just a hair shy of a total of 90 lbs lost.

I’ll leave you with this video update. I talk a little more in it about my recovery from last week. And it’s a much more upbeat video than the last one, lol!

My Response to Emily: A Spark to a Flame, Find Your Kindling For Weight Loss Success

Hello friends! I’ve been remiss in posting here. While I have been posting regular video updates to my channel on YouTube, I haven’t always been linking those here. I am a bad, bad blogger. I guess I’ll make up for it today by posting a blog the length of a short novel, so sit down and get comfortable!

The last couple weeks have been a swirl of transition with me starting back to work. Things have been going… ehhhh, okayyyy I guess?

Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic. Going back to work after being off for well-over a year is no walk in the park. Starting any new job is mentally exhausting (which of course leads to physical exhaustion as well), so I’ve been struggling with feeling really tired in a way I haven’t in a very, very long time. But it’s a GOOD tired. It’s not depression tiredness, or slug tiredness; it’s a tired sensation that has heaps of satisfaction underneath. And mornings are invigorating for me in a way they haven’t been in so, so long. I’m looking forward to going in to work every day. How crazy is that?

So despite my genuine efforts to be a superstar and knock balancing my new job with my healthy lifestyle outta the park on the first swing, I’ve still felt like I “haven’t been doing enough” in terms of activity by not formally hitting the gym three times a week. The fact that I was weighing myself every day and seeing the scale go up did not help mental matters. But I was bringing all my food, tracking it, walking around the office as much as possible to get my Fitbit steps in, trying to drink as much water as I could reasonably do while wearing Spanx (pro tip: spanx plus hydration doesn’t work – plus spanx cause me severe constipation, who knew?!?), and taking 15-minute walking breaks each day after lunch. All this while trying to absorb a lot of new information and process… I’ve been totally kicking ass! And yet, feeling funky about my weight.

And then I ended up hurting my foot and putting myself out of commission (and work) for 4 days last Friday night. **CHARLIE BROWN AAAAAAUGH** So yeah, last Friday I planned to go to the gym after work. Packed my gym bag and was all set to go, but mid-day I realized I had left my sports bra at home. Um. These knockers REQUIRE sports bras for anything jumpy I do at the gym, so, harrumph. But I was still DEAD SET on getting some activity in. So I decided to walk the campus at work (they have these 2, 3, and 5-mile fitness paths available) and get a 2 mile walk in.

But I took a shortcut and didn’t change my sneakers. BAD IDEA. The sneakers I wore to work didn’t have my orthotic inserts (also a BAD IDEA), so by the time I was finished with a 2.5 mile walk, my proverbial dogs were barking. Got home, took my shoes off and put my feet up for a couple hours, but when I got up to go to bed I COULDN’T WALK. My right foot was totally out of commission. Couldn’t bear any weight on it and hopped on my left leg into bed hoping overnight rest would fix it. Nope.

Long story short: trip to urgent care revealed a bone spur near my Achilles tendon’s insertion point on the heel, but they couldn’t help me. I spent all day Sunday on the couch. It wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that I could actually put my heel on the floor and put any pressure on it. By the time my appointment with a podiatrist rolled around, I was about 75% recovered. (Yay!)

But this hiccup took a toll, just like the job did. But this toll has been higher. See, what happens when I get sick? Well, my eating goes to hell. It started on Saturday with a trip to Five Guys for burgers. And then Sunday I ate a giant burrito. And then yesterday I finished that burrito and had pizza and a giant chocolate chip cookie for dinner. And I started thinking about going to get a dozen donuts for myself this morning. Feeling mighty binge-y at the moment. Classic Julie. Get sick? EAT ALL THE FOOD.

This is where I’ll transition to talking about my friend, Emily. You may know her. She’s kinda awesome. I woke up this morning and before I had even wiped the sleep from my eyes, I was reading her latest post. If you haven’t seen it, click here and read it now. And make sure to watch the embedded video, too. The rest of this post can wait.

Okay, didya read it? Cool! We can move forward!

I was so inspired by her post that as I was reading it I got up out of bed and started heading towards my laptop. I was so flooded with feelings that I was compelled to respond. And thus here I am. I know that in this blog I choose to celebrate my successes a lot. That’s part of why I’m successful, I think, is that I don’t let the small victories pass without bragging them up all over the place. It makes me feel good, helps me stay motivated, and keeps me on what is generally a very rocky path.

The part of Emily’s post that I really wanted to respond to was this:

“I’m still not in a place where I 100% believe that I will lose the weight and build a solid recovery from Binge Eating Disorder. Frankly, I don’t know if that confidence will ever come. I wish I could be one of those people who has a grand “AH HA!” moment, where the heavens open up and I’m suddenly struck with a never-before-felt sense of purpose and motivation.

I am just not one of those people.”

This has been me for so, so long. So many previous efforts, I felt this at my core. Sure, you get yourself whipped up into some willpower frenzy, feel like you can take on the world for a bit, then the reality of a slow process hits you in the face pretty quickly, and you lose that motivation. That’s being human. Why is it different this time?

When I started this process I was in a dark, dark place. I had been out of work, had fallen into another massive depression spell, and was working through it. My eating was off-the-charts bad. And I was feeling the physical effects of the weight on my body in ways I hadn’t previously. When taking my daily walk from the bed to the couch, I’d feel my heart pound and would actually feel winded at the end of it! I despised myself. I felt suicidal. I felt that I had screwed my life up so much it might just be better to end it.

I reached out for help. I always do, thank goodness. I sought counseling for my depression, and slowly, like it usually does, the depression started to lift. I started to care about myself, the teeniest, tiniest of bits. And when I crawl out of my depression funk, one of the first things I start thinking about it losing weight. It’s like a self-defeating cycle.

I knew I had food issues that I needed to work on. I didn’t know how to approach my desires to lose weight, so of course, TO THE INTERNET! I found blogs to follow, I looked up nutritional counseling, found a practice nearby that seemed like it was what I needed, and met a fabulously-positive counselor who made me feel supported and normal and human in a way I hadn’t felt in a long, long time. And then I did the thing that ended up changing everything for me: I called my insurance to find out how to extend my available time with her, and learned what services were available to me. This is how I found 20/20 Lifestyles, which, for me, was the structure I needed to really start on this journey for reals.

Here’s the thing: while there is a place of hope that needs to happen at some point on your weight loss journey (usually at the start), this hope needs to be supported sufficiently and strengthened by success.

That hope is not enough to carry us. We need supportive structures around us that keep that hope alive. Because wanting it isn’t enough. I’ve been that person who’s been wanting to lose weight, knows I NEED to lose weight for my health, but I didn’t feel that hope deep down for very long. Maybe for a week or two, but never long enough to sustain the necessary efforts. This has gone on since I was a teenager. And this is what got me up to being so overweight.

That “A Ha!” moment Emily mentioned doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It usually starts with a small spark. Maybe there’s a little fuel to keep it flaming for a second or two. But without a sustained supply of oxygen, it will not keep burning. We get those sparks dozens of times, maybe hundreds of times. But so rarely do we have that sustainable resource of support to keep us going.

Part of the 20/20 Lifestyles program were weekly support group meetings with other women on the program. That group started with about ten women, and ended with merely three of us. The fact is one solution isn’t the kindling for us all. We all have individual needs in that regard. What works for someone else isn’t gonna work for me, and vice versa. For some food tracking may be the thing that works for them. For others, they may need a hearty rewards system. Still others may need intense years of therapy to keep them going. And some, like me, may need ALL of those things and more!

The other part of Emily’s post I wanted to address was that overwhelming feeling of having so much weight to lose. When you’re looking at needing to lose over 100 lbs to get down to a reasonable weight, and losing 1 or 2 lbs a week is your average (or less), it can feel too monumental a task. The hope helps at this stage.

But as you start knocking pounds off, two things happen:

1) You start realizing you CAN do it. That spark starts to become your persona. You’re not just hopeful that you can do it, you ARE doing it; and,

2) The changes you’ve effected start to work in your favor. Your eating patterns are different, and habits are formed that make it considerably easier to resist temptation. Activity becomes part of your life and missing out on it becomes something you actually MISS when denied the opportunity. And as you get smaller/fitter/whatever there’s a strength that comes that makes you feel empowered to do more, to strive for more. Confidences are gained that you never thought possible. That doesn’t happen at the END of the rainbow, that can hit at any point along your journey! Thank goodness!

These two changes, these evolutions that occur are vital, as well. Because, life. Illness happens, injury happens, funky times happen. I’m going through it right now. Last night I was plotting the route to Top Pot Doughnuts and planning which dozen I would select. This morning I’m thinking about the leftover pizza in my fridge. I WILL ALWAYS HAVE THESE URGES, AND SOMETIMES I WILL GIVE IN TO THESE URGES AND BINGE.

But you know what? That doesn’t mean I’m going to fail. That’s not something I felt at the beginning, I can 100% tell you that. But I feel it at my core now. I am not sick with feeling of failure while planning on eating pizza. I know that I’m going through something (injury + TOM hormones = binge), but that I’ve gone through something before and come out of it. This is what self-compassion is for me, and it’s vital to this process of transformation.

At the end of this, all I can really advise is: find your kindling wherever you can, and fan those flames, friends! I know we can win at this!