Category Archives: Ramblings

My One Year Fitness Journey

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My One Year Fitness Journey

Today marks the one year anniversary of my fitness journey.  On December 14th last year, I walked into my office, sat down at my desk, and decided to make a change.  I cannot tell you what clicked that day.  I cannot tell you why the switch flipped.  I just knew I could not go on ignoring my body and health.  Let me give you a little background…

Back Story

At the age of 10 I went from eating like a bird to REALLY enjoying food.  Unfortunately, the weight came along with it.  I can remember at the age of 12, my grandmother offering to pay me a dollar for every pound I lost.  By the age of 13 I was around 200 pounds.  During my 9th grade year, I decided I was going to lose weight because I was not moving to high school as a fat chick.  I successfully lost about 50 pounds by eating one candy bar a day and exercising 2-3 hours every night.  Sound unhealthy?  It was.  I was perpetually sick with some cold or virus, but I lost the weight and that was the only thing that mattered at the time.  I finally hit a place that if I didn’t eat, I would get this excruciating pain in my stomach and shoulder.  That was what finally brought me out of my downward spiral.  Things leveled off and my weight held through high school.  Then college happened.  Instead of the “freshman 15” I gained 30 pounds my first semester.  It continued to creep upward over the years.  During that time I got married and that is when I really started packing on the pounds.  I was happy and living my life and didn’t care about what I ate.  Life was full of possibilities and adventures and food was totally not on my radar.  When I hit 280 pounds, I tried Weight Watchers the first time.  Lost 30 pounds and went off plan.  When I hit 300 pounds, I tried Weight Watchers a second time.  Lost 5 pounds and went off plan.  I tried again and again.  I would lose weight and then go off plan.  Sound familiar to any of you guys?  So, about 6 or 7 years ago, I gave up completely.  I stopped trying to lose weight.  I was so sick of constantly thinking about food and how to lose weight.  I decided I was just meant to be heavy.  I embraced my inner curvy goddess and got on with living.  During that time of living it up, I ballooned to 340 pounds and that brings me back to where I started my story.

One Year Ago – December 14, 2015

As I said, I walked into my office and sat down at my desk.  I was hot, and sweating and out of breath.  My knees hurt, my ankles hurt, and my feet hurt.  I was a mess.  Two years prior to this, I had been diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome).  There is a lot to it, but it basically means I don’t process sugars correctly.  My doctor had told me I’d probably have the best luck losing weight with a low-carb diet.  But, as I said before, I was living life and not worrying about weight at that time.  So, when I sat down at my desk last year and decided to do something, low-carb was what I decided to try.  I had never tried low-carb in all of my attempts to lose weight, so I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a try.  I started THAT DAY.  I had not planned it.  I had not bought groceries.  I had no prepared lunch with me.  So many times I had to have everything lined up and ready to go before I’d start a “diet.”  This time I just dove in.  No safety line.  No contingency plan.

I researched the crap out of the low-carb, high fat (LCHF) diet.  I read the pros and cons, what the research showed, what was happening in my body as I adopted the diet, what I could expect as I detoxed from sugar.  I read it all.  Anyone who knows me knows I geek out on information.  I love learning new things, so this was my focus for months.  It started off a little rocky since I had no idea what I was doing, but I started losing weight, 11 pounds the first month.  I sat down at that point and made a chart listing about 30 mini-goals that would get me to my goal weight of 155 pounds.  I absolutely could not comprehend a weight loss of 185 pounds.  That number was so staggering to me.  I couldn’t imagine ever losing that much weight, so the mini-goals broke it all down into manageable chunks.  Usually, it was 10 pound increments, but not always.

About 3 months in, I hit my stride.  I had the eating plan down.  I was finally past my sugar cravings.  I had lost about 25 pounds, and I was feeling good enough to start adding some movement.  I started with walking because that was about all I could do at that point.  It was March and the weather here was beautiful, so I’d hit the track 2-3 times a week.  My knees really dictated what I could do in the beginning.  I’d go walk, go home, ice my knees, take an Aleve, and go to bed.  If the pain had subsided enough, I’d do it again two days later.  That was my routine for the first two months.  In May I went to a store dedicated to running and running shoes and got fitted for a good pair of shoes.  Best $120 I ever spent.  Being overweight for so long, I had some pretty severe issues with my feet and ankles.  The shoes helped get everything in alignment and almost immediately alleviated my knee pain.  At this point, I was really ramping up the speed and distance of my walks, so I decided I wanted to add some running to my routine.  BIG MISTAKE!  It was too much, too soon.  My body was not ready and I ended up with a case of hip bursitis.  That took about 3 months to get over, but I never stopped eating right and exercising.  I just changed things up.  I joined a gym, backed off the intensity of my walking, and started lifting weights.  What a revelation!  I love lifting!  Who knew?!  When I reached up to rub my neck and felt a muscle there, I about fell out of my chair.  I was hooked.

Exercise had always been a downfall for me in past programs.  I really hated it, so I would always try to find a buddy to workout with.  If they couldn’t go, it was my reason to skip it.  This time, I found out I really liked competing with myself, increasing my weights, my times, my personal records.  I mean, who else do you really need to complete with besides yourself?  We are usually our own worst enemy, so it seems fitting.

Present Day – December 14, 2016

What am I doing now?  Since June my routine has changed very little.  I eat LCHF everyday.  I lift weights and do cardio 2-3 times a week.  I also got a Fitbit and started increasing the amount I walk everyday.  If there is a time I can get up and move, I do.  For all of you who hate exercise, trust me, if I can do it, you can too.  I was the epitome of sedentary.

I still have aches and pains.  Workouts are still a struggle sometimes.  There are days I can walk 3 miles with no problem and others where 1 mile feels like a marathon.  On the days when the motivation is not there, I do it anyway.  On most occasions I’m ok once I get going.  On the days I’m not, I do what I can, afford myself a little grace, and get back to it a couple days later.  I have learned to listen to my body.  If something seems off, I don’t push it.  Usually things improve in a day or two.  If something is hurting, I tweak my workouts and see if things improve.  So far, it has worked.

My original goal was to lose 100 pounds in a year.  I have lost 82.  It is not where I wanted to be, but I’m not upset in the slightest!  I HAVE LOST 82 POUNDS!  I am almost half way to my goal weight.  I have lost 24% of my body weight.  Science says that every pound lost alleviates 4 pounds of pressure per square inch off knees and feet.  That equates to 328 psi that I’m no longer putting on my feet!  My blood pressure is down.  My cholesterol is down.  I have dropped my BMI 13 points.  What in the world would I have to be upset about?!

When I started this journey, it was an experiment.  Now, I feel better than I have in years.  There are tons of goals I have hit that have nothing to do with a number on the scale.  I realized that it is so much more than that.  I had given up on who I was and what I wanted from life.  I had settled for being less than my best self.  That ended a year ago.  I started a diet one year ago to lose some weight.  I ended up gaining my life back.  I have no regrets – not one skipped carb, not one glass of water, not one workout, not one walk.  I don’t even regret the aches, pains and injuries.  They have gotten me to where I am and I have learned a lot along the way.  I may only be about half way to my goal, but that’s ok.  This journey doesn’t end when I hit goal.  It will be daily choices for the rest of my life.  Luckily, I have found a lifestyle I’m happy to live with.

If you are reading this and have even the slighted inclination that you want to do something to get healthier, DON’T WAIT.  Don’t wait until you have the right groceries.  Don’t wait until you have a gym membership.  Don’t wait until you’re motivated.  Don’t wait until January 1st.  It won’t be any easier to start a month from now.  If you REALLY want to make a change, start now.  Do something!  It might just save your life.

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Cancer Sucks!

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Breast Cancer Awareness MonthAs most everyone knows, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  This year, as well as 6 years ago, breast cancer has become all too personal for me and my family.  My mom was diagnosed 6 years ago with breast cancer in her left breast.  Luckily it was caught very early and she made it through with a lumpectomy and radiation.  At that point, we crossed our fingers and hoped it was done with her.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t.  This past January it reared its ugly head again.  This time it was Stage II in the right breast.

After having had countless mammograms over the past 6 years and several scares along the way, my mom had decided that if the cancer ever returned, she would opt for a double mastectomy.  Her surgeon completely agreed.  She underwent surgery at the end of January.  Unfortunately, the left side did not heal well due to her previous radiation.  She ended up with a large hematoma and had to undergo a second surgery to clean the surgery site.  After this grueling process, she had chemotherapy to look forward to.

With the cancer being Stage II and outside the milk duct, mom had to undergo 6 chemo treatments.  Due to her weakened immune system, she ended up catching a horrible stomach virus right after her first treatment.  This almost put her back in the hospital, but she recovered just in time to get her second treatment.  Numbers 2, 3 & 4 went fairly well, but she started having allergic reactions at the injection sites.  Number 5 resulted in a blown out vein, but they were able to complete the treatment.  Number 6 really took it out of her, but she made it through.  She lost her hair – She felt like crap – She struggled everyday.

So is this the reality of breast cancer?  NO, not even close!  That was just a checklist of what happened.  A run down of the cold, hard facts of the case.  It doesn’t even begin to touch the emotional side of what cancer does to a person or family.  I don’t think there are enough harsh, horrible and gut-wrenching words for what cancer feels like.  Does “Getting the wind knocked out of you” or “Getting the rug pulled out from under you” even approach what it feels like?  Not hardly.  Cancer is an utter shock and shut down of your system.  You are completely bereft, floating in the middle of an ocean of hurt, fear and anger.  You are so scared it is impossible to even know how you feel.  One minute you’re numb and the next you’re ready to slam someone against a wall.  Of course even if you really decided to slam someone against a wall, the poison you’ve had pumped into your veins in the name of healing has made you so weak you couldn’t. It was 7 straight months of praying in between each crisis.  It was bad news on top of more bad news until all of a sudden it was over.

Pink Breast Cancer Ribbon Royalty Free Stock PhotoMy mom handled it much better than I think I would’ve.  When she first battled cancer 6 years ago, she tried to put on a brave face and not show anyone how bad it really was.  This time around she decided to just feel how she felt from day-to-day and minute-to-minute.  It was raw emotion and it was ugly sometimes.  She often wondered if she would make it through the process.  I am glad to report she did.  She is currently cancer free as far as the doctors can tell.  She had her last chemo treatment is July and her strength is improving, her stamina is up and her hair is growing back.  Of course none of these are happening fast enough to suit her.

I always knew my mom was a fighter.  I know it even more now.  As she walked this road, she would usually fall apart with every piece of bad news, but after a day or two, she would get her head wrapped around it and would dig in her heels for the fight.  I have always loved my mom, but I can say it now with much more awe and admiration.

So what have I learned through this whole process?  I don’t know exactly.  I’m still picking up bits of truth and wisdom, but I can impart these jewels…Love your loved ones now, don’t wait until later because there might not be a later, enjoy every second of the life you’ve been given, stop and smell the roses more often than not and GET A FREAKIN’ MAMMOGRAM.

Ladies, if you have been putting off a mammogram because it’s not a comfortable process or you don’t have insurance, or this, or that…STOP MAKING EXCUSES!  Get it done!  Mammograms might not be 100% accurate, but they are a hell of a lot more reliable than nothing!

I’ll leave you a saying that has come from all this…
When life gets tough, put on your boobs and get on with it.

What We Love About A Good Concert

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I recently attended a Mumford & Sons concert. The band was wonderful! The concert was held in an outdoor amphitheater setting and the weather could not have been better. The tickets were reasonably priced and the girls I went with were a hoot! I jumped and danced and sang until I was hoarse, but about half way through the event I began to take stock as I often do. I started asking myself, why do we really enjoy this? What is it about seeing one of our favorite bands live that draws us? Then it dawned on me…it’s the camaraderie.

As human beings were are drawn to the feeling that we belong to something bigger. Whether it’s a concert, a cause or a cult, we want to know there is someone else out there who feels like we do and thinks like we think. We want to feel like we’re not alone. I started to look around at all of us singing in unison with Mr. Mumford. We all jumped together at certain parts of certain songs. We all clapped, raised our hands and screamed really loud at the same time. It was almost freakish how synchronized 17,000 people could be. Usually you can’t get 3 people to agree on where they want to eat. But there we were, together under the stars, absolutely loving it.

When I got home that night, my husband had recorded the local news which had covered the show. The footage drove home exactly what I had felt during the concert. We had been an undulating sea of people floating on a current of music and freedom. Not to sound too much like a hippie, but it was really beautiful. I can only imagine what Woodstock would have been like because I wasn’t even born yet, but I think that feeling of togetherness is why I’ve always wished I could’ve been there.

So the next time you’re at a concert stop just a moment and take a look around you. Soak in the wonderful feeling of camaraderie that surrounds you and then throw your hands in the air and know you belong!

Friendships That Last A Lifetime

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I have a group of people I’ve been friends with for over 25 years.  We met in 1986 when I was 13 and my family decided to move to a new area of town.  Before that time, I had lived in a large neighborhood with lots of kids my age.  I remember being devastated when I found out we were moving out to “the country”.  As my mom and dad drug me out to work on the house that spring, I thought, “What am I going to do out here?  I’m not going to have any friends to play with!”  When we first started building our house, the house next to ours was empty, but by mid-summer a new family had moved in.  They had two kids, a girl a year younger than me and a boy 3 ½ years younger than me.

I was outside playing in a huge pile of sand which my dad had already told me several times to stay out of.  (I didn’t listen very well.)  The younger of my new neighbors came over and introduced himself to me in a way only kids seem to have the ability to do.  He just told me his name and asked if I wanted to come over to play.  I jumped at the chance!  He introduced me to his sister and the rest, as they say, is history.

We all became fast friends.  They had a large family with lots of aunts and uncles and cousins and I was soon friends with all of them as well.  They were my second family through my teenage years.  I spent as much time at their house as I did at mine and vice versa.  One of us was always going to spend the night at the other one’s house every weekend and holiday break.  Our parents just adopted the others as their own.

There have been a lot of changes that have taken place over the years.  We don’t see each other as much as we used to, but the friendships have lasted.  We have celebrated each other’s graduations, marriages and births of children.  We have pulled close during deaths of grandparents, losses of children and rocky marriages.  We may drift, but we’ve always been there for one another when it really mattered.

There have been a couple of occurrences in the past few years, however, that made me realize I have become extremely complacent in my long-term friendships.  We tend to get caught up in the everyday things of life and stop making time for the people who matter most.  We take people for granted and assume they know how we feel about them.  I’ve come to realize that if you don’t keep telling people you love them and showing people you love them, the ties begin to weaken.  The bonds are still there, but they don’t have the vitality they once had.

I have also come to realize how important my friendships are to me.  It is a rare and precious thing to have 27 year friendships and they need to be well taken care of.  So I have made a vow to try to be a better friend to the people I love.  I am trying to touch base with them more often and tell them I love them more regularly and get together without a holiday or special occasion.  I am trying to stop assuming they know I love them.  It takes more than showing up for the celebrations and crises of life.  You have to be willing to put it into words so they know you still care.  You have to carve time out of your busy schedule to show you’re really invested in them.  Friendships take work just like marriages.  I’m definitely not a perfect friend, but I’m striving to be a better friend than I’ve ever been in the past.  My friends are totally worth it.

So, do you have friendships you’ve let fall by the wayside?  There was no big fight or falling out, you simply stopped keeping in touch.  It’s never too late to revive and breathe life into a friendship.  I encourage you to be the person who reaches out.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Friendship: Watsons Make the World Go ‘Round

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photoMy best friend, BW, and I were having a completely loony conversation the other day.  This is not unusual by the way.  We have all sorts of loony conversations.  We discuss things like…if you weren’t married and could marry any fictional character, who would it be?  And…if you were stranded on a deserted island, which book series would you want with you?  Anyway, this particular conversation was comparing our relationship to that of BBC One’s Sherlock and Watson.  We have both admittedly fallen madly in love with the show and have been somewhat obsessed as of late.  BW made the comment that we are like Sherlock and Watson.  I asked if I was Sherlock and she asked if there was really any doubt.

I admit I am somewhat like Sherlock.  I’m not nearly as brilliant and I do have a lot more tact (I am from the South after all), but I do have many of the same feelings of disdain for humanity, I am not a true people person, I am snarky, I absolutely reek of sarcasm, I tend to be drawn to the darker things of this world, I don’t like compromising, I rarely say I’m sorry (even when I should) and my ego often gets in my way.  On the flip side I am funny, I can be charming when I want to be and I am fiercely protective of those I love.  To say I have protective walls is an understatement.  I have walls, thorny hedges, moats, poisonous arrows, flamethrowers, etc.  You must run the gauntlet to really get to know me.  We Sherlock types need people to prove themselves to us and, let’s face it there are not a lot of people who are willing to put in that sort of time and effort.  Most people take it as a personal affront to have to prove themselves to anyone.  So, the friendships I have are not plenteous, but they are deep and true.

With all that being said, BW is definitely Watson.  She is kind, she‘s smart, she cares about others, she cares what people think not only of her, but of me, she is definitely a feeler, she is also fiercely protective of her relationships and she often follows my lead to her own detriment.  We have a running joke about a great scene from The Town.  Ben Affleck comes in and basically tells Jeremy Renner,  I can’t give you any information, but we’re going to hurt some people.  Jeremy Renner responds with, “Whose car are we gonna take?”  (Watch the clip.  It’s hilarious.)  That is some serious trust and dedication!  Watson is exactly the same.  He follows Sherlock into every sticky situation with no regard for his own safety.  BW tells me all the time that she would follow me blindly.  We laugh about it, but I really think she would!

There is one really important take away from all this psychoanalyzing.  Watsons are extremely underrated and undervalued in relationships.  It is often the Sherlocks of this world that are noticed.  We are the more flamboyant, snarky, up-front types.  We secretly love the limelight even though we could care less about people’s approval.  BUT – it is the Watsons that keep us grounded in reality.  In my friend’s case, she sees the real me (in spite of me), she is the one who keeps me engaged, she draws me out, she makes me talk about feelings and mushy crap, she makes me notice others, she makes me more compassionate, she can read me like a book, she is invested in me, she cares for me and she makes me care.  Ultimately, she makes me a better person.

I leave you with a quote from Sherlock‘s Lastrade, “…Sherlock Holmes is a great man.  And one day, if we’re very, very lucky…he might be a good one.”  The Watsons of this world help turn the Sherlocks into good people.  Without them, all hope would be lost.

The Security of Silence

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As of late I’ve been reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I’ve whole heartedly identified with Juliet Ashton, the lead character, due to her love of books and her fiery temper. I’m thoroughly enjoying the book so far, but there is one quote that has stuck with me over the past few days. Juliet, looking back on a broken relationship, writes in a letter to her dear friend Sophie,

I can’t think of anything lonelier than
spending the rest of my life with
someone I can’t talk to, or worse,
someone I can’t be silent with.

I highlighted the quote because it struck me as one of the truest statements I’ve read in a long time. Then I began mulling over the quote and comparing it to my relationship with my husband. That was when the truth of it really struck me.

When my husband and I started dating, we talked on the phone every evening. He would call me around 8:00 and we would talk for hours. Nothing was too mundane. We wanted to know everything about each other. We talked about music, movies, families, our youth, etc, etc. We had both been through the wringer with previous relationships so we talked about that as well. We had both decided to be really honest with each other because we didn’t want to end up in the same situation as before. So our connection led to a 2 1/2 year courtship and we married on December 11, 1999.

About a year into our marriage I realized we hardly ever talked any more. We could sit through dinner and say almost nothing. It really worried me. I thought to myself, “Oh my God! How am I going to spend the rest of my life with a man with whom I have nothing to converse about?” I’d even get weepy about it at times. I thought we had lost the connection I had cherished in the beginning of our relationship. I really believed we had run out of things to talk about. I was horrified!! I didn’t want to be one of those stodgy old couples who go through the motions and don’t even remember why they started going through them in the first place.

As time went on I realized we had simply fallen into a comfortable pace. We didn’t have to keep up appearances. We didn’t have to entertain each other. There were no pretenses, no pretending, no shallowness. We were able to just be ourselves. There is a surety in that, a security in knowing that the person you’re with knows everything about you and still wants to spend time with you. It is deep and it is true.

I thank God I was able to find my soul mate. He is a man who loves my smarts, finds my ravenous appetite for books endearing, enjoys my sarcastic sense of humor, puts up with my snarky attitude and loves me. He just loves me. It is beautiful that he doesn’t even have to tell me for me to know.

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