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Understanding the process

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Over the past year, my life has had a lot of little twists and turns, and then I was hit with the loss of my mother (my friend). I blogged earlier about how much my mom's memory is driving me to stay true to my goal, but I realize day by day, the void her loss has left behind. I have lived just around the corner from my mom for most all of my adult, married life. My mom was always someone who would support and help me know matter what I needed (up until her COPD started limiting what she could do). More than that, however, she was my biggest fan. At my heaviest, she would always make a point of speaking of my inner beauty, and how I was such a wonderful person. I would be slightly stung by that because I would read, "your beauty is on the inside, not the outside, because you are obese." My mother would never, have meant that, she would never be hurtful in that way, but of course my own self-loathing, prevented me from taking any compliment. I hated the outside package so much, that I couldn't/wouldn't appreciate anything good about myself. But, thankfully, though long overdue, I took control of my obesity, and my mother was so proud of that fact. She, til the day she died, had the USA Today article(s) of my weight loss story on her refrigerator; she was hospitalized and I was with her when I received the call to be on the Dr. Oz show, and she was ecstatic for me. So anytime I feel like I want to veer off my prescribed course, I think of how proud and delighted she was to see me finally get my life back, and I quickly re-evaluate my choices. It's a great motivator for me, to hold that vision of her pride in my mind and in my heart.

Of course, that's not the only motivation I have; there's the impending wedding on 5/5/12, and most importantly the ultimate goal of my health and quality of life. Keeping my weight under control makes all the difference in the world to the physical health of my joints, specifically my arthritic left knee. Losing the 15.8 (yes, I lost another pound this week) since January has already made a huge difference in the functionality and comfort of my knee. I'm able to do much more right now, and still remain relatively pain-free, than I could just a few short weeks ago, and I look forward to continued improvement with each pound lost.

Losing weight is also making me a better wife, mother and grandmother. I'm able to do things with my grandson(s) that I was never able to do with my own children, because of the detriment of my weight.

I know that I'm still a work in progress, and I know I'm still dealing with the emptiness in my heart from losing my mom, but I also know much more about myself and how capable I am to handle anything, because of my weight loss journey. I've been forced to analyze and examine what emotions drive me and I'm empowered knowing that all of it is a choice. Everyday, we wake up and have choices. Choices to look at our day as a new opportunity, to find the positives in everything that is presented to us, and the choices to exercise and eat healthily in order to follow our healthy lifestyle habits.

All those many obese years I treated my weight as something that happened to me, instead of something that I chose to do to myself. That was an easier way to look at the problem-as if it were victimizing me. That way I could give myself a free pass and dismiss my responsibility for my situation.

But today, things are drastically different! I'm an active and much healthier 55 year old women, who knows that there are no limits to my capabilities. I've learned to enjoy eating healthy and most importantly working out, as a way of life that will prolong my quality of life, and hopefully extend the duration. This, of course, did not happen overnight, and certainly not without some bumps along the way, but it's all been worth the effort!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WEEZYB7881 3/12/2011 8:33AM

    Your mom sounds like an incredible person. Revel in knowing she was YOUR mom and celebrate as you continue your journey.

thanks for a great blog


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DDOORN 3/9/2011 9:55AM

    Viva La SPARK! :-)


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TIRED49 3/8/2011 10:57PM

    Thanks for sharing your feelings. I still miss my Mom and she will soon be gone from us 9 years. It is great that you had so much support from her. You will look so great at that wedding. All your hard work is showing up... the rest of us Sparkers are encouraged by all your progress!

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Getting out of a rut

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The most important part of getting fit is to stop making excuses not to, Dixon says. We all are crunched for time, sore, and just looking for an excuse to stay in our jammies.
But no excuse is good enough for you not to take care of your health. Start taking a "no-ifs,-ands,-or-buts-about-it" attitude toward fitness.
Be Flexible
You don't have to pack your workout into just one time slot. If you need to, break your workout into two or more smaller workout sessions spaced throughout the day. You'll get great results and will still have time for the rest of your responsibilities.
Do Something
If you're like most women, when you don't have a full hour to devote to exercise you opt out. For what? A few more sleepy minutes between the sheets.
But even if you can only work out for 20 minutes a day, that time will make a difference. Something is always better than nothing.
Make it a Habit
Fitness isn't a luxury. It's a necessity. By thinking of exercise as just one of many important health habits, working out will become just as automatic as brushing your teeth, says Dixon.
Get a Goal
When starting or even maintaining a workout, motivation is key. Jot down your goal and post it in a prominent place like your bathroom mirror.
Whether you want to lower your cholesterol or fit into your size six jeans without a struggle, chasing a goal is the best way to keep you moving toward fitness.
No Gear Needed
Don't have the dough to dish out on a fancy gym membership? Luckily, plenty of recession-proof exercise routines don't involve a gym, equipment, or cash.
There are plenty of workouts to do at home, bottom line is to keep challenging yourself.

Be Consistent

Wonder why the last day you skipped at the gym magically turned into a month? Because when we don't consistently exercise, fitness falls completely off our radar.
To stay consistent, Dixon recommends creating a set schedule of exercising at least three days a week. That way, on those days, you can literally check off working out. After all, what's more satisfying than checking off a to-do?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WEEZYB7881 3/12/2011 8:36AM

    great blog and just what I needed as I struglle to continue to put fitness first. I can get enthusiastic about almost anything but have a harder time staying consistent and enthusiastic about my fitness and health than anything outside of me.

just what I needed to read this morning

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DDOORN 3/6/2011 6:13PM

    Great tips, all of them...consistency rules! An object in motion tends to STAY in motion! -)


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What a beautiful day!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

The weather here in Jersey was totally awesome today. I usually do a spin class on Saturday morning but decided to go for a run instead. It was so gorgeous, almost too warm, as I was really worked up into a major sweat.

I'm finally back to taking the "try" out of this process. Saying, I'm trying to eat right, or I'm trying to get my exercise in, is like saying you have an option. It's as if I give myself a free pass to screw it up, because I "tried" at least. Well, no more, "trying" isn't good enough, trying doesn't ensure getting it done, and I'm done "trying"! Just as I've banished the word "can't" from my vocabulary, I'm now banishing "try" from it as well. I realize that for soooo many years, I "wanted" to lose weight and get fit, but I never was willing to put in the necessary work to get it done. So many times before I would undertake a DIET and that would mean eating less, much less, too much less food. Ultimately, I lost weight, but it all found it's way back, with even more. Finding a way to enjoy exercising has been the key to success this time, I realized that early on and I've love the way it makes me feel.

It would be untrue to say that there weren't lots of things inside me that were broken, or beaten down, for such a long time, and they all led to my obesity. The end of 2010 made me realize that those things may never be fixed completely, but I still am capable of following through with my healthy lifestyle changes. I've read articles written by professionals saying we must find something besides the way we look, to make us happy and feel successful. But there is a direct link to my weight and the way I feel about myself. I don't think there is anyway in this world I can love my body - at least not all of my body - because no matter how hard I work out there are still going to be flaws. So in order to overcome those negative feelings I focus instead, on the things I do love about my shoulders are my fav, but I also appreciate what my body allows me to do and how strong I'm getting again.

The point is there are choices to be made along the way, I choose to eat right, I choose to workout, I choose to find the positive things and ignore the negative things, this may or may not be the best way to deal but it's my way.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LAMPERLADY 3/6/2011 8:43AM

    I would say you had a beautiful day for other reasons than simple the weather. Nicely Put. One of my favorite words these days is "Choice". It truly is amazing how powerful a word it is. I hope you have many more beautiful days as well.

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DDOORN 3/5/2011 11:45PM

    Lovely weather up in Southern Tier also...BUT: get ready...6-10 inches of snow coming Sunday...ugh!

Sounds like you enjoyed the HECK out of your day...! :-)


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FANORONHA_14 3/5/2011 10:30PM

    You are emoticonYou are emoticon
Never Give Up!
Life is Good!
Good Health is the Greatest wealth!
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

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Why can't people get it?

Friday, March 04, 2011

I was recently contacted by an old school mate, who is involved with her Woman's Club's undertaking of running a weight loss program for her city in Ohio. Their efforts began on Jan. 1 and some of the participants have plateaued. So she was asking me for some advice to share with her group. Of course one of my most important tips was exercise, specifically - weight training. Thinking everyone would certainly have already undertaken an exercise program which included both cardio and weights, imagine my surprise when my friend writes back saying she appreciated my tips but that her group was hard to convince that any exercise was important, and few were interested in weights! UGHHHHH! What is wrong with people? Why can't they get it? What's the aversion???? Trying to lose weight without exercise is moronic, and it's even more moronic to do only cardio. Not only do you need to exercise, but you have to keep changing things up and pushing yourself to see results. I belong to a few different SP teams and I get exceptionally frustrated when I see people who have been members for a year or longer and are still not fully invested in the program. They've lost 10 - 20 pounds, gained some of it back and really are just playing around. You need to make a decision to go all in - or just get out. These Spark members and the women in my friends group really need to get on board. Excuses and failure to eat right AND exercise-seriously consistently and out of your comfort zone.

If your workouts consist of doing light weights and steady-state cardio, you might be in for some bad news: These things alone won’t likely get you the results you’re after, say experts. To increase your fitness level, burn fat, and improve muscle tone, you’ve got to step up your game.

The biggest mistake women make in their training is not exercising with enough intensity. How to tell if you’re training hard enough? Look to your body for clues. Good indicators are sweating, increased heart rate, and lactic acid production (i.e., feeling the “burn”) during exercise. Moderate muscle soreness for up to a few days post-workout is also a good sign. If you feel nothing you probably didn't work out hard enough.

For most women, a typical weight-training session equals light dumbbell exercises. But doing fewer reps with more weight—say, 8 reps per set with a 15-pound dumbbell, instead of 15 reps with an 8-pound one—will burn more fat. Lifting heavier will also increase your strength and muscle definition.

Start by swapping out your normal weights for slightly heavier ones, and gradually work your way up.

I'm sure this sounds like I'm a know-it-all and that some people wouldn't appreciate this post, but really I hope they take this personally, because if I convince just one person, than that's something positive of which to be proud.

I learned the hard way that success with weight loss is dependent upon both a good diet, AND serious exercise. It would be nice to believe that there was an easier way, and, yes, just getting out and moving is a start, but that's all it is, a start to a process that must include pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, if you really want to achieve success, aka. be thin and fit!

My workout this morning was totally awesome. I thought today's weight session would only take 30 minutes, but I came up about 5-7 minutes short on that estimation. I decided to finish the entire lift, and get in spin after it had started. That was a great decision, because it felt awesome to finish the program as written. But that meant that I missed what I thought was 10 minutes of the class. So, I went into the class after lifting back/bi's (awesome lift that included deadlifts; 4x4 85lbs, 2x12 65 lbs/lat pulldown 3x4 75lbs 2x12 65lbs/seated row 3x4 85lbs, 2x12 70 lbs/shoulder shrugs w/DB 4x4 90lbs 2x12 75lbs/barbell curls 4x4 40lbs, 2x12 25lbs/incline DB curls 3x4 30lbs 2x12 20lbs/preacher ez-bar curls 3x4 30lbs 2x12 25lbs) and turned on the heart rate monitor and got to work. The class was finished at 9:50 and I figured I was 10 minutes late and wanted to get a full 60 minutes in so I figured I needed to go to 10:10 to reach that goal...funny thing I actually did 67 minutes of spin and burned over 500 calories in the process! I felt awesome all day long--not even a nap!!!

So, that leads me to rethink yesterday's post where I thought I had observed a connection between lifting days combined with spin and extreme fatigue...I'll have to look for other indicators that might be leading to that condition.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WEEZYB7881 3/12/2011 8:41AM

    thanks for a great blog. while others are offended I take it as great information and a way to remind me to stay focused. i'm so glad you posted.

louise - reading all of your March blogs to help me shift from blah to high

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DDOORN 3/6/2011 12:01AM

    Re: "You need to make a decision to go all in - or just get out."

I am a big believer that we all have to find our own path. This is not a one-size-fits-all lifestyle. Certain elements ARE essential, re: both healthy food choices and physical activity BUT: for each of us to find that inner motivation to REALLY commit to making these changes we each have to sift through our inner world to be able to transform our outer world.

I also believe you get more flies with honey than vinegar. In combination with Being the SPARK One Wants to See in the WORLD, paying positive attention to others making efforts in that direction is the way to entice them toward making a more lasting commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Unless someone is specifically asking for feedback about unhealthy behavior, I believe it is best for them to either figure it out for themselves through difficult trial & error process or for them to directly ask for help, advice.

Are healthy food choices without exercise sufficient for making a positive change in a person's life? I believe so. Look at the Spark approach: small changes can accumulate and lead toward HUGE transformations! Applaud such changes and keep inspiring by example regarding healthy physical outlets.

Also, not everyone can find enjoyment out of sweating it out at the gym. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to being physically active. Whatever one chooses, there MUST be an element of enjoyment. If not? Their change efforts are doomed to failure.

Sorry about getting carried away...Soapbox Dismount! :-)


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TIRED49 3/4/2011 11:49PM

    Good blog. At first I was offended, being "one of those people" but you are right I am guilty of not doing anything even though I know everything to do. This is the year I am changing all that. I have steadily ramped up the intensity of my exercise and this week I started tracking my food. All of it and I don't like what I see. So much that I am beginning to drop the worse choices from my diet.
On the other hand I am the one that does have to judge myself and can agree with the first two posts. Like Shrinkinglulu said, 'we have to change the inside too.' at least some of us do.
The journey is longer for some than others and for some they never make it. That is why all people are different. We accept them where they are in their walk.
You continue to blog from the heart and those of us who read it will glean from your wisdom. Some will be used and some will be ignored, but after all Spark is about sharing what we have learned.
Have a good weekend.

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TRIGFROST 3/4/2011 7:08PM

    I do agree w/ you---but I am sorry to say i am One of (those people)...I found out -I am Pre-Diabetes...If I don't stick w/ the program - I can not lose the weight - so this took me a while to figure this make you mad...but I do keep on trying to figure my life out... emoticon emoticon

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    As somone who's been on SP for a long time and had very little change in weight over the last year or so I have to say I'm a little offended. I am not just playing around. I'm sure you didn't mean to offend, so I almost didn't say anything, but I realized that I'm really bothered and so I should.

I lost over 50lb with SP in 2008 doing all the right things, nutrition, st, cardio etc. You name it. But I didn't change the stuff on the inside that needs changing, so I gained it all back, and then significantly more. No amount of eating well or exercise could change the fact that I'm a fat person on the inside. So ya, I'm at more or less the same place as far as a useless scale or tape measure are concerned. And apparently to people like yourself. But this time I'm doing it right, I'm confronting myself and concentrating on myself and the reasons I do the things that make me unhealthy rather than concentrating on losing weight.

And I can tell you without a single doubt or a moments hesitation that it is my SP friends who have been here just as long and longer and not seen much change in weight that are making the biggest changes internally and putting in the most real effort. They'll be the ones that KEEP it off.

So I guess what I really want to say is, don't judge. It's not your place and there's a lot going on with people you can't know.

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JUSTCHELLE75 3/4/2011 5:17PM

    This is a great blog. I already exercise but when I had my baby I had a c-section and the weight training is hard, but I do it. However, I need to take your advice and up my weights and lower my reps. Thanks for the great post.

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CARLAK1971 3/4/2011 5:16PM

  Good information here...thank you!

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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Today was leg day--not my favorite workout...but it's especially bothersome because I realized today that after leg workouts, I don't have a high energy level to devote to spin class. In comparison to yesterday's spin class, today's was a disappointment. I struggled the entire class to get my heart rate above 75%. I did stick with it and finished really strong including an extra 8 minutes to make it a full 60 minute class. so, I may need to rethink cardio on days I work legs. I may even have to rethink cardio on lifting days. I also realized today that on days when I do spin only, I leave the gym completely invigorated, and it's the same on Sunday when I only lift, but on days when I combine the two, I leave the gym exhausted to the point that I want to take a nap. That makes me think that I should do less cardio on days I lift, maybe at least until the end of my current lifting workout, which is pretty intense.

It's something I'll need to keep tracking and see if it improves, or if I need to make a change.

I did, in fact, take a nap today, after the gym and babysitting my two grand-babies. It felt really good, so it must have been needed.

Overall, I'm really pleased with my progress. Leg day is always hard for me due to my knee but I've been doing squats, lunges and leg extensions. I have to modify step-ups because I can't step up high enough to get on the bench, so instead I use a step about half as high as the bench. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep increasing the height of the step until I can do the bench, but if not, it's still a good exercise.

Eventually, I'm hopeful that I will make the leg around the knee strong enough to compensate for the knee and I'll be able to do the lunges and squats without worrying about the knee swelling. It's improved enough already to the point that I'm not wearing a brace when I workout now, and the pain level has been almost around a 1-2 which is a huge improvement.


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