Tuesday, May 07, 2013
My second official weekly weigh-in day without my scale passed last Sunday. I wish I could say that it's gotten easier, but that generally hasn't been the case. At the risk of sounding cliche, if I had a dollar for every time I walked into the bathroom with the intent of weighing myself only to be rudely reminded that I no longer own a scale, I could buy myself a really nice outfit in a (smaller) size that fits well.
Last Friday my personal trainer noted that I seemed to have far less energy than usual and asked if I felt okay. I explained that I'd been just plain worn out and that workouts seemed relatively easy previously were becoming increasingly difficult and that I wondered if I was facing a possible Multiple Sclerosis exacerbation. After discussing my workouts outside of the physical therapy gym and my calorie intake, my personal trainer and I reached the conclusion that I was mostly likely overtraining and undereating. Never before in my life have I been accused of either of those things and part of me was satisfied to hear that I was apparently capable of both. My personal trainer thinks that the 1200-1550 calorie range suggested by Spark People is not nearly enough for the amount and type of exercise that I do, so he is having my increase my calorie intake to 1800-2000/day. While he told me that I can still workout outside of the physical therapy gym, I need to decrease the intensity. Stop! Wait! You really want me to decrease my exercise and increase my calorie intake?!? What? That has not helped diminish my scale vacation anxiety one iota.
Though not having stepped on a scale for 10 days is giving me heartburn, I am at that point where others are starting to notice the changes in my body. Two gals who also work out at the physical therapy gym made complimented yesterday. One asked if I'd lost a lot of weight and told me that I was becoming the "Incredible Shrinking Woman." The other one told me that she was amazed at how different my body looked from when she started at the gym just two months ago. My body image is still so distorted that despite the smaller clothes and more toned muscles, I still have a difficult time looking past all of the flaws I still see, so hearing those nice comments buoyed my spirits tremendously. They even made me forget about that pesky unknown number on the scale. For about 30 seconds.
Until June 1st, I am forcing myself to focus on all of my non-scale victories. Though I know they are numerous, not knowing that number is causing me anxiety. Maybe by June 1st I'll be so comfortable with myself and my non-scale victories that I'll decide to hold off on buying a new scale indefinitely. Yeah, probably not, but a girl can hope.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
If you didn't read my last blog entry, "Vacation!," let me bring you up to speed. After realizing that my obsession with that pesky number on the scale was, perhaps, a tad unhealthy, I decided that my scale and I needed a separation so that I can focus on all of my non-scale victories. Despite being stronger and in better shape than I've been in years, despite the reduction in my Multiple Sclerosis-related muscles spasms and cramping, despite fitting into clothes 2-3 sizes smaller than those I was wearing just a few short months ago, I was still fixated on that number. And in my number-on-the-scale-obsessed-mind, that number just wasn't moving quickly enough. Forget that I've been building an incredible amount of muscle, movement of that number seemed interminable.
I hope that this separation anxiety reduces soon because I will tell you, it has not been easy. For someone who has stepped on the scale 3-4 times/day for longer than I want to admit, it's been extremely difficult to stay away.
Last night I made it easier on myself: I threw away the scale. As in, walked it to the dumpster and tossed it (in a garbage bag, of course, so that I wouldn't break the city's unbagged trash law). It was hard to walk away from the dumpster, and luckily for me, it was mostly empty so takey-backseys were not possible. You see, I'm an extremely short woman (5'-nothing on a "tall day") with short arms, so there was no way I could reach it, barring actually climbing in the dumpster. Ewww.
Before you harp on me about throwing away perfectly good equipment and wasting money, etc, I should explain that the scale was old. It made it through my ups and downs with two of my three pregnancies, it held me at my heaviest weight of 198 pounds, and it showed me a lower number than I'd seen in almost a decade--160 pounds. We had good times and we had bad times, but it was old and not an especially pricey or fancy model.
The main reason I decided it would be okay toss it because I was no longer sure of its accuracy and have considered replacing it for a while. If it had been even remotely new, I would have just had my husband hide it. I figured that if I was going to replace my scale, doing it after a month of no weigh-ins would be good because then I won't be disappointed with the higher number that would mostly likely appear if I weighed myself on the old and new side-by-side. If, after a month, that number is higher than the 160 that last flashed at me on my old scale, I will be disappointed; however, my scale vacation does not also mean a vacation from healthy living.
Well, old frienemy, we had a lot of good (and bad)days, months, and years, but it was time to say good-bye. At least we are parting on good terms, since your last message was the best you'd given in years. Come June 1st, I hope the next generation has something good to say, too.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
(Me, down 18 lbs and 2-3 clothing sizes)
I decided today that I am taking an impromptu, month-long vacation. "Where are you going?" you might ask. The question is not "Where?," but "From what?"
My name is Lisa and I am scale-obsessed. I not only weigh myself daily, sometimes I weigh myself 3-4 times per day. Yes, I have weight to lose and it's good to know if what I'm doing is working, but that number on the scale is not necessarily the best indicator of my progress. My analytical/logical nature recognizes this truth, but the emotional part of me has trouble not basing my mood, my feelings of success/failure. and my self-worth on that number.
My desire to lose weight and increase my activity is mostly driven by my desire to remain mobile and fight this nasty thing that is Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I work out with a personal trainer at my physical therapy clinic three days per week and work out on my own at home an additional three days per week. Because strength training is the focus of most of my workouts to maintain mobility and minimize muscle loss, my weight loss has felt interminable. My weight loss has actually been in the healthy and sustainable range, but I have discovered that I don't like being in transition. I hate that this journey is a "process." I want to go from A to Z all at once, but I know that is not realistic.
For a short time, I need to focus on what what I have accomplished rather than what I see (or don't) on the scale. Despite what the scale says, my body is changing in a positive way. I am stronger and have greater endurance than I've had in years. Though it seems counter-intuitive, my MS-related muscle spasms and cramping have decreased dramatically. My "butt shelf" will now only hold a small plate rather than a large tray and I recently bought some new clothes, most of which are 3 sizes down from what I wore at the beginning of this year. None of them came off of the "plus size" racks and most of them don't even have an "X" in front of the "L."
My dear scale, it is time for me to focus on the positive changes I've made and not fret about what's to come, so I am proposing, no, demanding, a separation. Not indefinitely, but for a time. We shall meet again, but not until next month.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
I was approved. The first time around. With no appeals. The determination was not a quick one, but still, I was approved. The approval was desired, but a mixed blessing.
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) nearly 15 years ago as a 20-year-old college student. I did exceptionally well in regard to my MS for the 12 years following my diagnosis. The silently accumulating disability began to show itself over the last 3 years. I lost my job of nearly 5 years in May 2011 after a week off to recover from an MS exacerbation. That's the last time I was able to work full-time.
I was finally able to put aside my pride and submitted my application for social security disability in October 2012. From the stories I'd heard, I was fully prepared to be denied. Part of me was hoping that I would be denied. I was not.
With a reduced income, my medical bills, and my 10-year-old son's hospitalization and subsequent Type I Diabetes diagnosis in March 2012, something, anything, that could help reduce our family's financial burden was welcome. But...
BUT...if I was approved for disability, wouldn't that mean that I was disabled? I mentally scanned how I'd answered the questions on the application and subsequent questionnaires. Had I lied about or exaggerated something? Nope. But, but, but! Though I knew full well that my disability was increasing, I didn't feel "that bad." BUT, if a governmental body that rarely approves individuals for disability the first time around has determined that I'm disabled, then I guess I must be.
I AM disabled, but I am the same person who decided to put her foot down against the way she'd mistreated her body for so many years by choosing a sedentary lifestyle and failing to eat healthy. I am the same person who now makes healthy food choices 90% of the time and who exercises 6 days/week.
I am disabled...BUT...I will not let it define me. I am still me. Just better. I am Me 2.0.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has been a part of my life longer than fitness and healthy eating. I am no different than a lot of people who decide to make true, long-term lifestyle changes due to an illness or disability. My disability just happens to be MS. I am incredibly blessed to be able to walk (mostly) unassisted after living with MS for nearly 15 years.
As cliche as it sounds, the adage that one must keep moving to keep moving is a literal reality in my life. While my MS has recently begun to affect my memory and other cognitive functions, the disease's primary target has largely been my right leg. During my "major exacerbations," I have experienced near total paralysis in that leg.
Disability from MS is typically a gradual process. In the first several years following my diagnosis, I recovered 100% after a flare-up of symptoms. That is no longer the case. Now my right foot is often riddled with a tingly/burning sensation and I battle tightness, weakness, and cramping/spasms more often not than not due to lost or weak nerve impulses.
In the past, I used my MS as an excuse not to exercise, when in truth, my body needs me to exercise because of my MS. I've always known in the back of my mind that my excess weight and sedentary lifestyle were enemies of good health, MS or not. It is more important now, than ever, for me to become strong overall so that my body can support itself where it's weak.
About six months ago, I began physical therapy (PT) for MS-related dizziness and balance issues. My PT clinic has a wellness/aftercare program that allows clients to workout under the supervision of a personal trainer with knowledge of each individual's physical limitations. Though he knows my limitations, my personal trainer does not treat me like I have MS, does not let me use my MS as an excuse not to work hard, and pushes me (in a good way). I now exercise three days per week at the PT clinic and an additional three days per week at home.
I am stronger than I've ever been, and thanks to a focus on healthier eating, I am losing weight. Since January 2013, I have lost 18 pounds and am 32 pounds away from my ultimate goal. I have been successful because my rationale for getting fit and losing weight was not focused on a vain desire to look good, but a true desire to maintain good health for as long as possible, both for my family and for myself.
While I am excited about the physical changes happening to my body, it has actually amplified some of my frustrations because now I look better than I ever have. One of my most despised phrases is, "But you look so good!" This led me to write the following on Facebook a few days ago. I was concerned that my venting would be construed as negativity and was pleasantly surprised when it was taken very positively by many people. Several even shared it.
Things you probably don’t know about how MS affects my daily life:
1. I can complete 60-70 minute, high-intensity workouts with a personal trainer several days a week, but standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes or in the shower can exhaust me.
2. I “look so good” 99% of the time, but constantly battle a fuzzy-headed “cog fog,” dizziness, and feeling off-balance and as if the floor/room is tilted. Having unpredictable dizzy spells and constantly feeling like I’ve consumed an alcoholic beverage or two is not conducive to driving, especially with children in the vehicle. When I say that I don’t drive, it doesn’t mean that I got a DUI. Just over a year ago I voluntarily stopped driving “until it got better.” It hasn’t.
3. My walking gait looks good from afar, but it is a challenge to walk in a way so as to not appear seriously intoxicated. I could not feel solid ground beneath my feet for almost two (2) years, until my physical therapist hooked me up with a weighted vest. Yes, people, calm down, it’s not an ammo vest, and I am not going to rob this convenience store.
4. Though I minored in English in college, I often commit “fatal errors” in my grammar, using the wrong, “to, too, or two,” “their, there, or they’re,” and my one of my biggest pet peeves: making plural things possessive. And, yes, I do realize how terribly written that sentence is. And that one, too.
5. Being unable to walk does not scare me. The thought of waking up one day and not recognizing my husband or one of my kids makes me want to vomit. Being unable to remember the PIN I’ve had for at least eight years to check my voicemail on my phone makes me want to pull my hair out. Having words fall into the black holes in my brain (yes, there really are black holes in my brain) during work meetings is frustrating, but by the grace of God, I work with individuals who are extremely patient and understanding.
6. No, I did not buy a $1,200.00 motorized scooter just because I am too lazy to walk around the grocery store. Despite the fact that I “look so good,” can complete long, grueling workouts, and appear to walk normal, navigating stores is one of the most difficult things for me. My brain cannot process all of the incoming stimulation from the noise, lights, and movement and propel my body forward all at the same time.
7. Yes, I am too young to have a handicapped parking permit. I’ll gladly give you the permit, but only if you’ll take my MS, too. Yup, I get frustrated with the judgmental glares, stares, and comments people think I can’t hear.
8. I love hugs. I do not love the MS hug. What a misnomer. Feeling like I can’t get enough air because of muscles spasms in the intercostals and all around my upper torso is just not fun. Oftentimes I just feel I am being squeezed by a very tight, wide band encircling my entire upper torso.
9. My family RAWKS! I don’t know what I’d do without my husband--chauffeur and MS-radar extraordinaire. I wouldn’t take care of myself as I should, that’s for sure. I’m so thankful that my kids can just laugh at me when I call them the wrong names or when what comes out of my mouth is not at all what I’d planned to say.
10. I couldn’t get through a day without my relationship with Christ. These verses have provided comfort on many a day when I’ve felt overcome with anxiety and hopelessness: “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
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